theMolisticView

A new journey in education

Archive for the ‘XNA 4.0’ Category

How I used XNA Game Studio in the classroom Part 2

with 2 comments

This post is a little late; I was meaning to write it back in the last week of the holidays and this first term has been rather busy with a new head teacher, the rain, new junior classes and new computers to set up in my classroom.

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).

In multimedia I wanted something more substantial, something that like web design could be used as a means of income or personal benefit. I had been buying books, Evernoting (if that’s the term lol) every blog and article I could find on XNA to help me develop a course which would be easy enough for my students to follow and build on. In term 3 last year I used a section from an online source (which has since disappeared) with my year 11 Multimedia class so they had a base side scrolling game on which to develop from. This however turned out to be a total fail, the students simply did not understand the concepts of game making in a code based environment.

Just to be clear if you were wondering, XNA Game Studio is not a game engine like the Unreal engine or Unity 3D, it is a framework from Microsoft which uses C# as its managed language, Visual Studio as its coding environment and is simply a framework or set of API’s which are used to develop games for the Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone 7 platforms.

I was struggling for a way to in which teach to XNA with meaning and purpose. At close to the same time that Coding4Fun dropped the tower defence game for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s Faculty Resource Centre also dropped some XNA goodness. Now the Microsoft Faculty Resource Centre already had some XNA resources though these were aimed at university level. The new XNA resource was aimed directly at high schools. Game Development with XNA: Semester 1 – Appendix by Pat Yongpradit was what I was trying to come up with. Pat’s resource is developed using an existing Microsoft book written by Rob Miles Learn Programming with XNA (which you can download here or here for free). Pat’s course develops further the concepts found in the book and can be used with both XNA 3.0-3.1 and the newer 4.0.

At this stage sadly I have nothing in which I can show to you of what the students have learned. We started the course in term 4 last year and are only just at part 2 which involves concepts like multiplayer games, sound effects, timing, game design, reading text input from the player, object-orientated programming and two dimensional arrays.

Given how the IT situation is in our schools with software and the filter there have been a few hiccups along the way which have needed work rounds. With my school still being Windows XP at the start, we were using Visual Studio 2008 and XNA 3.0-3.1. There are extension sections built into the course to keep the gifted students challenged as well, I have 3-4 students (the class has only 15 students) really trying their hardest to complete these. The course also focuses on using the Xbox gamepad when developing games and somewhat at the expense of the keyboard and mouse. These however can be purchased off eBay fairly cheaply.

As yet Pat has not released the promised Semester 2 course. If the second course does not drop in time I will have the students take what they know and develop a game over two terms for the Xbox.

If you have any ideas on teaching for XNA Game Studio I would love to hear from you and if you would like to start using it with your classes and want some pointers drop us a line

Written by theMolisticView

March 11th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

How I used XNA Game Studio in the classroom Part 1

with one comment

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by theMolisticView

December 22nd, 2011 at 2:11 am

Why Windows Phone 7 is dead already

without comments

There are many reasons why Windows Phone 7 is dead within six months of release. For me it is the fact that Microsoft gave in to the worlds telcos and allowed them to modify the OS to suit there backward needs and stop the instant release of OS updates. You can see form the distribution list at Where’s my phone update? how bad it is and yes that is the site name. Though it still isn’t as bad as the Android devices from Sony and Samaung that will never be upgraded to the latest Android OS.

Yes Nokia did come on board the Windows Phone 7 platform but their products wont launch for six months or more. But the real evidence is when you see companies selling the phone for free! Thats right free, Logic Buy an online retailer in the US has done just that in store for free with bonus goodies to choose from when you buy http://www.logicbuy.com/deals/htc-hd7-windows-7-smartphone-for-t-mobile/27239.aspx

When I first received my phone I thought “yay integrates great with work and social, way better then my Nexus one (the phone I was using at the time) or my iPhone 3GS.”

It turned out to be false promise, Microsoft let us down again 🙁

The best thing about my phone at this point, is it make a great Windows iPod and my games are linked to my Xbox.

Written by themolisticview

April 2nd, 2011 at 4:51 am

XNA game studio at school

without comments

Start this  at the start I guess.

Being a Play station user since the play station (one), and not into computers at the time I never really cared about the Xbox when I bought my PS2, or even early last year when I upgraded to the PS3. The first I had heard of Microsoft XNA Game Studio was in 2008 and it was totally by chance when having purchased the then new Microsoft Expression Studio. Microsoft Expression Studio came with 2005 Visual Studio. Now at the time I had only just been made a permanent teacher filling in at what is now my school and my position. I had at that time had little experience with computers except what I had to learn at University and what I had picked up during the many casual and temporary permanent positions I had, had since 2004 and had no interest in coding or  programming.

Fast forward to June 2010, I had spent the last 6 months trying to get year 10 into Flash games using their DER laptops. What a nightmare that was, the DET Lenovo’s struggle to power Flash projects, there is a constant issue with the Flash player plugin being out of date. So this quickly removed any enthusiasm the kids had. Around this time rumors of the new Windows Phone 7 started along with some of the then suggested capabilities of the phone. One of these was to play games, games that would be linked to an Xbox Live account. In one article that I read they linked to XNA Game Studio.  On arriving at that page I was amazed that this secret had been hidden away from me for so long. With a simple download you could make games for your PC or Xbox.

So immediately I download the development tools which were available at the time and then went in search of books which would help me in learning how to make games. I spent most of the school holidays reading through books and coming up with ideas for my multimedia classes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by themolisticview

February 5th, 2011 at 5:23 am