Unlock the secrets to building a video game with CU MOOC

Free online course requires no previous programming experience
By Staff

It’s a common thought among gamers: Sure, this video game is wicked cool, but it would have been better if only the programmer had (fill in the blank). So, here’s what to do: Learn to program your own video game in a course offered by Tim “Dr. T” Chamillard, associate professor of computer science at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Chamillard is the first UCCS faculty member to develop a Massive Open Online Course(MOOC), a free, 12-week course on beginning game programming. Contrary to pop culture stereotypes, programming is pretty cool on its own, Chamillard said. Even better, though, is learning to program video games.

The Beginning Game Programming with C# course is all about learning how to develop video games using the C# programming language. Why use C# instead of C++, Java, ActionScript or some other programming language you might have heard of? First, using C# lets us use the Microsoft XNA and open-source MonoGame frameworks, which help us quickly develop games for Windows, Android, iOS, Mac OS and others. Second, the Unity game engine is very popular with indie game developers, and C# is one of the programming languages you can use in the Unity environment. And finally, C# is a really good language for learning how to program.

“This course doesn’t assume you have any previous programming experience,” Chamillard said. “Don’t worry if you’ve never written code before; we’ll start at the very beginning and work our way up to building a small, complete game by the end of the course.”

Course participants will learn core programming concepts that apply to a lot of programming languages, including C#, and how to apply those concepts when developing games: drawing all the entities in the game world, updating the game world based on user input and simple physics, playing music and sound effects in your games, and so on.

You can check out the syllabus for the course and sign up here. It begins Feb. 23; students may still sign up after that, but by about mid-March they won’t be able to earn a certificate, Chamillard said, adding they can still learn all the “stuff.”

He left the first session of the course open after it officially ended so learners could explore the course material on their own. When he finally closed the first session to start signing up students in the upcoming session, he had more than 120,000 enrolled students in the first session.

“Computer programming is really fun in general,” he said, “and programming games is even better.”

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