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BotLogic.us: A Game That Gets Kids Excited to Program (kickstarter.com)
23 points by jnazario on Oct 15, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 21 comments

My 4 year old just played on it up to level 9, took about 30 mins or so IIRC (did take some video if you're interested).

Two points of frustration that stand out both related to editing.

1) the delete move icon is very small (the little red cross against commands); even I had to take a lot of care to click on it properly.

2) theirs no [apparent] way to move the insertion point for commands.

I could just use the text entry to alter commands (he'd go "down" but forget to put the multiplier in, for example). So then as the mistake was at the start, eg on level 8 the only option appears to be to delete the full list of commands and then start again - which is what he was going to do before I suggested I could alter the numbers.


I think the command symbols could perhaps default to having a number "1" adjacent them, this number being editable by clicking it and typing a new number in.

It might also help for the very young to have a "ghost" to show where the bot will go (or is this "cheating" too much, not sure). That way they don't have to stick their fingers on the screen (his arms aren't really long enough anyway!) to mark where they've got to.

Presumably you get to have loops and subroutines later on but it didn't really feel like it quite made it as a _programming_ game so far. Will see.

FWIW I've used Turtle from SugarLabs and Scratch with his older brother along with playing games like LightBot [II]. BotLogic feels a lot like a slower progressing LightBot, which is good really as he's only 4 and can't even read yet.

Great feedback! I love to hear it anytime a young kid was able to enjoy the game, even in the rough form it's in.

The ghost option is something I've seriously considered, although frankly it is closer to the bottom of my list at this point as there are a few other things I think are more important to get in first like loops/user defined functions/etc..

The delete X is a good point and insertion point comments are great, and are issues I've struggled with how to deal with it properly. I have "drag and drop" reordering on the roadmap, and so I forsee deleting/insert point becoming something more natural like simply dragging the command out of the timeline to delete it and dragging a command to a specific point in the timeline to add it vs. simply tapping to queue it at the end.

I like your comment about progression too, as I've really tried my best to make the game be something that's more relaxed in the way that concepts are learned and lets the user get comfortable with the idea of simply separating logic from actions and building simple "programs".

I would agree wholeheartedly too that the game most certainly doesn't teach programming at this point as much as it gets kids excited about the idea of programming. I think once we have some more functionality around loops/functions/etc.. than it will be a little more feature complete in that aspect, but no matter what my ultimate goal is to demystify the idea of technology and programming and let players feel the power of building programs, making mistakes, and ultimately successfully completing levels while using logic, reasoning, and basic "programming" skills.

*there's ... always fail on homophones when I'm over-tired.

Neat. I'd like to see as many games and tools like this to exist as possible.

An alternative is to also turn your kids loose on Spacechem:


Though Spacechem isn't for really young kids, and isn't "cute". However, you'll learn some basic concepts of programming, including basic sequencing of actions, resource management (time and space), and even thread coordination.

Looks like a similar concept to robozzle: http://robozzle.com.

There are actually even surprisingly more than one would initially think. In addition to Robozzle and BotLogic, there's LightBot(actually 2 versions), Lego Mindstorms, Daisy the Dinosaur, CargoBot, Move the Turtle, Robot Turtles (board game), and RoboMind (just found this one, looks fascinating) to name just a select few of an ever growing number of similar games. Personally, I hope one day there are more "programming" games with an educational spin than there are first person shooters, but that's just because I'm hooked.

> "RoboZZle requires Silverlight"

FWIW. I didn't go any further with it.

You know what got me excited about programming? LOGO [1]

Still does...

Links to downloads in wikipedia page.

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logo_(programming_language)

You know what got me excited about programming? QBASIC!

And its mode 13h.

careful, lest we get lost down memory lane. Turbo Pascal.

Is it just me or does this sound pretty much like Robot Turtles on a computer? Personally, I prefer the offline (human to human) approach of teaching/learning, but this might be a good complement.

This makes me giggle a bit, because for me, when I saw Robot Turtles launch their campaign on Sept. 3rd (1 month after we released the BotLogic prototype on August 1st), I said "hey, this sounds pretty much like BotLogic!" :) I had hoped we would see the quick success they did as well considering the similarities, but I guess that's what you get when you aren't a fancy big name Google employee. I certainly have my work cut out for me.

For what it's worth, I ended up backing Robot Turtles too because I think the idea is cool! I think it's also cool to be able to use "pseudo-code" to build your programs and watch the program execute on your computer, and I think each has it's benefits and drawbacks.

Sounds like an up to date version of logowriter to me. I think anything that teaches kids to program early is a good thing.

Well, Robot Turtles is a version of Robot Rally themed for young kids. Take that as you will.

Great this looks fun. Two issues:

Control icons (arrows, fingers, etc.) look indistinct. They could made larger to take up more of the icon space, or outlined, or colored.

Can you move the email-wall to after I have played one game? I don't want to give it out without trying it. Do you have any data that shows the percent of people who quit after the email wall?

== Edit == You can play w/o email if you indicate that you are 0-13

They were inspired by http://armorgames.com/play/2205

Technically, I was inspired by Rails for Zombies (http://railsforzombies.org) as I had been learning Rails for my new job, and had that fresh in my mind when my bosses said "come up with a new idea". For me, the inspiration was "how COOL would it have been if the interactive console in Rails for Zombies actually made the zombies do stuff and it was more like a game than learning to code!!" After some discussion, the choice was made to switch from zombies to robots because a) "programming" a robot made more sense than programming a zombie and b) robots seemed more "gender/age neutral" than zombies that have a more limited appeal. It wasn't until much later on that we started doing market analysis that we found LightBot. To me, LightBot was a confirmation that there was a market for "games that use programming as a tool", but not something that we were necessarily going to mirror. LightBot is fun, but ramps up quickly and gets pretty in depth into programming concepts pretty quickly. I wanted BotLogic to be a more subtle introduction where the user didn't even realize they were learning how to program along the way. I also wanted players to get comfortable with the idea of "syntax" and "typing code", and I feel the terminal is an important part of the game that LightBot doesn't have (not that it's a bad thing for their game, just that it's definitely something vastly different than going with a purely visual UI).

I used this to introduce high schoolers at a STEM summer camp a few years back and they loved it. There appears to be an android/iphone app as well now, but I haven't personally tried it http://light-bot.com/

This should be released as free software. It's a mistake to teach children about Computer Science using proprietary software. It's anti-educational.

"It's anti-educational."

What a rubbish, blanket statement. Something you hadn't thought about until 5 minutes ago should now be created for free.

Get off your high horse, if you want this to be free, by all means go and make it. Some great math books are free too, and some great ones you have to buy. To claim either is anti-educational is nonsense.

You misunderstand: Free as in speech.

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