From:                                                      Kelvin Sung []

Sent:                                                        Friday, April 25, 2008 12:36 PM

To:                                                            John Nordlinger

Cc:                                                            Ivan Lumala; Kelvin Sung

Subject:                                                  RE: Award Number: 15871  - April 2008 Progress Report (XNA Based Games-Themed Programming Assignments)


Re:       Award Number: 15871: April 2008 Progress Report

(XNA Based Games-Themed Programming Assignments [XGA]



1.     On going activities:

a.     Using XGA at CCC for CS1 and CS2 courses: this is continuing normally. We are collecting feedbacks and all is going well.

b.     New Games Programming Course at UWB: this is also continuing normally. Students are working with both GameMaker and with XNA now. As expected, for students with no programming background the initial working with C# is more intimidating then working with GameMaker. However, when we demo to them how their program can run on the XBOX 360 console, all were genuinely impressed. This is going well.


2.     General status: The development phase of the XGA project is coming to a successful conclusion. We have most of the materials ready and in-classroom tests are positive. We are on-target to clean up everything and hand over our materials to MSDN academic alliance by the beginning of Summer. It is gratifying that we have received quite a bit of interests in our results. There are two interesting directions to continue with this project:


a.     Generalization to CS1: XGA is restricted to “game-themed” assignments for CS1. We will continue to work with MSR and MSL on developing a solution based on the XGA framework such that faculty members without graphics/game background can teach their “traditional” CS1 class based on C# and XNA GS, with game-theme examples. This should be something very interesting to a lot of faculty member. It fills an important gap between “Alice” and “Greenfoot”. Alice requires faculty members to adopt an entirely new approach to teaching intro programming, on the other end, faculty can retain their own approach and use customized system to integrate graphics/gaming themed.  Greenfoot is an excellent tool for that purpose, but then, using something like Greenfoot requires expertise. XNA GS together with XGA framework will provide a unique solution between these two extremes. We are very excited with this development.


b.     Generalization of XGA: the “XGA Framework” is a carefully crafted library that allows easy access to programming 2D “game-theme” applications in the context of CS1/2 courses. This library should be refined, for example, we should integrate some kind of collision support. However, it is very important to maintain the library simple! For example, too much functions or functionality will hinder people with no graphics/gaming background from using this library. We must support all “common” functionality for “typical” game-themed applications one may encounter in CS1/2 courses. We are developing a proposal to NSF requesting support to continue with this refinement effort.


It is expected the results from 2b will feed directly to 2a. We are very excited about the future for our work, we deeply appreciate the support we have received from MSR!