An absolutely wonderful introduction to programming games.

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CODING GAMES IN SCRATCH

A comprehensive guide to creating games in Scratch, a beginner-oriented programming language that uses visual blocks instead of raw code.

Woodcock begins by contextualizing computer games (explaining their elements, genres, and how computers think) and introducing Scratch (explaining its building blocks and how to acquire it and providing a rundown of what each part of the Scratch control window means). After this introduction, the book quickly has readers programming interactive games with animated characters, enemies, and scoring systems galore. Each of the eight games given (including mazes, jumping games, music patterns, races, and more) starts with a screenshot of the finished game that explains the roles of the characters and players’ objectives. Clear text and screenshots—of both code blocks and game visuals—then walk readers through each increasingly complicated programming step. While sometimes pages are information-dense, the steps’ numbering is easy to follow. Frequently, readers create their own images instead of using preprogrammed ones. What’s especially nice about the instructions is that they aren’t framed as “do this, then this”—they fully explain why (right down to meanings of number variables) and provide fixes for anticipated bugs. Each game chapter ends with a “Hacks and tweaks” section suggesting further customizations, sometimes building off previous chapters’ code. A “What Next?” chapter directs readers toward potential futures as programmers, be it hobbyist or professional.

An absolutely wonderful introduction to programming games. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 7 & up)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4654-3935-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.

DON'T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE BED

THRILLS, CHILLS, AND HAUNTINGLY TRUE STORIES

A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An impressive manual for achieving Scratch programming mastery and creating genuinely entertaining games.

SCRATCH PROGRAMMING PLAYGROUND

LEARN TO PROGRAM BY MAKING COOL GAMES

A Scratch guide that goes beyond basic games and into some instructional depth.

After an introduction explaining the book’s structure and a first chapter that gets users up and running in Scratch, each following chapter is dedicated to a single game. From an early maze game to more-complicated games that resemble popular ones, such as a brick-breaker game and a “Fruit Ninja” clone called “Fruit Slicer,” readers are guided through screenshot illustrations of what the visual Scratch code should look like, as well as clear explanations about what the code is doing. Additionally, this manual’s heavy on customization, encouraging readers to make their own art for the games in the Scratch Paint Editor (although it also provides links to project files with sprites and other images to help those short on time or artistic abilities), and it even includes instructions on how to make “cheats” for the games. Each game is followed by skill summaries and review questions. The chapters’ complexity builds, climaxing in an ambitious, complicated-but-achievable final “Super Mario”–style game. Aside from the easy-to-follow instructions, puns give the book personality, and recommended resources pair with a thorough index to maximize usability. The structure’s ideal for classrooms, and the writing is accessible to independent readers—younger, with parental assistance.

An impressive manual for achieving Scratch programming mastery and creating genuinely entertaining games. (Nonfiction. 8-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59327-762-8

Page Count: 292

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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