HELP! Need game design solution for HS

Discussion in 'Games' started by Les Kern, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Apr 26, 2002
    I'm a director of technology and we just had approved a "video game design" class. Looks like 5 sections, maybe 100 students have enrolled.
    We are a 98% Mac-based school, but this class will be held in my only PC lab. New machines, so speed is no issue. If it's compelling enough, it CAN be switched to a Mac lab, but that's a longshot... too many kids, not enough space.
    I need some suggestions on a path to take. I know there are free goodies out there. I also know there are GREAT goodies out there.
    Does anyone have a REAL-WORLD solution they know of or could suggest?
    I am a complete idiot in this area... frankly I don't care, but that's beside the point! This old fart has to have a solution and pronto. (Wish they would have TOLD me they were going to ask for this class to be taught)
  2. GFLPraxis macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    What programming language are you using, and how advanced of a course is it?

    If the class can learn in Java, problem solved, because Java is cross-platform.

    If it's C++, teach them both the Windows and Mac OS X APIs.
  3. kretzy macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2004
    Canberra, Australia
    I did "computer programming" (if you consider Logo "programming" :rolleyes: ) a few years ago in HS and we got to make games like Naughts and Crosses and Concentration in Excel using macros. There's an option if you get REALLY desperate.
  4. Les Kern thread starter macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Apr 26, 2002
    It's SUPPOSED to be beginner... BUT...
    The trouble is they approved this without talking to me, and have NO PERSON to teach the class. The dept. leader thinks one of the current teachers can "pick it up" over the summer. That's lunacy, knowing the caliber of teacher we might be dealing with. That all said, we HAVE an ex-game programmer who used some free tools available on the internet. BUT, that teacher cannot TEACH the class because they have no accredidation. FUNDING was not approved, and my entire tech budget of 250K is spoken for already.
    My main question has more to do with a cheap solution, that is at the same time VALID... like Java.
    This is insane. Sort of like saying "I think we'll teach a class on how to build a nuclear reactor. Les, get us some plutonium."
  5. Haoshiro macrumors 68000


    Feb 9, 2006
    USA, KS
    Have you considered the unity game engine? It isn't free but it IS something that could probably be "picked up over the summer"

    Otherwise I would suggest using C or C++ (preferrably C).

    IDE: Bloodshed C++ or Code::Blocks
    API: Allegro or SDL

    Both API websites have helpful resource links and there is also "game developing community network."

    Good luck, you'll need it!
  6. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Isn't "Game Design" more than just about programming?

    IMO, it also about being thoughtful about what you want to design.

    That means sitting down and going through the exhausting process of planning everything that the game is about so you have clearly defined goals.
  7. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    you cant just up and start a game design curriculum!

    Where are the programs?
    Where are the computers?
    Where are the books?

    it takes ALOT of work to make a video game, and to just decide to start a new curriculum is asking for trouble.

    From higher mathematics to digital composition, its not a simplistic class.

    I dont even know what you could teach "on a basic level" about video game design!?
  8. Les Kern thread starter macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Apr 26, 2002
    Well I guess we are. My concerns are falling on deaf ears for the most part. We're going to use, I guess, LUA. The book comes with a C engine, and a sample game that the scripts can be changed on. As long as I MADE the effort, my ass is covered. A new twist: The person who thought up this class has NOT BEEN RE-HIRED! Didn't make tenure. And onward we go with no plan with no teacher, no curriculum, and 100 kids that are going to be damned mad when they walk into a game design class and spend most of their time on a word processor.
    Thanks for all of the help guys/gals. I'll post later when it hits the fan. Should be good reading. :)
  9. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

    Dec 9, 2004
    If I was going to do something like this, I'd definitely use Unity. It's powerful enough that you could focus on design instead of nitty-gritty details, and get results in a relatively short time-frame. Downsides are it's fairly expensive (might be able to work out some kind of site license), and doesn't run on PCs (although games produced with it do, if you have the high-end version).

  10. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park
    Personally, stick with the PCs for now. Look into DirectX programming. I'm not going to call it easy, but even a novice can program a user-movable dot in a couple of hours. I'm not sure if this will be easy enough for your students, but I think it is a least worth looking into.

    The reason most games come out for Windows first and later for OS X (if at all), isn't necessarily that the Windows market is much larger. That is only part of it. The other part is that DirectX programming is very simple compared to the OpenGL (even though OpenGL is far superior).
  11. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Have you thought about using the Adventure Game Studio? You can make some pretty cool games with minimal scripting, lots of point and clicky stuff. There's tons of free examples out there to learn from. It's the kinda thing you can pick up over a summer.

    You can do all the game development stuff that's important: story line development, art design/direction, puzzle and level design, etc.

    The engine/dev tools are located here:

  12. Les Kern thread starter macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Apr 26, 2002
    I will look into that and Unity. We pride ourself on using real-world tools... the same things the big-boys use. In this case we can't, but perhaps we can use soemthing "close enough".
    I have some homework to do.... :)
  13. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    You might be able to cut a deal with these guys for education, their engine is cheap anyway and they might help out, I don't know, but if I was going to play with game design, I would go with the Torque engine.

    It's really simple to use, textures are in normal PNG format, C# scripting, easy-to-put-in models, and some built in mission editing stuff.

    It also works on PC, Mac and Linux.

    The basics could definitely be picked up in a short period of time (I played with it for a week on the demo and was able to do some cool stuff :D), and it looks like it would help you get away from the really technical side of game making and let you focus on some of the larger aspects...level design, missions, advancement, modeling and texturing etc. Actually planning the games out and seeing how your plan works, instead of starting from scratch might keep the class more lively.

    Looks like there's a new 2D version now too, if you'd rather stay away from 3D.
  14. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    3D design takes a long, long time. I'm not sure you'd have time in a semester to design not only a game, but then create all the models and textures to go with it. You can draw a nice sprite in an afternoon, though.

    Something else to think about would be Flash. Creating a Flash game seems pretty easy, I've never done it, but it looks like something almost anyone is able to do. Plus I am sure that Macromedia (er, Adobe now?) has special programs for getting classrooms full of licenses, so it would be affordable.

    You mentioned that you wanted to do what the big players do, and Flash is definitely something that is used professionally for games. Either web based stuff for sites like Yahoo Games! or promotional games for products. There is a GameCube game called Alien Hominid that started off as a Flash game, which was good fun (wish they had made it a GameBoy or DS game, though).

    Which brings me to my other suggestion: GameBoy Advanced development. There are open source kits for programming the GBA and it is one of the most popular pieces of game hardware in the world. It's supposedly not to hard to program for, IF you already know C...

    Hope this gives you some ideas.

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