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Actionscript 3 for Games Development

Recently I began teaching a unit called Scripting for Interactivity with the HNC Interactive Media group. The unit is about using scripting features of multimedia authoring tools to create interactive media, application or games. I’ve taught this unit several times now, but this is the first year I’ve been working exclusively with Actionscript 3. This year we’re creating games with Flash.

So far the ride has been relatively painless, however from time to time I hit a wall where something I could do in Actionscript 2 just doesn’t work in Actionscript 3, or at least not in the way I’d expect it to. This has been a good experience for me, as it highlights how difficult it is for students to learn programming, and also how experience counts for an awful lot. I’m finding I’m having to refer to online tutorials a lot more, and also spend a lot more time hacking around with the scripts to get them to work (oh but the sense of achievement when something works!). Along the way I’m trying to pass on the tips and tricks I’ve learned to my students and hopefully this’ll help them see some of the pitfalls before they fall into them.

So far we’ve created a simple collect-the-objects game called Sweety Muncher, then we  moved on to make a space shooter. Once we finish that game we’ll make a maze game and then a target shooting game. Once all of these games have been completed the students will have a range of skills and knowledge to start creating their own games. Of course, as well as learning the necessities of games development, the students are also learning about key programming elements such as loops, selection, functions, parameters, variables, arrays, etc, which they’ll be able to utilise in other programming languages.

Check out one of our games in progress.

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