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Prototype for a programming game

PostPosted: 12 Apr 2018, 18:24
by Sauer2
Hi everyone, I created a (throw-away) prototype for a programming game and am hoping for your feedback, because I don't have much experience with that genre.
In this game you program a quadcopter and for now your mission is to dodge the zombies and make them run into each other until only one or less are left. For this purpose, there are functions for changing the quadcopter's angle, accelerating and scanning your field-of-view for zombies.

You can play the game online here or download and modify lots of constants (like adding more zombies) here. The first page contains also the documentation for the functions.

Known flaws of the prototype:
  1. The textbox is kind of annoying for programming.
  2. Maybe most likely the fact that degrees are calculated in radians.
  3. The separation between programming and running the game may kind of diminish the fun. In a real game it could be solved by progressively introducing challenges or quadcopter capabilities, I guess.

Ideas not yet tried: (not likely in this prototype)
  • Using a low-level assembly-like language or something similar.
  • Giving the quadcopter a weapon.
  • Giving the quadcopter a light or some similar object that can lure the zombies away, possibly into traps.
  • Different kinds of zombies. Different kinds of quadcopters. Different kinds of quadcopter firmware.
  • Obstacles, buildings, other structures.
  • Multiple quadcopters. Potentially with a protocol to create some kind of swarm behavior.
  • Limited battery powers.
  • ...

If you are interested in testing this prototype, all kinds of feedback about the concept as well as problems with this implementation are welcome.

Best regards, Sauer2

Re: Prototype for a programming game

PostPosted: 13 Apr 2018, 01:08
by c_xong
programming games tend to be constrained, otherwise there are too many problems to solve and the startup cost is too steep. That's why typically they are problems like "run a maze", "race a course", "fight a single enemy".
Multi-agent games like "play football" are much harder and require a bigger commitment in time and skill level. These are typically seen in university projects and programming competitions, not so much in games.

To make a programming game more accessible, I would provide built-in behaviours like "go to location", "move away from location", "find closest enemy" or that kind of thing. Then the player can focus on higher-level tactics than the mechanics of the quadcopter. Of course you can also make the game about mechanics, in which case the problem could be made simpler. Zombies are a bit of a challenge, but a more typical "race a course" problem would be more doable, where you manage inertia in order to get the best race time.

Re: Prototype for a programming game

PostPosted: 13 Apr 2018, 20:34
by Sauer2
@cxong: Thanks! That's a tough decision, though, because - while zombies might be hard to fit into the mechanics based game - it might be hard to come up with both actually well behaving and interesting high-level functions...

Re: Prototype for a programming game

PostPosted: 30 Apr 2018, 23:20
by c_xong
Have you tried Screeps?
Seems like a good code base to build off

Re: Prototype for a programming game

PostPosted: 03 May 2018, 22:07
by Sauer2
That sounds cool. But I wanted to keep it strictly single-player, which in hindsight is probably a bad idea for a programming game.

As technology goes, the plan was to embed and allow each UAV to have a fixed number of executed bytecode instructions per fixed tick for a non-prototype version.
I'll probably consider the whole concept as scratched, though, because my original vision of a mechanics based game (think octodad but with less flailing around with a controller and more typing) and programming game doesn't mix too well, like you mentioned.