Flash game design has become a subject of interest to me in the past year because my 7 year old son has expressed the desire to create video games. He has been making his own mazes, card games, and board games for a few years, and I thought that a natural progression in this interest might be to translate some of those simpler games into Flash. Guest blogger, Heather Johnson, helped me find some resources for people interested in this topic.
If you are interested in learning how to design Flash games, then you don't have to invest in expensive courses or confusing books. There are many free tutorials available online for those who already have Flash and want to learn more about the program. For Flash tutorials that are specific to games, I recommend the following eight resources.
- Actionscript.org – This site is brimming with Flash tutorials for those at all levels of expertise. Once you reach an intermediate level of skill, try this jigsaw puzzle tutorial in order to learn more about object orientation.
- Emanuele Feronato – Feronato is a self-described geek and programmer who offers many useful tutorials on his blog. His Flash game tutorial, in particular, has become a very popular resource for hobbyists and professionals alike.
- Learn Flash Games – This area of 2FlashGames.com offers seven free video tutorials. Learn about animation, tweening, action scripts and more with these helpful beginner's lessons.
- Peachpit – Peachpit is a publishing company that offers how-to books on graphic design, Web design, programming and more. This is the company's official blog, which occasionally offers sample chapters from their books. "First Steps of Flash Design" is a chapter from Macromedia Flash MX Game Design Demystified that will introduce new designers to the technology.
- Tutorialized – This is an amazing site that allows IT professionals and hobbyists to share and rate tutorials. There is a growing area that is solely devoted to Flash game tutorials, which is a great resource to both newcomers and veterans.
- GameSheep – This is a popular free gaming site that also offers various free tutorials. The Flash racing game tutorial is great fun and highly recommended for those at the beginner to intermediate design level.
- SitePoint – One of the most popular resources for Website and game developers, SitePoint offers an article titled "Online Games Development in Flash – A Brief History." This article outlines the history of Flash games and what Flash games are capable of. It also offers links to helpful tutorials.
Whether you are a hobbyist who wants to play around with Flash design or a serious programming student, there are countless resources available to you on the Net. Rather than submerging yourself in dry, confusing texts, I recommend you get your feet wet with the above online resources.
Heather Johnson is a freelance writer, as well as a regular contributor for OEDb, a site for learning about online education. Heather invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the things I enjoy most in life is spending time with my 7 year old son drawing. We draw everywhere and anywhere. For him, it's an extension of this fantasy world in stories that he creates with my wife and I, where each of us acts out different characters. Sometimes we do it with action figures, other times with character cards (Pokemon), with drawings we create, or just walking around telling stories out loud.
I love the story telling, but what I really enjoy most is when we create these characters on paper. One thing I've always done with him is to show him characters in different states of emotion, sometimes putting them in comic strips. The simple way is through the eyes and mouth. A drawing teacher I once had, who taught Manga cartooning illustrated this clearly to me, and I passed it to my son.
One day, he was telling stories with this Ugly Doll, named Chuckanucka, and through the story the character went through several emotions. He started showing them by doing the lines we use over the eyes using his fingers. I thought that was pretty cool.
LeftoverPi shows how to do multi-digit subtraction using addition.
Michael Wesch is an Asst. Proffessor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. He created the video entitlted, "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us," presumably for his students. Ignore the title for now and just make it through. Imagine that you're a student, not a web designer or developer, and that this is your anthropology teacher talking about something you're pretty familiar with, using the web and sites like flickr and youtube. Now go...
Did you pretend to be an undergrad? What did you think? Do you recall any teachers investing this kind of effort to instruct? I know I haven't.
The video is well executed and is cleverly self referential, as is the title itself. This is such an effective method for education because he's using the medium, the object of his lesson, to demonstrate the point of the message. On a number of levels he's referencing the participatory nature of web services to teach about the phenomenon of the participatory/mashed-up web (web 2.0). Educators should strive to think about teaching this way. It's active and engaging and is the kind of stuff that just might inspire students to do more with what they get out of school. Very cool.
Bloomberg reports that a fourth grader in Washington State was suspended after refusing to answer a question on a standardized test. Read the article to find out more about the child's respectful reason for refusing to answer the question.
After refusing to answer, the child was humiliated by the school principal, who said to him, "Good job, bud, you've ruined it for everyone in the school, the teachers and the school," and later described his behavior to his parents as "blatant defiance and insubordination." The principal was claiming that the child was bringing down the school's average test score, which was apparently unfounded because state regulations show that the test is pass/fail and there is no averaging of writing scores. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) uses test scores to measure a school's annual progress, and if schools fail to show progress, the principal can be fired.
This is what NCLB is doing to children in American schools. It's asinine to think that you can improve learning on a massive level by testing performance. What this act has done is rally principals around kids to make them test well, not to help them learn. And America's children get stuck with self-serving educators who need to care more about what they can do to save their jobs than to teach or allow kids to learn for the gratification that comes with becoming more knowledgeable and skillfull in the world.
Politicians need to stay the hell out of the education system. As with any kind of learning, you can't rush or force it for the sake of the outcome. Performing for rewards can be the root of many other problems, especially in this country. We so often perform for rewards of different kinds. Wage earners might perform for bonus money and raises. Kids might perform for stars or for grades. I fear that eventually, what might get lost in the picture is the personal rewards that come with accomplishment. To me, there's no greater reward than feeling good about what I'm doing or accomplishing -- feeling skilled and competent. Learning how to think for one's self, and understanding how to solve problems is all about the process, and not so much about the results.
I think NCLB has got it all wrong. I'm sure the outcome will be, unfortunately that we produce an ample supply of students that know how to answer test questions adequately, and much fewer that understand what to do with the all that information handed to them in years of learning how take tests.
An excellent article in the NYTimes that contrasts guided discovery, a type of life-based learning, with the type of routinized learning that is used in schools.
Incredible news in the NY Times about Google becoming the world's largest digital library. Google is underwriting the digitization and provision of selected collections from research institutions including Oxford University, Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library. The goal of the Google Print project is to "create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world's books, scholarly papers and special collections." It is predicted that it would take a least a decade to digitize the more than 15 million books and documents and would cost about $10 to process each item. Full text should be available for items out of copyright and excerpts will be available for copyrighted works.
When you consider this news along with other forms of electronic access to book contents, e.g. Amazon's "Look Inside the Book" feature, and commercial ebook services such as netLibrary, the impact on information seeking is rather enormous. The utility of the Internet grows immensely as we begin to gain full text access to the mass of printed knowledge that has been available only in libraries up until recently.
Using information from a distance for learning has always been what attracts me equally to both the Internet and libraries. In grad school I was fascinated by the possibilities the Internet presented for art education. These days I'm just as amazed as a father at the number of resources we have at our disposal for helping my son find information about whatever he's interested in at the moment. Presently it's trains and games.
Looking back at how I learned as a child and observing how people learn today, I can see the incredible advantage to living in this networked world. But I also wonder about how much of people's learning is affected by what they find on the Internet versus in printed publications. Along with that wondering is a deep concern I have about information literacy and the ability of people to discern authority and authenticity in what they read.
Adding massive collections of text that are thought to be authoritative just by virtue of being printed and collected in reputable libraries and via established commercial publishing houses helps to mitigate my concerns about authority a great deal. Well, at least it may improve the odds that people will find authoritative information by adding these documents to the mix. But I still wonder how people learn to make decisions about what they find on the Internet. I wonder how Google will position this new corpus. Will they relegate it to a separate space, a la Google Scholar? Will it eventually find its way into their tabs so that people can shift from viewing the glut of results from the web to the results from the digitized printed matter? Who will be the guides to help people learn how to make sense of all the information they're going to be presented? Who are going to be the reference librarians of Google -- those skilled in research and reference materials that will help me find useful information in areas I'm not knowledgable about. Will schools teach children how to think about what they are finding, to discriminate what is useful and what is not?
Didax publishes books, games, manipulatives and software for grades K-12 in math, reading, and social studies.