Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kodu, a game to teach game development


Microsoft is pushing to bring computer programming back into the classroom – and back into the realm of the imagination.

That push comes through Kodu, a game developed by Microsoft Research that invites users to create their own worlds while teaching them the basics of game development. Originally designed as a learning tool for youngsters using Xbox 360, Kodu is now available in a public beta for the PC. The move to the PC platform stands to make the game more attractive to schools. By eliminating the need for controllers, schools don’t need any special equipment – students can start building worlds with just a PC and a keyboard.

Through Kodu, Microsoft is introducing children to programming and helping them advance their design, math, and problem-solving skills, said Matthew MacLaurin, director of the Redmond FUSE (Future Social Experiences) Lab and the game’s creator. It also encourages students to truly engage with computers, instead of experiencing them passively.

Kodu is a visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to
be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone.


Key Features

Kodu provides an end-to-end creative environment for designing, building, and playing your own new games.

  • High-level language incorporates real-world primitives: collision, color, vision
  • Runs on Xbox 360 and PC
  • Interactive terrain editor
  • Bridge and path builder
  • Terrain editor - create worlds of arbitrary shape and size
  • 20 different characters with different abilities


Programming as a Creative Medium

The core of the Kodu project is the programming user interface. The language is simple and entirely

icon-based. Programs are composed of pages, which are broken down into rules, which are further divided into conditions and actions. Conditions are evaluated simultaneously.

The Kodu language is designed specifically for game development and provides specialized primitives derived from gaming scenarios. Programs are expressed in physical terms, using concepts like vision, hearing, and time to control character behavior. While not as general-purpose as classical programming languages, Kodu can express advanced game design concepts in a simple, direct, and intuitive manner.

You can get Kodu here