Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spring 2008 End of Year, Part 1

This year saw a number of changes from Spring 07. The largest impact came from change in format where the course was split into two half-semester classes. Introduction to Flash began the semester and was followed by Flash for Games. Both attracted a large number of graduate students who were generally looking to either expand their already developed digital graphics skills or were interested in learning how to incorporate interactive components into their primary subject studies.

Introduction to Flash gave first-timers a step-by-step approach to learning the basics of the authoring interface, animation, incorporating media and some basic interactive scripting. Students completed weekly assignments covering in-class demonstrations and readings from the textbook, as well as a final mid-term project.

Flash for Games was a project-based class and was more challenging as students had to perform pre-production tasks as well as learn Action Scripting and how to incorporate game design elements into their projects.

The two part arrangement presented some challenges since the game development curriculum needed to be compressed into half a semester. Students who had a clear project concept early were able to utilize media they developed in Intro. to Flash for the final project of Games for Flash where more scripting and game development was covered.

Pre-production steps such as development of the Design Document were still required, but with less detail. We also had fewer assigned readings and shorter discussion of game design topics. The addition of a Paper Prototype deliverable for Games for Flash this year helped students walk through their game idea with others while the project was in its early stages and helped prevent potential design errors that could have cropped up later.

Both classes more heavily emphasized use of the World Wide Workshop wiki platform I have been developing with the organization over the past year and we saw overall participation increase. The wiki was our primary communication vehicle for the class and was supplemented by this blog and email. Students were required to post all their projects to their wiki profile page and to post comments about their work. Many students kept a diary on their profile pages and some posted comments to other's profile pages as well.

We also introduced a 'Sandbox' page which provided a neutral location for everyone to share Flash tips with others in the class. This seemed to encourage free posting and will continue using it in the future.

Overall final projects demonstrated a strong command of planning, development and completion within a short time frame. The next blog post will discuss individual student projects and present examples of work.