Intro to Game Programming with JavaScript: Aftermath


I know I certainly had a really fun time last night with everyone.

To recap, we did a walk through the Pong example (play it here, or read the code here) and saw a lot of things that are common to games programming. We looked at some ways that simple changes to specific values can have a huge impact on the look and feel of the game. We discussed the discovery process of programming and how integral the act of testing is to finding good gameplay elements. And we discussed some tools and habits that are good to learn to be a more effective programmer.
I want to get everyone started with playing with code as quickly as possible now. The more you do, the more you will learn. There have been tons of times in my career that I’ve pontificated on how to do something with no good result coming from mere speculation, only to be able to figure it out within minutes by just trying it. So with that in mind:
  • Setup a web hosting account somewhere. That is, if you don’t already have one. As I mentioned before, Dropbox is really easy for such a thing. You’ll want to share your stuff with people, and I’d like to see your progress.
  • Install some sort of syntax-highlighting text editor. There are so many, try a few out and see if there is one you like. If you’re so inclined, read this old-ish blog post from me on tools for programming (skip the section on Database Management Systems; not really relevant at this time).
  • Get setup with source control. Like I said, Github is great, and has a lot of support for getting beginners up and going.
  • Download the Pong example to your computer. Mess around with it. Try to do different things with it. See if you can change the colors of the paddles. Change the background around. Make everything run faster, or slower. Change the size of the paddles. Go through all of the functions and CSS rules and HTML tags and just see what changing little bits of it will do.
  • Save a few of your changes and show us. Use your web hosting account to put up a few copies of things you’ve done and share them with everyone!
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to break the Pong example down and have everyone build it from the ground up. It will take a few detours on the way, but they will be constructive and show you how to come about to the proper (well, as proper as such things can be) end result.
And again, we have another session this Sunday. This session is meant to be a repeat of the one you just went through to give people a chance on the weekend who couldn’t make it for the weekday. But with all of your excellent constructive feedback, it will be a little different and we will probably get into that broken-down HTML file sooner. If you know of anyone who was interested but couldn’t make it tonight, please pass this post on to them. The event listing is here:

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