Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2018

Construct 3

Ideal 2D game builder supports students to create, innovate

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6–12
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Pros: Useful beginner's tutorial with relatively easy programming steps, wide-ranging game creation options.

Cons: Learning curve might be a bit steep for programming newbies, and options can be overwhelming.

Bottom Line: Limitless game options, reasonable cost, and extensive support make this programming environment perfect for an educational setting.

Start your students off with the tutorial "Beginner's Guide to Construct 3" to get them oriented; have middle school students work in pairs or teams if game design or programming is new to them. Next, have students peruse the Construct 3 Arcade to see what kinds of games are possible to create. Then have them brainstorm game ideas for their own games, either individually or as part of a development team. Once they decide on an idea, have students work out what will be needed inside the game, and then set them free to begin prototyping and programming.

Encourage students to visit the community forums on the Construct 3 site, as well as their Reddit forums. There's also a comprehensive user manual on the website for students' reference.

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Construct 3 is a 2D game engine that can be used to design and create your own games, such as puzzles, platformers, role-playing games (RPGs), shooters, racing games, or even storybooks. Construct 3 also includes the Box2D physics engine for creating physics-based games. The development environment runs in a browser with both online and offline file saving, so it can be used on just about any operating system, including Chrome and Android.

When students create a new game, they'll create a background, add objects, and then give behaviors to objects. Then they can add custom logic through events (conditions and actions) to make the game go. Plenty of tutorials help them get started. There's no language to learn when designing games through Construct 3; it's all drag-and-drop, along with clicking and a little typing. In addition, there's a tile map editor and an object editor, so students can create the look of their game right in Construct 3, though they can also use images created outside the interface. Objects can then be arranged on layers, which can all move independently of each other, allowing for a sense of depth. Special effect options are available, such as particle and lighting effects.

Completed games can be published on the web (HTML5), Steam, iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Windows UWP, Facebook, or Xbox One. Games can take input from the mouse, keyboard, or even a game controller, along with multi-touch on mobile touchscreens.

With Construct 3, students can learn to build simple games quickly, but there's an amazing amount of depth to keep even advanced students creating for years. The opening tutorial orients students to what's possible, and they can take off from there, implementing their own ideas. By studying the three games included within the environment, students will learn how they're designed and can learn new strategies. The site also includes an active community to learn new tips and tricks.

Using the Event Sheets helps students learn to think in logical ways, and to learn some basic programming concepts, such as functions, loops, arrays, and variables, along with using inputs. Having this kind of solid foundation makes it easier to transition to a coding language later if desired. The built-in expression auto-complete feature keeps the code clean and functional. The built-in debugger makes it easier for students to fix any problems in their game design.

One of the most useful parts of the interface is the Preview option. With it, students can visualize what's been created so far, helping them decide on their next steps. Students can also preview individual layouts in the game, rather than always having to start at the game's beginning. Also, Remote Preview allows others to preview the game on another device, or the link can be shared, helping students collaborate on a group project or development team. With Construct 3, students can learn basic principles of programming, how to work as a team, how to prototype ideas, and how to publish and market their game titles, if desired.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The appeal of designing a game and then playing it yourself, within an hour or so, is strong. Seeing instant results when they add or change coding details keeps students engaged and working toward a goal.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Tutorials teach students the basics of the development environment, which exposes them to its features. Students then work to design their own games, made easier through prototyping, debugging, and preview tools.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

A superb intro tutorial, other more targeted tutorials, and active online community forums provide the necessary support students may need as they design their own games for fun, for education, or for profit.


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