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Game-based assignments typically form an integral component of computer programming courses. The effectiveness of the assignments in motivating students to carry out repetitive programming tasks is somewhat limited since their outcomes are invariably limited to a simple win or loss scenario. Accordingly, this paper develops a simulation environment in which students can create a game strategy via programming for a challenging strategy-type game. After completion of the game, the environment provides the student with a set of metrics that provides helpful clues as to how the student might reprogram the strategy to improve the result. The provided metrics help to avoid a tedious trial-and-error refinement process and, therefore, greatly motivate the student to complete the assignment and achieve a better result. The simulation environment can be used in either a standalone mode or in an interactive mode in which the students compete against one another online. The competition element increases the motivation of the students to complete the task to the best of their ability.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2009