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Code Hero: Play and Learn 101

Posted by timothy
from the young-man's-or-lady's-illustrated-primer dept.
mikejuk writes with a bit from I Programmer on what sounds like an intriguing new game: "If you're bored with games where you run around shooting soldiers or monsters, how about a game where you shoot enemies to win computer code snippets that you can then use to shape the reality around you? It's good to play and good enough to win both the Editor's Choice and Kid's Choice at this year's Bay Area Maker Faire." The linked story has a video demo, too.
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Code Hero: Play and Learn

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  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @03:07PM (#37369916)

    It looks like an attempt to create a Matrix-style world where you can shape it in real time. I'd worry a bit about it being over-simplified, but it does look (from the video) like you can type actual real code, so a good start.

    Reminds me (a bit) of Droidbattles [bluefire.nu]. The problem in coding games is to create some objective for the code. Simply wandering around changing the world is cool, but it would get boring pretty quick, and it won't have many players without some goal behind the coding. So, a war between several sides, or battles between programs, something like that. Otherwise it's just a harder to use sandbox game. Which is cool and all, but not terribly interesting from a gameplay aspect.

    • Imagine minecraft with an in game coding interface. It would get pretty crazy really quick.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        http://code.google.com/p/digdigrpg/wiki/Main like this ? it's a minecraft open source clone with a "python console" block

        • Nice, I'll have to try that.

      • That would be crazy amounts of fun, I think this is something that should be suggested to Notch.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Imagine minecraft with an in game coding interface. It would get pretty crazy really quick.

        But would it still look like shit, like minecraft?

    • It definitely looks like they're trying to have a plot and a goal.

      Put it another way: Remember the Matrix games? They were all entertaining, and they were all about real goals, just like the movies were. However, they had no actual coding or hacking in them -- one had a commandline minigame, but as far as actual gameplay, they were shooters/fighters with additional powers -- so, "hacking" the Matrix boiled down to something like Force abilities in a Star Wars game.

      But why couldn't a Matrix game allow you to

      • by LXPK (178629)

        I loved Enter The Matrix and played it all the way through with a friend. Good example. Matrix had bullet time, Code Hero has codefoo.

    • Except for the green Matrix code-style walls, I thought it was much more like Tron (the original movie).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LXPK (178629)

        Both Tron and MAtrix are big inspirations but we take the actual literal reality of what exists in a 3D game engine world simulation as the rules of the land rather than making up movie-friendly metaphors with nerdy words. Matrix and Tron and Star Wars are all essentially fantasy sci fi: Lots of fun, but not closely linked to a physical reality. Although Code Hero takes place in a Matrix-like world, it has definite rules which players can master and exploit and one can parlay that mastery into creating your

    • by LXPK (178629)

      Quite right. Code hero is fun as a creative challenge, but story and conflict are what drives the player to give them a REASON to make each creative leap. There is a sandbox mode where you can create and eventually share your worlds, but to start the priority is for young people who try it to get hooked enough so we can turn them into coders.

  • But I'm not sure I would want to use this as a learning tool if I didn't already know how to program computers. From what I can tell based on the video, it teaches you by showing you snippets of code and allowing you to see what they do, which could be confusing for somebody with no prior coding experience. In addition, it seems that code snippets in this game require a basic understanding of vector math/linear algebra - something that's an essential part of games and simulation, but might serve only to i

  • I think I may now have an vague idea how actual guitar players feel about Guitar Hero. Copying and pasting code should generally be avoided (refactored instead of duplicated if possible). Otherwise, if there is a bug in the code copied, you have to fix it in multiple places.

    That said, the game concept is an interesting one
    • by tepples (727027)

      I think I may now have an vague idea how actual guitar players feel about Guitar Hero. Copying and pasting code should generally be avoided (refactored instead of duplicated if possible).

      Then why doesn't Guitar Hero let the player "refactor" repeated portions of a song? It happens in a real recording studio.

      • by Rizimar (1986164)
        Because in Guitar Hero, you're in a band playing to an audience live and not in a recording studio session.
        • Then why does the crowd boo me off stage when I play badly? When has this happened to any of the no-talent bands lately that can't play a note if it hits them?

          • by Rizimar (1986164)

            Then why does the crowd boo me off stage when I play badly?

            Because you're playing badly.

            When has this happened to any of the no-talent bands lately that can't play a note if it hits them?

            People tend to go see bands that they like who can usually play their own songs live.

            • If playing badly was a criterion, a lot of those wannabe-bands would be kicked out the building, not just off stage.

    • The concept I got from the video was less that you'd be copying and pasting code, and more that you might have "copy and paste" as a code snippet which you could use on the actual game world.

      • by LXPK (178629) on Monday September 12, 2011 @07:10AM (#37375094) Homepage

        Creator here: Copying code is analogous to finding items in a regular RPG FPS. You can bind code to any hotkey on the keyboard till you are bristling with tools for creating and combating anything imaginable. But you can also instantly edit the code mid-combat or while solving puzzles to tweak variables at first and eventually to write your own code to solve problems.

        Gamer gamers can enjoy this without knowing exactly how code works, but the story is full of actual training opportunities that teach you from syntax up to actual game development in Unity3D.

        • That's cool, and also practical, but also frightens me a bit. While I don't know of a better way of doing it, that is effectively training people that the way to code something is to find something similar and copy/paste.

          About the only way I can think of also teaching DRY in a game is by giving the player a severely restricted environment either in terms of amount of source code or memory usage.

    • by adeft (1805910)
      Actual guitar player here. Guitar hero / rock band is just a fun means to drink beer and play a video game with friends. No reason to compare it to the real activity....and I find it really annoying when "real musicians" would criticise the the game. Some people don't like fun I guess.
      • by billcopc (196330)

        As someone who used to play Guitar Hero weekly with a few friends at our dorky bar, we got a lot of those whiners. The most commonly heard criticism was "if you have time to play that stupid thing, you have time to take guitar lessons". And then we'd politely tell the craggy old hippie to go fuck himself.

        Sure, we could all have stayed home and practiced guitar until our fingers were reduced to bloody stumps, but that's beside the point. The interaction with the game was merely an excuse to hang out with

    • by kwoff (516741)

      Copying and pasting code should generally be avoided (refactored instead of duplicated if possible). Otherwise, if there is a bug in the code copied, you have to fix it in multiple places.

      Gasp, you have to fix it in multiple places? Sorry, but compared to refactoring, that is much faster. Especially if you're programming professionally, you avoid refactoring and copy/paste like a WINNER! Refactoring is a waste of time on code that you're probably going to throw away anyway. Refactoring (except when necessary) is a best practice only for people who write books or blogs, not for real programmers. Refactor only after you copy/pasted at least 10 times and you're pretty sure that you'll have to d

  • I really like the cyberpunk virtual reality setting. It looks like a game straight out of the 90's. The concept of Code Hero sounds great, too, but the gameplay itself doesn't look all that interesting. It's hard to tell what the game will actually be like from descriptions and an in-development video, but it seems like there's a combination of shooting code blocks from a first-person perspective and actually writing code. I imagine that stopping to type code would slow down the rest of the game, but I'll w

    • I've noticed that you can usually tell the artistic quality of the people who make games based on what decade it looks like it came from. My stuff looks like it came from the 80s. Wonderful. These guys probably wrote code that looks like it came from the 90s because that is their skill level.

      To make a modern looking game, you really need professional artists, and even actors and directors, etc.
      • by Rizimar (1986164)

        Would you say that it would be the technical quality rather than the artistic quality of the developers?

        I also didn't mean to imply that it looking like it's from the 90's is bad if I did; on the contrary, the style works for this type of game. It's in cyberspace, so everything looking abstract and computer-generated works for it.

        • Of course it's both, but building up the technical quality to write a game from the 90s isn't much harder than building up the technical qualities to write a game from the 80s. Back then, of course it was hard, they were pushing the limits of the machine, and that was true in both the 80s and 90s. Now the libraries are easier to use (you can download free, full-feature 3d shooter engines), the knowledge is more available (you can buy books that will teach you to make said engines), and you have lots of extr
    • I imagine that stopping to type code would slow down the rest of the game...

      Maybe, but I don't see that causing problems in other games. Mass Effect, for instance, allows me to select abilities, change weapons, and otherwise order my squad around while the game is paused, but it's not like I'm tempted to stay in that mode forever -- more likely, I get into that for a few seconds, then back into the game.

      Plus, it has a giant threatening countdown. I wonder if that pauses while you're typing code.

      And I'm not going to lie, the gameplay is what looks most interesting here:

      there's a combination of shooting code blocks from a first-person perspective and actually writing code.

      Come on! Who

      • by Rizimar (1986164)

        Mass Effect, for instance, allows me to select abilities, change weapons, and otherwise order my squad around while the game is paused, but it's not like I'm tempted to stay in that mode forever -- more likely, I get into that for a few seconds, then back into the game. Plus, it has a giant threatening countdown. I wonder if that pauses while you're typing code.

        Yeah, but there's arguably more room for error when typing code instead of commanding squads and customizing your character. You'd have to learn the syntax for the game as well. I'm not saying that this will be a drawback or anything like that, but rather that I'm worried about how well this gameplay will be executed when Code Hero is finished.

        Come on! Who doesn't want a game that lets you write code and then apply it to a game world using a gun?

        That is one of the coolest ideas I've heard of in a long time, to be honest :D

        • Yeah, but there's arguably more room for error when typing code instead of commanding squads and customizing your character.

          I suppose, but then, there's also more error using mouse-aiming and WASD rather than auto-aim on a rail. Which one is more fun? I'm not even sure that I'm slower when I play without any sort of auto-aiming than when I have the game effectively cheat for me.

          You'd have to learn the syntax for the game as well.

          It's JavaScript. You might need to learn a library, but presumably it'd teach you.

  • Super cool to see this on /., I know one of the guys behind it from SF and seeing him around a few hack nights. Anything to get more people interested in codeing :)
    • by Jaxoreth (208176)

      I think everyone at Noisebridge knows the Code Hero team. :-)

      • by LXPK (178629)

        Noisebridge.net Hackerspace represent :) How many slashdotters haven't been to a hackerspace yet?

        http://www.Hackerspaces.org has a list of hackerspaces in your area, check them out.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the UK, most schools were kitted out with BBC Model B Micro computers in the mid-1980's. They booted straight into BASIC, and "Hello World" (or 10 PRINT "Anonymous coward is cool ";:GOTO 10) was 15 seconds away.

    Simple programming skills were easy to learn, and the curious (a surprisingly large proportion of the class) could delve into more advanced techniques - BASIC games were easy to put together, and within a few weeks me and my contemporaries were putting together blackjack simulators, a Monopoly gam

  • Making it even easier to shoot yourself in the foot.

  • But the graphics could use some work. It looks almost hard to navigate being of such quality.

  • Multiplayer would make this very interesting.

  • This isn't a pacifist vs free expression thought, or a think-of-the-children and how there minds might be warped, type of comment. A lot of people enjoy FPS and other types of shooter games. Nothing wrong with that. But I personally like thinking / exploring games. The Myst series was my ideal type of game. I don't want an adrenalin fix. I want an immersive environment that presents me with challenges and puzzles which allow me to think quietly and not fight a clock. But based upon what is available on the

    • by DEmmons (1538383)
      no you absolutely have a point, people have become used to being ridiculously over-armed in first-person games, which is too bad because it's a perspective that is great for immersiveness. Minecraft lets you do a lot more than shoot stuff, but others that exist are much less well-known. The Penumbra series and their successor, Amnesia, are games made by someone who has the same view, except with the adrenaline fix and a hearty dose of pure horror mixed in. I'm not sure if I know any recent titles that captu
    • Myst? The game that was purely graphics, with no game there? Not surprised you don't like action games. Why not just say that, without the suspicious disclaimer about wanting to warp children's minds? What the hell...
    • by LXPK (178629)

      We're working on a balance between puzzle exploration and action so both kinds of players will be happy.

  • I do hope he isn't just running a blind eval() on whatever the input string he gets from the player. "while(true) {GameObject.FindWithTag ("Player").transform.position.y+=100;}" would be fun to watch. Or even better "var temp : Array; temp.Push(1);" ==> null ref exception ==> crashed game.
    • by LXPK (178629)

      It's a very proactively secured eval but when players do crash the game in interesting ways we want to give them achievement points so at least they get something after they restart.

  • Hi! I tried to post earlier but I probably got tab-sidetracked after hitting Preview.

    I founded Primer Labs and created Code Hero.

    Thanks for all your excellent feedback!

    This is our second time on Slashdot in a month as my talk about autocatalyzing mentor AI was linked here to the article based on the transcript of the video:

    http://primerlabs.com/slashdottedaccelor8r

    In a nutshell, game AI that teaches kids how to code better game AI that teach kids how to code better game AI until the kids start to pick up th

    • by LXPK (178629)

      Well it looks like this time we got well and truly slashdotted. Our site is down! It's an honor.

  • by Lisandro (799651)

    Interesting idea, and the "cyberpunk" theme certainly fits the theme. I was somehow expecting more coding though, something like Core Wars [wikipedia.org]...

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