Processing for Kids : Part 4

Setup and Draw:  Teaching a 12-Year Old to Do Something Creative with Processing

Part Four:  Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees

Things with Elonzo have suddenly gotten a lot more interesting. Until now, he’s been fairly subdued—showing interest in what we’re teaching him and following along, but not really that enthusiastic.

All that changed this week.

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In previous meetings, he’d been pretty tightlipped about what he wanted to make for Discovery Night (the exhibition at the end of the mentorship at which he’s expected to show-and-tell about his project). With some prompting, he indicated that he’d like to make some kind of interactive game. Not wanting to push my personal agenda, I’ve been looking for any clue as to what he is really interested in—not just related to this project, but what he likes to Google for when he opens a browser or the kind of games he plays on his PlayStation. While we were getting setup for this week’s session, I noticed that Elonzo was looking around for pictures of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, of Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th fame, respectively.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a fan of horror films in general, and certainly not films from the Slasher genre. But, this isn’t my project, and I imagine that every teacher has to look past the subject of their student’s artwork and focus on how they can help facilitate the student’s process. Plus, I figured Elonzo would be more enthusiastic about working on a project that features subject matter that he likes and is part of his everyday Internet consumption.

When I asked Elonzo if he liked Freddy and Jason and other stars of movies of that milieu, he became very talkative and animated. After a few moments of him telling us the minute details of each and every scary horror movie he’d seen and enjoyed, I started making suggestions on how we could make an interactive game that featured these characters.

Elonzo jumped on it.

Arthur (one of the two coworkers that’s been helping out with the mentorship) and I switched gears and all three of us grabbed pencils and paper and went to work on the structure of this new idea. Rather than the basic first person shooter in which the user would blast rectangles coming at them from deep in the z-axis with mouse clicks, we sketched out a Slasher-themed interactive game. The basic premise of this game is that the player is working against a clock to find and click a hidden button in each image, progressing from a welcome screen through the various images of popular Slasher characters of Western horror movies. The images that represent each level will all contain a hidden button, barely visible and increasingly hard to locate as the game progresses. Elonzo liked the idea because it contains elements of all of the movies he loves, is a game and could potentially scare/gross out players. Arthur and I liked it because it will give us the opportunity to introduce a few new concepts, such as if/else statements and using basic variables. Also, it’ll make the whole process more fun if Elonzo actually enjoys it.

So, here’s the sketch we made for this week. It uses a 1000×1006 image for the background, features a rectangle that’s a placeholder for a button and has a timer. Next week, we’ll work on producing all of the assets we’ll need for this game—an image for each level, a “start” screen, a “lose” screen and a “win” screen.

//beginning sketch for Elonzo's game

PImage jason;
int firstTimer = 3600;
PFont timerFont;

void setup() {
  size(1000, 1006);
  jason = loadImage("jason.jpg");
  timerFont = loadFont("Serif-48.vlw");
  //switch the cursor to crosshairs for a shooter feel
  cursor(CROSS);
}

void draw() {
  //use a picture of Jason Voorhees as our background image
  background(jason);

  //draw and rectangle that is a hidden button placeholder
  fill(15);
  rect(500, 400, 50, 50);

  //deincrement timer and scale to "seconds"
  firstTimer--;
  int secondTimer = firstTimer/60;

  //display the timer
  textFont(timerFont, 50);
  fill(40, 200, 50);
  text("timer", 800, 700);
  textFont(timerFont, 100);
  text(secondTimer, 800, 800);
}

>>> Read Part 5

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Teaching & article by JD Pirtle.
I feel that artists should lead humanity through the creation and utilization of the most current and yet-to-be-invented technologies and processes