Central Michigan University

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Since taking over the game development course at Central Michigan University, instructor Anthony Morelli switched from Flash to Corona SDK. Anthony chats with us on why he made the switch and on his students’ experience developing games with Corona.

Can you share some background on Central Michigan University?

Established in 1892, CMU is among the nation’s largest public universities, offering over 200 academic programs at the undergraduate, master’s, specialist and doctoral levels. CMU is based in beautiful Mt. Pleasant, MI and has a student population of about 27,000.

What is your development background and your role at the university?

This is my first semester teaching at the university. Previously, I spent 14 years in the gambling industry working as a platform architect at Bally Technologies.

Most of my commercial development was in C++ on Linux. The past year and a half, I spent some time working on iOS and I completed my PhD research in game accessibility, creating several games for blind children that gives them easier access to exercise.

After I had enough of the “real world,” I decided to move into academia and began teaching the “Introduction to Computer Game Design” course at Central Michigan University. This course is an elective for Computer Science and IT majors and my students are early in their academic careers, having completed only several semesters of Java programming courses. While the previous instructor worked with Flash, I sought a better solution for teaching game development.

Since you took over the game development course, you’ve incorporated Corona SDK into your curriculum. Why did you select Corona as your go-to teaching tool?

I stumbled across Corona SDK and got a simple game up and running in just a few hours. With no headache, my little game was running on my iPhone, Nexus 7 and iPad! I did more research on the SDK and found that it was exactly what I needed for the course. It was a great tool that students could use at home on a PC or Mac, and they could deploy their games to iOS and Android. I was also impressed with the Corona Simulator; allowing students to see their code changes instantly is incredibly valuable.

You mentioned that the university previously relied on Flash to teach game development. How do you feel Corona SDK compares to Flash?

I want to give my students an advantage in a job interview and I believe that showing a potential employer a project by simply taking out their phone and demoing a game is ideal (versus having to start-up a laptop). Due to this, Flash went out the window and I turned to Corona SDK.

How have students responded to working with Corona SDK?

They love it! Even though the students are relatively new to programming, they are all doing great in the Corona environment. Their first assignment was due two weeks into the semester and they were all able to create a game on their own. Their next assignment is due in several weeks, and their final projects are due in the beginning of December. The goal of the final project is to have a game that is good enough to be released to any of the app stores – I’m confident they can all accomplish this with Corona.

What are your goals for students completing the course?

My main goal is for each student, or group of students (as they are allowed to work in teams), to have an app that is suitable for distribution. We’re already off to a great start. I am very excited about having Corona as our coding platform for this class, and I plan to use Corona in my future courses.
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