September 21st, 2010
The New York times has a short article, The 8-Year-Old Programmer, on Kodu, a programming environment intended to help young children learn to write programs.
“Kodu, built by a team at Microsoft’s main campus outside Seattle, is a programming environment that runs on an Xbox 360, using the game console’s controller rather than a keyboard. Instead of typing if/then statements in a syntax that must be memorized — as adult programmers do — the student uses the Xbox controller to pop up menus that contain options from which to choose. Kodu itself resembles a video game, with a point-and-click interface instead of the thousand-lines-of-text coding tools used by grown-ups.”
You can also read about Kodu in the Wikipedia article Kodu Game Lab or Kodu project page at Microsoft Research, from which you can also download a free version for the PC.
Kodu is an rule-based, event-driven language with a simple context free grammar that lets you write rules like “see apple red, move toward quickly”.
Kudu takes it’s place in a long history of programming languages developed to teach programming to children, starting with Logo in the late 1960s. None of these have ever truly caught on, although Logo was taught in many elementary schools in the 1980s. As a computer scientist, I believe that being able to write simple programs for one’s own use will eventually be a skill that all educated people will have, just as being able to basic numerical computations and write effective text are today.
April 21st, 2009
The 4th annual UMBC Digital Entertainment Conference will be held 10-6 Saturday, April 25, 2009 in Lecture hall 2. This event is organized by the UMBC Game Developers Club and is free and open to the public. This year’s conference will feature speakers from local studios who will talk about programming, game design and art in game development, including:
- Justin Boswell, Senior Programmer, Firaxis
- Barry Caudill, Executive Producer, Firaxis
- Dave Inscore, Studio Art Director, Big Huge Games
- Eric Jordan, Programmer, Firaxis
- Martin Kau, Concept Artist, Big Huge Games
- Jon Shafer, Designer/Programmer, Firaxis
You can find more information and RSVP on the FaceBook DEC page.
January 6th, 2009
UMBC is hosting a site for the 2009 Global Game Jam on January 30-February 1, 2009. This is a two day game development contest sponsored by the International Game Developers Association and held simultaneously in 49 sites from 20 countries.
At 5pm local time on Friday, January 30, each site will be told the parameters of the game they all must produce. Participants pitch ideas, form teams, and get to work producing the best game they can in 48 hours. The UMBC site will have a good mix of computers and development platforms including Windows (XP), Mac (Leopard), XBox 360 (with Creators Club), PlayStation 3 (running Linux) with a diverse software environment that inlcludes Visual Studio, Maya, XNA Game Studio, NVIDIA PhysX and Adobe Creative Suite. For more information see the UMBC Global Game Jam page.
The Global Game Jam participants do not have to be UMBC students, and the Jam is open to participants of all levels of skill and experience. There is no registration fee for the Baltimore Jam site at UMBC, but space is limited so advance registration is required.
This event is sponsored by the UMBC Games, Animation and Interactive Media program, an innovative academic program with tracks available for students pursuing a degree in computer science or a degree in visual arts.
December 10th, 2008
Registration is now open for the Global Game Jam at UMBC, January 30-February 1, 2009! The Global Game Jam is a game development contest sponsored by the International Game Developers Association and held simultaneously in 41 sites across the globe. At 5PM local time, each site will be told the parameters of the game they all must produce. Participants pitch ideas, form teams, and get to work producing the best game they can in 48 hours. The Global Game Jam participants do not have to be UMBC students, and the Jam is open to participants of all levels of skill and experience. More information is available on the UMBC GAIM blog.
August 23rd, 2008
Mark Olano posted news on the UMBC GAIM blog that legendary game designer Sid Meier will give a presentation for the at 8:00pm on Thursday, September 4th. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held a the The Engineering Society of Baltimore in Baltimore.
Meier is a very influential figure in the game industry and helped to establish the popular simulation game genre through his games like Pirates, Railroad Tycoon and Civilization. He is currently Director of Creative Development for Firaxis Games and has been inducted into the Computer Museum of America Hall of Fame and the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in computer gaming. Here’s the title and abstract for his talk.
Game Programming: Oh say, can you C?
Sid Meier and members of the Firaxis development team
Programming a computer game: There are three types of programming in games: (1) game play on one end, (2) engine on the other, and (3) the layer in between that allows the two others to communicate. Each type of programming is different from the others. Programmers are drawn to one or another type of programming because of its power or beauty. Sid has developed a flexible style of programming that allows him to make instantaneous changes at the game play level. An engine programmer needs a bit more conformity to step in where someone else left off. The programmers in the middle have fun because they can make the other two “worlds” talk to each other. Sid and other speakers will discuss the different types of programming and how they “play nice” together.
If you plan to attend, email email@example.com for further announcements and updates.
I’ve attended talks at the Engineering Society building, which is on Mt. Vernon Place in Baltimore, which should be easy to get to on the MTA bus that stops at UMBC. It’s a grand old building that was fun to be in.
July 24th, 2008
Today’s Baltimore Sun has a story, Gamer making a career of it, on two UMBC undergraduate students who have their own game development company. Computer Science major Paul Oliver and Mechanical Engineering major Arthur Gould head Legendary Studios LLC as a “game and Simulation development company” that is part of the UMBC Idea Lab and housed in UMBC’s technology center.