This developer blog is part of an ongoing series of posts organized by Square Enix and Siliconera to help bring exposure to indie developers on The Collective, a crowdfunding platform founded and managed by Square Enix.
By Michael Schaefer
What is Debugger 3.16?
Debugger 3.16 is a puzzle platformer where the player helps a small debug function to find and delete all errors (bugs) in the scripts of its developer, Mr. Schaefer.
How does it work?
The unique element in the game is that the player have to write his own scripts to overcome all puzzles. Here’s a small example: You can destroy many of the bugs by simply shooting them to bits, but sometimes there’re special bugs which are protected by a big shell.
In such situations you have to “hack” their source code and manipulate them. You could for example try to move them in a deadly trap by changing their X/Y coordinates or try to rotate them to get under the shell – but there will be many ways to solve puzzles, involving different code functions.
So why make a game with educational elements?
It can be pretty hard to get people excited about backing a game as soon as you add the tag “education” to it. The assumption people make is that in order to make something that helps you learn, you have to sacrifice the fun.
But I see gamers talk about wishing they could learn the basics of programming the whole time, so I thought about trying to help give people a starting point—but one that sits within a game this is actually fun cause it’s created by a gamer and not by a teacher.
I myself grew up with an Mega Drive & SNES as “older brothers”, so I was still young when I decided that making games was something for me. But it’s hard – I had some nice ideas but it was a long process. Here in Germany, where I live, there are only really two ways to learn game programming:
1) You can pay to study at an academy—public schools here don’t teach game programming—but this is expensive.
2) You buy a big book, learn everything by yourself and ask many people in different forums in your free time.
So what if there were a third way, to learn while playing? With Debugger 3.16, I want to create a tool where you can learn scripting in a fun and entertaining way. We’ll see if this is an idea that is shared by the community, so I look forward to hearing feedback.
What scripting language is used in the game?
The script language used in the game is “lite-C”, a lightweight version of C/C++. But unlike C++, it’s extremely easy to learn and a great way to get introduced into ‘real’ programming. Anything that’s scary to a beginner, like memory and pointer handling, is automatically managed in lite-C.
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