We had our first session using the game making programs yesterday, we allowed the students to simply have a muck around with the three programs – Stencylworks, Game Salad and Atmosphir. Our TSSP had downloaded the games onto the lab.
Within a few minutes we were meet with some technical difficulties…of course! The students needed a game salad account but the actual site was blocked!! Grr!! So that ruled Game Salad out for the day – 1 down… Atmosphir was the next to go… we needed to download a second component so that was out… 2 down!! Oh dear! Things were looking a bit grim! However StencylWorks was the shining light in the trio!
The students were quickly able to pick it up and begin to create simple games. It was definitely challenging and pushed the students out of their comfort zone however I was still really amazed at their ability to just sit down and figure the program out!! They worked mostly in pairs and were able to create the beginnings of simple games. The most successful seemed to create little mazes with a goal to obtain at one end (e.g. a sword) and some baddies to avoid along the way (evil chickens were popular). There was also a ‘knock bricks’ out of the way game and a simple doodle jump style game. Some children did seem a bit overwhelmed with the task and didn’t achieve much in the short session however I think they just needed to see from some of the other students that it actually was achievable!!
On the technical side again we also realised that it was important to set up a space where all the work can be saved to on the server so the kids can access it from any computer and don’t need to go back to the same computer.
We tried to do a reflection after the game building and we asked the students;
- Today I learnt how to…
- I am having difficulty with….
- I wonder..
I felt that the reflection at the end was a little bit rushed and the students didn’t really produce well throughout answers and they were hard to draw away from the game creating. I really wish we had a two hour block for this class as I feel we would be able to get better quality reflections. However as this is not possible we probably just need to allow more time for the reflection or perhaps we should do it at the start of the next class. Hmm…food for thought!
We have also managed to contact a parent at the school who is a game designer, he has offered us some advice and hopefully he will be able to come in a speak to the class as well. He suggested to focus on the game design aspect and really spend time setting up the narrative of the game. I think this is an excellent idea because the storyline/back story was something that all of the class deemed as really important in their criteria and it goes to support their literacy skills as well!! (so sneaky of us!!) I really liked the idea of combining some art (drawing & sculpture) into this process and music – backgrounds, sound effects. etc! I think this stuff will really value add to the project and will help to widen the project a bit more.
So here is a list of things we plan to focus on in terms of Game Design:
A main idea (e.g. alien races warring on different planets, to a frustrated
sultana trying to escape from a kids lunchbox)
Concept of what style of game they want to make, 3D, 2D, platform, 1st
Levels / Stages
User Interface (Menus to get around game)