Getting started on your GamesCon journey

Elsewhere in this blog you will find links to great online resources such as CodeClub (https://codeclub.org/en/ ) Hour of Code ( https://code.org/learn) and more will be added throughout the year

We encourage everyone involved in the competition: young people, teachers, support staff and parents or carers to read the posts on the blog.

This post is to look at the project development from initial registration to your hopeful attendance at RGU in June 2020.

Some of the ideas below are simply bullet point tips, that could be used as topic headings or conversation starters for you new teams. Other ideas have a little more text to help you and the young people in the team.

Tips for initial team discussions

You may find that you will end up with more than a single team, that will be a bonus as it generates a greater interest in the discipline around software development and collaboration, and competition between the youngsters.

Learn together : find out each team members strength, and how they could fit into the team, remember it is not all about coding. Then use these strengths working with each other, learning from each other. Teaching someone is a fantastic way to learn!

Share, Share and Share: great ideas can come to you at any time, share these as soon as you can, keep a digital notebook of your ideas and share these with your team. In and out of school you could use Glow, Onenote in O365 or Keep in G-Suite are great tools.
If you have iPads then the Notes App is great, but you may not have access to your notes at home.

Collaboration:  Ask your teacher to create a Team space in Glow, and then you can plan and organise meetings, have different channels for the different areas of your project for example: Coding, Design, Graphics, Advertising, Documents, and so on and this can be accessed anywhere you have internet access.

The image shows a Team site with headings for Meetings, Storyboards, Artwork, Algorithms and so on. It would be up to your team to decide what your priorities would be.

Remember to include photos, video and Audio of your project as it develops.

 

Leadership: Every team needs someone to move the team and the project on. This is a difficult aspect in developing your team, so you may want to rotate this role, so you all get a feeling for the importance and challenges in the role. It may not be for you, and that is fine, but you will have gained experience and that is good.

First meeting of the teams (Brainstorming meeting)

You will have already had initial discussions, found out each others strengths and weaknesses, and now you may have the makings of a great team.

Your first agenda for the meeting will be all about the project (and you won’t need to be accessing Scratch!)

At that first meeting you should be looking at the competition rules and what you are going to have produce. You will have previously read the 5 rights documents, and you will have copies available for you during the meeting ( https://5rightsfoundation.com/the-5-rights/ )

A quick reminder:

  1. The RIGHT to remove
  2. The RIGHT to know
  3. The RIGHT to safety and support
  4. The RIGHT to informed and conscious use
  5. The RIGHT to digital literacy

You are then going to needs lots of bits of paper and pencils to brainstorm the project, some of the topics could include:

  • Game / Animation ideas
  • What questions do you need to find answers to?
  • The audience you are targeting (children, adults, parents , all of those?)
  • Do you think the solution should be quite visual, or will it require lots of text or a mixture of both?
  • What elements of the 5 Rights you will focus on
  • The resources you will need, for example  : stationary, computer time, software, help, time, art and craft materials, budget (very important)
  • Job roles and responsibilities within the team
  • Can you describe the problem you are presented with in just 1 sentence?
  • …and more

 

Planning meetings

The purpose of these meetings is to work out the finer details of your Scratch project, and whether it is to be a game, and if its a game what type of game, or if it is to be an animation.

A good Scratch application will be easy to use, will this be by using the keyboard, or the mouse, or both?

Think about accessibility, and if you can address any accessibility issues. The common mistakes we have seen is text that is very small, or text that has poor contrast with the background (eg blue text on black background)

Please remember that as this stage you DO NOT need to be writing code or working on Scratch, this is all about planning what your final product MAY look like.

Think about how you could promote this project

Remember to photograph and keep all of the documents at this and every stage. The judges will be looking for this documentation


Prototype Meetings

From the planning meetings you will now have a good solid idea of the product you are going to make.

This stage will involve storyboarding your ideas, closely looking at each screen as it will be displayed to the user.

Take a bit of time to sketch out your ideas, and note any interactivity that may be needed.

If you are not good at drawing, then why not use Powerpoint , Slides or Keynote to design each page? You could even use the presenters notes feature to add your comments to each page.

Storyboarding will also show all the links between the scenes/screens in your project, and these can start to give you your ideas on writing the algorithms that you will need.

Your graphic artists will have drawn the characters and backdrops you will need.

Your coders will be writing the algorithms that they will use when you get to the computer for coding

Your researchers will be writing the user instructions for the game/animation

Promotions team will be looking at the best ways to advertise the game, maybe focussing on a ket character, or a key message.

When the algorithms and graphics are complete then you can then build your program. Keep all the notes of any difficulties and errors you encounter and how they were fixed.

Evaluation meetings

You will now have a complete program, so now you will need to fully test it. That will mean giving it to others , not in your team, and importantly you get feedback from these testers, that you record and action

Look at every aspect of your project:

  • Are there instructions on how to play/interact with the program?
  • Does the program work as you designed?
  • Does it look as you expected (graphics should be as professional as possible)
  • Will the user learned something from the 5 Rights?
  • Have you created great advertising material
  • Have you got ALL the documentation (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • What further developments would you plan for your project
  • …and more

and then….go back and check everything again!

Judging Criteria

Last year we were approached to provide some details of what the experienced Competition Judges are looking for when they are assessing the work of the teams.

The judging criteria, looks at lots of elements, not just the final game, but everything that has led up to the production of the final game.

The criteria will be posted here by December 2019 and we hope this will inform all participants.

Date for Final at RGU 2020

The date for the Gamescon 2020 will be Thursday JUNE 11th

This will be an all day event, and leading up to this you will have taken part in school heats ( if more than one team) then winners from the school going to a cluster final, with the cluster winners going to RGU in Aberdeen

We have had a few secondary schools compete over the last 2 years and this year we hope to see teams from as many secondary schools as possible,  and we look forward to seeing their projects in action.

It will be a great day , with presentations from Games Developers, Students , Education Scotland, and a few surprises.

Best of luck to all the teams