Kiki’s Corner
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Kiki’s Corner

Starting from Nothing - Coding an Arcade Game from the Beginning

The dreaded empty workspace. It looks so innocent, but it’s a thing of fear for so many. Why?

Maybe you’re unsure what to make — or maybe you don’t know where to begin. This blog will cover both issues to help you tackle the dreaded empty workspace like a pro.

What should I make?

Did you show up to Arcade without a project in mind? No worries, inspiration is everywhere! Look at what other people are doing (or what people aren’t doing) as a first step.

  1. Browse for “simple arcade games” on the internet. Are any of them familiar to you? Do they look like something you could make in a couple of afternoons? One of those could be your inspo.
  2. Look at the arcade.makecode.com homepage. Do any of those games interest you? One of those could be your inspo.
  3. Look at some of the games you or your family have downloaded to your phones. Can you think of a simplified version of any of those that would still be fun to play? One of those could be your inspo.
  4. Can you think of a game that doesn’t exist yet, but you wish it did? Write down the main ideas you’d need to figure out. Than can be your inspo!

Where do I begin?

Do you have a game in mind, but not a clear idea of how to code it up? Let’s take a look at the best way to get started creating a new game.

  1. Draw, write, or chart: It can be much easier to see what you need to do when you have a mind-map in front of you. Think through the sequence of your game by either drawing a series of pictures, writing out the rules, creating a summary, or charting the logic of the levels. This will help make the idea more clear before you begin.
  2. Follow a tutorial: Can you find a tutorial showing how to make a similar game (either in MakeCode or another program?) That should give you a HUGE head-start in figuring out the next step. Remember, coding is coding…even if your example is from another product, there should be a similar way to do it in MakeCode Arcade!
  3. Work your way out: Try starting with your player and working your way out. Add a player sprite to the screen, make it move, make it jump, then figure out what’s missing and add the next logical thing. Using this method to slowly build your game will help you prioritize the most important things first.

Just try something

If all else fails, start by trying something…anything. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll need to delete those blocks and try something different.

Remember, mistakes aren’t bad in computer science. They’re innovation! Learn by doing, then get better by asking. Sometimes you need to do the wrong thing for quite a while before you know which questions you need answers for.

And, of course, once you have those questions, feel free to pop over to forum.makecode.com to ask our community.

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Kiki Prottsman

Kiki Prottsman

Kiki is an author, educator, and the Director of Education for Microsoft MakeCode