What is the best voxel game developer

Game development for children

Recently my four year old son asked me, “Daddy, can we play a game together? Can it be a cat game? "

I am a father of gamedev. I've made 35 games by myself: mostly small freeware game jam entries, but also a lot of customer projects. The answer was of course yes, as all parents love to share their passion in life with their family.

I teach him concepts of design and coding, but it's a very collaborative process where he draws something in crayon and I turn it into a 3D game while he's sitting on my lap.

The project is still a great success. I want to share my experience with you in the hope that you can play a game with someone in your life too.

Why games?

The benefits of early exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) have become established in recent years. No parent needs to be convinced that this knowledge is important not only for future jobs, but also because technology surrounds us. Understanding how the world works around us is what growing up is about, and teaching our children about the world is a primary goal of parenting.

Unfortunately, many find it too difficult a task to sit down early and teach algebra to their children, wondering how younger children (who cannot yet understand math or cannot read) possibly understand how to make a game. Fortunately, one important fact makes children's motivation to learn how to make games immensely relieved.

You are cool

"There was something here that could turn a bunch of wild, insane mini-monsters into avid creatives and creators who are really excited to learn." - Gabriel Williams, ProCore3D

Children like to play and like to build. There is tremendous satisfaction in creating something. It's empowering; it gives them a sense of accomplishment and self-worth; it's something you can call your own.

Don't forget that creating a game is something that kids can boast of along with their peers: gamedev is officially cool. This is something that teachers can and should use.

Children are smarter than we think

Look at the worldview of a typical four year old. They may not understand the principles of physics, but they know that objects fall on the floor when they fall, they know how balls bounce off walls, and they know how cars ride with the help of wheels.

There is plenty of room to experiment within these simple parameters. You don't need to know how to calculate a point product to explain collision response and reset, and kids know that some things are more slippery than others. Friction and resistance and other concepts related to rigid body Newtonian physics are the perfect topic for curious young minds.

Children love physics

Sounds crazy? Well, what kid doesn't get excited when it comes to smashing a block of blocks, hurling a train off a cliff, or throwing snowballs? In terms of the game, it's easy to imagine a younger child wanting to explore game mechanics inspired by Angry Birds (a ballistics simulation).

Physics allows teenagers to do things they can't in the real world. You can smash cars or knock buildings around. They can jump around and cause general chaos. This instant feedback in a physics simulation is why I highly recommend making a game with real-time physics.

With a physics simulation implemented in your game's basecode, kids can experiment to their hearts' content with cause and effect by dumping cubes, spheres and prefabs galore, just spinning them around and using a simple character controller to pull them off the Pushing away cliffs.

Advantages for adults

“For my daughter, it was about having a one-on-one interview with an otherwise very busy and busy daddy. It really could have been any activity. The focus was on being together. - Ryan Henson Creighton, Untold Entertainment

By doing a creative project together, you are helping yourself. There are obvious benefits to us mentors, from personal interactions that lead to deeper bonds, and the simple fact that teaching something often helps you learn it better.

"There is no better way to feel revitalized or inspired than by children just because their imaginations have no limits or limits." - Stacey Mulcahy YoungGameMakers

Working with children refreshes one's imagination and motivation. It kindles a fire among your inner critic and awakens your inner child ready to play seriously, uneconomically, unconsciously.

How i did it

Here is my personal story. It is an ongoing project that is currently taking place in my home office. Not all of this advice will apply to your personal situation and my student may be different from yours, but with luck I can help you develop a game with my preschooler that will help you in your quest.

Keep things simple

It probably goes without saying that one key to maintaining a child's attention is to keep it short. Nothing makes learning more fun than boredom. Twenty minutes is all you have.

If you are working with very young people, do not teach them how to write source code. In truth, this is more of an "excursion" than programming. We're not trying to make a commercial game that is ever polished and ready for sale. This is for older kids who are working on their 10th jam game. The goal here is to build something together, similar to a fortress made of sofa cushions or a tree house. They do most of the work, but each has great benefits.

Prepare yourself first

While preparing and collecting assets is the typical first step in a creative venture, a child who wanted to paint a painting would be disappointed with an art store shopping spree.

If you've never played a game before, this initial prep phase will prove to be a huge challenge. A fun thing, but nothing to expect a kid to watch. Join in a few jam games first, then share your new skills. You don't have to be a master game developer just enthusiastic and with tools in hand.

If you've developed multiple games, you know that at the beginning of every project, productivity increases as you gather tools, create new folders, add blank scripts to your project, and collect art objects.

Skip first place

“Start at the finish line! Start with a simple game ... and modify it until interest wanes. “- Farbs, the creator of Captain Forever

Preparing a "basecode" or "skeleton project" is essential if you want to get the ground going. Before even sitting a child in front of a game project, consider creating an MVP (Minimum Product) that includes the essentials for a game: some points and the ability to move, make a sound, and detect collisions.

A quick way to do this is to download one of hundreds of "starter kits" from your engine's asset store, or rip out the gist of an old game you made, such as a jam entry. These starter kits, available both for free and for a few dollars, contain all the mechanics a simple game needs, whether it's a platformer, shooter, or puzzle game.

Before you start creating a base MVP project that is ready to be tinkered with, it is a good idea to talk to your new apprentice and get an idea of ​​the things they are envisioning. You have a lot of leeway here to suggest features or gameplay mechanisms that you believe are in the realm of "technically possible" and "easy to implement". The younger the child is, the more likely what they are asking will sound similar to their current favorite game.

In my personal case, LEGO games were the only shared experiences that are among the most accessible AAA titles. I started by searching the Unity Asset Store and purchasing a cheap platformer starter kit. However, if your student has a passion for Minecraft, consider working at Voxels, which have many starter kits available for the price of a pizza.

Skipping the square box also ensures that you always have a blank canvas that "just works" as a test field for experiments and that goes straight into action within a few seconds. Don't try to set up a new project while your child is watching. If you are ready for your input, the moment has passed.

I didn't put my son in front of a keyboard expecting him to start typing. I engaged him in a conversation about what we were trying to achieve and did all the work myself under his enthusiastic guidance.

A typical lesson

My son sits on my lap for ten minutes and tells me what to expect from me. He loves to test every build and come up with suggestions for improvement. He designs characters in colored pencil and asks me to make 3D versions of his ideas.

It actually worked pretty well, and without mentioning it, he keeps begging to work on it a few times a week just for fun.

It's like building LEGO spaceships with him, an activity I've put in a number of happy hours over the past few years. It's a collaborative experience where we build something together.

As soon as I had kittens running around, I showed him. He was fascinated. Overjoyed. It only "worked" for him and his clumsy hands. He couldn't die. The game never told him he had failed. It was more of a "toy" than a game, after all.

The ongoing process

We sat together and I built what he wanted.

“It takes things to smash. Can you make it so that you can smash everything? Can I push the cars off the cliff? "

Once implemented he asked to play the game and if he allowed he would meticulously knock the cars off the cliff at the edge of the map as long as I let him!

We played together and punched holes in the buildings and ate sushi in order to free ourselves from all the rules, like idyllic hours of pure summer vacation, without having to "lose the game". He would laugh, I would laugh, and it felt like building sandcastles on the beach or climbing playground equipment.

It sounds trite, but I know these moments will be some of my happiest memories that I hope to enjoy in decades. My son and I playing a game that he helped me with.

The end product

Sure, it's broken, flawed, cheap, unpolished, and taped together. It's like a spaceship made out of a cardboard box with colored pencil buttons and wires drawn on it. A half-finished, messy painting of a child, a no-game, a mess.

But it's so much more than that to me. For me, it's the culmination of a lifelong dream, a few happy afternoons free from stress.

For you, Kitty Game is a physics sandpit with up to eight stupid cats that run around, destroy cars and houses, are chased by evil dogs and eat delicious sushi.

The game doesn't really make any sense - but the funny thing is, a lot of people keep playing for a long time.

Tips and Tricks

"There is no better way to have a hatred for something in a child than to force them into it." - Tom Farro

Avoid the keyboard

Keyboard controls are confusing. With over a hundred buttons, each with a complex glyph that may not be understood, kids will hesitate. You are worried about the pressing Clear or Escape, and the keyboard is likely to be used by the teacher.

Most children have learned from nervous adults that some keys on the keyboard are booby-trapped and can do terrible things. Who hasn't admonished a child that if they mess with our keyboards, they could delete our work?

For this reason, I recommend implementing gamepad controls right away. Even kids ages two and up can use a joystick and press a button on a gamepad.

Alternatively, if the game is running on a touchscreen device, kids will be more than happy to poke around the screen.

I love having an alternate controller in the kid's hand because it maintains the feeling of control while being removed from the actual code.

Two chairs in front of your computer are ideal. The child is holding a gamepad and sitting next to the adult who is typing into the IDE and doing the builds for testing. They also have a gamepad so the two of you can play together on each rep.

Do this often: after every line of code or after some variables in the editor. This shortens boring work sessions and rewards the child's patience with a play session.

Play more than work

“I program with younger children, but they tell me what to do with each step. I let them draw the art and choose colors. “- Sarah Northway, creator of Rebuild and half of the Northway Games

One way I've made our sessions enjoyable is that you allow generous amounts of time for each playtesting session and keep the sprint sprints extremely short - in the range of two to five minutes.

After each session, I ask my student what changes are needed. Examples of requests are "Can we give him a lightning sword?" And "We should be able to jump higher" ..

These iterative development loops teach some key lessons that are required of all developers: discipline, patience, and an experimental, iterative mindset. The value of small improvements over time and the recognition of the limits we all face.

Expect and accept mistakes

Without exception, you are being asked to implement something that is taking you too long or technically not feasible using the engine you are working with.

Children agree, just as they appreciate it, that not all LEGO designs have to remain standing and that not all fingerprints look the way they were originally intended.

This acceptance of incomplete results, results that are usually less great than those in our heads, are key to becoming a software developer. You are trying a few things. They blow in your face. You are finally done and you can keep going, even if the feature is a little less spectacular than you imagined before you started working.

The more ambitious the imagination, the greater some creative disappointments become. I feel that this is a very important lesson in life. No negative or cynical worldview, but a healthy way of life. Adult life will be filled with slower progress than planned, frustrations en route to big goals, and the occasional roadblock.

Patience and iteration

For very young children like my son, they're not really learning code yet - they're just learning to do that something needs a lot of patience. He now knows what a "bug" is and how the adults fix it: trial and error until the broken building works, like building a very tall block tower.

This working method “Try, Try Again” is of central importance for all engineering and science and extends from the basics of software development to personal development. Back to the drawing board! Time for a redesign! The first version was not stable! These are all sentences that we often shout out when playing with LEGO, train sets, sandcastles or building blocks. It doesn't always work the first time, but through iterative refinement, we can build amazing things.

Realistic goal setting

Like an overly optimistic, top-heavy tower of blocks, kids and adults alike start out with dreams too big to be realistic. Patience and positive responses to small failures in large projects will do children good for a lifetime.

Nothing will work perfectly on the first try, whether he's on Dad's lap playing a video game, building an RC car in a decade, or as an adult working on NASA's next amazing rocket engine.

Basics of software development

By explaining concepts and roadblocks along the way, we've covered some pretty important topics. My eager student now understands vague concepts like collision detection, sound effects, gravity, cameras, and the source code. It preserves the difference between the editor and a compiled executable file.

He puts his head around prefabs and particle systems and understands projectiles and pickups. He groks main menus and HUD overlay score counters, timers and events, what "respawning" is and how we can catch triggers to run some custom code (e.g. make something explode).

You will be amazed at how well you can handle game systems and simulations that even a preschooler can achieve within reasonable limits. I think these concepts (simulation, gravity, and event driven coding principles) will get him to kindergarten pretty well prepared next September, and they don't require any real math skills - even young kids can guess based on their reality. World experiences and even preschoolers think about gravity.

Even at this most basic level, my preschool narrator has not only learned lessons, not just about details like severity, collision, simulation etc, but also about design and project management: dealing with frustration and repetition, trial and error, discipline, working on something, that requires more than one session. These are valuable tools that kids are already delving into as they create LEGO structures that are initially unstable. The "back to the drawing board" mentality that game development requires is also what growing up requires.

“With art and technology, children learn to accept both art and technology. This is a great way to unlock the potential of a technology career as it encompasses so many different disciplines. ”- Stacey Mulcahy, YoungGameMakers

Have a game together!

Maybe you have a little person in your life who loves games. Did you ask how they are made? You are the type of person who reads gamedev tutorials. You may have already created your own games. Did you share this knowledge and enthusiasm with them? It's never too early.

Dive in and share the bonding experience, learning opportunities, and sheer joy of working with someone you love. Make a game with a young child. It's doable and benefits both. You may be surprised how smart kids are when given a chance. Good luck!