Construct 2 as an aptitude test for future coders

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  • I work as a teacher at a college in Australia, and I'm thinking of using Contruct 2 as a bit of a 'entry test' or aptitude test for future students considering our 'digital and interactive game design course'.

    Our course is designed as an entry point to learning how to design and code games (and associated skills like modelling and animation). It's always hard to advise potential students on their suitability for such training, but I love the idea of being able to use a tool like Construct to temporarily remove the complexities of writing code and concentrate simple level design and 'conceptual' visual coding.

    What are ppl's thoughts on this as an entry test before enrolling to a full year intro to game design course? Would you freak out <img src="smileys/smiley19.gif" border="0" align="middle" /> if you were given a half hour intro to Contruct 2, then given an hour or so to knock out a simple level or functioning game sequence.

    Any comments appreciated.

  • I think 1 hour to design a game is not a lot ... It is really not enough to make atleast the ghost shooter tutorial ... You should give them 2-3 hours to make their game ...

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  • I'd say, along with some quick interview of the student, asking what game he wanted/intended to do, eventually why and how he did what he did you'd have a solid overview of the student's potential.

    Depending on the people and their current programming knowledge half an hour can be enough, some might need more time.

    It's a bit awkward to me though to "push the tool" before solid paper planning. But I don't know how your course is structured, and possibly you can get more infos observing a person focused on its work than in any paper design.

    I don't think it's outrageous to use C2 for such a test though. You just have to take it as a tool to demonstrate potential than a full disclosure of one people's skill (especially in a so short discovery period).

  • I think its a great idea for them to wet their whistle and also throughout the year could be used as a great tool to quickly prototype game mechanics etc. I would recommend giving them more time though to do the 2 getting started tutorials, then perhaps a few hours to try and mimic an existing game like pong or something as a test. They won't know how to design something simple or know what they will be able to accomplish in such a short time with a brand new tool (and lack of game design training yet). so by giving them something that they would already know and try to copy it, you regain control of limiting them to something they will actually be able to complete in whatever time frame you need them to, and then you can also compare all of the applications you get back on the same playing level. It will be easier to determine who's better than who if you only have a few spots available.

    For bonus marks you can have them add a special feature to an existing game too to stretch their creativity. eg: pong with powerups

  • I'm not sure I'm very comfortable with people using C2 as a "test" - I think you'll just select for people who can quickly figure out how to use an app they haven't seen before. That kind of person will appear to do better than someone who is slow at learning to use new software, even if they are overall better at whatever qualities you're really after. People familiar with other OSs like Mac and Linux may also be unfairly disadvantaged. And of course if someone has used C2 before and keeps quiet about it, they could seem amazing!

    Imagine a complete genius at game design who conveys everything by sketching pencil on paper, but who's useless at using C2. Surely you'd still want to accept them.

  • I don't know about this idea. I feel like there are much better aptitude test formats that could be used to identify potential shortcomings in understanding code structure.

    I think a seminar that introduces the fields of study that you'd offer would be a better "test". Students can remark upon their perceived comfort level with the concepts and workflows introduced to them, as well as their level of interest. Ultimately, I think these things would better determine who should study a given field or not.

    Keep in mind that men without legs have climbed mountains. Determination is key. If they really want to be a game creator, they'll get good at being a game creator. These students are already eligible to be in the university, so very likely they aren't so cognitively impaired that they simply cannot succeed.

    Finally, C2 definitely has potential for use educational for aspiring game devs. And it's my understanding it also has been used in the classroom.

  • Thanks for your feedback and ideas. I think I might use it as an 'ice breaker' in week 1 to do some fun / rapid / simple game development. It will give me a chance to look over ppl's shoulders too to see if they have any core literacy or cognitive problems as well. I'll be sure to post back any tutorials that I might put together for my class to the community here to use. Looks like you have a great community happening, I'll be sure to get the students signed up to it.

  • It seems a bit backward to me, Construct (At least to me) isn't so much a beginner's program, it's an incredibly advanced high level visual based language, you might not program line by line, but the logic of an event sheet is effectively identical.

    If your class is aimed at people who haven't programmed before (You mentioned it's an entry point) and doesn't entirely focus on the programming (You mentioned modelling and animation, hefty subjects on their own) I would say Construct is not suited, it's far too powerful, you can accomplish in minutes what would take C or Java hours to implement let alone learn, and if you started the class with Construct one week with people making platformers in seconds and the week after spending a hour teaching them how to make a menu in C++, they're going to wonder why they're learning near machine level programming when last week they were busting concepts in seconds!

    Back in my youth we were introduced to programming with a FORTRAN exercise and switch programming, it definitely made us appreciate C afterwards!

  • I think it could be helpful.

    I recently enrolled on an online computer science course delivered by Harvard at edX. Rather than have students jump straight into coding, the course first introduces coding concepts, divorced from the scary syntax of code.

    So in the first week you learn about functions, booleans, loops and variables. The course uses the drag and drop program Scratch for this, and I thought how much it reminded me of Construct, only far less powerful.

    But a note of caution; I agree with Mr E Bear in that a potential problem of introducing coding concepts through a powerful program such as Construct rather than Scratch is that students might not see the true power of coding when they have much of that power at their fingertips already.

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