Monday, January 20, 2014

Project 1 : Breakout Mod {1D/Code}

P R O J E C T  1
B R E A K O U T  M O D


Welcome to the first task of this course. You might consider this an experimental ‘welcome’ to the world of games and art. It is equal parts visually interesting, technical, and Duchampian in nature. Closer to Impressionism, even. You are to appropriate a Processing code sketch (Java) of the classic game Breakout (i.e. Brick Pong) and change its fundamental state into a work of your own creation! It is an exercise designed to sharpen creativity with a lower visual palette and to garner appreciation for the code that goes into creating the software we know and love. And most importantly, what goes into the game software that we will tackle quite soon.

Download Processing (free; Mac or PC) here if you like working on your own machine: Free. The machines in the digital media lab will also have Processing installed.

Originally, this exercise was practiced during a 2007 workshop in Barcelona. The link: . Per description, "Game Mod was a six hour long workshop with the objective of showing the participants that it is not required to understand code to experiment and play with it... In 20 minutes you'll have your first mod done." I would recommend supplementing your understanding of the project with the results (downloadable source code and student codes) of that original endeavor. Though know some of the code is written in Spanish by the students. Try "" and search for existing breakout mods if you like English code more.

Occasionally, I will also give out primers (printed out or PDF) to assist with understanding software. This time is no exception. Breakout Mod primer link, made by myself specifically for the course. It is a brief explanation of how to accomplish the project start to finish.

Our software is Processing, using Java language. In primers, I point out all the specific commands and components of the software to help you complete the project. Although, feel free to explore and experiment. We are looking at games in an experimental light these coming weeks. Have fun!
Just for knowledge sake, the “H.O.U.R.S.” of the game Breakout-

H. How? Position paddle in path of game ball with cursor, to direct at bricks above and knock them out.
O. Obstacles. It’s not too difficult here. Only yourself and negligence to position the paddle qualifies.
U. Ultimates/goals. In this version of Breakout, there is no end goal really. All the bricks will disappear without reward. There is no real political or social statement. It purely functions on gameplay.
R. Rules? You are forced to stay in the boundaries of the game space. Both paddle and ball will. In different versions of the game, there is a penalty if you let the ball touch the bottom. Usually a lost life.
S. Scenes-actors. The abstract game space is our ‘scene’. Actors include bricks, ball, and paddle.

TURN IN PARAMETERS (You’ll see this for every project.)

+I ask that you perform your mod on a Mac. For convenience sake during critique and further.
+I have no problem with you turning in more than one mod. Or even doing something out of the ballpark with the project, as long as it originates from it being a mod of the game.
+Has to be functional, of course. Processing sketch must run at time of critique when we look at it. There's a way to see it full screen. From the top bar : Sketch -> Present.
+On critique day, have prepared your Processing sketch folder (explained below) on a flash drive.
+Place that folder under folder with your name on it on the teacher’s Mac (desktop) before class. I'll have a folder ready.
+As far as what you mod out of the original Breakout sketch, that is left entirely up to you. Your sketch upon playing it can last an engaging burst of 5 seconds, or be something we must sit through for five minutes given the context calls for it. Though I will say, five minute max on individual crits.

Essentially, our entire meeting week 2 will be an exercise of how to use Processing code in several ways. At a fundamental level and for the project. So you can simply get your feet wet until then, opening Processing, playing around, and even draw some basic shapes.

Helpful Links:
Hexadecimal Color Chart [#AAAAAA, #113344, etc.] :
Again, examples can be found at :
A near 'reference' definition of code terms that are more intermediate, that you might even throw in to mod your games in a crazier way :
This guy's email : benjipoynter[AT]gmail[DOT]com
I will bring in a basic Processing book to experiment with. Easy to understand.


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