Students produce computerized version of board game

Playing the board game Deflection is nothing compared to designing a computer version of it.

That’s what 7 seniors found out this semester during their computing sciences seminar course as they wrote code, designed visuals and troubleshot in an effort to bring Deflection to a monitor near you.

Ryan Barnard proposed the project to Dave Powell, associate professor of computing sciences and business administration. Barnard then found other classmates willing to take on the project and the group contacted David Taylor of Greensboro, N.C., who designed the original board game in 1989. Two players are required for the board game version of Deflection, where players try to capture their opponent’s game pieces through the right combination of moves.

The group, consisting of seniors Ryan Barnard; Avery Edwards; Jeff Houston; Trevor Kelly; Ryan Markel; Michael Richards; and Joe Torralbes, met with Taylor in late August to get his input on what the computer version of the game should look like. Barnard took on the role of project manager while other members of the class assumed specific production responsibilities, including graphical user interface lead, architecture design lead, artificial intelligence strategy lead, technical writing lead, and quality assurance lead. The final project consisted of approximately 13,000 lines of java code.

As of early December, the game is almost complete. Players can compete against the computer or other players online, and the computer version bears a striking resemblance to the board game.

Throughout the planning and design stages, the team set deadlines and met them. “I think each of us averaged 12-13 hours of work on this per week,” Barnard says. “I think this shows that we’re capable of organizing, planning and managing projects. Despite a little bit of burnout, I think we’re all still pretty excited about the project now that we see tangible results.”

Powell says the students’ work is comparable to major projects they’re likely to tackle on the job someday.

“I’ve been so impressed with their work ethic and their commitment to working together as a team,” Powell says. “Completing this project will enable these students to gain an edge when marketing their skills to prospective employers.”