I am quite pleased with the variety of projects that my Code Club students are creating for our showcase in May. Everything from a maze, pong, virtual pet, dress-up to adventure and sports games. There’s even a game of games project idea that will be interesting to see develop.
One duo was wanting to make a game where the hero stays mostly in the center and the background scrolls before he gets to the edge. Something like Power Pete (or Mighty Mike) from Pangea Software (those were good times, hours wasted)
At first I recalled the scrolling demo project from Colleen Berekey. There are over 50 remixes of this project. I showed the pair this project but it wasn’t quite what they had in mind.
So I went home and thought about it and consulted my consultant – my spouse who’s a software engineer. Like with other tricks to animation, coding this was a matter of changing perspective and looking at the problem from a different point of view.
If your Sprite stays in the middle, the background and chaser Sprites will have to move with the arrow keys. Or more specifically, against the arrow keys.
Here’s my quick take on the point of view problem.
Scratch Cat stays in the center and only points in the direction of the arrow key. The stars move in the opposite direction briefly and then move back to center. This took some fiddling with to get it to look half way decent. In addition the octopus has to move in the opposite direction while still moving forward towards Scratch Cat.
Octopus moves in the opposite direction of the arrow key pressed while still forever chasing Scratch Cat
For added fun I included additional bad guy clones.
The last lesson project my Code Club worked through before starting to design their own Scratch game was Space Junk from Code Club World. This one is similar to the Space Odyssey project in Super Scratch where Scratch Cat has to avoid the obstacles and “survive” for 30 seconds. I could have gone with either one. In the end it was just easier to be able to print the pdf from Code Club World.
I spent some time presenting the project to the students. I also made available a project template with the assets and some of the code provided, but without any of the movements of the objects. The coding for the timer was set and the hero’s arrow key responses. Starting with this stubbed out version of the project was optional. Some students opted to use it and others wanted to start with a blank project (ie from scratch, har har).
Starter project with Sprite & Stage assets and some initial code
In creating a template of the Space Junk project I did use one Super Scratch Space Odyssey Sprite – because, well, it’s the Scratch Cat wearing a spacesuit. The template was helpful to many. It allowed them to work and test out the movements of the obstacles that the hero was to avoid. Of course, customization is what it is all about in 4th grade Code Club.
The template also helped them be successful in a shorter amount of time, which was important this time as I made them stop early so I could go over the Game Design Document and how to develop their own game. I chose to introduce the independent projects at the end of Code Club so the students would leave thinking about the project they were going to design. They only had one week to come up with a plan before their design review.
Interestingly, some of the independent projects are survivor or obstacle avoidance type games and resemble Space Junk, so I think it was a hit.