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Young Games Designers Summer School II

Discussion in 'Community Learning & Teaching' started by duck, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. duck

    duck

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    This week saw the start of the second Young Games Designer's Summer School.

    This is a week-long course at South Hill Park's UK Digital Media Centre, where ten teenagers (14-18 years) learn Unity and make a game in a week, as well as picking up some game design theory and techniques along the way.

    I'll be documenting their progress through the week, so watch this space or follow me on twitter (@robotduck) to keep an eye on their progress and give words of encouragement!
     
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  2. duck

    duck

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    Day 1

    Most students have little to no prior knowledge of Unity or programming, so Day 1 is spent with all the students following along together, all making the same simple game. This project is designed to encompass all of Unity's core building-blocks and concepts such as Components, Prefabs, Physics, Audio, and a small introduction to scripting including Input, forces, public inspector variables and dragged references.

    All the students kept up well, although I have a suspicion that some of them might have already covered some of these concepts themselves (judging from the customisation and embellishments I noticed on a few student's screens!)

    $YGDSS II Day 1.jpg

    $YGDSS Day 1 b.jpg
     
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  3. duck

    duck

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    Day 2

    Today was focused on a little game design theory, having asked the students to think about what kind of game they would like to make, and introducing some basic concepts of game design. We talked about "game mechanics" - the mechanical actions that occur in your game that define the game's identity and feel. We also discussed the idea of "progression" in their game's design - how the game should change while the user plays to give the player a sense of escalation and achievement. And we discussed the narrative of games - some students have already decided on a backstory to their game, while others are leaving the story writing until later on in the week!

    I also introduced Unity's asset store as a potential resource for students to use for their game elements.

    In the afternoon we got started on actually making the first steps towards putting together the basic moving parts of their game, with most students having laid out some kind of prototype environment and some simple movement controls by the end of the day. We have a number of different game styles emerging, including driving, puzzle platforming, projectile-flinging, and arena robot combat. With only three days to go to actually get their games playable and finished we are going to have to keep up a fast pace. However since the students have only so far had a half-day to start work on their own creations, things are looking good so far.

    $YGDSS II Day 2 a.jpg


    (Yes I'm a cruel teacher and make them sketch and write their game ideas on paper!)

    $YGDSS Day 2 b.jpg
     
  4. SubZeroGaming

    SubZeroGaming

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    This is excellent! I love what you are doing.

    Keep it up! I look forward to reading more about the progress!
     
  5. Marksmir

    Marksmir

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    Day 3?
     
  6. Martin SHP

    Martin SHP

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    Things must start to get hectic from Day 3 :)
     
  7. UnityDuck

    UnityDuck

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    Day 3

    Day three was all about getting the core mechanics of each student's game up and running. For most, this was to do with getting the main controllable character moving around, setting up a preliminary or placeholder level so that we have somewhere to test the game's feel.

    Three of the students have chosen to make their games based on a simple car controller script that I've provided. This is a simple script which makes use of Unity's built-in WheelCollider class, and provides some simple tweakable parameters for the accelration, max speed, steering and roll-prevention. Since we already covered applying forces and public inspector variables, I was able to talk through the contents of this script with the students so that they have an understanding of what they're using. Within this three we have a nice variety - a 3rd person car racing game, a robot-wars style arena battle game, and a fixed-2d-in-3d style stunt game.

    A couple of students are making first-person puzzle platformer style games, involving jumping and balancing challenges. We also have a few other styles including a 3d space asteroids game, a 2d ball-fling game, a turret based zombie shooter, and a 3rd person exploration game set in a mountainous environment (whose ultimate goal is yet to be decided!).

    All students are using the free version of Unity, and some of the students have already been taking advantage of some of the advanced and powerful features available in the free version such as lightmapping and navmesh (Yes, it's available in free since 4.2!).

    We also had a few sesssions where everyone downed-tools and learned some more vital information that applies to most games - we covered tags, using them for collision so that our game can respond to collision with different types of objects, and for counting objects - such as automatically finding out how many collectable items are on the current level. We also learned how to get text displaying on-screen - such as displaying the amount of items remaining to be collected, or the player's health or ammo, etc.

    A flyby of a space station, in the 3d space shooter:
    $day3 1.jpg

    Making use of the NavMesh feature (now free in 4.2) on a sculpted terrain, to enable roaming NPCs:
    $day3 2.jpg

    Some interesting robot designs for the robot arena battle game:
    $day3 3.jpg

    A fixed 2d stunt game, with a 3d view - this student is still using a placeholder car model, but is making great progress with the level design.
    $day3 4.jpg

    In the 2d stunt game, we need to detect if the car comes to rest upside-down - but how? Pen and paper to the rescue! (I'm explaining how the car's local "up" vector changes as it rotates, so that we can just check if the Y value of its up vector is less than zero!)
    $day3 5.jpg

    (more pics of day 3 in the next post)
     
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  8. duck

    duck

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    A puzzle platform set in space - your main danger here is falling off into the void!
    $day3 6.jpg

    Getting the camera rig set up for the car racing game:
    $day3 7.jpg

    The beginnings of a 2d ball-flinging game. Placeholder graphics so far:
    $day3 8.jpg

    Explaining how we can calculate the right force from a click and drag (or swipe) on the screen:
    $day3 9.jpg

    The secret codez!
    $day3 10.jpg
     
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  9. duck

    duck

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    Day 4

    Today, as well as getting all the remaining core functionality of their games working, the students learned about creating separate scenes to add title screens, game over screens and other screens for instructions and credits.

    We also made sure that all the relevant information from the game is displayed in GUI elements on-screen, and began testing our games to make sure that each game - although work remains to be don - can be at least won, lost, and restarted.

    For the games involving vehicles, I explained a method for simple AI to allow the cars to steer themselves towards a target using angle calculation. A number of the games also utilise a checkpoint system which we implemented today, allowing the player to restart at the last reached checkpoint if they fail a section of the game.

    The horizontal bars across the track in this game are the waypoints that the AI cars head for:
    $day4 01.jpg

    A diagram explaning how the car AI code knows which way to steer:
    $day4 05.jpg

    This is the rear view of a wheeled robot in a combat arena with a scorpion-like tail:
    $day4 02.jpg

    The 2D ball flinging game now has score, boost, collectables, powerups and particle effects!
    $day4 03.jpg

    A massive pile of floating coins waits at the end of one of the puzzle platformer games:
    $day4 04.jpg
     
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  10. duck

    duck

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    Day 4 Continued...

    With the racing game now having16 cars playing at once, the occasional pile-up is going to happen!
    $day4 06.jpg

    A nice mixture of the terrain engine and imported models in this level design for a 2D stunt game:
    $day4 07.jpg

    Zombies advance on the base in this turret-based shooter:
    $day4 08.jpg

    We set up checkpoints today in this puzzle platformer - which is good because this game is hard!
    $day4 09.jpg

    3D asteroids is coming along really well - the asteroids split into two when hit.
    $day4 10.jpg
     
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  11. duck

    duck

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    Day 4 Continued...

    Some of the student's title/game over screens are still using placeholder graphics.... I think? *cough*!
    $day4 12.jpg

    A laser cage and robot guard stop the player from reaching a collectable item on the top of this mountain.
    $day4 13.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
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  12. rahuxx

    rahuxx

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    Hi is there any video recording of this training available for people far from the training place.
     
  13. Marksmir

    Marksmir

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    It's ended ;(
     
  14. runningbird

    runningbird

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    Did you create a curriculum for this?

    I almost set up a Summer Camp where I'm at might do it next year just couldn't get the resources together etc to hold the class.
     
  15. Rafael-Barbosa

    Rafael-Barbosa

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    This is pretty awsome, I would love to have been part of it! Sadly I am kind of far away : /

    Still congratulations guys! Awsome work!
     
  16. TylerPerry

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    That red, yellow and blue Unity t-shirt is incredibly awesome.
     
  17. pixelsteam

    pixelsteam

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    Yes were are you getting your t-shirts?

     
  18. duck

    duck

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    Day 5

    The crunch is over! Day five is complete, and all the students did an amazing job of pulling their games together for the end of the week. We had a desk-swapping test session where the students tried each other's games in the morning - giving valuable feedback and often spotting problems that the developer hadn't noticed, and the afternoon was filled with last minute bug-fixing and game polishing.

    A few students uploaded their games to Kongregate, but the majority decided they'd like to spend some more of their summer holiday improving their game before uploading it. It seemed an interesting point that this year's students were all significantly older than the group of student last year, and perhaps as a result they were more self-conscious of their games, and perhaps more conscious of the implications of publishing their games in a public arena.

    However, I'm really pleased with the quality and variety of games they all produced, and I have produced a montage of gameplay footage (and scenes from the Unity editor from their source files!) showing off the games in their best light!

    Enjoy!



    - duck
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
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  19. Mattyy

    Mattyy

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    THIS IS AMAZING ! I can't believe that they learned all of this just in few days. I been learning unity for over a month and i am still not that good or achieved what those guys did.
     
  20. chelnok

    chelnok

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    That is the beauty of young brains, guided by great teacher :) Absolutely great work duck!
     
  21. bcjordan

    bcjordan

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    This is incredible! Great work, everyone involved!

    That's really interesting, thanks for sharing. Did any students end up sharing their games to get feedback in a less-public arena (i.e., uploading to their own website or a course page?)
     
  22. oscphe

    oscphe

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    good idea we need more of these :p
     
  23. LeonardWatts

    LeonardWatts

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    Thank you for posting this. As a teacher myself I am very interested in this kind of thing and I am actually quite surprised how much they were able to accomplish in just a few days. This inspires me to learn more about Unity and use it with my own students. Thank you for the inspiration and insight :)
     
  24. Cheats

    Cheats

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    I'm really interesting to know in designing my own games. Hope there will be summer school like this in our country.
     
  25. JohnGee85

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  26. Nicholas Ostheimer

    Nicholas Ostheimer

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    @duck

    Would that event be hosted again for the students? You mentioned it was the second event.
     
  27. SamSony

    SamSony

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    i love this
    i want learn every thing about unity
    can anyone help me how i can start
     
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  28. Ankit-Priyarup

    Ankit-Priyarup

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    Do you guys have plans to come in India, I can bet sure that you will get very innovative and cool talents.
     
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  29. Gizrik

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    Is this the same as the unity class at RIT? Because I'm going to that :D
     
  30. Gizrik

    Gizrik

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    Me too!
     
  31. Gizrik

    Gizrik

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    What country are you in? There's different summer college assignment places :)
     
  32. xuanyusong

    xuanyusong

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    very cool
     
  33. JACK_Z

    JACK_Z

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    awesome, any videos?
     
  34. iNii

    iNii

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    the stun car one seams great
     
  35. Al-Habeeb

    Al-Habeeb

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    that's great, and there something i wan't to say , i am from saudi arabia and i wan't coding in unity but as you know there is nothing for unity in saudi arabia i was trying to learn from 3 years ago for that we need you unity in saudi arabia we have a talents and i am in 15 and thank you for reading see you in saudi arabia
     
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