The first few weeks of any startup are tentative at best, and any sane founder will wonder more than a few times what the heck they were thinking to quit their job. During those first formative weeks, tasks and priorities are set, working habits are established, and a certain amount of structure forms around the nascent product and team. These are heady and dangerous times. There are no customers, employees, funders, or advisors to steer the ship, correct course, or check the founder’s assumptions. Everything happens quickly, and experienced founders realize that missteps during this period are the most costly. The critical all-consuming goal is to get something out into the world as quickly as possible while still respecting user expectations.
One thing we learned from our first startup: before there is a beta product, a startup needs a blog like a fish needs a bicycle. So don’t expect many updates until we actually have people start using Code Combat.
When building a product, especially something fun like a game, it’s tempting to avoid the humiliation of launching too early. Nobody wants to have their work insulted or rated poorly, but without such feedback, the chance of total failure increases dramatically. Without users telling us what sucks, we have basically no chance to build something people actually want to use.
And so we’re launching the CodeCombat MVP, our minimum viable product to get feedback and criticism to guide future development efforts. What you are looking at is the barest minimum that we think can prove whether people want to learn programming by playing a game.
We have 7 beginner levels and 3 experienced developer levels available, and we encourage everyone to head over to the campaign page and check them out.
Thanks for helping us make CodeCombat awesome, and we look forward to making all of our players into CodeWizards!
You may have noticed that we’re going through a quiet spell. No, we haven’t disappeared, we’re working a hard as ever putting together our level editor. The editor is going to allow every site user to create their own code challenges and deploy them to the community. You will be able to choose the units in your challenge, the strategy required to win, the win conditions, and the level art. Like Legos or minecraft, the rest will be up to you.
Want to teach your children some simple if/else statements? Or a struggling student about variables? Or your tutee about pathfinding algorithms? Pretty soon you’ll be able to make your own educational coding games and distribute them to the world.
In the mean time, let us know if there’s anything we can do to improve the way the game currently works. We really appreciated everyone’s feedback to the MVP and want to keep the momentum going!
As some of you may have noticed, CodeCombat has been experiencing intermittent outtages as a result of some Nodejitsu hosting problems. Earlier this week we made the decision to switch away from Nodejitsu and swapped our DNS to a Linode server. As of this morning, the site should be a lot more stable, but please let us know if anyone has difficulty accessing the site going forward.
Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to pushing our level editor out of the door and allowing everyone to add and share their own content!
We just uploaded the next version of CodeCombat, which contains all the goodies we’ve been working on since June: a couple new levels made with the new level editor, music, a new programming environment, much faster world simulation, 100% less “murder”, and tons of other updates. We’ve rewritten almost all of the code, so there must be lots of bugs; let us know if you see any.
A level editor, eh? Yes! Ever since our prototype launched in June, we’ve been hard at work optimizing the site for level creation. What you unequivocally told us was that you wanted more levels, so we built adrag-and-drop live editing level editor that requires no programming and used it to make all the levels you now see on the site. Check out a quick demo video:
Now, the editor is still rough and not documented, so we haven’t enabled it for public usage just yet. If you want to play with it, let us know, and we’ll show you how it works. When it’s ready, we’ll unveil it. Other exciting updates to come in the next couple months, too—we’re hoping to open source all of CodeCombat.
I was sifting through my Twitter feed recently when I came across the link to a Kickstarter project for a coding education game. The project was a well designed board game that reminded me of parcheesi. Everything from the video, to the design, to the team were excellent. There was just one small problem: the project kept insisting it would teach something called “computational literacy” to players.
For those that haven’t been paying close attention to the learn to code movement, the logic for teaching everyone to code goes something like this:
This is contentious stuff: teaching every kid to program requires that we trade some other discipline in our children’s education . And this is where the term “computation literacy” was born. Those defending the need to teach young children to program don’t have a solid counter-argument when luminaries like Jeff Atwood say that not everyone should learn to program. The oft-used metaphor about everyone driving a car but not everyone needing to be a mechanic is brought up, and the programming advocates are on their heels.
In the past year, however, programming advocates have stumbled upon a phrase that appears to be unassailable: instead of programming, we need to teach our children “Computational Literacy.” Nobody can convincingly argue with the need to improve our children’s grasp of something amorphous and technical-sounding , and so programming advocates rally under the computation literacy flag.