Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How To Teach Programming To Kids, Via XBox

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the if-it's-fun-it's-educational dept.

Education 124

An anonymous reader writes "Chris Wilson reviews Kodu, the new XBox game that he calls 'Logo on Steroids.' The game allows you to build a world and program every object in it with an in-house graphical language, making the game a primitive example of 'reactive state machines' in a 'multi-agent concurrent system.' It sounds like what we call 'application specific integrated circuits' in engineering, where every line of code runs in parallel."

cancel ×

124 comments

adults? (4, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#28663439)

This is actually quite interesting. First time I came across state machines was in Max Payne level editor, which was something fantastic for a creator-minded / "lets try out what this shit can do" person like me. Now I'm mainly a programmer / game developer, but I always love to mess around with things and create fun things quickly just to see what they can do.

Too bad its mainly made for kids, there's not enough such toys for us adults :) However just out of the interest I guess I'll be getting this anyways (yeah, obviously for my kids that will born in ~5 years)

Re:adults? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28663527)

YOSPOS BITCH

Re:adults? (3, Insightful)

JustKidding (591117) | about 5 years ago | (#28663729)

There are plenty of toys for adults, and you don't even need an Xbox for that. Just pick up a FPGA development board, and start coding stuff in VHDL or Verilog or something. Throw in a microcontroller, buy an oscilloscope and logic analyser, and you're good to go!

Re:adults? (3, Funny)

similar_name (1164087) | about 5 years ago | (#28664337)

There are plenty of toys for adults

There are indeed.

Re:adults? (0, Offtopic)

ivucica (1001089) | about 5 years ago | (#28666639)

A certain "flashlight", misspelled?

Re:adults? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28666021)

http://www.clickteam.com/ [clickteam.com] they've been making programs like this since Klik & Play in the mid 90s

Re:adults? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 5 years ago | (#28666047)

Does that do 3D? I can make 2D games with PyGame easily but 3D ones are more complicated to get working.

Re:adults? (3, Informative)

ProzacPatient (915544) | about 5 years ago | (#28663739)

Too bad its mainly made for kids, there's not enough such toys for us adults :)

Actually there sort of is, it's called Garry's Mod.
If you link it up with a third party mod called "WireMod" you can do all kinds of crazy stuff in the game by wiring things together, besides what you can do outside the game with Lua scripting.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/4000/ [steampowered.com]

Re:adults? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28663861)

>(yeah, obviously for my kids that will born in ~5 years)
 
"Yeah, obviously?" What, was there some huge publicly-decreed moratorium on you having kids or something?

Re:adults? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664045)

Too bad its mainly made for kids, there's not enough such toys for us adults :)

It's called Second Life.

Re:adults? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 5 years ago | (#28664157)

I just rezzed an exploding dildo! Wooo!

Re:adults? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664111)

Too bad its mainly made for kids, there's not enough such toys for us adults

That wouldn't stop me.
Yes, it's geared towards kids, but looks like the adults are having more fun with it. Some of the games being created are pretty damn cool. Now if they can just put out some DLC with more objects that are not so 'cutesy'...

Re:adults? (1)

TheGothicGuardian (1138155) | about 5 years ago | (#28664141)

for my kids that will born in ~5 years

That is an immensely long gestation period.

Re:adults? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 5 years ago | (#28665037)

He's only had sex with 0.15 women.

This isn't programming. (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | about 5 years ago | (#28663503)

This is just a game, kind of cool, but just a game.

Re:This isn't programming. (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 5 years ago | (#28663563)

You could say the same about ZZT.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one on Slashdot who became interested in programming thanks to ZZT.

Re:This isn't programming. (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 5 years ago | (#28663613)

it sounds cool to me.

Re:This isn't programming. (4, Funny)

ciderVisor (1318765) | about 5 years ago | (#28663849)

programming thanks to ZZT

Cos every girl's crazy 'bout a C#-dressed man.

Re:This isn't programming. (1)

Kool Moe (43724) | about 5 years ago | (#28665239)

I may be old, infrequent, and/or unhip but that's hilarious ;-)

Re:This isn't programming. (1)

rfuilrez (1213562) | about 5 years ago | (#28665413)

I'm not old at all, and I found it hilarious :D

Re:This isn't programming. (5, Insightful)

FiveDozenWhales (1360717) | about 5 years ago | (#28663625)

It's elementary programming--as TFA states, you define rules for the behavior of objects and the interactions between objects.

While this certainly isn't as nitty-gritty as Logo, it still introduces kids to the ideas of determining conditions, and processes to undergo under those conditions, a very important concept in programming. It also introduces them to an object-oriented environment.

Maybe it doesn't "teach programming to kids," but with any luck it will get them interested and excited enough about this kind of thing to pursue it academically... and maybe even give them a very basic foundation of skills.

Just say NO to Logo on steriods (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28663559)

Your turtle shrinks.

Re:Just say NO to Logo on steriods (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664115)

OH GOD NO! Not my turtle!! It is already tiny as it is!
If that tiny thing gets any smaller, atoms will start bullying it!

Like MindRover? (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | about 5 years ago | (#28663639)

MindRover [cnet.com] came out about ten years ago with a programming model that sounds like this one.

It was really cool. The GUI generated code in an intermediate language ('Ice', C-ish I think), then compiled that to some kind of VM. You were never meant to see those guts though, and it didn't let you hack the intermediate files. It's a shame, it would have gotten a lot more geek cred, even if it shattered the level playing field :\

This, will probably be limited to the GUI parts, being on a console and all.

Anyone remember Omega! (1)

Icebreaker (174863) | about 5 years ago | (#28664113)

Omega that was a serious game man, you had to program a simulated tank in a very high level programing language. game was made by origin in the 1990s. you could save your "tank" to disk and give it to a friend he could then load up your tank and have a tank ai battle against one of his own tank. origin even had a dedicated bbs so you could download others tank ai and compete even get their source so you could analyze their tank ai. the manuals were like intro programming books. two of em a believe. one of the hardest video games ever made, so it did not sell well :)

Re:Anyone remember Omega! (1)

MeanMF (631837) | about 5 years ago | (#28664189)

Omega was based largely on the '70s-'80s classic RobotWar [wikipedia.org] . There weren't even really any BBSs to speak of yet, so people used to snail mail their source code to each other to battle it out. Magazines also ran mail-in tournaments.

My First Programming (1)

Cillian (1003268) | about 5 years ago | (#28663675)

My first real encounter with programming was The Games Factory and later multimedia fusion from ClickTeam - it did a darned good job of teaching the concepts of programming, while being easy enough to get something very decent quickly and easily, but being multipurpose enough to be surprisingly useful (Multimedia Fusion along with MooSock and a little creativity was sufficient to crash remote windows machines running a particular firewall software...)
I was later taught a tad of VBS inside access by a friend, and moved onto VB5, and reluctantly VB6. A lot more powerful, not quite as easy and fun though.
I then taught myself C and later C++ from scratch by Sams' books. I never really got the hang of programming for the windows API or any particular GUI toolkit, but I've latched onto the core of the language more and learnt to love embedded programming in C and assembler (Microchip PICs).
So, for anybody with young kids showing an interest in that sort of thing, I can recommend Clickteam's stuff, and Sams' books if they want to get more serious (Although the Sams' books teach the ANSI standard and stuff very well, they lack any information on system libraries which would be needed to actually do anything useful, so bear in mind, until you read up on that, you are going to be seeing an awful lot of the command prompt. Without the means to do anything really useful like graphics / networking, I can see a lot of people quickly losing interest.)

It's not directed enough (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28663683)

In Logo one could draw 2d pictures. One would have to think out how to move the turtle to draw the picture that one wanted to draw. There was the setpos command to make things easy but more interesting was using the move/turn commands.

But Kodu doesn't seem to have any direction. What games are kids supposed to create? It's a tool without a purpose.

Re:It's not directed enough (1)

brusk (135896) | about 5 years ago | (#28663821)

IWhat games are kids supposed to create? It's a tool without a purpose.

And the purpose of Logo was.....?

Re:It's not directed enough (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#28665379)

Logo was created to teach kids procedural programming, so that they could escape the tyranny of line numbers.

programming without typing? (5, Interesting)

davek (18465) | about 5 years ago | (#28663691)

My first program was in 1991 on a TI-something:

print hello

this came with a syntax error. My second program was

print "hello"

And it worked. Over a decade later, I'm still programming. I'm not really convinced that "game" based programming systems do anything to inspire the young programmer. I say put them in front of a blinking cursor, the apt ones will just get it.

Re:programming without typing? (4, Insightful)

stevied (169) | about 5 years ago | (#28663767)

Mine was something similar, but a few years earlier on a borrowed ZX Spectrum, and a few months later a BBC B+.

I don't know about you, but there were less "distractions" in my childhood - for example, only 4 TV channels, and I didn't watch that much. I spent a lot of time reading (books) - including under the bed covers with a torch when I wasn't supposed to be.

Modern kids have a lot distractions available - multi-channel TV (usually available in their rooms), PC or console based games, mobiles, the internet .. if we're going to get them hooked [xkcd.com] , we might have to use something that's more obviously visually appealing, and easier to get into with the systems they already have around them. It might seem depressing (especially to those of us who already feel like old-timers before they've reached 35), but sometimes you have to bend to reality a little.

And on the positive side, they have python available to them to progress to. Beats the crap out of any form of BASIC on the elegance and features front ..

Re:programming without typing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664323)

Isn't it dangerous to use a torch around presumably flammable covers?

Re:programming without typing? (1)

Phroggy (441) | about 5 years ago | (#28665737)

"Torch" in British English = "Flashlight" in American English.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

stevied (169) | about 5 years ago | (#28666307)

You've got to admit though, the idea of a young kid reading under his duvet whilst wielding a flaming brand is rather more dramatic and visually appealing ;-)

Re:programming without typing? (1)

tool462 (677306) | about 5 years ago | (#28664561)

I don't buy it. You're not much older than me, and I remember there being plenty of distractions around when I was a kid. We had TV, movies on VHS, NES, Sega Master System, and the great big outdoors where you could play MMRL(real life) RPGs like Cops 'n' Robbers and Cowboys 'n' Indians. I didn't pick up programming for a lack of other (presumably better) things to do. I did it because I had a fascination with figuring out how things worked. The thing my dad did that got me going was to buy a computer--original Macintosh with an external 20 MB hard drive that was the size of a VCR--and then installed TrueBasic. He showed me how to get the interpreter up and running and how to use the reference manual that came with it. He just about wrote my entire first program for me, a simple Tic Tac Toe game, and I took it from there. A few years later when he had a work terminal set up at our house, he got me a couple C/C++ and OO books, and gave me a quick overview on Unix and Vi and let me loose. Very brave of him considering I was logged in as his user account on his work machine and could quite easily have royally screwed him up or gotten him in a lot of trouble. Incidentally, this was also when he started showing me some of the tools he used as an EE. Cadence, SignalScan, Verilog, and I started playing around a little bit with logic design. He also gave me a little project to try to write a SignalScan replacement. I never made a full replacement, but did get a decent waveform viewer up and running. I was only 12, so no surprise really :).

Kids will find the things they like to do. As a parent, your best bet is just to make sure you have as many options available as possible. You won't be able to shoehorn them into any old thing you think will be good. I have two other brothers who were all given the same treatment. I took to programming, the others did not. We were also given plenty of exposure to other activities, and one of my brothers took to visual arts and would draw and paint all the time. He's now working in FE web design.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

Bunderfeld (1113805) | about 5 years ago | (#28664793)

Personally I think parents do a great harm to their children by allowing them to have a TV in their room, or a cell phone just like all the other kids have, or INet Access in their rooms.

Sure, the distractions are out there, but it's the parents job to keep those away from their kids, not the kids job to ignore them.

While it's true, growing up there were less "Technological" distractions, we had our share of distractions none the less. Remember that Refrigerator box you turned into Jupiter 2 and flew across the Universe? How about those "woods" only a block away that you could explore for hours without ever getting bored? Or those Caves those men are making, if you go around to the other entrance you can get in without getting caught!

Our distractions were there, they were just different. Our parents had the same job then, as we have today. Let our kids be dreamers, but only after they've done the chores, completed their homework, had dinner, and it's not past 9:00PM. Today's kids just need a strong guiding hand like we had to weave their way through these distractions, and as Parents we need to provide that guidance.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

ibbie (647332) | about 5 years ago | (#28665499)

Personally I think parents do a great harm to their children by allowing them to have a TV in their room, or a cell phone just like all the other kids have, or INet Access in their rooms.

I respectfully disagree with you on that last point. I mean, each parent has to make their own decisions, yeah, but at the very least, let them access a whitelist of sites. You know, gnu.org, sourceforge, google's code hosting, their distro's package mirror, etc.

Sure, keep 'em off 4chan, but let them have the opportunity to learn.

Me, I spent most of my early childhood (80's) without access. Had an Apple II, and a few games. 90's came along, I got a PC, with a modem. It wasn't long before I was on every local BBS I could find, downloading code and trying to teach myself as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Eventually I found an ISP, and lo and behold, I got to learn Solaris. (I'd dialed it the same as any BBS, from the DOS prompt). Wasted some time on IRC, but found that there was a whole world of code, freely available on gnu.org, sunsite, eventually listed on freshmeat and/or hosted on sourceforge, thanks to lynx.

Stifling a kid's brain by limiting where they can learn is tantamount to 474f4457494e0a

+++ATH0

NO CARRIER

* User's attempt to Godwin thread aborted.

Re:programming without typing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28666127)

It wasn't long before I was on every local BBS I could find, downloading pr0n and trying to find as much warez as possible

FTFY.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#28666167)

Remember that Refrigerator box you turned into Jupiter 2 and flew across the Universe?

Not allowed. Health and safety.

How about those "woods" only a block away that you could explore for hours without ever getting bored?

Not now. There's a peadiophiddlerist behind every tree!

Or those Caves those men are making, if you go around to the other entrance you can get in without getting caught!

Better hope it's nothing to do with power generation, or you'll be charged as a terrorist.

Sigh.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

stevied (169) | about 5 years ago | (#28666357)

Outdoor distractions are arguably more purposeful, teaching coordination, balance, navigation, all that stuff.

The two things that bother me about the half-generation or so below me (and probably lots of my peers who I just failed to notice, if I'm honest) are (i) the excessively social side to it, the constant need to be in touch, the complete inability to amuse oneself or develop a personal sense of security, and (ii) the completely artificial nature of most of the amusements, that teach absolutely nothing about the real world. And yes, I know I'm sitting here moaning on the internet, but at least it's on a site for people who are, by-and-large, interested in doing and achieving stuff ..

Let our kids be dreamers, but only after they've done the chores, completed their homework, had dinner, and it's not past 9:00PM.

It's probably possible to overdo this, but letting kids understand (and share in) the basic skills involved in running a household and surviving life as an adult are important. School and homework I'm less sure about - a strongly academic education is a pretty abstract experience (and a weak one is kind of pointless), difficult for kids to connect to real life unless their parents were engineers or particularly practically minded. Personally, I think we should probably teach kids to read, write and add-up, and then get them out into the workplace very young (14?), alongside their parents, and their parents' friends, and their friends' parents, and given them some real world experience, although it would have to be at a pretty menial level. Then when they're 18 or 20 and have some idea of what might interest them, they'd be much more motivated to study .. Of course, this would mean a rather drastic overhaul of pretty much the entire structure of our society - but I'm not sure that would be a bad thing.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#28667347)

the complete inability to amuse oneself

I had to read that twice.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

greenskyx (609089) | about 5 years ago | (#28663859)

Sweet. I started on a TI-82 sometime around then too. My first program was a Russian roulette program where the user had to pick 1-6 and if they picked the wrong number they died. Since I didn't know how to generate a random number, I hard coded the "kill" number in. After I figured out how to generate a random number I didn't look back. I agree, give coders a language/environment they can easily jump into and they will get it. :D

Re:programming without typing? (1)

Valtor (34080) | about 5 years ago | (#28663899)

My first program was on a Commodore VIC-20 [wikipedia.org] in 1981, I was 8 years old at the time.

10 PRINT "HELLO ";
20 GOTO 10

What happened when I ran it just blew my mind and brought me 28 years later where I am now. Instead of wanting to be a fireman or a policeman like every other boys, I wanted to work with computers for a living. Great memories.

I think, a simple interactive language like that is still the best way for a child to learn how to program.

Valtor

Re:programming without typing? (1)

Valtor (34080) | about 5 years ago | (#28663967)

Forgot an interesting tidbit from the wiki page.

A young Linus Torvalds was given a VIC-20 as his first computer.

Its high accessibility to the general public meant that quite a few software developers-to-be cut their teeth on the VIC-20, being introduced to BASIC programming, and in some cases going further to learn assembly or machine language.

Valtor

Re:programming without typing? (2, Funny)

dvice_null (981029) | about 5 years ago | (#28665601)

"10 PRINT "HELLO ";
20 GOTO 10 ...and brought me 28 years later where I am now."

You are still in the loop?

Re:programming without typing? (1)

Valtor (34080) | about 5 years ago | (#28667293)

LOL... Yep still in the loop. I try to keep myself in the loop, it helps in this field ;-)

Valtor

Re:programming without typing? (2, Interesting)

ug333 (919867) | about 5 years ago | (#28663909)

Personally, this attitude drives me nuts. Sure, the kids with a real natural love for it will pick it up no matter what interface you put in front of them. But you will hook MORE if you provide them something entertaining to get them interested. There are two major bars to clear: one to initially get interested in the profession and the second is to become a professional. I want the first bar low and the second bar high. There is plenty of time in the middle to filter out those people who lack the necessary skills. Trying to filter them up front is going to filter out some potentially good developers.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

bay43270 (267213) | about 5 years ago | (#28664911)

I agree completely. A typical child will get 10 years of music classes and 10 years of art classes as well as a shop class and a home economics class before they graduate high school -- not because people need these things later in life, but to expose them to these subjects hoping some may find interest in one of these areas. Yet when a student takes their first programming class, often its shoveled at them as a dry unpalatable set of instructions to memorize. Only a few of the very most interested end up perusing it. I've even seen cases where college level 101 programming courses are used a "weed out" classes! WFT? Do we really want to continue importing half our programmers?

Re:programming without typing? (1)

brasselv (1471265) | about 5 years ago | (#28663921)

if you were using basic or basica, as i believe, your first program would have not come with a syntax error.
it would have printed a 0 [zero].

(now, if you moderated this comment as redundant, i would understand and agree. i just could not resist...)

Re:programming without typing? (1)

davek (18465) | about 5 years ago | (#28664035)

Hmm... now that I think about it, I think you were correct. Which means that my young brain instantenously made not only one programming discovery (syntax), but two (variable substitution). Thanks for reminding me!

And it was all because of that provocative blinking cursor....

Re:programming without typing? (1)

brasselv (1471265) | about 5 years ago | (#28664145)

Well you know you are getting old when you find yourself being prickly, on a saturday, about the syntax of a language dead 15 years ago..

I'll go rehearse some cobol now.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

audunr (906697) | about 5 years ago | (#28663929)

When I grew up, we didn't even have calculators to teach us programming. One person would say to another:

10 PRINT "HELLO"
20 GOTO 10

and then force the other guy to run the code.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 5 years ago | (#28663997)

And it worked. Over a decade later, I'm still programming. I'm not really convinced that "game" based programming systems do anything to inspire the young programmer. I say put them in front of a blinking cursor, the apt ones will just get it.

Logo was my first brush with programming. I still have fond memories. Obviously, no one approach works for everyone and just because one way worked for you, that does not mean another might not work for someone else.

Even if people don't become programmers, just understanding the way computers work is invaluable. Where I work, I'm providing classes on how to do reporting off our CRM system. Do I expect every user to write their own reports? Not really. The hat I was hired in under is report writer and there's a lot of stuff that's too complex for the typical user to figure out. But with a proper grounding in the theory of how the system works, I can at least have a productive conversation when troubleshooting a report.

What really astounds me is when people show a fundamental lack of understanding of their own business logic. No, this isn't computer stuff I'm asking you to learn. If computers were never invented, you'd be doing this with index cards. The same logic would apply. But they don't get it. I just can't understand the thinking that goes behind "I have no idea what I'm asking for and wouldn't recognize the correct solution if I saw it but I'm in charge and do what I say." But fixing that kind of disconnect is above my pay grade.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | about 5 years ago | (#28664575)

I say put them in front of a blinking cursor, the apt ones will just get it.

Yeah, I take the same view about life in general. I put my kids in the jungle and let them fend for themselves. If my forefathers could survive there, my kids should be able to do the same. Although so far, none of them have come back to me, which is strange because I wrote my address down on a pair of dog tags around their neck.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 5 years ago | (#28665091)

And it worked. Over a decade later, I'm still programming. I'm not really convinced that "game" based programming systems do anything to inspire the young programmer.

I'm convinced that it does. Since I wrote my first line of code in FoxPro (yeah, I know, a weird choice of a first language) at 10, I kept trying to write a "proper" game. I never made it (though I did manage to write a few simple clones of basic arcane games back then), but I've learned so much in the process, and I was genuinely interested in pursuing any knowledge even very remotely related to the subject while I was working at it.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 5 years ago | (#28665125)

Even if it doesn't help people program, maybe it can help the less technically inclined to get a better idea about how software works. I got interested in programming because of games. When I saw games glitch, and saw programming limits showing through and tried to figure out why they couldn't achieve what they wanted, it gave me insight on how things worked. Through observation, I knew enough about making games that it made learning programming theory easier, and I was quickly able to achieve what I wanted because I could picture clearly how it should work. YMMV.

Re:programming without typing? (1)

home-electro.com (1284676) | about 5 years ago | (#28666153)

I'm not really convinced that "game" based programming systems do anything to inspire the young programmer. I say put them in front of a blinking cursor, the apt ones will just get it.

Me neither. Besides, do we need MORE of Visual Basic programmers?

Re:programming without typing? (1)

St.Creed (853824) | about 5 years ago | (#28666401)

I'm not really convinced that "game" based programming systems do anything to inspire the young programmer. I say put them in front of a blinking cursor, the apt ones will just get it.

Me neither. Besides, do we need MORE of Visual Basic programmers?

The problem is not that the interface is graphical and interesting. As long as the programming abilities are equivalent to other languages there is no issue. The issue arises when people think that because they can arrange blocks or click through a wizard, they can model and then code the flow of information in a company. There is a subtle difference between the two, but it has little to do with Visual Basic per se.

Given ten co-workers, 9 out of 10 without formal computer science education, which would you rather have: all of them programming in C++ and you're the guy left to debug the whole mess or see what they make of your precious architecture, or use Visual Basic and make the bugs that much easier to find and solve. You don't give powertools to kids, you give them tools that have some safeties built in.

Phfew! I'm alright! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28663799)

When I saw this I thought someone beat me to the punch for a programming game.

In my game, you send out programming jobs to India and the winner is the one who gets the most money by selling and producing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies.

HDL not ASIC - incorrect term used (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28663807)

>'application specific integrated circuits' in engineering, where every line of code runs in parallel."

You have described High level Description Language NOT ASIC. OP please check your terms before using it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardware_description_language

It is a language for specifying, describing, building or modeling hardware devices. You could be building it with ASIC, FPGA, CPLD or even hand wire it with discrete chips. The language inherently supports parallel programming as logic gates runs in parallel.

Need reading glasses (3, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | about 5 years ago | (#28663845)

I first read the article title as How To Program Kids Via XBOX.

That would have gotten me right into console gaming.

SHHH! (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | about 5 years ago | (#28663977)

Jeeze, don't let the cat out of the bag already! ;-) Nudge nudge, and all that...

Cheers,

Re:Need reading glasses (1)

toriver (11308) | about 5 years ago | (#28666581)

The only kid you can program via the XBox is that creepy one from the Natal (motion sensor thingy) demos at this year's E3.

Porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28663863)

Porn for functional LISP code, instead of porn for broken CAPTCHAS?

it's called functional programming (1)

jdogalt (961241) | about 5 years ago | (#28663873)

No need to bring hardware design into this. I believe the term is 'functional programming'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_programming [wikipedia.org]

Re:it's called functional programming (1)

convolvatron (176505) | about 5 years ago | (#28664237)

actually, from the video, its almost exactly declarative programming

Re:it's called functional programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664623)

Functional programming is declarative.

Re:it's called functional programming (1)

jdogalt (961241) | about 5 years ago | (#28664877)

yeah, looking at the (current) wikipedia breakdown, I guess 'declarative' would have been the better choice. Though under declarative they only have 'functional' and 'goal-oriented' as members of that class, with the latter not yet having a wikipedia page yet. So I don't think 'functional' is too bad a choice. In fact, when I consider the classes of programmings from the best intuitive definitions of the words, I think 'functional' is better at conveying the meaning to people familiar with traditional imperative programming (who have used 'functions' before), than 'declarative'.

Re:it's called functional programming (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 5 years ago | (#28666061)

No, looks more like the sensor-actuator approach seen in something like the Blender Game Engine.

Polish, Programming, and Hidden Complexity (1)

bazald (886779) | about 5 years ago | (#28663933)

Kodu is pretty well done. At a presentation I attended a couple months back, I was impressed by the level of polish they gave the system. The UI is fairly slick considering you have to use an Xbox 360 controller.

As far as programming is concerned, it is essentially a rule based system. You give it conditions and actions to take when the conditions are met. The rules fire behind the scenes and you don't have to worry about it. One of their design goals was to make it somewhat unbreakable. Even if you give it stupid rules, things still work to some degree. You can't cause their system to infinite-loop, for example. (The length of a rule is strictly limited.)

However, to make certain types of games, some users ended up having to do strange and complex tricks involving the creation of invisible objects. Rules would then test for interactions with these objects. That type of thing could be avoided easily with a more traditional programming language. I suppose the problem is indicative of a small failing in trying to reach a balance between programming and modding development styles.

Still, I think it will be a very interesting "toy" for people to experiment with in the near future.

And Etch-A-Sketch Teaches Art!!!! (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 5 years ago | (#28663939)

Seriously, while a toy can help provide familiarity, it's not enough to learn the field well. A more powerful and useful set of tools for an X-Box are at http://www.xbox-linux.org/ [xbox-linux.org] . Enjoy.

Re:And Etch-A-Sketch Teaches Art!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664351)

not for attracting the students that may or may not be interesting in technology. Those tools you quoted are great for the already tech inclinded. Kodu IMO fills the gap.

Xbox? Xbox 360! (0, Redundant)

pengipengi (1352837) | about 5 years ago | (#28664117)

Why the h*ck does everybody always call xbox 360 for xbox? The xbox is a couple of year old black ugly box...

I hoped this would be a great game for me to play on my xbox... but no no...

Re:Xbox? Xbox 360! (1)

toriver (11308) | about 5 years ago | (#28666607)

Unlike Sony, Microsoft chose to kill off its existing line when they introduced the 360. So for the purpose of current-day market, "Xbox" and "XBox 360" are the same.

and they did not release for PC? :( (1)

bukuman (1129741) | about 5 years ago | (#28664171)

they could/should have!

Re:and they did not release for PC? :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664321)

they could/should have!

They have / do but you have to be a school or university ...

http://blogs.msdn.com/microsoftuseducation/archive/2009/07/09/integrating-kodu-and-gaming-in-the-classroom.aspx

ALICE (1)

Aphonia (1315785) | about 5 years ago | (#28664233)

It seems like Alice, except on a console [ http://www.alice.org/index.php?page=downloads/download_alice [alice.org] ]. I suppose if you want to teach to kids though, you have to show them something cool, which is where Kodu succeeds. Kids like to be cool, and making it look cool helps. Also, it looks like it can be a bit of fun on the xbox.

Xbox Yuk! (-1, Offtopic)

WhiteFluffyChest (1101403) | about 5 years ago | (#28664469)

Wouldn't want to see my children with an Xbox, depressing...

Just jump into the Microsoft hole...

Let them take over the internet and the gaming market...

Xbox blew SEGA out of the market.

Not nice.

Anything but Microsoft please...

Re:Xbox Yuk! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664645)

Totally agree. I don't use anything from Microsoft. *Everything* from Microsoft is part of a strategy to lock users in to Microsoft-owned platforms. Most of Microsoft's stuff is crap, because it's just their culture to create crap, but I won't even consider anything new that might not be crap in a technical sense because its MS baggage makes all of it crap.

Re:Xbox Yuk! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664651)

Xbox wasn't responsible for the death of the Dreamcast, you're thinking of Playstation 2. Xbox 1 didn't really blow anything out of the market. It held it's own, but it wasn't until the Xbox 360 that they were in serious competition for head of the pack. If anything, Xbox 360 is proving Sony can't coast on their prior success and actually has to work if the PS3 will be successful.

Re:Xbox Yuk! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664701)

Communist huh? How's that working out for you Castro?

I graduated logo and now play garry's mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664531)

the video of the demo looked like someone just took garry's mod, stripped it, dumped in 20 year old graphics and left it..

Get the fu (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#28664541)

Kids these days. Back in my days ... well, I'm too senile to continue. You guys finish this off.

Re:Get the fu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28665805)

well, I'm too senile to continue. You guys finish this off.

[fap fap fap fap]

wow (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | about 5 years ago | (#28664705)

I can't believe I've this read this far in the comments and have yet to see a reference to Klik and Play [wikipedia.org]

Certainly good memories with that program.

Re:wow (1)

f33dback (1458941) | about 5 years ago | (#28665843)

Came here to post this, as much as I love basic and such as a kid, Klik and Play was my first graphical endeavour into games featuring my efforts such as "PEnguin Space Invader Breakout" and "Pinkeye"- A south park game where you played cartman going round shooting zombies. I wonder if the "demo" is still around somewhere on the interbutts..

Isn't this just a level editor? (1)

stm2 (141831) | about 5 years ago | (#28664785)

If it is all this "programming" done with a controlpad (or joystick), it doesn't look like a real programming tool. Looks more like a level editor to me. Prove me wrong.
BTW, the guy who wanted a mouse to program may be interested on this.

Re:Isn't this just a level editor? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#28665541)

Out of curiosity, if I used the Xbox 360 on-screen keyboard to type a novel, would it not be a "real" novel? You know, since I used a gamepad to make it.

Re:Isn't this just a level editor? (2, Interesting)

JimboFBX (1097277) | about 5 years ago | (#28665759)

I think what he means is that is it more like the warcraft 3 level editor than programming, in which case I think the answer is "yes", although in reality it sounds like it is more like a 3d Klik and Play. For example, I don't forsee the ability to write to a file and read from a file or create complicated data structures as being features.

Re:Isn't this just a level editor? (1)

PoolOfThought (1492445) | about 5 years ago | (#28665767)

While Blakey probably made the point well enough I'd add the following the question: If I speak into a microphone and and perfectly describe my desired algorithm so that a machine can execute (and the machine can in fact interpret it) the code I have spoken am I somehow less of a programmer because I didn't use a keyboard? Or was I just sitting around chatting rather than being productive or doing real work.

How fucking hard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28665257)

How fucking hard is it to just learn a real programming/scripting language? What aged kids are they talking about? Maybe it used to be harder, but now there are many easy to learn languages that also have real uses. I learned javascript when I was 10 (for use in a game engine), and a few other simple languages before that---but not logo, or such. VB is understandable because you can actually make stuff in it. LOGO/such are pointless in my opinion.

The game actually looks kind of cool (still don't think I'd buy it), but the best way to learn to program is to learn to program.

It's NOT ASIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28665365)

"It sounds like what we call 'application specific integrated circuits' in engineering, where every line of code runs in parallel."

Does the guy DO engineering ? well, I do ;-)
ASIC is a process for doing a particular class of integrated circuits.
What the guy refers to is the kind of languages that describe these circuits, "RTL" (register-transfer languages) such as VHDL or Verilog, which can be used for other kinds of processes (half-custom, high-level SoC integration or FPGA for example).
Oh, and VHDL is derived from ADA, which is derived from Pascal...

Logo was great for it's time (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | about 5 years ago | (#28665667)

Logo was great for it's time, and so is this. Anything that makes interfaces and / or programming more intuitive is great in my book. If nothing else it will hopefully get people (including possibly the next generation of programmers and engineers) more cognizant of user interfaces in general. I think usability and quality of interface on both HW and SW has often taken a back seat in many industries to varying degrees (consumer electronics and automobiles come to mind specifically).

How To Teach Programming To Kids (1)

Psicopatico (1005433) | about 5 years ago | (#28666011)

Disclaimer: I don't have kids (yet)

What about getting out of the lawn, and go RTFM?

Not available in my country (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 5 years ago | (#28666045)

I really want Kodu just for some prototyping and maybe messing around (5€ is a nice price for that IMO) but it's only available in countries which have the community games available which doesn't include Germany (presumably because of the enforced age ratings that no community games will have so they'd effectively be 18+). I wish MS hadn't thrown it on the community games system and instead gone for plain XBLA.

Teaches game logic, not programming (2, Insightful)

jjl (514061) | about 5 years ago | (#28666531)

I don't think these kind of approaches really teach programming. Programming is so much more about the structure of a whole program down to the minute details and everything in between, including the strict syntax.

These game-oriented things are great, but what one learns with them is basically just a certain way how logic how object and AI interaction can work in games. And the logic is input using a finely crafted UI.

Re:Teaches game logic, not programming (1)

cjonslashdot (904508) | about 5 years ago | (#28667031)

Very insightful. I agree.

The last thing we need is to brainwash kids into the current dead-end methods of implementing software: "coding".

Re:Teaches game logic, not programming (2, Insightful)

revlayle (964221) | about 5 years ago | (#28667613)

You make programming sound like some elitist club that only a few can joined and only if they do it the right way. I would say programming is totally useless with the ability to do any sort of logic processing.

Any tool that allows to execute some arbitrary set of rules on a computing platform based on a series of log process would constitute as programming to me. Syntax is truly just semantics here. "Strict syntax"?? - are you a Python programmer or something? (sorry... some languages are just not strict, well, to me - esp. those with no type safety, I would argue the language at that moment, would be pretty lax) ;) What is to say a visual programming language could not exist and be, ultimately just as powerful as anything with "keywords" and symbols to define branches, loops and entities?

This tool the article talks about may not be it... yet. Who is to say it couldn't evolve into such a tool that dwarfed many "traditional" languages in capabilities.

Any tool - text-based, graphic-based, hell, anything-based that could provide an excellent programming/development platform would be interesting to me. Any on that can teach logic AND programming at the same time would be beyond awesome.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...