AgentSheets 3 is a significant new release of the AgentSheets game and simulation authoring tool including the amazing new Conversational Programming programming paradigm, improved workflow and simple ways to share your creations.
Conversational Programming is a revolutionary, patent pending, new paradigm helping you to create and understand programs. Imagine having a programming buddy inside your computer. This buddy looks at your program as well as your data. Working hard for you by constantly executing your program, the programming buddy provides immediate feedback when you change your program or your data. Programming is no longer a monologue but becomes a conversation. Moreover, unlike visual programming approaches, which only help you with syntactic challenges, such as avoiding missing semicolons, Conversational Programming helps you with the semantics, that is the meaning of your program. Is this condition true right now? Would this rule fire? Why does that rule fail? Your buddy will tell all this and more in a non intrusive kind of way.
Conversational Programming even provides information about programs you have not yet written. When you create agents and place them into a world, your programming buddy will already execute language commands, found in the AgentSheets conditions palette, to show you what they mean and how you could use them. Move your agents around in the world and instantly see all the conditions that would apply to specific situations. Serendipitous discovery: enabled! Language commands that are hard to describe in words such as probabilistic and temporal commands are dynamically annotated by Conversational Programming to allow you to experience their meaning in real time prior to using them in your program. Sometimes, it will seem your programming buddy is reading your mind and answering your questions before you ask!
Conversational Programming is the perfect tool for Computational Thinking. Your programming buddy visualizes the consequences of your program before it is complete and before you run it. Rules and conditions of the selected agent will be annotated in real time in green and red. A green condition is true, a green rule could fire. Detect problems with your logic. Which rules could never fire? How does rule order matter? Fix conceptual mistakes before you make them... Still overwhelmed? See Conversational Programing in action.
The new Design button allows easy one-click access to the Scalable Game Design wiki and uses information that has been created for a given project. The provided designs include background information, links to standards, lesson plans, and, in some cases, support material for grading. If a project is open, the design button will link to the lesson plan for the project that shares the same name as the currently opened project. If no such lesson plan exists, the button will link to a new wiki page where you can begin a collaborative wiki page for the given project. If no project has been opened, the design button will link the user to index of all designs that currently exist.
Use this feature to share your background information about your project or extend existing descriptions and provide help. How did you use a certain project? Did you create your own lesson plan? Do you have additional information such as slides, videos or sample projects? Share them with your students, other teachers, and the AgentSheets community.
The Picture taker allows you to create agent depictions by instantly taking pictures with your built in camera. Show your best side, frame the shoot and even apply sophisticated artistic effects. Take pictures of yourself, your friends or objects around you. Act a little. Animate yourself. Tell a story.
We have gone to great effort to redesign our user interface to help users keep their projects organized. One such change involved the elimination of the file chooser for the worksheet. There was really no good reason for the user to be able to save their worksheet outside of their project folder. We noticed that students might save their project over a shared school network and then later also save their worksheet on their local disk. That way they would end up losing their worksheet. To prevent this type of error, we now automatically save the worksheet inside the project folder. Another problem often occurred when a user created a project nested inside another project. The user often then had trouble finding the correct version of the project. AgentSheets 3 has a system of checks to verify that the project is being produced at a valid location. If this is not the case, then the program alerts the user to the problem and suggests a remedy.
New Transport action: Often the creation of games like Frogger is a user's first step into the wonderful world of AgentSheets. Because we understand that programming can be intimidating at first, we wanted to make this first project a little less daunting. To this end, we have created a new action called Transport which acts quite similarly to the move action, but in addition transports all agents stacked on top of the agent issuing the transport. This action would be helpful because creating a log that also moves the frog sitting on top of it as it floats along was often reported to be the most challenging part of the Frogger game creation process for new users.
New Yes or No Dialog condition: go ahead, ask questions. A new Yes or No dialog condition lets you write programs that can ask users yes/no questions. You customize the questions as well as the labels for the answers.
The Scalable Game Design Arcade is a web-based collection of games and simulations to which AgentSheets users can upload their creations. The Submit to Arcade tool is now built into AgentSheets. It makes a screen image, wraps up your entire project (including a Java applet), and navigates you to the Scalable Game Design Arcade to submit your project. The arcade allows you to play, rate, comment and download games.
The new speed slider controls the speed of your project more effectively by using adaptive algorithms measuring the time it takes to run your simulation.
The new depiction editor does not just look betterit also works better, and creates better looking art. We have added anti-aliasing to depiction editor tools to improve the accuracy and allow for smoother edges and better looking images. Improved mouse feedback gives you a better heads up on what you are about to create.
The graphical user interface has been upgraded to look more appealing, use native dialogs where possible and provide a more consistent, productive, and enjoyable programming experience.
There is nothing more frustrating than pouring yourself into a game and then lose the progress you've made because you pressed the wrong button. A new system of dialogs will alert you when you are about to clear or reset an unsaved worksheet. This system offers the opportunity to either save your work or cancel the clear/reset.
Running now on 32-bit and 64-bit modes, AgentSheets 3 can be used on OS X 10.4, 10.5, 10.6 and Windows Vista 32/64bits, Windows 7 32/64bit. Use the memory you have to run bigger simulations and games. If you have multiple cores, Conversational Programming employs them to help you to build the program you need.
The Scalable Game Design initiative is focusing on reinventing computer science in public schools by motivating & educating all students, including women and underrepresented communities, to learn about computer science through game design starting at the middle school level. Find many resources including game designs of arcade classics and computational thinking patterns applicable towards game design and computational science. The materials cover the entire range from middle school to graduate school. This project is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Additional bug fixes and improvements include but are not limited to:
Fixed the mac APJ bug that would sometimes corrupt files of users who opened the application by double clicking on the .apj file.
Changed the default location of the new project file chooser so that users on limited accounts would be able to create projects at the default location.
Conditions and Action Palettes now pop up with the behavior editor when the edit behavior button is pressed (when the behavior editor is opened by double clicking the agent the behavior editor pops up alone).
Switch to worksheet action will now open up a separate worksheet window to avoid accidentally overwriting worksheet files.
Changed names in generate report to be consistent with action/condition names
Added a check that is done before users delete an agent, that verifies that other agents in the user's project have no reference to the agent they are trying to delete.
This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers 0833612 and DMI-0712571. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.