Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Game Maven: Learn to code by writing games

I just launched Game Maven from Crunchzilla. It’s a new interactive tutorial -- part of the series that includes Code Monster and Code Maven -- that is a step-by-step walkthrough of writing the code for three casual video games.

The games themselves are really fun. One is a simple vaguely Asteroids-like base defense game. The second is a sort of Angry Birds-like cannon game complete with physics and particle system effects. The third is a platformer in the spirit of Mario Bros with auto-generated infinite levels.

Game Maven is an interactive tutorial using live code. Players learn step-by-step how to build each game, getting a chance to customize and play with the games as they build them. Game Maven is an immersive educational experience with a focus on action over explanation. Players build right away with code, learning about coding by coding. Be brave, make mistakes, try things, and see what happens.

Game Maven assumes some programming experience and an interest in writing games. It’s for adults and older teens (age 16+). It’s designed for a variety of motivation levels, from those that just click through the lessons and skip most of the work, to those that do every lesson, understand every line of code, and spend hours customizing the games, everyone learns from the experience.

If you have a teenager interested in coding and writing games, please let them know about Game Maven. Please tell your friends with teenagers about Game Maven. If you want to play with writing games yourself, go give it a try. And please let me know what you think!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Quick links

What caught my attention lately:
  • Jeff Bezos on what innovators need: "A willingness to fail. A willingness to be misunderstood. And maintaining a childlike wonder in the world." ([1])

  • "Agreement feels good -- hey, we get along great! -- but it's not the best for innovation. Why? Because if everybody has the same idea, then you only have one idea." ([1])

  • "It's amazing the amount of difference a cultural intolerance to bullshit can make" ([1])

  • "Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing" ([1] [2])

  • "Amazon has boundless ambition. It wants to eat global retail ... the largest retailer in the history of the world ... [It is] a secret in plain sight." ([1])

  • I love Duolingo and Duolingo's business model: "students receive high-quality, completely free language education, and organizations get translation services powered by the students ... two major publishers are financing our operation by [our students] translating their content." ([1] [2])

  • "Pinterest now valued at $3.8 billion, on a constant valuation ratio of infinity times revenues" ([1])

  • "Microsoft is continuing to fire on all cylinders with its enterprise products and services and has a ways to go on the consumer side" ([1])

  • The "screamingly obvious ... solution ... Offer regular Windows on regular computers, offer TileWorld on tablets" ([1] [2])

  • "Apple is trying to maintain premium pricing in a market in which competitors are increasingly selling high-quality iPad alternatives for significantly lower prices." ([1])

  • Patents should only be used "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" ([1] [2] [3])

  • "The most popular films are not even available through preferred legal channels" ([1] [2] [3])

  • I do not think it means what you think it means: "No banner ads on the Google homepage or Web search results pages… ever." ([1] [2] [3])

  • Gesture recognition (like the Kinect, but just using a laptop or tablet's existing webcam) is going to become more common? ([1])

  • Instead of trying to recycle plastic, turn it into oil: "Each barrel of oil costs about $10 to produce" ([1] [2])

  • Very clever idea for moving small robots: "No external moving parts. Nonetheless, they’re able to climb over and around one another, leap through the air, roll across the ground ... [a] flywheel is braked, it imparts its angular momentum to the cube" ([1])

  • Frightening that you can see results this large with electrical stimulation of the brain on an area known to be important for compliance with social norms ([1])

  • Four-legged, all terrain drones coming to a war near you ([1] [2])

  • Curious claim about US education: "When controlling for demographic factors, public schools are doing a better job academically than private schools" ([1])

  • Strange, I don't remember this, back in 2001, Jeff Bezos did a weird Taco Bell ad. ([1])

  • A dark but hilarious Halloween comic from SMBC: "I'm expectation of death" ([1])

  • The Onion: "CEO worked his way up from son of CEO" ([1] [2])