Intro to Game Programming with JavaScript

Programming is a lot of fun, and games are one of the best ways to get exposed to a variety of different programming tasks. My name is Sean McBeth and I’m versed in many ways of programming, having been working as a professional software developer for over 10 years. In that time, JavaScript has always been there for me. It is a language that everyone can run in some shape or form, thanks to the ubiquity of Web browsers; it is the BASIC of the modern computing era. Sharing that knowledge is important to me, so I am offering a class where everyone learns (or polishes) an extremely useful scripting language (JavaScript, aka ECMAScript, but NOT Java) in a very compelling medium (ahem, games).

All of the “class” materials will be posted here. This event is for the one of the weekly “lab sessions” that I am holding at our hackerspace to help anyone who needs a hands-on approach. The online materials will all be free, while the lab sessions will be ala-carte and only $20 each ($15 for members). If enough people show up, we can even do multiple days per week.
The class will cover JavaScript in detail (and it is a funky language in which you will learn both amazing and awful things), basic graphics editing secondarily (The Gimp, Photoshop, and Paint.NET will all be on display), and a small amount of anything else I deem necessary along the way (CSS, HTML, DOM, Audacity, basic logic and trigonometry for the arithmophobes). No browser or operating system will be held in higher regard over others, though certain browsers and operating systems will definitely be ignored in order to make that previous statement true (I’m looking at you, Lynx and BeOS).
The individual students’ progress is going to define the ark of the class schedule, but the first project is definitely going to be Pong: replicating the original and extending it to more modern imaginations. Some other possible projects: Tic Tac Toe, Tetris, some kind of basic platformer/shooter, some kind of basic RPG. That’s a lot to cover, and I want to make sure things flow with the class to everyone’s interests, so I won’t say much more than that.
Details, one more time:
  • August 6th, 7pm
  • Hive76, 915 Spring Garden St., Suite 519, Philadelphia, PA
  • Bring a laptop, we don’t have many spares to go around
  • Blog posts and example code: FREE
  • Lab sessions: $20 each for non-members, $15 for members (note that memberships start at only $15)
  • Multiple lab sessions per month will be made available

10 Replies to “Intro to Game Programming with JavaScript”

  1. Haven’t dived into Javascript yet … but wouldn’t learning coffeescript be better at this point in time?

  2. No browser natively runs coffeescript. The only way you’re going to get max performance out of a script (which is what you need for games) is to hand code javascript. And seriously, javascript isn’t hard. Don’t fear it.

  3. Is it just javascript in general, or is it javascript in HTML5 using canvas, or something else? Also, is there a max number of people that can attend? I am very interested! Is there any software that you recommend we have loaded on our laptop? Maybe a programming text editor like Programmers Notepad?

    1. Yeah, I’m going to cover a lot of different stuff, not *just* JavaScript.

      With Canvas, I’m kind of torn right now on whether it’s better to start with it right away or wait until a few more things are covered. Maybe raw beginners will need a little slower of an introduction than jumping right in to the Canvas2D API; kind of a lot to swallow in one go. We’ll definitely get to it eventually, I just don’t know if it will be after 1 session or 5 just yet. I’m working on an example Pong game right now that I’m doing two ways, once DHTML and once in HTML5, just to see which one I like better. We’ll probably go with the DHTML example first, though, because it is a decent skill to have on its own as well.

      Basic software to have preloaded: if you’ve done any programming on your own yet, you should certainly use what you’re used to, I’m not going to force any particular thing. We’ll spend a little time in the beginning talking about some different options for different tools. I also have a couple of blog posts prepared on the topic to send out in the next week or so.

      My goal with this class is to get people learning how to program and making apps on their own. That’s it. JavaScript is kind of the entry vector into that. Games are kind of just the fun, compelling way to get people to keep studying. There are a lot more things that go into it than just programming language, so the “JavaScript” part of it should hopefully be just a small part. But, needed a name for the event, and this seemed the most descriptive.

      Thanks for commenting. Would love to have you in the class.

    1. You need to register. There is a link in the article to where you can buy tickets.

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