Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dark Skies (our video game)

I'm not sure if I've talked a whole lot about it in the past, but we have always been homeschooling/unschooling Kenny here on the homestead.  When we're focused on lessons, we probably consider ourselves homeschoolers.  When we get distracted and let things ride, then I consider us unschoolers.

As such, I do try to get him to regularly open up test books appropriate to his age (well, truth be told, I generally push him to participate in grade levels that would reflect where he'd be if he had been born five days earlier than he actually was.)

But after he completes a lesson, he is free to spend the rest of the day as he wishes with only a few rules.  One of which is that he is not to be on a screen unless he is producing, not consuming.  This means he can't play games or watch videos, but he could be coding his own stuff or producing music or art.

This has worked well for us.  He's self-limiting.  After awhile he usually asks me to go for a walk with him up and down our driveway, then we slip down to the pond to check on the fish, or just chat about outdoor stuff.

After 4 p.m., if he has a few simple chores completed, he can return to videos or games (usually both are Minecraft related, but not always).

In any case, I'm proud of how creative he has been with his time.  At the moment he is writing up a story about some sort of future project - he's already asked me how to spell "virus" and "causes" and "certain"...  My mind is really going now!

For the past number of years, one of his big interests has been stop-motion animation using various models.  If anyone is interested, they can find his channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-f5--MsVFXbhtkeuERep4Q

As always, please rate, comment and subscribe!  :)

The past year or two now, he's also been obsessed with making his own video games - Ever since Mr. Harbron from P1XL studios  ever so kindly taught a group of homeschoolers how to use Scratch.

The past year, I've been trying to help encourage him by dusting off my own coding experiences and bringing them up to date.  I've dabbled in Java, GML and a few others.

We really enjoyed the puzzle/mystery/adventure genre, and so we thought that would be a good place to start.

After doing some basic work establishing that we could create a workable inventory and switch between different scenes, we set to work - Kenny designing most of the puzzles, all of the artwork (hand-drawn and then scanned in), and composing the music either through stringing together clips on the computer and then running them through all sorts of effects, or playing it directly on our keyboard while I used a pair of earbuds as a microphone to record with as little background noise as possible.

So much artwork went into this project!  It was a real grind by the end.

We had to buy a couple of packs of markers to get this finished, but the sense of accomplishment was worth it.

And a few days ago, we were beside ourselves to finally release the game to the public!  You can try it out here:

https://ivarforkbeard.itch.io/dark-skies

Please give it a go if you like; it's browser-based so it should work for most anyone.  It does take a few minutes to load all the assets, even after the main screen appears, so wait until you hear music before spending too much time clicking on the buttons.

We'd love to hear feedback (gentle please).

2 comments:

  1. Got through it eventually. Lots of fun! I missed one thing though... Where is the clue for the downstairs door with the 3 stacks of dots? I got it eventually by trial and error.

    Martin

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations! Maybe try to pay careful attention to the kitchen clock... Let me know if you get it!

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