Courseware design of project research based on interactive game design

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  • Courseware Design of ProjectResearch Based on InteractiveGame DesignYULUNG WU

    Department of Information and Communication, Kun Shan University, No. 949, DaWan Rd., Yung-Kung City, Tainan

    Hsien, 71003, Taiwan, R.O.C.

    Received 29 September 2009; accepted 18 January 2010

    ABSTRACT: Interactive game design stretches over two domain knowledge: games and interactivetechnologies. The two so different domains are too difficult for students to learn at same time. In this research,

    the course design of interactive game design is based on motion-sensing technology and presents a multiple

    input interface development platform. Finally, three case studies are presented to verify that the proposed

    framework is useful for educating of project research. 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Comput Appl Eng Educ;Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com); DOI 10.1002/cae.20419

    Keywords: interactive game design; project research; virtools; motion sensing

    INTRODUCTION

    The growing digital content is various with the joining of

    multimedia and Internet. Computer games play important roles in

    the digital content industry. Computer games affect deeply in

    home entertainment, e-learning, and audio/video media. With the

    performance improvement of computer hardware, computer

    games provide more real game environment and operation. The

    home entertainment market is the next market to be developed in

    the post-PC era in this saturated computer development environ-

    ment. However, this market has been monopolized by Japanese

    manufacturers since its inception. Nintendo, SEGA and Sony

    have been market leaders at different times.

    At the end of 2006, Nintendo developed a new generation of

    home entertainment console, called Wii. The revolution of this

    console is not in the strengthening of computing performance or

    visual effect, but in the major advancement in humanmachineinteractive interface. The humanmachine interface of a tradi-tional PC comprises the keyboard and mouse. Considering the

    operating capabilities of computer users, the home entertainment

    computer further simplifies the humanmachine interface intoa gamepad and remote control to enable the computer to be

    controlled by a few buttons. However, these operating styles

    simply send out orders by fingers, and are not intuitive

    humanmachine interactive styles. The novel feature of the Wiiis that its operating gamepad can detect motion and rotation in 3D

    space. Additionally, the gamepad can be adopted as a bat, baton,

    fishing rod, or sword in computer games. The game player can

    perform motions such as waving, cutting, flinging, and chopping,

    thus considerably increasing humanmachine interactivity andamusement. Hence, Wii has sold more than the Sony PS3 since its

    launch, and has revolutionized the home entertainment market.

    For training and bringing up interactive game designers, this

    research proposes a game design platform of motion-sensing

    technology. The platform helps students developing interactive

    game without understanding too much detail specification of

    hardware interface that helps students concentrating their

    attentions on creative design and game content.

    This article is organized as follows. Second section

    introduces the literature on game design and interactive design.

    Third section then describes the main part of this research

    course design of Project Research. Subsequently, fourth

    section presents framework of the proposed system. Next,

    fifth section performs evaluations to gather learning outcomes

    and demo. Finally, conclusions and future works are presented in

    sixth section.

    RELATED WORK

    Reigeluth [1] says interactivity means mutual activities

    between two organisms. In computer aided learning activities,

    interactivity means interactive relationship between learners and

    computers. Interactive system provides various ways to send

    commands to system and obtain feedback from system.

    Virtual reality (VR) provides various interactive methods to

    let user immerse in a virtual environment. Users using VR and

    interactivity features observe or play objects in the virtual world,

    Correspondence to Y. Wu (ylw@mail.ylw.idv.tw).Contract grant sponsor: National Science Council of the Republic

    of China, Taiwan; Contract grant numbers: NSC 96-2815-C-426-005-E, NSC 97-2815-C-426-002-E.

    2010 Wiley Periodicals Inc.

    1

  • or discuss and communicate with other people. The rich

    situational experience of VR promotes focus and interest in

    users. Besides entertainment, VR can be adopted in teaching

    assistance to increase the learning motivation of users [2,3].

    The greatest advantage of VR is that it can portray a scene

    close to reality. Some dangerous or hidden aspects of nature or

    real life may not be freely accessible to most people. The

    properties can be exploited to create virtual scenes to allow users

    to browse and experience these aspects at any time. Although

    documentary filming can depict such natural scenes and features,

    VR has higher interactivity and freedom in perspective. Due to

    improvements in 3D technologies and reduction of video card

    price, VR is no longer confined to high-level server and expensive

    devices for implementation, and can now be implemented simply

    by general-purpose PCs. Hence, the VR-related applications are

    now increasingly extensive and widespread.

    Game maker [http://www.yoyogames.com] is a game design

    software with visual interface without the need to write a single

    line of code. User can design game by using mouse to drag-and-

    drop sprites, resources and events, and then constructing required

    functions. Game maker focuses on 2D game design and provides

    many animation effects to integrate into game project. Game

    maker can simulate 3D screen with pre-rendering 2D image, but

    not real 3D game design platform.

    Song and Lee [4] adopted 3D in teaching geometry. They

    adopted polyhedral teaching as an example, teaching students the

    relationship among points, lines, surfaces, and the polyhedron.

    Plane graphics could not fully express the features of poly-

    hedrons, while too few physical teaching objects were available

    to allow all students to spend enough time observing then. In

    contrast, various polyhedrons were easy to build using 3D

    technologies. The students were able to turn the polyhedrons

    around to learn their features. Therefore, this system significantly

    helped the students in their learning.

    Jong [5] adopted 3D technology to create a multiple-people

    interactive learning environment and to teach elementary science

    courses. The learning activities were performed in groups. To

    understand the personal interactive relations in between students,

    the range of activities of students in the virtual learning

    environment was analyzed.

    Terrell and Rendulic [6] also adopted the computer-game

    learning software to teach elementary school students. Their

    results indicated that the computer-game-style learning improved

    the intrinsic motivation and learning achievements of students.

    The method and process of presenting the computer games were

    consistent with the suggestions of Gagne [7]: (1) provide sensory

    stimulation; (2) carefully guide the learners activities; (3)

    provide the way to reach the goal; (4) provide external driving

    forces; (5) guide the direction of thinking; (6) stimulate the

    transfer of knowledge; (7) assess the learning results, and (8)

    obtain feedback. The computer game approach, if it is guided

    correctly, plays an educational role to obtain teaching tasks.

    Additionally, 3D can be adopted to teach spatial sense. The

    round earth [8] project grouped learners into pairs. One learner

    acted as driver to control the virtual space shuttle, and the other

    acted as navigator to guide the direction of space shuttle. The

    scenes helped learners to understand relative spatial positions,

    and taught them to describe directions and positions. Addition-

    ally, classroom explanations are inadequate in experiment-related

    courses. The students have to verify what they have learnt from

    the class by experiment. Hence, operating experimental materials

    in experiment-related courses can provide students with deep

    impressions [9]. Raymond and Nathan [10] adopted VR

    technologies to teach remote control and operation of motors.

    Virtual reality peripheral network (VRPN) [11] proposed an

    integrated library to support many devices that used in VR. VRPN

    supports an abstraction layer that makes all devices of the same

    base-class look the same. The information that VRPN obtains

    from trackers is raw data. That means, though VPRN supports the

    same interface to control devices, for motion-sensing pro-

    grammer, developing methods of transforming raw data into

    motion sensing is required. Our research proposes the same

    interface and transforming method to provide a high extensible

    and flexible system. And all devices are ensured that providing

    necessary information of motion-sensing design. Besides,

    Virtools is more suitable to design game and 3D system than

    VRPN with C language.

    THE COURSE DESIGN OF PROJECT RESEARCH

    Project Research is compulsory for third-year undergraduates of

    Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering,

    Leader University, Taiwan. And the course period lasted three

    semesters. Project Research educates students obtaining the

    ability of analyzing and solving problems. Students have to master

    and integrate their professional skills and work together to finish a

    large-scale project. All students are grouped with 35 students forteamwork. In the course, many students have not much experience

    in interactive game design; the following course design is designed

    for students to follow. The course design shows as Figure 1.

    In the first semester, students have to review the related

    literature for understanding the theories, trends, and applications

    of interactive game design. In the same time, students have to plan

    their project topic and system framework; and the studying of

    developing tools, 3DMax and Virtools, is also required.

    In the following semester, students design their project with

    Virtools and the proposed frame, multiple input interface (MII).

    Due to the course, process is in the form of teamwork, students in

    group have to finish different sub-systems by themselves. In the

    phase, students design the interface and protocol among sub-

    system and integrate finished sub-system.

    In the last semester, the prototype of project finished,

    including title animation, background music, and sound effects.

    Figure 1 The course design of Project Research.

    2 WU

  • The next step is testing and revising system. System documenta-

    tion and user manual also prepared. At the end of this semester, a

    project achievement show will be hold for demonstrating the

    finished project.

    For designing interactive game, motion-sensing device is

    required for detecting user motion and providing feedback.

    Managing motion-sensing device with low-level control is not

    easy for students. They must pay much more attention to design

    code of control hardware and do not have enough time to finish

    their system. This research proposes the MII framework to reduce

    development processes and hide hardware characteristics, and then

    students can focus on system function and creative design. The

    following introduces teaching materials in first semester, which

    teach the students hardware and software used in the course.

    Hardware Specifications of Interactive Devices

    Many hardware devices in support of motion sensing are

    currently available in the market, with various operating

    principles and properties. The positioning of motion-sensing

    devices falls mainly into two broad categories, namely relative

    displacement and absolute coordinates. Relative displacement

    means that the motion-sensing device can only sense the direction

    of the current movement, which is the relative displacement

    direction with the starting position, and cannot know the exact

    position at any moment. Such positioning adopts a gyroscope to

    detect movement. In a motion-sensing device based on absolute

    coordinates can acquire its exact position in space, which is

    represented generally by 3D coordinates. A positioning device

    based on absolute coordinates can judge precise movements more

    accurately than a relative positioning device, since it can acquire

    the movement tracks. Such positioning generally adopts infrared

    or ultrasound to detect movement.

    The immersion VR system (Cave) [12] positioning and

    operating device comprise two components, Wanda, and soni-

    strip. Wanda is a device that looks like a gamepad, as shown in

    Figure 5. The structure includes a direction stick and a few

    buttons, and has similar functions to general computer gamepads

    that send out control orders by finger. The sonistrip comprises a

    few metal stripes placed on top of Cave to send out ultrasound

    waves. Wanda calculates its position in space by time delay

    between ultrasound reception and transmission, and then locates

    and identifies the operations of the user.

    The MX Air is a 3D wireless mouse produced by Logitech,

    and is connected with PC by a 2.4GHz RF signal. It is similar in

    appearance to a general wireless mouse, and has a built-in

    gyroscope. When the MX Air is off the desktop, the gyroscope

    accumulates displacement information, which is transformed into

    mouse cursor coordinates by the built-in chip. The MX Air can be

    held in air to control the mouse cursor when operating the

    computer or briefing, and is very easy to apply in motion sensing.

    Since the movements of the user are transformed into displace-

    ments of the desktop mouse cursor inside the mouse, the X and Y

    coordinates of the mouse cursor are ultimately transmitted to the

    computer. Therefore, general windows programs can easily

    acquire the mouse cursor data without the need for any specific

    platform or operating system.

    Wii remote is the new generation of gamepad introduced by

    Nintendo, and is connected to a console by bluetooth signals with

    built in gyroscope and infrared receptor. The gyroscope also

    detects the movements of the user to obtain the displacement

    information. Therefore, the displacement information is also the

    relative displacement. Unlike in MX Air, Wii remote does not

    process displacement information, but instead directly transmits

    the data to the main console, which performs the computations to

    obtain the 3D displacement information.

    Software Specifications of Course Used

    The development platforms adopted in this research are Virtools

    and PC. Virtools is a 3D interactive construction software

    application developed by 3DVIA [http://www.3dvia.com], and

    provides a WYSWYG development environment. The interactive

    functionality design method of Virtools does not request writing

    programmable codes as in general programming languages.

    Instead, program design is represented in a flowchart to present a

    more intuitive and more easily accessible development environ-

    ment than traditional programming languages. This type of

    development interface is called a schematic. In Virtools, each

    function is called a building...

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