Activity: Sprites

Sprites are commonly used to represent the characters of games in Arcade. The characters can be controlled by the person playing the game, or the computer itself.

Concept: Simple Sprite Motion

Creating and controlling ||sprites:Sprites|| are two of the most important steps in developing your own game. The ||sprites:Sprite|| a player controls provide a way for the player to interact with the game.

Example #1: Starter Sprites

Animation of player character moving around screen

  1. Review the code below
  2. Identify how the ||sprites:Sprite|| is created
  3. Identify how the player can move the ||sprites:Sprite|| in the game
let player: Sprite = sprites.create(sprites.castle.princessFront0, 0);
controller.moveSprite(player, 100, 100);

In the example above, the sprite is created using ||sprites:sprites.create||. There is a lot to take in, though:

  • Notice the type of ||variables:player||: it is a ||sprites:Sprite||
  • The function that creates the ||sprites:Sprite|| takes in two things: an image (||sprites:sprites.castle.princessFront0|| is one of the provided images to start with), and a ||sprites:kind|| of 0
  • ||controller:controller.moveSprite|| is a function that takes a ||sprites:Sprite|| and allows it to move around the screen as using the direction keys. Besides the ||sprites:Sprite||, it also needs two numbers: one for the horizontal velocity, and one for the vertical velocity

Student Task #1: Slow the New Sprite

  1. Start with the code from example #1
  2. Change the image of the ||sprites:Sprite|| from ||sprites:princessFront0|| to ||sprites:princess2Front|| (the ||sprites:sprites.castle.|| part should remain in front)
  3. Change the ||sprites:vx|| in ||controller:controller.moveSprite|| to 50
  4. Change the ||sprites.vy|| in ||controller:controller.moveSprite|| to 150
  5. Play the game, and identify how it has changed in this task

There are a lot of different images for ||sprites:sprites|| available by default. In this lesson (and many to come), many sprites will be used from the following groups of images for demonstration purposes.

  • ||sprites:sprites.castle||
  • ||||
  • ||||
  • ||||
  • ||sprites:sprites.vehicle||

These can be found in the Gallery of the sprite editor, or by looking through the groups with the autocomplete feature. It is always fun to design your own personal sprite, though!

Concept: Personalizing Sprites

When making your own game, you will likely need to spend some time personalizing your own ||sprites:sprites||. This will change the way they look, as well as the way they behave.

To start personalizing your own ||sprites:sprites||, we will need to learn about two different things: the image editor, and sprite ||sprites:kinds||.

Example #2a: Your Own Sprite

  1. Review the code below
  2. Identify the parts that are similar to example #1, and the portions that are different
let player = sprites.create(img`
    . . . . . . b . b . . . . . . .
    . . . . . f b b b f f . . . . .
    . . . . f 1 b 7 b 1 c f . . . .
    . . . f 1 c c c c c 1 c f . . .
    . . . f c c f f f f c 1 f . . .
    . . . f c f f e e f f c f . . .
    . . f c f e f e e f e f c f . .
    . . f c f e a e e a e f c f . .
    . . f c c f e e e e f c c f . .
    . f c c f a f f f f a f c c f .
    . . f f e a b a a b a e f f . .
    . . f e e f a b b a f e e f . .
    . . . f f a a a a a a f f . . .
    . . . f a a b a a b a a f . . .
    . . . f f f f f f f f f f . . .
    . . . . . f f . . f f . . . . .
`, SpriteKind.Player);
controller.moveSprite(player, 100, 100);

This code will need some explanation. It includes two features of JavaScript - enums and tagged templates - that are a bit advanced, and out of the scope of this course to cover in detail. For our purposes, we can use the following simplified descriptions:

An enum is a set of named constant values. In this snippet, the ||sprites:SpriteKind|| enum is used to list out different types of sprites in our game, so that the different ||sprites:Kind||s of ||sprites:Sprites|| can be identified.

In the first example, you might have noticed that the ||sprites:Kind|| used was a number. The values in the ||sprites:SpriteKind|| enum are all stored as numbers that are given special names to make the code more readable - it is generally easier to remember that one character is the Player, rather than kind 0.

A tagged template is a special kind of function, that can take a template string - the portion in between the backticks (`).

In this course, img is the only tagged template we will discuss. img takes a string and converts it into an image. Each character in the tagged template (the numbers 1-9, letters a-f, and period .) is converted to a color, and made into a single pixel in the image.

The image editor can be used to easily create these img tagged templates - click on the paint palette to the left of the img to open it up and draw your masterpiece.

Opening the image editor animation

After you exit the image editor, the values between the backticks will be updated to represent the image you created. It may also hide the contents of the image after you close the editor; the + or - buttons that appear when hovering near the paint palette allow portions of code to be collapsed depending on the level of indentation.

Example #2b: Adding a New ||sprites:Kind||

  1. Review the code below
  2. Compare the ||sprites:SpriteKind|| in this snippet to the one in example #2a. How is it different?
namespace SpriteKind {
    export const Square = SpriteKind.create();

let square = sprites.create(img`
    1 1 1
    1 1 1
    1 1 1
`, SpriteKind.Square);
controller.moveSprite(square, 100, 100);

Student Task #2: Adding Sprites

  1. Start with the code from example #2b
  2. Add two new ||sprites:kind||s to the ||sprites:SpriteKind|| enum: ||sprites:Circle|| and ||sprites:Diamond||
  3. Create two new sprites - one that is a ||sprites:Circle||, and one that is a ||sprites:Diamond||. Use the image editor to draw images for these sprites
  4. Challenge: add an animal (for example, ||sprites:Dog||) to the ||sprites:SpriteKind|| enum, and create a ||sprites:Sprite|| for that animal

Concept: Sprite Properties and Functions

Sprites have properties and functions that keep track of the different values related to the sprite. These are the same properties that were used in Blocks - ||sprites:x||, ||sprites:vx||, ||sprites:left||, and so on.

These properties and functions can be easily browsed using the autocomplete feature.

Auto Complete

Example #3: Using a Property

  1. Review the code below
  2. Identify which ||sprites:sprite property|| is modified
  3. Notice the use of ||loops:pause|| to make the modification occur after 1 second
namespace SpriteKind {
    export const Square = SpriteKind.create();

let player = sprites.create(img`
    1 1 1
    1 1 1
    1 1 1
`, SpriteKind.Square);

player.x += 20;

Student Task #3: Repetitive Motion

  1. Start with the code from example #3
  2. Use a ||loops:for|| loop to make the ||loops:pause|| and the modification of the ||sprites:sprite property|| occur 5 times
  3. In the ||loops:loop||, add another line to change the ||variables:player||‘s ||sprites:y|| position by -10 on each iteration
  4. Before the loop, set ||variables:player||‘s ||sprites:vx|| to -10

What did we learn?

  1. In your own words, explain why drawing your own ||sprites:Sprites|| can be important when creating new games.
  2. How do ||sprites:Sprite Properties|| allow you to interact with ||sprites:Sprites||?

Before moving on to the next lesson, it is recommended that you check out the selected problems for this section to review the material and practice the concepts introduced in this section.

Case Study

Create a Spaceship

It’s time to create a space ship for the space game.

Create a ||sprites:Sprite|| representing the player’s space ship. Add a new ||sprites:SpriteKind|| of ||sprites:Player|| for this ||sprites:Sprite||. Store the ||sprites:Sprite|| in the variable ||variables:Player||.

Make the space ship ||controller:move with buttons||, with a ||controller:vx|| of 80 and a ||controller:vy|| of 30.

After this is done, you can start playing the game by moving the character around the screen, dodging the asteroids. Notice how the game changes when the ||variables:player|| if the player is created before or after the loop added in the previous activity.


namespace SpriteKind {
    export const Asteroid = SpriteKind.create();

namespace asteroids {
    sprites.onCreated(SpriteKind.Asteroid, function (sprite: Sprite) {
        sprite.setFlag(SpriteFlag.AutoDestroy, true);
        setPosition(sprite, 10);

    game.onUpdateInterval(1500, function () {
        sprites.create(, SpriteKind.Asteroid);

    function setMotion(asteroid: Sprite) {
        asteroid.vx = randint(-8, 8);
        asteroid.vy = randint(35, 20);

    function setPosition(sprite: Sprite, edge: number) {
        sprite.x = randint(edge, screen.width - edge);
        sprite.y = 0;

let name: string = "Captain ";
let playerName: string = game.askForString("What is your name?");

if (playerName == "myName!") {
    playerName += " 2";

name += playerName;

let intro: string = "Hello, ";
intro += name;
intro += "! This is my Space Game!";

let x: number = screen.width / 2;
let y: number = screen.height - 20;

for (let i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
    sprites.create(, SpriteKind.Asteroid);

let player = sprites.create(img`
    . . . . 8 . . . .
    . . . 8 8 8 . . .
    . . . 8 1 8 . . .
    . . 2 8 1 8 2 . .
    . 2 2 8 8 8 2 2 .
    2 2 2 8 8 8 2 2 2
    . . . 5 . 5 . . .
`, SpriteKind.Player);

controller.moveSprite(player, 80, 30);