Kids can't make fun games anymore.

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Some kids learn to program because programming is fun. That's us. Other kids just want to make games. All kinds of games. Shooters, adventures, puzzles. Usually, they don't want much - they want these worms to move along a path, these dragonflies to chase the player, these spiders to move randomly.

There used to be tools that would let them make those games without any fuss. There were SEUCK, GameMaker for Mac and its variants, Klik&Play, Coldstone, and others. All popular, and all dead. If little Timmy wants to make Pong, he has to learn a language and an API when all he wants is three objects, two counters, a win condition, and a Go button. It should not be this hard!

Programmers spend so much time making tools for other programmers. I can't count the number if IDEs and new languages out there, and yet I can't think of even one tool that lets someone sit down at a computer and make something fun and interactive without learning to program or throwing down $200 for Flash. (Except GameMaker, but it kind of sucks.) Should Timmy have to pay $200 just so he can make Pong? NO!

I have a lot of project ideas now. Lately, my ideas have been web apps instead of games. Frankly, I'm getting tired of writing games. Since I make them almost exclusively for contests, my games usually have mediocre code scattered all over the place. I want to make something that I have deliberately designed, that is easy to use, and that does something useful.

A game creation tool is now my new long-term project, and I may start skipping iDG contests for the first time in years, literally. I would appreciate any design or coding help. I have more specific plans, but I will wait until they are more coherent before I discuss them. Oh, and it's gonna be Python.

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This is something I've been thinking about lately too, and I'd love to help do something about it. I may be interested in joining up with your project, so hit me up on AIM or IRC when you get the chance.

Hope this takes off!
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You have that disease I had when I started iGame3D.
IE, caring about 'kids today', the spoiled trolls.

Anyway.

There is a Python thing for kids out there, Dan Lurie will remember the name.
A teacher made it for his students. It would be a good realm to work in.

Didn't you use BlitzMax or was that Joseph?
"Game making for Teens" covers that program, I have it, never have time to mess with it,
but it covers simple games kids can make in, just under 400 pages.
Then there is "Torque for teens" and a few more.

Then, there is Halo Forge, my seven year old daughter spends hours in there.

The XBOX 360 and PC games have dozens of mod softwares or modes.

Look up Steam mods.
The average eleven year old with ambition can mod a commercial game that blows away anything ever seen on a Mac.

Oh there's FPS Creator and its ilk, I picked that up for my kid for $20, it sucks.
Well the interface is good, model previews are nice to have, click the grid and drop the generic scenery is great, but plays like crap, animations are awful.
Things may have improved they have a content store now.

There's also Sandbox using the cube engine. Freakin' Amazing.
I get nothing done when my daughter is using it, I just sit in awe and say "That is what iGame3D is supposed to be"

Oh and have you seen Phun
Another app my daughter spends days using.
Free form experimentation has a hundred times the appeal of programming.

Personally what I see missing for kids, is kids level books at the library and book store for programming and game making.
Something fun and helpful in 80 pages or so.

I mean kid level, not ultra pubescent nerd who codes because he can't meet girls.
Books for boys and girls who still loathe the opposite sex because computers are much less irritating and hormones haven't told them to ignore the irritation to continue the species.

I suppose technology moves faster than book sales, thus the lack of books for that age range.

Those old BASIC books we had are what inspires my nostalgia, I want to make those books that cover the basics and simple experiments, with their silly line drawings. I started collecting some from eBay so I have resources for the language they used, since I'm 30 years away from where I was when they spoke to my inner child.

Anyway, before you go down the rabbit hole, do some research on what's available, what's missing, and what kids actually want (you know the answer, Text based MMORPG! ha!). Realize they get instant gratification from cheap software at a exponential rate.

Oh and in general, to help the 'kids', it would be nice if the iDev community wasn't a total c0ckb1te to every 12 year old looking to make an MMO, five years ago it was the same to every kid who wanted to make an FPS, fortunately Dim 3 coddled those guys, and they are all still at it!
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igame3d Wrote:Didn't you use BlitzMax or was that Joseph?
"Game making for Teens" covers that program, I have it, never have time to mess with it, but it covers simple games kids can make in, just under 400 pages.

I did use BlitzMax, and it was nice. The language is somewhat counter-intuitive and weak, but it's really good at making distributable packages.

Quote:Then there is "Torque for teens" and a few more. Then, there is Halo Forge, my seven year old daughter spends hours in there. The XBOX 360 and PC games have dozens of mod softwares or modes.

Look up Steam mods. The average eleven year old with ambition can mod a commercial game that blows away anything ever seen on a Mac.

Game mods aren't what I'm after here. I am really worried about kids with real ambition getting bogged down in pointless, frustrating forays into programming that will make them averse to it later.

Quote:Oh there's FPS Creator and its ilk, I picked that up for my kid for $20, it sucks, well the interface is good, model previews are nice to have, click the grid and drop the generic scenery is great, but plays like crap, animations are awful.
Things may have improved they have a content store now.

A 3D game maker is too complex for my current skill set, and in my opinion, 2D games are easier to make fun.

Quote:There's also Sandbox using the cube engine. Freakin' Amazing.
I get nothing done when my daughter is using it, I just sit in awe and say "That is what iGame3D is supposed to be"

That's good, but again, it's not the kind of tool I'm looking for. It looks pretty limited on the kinds of mechanics you can have. I want to give people more freedom.

Quote:Oh and have you seen Phun
Another app my daughter spends days using.
Free form experimentation has a hundred times the appeal of programming.

That is more like what I want, but again, it's not really geared toward making games. It lets you build toys in a window, but there's no mechanism for making a player character and moving between distinct areas, i.e. levels. I would definitely want to tie my tool to Chipmunk. Free-form experimentation is my primary design goal.

Quote:Personally what I see missing for kids, is kids level books at the library and book store for programming and game making. Something fun and helpful in 80 pages or so...

There aren't any good books because there aren't any good tools. BASIC made it easy to get some text, get some data, and do stuff with it that would appear Right In Front Of You. You could copy it to a tape and share it no differently than commercial companies did. Now, there are all these shenanigans you have to go through just to show some text.

Quote:Anyway, before you go down the rabbit hole, do some research on what's available, what's missing, and what kids actually want (you know the answer, Text based MMORPG! ha!). Realize they get instant gratification from cheap software at a exponential rate.

Oh and in general, to help the 'kids', it would be nice if the iDev community wasn't a total c0ckb1te to every 12 year old looking to make an MMO, five years ago it was the same to every kid who wanted to make an FPS, fortunately Dim 3 coddled those guys, and they are all still at it!

Hopefully, instead of harassing MMO wannabes, we can just point them at a tool they can wrap their brains around.

ThemsAllTook Wrote:This is something I've been thinking about lately too, and I'd love to help do something about it. I may be interested in joining up with your project, so hit me up on AIM or IRC when you get the chance.

Will do. Like I said, any input from anyone about anything would be helpful.,

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Post: #5
What about Blender? Rasp

diordna Wrote:2D games are easier to make fun.

That is true.

Quote:There aren't any good books because there aren't any good tools. BASIC made it easy to get some text, get some data, and do stuff with it that would appear Right In Front Of You. You could copy it to a tape and share it no differently than commercial companies did. Now, there are all these shenanigans you have to go through just to show some text.

I don't follow you here; aren't there plenty of tools out there that allow you to get stuff going without too much effort(TNTBasic?)

Quote:Hopefully, instead of harassing MMO wannabes, we can just point them at a tool they can wrap their brains around.

So is this tool an introduction to programming or a game maker?

Good luck; sounds like a fun project. I don't know any Python(I'm JS and Objective-C), and I don't have a whole lot of spare time at the moment(schoolwork, uDG, binkworks), but I'd like to help out; send me an email.

Again, good luck!

- Lincoln Green
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Hairball183 Wrote:I don't follow you here; aren't there plenty of tools out there that allow you to get stuff going without too much effort(TNTBasic?)

Not to sound like an old fart again (although I suppose I can't hide it), I know *exactly* what he's talking about.

There is a whole generation (almost two now) which have no idea about what BASIC *used* to be. It's not anything like that now. Back when we were plugging in programs from magazines, the entire language could fit on a two or three panel brochure which was maybe half the size of a sheet of paper. The most complex drawing command was like PLOT X, Y. I haven't seen the term "semigraphics" in ages.

While those days are long gone, I haven't forgotten the utter simplicity of the language and how it interacted with the hardware, and how easy it was to learn -- even compared to today's most easy of easy stuff. Python is 3 million times more complex than what we were learning with.

A couple years ago, a relative of mine returned my old CoCo (the original silver one). It didn't work, but I was blown away by having it in my hands again. I spent the afternoon with a soldering iron and an oscilloscope and repaired it to just barely working condition. I found some old scanned in game programming cookbooks on the internet and started hammering out games immediately. I took the tape output and plugged that into my Mac and saved the data in Garageband so I didn't have to re-type it. After a few hours of messing around with that, all I could think was that we've definitely left something good behind. One of these days, when I get a chance, I'd like to make a good old-fashioned BASIC interpreter. Who knows if I'll ever get the time.

Anyway, my point in bringing this up is to diordna: Whatever you do, make it simple, simple, simple. Don't let the features creep in.
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Post: #7
I know you want to do python which I never liked, looks ugly as sin.

Check out murgaLua

You can easily make a window, do some old school draw pixels commands.
Here's some samples from my first tries
[Image: murgacirclespreview.png]
[Image: murgarectFpreview.png]
[Image: murgaLuaquadpreview.png]
Forum link to see my 'hackish' code

Here's a thread at the Dungeon Master forums, where I was using murgaLua to hack dungeon master maps to a 2D interface, which in turn became 3D maps, which in turn became the basic levels for my UDG entry.

As for keeping it simple
A) if its too simple it will not be feature rich enough to draw interest, nobody really wants to spend hours coding and get dull results. Thats the problem with Apple's Xcode tutorials, hours of work, ...wow currency converter..yawn.
Where's space invaders and dungeon crawl tutorial for xcode?
Oh but wait, the 2 GB download is going to stop most kids anyway.

B)Shoot 'em ups are a dead end on the Mac.
What was the result of the Shoot 'Em Up Contest held here in 2007?
Sad is the adjective to describe it.
Look for my posts during the contest, I posted a link to a Shoot'em Up website, all Windows based, and very active. But even they represent .01% of the Windows game making population.

C) There is easy to use software for this stuff, no code required.
Limited yes...keeping it simple.
Are they as succesful as say Unity, not in a very long shot.
Maybe Torque 2D is, with its web and iphone powers.

There are plenty of awesome tools and awesome books, but they are not meant for kids. They are meant for high school and college students and professionals sick of their current career track who will sit through them.

--section about BASIC removed to shorten/focus this thread--

Anywho. Diordna's little project is exactly what I've said Inkubator should have been all along. Not One game that one percent of people care to make, but a tool we can tell noobs to get their feet wet with.

That is what iGame3D was supposed to be, but then "oh lets make a mesh editor too", and then "lets use a $300 IDE" and then "lets stop UI work to enter an IDG contest" then "lets switch to Lua and recreate 3 years of UI work" and then "Damn Unity Damn them to hell!(not really they are gods)".

You're in for a wild ride, thats worth it in the long run.
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AnotherJake Wrote:There is a whole generation (almost two now) which have no idea about what BASIC *used* to be. It's not anything like that now. Back when we were plugging in programs from magazines, the entire language could fit on a two or three panel brochure which was maybe half the size of a sheet of paper. The most complex drawing command was like PLOT X, Y. I haven't seen the term "semigraphics" in ages.

But how much could you do with that language?

You don't even have to know a programming language to get text to appear on the screen these days; granted, text is just an example. However, unless that 3-panel language had a ton of functionality, my point remains: you don't have to learn a whole lot more than you did back then to do what you could do with that language.

And also, I just saw this: http://www.gamesalad.com/

- Lincoln Green
http://www.binkworks.com/
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Hairball183 Wrote:But how much could you do with that language?

You don't even have to know a programming language to get text to appear on the screen these days; granted, text is just an example. However, unless that 3-panel language had a ton of functionality, my point remains: you don't have to learn a whole lot more than you did back then to do what you could do with that language.
Yes, you do. Back then, you just had the Computer, and it had BASIC. There was no such thing as an IDE. Now, you have to download whatever package, then figure out where the manual is, and it probably wasn't the right tool in the first place, and yes, it *is* more complicated to get things moving. The entry barrier is too high for the early middle school crowd. It doesn't matter how 'powerful' a language is, only how easy it is to make something interesting.

AnotherJake Wrote:Anyway, my point in bringing this up is to diordna: Whatever you do, make it simple, simple, simple. Don't let the features creep in.
The system I have in my head is relatively basic, but enormously expandable. The GUI will be the place where I have to pay attention, since it's important to make the most understandable features the easiest to access while stumbling around.

Hairball Wrote:And also, I just saw this: http://www.gamesalad.com/
That looks almost exactly like what I had in mind! However:
-interface problems
-doesn't appear to scale well at all
-Leopard-only
-provides no way to export a standalone game
-doesn't allow you to expand games with code
-not open source

Even if those problems were fixed, the system in my head is even better for reasons which will become clear when I get around to explaining it.

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Can't wait to see what you have in mind diordna, good luck with it!

igame3d Wrote:AnotherJake I'd be willing to pay you to integrate a specific old school BASIC into iGame3D. (Ssh don't tell Tobi, he'll be like "WTF?!?!")
Hehe... Which "specific" BASIC did you have in mind, Sinclair or Microsoft? I think even Apple BASIC was made by Microsoft back then. Wink

Well, if I ever get one rolling you can include it in iGame3D for sure.

Hairball18 Wrote:But how much could you do with that language?

That's a good question. The answer ranges from "not much" to "just about anything any other scripting language could do".

Quote:... my point remains: you don't have to learn a whole lot more than you did back then to do what you could do with that language.

That is true to a degree, but as diordna said, it is in fact much more difficult to approach programming today than it was then. I wasn't trying to suggest that the old-school BASIC we're talking about was all that powerful, just that it was simple and easily approachable -- more-so than anything I've seen in the last ten years (doesn't mean I've seen everything though). We left that simplicity behind, and that's too bad IMHO.
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diordna Wrote:Yes, you do. Back then, you just had the Computer, and it had BASIC. There was no such thing as an IDE. Now, you have to download whatever package, then figure out where the manual is, and it probably wasn't the right tool in the first place, and yes, it *is* more complicated to get things moving. The entry barrier is too high for the early middle school crowd. It doesn't matter how 'powerful' a language is, only how easy it is to make something interesting.

You do have a point; but you still can't do as much starting out as you can today(Cocoa anyone? Granted, it's not game related, and you do have to get it off the Mac OS X disk rather than having it on there already).

Quote:That is true to a degree, but as diordna said, it is in fact much more difficult to approach programming today than it was then. I wasn't trying to suggest that the old-school BASIC we're talking about was all that powerful, just that it was simple and easily approachable -- more-so than anything I've seen in the last ten years (doesn't mean I've seen everything though). We left that simplicity behind, and that's too bad IMHO.

Yes, that is true.

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Hairball183 Wrote:You do have a point; but you still can't do as much starting out as you can today(Cocoa anyone? Granted, it's not game related, and you do have to get it off the Mac OS X disk rather than having it on there already).
Are you seriously suggesting that an 8 year old can learn Cocoa on his/her own - nay, make games with it? I had enough trouble with BASIC!

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I like the idea still I think projects like this end up being a HUGE effort.

@igame3d, How many lines of code did you write for igame3d? How many years did it take?.

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I realize that it would take a lot of time. Fortunately, the work that goes into making it won't be wasted if it doesn't pan out - the internal class structure will still be useful for making games. A generalized game framework, even without a GUI, would make development faster in the future. In the worst case, if the project stalls, we'll end up with something at least as complex as the SEUCK.

Edit: Here is a general idea: http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/360865/Proposal.txt

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Diordna, your difficulty is a good point.
An 8 year old is still learning English (or their primary national language).
By the looks of internet postings, and the recent research that shows 40% of college graduates are functionally illiterate,
it takes them a lifetime to figure it out.

Introducing people to programming is teaching them a language,
one they can't use when interacting with other people, this isolates them, even their parents can't help them.

Kids need drag and drop, not "hey learn these 300 commands, and you'll be an über-nerd".

Remember the content pipeline is a BIG issue.
You can't ask a kid to learn 300 commands AND make 64 frames for some jerko character to walk around a blank screen.

My original idea with iGame3D was: Tobi (a kid of 16 at the time) has his 3D engine, and I'd art my ass off to make the content and 'kids' could just drop in fun stuff until they were ambitious enough to make their own content. I got majorly sidetracked: A) making our own scripting language (oops), B) making interfaces while learning a language to do that C) providing tech support to 12 year olds who vanish the moment you spend an hour trying to help them and D) trying to make a 3D modeler (major oops).

Oh and the big part of the plan was "Interested people would test, provide feedback, and maybe help build this thing"...that never materialized.
I get "I'd like to help" emails which I follow up with "Well what experience do you have and where would you like me to guide you so you can get started", followed by silence.

I remember my first demo of what was then the T3D engine.
I post "Here's our 3D engine for making games", followed by a post "well what's it do?".
Well it doesn't teach people to read, obviously.

Anyhow. Pent up rantrage over.

Back on my Mattel Aquarius the content pipeline was partially taken care of by a custom character set on the ROM designed for game making. This of course po'd the programmers who couldn't define the graphics themselves, but I loved it and still do.
When I had to program custom graphics by setting pixels, it more often than not contained an error that boggled my mind and stopped me dead in my tracks.
Hours of plugging in values to end up with one leg of a recognizer two pixel off...argh. You don't want that to happen to your audience, you don't want to tell them to go learn some other software to make their graphics either, they are in over their head the moment they start using your program, and you want them to swim to some island of confidence.


You don't need to code to make games
There are options out there and there will be more options as the years progress
that are going to make it easier for people who want to make games to avoid
the drudgery of programming.

This is your competition, and I don't mean in a commercial sense but in the sense of a user base.

The coding is and should be left for those that want to go the extra step and do things 'outside the box'.

BASIC got where it did because it was the ONLY and default option for the home computer user, not because it was awesomely easy.
It is "Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code".
Yet every business and their mother's brother used it for record keeping and accounting, not what it was designed for, but it came with the computer and you could get a kid to code those apps, not a $150 an hour C coder.

Pascal came later but it cost money only a hard core coder would spend, and BASIC really ended up looking like Pascal in many ways.
There were magazines full of BASIC, not because it was the best thing ever.
It was on every machine and represented easy money to the publishers, "Kids eat this stuff up! (because they have no other option muahahaha)"

The local college holds a computer camp in the summer.
For $1500 I can send my seven year old daughter there to make games with Macromedia Fusion (WTF?), Flash and Spore.
Of course for $1500 I'd just buy her the Adobe web suite and some VTC and save her the boredom of a classroom.
The point is for kids they don't shove fistfuls of coding at them.

BTW, my daughter is reading "Game Programming for Teens" and coding in BlitzMAX as I type this. Anything to get out of English Comp. homework.
She'll be eight in a few weeks, so there are exceptional kids out there, which
I'll assume is the ones you want to cater too.

Oh and don't make the mistake of thinking that power doesn't matter.
Don't set people up to fail by saying "you can make games", and then the games run like a wheel chair in cement. Several BASIC's on the Mac had this flaw.
Lua is 2.5 times faster than Python in most tests, just so ya'know.

I'm not trying to discourage you.
I'm all for game making tools, more so than I am for just games themselves.
Just sharing some thoughts and experience, since I'm older than you (damnit).

AnotherJake, to answer your question, my BASIC would be MS-Basic version 1 and extended.
Maybe a parser would be better than interpreter, treat the old code like data and convert to
specificly designed Lua functions and tables that are editable, since the trouble of learning
BASIC is really not productive in the long haul at this juncture in history.

Several failed BASIC's on the Mac should teach us something, no matter what our old man instincts try to tell us.

You can download the manuals at these links to get a feel for what I'm poking at.
Aquarius Guide to Home Computing
Aquarius Extended Basic Manual

@najdorf, Well Tobi does the C, and the core engine is > 20K lines, then there is a lot of other stuff like windows port, the old Runtime Revolution external, and bridge to murgaLua.
The core of the old UI was around 7,500 lines of my hack'o'mania.
Not sure what the current murgaLua with FLTK stuff is since its all in various files and Fluid documents. Then there are the various games, of which I code about only 20% on. Tobi started his engine for the first UDG (2001?), we expanded that to iGame3D in May 2002.

Lots of distraction along the way, lots of fighting with the wife, and staying up way to late because the kid didn't shut her yap all day long.

If you look around similar projects are in their tenth year, even Unity has been at it since at least 2003 and they had a three man team living together. Tobi and I work via iChat with a twelve hour time difference.

So Diordna, be ready for a long haul, its fun though, pursuing something you believe in is a lot better than coding for UDG, by leaps and bounds.
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