Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kids Know What Kids Want

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  
If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
~ Albert Einstein

And if you want them to be REALLY intelligent, 
encourage them to write their own fairy tales!
~ Me

Brandon is deep in the process of designing his first video game.  This first stage is less about the computer and more about dreaming and thinking and planning.

So far, he has decided to have 4 super heroes (based, I believe, on himself and 3 of his friends from school) and 2 villains - a super villain and his side kick.  He has also planned out the basic movements (including fighting moves) that they will all have, and a unique super power for each one.  

Everything that I have read about teaching kids how to write their own video games (i.e., 2 short articles on the internet - call me an expert...) says to have them start small and do-able.  So I suggested that he think of this game as having levels and only including 1 super hero and 1 villain in the first level.  

He said that this was already his plan!  ;)

Truthfully, it just blows me away how many things he is thinking through on his own.  

For example, he's already been analyzing the video games that he plays to figure out what he does and doesn't want to do in his video game.  As he earnestly explained to me, he has an advantage because he is a kid, so he knows what kids like and what they don't like in video games...  ;)

Some no-nos include:  (a) changing the background during or after a fight (like making the city look destroyed) and (b) setting it up so that the villain can do something weak to the hero and then the hero can't use his super power anymore...

(Note that I don't always understand all of these things, but what matters is that he knows what he is talking about.)  

He's even thinking about specific key presses!  He told me what you have to do to kick and fly in some games and how he doesn't like how far apart the relevant keys are and so he has planned out more convenient keys to use for his "kick" and "fly" movements...  

Man, is this kid smart, or what?  

But it's not all mental work - Brandon also wants to draw all of his characters.  He's going to draw them on paper and I'm going to scan them into the computer so that we can turn them into "sprites" for his game.  

We talked about animation and how he will have to draw different poses for each major movement and then the computer will flip through them to make it look like a movie.  And so that is what he is working on this week (hopefully only for the 2 characters in his first level) - maybe next week I'll have some samples to show you.  :)

For now, I'm the one doing all the computer work - I'm trying to learn how to animate his characters (sort of under control) and have different key presses switch between different mini-animations (clueless) - so that a key press can initiate the kick sequence or the blur when a character goes into super speed mode or the tornado-generating wing flap of Birdman!

With every lesson I am more and more impressed by how this activity (creating your own video game) requires both creativity and analytical skills AND by how well Brandon rises to both sets of challenges!   :)


  1. I like your raincoat hood in your previous post. Looks great on your hubby!

    1. Thanks, Gwen! It might be the hood, but my hubby makes everything look great! ;)