Walk-Through: Reflections on RPG Maker

2014-05-16 05.44.04 pm

“The Ryki Plague” and “The Quest” are captivating top-down RPGs (role playing game) that lead you on a journey through fantastical lands, in search of the key ingredients to cure the deadly ailment that has stricken the entire world. On your quest for the cure, you will encounter endless mazes, dangerous swamps, and greedy merchants. All in all, these games will challenge your wits and problem-solving skills to achieve the end goal: saving the world.

Oh, and also, they were designed by Phil and Abbie, who are both in 7th grade.

Students in my class (like Phil and Abbie) learned to create these fantasy-laden adventures by learning how to utilize the scripting, mapping, dialogue, and event creation tools on RPG Maker VX Ace. These games were laid out through planning sessions and tutorial sessions on how to design the events to shape each student’s storyline. My students, who are used to being on the “player side” of the game, all of a sudden were thrust into the designer’s seat, where they had to think of every possible contingency, choice, and chance event that the player could encounter.

Reflecting on her experience as the designer, Abbie notes that the most challenging thing was “…programming all of the events.” But Abbie also notes that this experience in programming is what will help her in her future, as she plans on learning to code and becoming a computer engineer in the future. No easy feat, as that many times leads to having to comb over thousands of lines of code to find one single error. Like Abbie, Phil says that as the designer “You gotta take a lot more things into consideration… you have to actually think about balancing. (If you’re a designer), you actually have to make sure that it is fair and you have to work through all that stuff instead of complaining.”

If you want to create video games with your class, and want to know how to start, you can check out my video game resource to begin. RPG Maker can be found here .

Check out Phil’s RPG Maker reflection:

Check out Abbie’s RPG Maker reflection:


Kid coding is a real thing. And with tools like MIT’s brilliant web-based software, Scratch, it’s more accessible and easy to understand than ever. Scratch is a programming tool where kids can learn to program animated stories, video games, and interactive art projects that use “code blocks” to provide commands and sequences to animated sprites. On top of that, by using Scratch, kids (and anyone really) also learn systematic reasoning and sequencing to creatively build and design their animations.

My 6th graders customized their Scratch animations by creating their own sprites and costumes with photography, a little Photoshop work, and the costume ungroup tool. The process looked like this:

1. Take photos in front of a green screen in three different poses.

2. Import the photos into Photoshop. Erase the background. (Yay eraser tool!)

3. Import the new, background-less photos into Scratch.

4. Animate yourself and your friends.

Most of the animations consisted of crazy dance parties, and sometimes, a date with Ariana Grande (trust me, they got very creative with the costume and custom sprite tools). Their coding became more and more involved as they wanted to add more sprites into their stories, which resulted in them writing lines of code that revealed a budding understanding of logic and sequencing.

Learning to code right now should be just as ubiquitous in the classroom as learning fractions or prepositions. Thankfully, with Scratch, it can be.

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Check this preview of 6th graders using Scratch to program!