These are my notes from Learning to Code with Art, Music, and Video Games from FSI 2014, presented by Michael Taylor from NIU.
The Digital Convergence Lab at NIU offers camps for middle school and high school students each summer that teaches students to program through art and video games.
Students attend camp for 4-5 days with the primary goal of creating a video game. They start with a design document and then build a prototype. They have about a day to create the design document.
Game elements are a recipe for building a game. Identify the elements needed (images & sounds), build the structure, add interactions, and compile.
GameMaker allows you to create code visually without needing to write traditional code. This is an example of “black box coding” that allows you to define objects and events to make the program run without writing the detailed code.
Creating a game in GameMaker uses these components:
- Sprites – images, can be changed to update/customize the game (not essential to the mechanics), begin building the game with placeholders and then work on the graphics later
- Objects – pieces of the game space, can have properties
- Events – occurrences in the game (triggers), such as Create, Delete, Collide, Mouse input, Time elapsed (Alarm, based on steps & frame rate)
- Actions – what happens as a result of an event, such as movement, sound, changes in state, execute code
Students can usually create the “Catch the Clown” game in about an hour.