Alice & Storytelling Alice Thoughts & Resources

I had a lot of fun working with Storytelling Alice for my Programming for Beginners class. In fact, I think I would like to do a workshop entirely on working with Alice (or Storytelling Alice) next time.

What is Alice?

Alice (& Storytelling Alice for that matter) allows you to create and program 3D worlds. It was developed at Carnegie Mellon University under the direction/leadership of Randy Pausch (NOTE: you absolutely must watch Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams or read The Last Lecture if you haven’t before–I dare you to watch or read it all the way through without shedding a tear).

With Alice…

  • You can program animations
  • You can program 3D games
  • You can program simulations
  • With your imagination, I’m sure you can do other things I did not think of
  • And Most Importantly, while you’re programming games and animations, you’ll be learning to program the following…

    • variables (local & global)
    • conditional execution
    • repetition (while loops & for loops)
    • math
    • event-driven programming
    • object-oriented programming (methods, properties)
    • and you might not even realize it

There are currently 3 Main Versions/Flavors of Alice:

  1. Alice 2.2 (or Alice 2.0) – Good for high school and college
  2. Storytelling Alice – Good for middle school or high school (really, in my opinion)
  3. Alice 3 (Beta) – You need Java for this, for this reason, it’s better used at the college level. Note the beta; it’s still buggy from my understanding. Highlights are that EA has entered into a partnership with Alice and have provided the Sims characters as 3D models in Alice 3.

Alice or Storytelling Alice?

Some may ask which program is the better program to use. I am no expert on the differences between the two, but from my experience, I have noted the following:

  • All versions of Alice are free (yay!)
  • Storytelling Alice is based on Alice
  • Storytelling Alice works the same way as standard Alice
    • Anything you can do in Alice, you can do in Storytelling Alice (and vice versa)
    • Worlds created with Storytelling Alice will NOT work with regular Alice (not compatible)
  • Storytelling Alice has more methods built into each object – This is very important to note as some students can get frustrated getting over the learning curve of programming objects
    • For example, the horse in Storytelling Alice has the following Methods ready to go (out of the box):
      • shake head
      • charge forward
      • run (distance)
      • rear
      • paw ground
      • walk (distance, speed)
    • In standard Alice, if you want to program a horse walking, you would have to create your own method and individually program each leg (top & bottom parts) to move, and you would have to figure out how to make it look realistic
    • Another example is the “lunch lady” can perform mind control on other characters (you’ll have to download it and try it out yoursel)
  • Storytelling Alice has worlds & objects designed to encourage story-telling – this is probably due to the additional methods