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EDIT: For those not in the know, I’ve been working with a simple game creation program called “Scratch”.  This application was made by some guys at MIT in an attempt to create an easy to learn and use game creation tool.  It can be found at scratch.mit.edu.  Enjoy, even though I really didn’t…

Scratch is an interesting little program.  It has a very gentle learning curve, but is also limited by some pretty heafty issues.

  1. Only 1 key press is registered at a time.
  2. Duration between initial key press and key repeat is very long.
  3. Pressing a new key while a key repeat is in effect will cancel the key repeat.
  4. You cannot make the play field any larger than the initial size without scrolling (which is pretty darn small).
  5. You have to create and reuse every object that will be in the game at design time, instead of having the option of creating new instances during runtime.
  6. Sprite scaling degenerates a sprite if you scale it too far down and then back up again.

Scratch does have some advantages though:

  1. It’s supported on many different platforms.
  2. It’s very simple and easy to use.
  3. The rotation mechanics are simple and intuitive, very nice.

It’s pretty obvious that Scratch’s intention was for rapid prototyping.  And if it wasn’t, that is all I would use it for anyway.  It has strong potential as a rapid testing bed for gameplay mechanics.  However, it’s shortcomings prevent it from creating high end games that anyone might want to distribute to non-friends…

That may seem harsh, but it’s the truth.  Bravo to MIT for trying to make a game creation tool with a very simple interface.  For what it’s worth, they did a valiant job.  But Scratch is far from capable and I will keep in mind as a test platform for game mechanics, at best.

On to the game… I did the simple space combat game.  While very basic, it was still quite fun and difficult.  There were some aesthetic changes that need to be made regarding ship models, but other than that, the controls really didn’t seem to be much of an issue and gameplay went relatively smoothly.

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4 Comments

  1. Love this blog I’ll be back when I have more time.

    • Max Esayev
    • Posted April 22, 2009 at 00:32
    • Permalink

    Back in the day, I used to be obsessed with another, similar simple program called RpgMaker. Really fun little tool, sucked hours out of my day.

  2. Kyle,

    Lots of great comments about the program. I believe MIT could easily modify this to make it more robust and flexible, but whether they continue to be funded to do so is another story… The search continues for the perfect democratic game design program…

    Regarding the visuals of the spaceships, the old Spacewar! used the ‘needle’ and ‘wedge’ as the two ships, which made it much easier to tell where they were going. Asteroids used the wedge-shaped ship as a standard. Try the original Asteroids out in the Manitou Springs arcade. Vector displays are fantastic.

    -Devin Monnens

    • Roucis Kyle
    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 21:07
    • Permalink

    I think that Scratch has potential. A little bit of extra effort (funding) and it could be a very versatile application. As it stands though, I will stick with my current assessment.

    The visuals in the game were very much coder art, and the second ship actually turned out very differently from how I had PLANNED on making it, but I didn’t have time to make a new one.


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