Construct 3 Quick Start Guide

This is a brief overview of the Construct 3 interface and some tips & tricks to help guide you through the Level UP workshops and tutorials.

Construct 3 is still technically in beta which means it can still sometimes crash or bug-out. 99% of the time when a crash occurs a box will pop up with the option to download your current progress but you should still manually save your work often.

The Editor

This is the default view of the Construct 3 editor. Games are divided into layouts (think of a layout like a level, or a self-contained Scratch project. Your game may have one layout per level plus a layout each for Menu and Game Over).

  • Project Bar

    All of the objects and media for your project are stored in the folder system of the Project Bar. Clicking on any object in the Project Bar will update the Properties Bar to display relevant information. Double-clicking a layout or event sheet will open it in the Tab View and double-clicking an object, like a sprite or tiled background, will open the image editor.

  • Properties Bar

    The Properties Bar displays all the information and attributes of whatever you have selected. Selecting a blank space on the Layout Editor will display information about the current layout. Anything and everything that can be changed for an object can be found in the properties bar including all associated behaviours and variables.

  • Layers Bar

    Unlike Scratch, Construct 3 lets you arrange your game in to distinct layers that can have different properties and be controlled independantly of one another. The top layer in the list will be arranged on top in the editor and vice versa. Clicking the padlock will prevent any further changes being made in the editor to that layer (useful to prevent accidentally moving the background, for example) and clicking the checkbox will toggle visibility. Whichever layer was last clicked will be considered the “active layer” so it’s important to keep track of which layer you’re working in.

  • Tab Views

    Construct 3 uses a handy tab view system (just like a web browser). They can be rearranged by clicking and dragging and are useful for quickly navigating between levels. It’s important to note that closing a tab up here does not delete the content – just the view of it. Double-clicking on a layout or event sheet in the project bar will reopen its tab at the top.

  • Layout Editor

    This is the main canvas on which you’ll work in Construct 3. Here you can arrange your objects to create levels. Clicking and dragging any object into the Layout Editor will place a copy (called an instance) of it in to the game and you can click and drag to move any instance already in the layout (staying in place unless programmed to do otherwise). Grids can be toggled in the Properties Bar to make building levels easier. One important point to remember; in Scratch the coordinates for a layout set the origin (0,0) at the center. In Construct 3 the origin is in the top-left corner which means the x-coordinate increases from 0 as you travel left and the y-coordinate increases from 0 as you travel down.

The Components of a Construct 3 Project

You can think of every game made with Construct 3 as a combination of three components – Objects, Layouts and Event Sheets.

Objects

The building blocks of your game. In Scratch we just had sprites, backgrounds and sounds. In Construct 3 we have sprites and backgrounds and sounds and much more besides. There’s an awful lot to learn about object types but for the most part sprites and tiled backgrounds will be enough to get started.

When an object is placed in to a game an ‘instance’ of that object is created. Think of it like an automatic universal clone system from Scratch. Every copy of an object is its own instance and can be controlled as a group or individually. Deleting an instance will not delete the object.

Layouts

Layouts are the canvas on to which you arrange your objects. For most games it’s easiest to imagine them as levels (Level 1 is one layout, Level 2 is another etc.) Really though, they can do so much more. Each layout is the equivalant of a whole Scratch project and your Construct 3 game is just how you choose to link your layouts together. In order to function properly a layout must contain at least one instance of every object it will need, even if it’s not initially invisible. For example when creating a shooting game, we would need to a bullet sprite to the layout editor, even though it will immediately be destroyed, so that it can be called on later when the player hits the fire key. Each layout is assigned an event sheet in the properties bar. This is the code that this layout will follow and it’s usually fine for simple games to use the same event sheet for all layouts. However, it does give us the option to give each layout its own set of rules and instructions if needed.

Event Sheets

In Scratch, all of the code for a game is attached to either a sprite or a background. In Construct 3 we write our code on event sheets. For most simple games, one event sheet is plenty and can be assigned to each layout to make our game run. Everything that happens in your game can be programmed in the event sheet and it’s where the real coding begins.

Saving and Loading a Project

Unlike Scratch, CONSTRUCT 3 DOES NOT AUTO SAVE YOUR WORK by default so it’s super important to get a handle on the different ways to save a project before getting started.

  • Cloud Save

    Construct 3 integrates with three different cloud saving services – Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive. Useful if you’re working across more than one machine but will be awkward for us to use with children.

  • Save To Local Browser

    Useful if you know you’ll be working on the same computer, using the same web browser every time or for quick saves during one session. Some schools are setup to clear the browser data every 24 hours or when a user logs off so check the policy at your venue.

  • Download a Copy

    Saves a complete copy to the downloads folder of your computer. This file is not the playable game, just a project file. Useful for moving a work in progress between school and home.

Which Should I Use?

Each situation is different but for the most part a combination of browser saves and downloads will be the best fit for schools and workshops. Have students save to local browser at the start of a session so they can save quickly by clicking the icon thereafter, then download a copy at the end of a session for a more secure backup.

Behaviours

Construct 3’s greatest strength over competitors is its behaviour system. Behaviours are nuggets of pre-written code that can be applied to sprites for a quick leg-up on development. Our sessions will rely on them heavily so take some time read the descriptions of the available behaviours.

Some Facts About Behaviours

  • To add a behaviour to any sprite just select it in the project bar or layout editor and select behaviours from the properties bar. Click add new behaviour and double-click the behavour you want or select one to read its description
  • Most behaviours will add a number of associated options when writing code for the event sheet to further customise how an object behaves
  • Many behaviours add a list of attributes to the object’s properties bar that can be modifided without code. For example, the platform behaviour will open up controls to change movement speed, jump height and more
  • Not all behaviours play nice together – anything physics based can introduce issues if using with other behaviours so always test a project before adding lots of behaviours