If it's your first time on this blog, welcome to Scratch! If you're a repeat reader, then you know Scratch is one of our favorite topics. Why? Between the easy-to-use interface, block coding, and fun visuals, Scratch is an amazing tool, and perfect for any young mind looking to learn about coding.
Specifically, by attaching code blocks to a "sprite" (another name for a character or object), kids can quickly see the power of coding, and how by adding, tweaking, and learning advanced skills can take their projects from basic animated to stories to full-blown programs and applications.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, basics is the name of the game for anyone learning to use Scratch (pun intended), so let's look at five easy games to create.
Why not start with everyone's favorite—pong! If you're somehow not familiar, a pong-type game involves two paddles that knock a ball back and forth. In Scratch terms, players will control the paddles with their mouse using sensor, which track the player's movements or sense when one sprite is touching another sprite (ball and paddle).
As you can see below, these sprites can be anything your child wants:
Now, we already have a post that details how to create a pong game in Scratch, so be sure to check it out if you need to. For now, a game like this is easy to create in Scratch because it only requires:
- Choosing a backdrop ("space")
- Choosing a sprite ("ball" or "star")
- Coding the sprite
- Sensing the paddle
- Coding the paddles
Once completed, your child will be knocking the ball back and forth in no time, but you'll also want to keep score, right? You can do so with variables!
2. Draggable Game
In this lesson, you'll learn how to create a game that lets the player click and drag sprites to a drop-off point. The player will earn points for every sprite they drop off.
This example will use a farm with chickens, but you can choose different art if you want to. Make sure you still follow the basic code!
What makes this type of Scratch game so easy to make is the fact that it only includes a few simple steps:
- Choose a backdrop ("farm" in this example)
- Choose a sprite ("hen")
- Create a drop-off point ("chicken coop door"
- Position the drop-off point ("chicken coop")
- Make the sprite draggable
- Create clones
While much of the above is self-explanatory, you might be wondering what a "clone" is. In this instance, it's simply the chicken that needs to be cloned in order to keep the game going. That is, once the chicken is dragged to the coop (drop-off point) it disappears.
3. Meteor Blast Game
If a more classic "arcade" type of game is more your child's speed, take a good look at meteor blast, where the player will control a spaceship facing off against a big space rock. The player must blast all the bits of meteor to avoid taking damage!
Now, while still in the category of easy Scratch games to create, this one is a bit more involved than the last.
Same as the draggable game above (and most Scratch games) you'll need a backdrop and a sprite. In this example, we have the "stars" backdrop and the "rocket ship" sprite. (One thing to remember is you'll want the player's spaceship to be small so they have enough room to get around the meteors without taking damage.)
One different aspect of this meteor game is that you'll want to set a starting position (which is where the rocket will begin every time the game is restarted) .
Additionally, the rocket needs instructions on where and how to zoom around, so coding its movement is a must.
From there, kids will also need to create meteor sprite (and will also set a starting point and code the movement for it as well).
Now, what's missing? That's right, the ability to blast the meteor! So, kids should create a laser bullet that will shoot from out of their spaceship. Your player will have to line up with the meteors to blast them. To shoot the bullets, the player will press the space key.
One thing to remember is that in order to shoot the bullet in the same direction that the rocket ship is facing, kids will need to create a variable that tracks the rocket's direction.
In this Collect-A-Monster game, your player will get to discover and collect three unique monsters.
You can even write fun stats and trivia about the creatures!
The game works like this: Players will drag objects on the screen while they search for each unique monster to add to their collection. If they move the right items, they'll find a hidden monster!
By this point, you know what's included, but what we haven't talked about much are variables.
In this type of game, your child will need two variables: monster number and monsters found. Each monster will be assigned its own monster number to keep track of it. The monsters found variable will know when all monsters have been collected.
From there, creators will want to code the monster and set its position, hide the monster, and broadcast when a monster has been found. Adding an event will also allow for a visual overlay to appear and inform the player on which type of monster they found (think of it like Pokémon Go!).
5. Story Game
Last, how about a story game that lets the player choose how they want the story to unfold and ultimately end?
This type of game is a bit different in that it requires more planning upfront. So, again, while still easy, it's a bit more complex than the others.
Story games are interactive—meaning that the player can touch and change things in the game, with the main interactivity being deciding the main path of the story.
For example, kids can start the story with a question like: "Do you want to go to a beach or a ski resort?" The player then has to pick which of the two options they like best, and when they do, the game will send them down the path toward that outcome.
For kids, there are endless opportunities with this option as they brainstorm what characters, locations, and choices they want in their story. Based on their interests and preferences, they can find, create, or upload sprites and backdrops.
Other key pieces of this type of game include adding dialogue to characters and giving the player two choices. They can then use a button sprite or something else that the player can click in order to make their decision.
From the decision, something happens in response, as in, the sprites and backdrops should react to it. Sounds, music, or recorded audio, animation and motion can all be used. For example, your young creator could make a sprite move or turn when it's clicked.
Last, adding extra paths to a story gives the player an opportunity to replay and try again!
In the end, Sprite is so much more than what appears on the surface. While it's still very much a beginner's tool, it offers multiple layers of fun and learning, which can be rolled into any number of easy games to create and play.