Saturday, March 01, 2008

Programmer Puzzle Games

There is a subset of puzzle games which for the purposes of this post I am calling programming puzzle games. The basic idea is that there is a level and you have a guy that you can control to complete whatever the objective is in the level to progress, but you can only control him by giving him a set of rules to follow by programming him (empowering him with a rule based AI). I love these things, but only independent developers seem to be doing anything with them.

Currently the best set of these games is made by Epsitec Games with their CeeBot series. In the case of CeeBot there is a programming language for the player to learn. This sounds hard, but it is aimed at a 5+ age range audience so everything is explained gradually with each level building on the lesson of the last and you can only progress once you have understood the concept the level is teaching. The game even comes with a better debugging tool than what most Java and C++ developers use today, so when your programs start to get large the game emergent teaches about logic errors without ever explicitly covering them.

Anyway today I played Spuds another Programmer Puzzle game that uses pictures to do the programming with. It was made by two brothers and apart from being a little overpriced ($19.95) and forcing the player to sit through a long tutorial, it's very interesting.

Again these games might sound boring, but I suffer from timeloss whenever I play them.