What Is Gamestar Mechanic

What Is Gamestar Mechanic
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Published Date:26-10-2017
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What Is Gamestar Mechanic? In This Chapter ▶ Introducing Gamestar Mechanic ▶ Distinguishing the main components ▶ Navigating the interface with ease ▶ Exploring the skills you can acquire from Gamestar Mechanic he website Gamestar Mechanic, created by E-Line Media and the Institute Tof Play, lets you create and play action games in which the player can navigate, shoot enemies, collect coins, and solve labyrinths. You can easily build your own games and publish them for other users to play and review, providing feedback on what you did well and what could be improved. The concept of a level editor is prominent in a number of games, enabling you to arrange the components of the game in a unique way. Gamestar Mechanic goes the extra mile, using its official levels to teach you the elements of a fun game. Having a community of people who design, play, and review games allows you to step into the world of the game designer, the play-tester, and the critic, having fun every step of the way. This chapter gives you an overview of what you can do with Gamestar Mechanic and introduces the main areas of the site. Gamestar Mechanic: An Introduction Most video game design platforms, as with all programming languages, can be intimidating to beginners — your imagination is often limited by your programming ability. In Gamestar Mechanic, you don’t need to know a pro- gramming language to create a game. You’re provided with sprites (the com- ponents used to build a game), and the goal is to apply them in a fun and innovative arrangement. In Gamestar Mechanic, you play quests (games created by the Gamestar team) that teach you the core concepts of game design, build your own games in the Workshop, and play a nearly limitless arcade of other people’s games inPart I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 8 Game Alley. While playing, you grasp new concepts and apply them to your own games. After you design a game, you can immediately publish it so that it shows up in Game Alley, sharing the game with other players. Gamestar Mechanic is a safe environment for sharing and discussing and is a useful resource for all ages. Figure 1-1 shows the first page you see when you log in to the site. Figure 1-1: This is Gamestar Mechanic. In the following sections, I discuss the three main areas of Gamestar Mechanic and what you can do there: ✓ The Quest ✓ The Workshop ✓ The Game Alley The Quest The Quest is a combination of interesting games and interactive comics that follow the training of game designer Addison Cypher. Each quest involves tuto- rials and advice that teach you the concepts of game design, allowing you toChapter 1: What Is Gamestar Mechanic? 9 learn from experience by playing games, repairing broken games, and designing your own games. You must complete the first quest in order to publish games for other users to play, because these quests contain valuable information about how games are made. (See Chapter 4 for more on quest missions.) The free quests introduce you to the essential concepts of game design via active play and interaction, whereas the premium quests define more advanced concepts that are weaved into a more intense storyline. (I discuss premium accounts in Chapter 14.) Whether you’re a new game designer or you have experience in other programming languages, the Quest is a good place to start introducing yourself to the site. The Workshop The Workshop, shown in Figure 1-2, is your turf. You can see your rank, achievements, games, challenges, and more. The Workshop is also where you begin designing new games and where teachers manage their classes (see Chapter 16 for more on classes). The toolbox is a subsection of the Workshop. You’re given an array of all your sprites (the objects that comprise games, as described in Chapter 5), a grid to place them on, and a few tools. In this robust environment, you can build games quickly and thoughtfully, in any way you can think of. The toolbox is the heart and soul of the Gamestar Mechanic interface, the canvas on which you put into practice the concepts you’ve absorbed elsewhere on the site. When you first sign up for Gamestar Mechanic, you receive a default set of sprites in your toolbox. As you proceed through the Quest, you earn a dditional sprites that you can use to build more elaborate games. Understanding terms used in this book This book often refers to the terms games, levels, A designer is a user who designs games; a player and sprites. In the context of Gamestar Mechanic, is someone who plays games; and a reviewer a game is a complete, playable work to be pub- is a player who gives feedback in the form of lished on the site. Every game is divided into sep- reviews on the site. You may read phrases such arate levels, which are rooms that are cleared in as gaining players or gaining reviewers, which sequence while playing the game. Lastly, levels simply refer to attracting people to play and are created by arranging (on a grid) little crea- review your games. This book shows you how to tures or objects — known as sprites — that con- do all three jobs for the full Gamestar Mechanic tribute different functions to the game. experience  —  as a designer, a player, and a reviewer. I also talk about games in terms of designers, players, and reviewers on Gamestar Mechanic.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 10 Figure 1-2: Your workshop displays your profile, as well as the tools for changing it. Game Alley Designing games is fun, but games are meant to be played. Game Alley is the place where you can share games with friends and acquaintances, by way of a safe and private system. You can surf Game Alley and play some of the hundreds of thousands of user-created games or publish your own games for the community to try out. The reviewing system for games (discussed in Chapter 7) lets you review other users’ games, and they can review yours, in a safe environment. Depending on your preferences, designing a game can take anywhere from five minutes to days on end. No matter how you design it, though, your game will be playable by a community of thousands who can review and comment on it. Even if you only occasionally check the site to play or design games, you can immediately find new ways to enjoy and understand game design. The Gamestar Mechanic community includes a database of over 500,000 games, all of which have been created by its huge community of users. Thousands of games are published every week, and users have played these games more than 15 million times in the history of the website. In addition, more than 6,000 schools use Gamestar Mechanic to teach a number of different subjects. On this site, you’ll never find a shortage of players, designers, reviewers, or mentors.Chapter 1: What Is Gamestar Mechanic? 11 Exploring What You Can Do on the Site Gamestar Mechanic contains a number of intuitive interfaces, which you can quickly pick up and then master over time. The following sections introduce you to the interfaces for playing, designing, and reviewing games. Playing games The games designed in Gamestar Mechanic all follow the same general system: A single avatar sprite is placed in a level, and the avatar responds to the commands that the player enters from the keyboard. The player controls the movements of the avatar with the keyboard. Game levels are a series of independent challenges that lead players through the game. Each level has a perspective, which determines how sprites func- tion within the world. Here is a quick rundown of the two perspectives in Gamestar Mechanic (which are covered in more detail in Chapter 2): ✓ In a top-down game, the player looks down on the level from above, and sprites can move up, down, left, or right. ✓ In a platformer game, the player has a side view: Sprites can move only left or right, but they can also jump into the air or fall down because of gravity. Games can take on many different forms, depending on the kinds of sprites you use to build them. You can design your own goals by adjusting sprites’ settings and properties and adding parameters (in the form of system sprites) for completing the level. You are provided with lots of different sprites that have different abilities and behaviors. You can place various sprites in each level of your game and adjust their settings to decide what they do. A little creativity can unfold into millions of ideas, concepts, innovations, and pat- terns. For more on the five categories of sprites (avatar, enemy, block, item, and system), check out Chapter 5. Designing games The interface for designing games is simple: The levels are split into square grids, and designers can drop sprites from the library onto the grid to use. The simple click-and-drop interface, combined with four tools for manipulat- ing sprites and patterns, provides an intuitive experience (see Figure 1-3). Designers often test their levels multiple times during the design process. The Edit/Play button in the upper-left corner of the toolbox allows you to quickly switch between editing and playing, enabling you to revise and expand on levels. You can save or publish a game with the click of a button. As long as you’ve beaten all the levels you’ve created, you can publish the game immediately to be played by others. (See Chapter 5 for details on designing and publishing a game.)Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 12 Figure 1-3: Gamestar Mechanic’s design interface, the toolbox, is easy to use. The interface for designing, testing, and publishing games not only requires no knowledge of programming or marketing but also eliminates the tedious bits, allowing you to focus on the design and how the elements of your game system come together. In this way, Gamestar Mechanic provides a useful training ground for future game designers. Reviewing games You primarily communicate with other users by way of reviews and com- ments. Every game page has a list of reviews and comments from other users saying how they felt about the game. (The lower-right corner of Figure 1-4 shows the fields you fill out to submit a review.) The Mechanic Rank system rewards users for playing, designing, and following the Quest, but it also rewards good reviews and digital citizenship, the pro- cess of being polite and well-adjusted in your interactions with the online community. Reviews and comments are updated as players try out the game and submit their feedback, with the most recent comments appearing at the top. The more reviews a game accumulates, the more precise the aver- age rating becomes. This safe, friendly system provides a way for users to indirectly discuss game design. (See Chapter 7 for more on reviewing games.)Chapter 1: What Is Gamestar Mechanic? 13 Figure 1-4: When you’re done playing a game, you can review it to tell the designer what you thought of it. The time commitments of Gamestar Mechanic In short, Gamestar Mechanic has no time com- Remember: Don’t use the site to the point that it mitments. While working on a game, you can interferes with your work. Limit your time, and save it as a draft and easily return to it later. You use Gamestar Mechanic as a reward for com- can stop using the site for months and then go pleting other work. You can even use Gamestar back whenever you have a new idea. Even if Mechanic as a supplement to a job or class, by you’re out of ideas or motivation, you can still designing games based on the subject you have visit the site and play some games for inspira- to work on. Of all the time-consuming activities tion. Designing games in Gamestar Mechanic is available, Gamestar Mechanic is a constructive similar to riding a bike: Even after a long break, choice. you can jump right back in.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 14 Teaching and Learning via Gamestar Mechanic Gamestar Mechanic is built around the idea that designing a video game can be a positive and constructive learning experience. Thus, the program is useful for not only budding designers but also teachers and the parents of young users. Developing skills through game design Gamestar Mechanic is an effective way to learn game design, allowing you to build games right away and learn from both professionals and other users. You discover how to build balanced and detailed games, and capture the elusive element of fun in an activity. Moreover, the field of game design con- tributes to development in other areas, such as science and pr ocesses, pro- gramming, creative composure, art, and critical analysis. As Gamestar Mechanic shows, game design teaches the four major com- ponents shown in the inner ring of Figure 1-5, which lead to mastery of the subjects shown in the outer ring. Courtesy of E-Line Media Figure 1-5: The positive effects of game design. The following list describes some of the skills that you can develop by designing games: ✓ Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the process of breaking down and analyzing something (such as text, an argument, or a game) and understanding it at a deep level. Making a game that’s fun to play isn’t easy, and you can discover a lot of critical-thinking principles while trying to complete your game. Because no formula exists for creatingChapter 1: What Is Gamestar Mechanic? 15 and measuring fun, you must critically analyze your game to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Chapter 11 details how you can evaluate and improve your game. ✓ Systems thinking: Systems thinking is the thought process that deals with systems — objects composed of several interlocking functions, such as environments or computer programs. Games are composed of chal- lenges that players must solve in order to win; each of these challenges is a system in itself. A game is an interesting type of system: Its components are tuned to challenge users and reward them for their input, creating an engaging, intriguing, and enjoyable experience. To make a game fun, you (the designer) must therefore understand how to build robust and interesting systems. You can learn this skill through practice with the website and game design in general, as well as the Quest and this book. Video games are excellent examples of applied systems, and the process of creating such systems is a vital skill in process-oriented careers. ✓ Media literacy: As a game designer, you have to keep up with the media in order to make your games successful. In Gamestar Mechanic, this media is represented by the huge community of players and reviewers roaming the website. Game Alley, where you publish your games for other users to play and review, is a training ground for media literacy. Media literacy refers to understanding the particular parameters, cons traints, challenges, and components of various media (for example, film, music, art, literature, and in this case, games) and how you can use and relate to them. Game Alley provides a preparatory environment for the many careers involving digital citizenship. Lots of jobs require people to commu- nicate online or use social media programs, whether to collaborate with coworkers or reach an audience, so Gamestar Mechanic is a great resource for getting started in a safe environment. ✓ Creative skills: Being able to apply creativity to practical goals is a helpful skil l throughout life. For a game to be truly successful, it must be innovative in some way. Designing video games is an extremely cr eative process, with many ways to succeed and many ways to learn from failure. Gamestar Mechanic can be used as a supplemental resource to other sub- jects of learning. For example, the annual STEM Video Game Challenge (www.stemchallenge.org) supports Gamestar Mechanic, giving you the challenge of creating a game that reflects an academic subject in a fun and engaging way. (See Chapter 15 for more on contests and challenges.) Designing games can give you a great sense of pride and self-accomplishment. As a designer, you can produce lots of creative content quickly, making a big impact in a short time. Whether you’re creating a level, reading a positive review, or beating a difficult game, Gamestar Mechanic excels at making you (rightfully) feel good about yourself.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 16 Examining the role of teachers Because students don’t always have the drive to teach themselves, Gamestar Mechanic offers the Teacher system. Teachers can lead classes ranging from small groups to school-wide activities. When a class is created, the teacher can ✓ View the statistics and progression of students. ✓ Customize and assign projects for students. ✓ Leave feedback on students’ games and projects. Teachers may have as many or as few class meetings as they want, online or offline, but always provide hands-on work for students, enabling classes to provide a combination of fun and education. Gamestar Mechanic offers extensive resources for active teaching and lesson plans athttps://gamestarmechanic.com/teachers. For more on how teachers can create classes and projects, see Chapter 16.Getting Up and Running In This Chapter ▶ Setting up an account ▶ Finding your way around the site ▶ Exploring the lobby and the Workshop ▶ Getting started with the Quest ▶ Finding games to play in Game Alley ▶ Producing a mechanic bio reating an account on Gamestar Mechanic is easy — and completely Cfree — so you can try out the program to see whether it’s right for you. This chapter explains how to create an account, navigate the main areas of the site, and begin your journey as a mechanic. You can start with the Quest, the Workshop, or Game Alley, each of which has its own, introductory advantages. This chapter tells you how and why to get started on each one. Users on the website are often referred to as mechanics, whether they are acting as designers, players, or reviewers. Creating an Account After taking a few simple actions, you’ll be ready to design some games. First, you need to create an account by following these steps: 1. In your favorite browser, go to the Gamestar Mechanic home page at www.gamestarmechanic.com. 2. Click the orange Get Started button on the right side of the screen. As long as you aren’t logged in as someone else, clicking this button takes you to the Step 1 page for becoming a mechanic, as shown in Figure 2-1. 3. In the Username text box, enter the name that you want to appear on your games, reviews, and comments. It can be a simple name, such as Isometrus, or a more technical name, such as GamingMasterJC109.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 18 Figure 2-1: Fill out these fields to create an account. Make sure your username properly reflects yourself. Also try to avoid egocentric names such as Best_Designer_In_World_999. 4. In the Password text box, enter your preferred password. Create a strong password. Try using numbers and other non-letter sym- bols that are difficult to guess. Also you might choose words and abbre- viations that are meaningful only to you so that you can remember your password easily. Most importantly, never give your password to anyone, including people claiming to be Gamestar Mechanic administrators (the real administrators will never ask for your password). 5. Confirm your password by entering it again in the Confirm Password text box. This step checks for typos. 6. Select your birthdate from the Month, Day, and Year drop-down lists. Because the program is intended for all ages, certain age-restricted fea- tures that are supported by the site have to know the user’s exact age. 7. Scroll down to the text that reads I have read and agree to the Gamestar Mechanic Terms of Service and click the Gamestar Mechanic Terms of Service link. When you’re finished reading this document, return to the previous page. This online document outlines the rules of the website. 8. Select the check box to confirm that you have read, and agree to, this document. 9. Click the large orange Register button.Chapter 2: Getting Up and Running 19 10. Follow the rest of the instructions. You’re asked some multiple-choice questions about topics such as your favorite animal, school subject, and color. The site asks you these ques- tions twice, to confirm that you remember them, and again if you want to recover your password. Write down and save your answers in case your preferences change. After you’ve confirmed your answers, you see the Get Started page, which offers several ways for you to start your Gamestar Mechanic journey: • Start your free adventure with the Addison Joins the League quest. • Buy a premium account (19.95 at the time of this writing) that includes lifetime access to Addison’s Complete Quest, including Addison Joins the Rogue and Dungeon of the Rogue. (If you want to find out more about the premium account options, flip ahead to Chapter 14.) • Enroll in an online learning course (249 at the time of this writing), where you learn how to design games from professional designers. 11. For now, you can start with the free version. Click the orange Get Started button to start poking around. When you first create your account, you are automatically logged in. If you want to log in to the site in the future, go to the home page (www. gamestarmechanic.com) and click the orange Log In button, which appears under the larger Get Started button. The login page opens, where you enter your username and password in the appropriate text boxes and click the Play Now button to access the site. If you’re logging in from your own computer (rather than a shared computer), or if you visit the Gamestar Mechanic website often, select the Remember My User Name check box. This action automatically fills in your username when you log in, enabling you to more quickly enter the site. If you’re inactive for too long (about an hour), then your session will expire. If you try to load a new page or level, Gamestar Mechanic will prompt you to log in again. Don’t worry about losing your progress; if you were in the middle of playing or designing, the login screen appears on the game screen, and you can return as soon as you enter your username and password. Navigating the Website After you’ve created an account, as described in preceding section, you can access the Gamestar Mechanic website. At the top of every Gamestar Mechanic web page (except for the home page and the pages athttp:// gamestarmechanic.com/teachers), you see the two toolbars shown in Figure 2-2. These toolbars let you navigate the major sections of the website.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 20 Figure 2-2: Navigate Gamestar Mechanic with ease using the toolbars. Exploring the header toolbar Here’s a description of the different buttons on the header toolbar and where they take you: ✓ Gamestar Mechanic: Takes you to the lobby or, if you aren’t logged in, to the home page. (I describe the lobby later in this chapter.) ✓ Quest: Takes you to the Quest, where you can play games that nurture your design ability. You must complete the first free quest before you can publish your games. By completing missions in each quest, youChapter 2: Getting Up and Running 21 unlock new sprites to use in your games. Quests can be replayed at any time, but if it’s your first time playing, you have to complete most of the content in order. (For more on quests, see the later section “Starting Off on the Quest,” as well as Chapter 4.) ✓ Workshop: Leads you to the Workshop, where you can see your achieve- ments, games, and challenges, as described in the “Exploring the Work- shop” section, later in this chapter. You can personalize this page, because it contains your Mechanic Bio, Showcase Game, and Favorite Games. The Workshop is also the gateway to the toolbox, where you design your own games, as explained in Chapter 5. ✓ Game Alley: Takes you to Game Alley, where you play and review other people’s games. This is the Gamestar Mechanic arcade, which continu- ally updates as you or others add games to it, as described in the sec- tion “Finding Games to Play in Game Alley,” later in this chapter. ✓ Store: Directs you to the Gamestar Mechanic store. You may not want to visit this page unless you have some experience with the site and you’re relatively sure that you want to spend money on it. The store includes all the extra content you can buy, as discussed in Chapter 14. ✓ Log Out: Closes your current session on Gamestar Mechanic and returns you to the Log In page. This button is useful if you’re sharing a computer with another Gamestar Mechanic user. By logging out when you’re done playing or designing, the other user will have to log in with his informa- tion to start a new session — and you can both be sure you’re working in the right account. ✓ Parents: Provides a wealth of information for the parents of Gamestar Mechanic users, including how the program is educational and why it’s safe. ✓ Help: Opens the Help page, where you can try to solve any problems you might have. The text at the top of the page contains a link to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, which you should look at first. If you can’t find the answer to your problem, or it’s too big for you to solve on your own, clearly state the issue in the large Problem text box and click the orange Submit Report button. Examining the footer toolbar In addition to the header toolbar, there is a toolbar at the bottom of each page (refer to Figure 2-2). This toolbar contains additional links to areas of the site, as described in the following list: ✓ Manage Account: Lets you control the features of your account. Clicking this button takes you to the Manage Your Account page where you can modify your account in a variety of ways, delete your account, change how messages are sent to you, and link to the store. The Edit My Account Settings button on this page reveals a number of features, as explained in the next section.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 22 ✓ FAQ: Takes you to Gamestar Mechanic’s Frequently Asked Questions. Here, you see a number of questions about the site (preceded by Q:), followed by the answers (preceded by A:). Click the buttons labeled FAQ Topics, or click the Previous and Next buttons at the end of the FAQ list, to see questions about different topics. This section helps you solve any problems you might have by explaining issues that users have commonly experienced. ✓ Parents: Shows information for parents about the learning value and safety of the site. ✓ Teachers: Directs you to the Teachers’ section, which looks substan- tially different from the rest of the site. This section is for teachers who want to teach by way of Gamestar Mechanic, containing information, sample games, and a store for educational resources. You may return to the main site via the buttons in the upper-right corner. (I cover the Teachers’ section in detail in Chapter 16.) ✓ Credits: Lists the people who designed the Gamestar Mechanic site and software. ✓ Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Rules of Conduct: Lead you to documents about etiquette and the proper use of the Gamestar Mechanic program. It’s a good idea to read these documents yourself and pass them on to an adult if you’re under 18. Editing Your Account Settings If you click the Manage Account link in the footer toolbar (as mentioned in the preceding section), the Manage Your Account page appears. Next, click the Edit My Account Settings link to go to the Manage Account/Settings page (http://gamestarmechanic.com/account/settings), where you can modify your account in a variety of different ways. The options provided are as follows: ✓ Account Information: This section shows your username and the e-mail address associated with it. To change your e-mail address, type it in both text boxes and click the Save button. ✓ Change Password: This section allows you to change the password you use to enter the site. To do so, enter your current password in the top text box, and the new one you want in the other two text boxes. Then click the Save button. ✓ Social Media and Networks: This section contains check boxes repre- senting various forms of social media. When a check box for a social network is activated, the Share function allows you to share games over that network. You may see check boxes corresponding to Facebook, Twitter, Edmodo, and others, depending on your e-mail’s associations.Chapter 2: Getting Up and Running 23 ✓ User Generated Content: This option allows you to decide whether you want to use custom content on the site. At the time of this writing, this option doesn’t seem to have an effect. ✓ Mozilla Persona Integration: In this section, you can enter your Mozilla Persona Email to link it to your Gamestar Mechanic account, enabling you to easily share your World Badges (see Chapter 8). ✓ Security Code: This section contains the Change Security Code Answers button. Clicking this button allows you to retake the survey you completed when you created your account. If your favorite subject, animal, color, or activity changes, you should change your Security Code accordingly. Getting to Know the Main Page: The Lobby The first screen you see after you log in to your account is the lobby, which is the hub for Gamestar Mechanic users (see Figure 2-3). Figure 2-3: The lobby screen you see when you log in to the site.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 24 On the right side of the screen, you’ll notice three large buttons: Quest, Workshop, and Game Alley. Immediately below each button, you can see the following notifications: ✓ The Quest button tells you the percentage of missions you’ve completed. ✓ The Workshop button displays the number of sprites you have (or unread messages, if you have any). ✓ The Game Alley button shows how many games have been published in the past week. There are two additional areas on the left side of the lobby: the news feed and the message box, which I describe next. Understanding the news feed The upper-left corner of the lobby contains the news feed, which provides news about the Gamestar Mechanic community (refer to Figure 2-3). Each entry includes an icon and a couple lines of text. Here’s how the news feed works: ✓ It connects you with the dynamics of the website. The news feed tells you all about what’s going on with you as well as the mechanics you’re fol- lowing. (I explain how to follow other mechanics in Chapter 9.) If the icon for a post is to the right of the text, the post is about something you’ve done recently. If the icon is on the left, someone whom you’re following has done something interesting. ✓ It’s interactive. All users, news articles, and games mentioned in the feed are highlighted in blue, allowing you to click them to view the relevant pages. ✓ It’s quick and easy to use. You don’t need to regularly watch and respond to the news feed — it’s simply there. The news feed provides a constant stream of helpful information, so you can glance at it whenever you pass through the lobby. You can recognize the content of each post at a glance by looking at the icons and the keywords highlighted in blue. The following list shows you what the icons in the news feed correspond to: ✓ News: Refers to sticky posts, the news items occasionally posted by the Gamestar Mechanic administrators. Shown over a yellow background, a sticky post adheres to the top of the news feed, becoming the center of attention until the next important news post replaces it.Chapter 2: Getting Up and Running 25 ✓ Publication: Indicates that you — or someone you’re following — has published a new game. Click the name of the game to play it. ✓ Edit: Signifies that a game has been edited and republished, which means that it has been updated, improved, expanded, or otherwise changed in some way. ✓ Review: Signals that either you reviewed a game or someone you’re following reviewed one of your games. ✓ Comment: Similar to the icon in the preceding bullet, refers to a comment from you or someone you’re following. ✓ Following: Suggests that either you’re following someone new or someone you’re already following has decided to follow you. ✓ Badge: Refers to an achievement obtained by you or someone you’re fol- lowing. The badge obtained through the achievement is used as the icon. ✓ Recommendation: Implies that someone you’re following has recom- mended a game that you might like. This icon also appears whenever you recommend a game to someone. Whenever you log in to the site, the lobby updates you on activities on the website. Reading the message box The lower-left corner of the lobby contains a message box, which lists all the messages you’ve received (refer to Figure 2-3). These messages can include notifications of new reviews and comments, news about the site, and other notes, depending on your account settings. Unread messages appear in bold text with a yellow background. Simply click on a message to read it, and then if you want to delete the open message, click the Delete Message button. The message box can display only six messages at a time, so you’ll need to delete messages to see the others. Here’s how to delete messages from the message box: ✓ To delete a single message from the message box, click the check box to the left of the message and click the Delete Selected button. ✓ To delete all the messages shown in the message box, click the check box in the upper-left corner of the message box and then click the Delete Selected button. Check your message box for notifications about new reviews and comments so that you don’t have to check each of your games individually. The message box is especially useful for staying informed about feedback on your games.Part I: Introducing the Gamestar Mechanic World 26 Any message titled New Review or New Comment contains blue text that links to your game so that you can read feedback. If you have several mes- sages titled New Review or New Comment regarding your various games, and your computer is fast enough, you can open each link in a new browser tab and read the reviews quickly. To open a link in a new tab, right-click the link and select the option to open it in a new tab, or middle-click the link. (Press down on the scroll wheel, if your mouse allows it.) Starting Off on the Quest After you have set up your account on Gamestar Mechanic and are familiar with the layout of the site, you’re ready to start playing games. If this is your first time playing a Gamestar Mechanic game, the Quest is a good place to start. Following a smooth difficulty curve, quest missions are helpful for gain- ing practice with the controls and the general technique of playing Gamestar Mechanic games. And as you work your way through its missions, you can see how the play and design processes work. These games, which are set to a recurring storyline, introduce you to the ele- ments of game design. By completing these quests, you unlock new sprites and options for designing games. The introductory free quest, Addison Joins the League, is a perfect tutorial for the elements of play and design, as well as a useful supplement to this book. After you’ve set up your account, as described earlier in this chapter, follow these steps to start this quest: 1. Go to the Quest page. To get to this area, click the Quest box on the lobby page, or the Quest button at the top of any page. The first time you load the Quest, you see the introduction scene, shown in Figure 2-4. This type of scene is in the form of an animated graphic novel, so you can look through the scene at your own pace. 2. Read the introduction. Advance to the next page by clicking the screen or using the buttons in the lower-left corner. The Quest page may take longer to load than other pages because all its content has to be loaded into a Flash player, like individual games on the site. You can always view the introduction again if you want. www.allitebooks.com

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