A far more complex skill on Kodu than creating a simple game is creating an animation or cut scene. These are really impressive when they are achieved as they allow a storytelling element to be added to the game. They can be triggered by a range of prompts. Some ideas are: after a specified period of time, seeing a specific object, hearing something specific said, or bumping into an object. Once you start to create code that is dependent upon another line of code or an object, it is really important that planning is done in detail to plan out exactly what is said when and to identify the triggers. Pupils will struggle and likely become disengaged if they don’t have this planning to refer back to. Diving straight in may seem attractive, but it becomes really hard to keep track of after a few interactions and the animation will fall apart.
We started by reading the story of The Gruffalo. What is good about using a familiar book is that most children knew the story, including many of the repetitive lines within it. This meant that when they came to planning, they knew what the characters would say.
We built worlds based on the description of the Gruffalo’s world. First, we looked through the text, highlighting key words. Once we had done that, we knew what was needed in the world and were able to design it on paper.
Pupils recognised that they needed a forest (lots of trees), a path, some logs for the snake, an underground house for the fox a pond, a stream and objects that would represent the gruffalo, mouse, snake, owl and fox. The pupils were already familiar with many of the objects and so thought carefully about which objects would work best for each creature, e.g. the owl would need to be able to fly. Most opted for pipes for the snake’s logs and some changed the lighting in the world to create a darker and more ominous atmosphere for the mouse who would be walking down the path through the forest.
Below are examples of pupils’ planning from this project. For those of you familiar with Scratch, coding animation in Kodu is similar to using the ‘broadcast’ blocks. The more successful coding used in these Kodu animations were along the lines of:
e.g. WHEN+HEAR+ SAID ‘Where are you going to little brown mouse?’ SAY+’I’m going to have tea with a gruffalo.’
This worked far better than using timings as these were hard to keep track of.
At the end of this project, most children had created a world where an object that represented the mouse walked along a path (either being controlled by the user or it had been programmed to walk along the path). On its journey, it would bump into various objects or they would ‘see’ the mouse and these would trigger the interactions that told the story in the form of animation.