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The Basics

At their heart, games and other applications run on a very simple three-part structure.

  • The Controller
  • The Model
  • The View

Each is separate but dependent on the others. The controller takes all the input into the system, from the keyboard to the mouse to the internet connection. The model processes the inputs from the controller and makes decisions based on it. The view displays the results of those decisions as output to the screen.

That's it!

Setting Up

We'll be using a Python module called Pygame to prototype this demonstration game. To install Pygame, go to the links below.

Python and Pygame downloads, for Windows:

For Mac:
Python 2.4:
or Python 2.5:
Be sure to get the Python, pyobjc, and pygame packages from the list if you don't have them already.

Also, you'll need the demonstration files I've prepared for this class. Download one of the "demo" files you see linked below, either the .zip or .tar.gz file.

Game Prototyping

Welcome to the Game Prototyping Workshop!

Making a game can be easier than you think. With a few simple concepts, you can start to piece together a prototype, in any language, that can help you test your mechanics, sketch out an interface, or examine different possibilities for artwork. In this workshop, we'll use Python to:

  • Build the "main loop"
  • Get input from the user
  • Process the rules of the game
  • Display the result on screen as graphics

all by making a simple version of Space Invaders! In one short evening!

Let's get started!

Games Research

Under the guise of researching for my casual-games class (how great is my life that this is work for me?) I found this:

Casual Games

In this class, we'll be putting together a game from the brainstorming phase right up into a good prototype.

Games For Change Salon

I presented the EPA game that Jonghoon, Lena, and I made for the OSI collab. The game, Inspector Carbone, got some really excellent feedback from the audience. I also got to meet a whole bunch of other people interested in using games for education and activism. I'm really glad I went.

The other game demos were also very good. Check these out:

Journal Square Deli - Bingo

Journal Square Deli - Bingo

Our first attempt to intervene in the Deli. Bingo! Like travel bingo, but with deli stuff.

Renga Game Board

Renga Game Board

I've long been an admirer of the Japanese renga, a collaborative poetic form. One of the major drawbacks, however, is trying to remember the rules. Each person participating must write a two- or three-line stanza using a pre-determined subject, usually a season of the year. In an autumn renga, shown here, the first writer begins with a three-line verse about autumn. The next writer completes a two-line verse about the moon, which is usually related to autumn.

The game board above really nicely condenses these rules. Even though this was just a simple assignment, it solved a long-standing problem for me.

Open Society Institute Collab Studio

The Open Society Institute Collab Studio provided us with several fascinating projects. So far, we've worked on:

  • Gadgets: blog/wiki software for journalists and NGOs
  • Psiphon: Censorship circumvention software using social networks
  • WordForge: On-line translation software for open-source projects

Copyright Mike Edwards 2006-2009. All content available under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, unless otherwise noted.

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