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World/Character Creation
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VisualTeacher
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Default World/Character Creation - 02-04-2008, 03:56 PM

Hi,

First let me apologize to all, I will be asking many questions that will seem stupid to you all, but I want to learn. I'm a social service worker that assists developmentally disabled clients to gain life skills, I tell you this so you know I have no real computer background.

What I would ideally like to use alice for (if possible) is create edutainment modules so that my clients can explore topics themselves rather than have staff "lecturing" them all the time. My first project would ideally be a budgetting game, where players receive X dollars to pay rent, buy groceries etc. I'd like to have little cutscenes ala oregon trail or old 8-bit games for money transactions, as well as an onscreen calculator.

I suppose before getting into the mechanics, I should ask how I can import images that I create myself, or can I create objects directly in Alice? Thank you.
   
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Lucien
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Default 02-04-2008, 04:42 PM

From what I've heard, creating Alice objects requires you to get another 3-d rendering program and create the objects manually that way. I believe images can be imported as billboards, which is probably what you'll want to do with the calculator etc. for simplicity's sake.

First off, you should understand that it's been my experience that Alice is not good for games with large portions of text. Text in Alice is 3-d rendered, and as such has size and dimension and texture that you will have to work with to make it look acceptable. It can be done, but it would take a goodly bit of work to make the interface easily readable and usable.

If you really want to do this, then you're going to want to read all the Alice tutorials that you can find before starting in on the project. A solid base of Alice / programming knowledge will help you greatly with this project. I believe Dick Baldwin has a good set of tutorials for public use, and you can also probably look on Google for other information.

After you know how to do what you want to do, make sure you know exactly what it is you want to do. I would write it out on a piece of paper or a storyboard- "give user x dollars per (time unit) / per click of button x / per transaction", "perform transactions by clicking on item to purchase / entering how much of item to purchase / clicking button to purchase" etc. After you get the basic plan written down, then you can work on coding it all in. Cutscenes can be written in as you come to them, or they can be left until later (provided that you're using called methods or other flexible means of coding to do this).

All in all, you're looking at a good bit of work, but it's certainly doable. If you need assistance with any part of the project, just post here and we'll help. Good luck!
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 02-04-2008, 09:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucien View Post
From what I've heard, creating Alice objects requires you to get another 3-d rendering program and create the objects manually that way. I believe images can be imported as billboards, which is probably what you'll want to do with the calculator etc. for simplicity's sake.

First off, you should understand that it's been my experience that Alice is not good for games with large portions of text. Text in Alice is 3-d rendered, and as such has size and dimension and texture that you will have to work with to make it look acceptable. It can be done, but it would take a goodly bit of work to make the interface easily readable and usable.

If you really want to do this, then you're going to want to read all the Alice tutorials that you can find before starting in on the project. A solid base of Alice / programming knowledge will help you greatly with this project. I believe Dick Baldwin has a good set of tutorials for public use, and you can also probably look on Google for other information.

After you know how to do what you want to do, make sure you know exactly what it is you want to do. I would write it out on a piece of paper or a storyboard- "give user x dollars per (time unit) / per click of button x / per transaction", "perform transactions by clicking on item to purchase / entering how much of item to purchase / clicking button to purchase" etc. After you get the basic plan written down, then you can work on coding it all in. Cutscenes can be written in as you come to them, or they can be left until later (provided that you're using called methods or other flexible means of coding to do this).

All in all, you're looking at a good bit of work, but it's certainly doable. If you need assistance with any part of the project, just post here and we'll help. Good luck!
I agree with just about everything that Lucien has said here, but I will
mention three other text options in addition to 3D text:

1. The "say" or "think" comic strip bubbles can be used to provide instructions and other text. One of the problems here is that the bubble appears on the screen for a specified amount of time and then disappears. However, it would probably be possible to create a "say again" button if the user needs to see the text again after it disappears.

2. The print tile from the bottom of the screen can be used to produce text output in a white area below the world.

3. Billboards can also be used to display text if you import an image containing the text that is to be displayed.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm

Last edited by DickBaldwin; 02-04-2008 at 09:44 PM. Reason: correct grammar
   
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Have you considered Scratch?
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DickBaldwin
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Default Have you considered Scratch? - 02-04-2008, 09:59 PM

I had another thought after I completed the previous post. It is possible that you would have more success using the 2D version of Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/) as opposed to the 3D version of Alice 2.0, at least for starters.

Although DrJim can provide much more information than I can on Scratch, it does appear to be reasonably easy to use and is apparently very stable at the current release level. Also, I believe that there are some advantages in the applet and/or video output area relative to Alice 2.0.

To the extent that 2D implementations will serve your needs, Scratch may be exactly what you need. Some of the projects that have been developed and posted on the Scratch home page would be extremely difficult to implement in Alice 2.0. Others would be impossible to implement in Alice 2.0.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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DrJim
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Default 02-07-2008, 11:23 AM

I certainly will echo Dick's comments re Scratch. It's learning curve is much less steep - largely because it is aimed at a younger age group than typical pre-CS majors - and it is both stable and offers a wide range of functions. Some of the music programs that have been done in Scratch, for example, are competative with anything I've seen in any language.

However since you mention you are working with the developmentally disabled, you might want to search the forum (and the web) for some work that was done with Alice at a community college (or maybe a full four year institution) in New Jersy that was specifically aimed at that group. That effort - it may be continuing - got excellent results. I know some of the programs that were posted here were definitely at the college level (or maybe better ).
   
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