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Gamemaker Curriculum


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#1 LizardMan

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 08:58 PM

I have been put in charge (at 15 I know) of teaching the Waukesha South High School Game Programming Club. I am trying to get a basic idea for the curriculum. So far I have this:


1st Meeting: (Nov 22)
Covered basics of GameMaker. Just made a little 1P pong example.


2nd Meeting: (Dec 5)
Made a scrolling-shooter engine. Download Editable


3rd Meeting: (Dec 8)
Handed out D&D packet with a little GML. Put some more touches on the scrolling shooter. (Note the above link is the full version)


We will also be using the GM Manual a lot, referencing it, etc. I'll also try to sneak in some Forum Edicate like Tarik said. I will also go over the aspects of a good Please contribute your ideas and tell me when you think I should teach them. game.

Also, if you have any little editable games that I might be able to use as examples that would be great.

Eventually I might make tutorials for everything we do in class and I will make a website with the tutrorials and everything you need.

LizardMan

Edited by LizardMan, 12 December 2005 - 08:56 PM.

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#2 Tarik

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:09 PM

- Read the manual and visit the GMC.
- Use decent English when asking questions. Don't be a moron.
- Research, read tutorials, read posts, articles and play games for insight and inspiration.

I'd say, keep your 4 things as primary ones. And teach these 3 as basic guidelines to follow, some kind of homework or whatever.
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#3 FGFK

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:36 PM

Don't be a moron... sheesh how harsh... sounds like my english teacher...

Anyway, you should cover much more than just how to program games. You must also think about the nonprogrammable (well programmable in a certain sense) issues, such as replay value, originality, good graphics (and by this I mean making your own graphics so that they all look the same style... it just irritates me when I see different styles of sprites smashed into one game)... etc. There are many good discussions in the Game Design forum.

Here's my ten cents (yes ten cents...):
-Ask your programming teachers how they go about and break up their lessons. GML has the same structure as every single kind of programming language, so it should be taught similiarly.
-If you got a graphics savvy art teacher, ask him the same question as above.
-Go to your english teacher and ask what kind of vocabulary should be used in games. Not everybody is as smart as you would hope them to be.

Here are my tips:
-Don't spend a bulk of time on D&D. I suggest only a few days. You don't want any of your students to become too dependant on it. Sure, Mr. Chubigans does 100% D&D, but in the real sense, it is very limiting.
-Influence on keeping everything simple at first
-Encourage the use of examples and tutorials made by GMC users
-Encourage using excellent games made in GM as examples

I'll have more for ya later, but I'm brain dead so...
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#4 Tarik

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 05:56 AM

Yeah it's harsh, but it's good to start soon or they might grow out to be like some of the people on this board who are ruining the it. No good can come from being a moron can there? On second thought, what's even harsh or bad about asking somebody not the be a moron, or did being a moron became the standard thing to do these days. o_O

Anyway. He's pretty much giving a programming course right... So I don't think you'd need to teach people about the graphical part, replay value, originality etc. If this is an education where the students will be able to be hired by companies then the companies probably take care of graphics, originality etc. If it's teaching people to make their baby steps into the world of game making then yes programming should not be the only subject.
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#5 LizardMan

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 01:29 PM

Nice ideas people. I will be referencing the GM Manual a lot and encouraging them too, and I will be sneaking in some Forum Edicate. I will also go ever the aspects of a good game like FGFK mentioned.

Thanks,
LMan
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#6 Finally Freedom II

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 02:17 PM

you could perhaps teach them how things they learn in physics class can be applied to programming. (when I first found out, physics seemed like a much funner class all of the sudden :D)

Offcourse this can also be applied to Biology (eco-systems, or they can base enemies on animals, etc), and much more.

Linking Game making to various aspects of school certainly made my schoolife more fun, maybe it works the other way around as well?

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#7 LizardMan

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 06:46 PM

One problem...I haven't taken physics or biology.

LMan

Edited by LizardMan, 13 October 2005 - 06:46 PM.

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#8 Tarik

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:09 PM

Well, it doesn't really matter. Aslong as you give very simple examples, of how game making requires many different skills that you learn at school too. Like math, I'm sure you can give a few examples. Or biology, you might learn that some animals hunt in groups, and so you can apply that to your animal-enemy a.i to have them walk in groups/formations. Whatever, there are many subjects that you learn at school that can proof useful in GM. Showing them the association between the subjects and GM will make both more fun and interesting, as well as probably more realistic(if you use real-life phsysic laws, real-life animal behaviour etc etc.) good point by FF2!

It doesn't really matter if you haven't taken physics or biology, try to find a subject at school that you are learning and tell the students how it can be applied in GM. Then the students can do the same for the classes that they take, which might be phsysics and biology :D!
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#9 HelpTheWretched

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:10 PM

My thoughts:

Have some exercises on logical problem solving, teaching how to use and nest loops and conditions. For example, finding which instance of an enemy has the lowest hit-points, walking to a point you click then stopping, checking grounds to detect how far in the air your platformer character has jumped, stuff like that.

Even if everyone learns D&D, some coding, and looks at arcade-type examples, the ones without programming experience are going to get stuck at some point with those kinds of problems. Good luck.. :D
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#10 Simon Donkers

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:44 PM

Why not set as goal to make a game rather then to set as goal to learn them program. With as goal to make a game you will actually motivate people rather then giving them boring programming work or letting them redo there physics sums for a game.

Start with 1 player pong, let them learn bounce, move in D&D, then convert it to breakout with collisions and slowly expand there game to keep them motivated and proud on there achievements. Telling somebody to learn the D&D commands from Game Maker is boring but telling somebody to figure out what action is needed to play a sound, increase the score and let a breakout stone disappear is a challange. Keep expanding the game concept until D&D is no longer capable of handling it and point them to GML. It isn't fun to get long classes on D&D but it's far easier to figure things out yourself and have a teacher available to ask for help.

You mention this is a game programming club. Is the goal set out to learn people to program or what is the goal you have set.
Something interesting would be to spend more time on game design and game concepts. Letting people think about reward structures, game flow diagrams and the like would be quite useful educationally. Plus it's the main point missing in computer games. Anyone can make a basic game with Game Maker but game play isn't so easy.

Just a few thoughts.
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#11 tommiev

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:51 PM

Simon Donkers, just had to say, nice thoughts.
On an other school of my friend, they are getting gamemaker teached too. The teacher told them to read the manual. They didnt understand anything, I heard. I taught my friend a bit of gm, and maybe he could teach his to his friends in class.
I hope his teacher will understand the same as what you are saying.
Reading the manual is not so fun as trying to figure out how to make a game.
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#12 LizardMan

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Posted 15 October 2005 - 06:52 PM

I'm deffinately going to tell them to read the manual, just reference it (now wondering how the heck I tought myself...). I will be going over problem solving and such in the curriculum. I will also go over game design and we will slowly progress using examples they make themselves.

LMan
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#13 LizardMan

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 08:18 PM

First meeting is tomorro, please post with any ideas.

Thank you,
LizardMan
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#14 nickydude

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 08:36 PM

Perhaps direct them to the GM Knowledge Base? It explains GML as well as helpful hint's and tips and tutorials, they might find it useful. :ph34r:
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#15 tkg

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 10:44 PM

The major problem with directing people to a site means you look stupid and cant answer there questions yourself. They think they will know more then you in no time.
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#16 GameMaker Dre

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 10:53 PM

Well, my friend went to a programming course over the summer, and he had to make a game by the time it was over. I think the most important thing you should do is be able to answer twenty one (thousand maybe) questions, and be patient. Referencing the manual is not always as good as seeing the teacher (why do people hate machines so much when trying to get customer service?)

As for teaching, I think you have the basics covered. You should probably throw together an example or tutorial (that you made, bringing along the one on the site won't get you anywhere as far as credit wise, but you may use it as a base for setting up your own) in the platform (definetly) and top down shooting (maybe) type games as they are the easiest to make. I see you have basic GML, a must. I'd basically teach them everything Game Maker can do, as in sprite-wise, background-wise, room-wise, etc. For instance, let them know about Colorizing, setting transparency, and views. (You might want to leave 3d out depending on how long you plan on teaching the club, but you may brush on it lightly.)

Also, point out the GMC, (maybe at the end of the club sessions, so as flood control isn't on 24/7). GMC sure helped me, seeing all the other projects, getting help, and basically discussing what a game should be. Take some of the Cage Match winners and Staff's Choice projects with you to show what hard work and dedication can teach them. They aren't learning unless they're interested. If they aren't interested, they just want to pass a test, or as in my class (Culinary Arts) they just want to eat.
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#17 LizardMan

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 07:58 PM

Yeah, believe it or not I had about 20 kids show up and they all cought on quite quickly. During the next meeting we will be getting into more detail and make a scrolling shooter.

I mentioned the forum and so they could get help at home.

LizardMan
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#18 LizardMan

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 02:16 AM

Had our first real meeting today. IT WENT GREAT! I had fun, the kids had fun, it was awesome. We got into or first real game and made the engine to a scrolling-shooter. You can download the editable in the first post.

If you have any ideas for thursday's meeting please get them in now!

Thanks,
LizardMan
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#19 MarcomX

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Posted 11 December 2005 - 09:37 AM

Is a teacher really necessary?

I mean aren't the tutorials self explanatory? If you can read and have access to a computer you can make decent programs with gamemaker within a week. Sounds like a waste of time to me.
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#20 TheWintergreen

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 12:38 AM

Well, first it shows the kids a program they might not have found otherwise, they get to learn from an actual person who will answer their questions very quickly. They get troubleshooting really quickly.
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#21 Jeggi

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 04:58 PM

something that could help them to learn GML is to first tell them to make the Bounce ball game from the manual, and then afterwards tell them to redo it in GML + make one object to the game that will make the gameplay better. That will teach them abit of GML and game design.. just my thoughs...
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#22 Voger

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 05:47 PM

Ho, this project don't needs a teacher because is very professional but you can complete more editables..
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#23 LizardMan

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 08:55 PM

Voger...I completely did not understand your post.

Also, many people's learning style's are different. I for one learn by finding out myself. For me it is very easy to teach myself things. For other's they need someone to first start them out and teach them.

LizardMan
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#24 MarcomX

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 09:32 PM

Someone needs to teach voger english.
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#25 RandomBlackMage

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 09:44 PM

I believe if you have not done so already, you should branch off into a different genre of games. Most games in the same genre use 92% of the same coding choices, so by changing it up, they'll learn various coding teachniques for future use.

Ex: Side-scrolling shooters uses mainly alarms and diretional changes, while platformers use gravity, persistancy, and player connected weapons. Broadening the horizon is a good way to go.
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