Matt Sharp — Delaware game developer, educator and founder of Momiji Studios — first created his “Coding for Actual Beginners (C#/Unity/Game Development)” virtual course a couple of years ago for online learning platform Udemy.
“It didn’t do too great, so I just kind of let it fall to the wayside,” Sharp told Technical.ly. “But lately I decided I want to start reviving some old things push for things I think should have done well.”
It’s not a coincidence that Sharp, a former game development teacher at Wilmington University whose Momiji Studios created Lucid Awakening and the Sojourn journal app, is refocusing on “Actual Beginners” now, as many middle and high school students are looking at a very different and at least partially home-based school year ahead.
For kids, it’s an opportunity to add coding — something that has not been offered to many students in their regular school curriculum even before COVID-19 — to days of potentially reduced schooling.
“From my experience, game development is an easy sell for kids,” said Sharp. “If you ask if they want to learn to make games, almost every kid I’ve ever met lights right up.”
The course is also geared toward adults with no coding experience, who may feel intimidated to try learning to code. While the course is by no means intended to set students up for a job as a developer, it offers a foundation that can help students perform better in more advanced courses, including bootcamps that do have the potential to lead to a job.
“A lot of times with ‘beginner’ classes online, they either go over things too fast or skip over things so someone without a coding background won’t understand it,” Sharp said. “They’ll throw out terms and jargon without really explaining how things work. Or they might go over it but are condescending about it. When you’ve been doing it for a decade or so, you kind of forget what it was like when you started.”
The course is a series of immersive videos on Vimeo, where ideally the student will watch the class on a phone or computer screen while simultaneously following along and doing what Sharp does on their own computer using the free game design software Unity.
“That’s how I taught at WilmU, I never gave lectures or PowerPoints,” said Sharp. “You’re building a basic shooter game, a vertical Galaga-type shooter. By the end you’ll have a functioning game. My main focus is on — it’s not gonna look pretty. I’m not importing character models or sprites.”
You can get a preview of the course for free on Youtube:
The full, 28-part course on Vimeo costs $70, but you can get 30% off if you use the code “AUGUST” by Sept. 1.
As for his own games, Sharp has been working on Momiji Studios’ next offering, an RPG game, with more details (and possibly a trailer) coming soon.-30-