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I've been trying to recruit some students to work on massforge and take my Introduction to Computer Graphics course (CIS 636), which is cross-listed as Computer Graphics (CIS 736) for grad students.

Computer games development track for the BS in CS

Like many other universities, we have a "computer games development" track, but it's not an official concentration or minor. The problem with this is that, also like many other universities, we don't have a holistic program that deals with all the attendant issues of computer game graphics, from concept art, storyboarding, and digital test renders to level-building. Moreover, I was asked to teach a games course back in 2002 and 2003, and I suggested that I stick to the general graphics course. I really think that to have a good games program, you need to address issues such as computer music (and just digital sound and music editing), video, quality of service, distributed computing (or the aspect of it that deals with multiplayer games), and even interactive fiction and dialogue generation. Perhaps most important is the need to look at all of these issues in the concept of game logic and gameplay. You may be able to do this without human factors or ergonomists, but it only makes it more difficult when there are no HCI, ocgnitive psych, and other people working with you on training people to develop engaging and exciting games.

Nathan Bean's CIS 490 and CIS 690

One of my CIS 736 alumni, Nathan Bean, went over to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland for an M.Phil., and came back (in 2003, as I recall). Since then he's worked in the CIS department and taught a games course every semester, listed as CIS 490 and CIS 690 (undergrad and mixed undergrad/grad implementation projects). I'd say he's done a capable job, but the above task has been entirely on his shoulders, and it's hard to succeed entirely with just one instructor and whoever he can get involved. (I believe he has some faculty members and students from Art, but the development tasks are fully segregated into programming and non-programming components in his course.) I'd like to keep the graphics course going, though, and I really think we need to stress the "id games" factor: for every two 3-D graphics engine developers.

So, what ideas do you have on engaging students who may be interested in computer graphics, not just for gaming but also other entertainment applications (3-D computer-generated animation, for example), business/scientific/information visualization, etc.?


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