Computer Science seniors design games as final projects

May 14, 2012

Battleship-Plus, Battle Quest, McDanoply, Evolution Wars, Rogue – the list of Computer Science capstone projects reads like a library of computer games. And that’s exactly what it is, except these games were designed by students.

“The students enjoy writing a game,” says Computer Science professor Pavel Naumov, who mentors the senior projects. “Most of their learning is theoretical, but this is more practical as they apply what they’ve learned to designing a game plus learn interactive programming. It’s fun for them.”

The tabletop game of Battleship was among Steve McGuire’s favorite games when he was growing up, and it seemed only natural for him to design a computer version for his senior capstone. He says he used everything he learned in his Computer Science major went into the game, which pits a single player against the computer on divided screen.

Easy peasy? Hah. Not so fast. The computer is finely programmed. In more than 100 hours of work on the game, McGuire put in all of the different cases that can come up on the screen and he spent the last two weeks de-bugging his work. The computer is a tough opponent that is not frequently defeated.

“I spent winter break watching tutorials and learning how to program the game using the old Asteroid game from Nintendo,” says McGuire of Chestertown, Md.

Becky Putnam zeroed in on the type of game she likes to play too. The result is Battle Quest, a role-playing game in which the player battles through many levels to defeat an evil overlord.

“It’s the first game I ever made,” says the Computer Science major from Mount Airy, Md. “I had to learn a few new things, and there was a lot I had to account for, but it wasn’t really that hard.”

Mostly, says Putnam, it was time consuming, taking more than 200 hours to complete.

“It works exactly how I want it to,” she says. “I’m very happy with how it turned out.”

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