Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review: Tektoma - GameMaker Tutorials

Creating your own computer games.  Now that is something that my boys can get excited about.  And they did, and still are.

Tektoma is an online subscription site that offers tutorials in the use of GameMaker software.  My two oldest boys (7th and 5th grades) found the tutorials very easy to use, though since it can only be done on a PC, I did have to help them a bit with things like where to save the files.  Both sat down with the first tutorial, to make a simple racing game, and worked through it in a few hours.

They love it.

My third grader really wanted to create his own games too, and he has needed a bit more hand holding.  I think if he could have used a Mac, he would have been very independent.   But I want them to be familiar with PCs too, and this is one way to motivate them to do that.

The main tutorials available are:
  1. How to make a racing game (beginner)
  2. How to make an arcade game (beginner)
  3. How to make a memory game (beginner)
  4. How to make a platform game (intermediate)
  5. How to make a fantasy adventure game (advanced)
And then there are a number of mini-tutorials that help you do some other things -- like make the game into an .exe file, or how to make it operate in full-screen mode, or how to pretty it up with some customized stuff.

What does it cost?  There is a free 14 day trial, and after that, you can subscribe for $15 per month, or $140 for a year.  If you join using this link (the other links in this post are non-affiliate links if you'd prefer that), I get another 15 days tacked onto my membership.  My kids would love you forever. :)  The other "cost" is that you need to download GameMaker, the program that these tutorials are designed for.  There is a lite version, which is free -- and all that is required for the Tektoma tutorials.  We're seriously considering an upgrade to the pro version though, for $25.

What I love about Tektoma so far -- my kids are very excited about this, and I love the exactness that computer programming types of things require.  They have to pay attention to detail, or they end up with lousy results.  I love that they can work with some cause and effect, and a whole lot of logic.  There is plenty of math involved too -- algebra, geometry, even some very, very basic calculus.

And Tektoma's tutorials are designed for kids.  I really appreciate that none of the tutorials are teaching them to make gory shooting type games, though some do involve 'lives' and the like.  And while the tutorials are fairly lengthy (the shortest "full" tutorials are over an hour, and I'd think to actually do the work, you probably need to at least triple that), it is really easy to just do a section or two in a sitting for those shorter attention spans (my 3rd grader doesn't want to work at it for more than about a half hour in a sitting, for instance).

You do need to download a few things before you get started, but we didn't have any hassles with that part.  And if you don't upgrade GameMaker, you will see stuff encouraging you to upgrade to the paid version.  My kids are able to ignore that fairly well.

Bottom line:  we are loving this.  I think this makes my "Top 10" list so far.  We will consider extending our subscription by a month or two when it is up in February, depending on how far the boys get with it in the next few weeks.

My boys are already making plans for creating games of their own.  Something about Around the World in 80 Days, something that takes place in ancient Rome, cells fighting off infections, and I don't remember what all else.  Everything they've mentioned has been very literature, history, or science heavy.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Tektoma at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a three month subscription for free from Tektoma.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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1 comment:

Mandy said...

Thanks for stopping by my community! I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Christmas season. The whole gaming thing sounds interesting, but mine are still too young to get into much of that yet.