Lesson 4: Build a World: Putting It All Together
Students will combine their understanding of systems, meaningful decisions, and the iterative process to create a new game
Students will learn phrases and techniques used in video game design
Time required: 45 minutes, plus game design time
What to do:
1. Ask for five volunteers to participate in a simple demonstration. Explain: Pong was one of the first arcade video games and is a version of table tennis. Sketch and describe the game as follows:
- Room: On level one, the room is an empty rectangle with a vertical line down the center.
- Sprites: Pong is a two-player game. Each player is represented by a small vertical line that represents a paddle.
- Objects: On level one, the objects are the line in the center (that represents a net) and a ball. Using their paddles, players must bounce the ball over the net. If the other player misses the ball, a point is scored. In later levels new objects (walls) are placed throughout the rectangle that the ball can be bounced off and around.
2. Assign your volunteers to be the ball, Player 1 paddle, Player 2 paddle, Player 1 user, and Player 2 user. Push the desks and chairs out of the way and create a net using a piece of string or a chalk line.
3. Have students play a physical version of Pong in slow motion, drawing attention to the rules of the game. The two players should give verbal instructions to the "paddles" and the "ball"—without touching them. Gradually add other volunteers as wall objects (obstacles) to show how the game becomes more difficult over time.
4. Explain that video game designers use specific words to describe their design process. Review the definitions for the terms below including room, sprites, objects, actions, and events.
Using the worksheet:
5. Distribute Worksheet 4 to each individual student. Challenge students to use the worksheet to create an outline for a new video game. Remind them that every action within their game must have an equal and opposite reaction.
6. Give students 15 minutes to complete the worksheet. As they work, ask questions such as:
- What is your play space?
- What are the instructions for the player?
- What are the instructions for the objects within your game?
7. Ask each student to think about his or her game as a computer programmer would, focusing on if/then statements, events, and collisions. Distribute Worksheet 5 and ask students to fill it out as they apply to their new game.
8. Provide time for students to test their game by assigning other students to be objects or sprites. Let students know that it is OK to make small changes while they play/test if they discover problems.
9. Bring students together to demonstrate their games. Discuss the challenges and fun of creating a video game.
10. Challenge students to create a video game, based on the game they have created. Go to http://www.activategames.org/getting-started and sign in. Then follow the directions to create an original video game.
Encourage your students in grades 7-12 to submit their video game designs to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for the chance to earn scholarships and awards. Click here for information and registration details. Collaborations are welcome!
Actions: Actions are the things you program your objects to do in your game. There are many kinds of actions: jumping, moving, bouncing, playing sounds, changing sprites, displaying messages, ending the game, etc. Actions are triggered by events. You set both actions and events in the process of creating objects.
Collisions: A collision is a special kind of event. A collision happens when one object touches another object. Like all events, collisions trigger the actions that you create for your objects. A collision happens when the sprite assigned to an object touches the sprite of another object. Because there can be multiple instances of a single object, collision can happen when two different or two of the same objects touch.
Events: Events are the things that happen that trigger objects to perform their actions. There are many kinds of events: when your player presses or releases a key, when your player clicks or releases the mouse, when an object collides with another object, when a timer goes off, etc. Event triggers are part of the parameters that you set as part of creating an object.
Object: Objects are the elements that you create and script to do things in your Game Maker game. Objects can be assigned actions such as moving, jumping, triggering sounds, etc. Everything your player sees in your game except the background is an object. Objects themselves don't appear in your game. Instead instances of the object appear. More than one instance of an object can be on the stage at the same time, each with the same actions.
Room: Rooms are the two-dimensional world of your game. Each room is a level. You place a background and instances of objects into your room to create a game for your players.
Sprites: Sprites are the images you place in your games. They are made up of images that you create on your own and import into your game. Sprites are placed in objects. Sometimes sprites can be animated.