Getting Started With Code Combat
Compete With Friends In Multiplayer
In Multiplayer, you pick a race (Humans or Orcs) and a champion with special abilities, and then you sit down – to write your build. You program in advance of the game the logic, strategy, and attacks of your army, which units you build, with the goal of overwhelming your enemy, and destroy his barracks. You do this before the game even starts. Once you save your build you test it by playing games against other people’s builds. The code executes as written, and the player with the best code wins ladder points. The best code will work against a multitude of strategies and adapt to the enemy without needing code readjustments.
Test your code against the best! Challenge the Ladder Leaders to see where your code stacks up.
How Will They Make Money?
Code Combat made it to the Y Combinator stage not because of their game or desire to teach programming while maintaining an open source community, but because of their business model. Code Combat asserts that it can keep the game fun and free to play by helping to place their best play/programmers into jobs at other companies.
Code Combat has unique metrics and insight into how you code: how fast, how accurate, how innovative, how efficiently… By taking the players writing industry grade code and helping place them at companies hungry for talented programmers, Code Combat takes a placement fee, establishing a revenue stream that seems like a win-win-win between companies, users and Code Combat.
Will they actually be able to get people jobs?
At the beginning of this year, YC partners challenged Code Combat to test their assumption and find out whether they could actually get hirable players interested. They created a challenge level, called Gridmancer, with the title, “Beat this level, get a programming job”. The challenge is one that Code Combat developers had to solve to release their game, which made it easier to grade, and a good test of programming know-how, and not just their ability to google.
In Gridmancer, you write an algorithm to cover the empty floor spaces in as few rectangles as possible. Code Combat solved this problem for both the pathfinding system and the collision handling optimization system. Their implementation did it with 33 rectangles, but they knew it was possible to do it in less. They figured they would get a handful of submissions and place 2 individuals…
27,000 views, 3300 unique solution attempts, and 200 email submissions later, they wrote a blog post about how they graded the solutions based on identified number of rectangles, # of statements (as a proxy for efficiency), and tested how well the code performed on levels other than the Gridmancer level. In all, the challenge solution may not have been as hard as they thought it would be for players, but they were still able to show some talent above the rabble by looking at the most elegant solutions submitted.
Code Combat has received a high amount of interest from employers so far, and some candidates passing their second technical interviews at the time of Code Combat’s last update, things are looking good for CodeCombat’s recruitment strategy.
Does Code Combat work as an Education Tool?
Code Combat participated in non-profit Code.org‘s Hour of Code project, designed to promote adding computer science to the core curriculum in schools and to encourage all students to try programming for one hour. Hour of Code really deserves its own post:
Every major tech company promoted it, celebrities talked about it, and even the US President helped get the word out in their kickoff video. And shooting past Code.org’s crazy target of ten million players, kids are still continuing to play this week, with 600 million lines of code written and one in five US schoolchildren participating (with six times as many girls playing last week than have ever taken a computer science class in the US). It spread to more students in seven days than the first seven months of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram combined.
The event is international – for 18 countries with more than 40 players beating the first level, students from ten of those countries were significantly more successful than the US and UK students, and students from six of them were much faster. Only three countries were either slower or less successful–and this being despite many of the game elements not being translated into the country’s native language!
Check Out Code Combat!
I had a lot of fun, and I bet you will too. I look forward to hearing more from them, seeing if they can successfully place top programming talent, and watching as they show millions of students how fun it is to build things with programming, which is ultimately what got me working in IT in the first place.
Sources not linked in post: Code Combat’s Blog
Please Please Please also go check out Code.org. What a great mission!