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otreum

A game about programming for programmers.

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This might sound crazy, and i'm sure it's already been thought of before, but while I've been learning C++, I have thought to myself that I should create some sortof simplified video's for myself to explain how everything I have learnt actually works, so that I can use those videos for reference rather than looking at my study books. I was also thinking. "What if there was a fun interactive game which teaches the player C++ basics in a fun and creative way while maintaining repetition so that the player doesn't forget what he/she has learnt in the game?" This game would of course include the simple "Hello World" program, and go through as many basics of C++ programming as possible. I haven't actually sat down and written out how the game would be played, and what gameplay the game would have, but I imagine it would be very difficult to try and keep the player focused on learning C++ without him being distracted by actual gameplay (if the player could run around and so on). I am thinking that the gameplay would basically be that of those old maths adventure games or spelling adventure games, where the game would be a 2d platformer where the character would have to piece things together themselves in the right order. So for example, a hello world program would be explained in the player's objectives, and he would have to run around a training level looking for lines of code (which would be really easy). When he has gathered all the lines, he could put the code together the way that his objectives have explained to him, and once the mission is complete, the code is explained step by step both visually and audibly to the player. Then just for the sake of repetition, the player would be in a new area (non training area) where the player's objectives would be to find the code and piece it together correctly in order to win before he can move onto the next level, which might be "loops". Or the gameplay might not even be adventure-like, it may just be as simple as typing tutor, where you are presented with text and basically have to type the text over the ghost text. If you make any typo's, then the ghost text won't be filled in until you type the correct character. The approach could also be like some game developers do with level editors. They make a test level which shows off a rotating door, or a scripted sequence, or light, or sound etc etc. An adventure game could be made at the end of each chapter where a player could walk around a linear environment looking at different things in the game such as a character running animation (loop), or a vending machine (switch statements), or an array (giant chess board), etc etc. Anyway, I just think that for beginning programmers, especially younger programmers (from 10-13), a game like this that was executed properly might really help keep things simple and enjoyable, but at the same time not destroy your brain with pages upon pages of horrible text. Not only that but most programmers want to program to learn how to make games right? So what better way to teach how to use programming for games, than to teach programming THROUGH a game. Also, when the basics are done, more advanced programming games could be released, showing advanced programming techniques and code. Until eventually showing how to actually make a 3d game. I'd like to know what other people's thoughts, ideas and opinions are on this. If you say "It's not going to work, stupid idea", i'd like to know why. I prefer constructive criticism to flat out cinicism, because with constructive criticism, important points can be brought up, and resolutions can be made. Sorry for the long winded post aswell.

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I've always been interested in this sort of thing myself. Most of what I have seen in the past involves writing the AI for one or more units, and trying to get them to perform tasks/combat other units.

In case you hadn't seen some of these before, this wikipedia link has some of the more well known ones: Programming games

A long time ago I wrote a basic tank combat game where you used a simple scripting language to program the tanks AI. Even as simplified as it was though, it was still a little too complex for my non-programmer friends to really get into. Perhaps for people new to programming, you could look at teaching the basics (loops, conditionals etc) with a tile type method like in Carnage Heart or MindRover?. This gets the basics across without having to memorize all of the different keywords and things that come with a high level language.

The sky really is the limit with this sort of thing - good luck with it :)

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Oh nice, I didn't even bother looking for programming games to be honest, I didn't think any would exist. And if they did, they'd be more like robotics AI programs and such.

I don't think i'd be making any games like this until I've firmly established myself in the game development industry with a major release (in maybe 10 years time). But I do think that it'd be a great achievement to make games like this, and it would help so many aspiring programmers aswell, because programming can be extremely horrible to learn in some cases.
Right now i've almost finished my first book, and i've been stuck trying to figure out the so called simple "operator overload" functions, and it has been a nightmare to learn. I have just been thinking to myself "what if this was made in a simple to understand way, not with lines and lines of code to confuse the reader, and the use of complexe terminology the whole way through. Why not put things into perspective? why not visualize operator overloading with an animation or something to show what is happening in the code, step by step?

Anyway, i'll check out those programming games.

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Original post by otreum
why not visualize operator overloading with an animation or something to show what is happening in the code, step by step?
Because of this - one of our assistant professors forces his whole class to watch it, and the general reception is shock and awe.

On the flip side, if can create such a thing that doesn't encourage computer science freshmen to blow their brains, you might reach a very wide audience.

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I wasn't too sure about that video swiftcoder. I actually found it annoying to follow, probably because of the stop motion animation which I kinda hate watching.

But it's a step in the right direction.
While it might seem to treat programmers like kids....it's kind of necessary to do so, even if the programmer is a 40 year old newbie, it's still entertaining and informative at the same time.

I think that the battlebots programs are a good way of testing out skills, but doesn't really TEACH skills, so if a game were to be made, it might have to be a combination of the above video, followed by an interactive game to test out what you've learnt.

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Original post by otreum
But it's a step in the right direction. While it might seem to treat programmers like kids....it's kind of necessary to do so, even if the programmer is a 40 year old newbie, it's still entertaining and informative at the same time.
The problem is that this particular video, along with most of the similar videos I have seen, are neither entertaining nor informative.

It takes a decent professor 5 minutes to explain the basics of pointers, and from what I have seen, that video rarely removes the need to re-explain using the whiteboard.

And don't see games as being any better than videos - a good book or a good professor will be both quicker and more comprehensive.

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