Guest blog by Andrew Wilson, Course Director, BSc (Hons) Computer Games Technology, Birmingham City University
Introducing students to the processes of game development that is designing, prototyping, play testing and refining the original idea has to be fun and engaging. Many students joining game development courses such as ours at Birmingham City University have little exposure to programming and can be frustrated by not being able to develop their game ideas as quickly as they hoped.
Therefore to complement the teaching of software development tools such as Microsoft XNA Game Studio, MonoGame or Unity3D we need tools where our students can quickly produce fun playable games and which they can learn very quickly.
As an experiment in 2012 a group of first year students were asked to develop a mobile game based on a brief set by a local independent games studio Distorted Poetry. The students were allowed to use a tool of their choice as long as it was free and that they were comfortable with teaching it to themselves. Teaching other people is one of the best ways of learning and an approach we encourage and cultivate on the BSc Computer Games Technology course a skill that has rewarded several of our students with employment in local games studios.
The 2012 teams predominately chose Scirra’s Construct2 as developing games in HTML5 was high on their agenda. Construct2 is a very nice tool to learn game development without the overhead of learning complex coding practises. Once the students mastered the environment they quickly developed game ideas within a few hours.
Construct2 game Soul survivor developed by first year BCU Computer Games Technology students (2102)
This year’s first years were given the challenge of developing a Construct2 game for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013. They have just completed their prototypes and are in the process of play-testing their games.
Their ideas are clever and innovative and demonstrates how easy Construct2 is to learn and what is achievable with it
First year Computer Games Technology (2013) prototypes for this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup
Deploying to different platforms has also been made incredible easy with the export function and can be published onto the Windows 8 App store which is available to students via dreamspark. A great addition that helps students develop their portfolio of published games which is very important for a career as a games developer.
Usman Mohammad, a second year Computer Games Technology student, is working on a Birmingham City University Student Academic Partner Programme.
This scheme is a unique partnership involving the Students’ Union and Birmingham City University. The scheme topped the 2010 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards in the ‘Outstanding Support for Students’ category. Usman is working on developing a workshop using Construct2 which can be used in our University’s outreach and master class programmes, where school and college students can have an introduction to games development and experience studying in our University.
So well done to Scirra and we hope you keep producing such an excellent teaching tool.