Creative Commons License

All Creative Computer Club Resources created by Matthew C. Applegate are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Please note that some of these resources also contain images of software that is protected by copyright and are used under special agreement with these software companies, they are therefore are not covered by the Creative Commons License. The text is free to download, use, edit and redistribute, the images are free to download and use as is, unfortunately they are not available to edit and redistribute. You can find the resources page here.←

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Creative Computing Club: Week 4 Arduino

Today was all about the Arduino, although it was difficult to get started due to driver installation issues on some of the machines, as soon as we did, the students were able to speed through it.  I was so pleased, as for a lot of them this was the first time a lot of them had ever done any electronics. They were extremely careful and respectful of the components, and followed the instructions perfectly.

I took them through a brief introduction to the parts; the LEDs, the breadboard, the resistors, potentiometers and the layout of the Arduinos it was light introduction, nothing too heavy.
Thankfully their experience with Processing last week helped them speed through the typing of the code and already new about things like the setup() and loop().

We started with the classic "Blink" tutorial and added more lights so we could then sequence them, we also gave the "pinouts" names so we could understand what the code was doing more easily.

We then added a variable "int time" so we could change the timing of the lights a lot easier across the sequence.

We were also able to add a potentiometer to change the speed at which the lights flashed, so we could interact with the Arduino in real time. 

All the resources from the session today can be found here. Sincerest of thanks to for the donation of the Arduinos please check out their range of Arduino breakout boards and sensors and thanks to Rapid electronics for donating all of the components.

The Arduino I recommended you purchase is the Arduino Uno from Rapid Electronic and the book I recommended was Getting Started with Arduino which can be found here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Creative Computing Club: Week 3 Processing

Today was hard work for the students but they coped well, not only did they have to learn Processing but all the terminology and concepts that goes along with computer programming. I admit I threw them in at the deep end, but they all managed to swim. The problems they were having were minor syntax errors; a missing semi-colon, a missing ")" not problems with the big concepts. They were able to take on board variables, arrays and even 2D arrays, it is quite easy when you put it in context of a game. A variable could be the Health Points or HP, an array could be used for the heroes inventory and a maze could be done using a 2D array. We even covered conditionals, functions and for loops.

I didn't want them to understand everything I just wanted to give them an overview of computer programming, these things like all crafts take time. I did however want to have a complete program or in this case a very small simple game, that way they could go home and have the whole program to tinker with. Because we did the Game Maker session first there were a lot of similarities to draw on, like variables and screen layouts.

I think it was a success, the proof of that however will come next week when I find what else they have gone on to do with Processing, like how they came back this week with Game Maker games with loads of cool features. This is just meant to be an introduction, the rest will be up to them. The book I recommended the look at to follow up the session with was "Getting Started with Processing A Quick, Hands-on Introduction"by Casey Reas and Ben Fry here.

Sadly today I was super busy running around making sure people were up to speed so I didn't get a chance to make any photos of the session today, but I promise I will next week when we start to play with the Arduinos.

We made a 2D maze game and so can you by downloading all the resources from the resource page here.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Game Maker Games Screenshots

It seems that a lot of the students have carried on with their games so I am going to post some of the images here. This one is from "Red and the Missing Keys". This game has portals!

If you have carried on with your game and have a screenshot you would like to share, please do.

Update:  May 30th, 2012
More screenshots are now coming in the games are still be developed and are looking great.
Another spectacular looking game really good use of depth. Excellent  work.

Update: July 10th, 2012
Brilliant and difficult game shown off at the exhibition.
 Lovely retro graphics on this one.
 Some really nice touches in this platform game
like quicksand.
 Wonderful open feel to this huge widescreen game.
 Wacky and wonderful concept to this game.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Creative Computing Club: Week 2 Game Maker

I am so pleased with the students today, not only because this was  an enormous and complex task, but it was their first session under my direction, and they did brilliantly. Admittedly one of the students had prior experience with Game Maker, and few of them had tried it before, but this time all of them left having learned how a basic platform game engine is put together. I really think they got a real sense of achievement from doing it.
I can't describe how happy they were when their characters started to come life, first we added gravity, then movement left and right, but it really got exciting when the characters jumped.

It was quite a daunting task for me, usually I tend to teach more game design than game making focusing on characters and artwork, this time it was all about using Game Maker to bring those design elements to life.

All of the resources for today's session are available here, for one on one sessions it usually takes around 60 minutes to go through it, for a group allow for 90 minutes. Obviously go through it first yourself otherwise it will take a lot more time. Next week we are learning coding with Processing so please download and install beforehand if possible.

Sincerest of thanks to my assistants Joe & Bradley for their help keeping everyone on track, to all those who took part and of course thanks to YoYo Games for providing the Creative Computing Club with a copy of Game Maker so I could teach with it.

If any students want to send me some screenshots of their game please do and I'll post them on here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Creative Computing Club: Week 1 Introduction

Today was the start of something good and I really felt that especially after I had finished talking and got to see everyone else talking to one another. I started the session with a short 30 minute talk outline first what I have done, what I hope to achieve with these sessions and what I hope we as a group and individuals will go on to do afterwards. I talked about how we were funded through and who has sponsored us with equipment.

I called it the "Opening Night" to borrow from the art world, this is a computing club, but it is very much geared towards getting people to put what they have created on display. I talked about the subjects we will be covering Game Maker, Processing, Arduino, LEGO Mindstorms, sound and animation. I also gave a demo of Processing and Augmented Reality which I also let the students try out.
I then stopped talking and started asking questions about what the group want out of these sessions, we also had cake at this point. It was great and the group already has a good feeling to it, the students were already beginning to talk to each other. I also got the students to introduce themselves, their computing experience and general interests. Minecraft appears to be very popular so I might have to contact them regarding using that in education.
Chris from Rapid Electronics also made it to drop off a load of much needed components, multi-meters a stationary, at which point we had a good rummage. Thanks to all at Rapid.

I made it very clear to the parents that they are welcome to attend all the sessions and to ask questions as I am very much a fan of families working together especially while learning.

I am really pleased with how it turned out and I really felt it important that the parents and students got to meet me before I start with the teaching. Even though my teaching style is fairly informal, I wanted to the introduction the me and the sessions to be really relaxed.  I wanted the students to know they are not being assessed, we are only here to learn and learn about the things they are interested in. One of the parents said their child was worried it would be like "more school", I think they are now aware of how different these sessions will be in comparison to a lot of assessment based activities. The ethos of the project is to provide a safe, friendly and supportive environment to either learn in groups or on their own, they can either join in on that weeks topic or continue on with an subject they are more interested in.

Next week we kick off with Game Maker, I will also be joined by two Degree students that I have taught on the UCS Games Design course. I think it good to have some of the degree students as they will be also able to explain their experiences as a Game Design student (and they are only a few years older than the students), which I think a few of these students will be interested in. Additionally it will provide the degree students with some teaching experience. So it is good news all round.