Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input.
You can view and download our eBook below to learn more about Kodu and how to get started. Here is an activity idea of how you can use Kodu in the classroom.
Activity – editing your world
1. Change and create a Kodu environment
2. Use tiles for setting and the development of tone and mood for the game world
Students will already know how to create and programme objects. Here, they will learn to modify the landscapes in their games.
Creating and changing the Kodu landscape is one of the most interesting initial activities for early users ofKodu. Young people often spend hours changing and designing intricate landscapes in which their games and animations operate. Landscapes often also set the tone for the game play actions which follow.
Using the same demo world that you created during the first part of this session (Demo 1) ask volunteers to:
– Add/delete land to the existing landmass. Choose the green paint brush in the Toolbar.
– With a controller: Select the appropriate landscape material by pressing (Y) and selecting one from the Toolbar. Next, select the brush shape (X) and brush size (D-pad). By using the left stick and holding down either the right trigger to add land or the left trigger to delete land, students can draw the landscape.
– With a mouse: Click on the four small terrain icons to the left of the paint brush to pick a material (Arrow keys to select material), and click on the four brush shapes to pick a brush shape (Arrow keys to select). You can then use the Arrow keys to increase or decrease the size of the brush. Click to paint the terrain.
– Add land of a different colour/texture around the perimeter of the landmass. (NB. Use the same steps as before, only change the landscape material and perhaps the brush size. The speed of land addition or subtraction can be controlled by the degree to which the controller is shifted.)
– Create hills and valleys; use the smoothing feature. (Select the Raise Terrain/Lower Terrain icons from the Toolbar. Again, use the Brush Picker and Brush Size. The speed of land raising and lowering can be controlled by the degree to which the triggers are pressed on the controller. NB. The speed cannot be controlled with mouse and keyboard. Also note to students that the smoothing out feature allows a less jagged landscape which also allows maneuverability.)
This is a good opportunity to talk about the remaining items in the Toolbar. As students work throughhow they create a feature, ask them to verbalise what they are doing and tell them that it is like thinking out loud and that mistakes might happen. Reinforce the idea that if a problem occurs that we should all think about how to solve it. If they don’t change the brush or select a type of land or water, prompt themto do so.
You can view and download the Getting Started with Kodu eBook below.