Burk Learns Game Design with C++ in Independent Study

Northwood offers a space for students to pursue their niche interests through its independent study program. People like Liam Burke ’24 are taking advantage of the opportunities and pursuing their passions. Liam Burke’s Independent study is on game design using C++, one of the most common and versatile programming languages.

As he progressed and built his first few computers, his interest changed. “When I was 14, I became interested in building computer hardware,” Burk said. “After I built my first few computers, I became interested in the software aspect of it.” Burk realized that programming languages were the foundation of computer software, and it “made me feel like a creator,” he said.

Liam’s passion for programming eventually led him to explore game design. This, in part, was due to Liam’s uncle, who works as a game designer for Realities.io and is producing a game that will be released on PlayStation. Liam’s old school did not support independent projects, so he pursued game design at Northwood as an independent study. He felt that game design would be a perfect independent study and “A way to do something I like and get credit for it.” He worked diligently and taught himself C++, and once he felt comfortable with the programming language, he enrolled in a course that specialized in using C++ for game programming.

Throughout his project, Liam met with his teacher, Ms. Carmichael, to check his progress and stay on track. This helped him to stay motivated and focused on his goal of designing a game from scratch. Liam began the design process by brainstorming ideas and creating a general outline for his game. Next, he started programming, breaking the process down into four distinct steps.

“I started by designing the game world, creating the character and implementing the input movement, implementing the game mechanics, and finally, tweaking the lighting,” Burk said.

After many months of hard work, Liam has completed the first level of his game, which equals approximately 20 minutes of gameplay. This is an impressive achievement for a high school student. Liam’s game is a third-person playable on PC, demonstrating his expertise in C++ and his ability to apply that knowledge to create a fun and engaging gaming experience.


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