Let's Make Robots!

Fun games programming intrduction any suggestions ??

Hi All - I'd like to see if anyone can help me with a bit of advice slightly off the robot mainstream, but I'm srue there are plenty who can help me

I remember in my early days struggling with basic on my commodore 64 and what fun it gave me to finally produce a basic game - akin now to struggling with BASIC for the STAMP.

My 11 year old - who is brighter than me and with a higher geek reating has been nagging me to find him a way to program his own computer game - he's very keen and staggeringly quick on the uptake - He reads steven Hawking and does algebra for fun, so he's a bit unusual for an 11 year old!

SO my question - can someone advise what I should start him off with as and introduction ?? I got rid of the commodore years ago and we now run windows vista. Surely there must be some tutorials around he could follow - I'd back him against anything that's design for an average 16 year old, so It can't be too dummy.

I'd welcome a bit of advice on how I get him a quick start with something useful that delivers gratifying results reasonably fast. I'll have to learn with him I'm afraid as my skills lie in different directions!

would really welcome your thoughts




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Will check that one out



One of the many games


Game Maker (from yo yo games). This is sorta psudo-programming but it still requires the same mind-set in terms of figuring out actual game-play and logic and "if-then" reasoning. You can build your game area, make sprites and objects and characters then you have to assign different atributes to these objects. You can affect gravity and player control as well as how everything will interact with everything else --i.e. not allowing your player to walk through a wall, and making an enemy disappear when hit. When you are ready, you can also see and manipute the actual code involved, but if that ends up being too advanced, you can simply stick with the drag-and-drop system. My 9-year-old has built some pretty amazing games with Game Maker. It is pretty popular as well, so there is almost always a YouTube tutorial for whatever you want to do when you get stuck. 

it depends on what kind of games he would like to make.

for modern games:

one of the more powerful tools around is the Unreal development kit:
its free and it gives users access to the tech used in allot of games, particularly 1st person 3D games.
it pretty much has everything you might want to modify existing games, create add-ons or create a new game from scratch.
here is a list of games built on the unreal engine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unreal_Engine_games#Unreal_Engine_3

Also valve has a development kit that allows the user to make mods and add-ons for games on the steam engine which is what
games like Half-Life 2 and portal 2 are built on.

Id recently released the source code for Doom 3, and there are many tools for every other aspect of it.

basically the best tools for modern games are the ones that came with games or started that way.
theres allot of packages by 3rd parties made to be universal generic etc, but they mostly tend to suck hard
when it comes to the current generation of games.
the ones that come with games tend to by altered versions of what the makers of that game used.

anyways thats a couple of options for 3d first person type games.
similar stuff can be found for different genres.

one advantage of building on the tech of an existing game is that you can focus on whatever aspects
are of interest and cannibalize the rest from that game.


if you want to go old school though you should look into something called 'emulators'.
an emulator is software that lets you run programs built for one system/OS on another system/OS.
and there is one for every gaming system from the original Magnavox Odyssey to the playstation to almost
every arcade system ever made.
including the C64 :P

you could get an old console and a programmable cartridge and make games for that.
i think there is a programmable cart for the gameboy advanced, probably others too.
you can find help for that in the emulator community as well.


I remember that it was much fun to program "Game of Live" in C++. I am sure it's th same fun in any language since you can do this in pretty much any. Just start with the basics and then move to the next stage. 


Snake and cannonball type games are simple, good starting places. Plus they can be graphically enhanced for a full exercise.

All you need to get started with (game) programming is a (modern) browser and maybe a text editor.

Just too see what's possible, you can check out a version of angry birds based entirely on browser technologies: http://chrome.angrybirds.com/

If you go down this path your son will pick up a lot of skills that will be useful for years to come, the kind of skills people pay for.

The amount of tutorials and resources you will find online is staggering, just do a google search for "javascript game tutorial canvas" or "javascript game tutorial html5". With the advent of webgl and canvas3d you can even make 3d shooters in your browser, however I would start with something simpler, like the game shown in this series of tutorials: http://www.canvasdemos.com/2009/07/09/game-development-tutorials/