A new journey in education

How I used XNA Game Studio in the classroom Part 1

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The last term was an extremely busy time, the last 9 weeks of year 9 IST was no different. I was originally planning to have the class start on Lego NXT Robotics having purchased 3 kits in late term 3 however there was a delivery issue with the battery charger for the kits. So I had a choice to make, move on with the basics of Lego robotics or try something else. At around the same time in which I was making my this decision I visited the Microsoft Channel 9 Coding4fun website. Released earlier in the year was Script TD, a simple tower defense game for Windows Phone 7. Script TD is a simple tower defense game which uses XML as the format to easily change gameplay and based on an open source, perfect for IST.

ScriptTD Home screen

So if you have been following along this year, you would already realise that developing for Windows Phone requires Vista or Windows 7 based computers. My school has yet to come into this decade re operating systems being stuck on XP. Luckily for my students I have 4 laptops for them to use running Windows 7 along with all the typical designer software. Other then needing Windows 7 (who really still uses Vista?) there are no other required pieces of hardware, you can do all the work in the phone emulator with no need for a phone. I have 2 HTC HD7 Windows Phones so I chose to go a little further.

To complicate things a little further, I was asked to head my schools participation in the DEC’s Google Apps trial. A little unprepared for this I chose to throw Google Apps into the mix for term also. My immediate use for Google Apps with this project would be the collaborative abilities of docs and the ease of use of Google Sites so each of the 4 groups in the class could have a site designed specifically around their tower defense game.

The nuts and bolts

So the plan initially was this, each group (around 4-5 students) would design and develop their own version of the Script TD game. They had to change every image for one of their own design though they could stick with the supplied audio files. Some portion of the game levels written in XML had to be changed to improve gameplay given the groups design. With access to phone hardware each groups game had to pass the market place test kit which is part of the Windows Phone SDK in Visual Studio (this was designed to encourage the students to place the games on the market place available for download free or cost). Along with the project work each group had to maintain a Google doc with collaboration notes and a todo list for success along with a Google Site to publicize their game which also included a video on how to use the game.

As individuals each student had to submit a reflection on their individual performance in the project and their groups overall effort.

In the middle of all of this was the week 4 yearly exam. Though this year the exam had a twist thanks to the Google Apps trial. I made the exam using a Google Form which places all the answers in a spreadsheet (which is hard to read though). With their being the typical multiple choice and short answer questions and a section of long responses in the exam I was not sure how fast I could provide feed back though to my surprise Google provides charts which update with each new response. While the students were completing the exam I quickly set up the projector so they could also watch the graphical information for each answer in the multiple choice and short answer sections. They were amazed! + 1 for Google Apps.

I will leave it up to you as to the quality of the games produced (videos below) for my self I enjoyed watching the team based collaborative effort of my students in the limited time of term 4.

Written by theMolisticView

December 22nd, 2011 at 2:11 am

One Response to 'How I used XNA Game Studio in the classroom Part 1'

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  1. […] Just to set the scene, I have two stage 5 classes, one is IST (which I had not taught before) and the other is Multimedia.  In my previous post I showed how I have been using XNA Game Studio in IST for Windows Phone 7 game development (see post here). […]

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