Design the Scratch Games
I wanted my students to be aware that you can make games based around important, socially relevant themes, and that they would have to do so with theirs. So before they started their own, they played some examples. Here is a list I found, but I would love suggestions on others:
- Stop Whaling Game by Greenpeace
- Wasteland Adventure about recycling
- Pipe Trouble about local effects of oil drilling and running pipelines
- Mission about homelessness (currently dead link but it is a great game!)
- Phone Story about where phone parts come from
The context of this project is a full-year robotics class so making games was a diversion into physical computing and game design. Not being experienced in game design they needed significant scaffolding for their game design algorithms. So I walked them through the basic programming for two game formats with the idea that they would pick one to develop further for their project.
Falling Object Game
Here is a link on Scratch to a template, http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/25316753/. To teach it I had them remix it before it had any scripts and together we went through the scripting. I didn't cover winning and losing score scripts until later, but the script for that looks like this, placed in the stage.
And of course you have to add backdrops for winning and losing. It's easy to add more cans, just by duplicating the existing one, then you have more of a challenge. Students extended this format in ways I will describe further down.
Side Scrolling "Flappy Bird" Game
Here is a link to this template, http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/23061550/. Again, they remixed mine without the scripts and we went through the scripting together. Adding the winning and losing conditions later on was a little more complicated because the background sprites were covering the win and lose screens.
So in addition to adding the script above to the stage, another condition has to be added to the background sprites scripts that makes them hide if the score gets above or below the limits for the game. You could also get rid of the scrolling background sprites altogether and the game mechanic becomes one of flying objects coming at a character that isn't moving but just jumping up and down to avoid them.
Students decided on a game theme and picked one or the other mechanic, then made several modifications to extend their template. They changed all of the graphics using images from the Scratch library and images from the web. Some added sound effects. Some added animations to the character that played when they moved or when they got hit. Some added levels by changing the stage background if the score went above a certain amount. Some added lives that were subtracted when you get hit so you have only 3 chances to get hit, and some made it game over as soon as you were hit once. Tough!
The Makey Makey extends basic gaming keys to the the physical world. We used these two options for switches I had from Super Cricket and GoGo Board kits as the contacts. If you don't have switches, you will have to get the switches and solder on leads. A search for "momentary lever switch" brings up many varieties. Here is one for $.99 each on Jameco Electronics (my fav). Other than this, there are probably lots of ways to make switches for this project, but the more standard the better, since the switch is incorporated into the controller design.The switches have two leads. One connects to a Makey Makey alligator clip attached to a key assignment, like right arrow, and the other lead connects to the ground, or EARTH, assignment. Some games had one switch, some had two, depending on how you control the character.
The students used Tinkercad to design their controllers. There are several "lessons" they can learn basic skills, like making holes, grouping objects, and resizing.
The holes for the switches had to be precise, which was beyond the skills my students could develop. So I made that and gave them the link. They then clicked "Copy and Tinker" and built their controller designs around my piece.
|Link to design|
|Link to design|
Here are many of the resulting projects. Here's a link to our project page for Maker Faire. If you try this project out, I would love to see your results (and so would my students)! Note: there are glimpses of GoGo Boards in some of the pictures below because we used those initially to connect the switches to Scratch. But that process was difficult and buggy, so I switched to Makey Makey for the final version.