Crash course 500: Sims Carnival

What, have they released the first Sims 3 expansion pack already? Not quite: The Sims Carnival is a games creator and gaming portal, and a damn accessible one at that. You can make your own games in no time, upload them to the web, check out other people’s creations, and even peek in at the source code of cool projects to see how they work!

While it may not be the most powerful or revolutionary tool out there, it’s certainly easy enough to get to grips with in 500 words. So start by downloading the software and installing it. When done, fire it up and see what it’s made of.

You’ll be presented with a screen consisting of the game’s canvas, an object pane, and a “behavior” panel (remember kids, we’re dealing with the mysterious American spelling system here). Click on the giant floating spaceship, check how it’s been programmed, and click on the play button at the bottom-right corner of the canvas to preview the game. Understand everything? Good. Delete that ship and get ready to create your own object.

Click on “Import an IMAGE file” and select an appropriate pic for your new game avatar. This picture will instantly become a game object with most of its properties automatically set up for you. You can fiddle with the image by using the buttons below the canvas.

Egads, we've created a monster!

Once you’ve found a suitably ugly image for your nefarious deeds, click on the “Launch Behavior Library” button. This defines all the cool stuff that happens in the game itself, divided into “if” and “then” categories (you should see “if” for now). Click on the “Keyboard” tab under “Basic” and drag it to the behaviour board. Click on the green arrow that appears. Where it says “Conditional”, open the menu and select “While key is down”. Close the dialog using the green arrow again.

Now go back to the library and select the “Then” tab. Select the “Move” option and drag it onto your neatly-made “If” statement. Ooh, it links up! And has its own green arrow next to it! Click on the arrow and check the properties.

What you should have right now is an “If” statement that checks when the left keyboard arrow is pressed down. This triggers an event which moves the object 10 pixels to the … oops, better change that radio button to “move left” instead of right. Click on the green arrow to roll up the window again. Congratulations, you’ve just defined your first object behaviour.

Create three more sequences in the same vein, one for each keyboard direction. Net result: when you run the game (by pressing the play button, remember?) you should be able to move your object in all four directions using the keyboard. Congratulations, you’ve just created your first moving object in The Sims Carnival. It’s smooth sailing from here, mate.

If you like the looks of this tool, check the FAQ and get going! For an even simpler game creation, try out Carnival’s Wizard Tool.