Easy game dev tools for a young child

Posts: 1,141
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #1
Community, please lend a hand in answering the following:

Quote: live in New york ..... One of the kids a 13 year old girl is interested in game development, I am helping her to learn photoshop/illustrator/golive using the Adobe Classroom in a book series, are there any introduction to gaming books that would be geared to a young person, she is very quick. If she put together a simple game I know she would be hooked. I intend to give her my iBook when I upgrade later this summer. Can you give me any direction?

We've had a great many discussions on the topic in this forum. You can search withing the idevgames.com/forum domain at Google. I found:

Same situation but the child's gender is different. Some may say that the genre of games that a boy vs a girl may want to make would be different.

On to your question. Many kids today love video games and are exposed to them via consoles. This might lead to certain expectations in the games they want to create. So first, be aware that she won't be able to site down and create a 3d MMORPG in one month.

Instead, the best route is to work on very very simple games. And build on the knowledge. For example, work on a tic-tac-toe game. She can play in Photoshop to spice up the game's graphics. Also get an audo editor so she can make some greart SFX. For IDE, take a look at TNTBasic, which is free, and geared towards games. Sadly, you won't find any books on the market that will take someone on a Mac with zero knowledge and turn them into a game developer. You can work with some scripting languages, for example JavaScript, Flash, PyGame, etc. There are countless books for them, but they are not Mac specific. Though I would guess that she doesn't care about her "platform of choice."


Carlos A. Camacho,
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Posts: 1,141
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #2
I should also mention that you might want to write a nice letter to Freeverse Software as they also are in NY. Ask them if you could take her into their studios so she can get an idea of what a Coder is, and what a designer does, etc etc. Good field trip.

Carlos A. Camacho,
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Posts: 460
Joined: 2002.09
Post: #3
I recommend Alice (http://www.alice.org/) with some reservations.

My son and I ran into some flakiness during a couple editing sessions, fixed by exiting the program and coming back in. Should be fine as long as you teach her to save her progress regularly and in sequential projects. (Though it does have a good Undo function.) 2) it's based on Java3D, so it's pretty pokey when it first starts up. 3) You can deploy as a web project, but it's Java3D so odds are your friends will have to install something on their computer before they can run it.

But check out the first demo Flash video. Very quickly they run through the basics of programming, and it all fits naturally in the environment. There's even concurrency. The operations you do to objects in the world editor (e.g. move up 3 units) are exactly the same methods your program can call at runtime. It's quite cool.

Once someone are comfortable with the concepts in Alice I think you have a good grounding to tackle a real programming language, and/or a less constrained but less friendly programming environment.

Measure twice, cut once, curse three or four times.
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Joined: 2003.03
Post: #4
I think MakeBot is nice.

"Yes, well, that's the sort of blinkered, Philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage."
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Posts: 86
Joined: 2005.01
Post: #5
I'm hearing a lot of good things about Scratch. Works on the Mac, and it seems to be based on Squeak.

Intended for 8-16 year olds.

Newest game: Glow, a sci-fi RPG with lots of zombie bashing. Get it: OS X
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Post: #6
ravuya Wrote:I'm hearing a lot of good things about Scratch. Works on the Mac, and it seems to be based on Squeak.

My 14yo son has a Game Development subject at school. They recently switched from learning Flash to Scratch and his initial impressions are very good.

Yes, Scratch is based on Squeak. More specifically, it descends from the eToys heritage of SqueakLand. As of June 2007 source is not yet available and there have been discussions as to the license under which it might be available (from memory of reading the Scratch forums).

I've been thinking a lot about such products - do you think they can still get away with being 2D only or do kids expect 3D?

My initial impressions of Alice, Squeak and Scratch were that they lack something compared to OS/X and Vista Aero expectations of translucent, shadowed interfaces.

However, as an experienced cross-platform developer especially having being involved in an education product, I'm also painfully aware of the often-limited hardware out there!
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