Playful Cleverness Revisited:  open-source game development as a method for teaching software engineering Mart Laanpere Ce...
The A-Ha! Experience <ul><li>„ In that instant, I as a Christian thought I could feel something of the satisfaction that G...
Playful Cleverness <ul><li>A characteristic of the hacker culture (in its original sense) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Doing seri...
The roots <ul><li>MIT Tech Model Railroad Club 1946 </li></ul><ul><li>The Signals & Power Subcommittee </li></ul><ul><li>F...
Not business as usual <ul><li>“Computer science” ~ “rocket science” </li></ul><ul><li>Too few people to form a market </li...
Decline and return <ul><li>80s: business growth, microcomputers, software as a proprietary product </li></ul><ul><li>1984:...
The hacker way <ul><li>Two major aspects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Source: public development, flexible and unhindered pa...
Case Study: the courses <ul><li>Two courses at Tallinn University </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Source Management : autumn 20...
Case Study: the tools <ul><li>Environment: Trac (wiki, ticket-based workflow), Subversion </li></ul><ul><li>Target: The Ba...
The Battle for Wesnoth <ul><li>One of the best free/open-source games </li></ul><ul><li>Turn-based strategy (single or mul...
A screenshot
A snippet of WML [event]  name=prestart  [objectives]  side=1  [objective]  description= _ &quot;Resist until the end of t...
Why Wesnoth? <ul><li>Initially, for the OSM course, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>it matched better the diverse background of the ...
What does it teach? <ul><li>Developing a scenario for the BfW requires elements from three different areas: </li></ul><ul>...
The building process <ul><li>Storyline ,  events, scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>Main characters and related unit types </li>...
The results <ul><li>Well-received by the diverse group </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of creative solutions (including some non-st...
Ideas for the future <ul><li>Test the same approach on other IT and media courses </li></ul><ul><li>Try other free/open-so...
Thank you! Further contact: Kaido Kikkas kaido.kikkas@kakupesa.net  Skype: kakuonu Server@home: http://www.kakupesa.net
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Playful Cleverness Revisited: Open-Source Game Development as a Method for Teaching Software Development

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A presentation given at the SENSE09 workshop in Kaiserslautern in March 3, 2009. The related paper can be found at http://www.kakupesa.net/kakk/docs/sense2009.pdf

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Playful Cleverness Revisited: Open-Source Game Development as a Method for Teaching Software Development

  1. 1. Playful Cleverness Revisited: open-source game development as a method for teaching software engineering Mart Laanpere Centre for Educational Technology, Tallinn University Kaido Kikkas Institute of Informatics, Tallinn University Estonian Information Technology College
  2. 2. The A-Ha! Experience <ul><li>„ In that instant, I as a Christian thought I could feel something of the satisfaction that God must have felt when He created the world“ - Tom Pittman at MIT after successfully running a computer program; around 1975 </li></ul><ul><li>„ IT WORKS!!! :) Our campaign really works! Well, it´s not an extremely huge piece of coding-art, but at least it´s playable. Feels funny to play it :) I was quite sure it would never reach this point.. If there was more time it would be nice to develop it further” - Sonja Merisalo at TLU after completing a campaign for Battle for Wesnoth; Dec 2006 </li></ul>
  3. 3. Playful Cleverness <ul><li>A characteristic of the hacker culture (in its original sense) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Doing serious work in a not-so-serious manner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Originality and creativity dominate over routine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A manifestation of the Linus' Law on motivation: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Survival </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social life </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Entertainment </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. The roots <ul><li>MIT Tech Model Railroad Club 1946 </li></ul><ul><li>The Signals & Power Subcommittee </li></ul><ul><li>First computer science classes in 1959 (TX-0), PDP-1 in 1961, Project MAC in 1963 </li></ul><ul><li>MIT AI Lab in 1970 </li></ul><ul><li>Formation of the culture </li></ul><ul><li>For more info: Hackers by Steven Levy </li></ul>
  5. 5. Not business as usual <ul><li>“Computer science” ~ “rocket science” </li></ul><ul><li>Too few people to form a market </li></ul><ul><li>Military undertones </li></ul><ul><li>Software was machine-specific </li></ul><ul><li>Hackers kept apart from managers </li></ul><ul><li>=> Playful Cleverness: original display of creativity unhindered by market motives </li></ul>
  6. 6. Decline and return <ul><li>80s: business growth, microcomputers, software as a proprietary product </li></ul><ul><li>1984: Richard M. Stallman founded the FSF </li></ul><ul><li>1991: Linus Torvalds created Linux </li></ul><ul><li>90s: Internet, Linux, LAMP, KDE, GNOME.... </li></ul><ul><li>2000s: The hackers have returned </li></ul>
  7. 7. The hacker way <ul><li>Two major aspects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Source: public development, flexible and unhindered participation, no external burden </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Playful Cleverness: informal management, “ha-ha, only serious!”, grassroot innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technology and management – both are important </li></ul>
  8. 8. Case Study: the courses <ul><li>Two courses at Tallinn University </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Source Management : autumn 2007, Master level, 6 students with backgrounds in education and media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Methods and Practices of Free Software : spring 2008, Bachelor level, 23 students with background in IT (incl. software development) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Both courses used teams of 3-5 people </li></ul>
  9. 9. Case Study: the tools <ul><li>Environment: Trac (wiki, ticket-based workflow), Subversion </li></ul><ul><li>Target: The Battle for Wesnoth </li></ul><ul><li>Each team had to build a mini-campaign for the game, using web-based teamwork </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Battle for Wesnoth <ul><li>One of the best free/open-source games </li></ul><ul><li>Turn-based strategy (single or multiplayer), lots of different units, day/night cycle, XML-like markup language, central server for campaigns, large active community </li></ul>
  11. 11. A screenshot
  12. 12. A snippet of WML [event] name=prestart [objectives] side=1 [objective] description= _ &quot;Resist until the end of the turns.“ condition=win [/objective] [objective] description= _ &quot;Death of Ryan&quot; condition=lose [/objective] [/objectives] [/event]
  13. 13. Why Wesnoth? <ul><li>Initially, for the OSM course, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>it matched better the diverse background of the participants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>it allowed for a wider range of different sub-tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>it sparked the hacker-ish innovative creativity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yet it worked with the IT people as well </li></ul>
  14. 14. What does it teach? <ul><li>Developing a scenario for the BfW requires elements from three different areas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>artistic/visual (units, maps, screens etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>narrative/verbal (story) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>technical/logical (WML) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For comparison: “How To Become A Hacker“ by Eric S. Raymond </li></ul>
  15. 15. The building process <ul><li>Storyline , events, scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>Main characters and related unit types </li></ul><ul><li>For each scenario </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design (objectives, events) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Map design (terrain ,starting points) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Units and recruitment scheme </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coding </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coding the campaign summary </li></ul><ul><li>Testing and balancing </li></ul>
  16. 16. The results <ul><li>Well-received by the diverse group </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of creative solutions (including some non-standard campaigns) </li></ul><ul><li>Tools were adequate, but more Web 2.0 could help in a full distance setting </li></ul><ul><li>The Playful Cleverness was grasped well </li></ul><ul><li>The game approach helps non-tech students </li></ul>
  17. 17. Ideas for the future <ul><li>Test the same approach on other IT and media courses </li></ul><ul><li>Try other free/open-source games (also from different genres) </li></ul><ul><li>Combine the experience with social software, 3D virtual worlds (OpenSim, SL) and other distributed environments </li></ul>
  18. 18. Thank you! Further contact: Kaido Kikkas kaido.kikkas@kakupesa.net Skype: kakuonu Server@home: http://www.kakupesa.net

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