Making a Video Game, part 2

Maze sample

Yesterday, I wrote about my latest endeavor to create a video game that uses some free software and which incorporates some element of “story” as its backdrop. My aim is to have fun and also, to consider the possibilities for the classroom.

It turns out I lost my Internet access on Sunday, which gave me some space and time to sit down with paper and pencils and really think through what my game might look like and how it might be played. I can’t say enough about how valuable it was to be off the computer for some old fashioned “paper thinking,” and I already see some revisions and iterations of my game design beginning to formulate in my head. I’ll share more of the particulars of my game in tomorrow’s post.

I spent a good chunk of time with GameMaker on my own (no tutorials, thanks to lack of Internet access) in an attempt to create a simple maze game and I floundered a bit, I must confess. I constructed a maze, but I had a lot of difficulty designating what I wanted things to do and I never did figure out how to make the click of the mouse designate a move on the board, which will be a central act for the user of my game. I am sure this is easy to do, but I could not figure it out, not for the life of me. And I am not sure if I can even create my own icons (sorry, sprites, but I have my own ideas for players and pieces in my game).

I ended up just diving into the program as far as I could go, just as I imagine that many students do when they encounter a new game or a new console or a new program. I would have liked some hand-holding directions (honest, I would have) but there is something to be said to full immersion into software without a life preserver. I suspect that when I make my way back to Gamemaker (with tutorials in hand — now downloaded onto my computer directly), I will be farther along with understanding its architecture than I think am.

Yesterday, Cindy left the suggestion that perhaps this exploration of developing a game could be done with my entire class, together as a collaborative activity, which is something I had not really considered: a whole-class exploration. But I wonder how that would look, given that so much of this is trial and error. I’d have to train myself to really “think aloud” and turn over the production to the class. It’s interesting, and carving out time for it would be difficult, but not impossible. More to think about …

Peace (in the maze),

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