Construct for Teaching

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  • Hi,

    I just want to introduce myself.

    I'm a lecturer in IT from South Wales, teaching mostly media subjects at college level. Since September I've been teaching an evening class in game design, using GameMaker. However, very early on in the process I realised that GM, great though it is, was not going to be suitable for the class. Too much of my time is spent solving issues specific to GM and teaching workarounds, rather than teaching concepts of game design and simple implementations as I would like to.

    I've stuck with it out of necessity, but since October I've been casting around for alternatives, so that I can develop the class and deliver an improved version from September. My criteria were quite specific:

    • free for education/non-commercial use
    • accessible to beginners (drag and drop style or similar)
    • offer advanced options for stronger students
    • deep enough to teach complex topics such as AI
    • able to create a variety of game types (platform, shooter, top-down, etc.)
    • a full range of features- sprites, controls, collisions, text, sounds, particles, etc.
    • well documented, with plenty of public examples
    • give the students skills and portfolio opportunities that could help them get on a degree course

    I found Construct completely by chance last week (despite being around for over a year, you have made a very small impression on the web), and I am so far very impressed with the software and community. It ticks most of the boxes, just the documentation is a bit sparse at the moment.

    If all goes well, I plan to use Construct for my class starting from September '09. In doing so, I will be producing a collection of teaching resources such as tutorials, examples, and exercises, that I will hopefully be able to share with the community. This will of course depend on how Construct develops in the intervening time, i.e. a 1.0 release, more documentation, etc. I really hope things continue to develop well.

    Anyway, that's all I really need to say right now. I look forward to working with you all, and getting my students to share some of their creations with you.

    Thanks.

    GMG

  • Thanks for getting in touch. That sounds cool! As you mention documentation is sparse and we're relatively unknown right know, mainly because we have yet to emerge from beta and release our first officially stable build, 1.0. However, hopefully in a few months, we'll either have arrived at, or be much closer to, a well documented, popular game creator.

    Sharing your teaching materials would be fantastic, since it would probably help a lot of people out, and being open source, would be very much appreciated

  • Yeah, do point your students this way too!

  • September '09

    The challenge has been set!

  • Welcome! I'd like to echo the sentiments stated above. We're aware our documentation isn't complete, and tutorials are certainly a very effective way to introduce people to game making, and to Construct.

    From an attempted non-biased standpoint I think Construct is well suited for classroom usage, in that it is free, simple to use (no scripting, no heavy learning) and powerful. Obviously it has a learning curve the same as any other tool, but we've worked hard to keep it to a minimum (beyond learning the interface and becoming familiar with the event system).

    We're definitely aiming to be at a 1.0 release sometime around this summer, and naturally the documentation should develop by then, as will example games/tutorials, I'd expect.

  • Thanks for the encouragement and the kind welcome.

    Naturally, the fact that it is free is one of the greatest plusses for this software. I can't use a product that the students can't continue to use in their own time. The restrictions placed on GameMaker 7 Lite meant that I had to jump through all sorts of hoops (for example: pre-rendering rotated sprites and writing code to compensate for it (image_index=direction/360%image_number)!!!). Ultimately, I want to be teaching broad concepts using clean examples, not granualar, one-time-use solutions to platform specific problems.

    Working with GameMaker, within the first few lessons I needed to start working with GML code, which alienates those students coming from an art/design perspective. Since then, I have been mixing DnD with GML in the most inelegant ways. The system used in construct seems ideal for my needs, with no restrictions and everything done using either ACE or behaviours.

    Hopefully I'll be able to help you with the documentation, as I will be converting my lessons and examples to Construct. I have a range of lessons teaching different concepts such as hazards, objectives, rewards, powerups, all demonstrated in actual game play examples. It will simply be a case of making Construct examples to replace my current GM7 ones. Different people learn in different ways, some by watching/reading, some by doing/experimenting, others by following instructions. The more and varied material that is available for study, the better.

    Anyway, I only joined yesterday, I don't want to get a reputation posting long rambling rants.

    I'll be back when I have something to ask or something to share.

    GMG

  • Gotta keep one thing in mind, though: Construct is not quite polished and complete yet. I'm new as well and already I've sent some bug reports, not to mention that I still keep running into them.

    Perhaps if bug diagnostics was were a part of the learning process... Both the students and Construct would benefit from it.

    On that note, good luck converting the lessons! I look forward to trying them out... perhaps I'll learn something myself! (Such a freeloader that I am. )

  • Man, I want to take your class.

  • Yeah me too. I want to go to ITT but dont have the money and the capacity to have a job and go to school.

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  • my computer class sucks, i wish i had something like this

  • Glad to hear that you may use construct in the class room. I myself am a game design student and have convinced my teacher to look into construct as a tool in her future classes.

  • My teacher would probably running construct too but alas he isn't because the computers in our tech room are far to crappy to run it. Not enough vram and such.

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