This past week, June 26th, I had the pleasure in running a playground demonstration at ISTE 2019. For my playground, I showcased the video game that my students developed and I want to make it available to those who regularly visit the site.
Whateverland is a game developed by neurodiverse students at the Rebecca School. In this game, you (the player) play as Whateverman. Whateverman must traverse the confusing world in front of him by making it to the highest point of each level. However, Whateverman will be confronted with built in bugs and slow mechanics that sometimes make it seem like he may make it to the next platform.
Please keep in mind, this confusion represents the confusion that my students traverse on a daily basis. Trying to make sense of their own world, let alone the world we want them to be a part of. Yet, they never quit when playing the game themselves.
Please enjoy Whateverland.
Left/Right Keys - Move
Space Bar - Jump
R - Restart Game
Today we are jumping straight into game development and talking about Godot Engine which is a fully free open source game engine that is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux operating systems.
Godot is worth mentioning as it is the first program I used with students to build a 2D platform game. Godot, as a gaming engine, maintains a lot of flexibility as developers and educators have the choice of coding with GDScript, C#, C++, Python, and even has it's own drag and drop editor. The engine allows for multi platform editing, so teams who are working on different operating systems don't have to worry!
Another great thing to mention is that Godot engine offers free multi-platform deployment. Of course we still have to pay for our developer licenses on each platform, but it's great to know that this engines export feature is not hidden behind a paywall.
Looking to get started? Here are some valuable resources to help you along your journey!
Instructional Design Verdict
Disclaimer: At the end of every post, I will provide a verdict from the standpoint of an instructional designer within the field of special education. What I say is my opinion of using the software within a special ed classroom and may have different results within a typical class setting.
Godot engine is a great free engine, but lacks in certain areas. I found it somewhat difficult to get up and running at first. What I mean is that there are various flaws that need to be accounted for and it will be very hard to use this software within a discovery or problem based learning scenario. Instructions are not straight forward and many of the resources out there are outdated. This leaves the educator with having to provide maximum support and scaffolding which stops the video game exercise from being a problem based learning or discovery learning environment. The software is no doubt an incredible tool to use but, in an educational setting, it requires too much support from a facilitator.
If you've had a completely different experience or would like to share further information, please do so in the comments. Thanks for reading!
So you want to make a video game? Well..... what's the plan? I mean you have to have a plan! Right?
Well, don't worry too much. I mean I am here to show how video games can be used as an educational tool.
Sometime ago, while sitting in a Barnes and Noble, I came across a game develipment book labeled "Learn How To Develop Games- For Kids!" Well, the book definitely wasn't on a grade school level and tried to teach in a way that would have students bored the death. But I found one useful thing. At the end of the book there was a poorly put together chart on the game design process. I copied that chart down and over the years have edited it to help others understand the game development process.
Whether you're teaching a college course, or grade school level, you can adapt this chart as needed to your students!
Game Development Document
Part 1: The Concept
The High Concept- 1-2 sentences explaining the game. If you cant explain your game in 2 sentences or less then your concept will be lost in translation.
Genre- Is it action or racing? Explain!
Gameplay- is it first or third person? 2D or 3D?
Features- What makes this game different from every other one on the market?
Setting- What is the games world and do you have concept art? How does the setting effect the plot.
Story- Summarize the plot of your game & introduce the hero and villain.
Target- Who is your Target audience and why will this game appeal to them?
Platform- Is it multi-platform?
Estimated schedule, budget and profit/loss
Competitive Analysis- Who is your competition?
Team- What are the credentials of your team?
Part 2: Game Design
This section is about establishing the full story, gameplay, user interface, characters, monsters, A.I. and everything else.
Art Production Plan—Discuss or think about the look and feel of your game. What programs are you going to use to bring the art to life?
Art Bible—Since a plan has been formed, the artistic style must be set in stone. Now it is time to create some more concept art
Production Path—Concept art is just that, concept! It’s time to turn the concept art into actual 3D models.
Technical Design—This is when you talk about how you will program your A.I., environment, controls, etc.
Project Plan—Write out a road map which tells how you are going to build the game (explain what software’s will be used)
Manpower Plan—List your entire team and what each person is doing.
Resource Plan—Explain all external costs of creating the game.
Project Tracking Doc—Keep track of the games production. Duh!!
Development Schedule—How long until the game is finished?
Milestone Definitions—Known as “Deliverables” which are full scale models and sketches of characters and other art.
Part 3: Development
Ahhh! Now we are at the development stage! See how much thought you have to put into a game before you even start making it?
The first order of business is a game prototype. This will be a few stages of the game. We then move into the Alpha & Beta Stages. The Alpha stage is when the game is mostly playable due to it being unfinished and un-fixed glitches. Beta is when the game is finished. You have finished every stage and all the coding/AI is perfect. All that takes place now is fixing all the bugs and glitches that are left over.
We then move into Code Freeze. This is the last days of beta and the master discs or whatever other means of distribution has begun. The game is released!
Part 4: Patches & Upgrades All bug fixes due to hardware or extra content fit into this section.