Caleb Callihan Video Game

Caleb Callihan works on his latest coding project in Billie Vanlandingham’s class at Laramie High School on Friday. Callihan designed a video game that won him second place and $250 at the STEMFuse Got Game competition last fall.

In a world full of terrible monsters, only one hero, the Slime Knight, can take back the realm.

At least, that’s the case in Laramie High School student Caleb Callihan’s video game, Slime Knight, which won second place and $250 at the international STEMFuse Got Game competition last fall.

The video game was completely designed and created by Callihan with the help of his teacher, Billie Vanlandingham, and coding software called Construct 3. In his game, the player controls the titular character Slime Knight, who can shoot slime at monsters while moving around the map.

“You go around and have to save everyone form a bunch of evil monsters, and you do this with a variety of power ups,” Callihan said.

Callihan started working on the game as part of a video game coding course taught by Vanlandingham at LHS. Vanlandingham said the Construct 3 software helps teach beginning coders some of the basics using a mixture of drag-and-drop methods along with more technical, text-based coding portions.

“It’s an introductory coding course, so it’s to ease them into those concepts and start just thinking about the logical thinking and processes,” Vanlandingham said.

In addition to about four weeks of time to work on the game in class, Callihan said he spent “a long time” on the game outside of school.

Not only did Callihan have to code the game, but he had to design everything as well. Nothing, Vanlandingham said, could be plagiarized.

“He designed all of his own graphics,” Vanlandingham said. “You can’t take anything off the internet. They really test those things out and make sure that even the idea isn’t completely stolen.”

Despite the many hours logged creating every aspect of the game, Vanlandingham said she had to encourage Callihan to enter the competition. Once he decided, a tight deadline meant some last-minute modifications.

“We were kind of unsure about the deadline, because their website wasn’t up to date,” Vanlandingham said. “We realized last minute, so he had to actually throw a few last-minute things on there on the day it was due. He was concerned about that, and it still placed despite all of that.”

Callihan’s game was competing against over 250 others, Vanlandingham said, including some international competition from countries like Iran and Canada.

While not every one of the students from her video game design class submitted their games to the competition, every student must complete a game by the end of the semester as part of their final project, Vanlandingham said.

“Of course, the game they have to create for the class for a grade isn’t quite as rigorous, as far as requirements, as they would to be able to compete,” Vanlandingham said. “I give the kids the option of whether or not they want to enter the competition.”

The class is extremely popular, Vanlandingham added, with four sections this semester alone. She said it’s a great way to introduce students to computer science and coding.

“It gets kids in here that normally wouldn’t take computer classes, they take it and they tend to go on to my other classes,” Vanlandingham said. “It’s a great feeder class to the rest of my program.”

Callihan said he enjoys Vanlandingham’s class and using code to both create games or modify the code to existing ones. Some mods create new items in a video game, additional quests or new parts of the game map.

“I think I will continue designing things,” Callihan said. “Right now, one of the main things I’m involved in is modding other games, and so far, I’ve accumulated over 30,000 downloads from my mods.”

For additional information about the competition and to play Callihan’s game, go to www.arcade.stemfuse.com/got-game.

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