Sunday, April 24, 2005

teaching game maker

Last Monday I was invited by Tony Forster and Roland Gesthuizen to help teach Game Maker to some Victorian teachers who are just starting out on that road.

As always it's a learning experience for me to prepare for and teach teachers.

First up, I had to rewrite my clickball tutorial in Game Maker 6.0, so I started to learn some of the new features in the latest version. You can now put special effects into sounds, like chorus, echo, reverb etc. Mark Overmars has reduced the number of Action tabs in Object Properties, making it easier to find your way around. Also fonts are now a resource that you have to import from outside the program, that confused me at first.

I went on the looong drive to Tony's place before the meet since we were team teaching and needed to check our notes. Tony explained that his initial approach was different to mine. He starts his beginners off by teaching them how to move objects with the arrow keys and shoot whereas, with my clickball tutorial, I am initially teaching how to move automatically without stopping and to click with the mouse. Tony argued that his approach leads into games that students, boys anyway, would want to make.

I think he's right and so now feel obliged to write a new beginner's tutorial.

The inservice session itself went well, there were about a dozen teachers all very keen to learn the basics of Game Maker. Tony and Roland had organised everything smoothly so it went off without a hitch. During the break, Roland showed the group a short video his students had made for the 3in6 (3 minutes in 6 hours) competition that has become popular in Victorian schools. It was on the theme of domestic violence and dramatised some hard hitting issues.

Towards the end of the session someone asked me a question that I found hard to answer, how do you lose a life if someone misses a click! Subsequently, I posted that query to the national game maker forum and both Tony and Jacob Habgood provided solutions.

There were follow up issues raised by Charmaine Taylor about the best approach for girls and games and once again there was useful discussion about that at the national forum.

I've subsequently posted some new demonstrations using Game Maker 6.0 to my web site, one about programming basic maths facts and the other is Jacob's solution to the click and miss problem.

So, all in all the opportunity to once again teach teachers some game maker has pushed me along a bit more in my thinking and development of resources for that excellent piece of software.

Thanks again to Tony and Roland for making it all possible. Check out Roland's blog, he keeps it very active with a wide variety of issues. At his blog, I read that he's helped author an entry to wikipedia about a game called snipes.


Blogger CyberShot said...

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(Just to keep your spirits high)

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12:57 AM  

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