Where to Find Help

Web Only

This textbook was authored for the CIS 580 - Fundamentals of Game Programming course at Kansas State University. This front matter is specific to that course. If you are not enrolled in the course, please disregard this section.

As you work on the materials in this course, you may run into questions or problems and need assistance.

Class Sessions

A portion of each class session is set aside for questions that have come up as you’ve worked through the course materials. Please take advantage of this time; not only will you benefit from the answer, but so will your classmates!

Discord

For questions that crop up outside of class times, your first line of communication for this course is the course channel on the departmental Discord server. If you have not yet signed into the course discord channel, or are not yet a Discord user, please visit https://discordbot.cs.ksu.edu. This assistant will link your K-State and Discord accounts and set your username for the server in accordance with K-State policy.

Discord can be used through its web app at https://discord.com/webapp or you can download a native app for Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, or Android devices.

Info

In addition to class channels, the Discord server hosts channels for student clubs, announcements, and general discussion. It is a good place to socialize while we are unable to meet face-to-face.

Course Channel

Discord uses channels - the equivalent of chat rooms - to provide a place for related conversations. The channel for this course is #CIS-580. It is the best place to go to get help with anything related to this course, from the tutorials and projects to issues with Visual Studio and Canvas. Before you post on Discord, use the search feature in the channel or scroll back in the chat history to make sure the question has not already been posted before. It will save everyone quite a bit of time.

Additionally, all course announcements will be made in the course channel (as well as through the Canvas announcements), so make a habit of checking the channel regularly.

Direct Messaging

Discord also supports direct messaging - you can use this when you have a procedural or grading question. Type the name or eid of the person you’d like to message into the search bar, and then select them from the results to start a direct message. Once you’ve started a direct message with a user, their name will also show up in your side menu.

However, for general questions, asking them in the course channel will give you the best chance of a fast answer, from the course instructors, TAs, or your fellow students. And if you help a fellow student, you might get bonus points!

Info

The helping hand extra credit assignment provides bonus points for students who are caught helping other students in the class Discord channel.

Other Features

Discord includes lots of useful features:

  • Use the @ symbol with a username in a message to create a mention, which notifies that user immediately, i.e. @Nathan Bean (he/him) will alert me that you’ve made a post that mentions me.
  • Use Shift+Enter for new lines in a multi-line message
  • Use the backtick mark (, i.e. `var c = 4;`) to enclose code snippets to format them as programming code, and triple backtick marks to enclose multiline code comments (```[multiline code]```).
  • You can also set your status to indicate your current availability.

Email

Discord is the preferred communication medium for the course because 1) you will generally get a faster response than email, and 2) writing code in email is a terrible experience, both to write and to read. Discord’s support of markdown syntax makes including code comments much easier on both of us.

However, if you have issues with Discord, feel free to email one of the instructors directly if you are unable to post directly on Discord itself for some reason.

Game Development Club

Another great resource available to you is the Kansas State University Game Development Club. You can learn more at the club website https://gdc.cs.ksu.edu/. They also have a channel on the departmental Discord Server, #game-dev-club.

Other Avenues for Help

There are a few resources available to you that you should be aware of. First, if you have any issues working with K-State Canvas, K-State IT resources, or any other technology related to the delivery of the course, your first source of help is the K-State IT Helpdesk. They can easily be reached via email at helpdesk@ksu.edu. Beyond them, there are many online resources for using Canvas, all of which are linked in the resources section below the video. As a last resort, you may also want to post in Discord, but in most cases we may simply redirect you to the K-State helpdesk for assistance.

If you have issues with the technical content of the course, specifically related to completing the tutorials and projects, there are several resources available to you. First and foremost, make sure you consult the vast amount of material available in the course modules, including the links to resources. Usually, most answers you need can be found there.

If you are still stuck or unsure of where to go, the next best thing is to post your question on Discord, or review existing discussions for a possible answer. You can find the link to the left of this video. As discussed earlier, the instructors, TAs, and fellow students can all help answer your question quickly.

Of course, as another step you can always exercise your information-gathering skills and use online search tools such as Google to answer your question. While you are not allowed to search online for direct solutions to assignments or projects, you are more than welcome to use Google to access programming resources such as The MonoGame Documentation, the Microsoft Developer Network, C# language documentation, and other tutorials. I can definitely assure you that programmers working in industry are often using Google and other online resources to solve problems, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t start building that skill now.

Next, we have grading and administrative issues. This could include problems or mistakes in the grade you received on a project, missing course resources, or any concerns you have regarding the course and the conduct of myself and your peers. You’ll be interacting with us on a variety of online platforms and sometimes things happen that are inappropriate or offensive. There are lots of resources at K-State to help you with those situations. First and foremost, please DM me on Discord as soon as possible and let me know about your concern, if it is appropriate for me to be involved. If not, or if you’d rather talk with someone other than me about your issue, I encourage you to contact either your academic advisor, the CS department staff, College of Engineering Student Services, or the K-State Office of Student Life. Finally, if you have any concerns that you feel should be reported to K-State, you can do so at https://www.k-state.edu/report/. That site also has links to a large number of resources at K-State that you can use when you need help.

Finally, if you find any errors or omissions in the course content, or have suggestions for additional resources to include in the course, DM the instructors on Discord. There are some extra credit points available for helping to improve the course, so be on the lookout for anything that you feel could be changed or improved.

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The Bug Bounty extra credit assignment gives points for finding errors in the course materials. Remember, your instructors are human, and do make mistakes! But we don’t want those occasional mistakes to trip you and your peers up in your learning efforts, so bringing them to our attention is appreciated.

So, in summary, Discord should always be your first stop when you have a question or run into a problem. For issues with Canvas or Visual Studio, you are also welcome to refer directly to the resources for those platforms. For questions specifically related to the projects, use Discord for sure. For grading questions and errors in the course content or any other issues, please DM the instructors on Discord for assistance.

Our goal in this program is to make sure that you have the resources available to you to be successful. Please don’t be afraid to take advantage of them and ask questions whenever you want.

Resources