Microsoft Virtual Academy: Game Development

When it comes to code-writing and development, games are in a league of their own. Ever since the mid-20th century, electronic games have captivated the minds and eyes of people around the world. These days, with such a variety of platforms that facilitate gaming, game development has become one of the most sought-after niches within programming.

More gaming options thanks to the rise of technology

More gaming options thanks to the rise of technology

Game development courses have been available to Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) students as of 2012. There are 41 different courses on game development, which cover the tools, skills, and practices needed to begin developing games for Windows PCs, as well as mobile and handheld devices. These courses include many practical demonstrations, which enable students to begin implementing what they have learned as soon as the module or presentation is over.

MVA courses on game development go over many topics. From game production basics, through developing 2D games with HTML5, to Windows Phone game programming.

The top courses on game development are: Programming Kinect for Windows v2 Jump Start, C++/DirectX Game Development: Fun with Sounds and Shaders, Developing Games with Marmalade and C++ for Windows and Windows Phone, Construct 2 Advanced Game Development.

Course Review: Creating Your First 2D Game with GameMaker

One of the most popular game courses is Creating Your First 2D Game with GameMaker, instructed by Daniel Egan and Nathalie Goh-Livorness. This course is the first of a two-part series, which teaches students how to create games with the GameMaker tool. In this course, students will learn how to navigate and use the tools in GameMaker, and will end up with their very own foundation for a 2D game.

Instructor Daniel Egan

Instructor Daniel Egan

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Introduction to Game Development Using GameMaker
  • Movement, Collisions, & Events
  • Finding Assets for Your Game
  • Creating Assets for Your Game
  • Bringing It All Together
  • Recommended Resources & Next Steps

There are no prerequisites for enrolling in this course, but in order to follow the instructors and make the most of the course, it is recommended to download several free tools – GameMaker, InkScape, Audacity, and Visual Studio Express – ahead of time. This course is worth 47 points, and runs approximately 3 hours. There are six modules, which include slideshow presentations and assessment exams. This course is designated Level 100, and is rated nearly 5 out of 5 stars.

Instructor Nathalie Goh-Livorness

Instructor Nathalie Goh-Livorness

In order to make a viable 2D game, you don’t need to be an artist or coder. This course, taught by experts who contributed to World of Warcraft and created Dave in the Cave, teaches novices how to create a playable, exportable game from scratch.

Egan has worked as a Microsoft Developer Evangelist for the past seven years. He is a self-proclaimed tech junkie, Microsoft ASP/ASP.Net Most Valuable Professional, Microsoft Certified Trainer, and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer.

Goh-Livorness is a Microsoft Technical Evangelist. She is a public speaker, and has guided students, game developers, and startups on their way to successfully create and market their games. She has worked at Blizzard, and is credited on World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.

Course Review: Introduction to C++ and DirectX Game Development Jump Start

Another very popular course is Introduction to C++ and DirectX Game Development Jump Start, instructed by Michael “Mickey” MacDonald and Bryan Griffiths. This course is for those who wish to learn game development from the foundation and upward, using C++ and DirectX. This course provides students with the ability to not merely create a game, but to build its engine. By doing so, students can improve their developmental skills, and score points with potential employers or bosses.

Instructor Michael “Mickey” MacDonald

Instructor Michael “Mickey” MacDonald

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Setting up the tools required in the development process
  • What DirectX Can Do
  • Creating the Main Game Loop
  • Creating, Texturing, and Moving Objects
  • State Management
  • Capturing User Input
  • Physics and Collision Detection
  • Adding AI and Other Extras to the Game
  • Recommended Resources and Next Steps
Instructor Bryan Griffiths

Instructor Bryan Griffiths

There are no prerequisites for enrolling in this course. It is worth 67 points, and runs approximately seven hours. There are eight modules in this course, which include slideshow presentations and assessment quizzes. These can be found at the end of each module. The course is a Level 100 course, and is rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This is the course for all of those souls who have dreamed of developing a game of their very own. It is a long course, but it gives inexperienced users a foot in the door of game development. By the end of this course, students are qualified to go forth and explore the world of C++ / DirectX game development on their own.

MacDonald is an indie game developer and Microsoft Technical Evangelist. He has worked with different platforms, including Xbox 360, Windows, and Windows Phone. He is a frequent speaker at various industry events and conferences, as well as a regular contributor to Channel 9 and MVA.

Griffiths is a software engineer and game developer. He has worked with Activision/Blizzard, Sega, THQ, and others. He has developed games for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Mac, PC, mobile platforms, web-based platforms, and has even developed two physical board games. Griffiths is also a video game design and development instructor at triOS College.

If you are looking for expansion into a very challenging and creative field; if you are searching for your next IT career move; if you have always wanted to design or develop your own game, but didn’t know where to begin; if any of this applies to you – do yourself a favor and sign up for Microsoft Virtual Academy today. It is free, it is accessible, it is educational, mind-expanding, and – most of all – practical.

Microsoft’s Academy experts are here for you, to help you get the training you need, and to acquire the next set of skills that will put you ahead of the pack. In this age of handheld computers, smartphones, and powerful gaming consoles – designing and developing games isn’t just a pipe dream or a hobby, but a career in the making. If you have the passion and the drive, Microsoft have the professionals who will help lead you forward.

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