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My friend's 10 years old kid is very interested in programming and video game development. The little guy has already finished CodinGame, so I directed him to other learning games I know of in the meantime. However, I haven't found anything of the sort for game engines

I'm looking for a child friendly introduction to game engines, in the same spirit as CodinGame. It can be about Unity 3D, Unreal Engine or anything of that sort

I've always been interested in teaching Computer Science, and I'd love to be able to use something like that as material

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As mentioned in an answer I would vote for scratch to be useful as well. Depending how interactive you want to get (and budget) Osmo (basically interact with an iPad using token blocks to program) looks pretty cool. \$\endgroup\$ – lozzajp Nov 2 '16 at 8:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ RpgMaker MV rpgmakerweb.com/products/programs/rpg-maker-mv \$\endgroup\$ – Krythic Nov 2 '16 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still thinking of a way to make this question on-topic. Maybe I should move it to another Stack Exchange website? I'm open to suggestions. I think the answers listed here are worth the read and should be kept somewhere \$\endgroup\$ – Dryr Nov 4 '16 at 2:16
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I found the good old rpg maker quite good when I was at that age myself. It's not that powerful compared to the big name engines but for a plain game it is more than enough. And it focuses more on working with the engine rather than writing code.

You have to take as well into consideration how long it takes for your child to see a result. While I was construction some nice battle logic, my friend was happy to smash a big fireball on a tree in a corner. The faster your child can see a result on what he was working on, the more motivated he will get. Don't over complicate things and just let him/ her play with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 worked for me as well, as well as the warcraft 3 editor. I suppose the starcraft 2 editor would be similar \$\endgroup\$ – Niels Nov 2 '16 at 10:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the warcraft 3 editor. It got me into programming as well as model making! \$\endgroup\$ – Pyritie Nov 2 '16 at 14:34
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Scratch can be something you search for:

https://scratch.mit.edu/

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure whether to vote this up or not. On one hand, Scratch is certainly designed to teach kids game programming, and widely used for that purpose. On the other hand, it's a pretty limited platform, and if the OP's friend's kid is at all ambitious, working around its limitations can quickly become frustrating. Without knowing the details, I'd be tempted to suggest introducing the kid to both Scratch and to a "real" game engine like Unity, and letting them use whichever they like better. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Nov 2 '16 at 14:08
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If one of your goals in doing this is not just entertainment and showing how things can work, but also teaching your child how the real games out there are made, instead of the "coding for kids" stuff which often doesn't look much like the actual game code, I suggest finding a simple enough platformer, a small RPG or a puzzle game with open source. Figure it out on your own first, set up some popular and easy to learn IDEs, like Visual Studio Community, and sit down with the kid and show them how changing variables and code affects the existing game. Then show each piece which makes that game work and together try to create a new game with these pieces. Add some custom mechanics to the game, explain how they would work in theory and in code. It should be more fun and educating than just letting the child be on their own with something that you wouldn't see in the real game stores.

Finding open source games of course is the biggest challenge here :p But here's some options:

Basically, you're the child friendly introduction in this scenario, and extra quality interaction time with your kid is worth it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the "child friendly introduction" sentence. I'll suggest my friend to find some time to sit down and learn with her kid. \$\endgroup\$ – Dryr Nov 2 '16 at 21:41
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Kodu by Microsoft is a very good tool to learn game development. I believe you can even run the games you create on Xbox.

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While not specifically an engine, a game with a heavy modding community and a well documented API might be a great start, especially considering he/she learned on CodinGame. You get the intro to game development without worrying about all the nitty gritty engine stuff but still learn useful techniques on how to work with an engine and standard game patterns and stuff.

My suggestion might be Garry's Mod which has a great LUA API reference and runs on the Source Engine.

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I would recommend looking at any games the child currently enjoys playing and seeing if those games have level editors. Basically, find something the child already likes and is familiar with and use that as a starting point.

It can be frustrating for a kid (and an adult programmer) to spend a lot of time learning a new environment and new programming language and end up with a program that only draws a few ugly boxes bumping around. A level editor will allow the child to produce an impressive looking end product, in a game engine they already know. You could also try creating levels yourself and trading them with the child; let them play and look at your code and vice versa.

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Computers In minecraft

Minecraft. Some Tech-based FTB pack can be a best solution at my look.

Play game, and keep programming inside.

https://www.feed-the-beast.com/modpacks/ftb-official-pack (I suggest Direwolf20 packs - you can find lot's of videos about it)

Factor 1: each time when you confusing - you should look at google "how to craft something" or "why my turtle not working". Just like true programmer, always doing the same.

Factor 2: in-game programming - many mod-packs contain some tricky computer-mods. Mining turtles for example using Lua Programming language for AI scripting. Some computers works just like little linux, even with package managers.

Factor 3: Automatic - you can find lot's of videos and manualr how to automate things, fabrics, mining, processing with other devices and computers. This is really perfect brain-training.

Factor 4: When you game crash or you need to add install some specific mod, you need to look up for solution (just right here, on stackexchange) - you involuntarily start to understand how the game is arranged inside, and why.

After all - it's really interesting. And funny. And you definitely should play with your friend. :3

UPDATE: Twitch Client allow you to make custom mod packs quickly with any mod you want.

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Not an expert on kids, but Processing is a pretty good language to start with for coding. At least if the kid want to try something different then playing with a GUI.

Processing is built on top of Java and let you abstract away a lot of the hard stuff, so it's easy to make geometry figures move and similar things. They also has a lot of tutorials to get you going.

An example to draw an rectangle on the screen:

rect(250, 200, 150, 100);

And then you press play, and you will get a window with your rectangle.

Check out https://processing.org/

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I completedy forgot about processing I dabbded a bit with it before. That would be a good tool to teach about programming \$\endgroup\$ – Dryr Dec 2 '16 at 23:16

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