Josh Nevas' Scratch Journal

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For me, the most fulfilling part of programming in Scratch was learning how to take clumsy, burdensome sequences of code, and condense them into something more elegant, simpler, and just as functional. In my game (Silence the Gunner), bored students and a gunner float around the screen. I began by using an enormous stack of "glide" commands, one after the other, each with a different set of coordinates, to get those Sprites to move around. But then Rebecca showed me how almost the exact same effect could be achieved with a few simple commands, which take about a quarter of the time to program. In fact, as a suggestion to programmers, it might be helpful to have some way of monitoring the code that programmers are constructing, and to suggest that simpler and clearer ways to accomplish the desired effects. The other thing I really liked was the ability to import just about any image off my hard drive, to edit it, and use it as a sprite. The image editing functionality of the Scratch program was excellent, in my opinion. And it's especially important when, like me, you're not going to "wow" people with the sophistication of your program, so at least you can use images in a fun way to provide some amusement in the game.

What I enjoyed most about playing others' games was the existence of a space where we could just toss out our ideas and our silly little constructions without any particular fear of censure or judgment. We were all so new to this Scratch stuff that there was no feeling that the hotshot programmers were going to sneer at us neophytes. It was just pretty fun to check out what other people were doing with this technology, and to see law students doing something creative and whimsical for a (welcome) change. Also, I particularly enjoyed Tube Wars, but probably for the wrong reason (because I got to blow up hippies).

  • nesson here: wouldn't it be interesting to be able to do silence the gunner for real, with each student in a class giving contemporaneous candid response to what is happening in class. we probably couldn't stand it!