Flip released

The final version of Flip is now available for download. We hope you like it!

Flip is a visual language that makes it easy for people without programming skills to script events when creating their own computer games using the Neverwinter Nights 2 Electron toolset.

Although the Electron toolset features a full programming language called NWScript which is used to script events, many users do not feel confident with the idea of learning to program. Flip features a much simpler visual interface in which users create scripts by connecting ‘blocks’ together.

flip-screenshot

The combination of a visual language and a natural language description of the script under creation is intended to support young people in developing an understanding of computational concepts as well as the skills to use these concepts effectively. Situating the activity in the context of creating a game with impressive 3D graphics makes this a motivating way to introduce young people to computation.

flip-conditional-screenshot

We have created a user guide to help you use Flip, as well as a series of videos:

Video 1 - Introducing the Flip interface and adding actions to conversations using Flip

Video 2 - Using events with Flip and saving and loading Flip scripts

Video 3 - Using conditionals and Booleans in Flip scripts

Video 4 - Using Flip to add conditions to conversation lines

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Flip at VL/HCC 2010 in Madrid

Later this month, members of the Flip team will be attending the 2010 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC) in Madrid. Judith Good will be presenting  the following paper, which describes design work for the Flip project:

Judith Good, Katherine Howland and Keiron Nicholson. Young people’s descriptions of computational rules in role-playing games: an empirical study.

The paper will be available on our publications page soon. We’re looking forward to catching up on all the latest developments in the VL/HCC community.

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Flip - background and approach

This document explains the background to the development of the Flip language and our approach to the design.

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How-to videos

As past of the recent game-making project we ran in a local school we created a series of videos which show how to carry out various tasks with the NWN2 toolset and custom tools we have created.

Of particular interest are two videos which give a first glimpse of the Flip language! Flip is still under development, but Keiron was able to produce a fully functioning version of the language for us to use in school with our latest cohort of game-making pupils, and it’s this version you can see in the videos.  Writing scripts with Flip gives an introduction to the language by showing how users can attach actions to conversation lines using Flip, and Writing scripts with Flip 2: events and conditionals shows how more complex scripts can be created.

Watch this space for a downloadable release of Flip - coming soon!

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Computational thinking pre-test

Here’s a link to the computational thinking pre-test we’re using in school this summer. The test is in the form of a SurveyMonkey quiz put together by Judy Robertson at the Adventure Author project (currently busy looking after the youngest Adventure Author team member.)

You can find the accompanying video and instructions here.

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Update

We’ve been a bit quiet since last summer, so here’s a quick update for you. The Flip team are hard at work on the initial version of the Flip visual programming language, and preparing for our return to a local high school with the software in June 2010.  We’ll also be looking to publish some of the findings from our studies in various forums - more on that at a later date.

In the meantime, we’ve added a new paper to the Publications section. It’s called ‘Language-based Support for Computational Thinking’, written by Howland, Good and Nicholson and presented by Katy Howland at last year’s VL/HCC conference in Oregon. The paper “explores the potential for simplified programming languages to support the development of computational thinking skills in non-programmers.” Enjoy!

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New project email address

You can now contact the Flip team at flip@sussex.ac.uk.

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Making games in school

For the last few months the Flip team have been hard at work, helping to run game-making sessions in a high school in Sussex. Three classes of Year 7 IT students worked with the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset from May through July to make their own video games. The students were enthusiastic about the project, and after-school IT sessions were over-subscribed with students wanting to continue work on their games.

Now that the schools have finished for summer, the team are getting ready to run a week-long game-making workshop for children at the University of Sussex. All of these sessions are helpful for observing how children respond to the task of game creation, so that Flip can be designed to meet the needs of this age group.

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New papers

The Publications page has been updated with a link to our latest paper, Concrete Thoughts on Abstraction, which explores issues relating to the computational thinking drive and was presented at PPIG 2009 in Limerick. We’ve also had a short paper, Language-based Support for Computational Thinking, accepted for presentation at VL/HCC 2009 in September.

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Publications page live

We’ve updated the Publications page with a list of the papers we’ve published around the theme of supporting children’s development through game creation activities.

Update: All of our papers are now available to download in PDF format, so you can keep up to date with our research! Our latest  is A Game Creation Tool which Supports the Development of
Writing Skills: Interface Design Considerations
by Katherine Howland, Judith Good and Benedict du Boulay, discussing techniques for designing a user interface for game creation that puts more focus on developing storytelling and writing skills.

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