Train2Game News Learn to Program with Minecraft

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Minecraft is the most popular game in PC history, with hundreds of millions of players, and it’s now a gateway into the programming world.

In a novel approach to teaching programming, a new book from No Starch Press, Learn to Program with Minecraft ($29.95, Dec. 2015, 320 pp.) uses Minecraft to introduce fans to the beginner-friendly Python language. Readers learn how to build dazzling creations and unlock a whole new realm of Minecraft, all while learning practical programming skills.

This hands-on approach to programming is filled with fun, step-by-step directions designed to make things clear for readers of all ages and experience levels.

Author Craig Richardson explains his book’s unique approach this way: “My book makes learning to program accessible and engaging for people of all ages. Parents and teachers know how valuable it is to learn how to program, but add the fun and creativity of Minecraft while giving your player superpowers, and who can resist?

Learn to Program with Minecraft shows readers how to take control of Minecraft with programming, and it’s really exciting for kids to see a pyramid or palace appear in their Minecraft world out of nothing more than a few lines of code.”

Readers of Learn to Program with Minecraft embark on a series of interactive and engaging missions as they learn how to:

·        Teleport their players using variables
·        Create palaces, pillars, pyramids, and pixel art using for loops
·        Stack blocks and build spectacular spires in record time with math
·        Unlock the chat feature and write secret messages to their friends
·        Blast craters, open secret passages, and cast spells to transform blocks
·        Duplicate entire villages, castles, and acres of Minecraft countryside

“Think of it this way,” says No Starch Press founder Bill Pollock. “Learn to Program with Minecraft is the ideal alternative to those cost-prohibitive coding camps. Kids who read this book will pick up valuable programming skills and they won’t have to hide their favorite game behind a busy screen.” According to Pollock, “No Starch Press will never be a billion dollar startup ‘unicorn,’ but we’ll still change the world by creating books that open doors for kids everywhere.”

For parents looking to get kids interested in coding, and for Minecraft fans of any age, this hands-on guide is the perfect introduction to programming. The code in this book will run on Mac, Windows, and Raspberry Pi.

Learn to Program with Minecraft is available now in bookstores everywhere.

Train2Game News Coding with Star Wars

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Code.org unveiled a Star Wars-themed computer science tutorial featuring Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 as well as Rey and BB-8 from the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The online lesson kicks off the third-annual global  Hour of Code campaign, in honor of Computer Science Education Week, December 7-13, 2015.

Thanks to Disney and Star Wars, students will learn to write code that allows them to create fun challenges and games using Star Wars characters. Participants will join forces with Rey to guide BB-8 through a space mission, then team up with Princess Leia to build their own game featuring R2-D2 or C-3PO. Students will also be able to play their completed games on smartphones and share them with friends and family through a unique link.

“For generations, Star Wars has sparked kids’ curiosity and imagination, and we hope the appeal of characters like Princess Leia and Rey will help fuel greater participation in science and math, especially among girls, around the world,” said Kathleen Kennedy, President, Lucasfilm, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. “Computer science has helped shape our legacy and changed the way movies are made, which is why programs like the Hour of Code are so important to us.”

This is the second year Disney has worked with Code.org on a coding tutorial featuring Disney characters. Last year’s tutorial — which President Obama participated in at the White House for the Hour of Code last December — has been completed more than 13 million times and tapped Anna and Elsa from Walt Disney Animation Studio’s blockbuster film “Frozen.” More than 100 million students across 180 countries have tried an Hour of Code tutorial, including one in three students in US schools, according to Code.org estimates.

Code.org’s new “Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code” lesson for the Hour of Code 2015 aims to nurture creativity and teach logic and problem solving through basic computer programming. There are two versions of the introductory tutorial: one introduces users to the coding language JavaScript for the first time in a Code.org lesson, and lets them create a game in their Internet browser using Code.org’s unique blocks-to-text programming environment.

For beginner and younger students, a tablet-friendly drag-and-drop version will be available in the next few weeks. The tutorial will also be translated into more than 40 languages. The tutorial is supported by Star Wars: Force for Change, a philanthropic initiative that harnesses the strength of Star Wars and its global fandom to empower people to come together to make a positive impact on the world around them.

In addition to the lesson, role models and technologists, including Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Rachel Rose, a Senior R&D engineer working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Charita Carter, Senior Creative Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, have provided short video lectures to help students through the one-hour activity.

“Millions of us have been transported to a galaxy far, far away thanks to the creativity of the team behind Star Wars. Every one of us, especially young boys and girls, should also have the chance to learn how to power our own creativity with computer science,” said Hadi Partovi, co-founder and CEO of Code.org. “Code.org is honored to have the support of Disney and Star Wars on the Hour of Code, making it possible for students everywhere to experience firsthand how this foundational field opens new doors and can be a lot of fun, too.”

“Disney is driven by storytelling and technology—and we know that kids introduced to computer science today will become the innovators and storytellers of tomorrow,” said Jimmy Pitaro, co-Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “We are honored to be working with Code.org again this year to introduce millions of students to coding, which is becoming one of the most important languages of their generation.”

In addition to partnering with Code.org to make the “Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code” tutorial available for free in more than 180 countries, The Walt Disney Company is donating $100,000 to support Code.org’s efforts to bring computer science education to after-school programs throughout the United States. One lucky classroom will win the grand prize – a trip to San Francisco, Calif. for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes “Making of Star Wars” experience with the visual effects team who worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The grand prize is courtesy of  ILMxLAB, a new laboratory for immersive entertainment, combining the talents of Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. Sphero, a company that participated in the 2014 Disney Accelerator, will also be gifting programmable  BB-8 TM droids to 100 participating classrooms. HP Inc has also donated Star Wars TM Special Edition Notebook devices to 10 participating teachers. And during Computer Science Education Week in December, Disney will host an Hour of Code event for local students at their Los Angeles office, and Disney VoluntEARS will support Hour of Code events around the world.

The “Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code” tutorial is the newest addition to Code.org’s online learning platform,  Code Studio, which offers a suite of self-guided computer science activities and courses for students to learn the fundamentals of computer science, starting as early as kindergarten.

At a time when the majority of K-12 schools don’t offer computer science, more than 5 million students have enrolled on Code Studio since its 2014 launch, including 10 percent of all K-8 students in the United States. Additionally, 43 percent of Code Studio students are girls, and 37 percent are black or Hispanic.

This reach is substantial, considering  women hold only 23% of computing jobs, just  18% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science are awarded to women, and only  22% of high school AP Computer Science exam takers are girls. Furthermore, only  18% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science are awarded to blacks and Latinos and, at the high school level,  9% of AP Computer Science exam takers are Hispanic, and just 4% are black.

Beyond the Hour of Code, Code.org has partnered with Disney on “Infinity Play Lab,” an environment where students code stories or games starring Disney Infinity versions of Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” Hiro and Baymax from “Big Hero 6” and Rapunzel of “Tangled.” Code.org has also released Hour of Code tutorials with artwork from Rovio’s Angry Birds, PopCap Games’ Plants vs. Zombies and the acorn-crazed squirrel Scrat from the Twentieth Century Fox animated series “Ice Age.”

Try a preview of the “Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code” tutorial now on Code Studio (http://Code.org/starwars). The experience will also be available on Disney.com soon.

And sign up to participate in this year’s Hour of Code event:  http://HourOfCode.com

Train2Game news: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier creative director on the complexity of AI coding

Coding AI is the most difficult part of developing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. That’s according to the game’s creative director Jean-Marc Geoffroy, who recently offered Train2Game students advice on getting into the industry.

“When we started to work on co-op the first main issue was AI.” he told Beefjack about the team focused Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.

“And it was very simple, as you have a lot of shooters where the AI is player-centric, so the AI knows where the player is, but we were not able to do so because with four human players you don’t know what they are doing, especially as the levels are pretty open, so you don’t know.”

The details about coding will no doubt be of interest to those on the Train2Game game developer course.

Geoffroy said Ubisoft had to code the AI in a way that meant that it wouldn’t know if when looking at a four man squad, it was seeing a human or fellow AI player.

“What we have decided to do – and  really, what the most difficult challenge was – is that the AI will not know where the player is unless it sees the player, and will never know if the player is an AI teammate or human being.” said the Ubisoft Creative Director.

“It sounds stupid to say that but it’s a very, very important point. When your AI doesn’t know who is behind the ghost, it changes everything in terms of how you code, how you programme the AI.”

“So, the AI is basically reacting according to its own life, the situation, and the coordination between all the AI.” he added.

There’s much more about Ghost Recon: Future Soldier here on The Train2Game Blog, including this interview from Gamescom last year.

What are your thoughts on the complexity of the code for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game game developers: how to be a ‘kick-ass’ coder

Train2Game students on the Game Development course will be especially interested in this, a blog on how to become a ‘kick-ass’ gameplay coder.

It’s the latest in the #altdevblogaday series, and comes from FreeStyleGames’ Andy Bastable. It contains some excellent advice on how to become a great coder and is something that Train2Game game development students would benefit from reading!

One tip is the importance of working with the rest of the game development team, the game designers and artists, even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they want to do…

“Being an awesome gameplay coder means leaving that cynical attitude by the door. Yes, you may not like the feature you are tasked with all that much – and you may not even think it’ll work that well, but keep an open mind and you may be surprised by how it develops.”

“Work with designers and artists, and not against them. That doesn’t mean not speaking up when something is wildly unrealistic, or bound to contradict several TRCs – but it does mean being willing to try out things that don’t get all your creative juices flowing at first glance.” Writes Bastable.

Train2Game students can read the full ‘How to be a kick-ass gameplay coder’ piece at #altdevblogaday.

A previous #altdevblogaday post, mentioned here on the Train2Game blog demonstrated the importance of getting involved with Game Jams. Fortunately, next month’s Train2Game & Epic Game Jam will give some Train2Game students this opportunity.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the tips for becoming a kick-ass coder? And what tips would you give to others?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: #altdevblogaday]

New GameSalad engine means no coding needed

Train2Game Game Designers and Artist & Animators who want to practice their skills but lack coding knowledge (or access to a friendly Game Developer through the Train2Game forum) will be able to do so thanks to the new HTML 5 game engine.

The GameSalad tool allows games to be built using a drag and drop interface, with the resultant titles being exported in HTML 5 code.  It removes the barrier for developing games for both Ios and Android devices, with the results able to be displayed on most browsers.

GameSalad doesn’t offer support for Flash, despite being one of the most popular ways of playing games online today.

HTML 5 is “the next language of the web” said GameSalad CEO Steve Felter.

“We’re giving people the ability to play and share GameSalad games within a web browser – dramatically expanding both the reach of our developers’ games and their ability to create conversations and community around them,”

In other programming news, last month the Train2Game blog reported on the £15 Raspberry Pi mini computer which looks to revive the era of bedroom coding.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the HTML5 game engine? Is it something you’d use?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Develop]