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Learning python and the martial arts (for kids)

A while back I posted a blog on learning to program for kids, where I discussed scratch and kodu. Both are going strong, although I’ve seen scratch more often in use than kodu. Anyhow my son is getting older and jumping hats (“MuetzenSpring”) doesn’t cut it any more. If there aren’t any zombies then it’s not worth coding. Also some colleagues and friends have asked what is more relevant for teenage kids. Both the systems in the old post are relevant for learning concepts of programming but at some point they become not very useful for game development.

Now there are game engines which help you with gameplay –  but they do require you to write real code. At some point moving blocks around just doesn’t have the same flexibility as writing real code. So you have to get on with it. One widely used language is python. We also use it in house for camera development. Easy to learn and also used in computer games.

There are many books on learning python in 24 hours, but much more fun is CodeCombat.

codecombat_screen

Yes, dungeons and dragons are back.

In CodeCombat you have to manouevre your hero through dungeons and figth trolls and stuff like that. But you can only control him (or her) using code. One example is python:

codecombat_code

It’s less than 7 lines and commented. Code doesn’t get any more structured than this. Integration test follows when you click “RUN”.

This is one of the easiest levels and in the harder levels you are introduced to “if” statements and loops and other constructs. It is highly addictive and definitely good for learning the basics of python or other languages (javascript and lua are also supported). The whole concept is designed for school kids including ways in which they can show off their skills with gamification.

Afterwards there are fantastic 3D gaming systems which you can download for free and try out your game writing skills. A good example is Unity – download it, start it up and follow the tutorial. I can recommend it to any 13+ year old.There is a great community and people contribute code. There is also an asset store. In case you’re not the best graphic artist in the world (or coder) you can buy bits from other people to integrate into your system.

Maybe at some point I will find a connection to 3D troll fighting and the sale of cameras and write a longer article about it. At home we are working on “MuetzenSpring 2 – attack of the zombies” in 3D. But it’ll take a little longer.

3 Comments

  1. Great post, I’m happy to read that Basler is interested in developing Python APIs. The C++ pylon library is great (we use it to integrate a Basler camera to our Medical Video Streaming camera with great performance stats), but for those applications where performance isn’t a high priority, Python would make things much easier.

  2. You’re right – the Basler camera SDK (called “pylon”) currently does not provide a python API. You could of course write a python wrapper on top of the C++ API of pylon but this is probably quite some work to do.
    Basler has plans to also offer an easy-to-use python API for pylon – hopefully for next year.

  3. Speaking of Python, you wouldn’t happen to have a python interface developed for pylon would you? I’m currently trying to integrate some Basler cameras with python software under Linux and struggling with the C++ code and python connection.