Software project: virtual pet concept

Remember the tamagotchi?  They made a reappearance a few years ago but didn’t seem to have the same impact as the original run, where school secretaries were forced to run crèches to avoid disruption in classes.  Still, it’s a fun concept, and one that I’ve seen used in a Scratch scheme of work.  Indeed, I’ve had a go myself with Scratch, and seen kids have a lot of fun with it too.

The concept of looking after virtual beings is by no means new, but it provides a fun way to build up a project, and you can start with the basics then add in more features as you go along – a definite advantage to object oriented progamming and a good way to develop a project without getting buried under details too soon.

I also remember fondly the LCP – Little Computer People.  The idea was that as you ran the program a little man would appear in the house onscreen, and you would see him moving around and carrying out various activities.

Nowadays we have The Sims, of course, but that’s a game that can require a lot of micromanagement.  What I’m looking to do is create something that’s fairly autonomous, but that can be interactive as well if you choose.  So you can play with it if you wish, or just let it play while you get on with proper work – but still need to take care of its basic needs.  Think of a tamagotchi as a goldfish, my project as a cat and the Sims as a dog!

I’ll be trying out different types of game making and programming software, experimenting with ideas and seeing what I can do.  Faced with the perpetual argument of which computer language to use, I’ve decided to investigate different options, to learn the basics of each, rather than the specifics of one.  It saves locking off options too early, and gives me experience that will help deepen my understanding of the software, the development environments and solving the underlying problems in different ways.

The options I see available at the moment are GamemakerScratch and its big brother BYOB, MIT App Inventor, Greenfoot (java), Python and smallbasic/visual basic.  I really, really suck at sticking to one thing, so this should be plenty enough to feed my indecision and develop a good grounding of the differences between these applications before I settle on a definitive approach to teaching programming.  And there’s always Flash if I get bored!


About emmyleigh
Writer/editor/proofreader who loves technology

2 Responses to Software project: virtual pet concept

  1. David says:

    That sounds like fun. Thanks for sharing your blog at CAS. Six weeks sounds like a very short time to make six different prototypes: you need your own holiday too.

    It might be cool to make one experiment in each style – procedural – (GameMaker/ Scratch/ AppInventor/ Java) – functional-ish (Python, BYOB, Racket/WeScheme) – prototype/message-passing (Javascript, Etoys)

    • emmyleigh says:

      Thanks for the comment. This is my holiday, tbh – I’m not sure how far I’ll get, but I should have fun trying. And hoping to continue further than the summer as well. Only time will tell!

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