Help a non-programmer learn to program escape-the-room games
December 10, 2011 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Help my non-programmer friend learn to code in Flash (or another language) in order to write escape-the-room games!

Most of these games are written in Flash. Would that be a good language for a first-time programmer to start with?

Is learning Flash a bad investment? I'm concerned about it not being supported on mobile devices, etc., but it certainly is the dominant medium for this type of game.

If you think Flash is a good choice, can you recommend any tutorials or other good resources for absolute beginners? If not, what resources would you recommend for other languages?
posted by BrashTech to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a professional programmer and I hate programming in Flash. You have to know programming very well, know Flash well, deeply grasp event-oriented construction, and figure out some devilish UI.

On the other hand, there's nothing like being motivated by a practical problem. Maybe he should pick up a Flash for Dummies book and work through it.

(It depends on what his game is like, too. The great advantage of Flash is that it's an animation environment, so you can draw and animate your graphic elements without programming at all. How much Flash programming there is depends on how much interaction with ther user there is.)

Most modern langauges are C-like, including Flash's programming interface. So starting out learning (say) C# would be a good start, with little wasted effort if he wants to switch later to Flash.
posted by zompist at 11:23 AM on December 10, 2011

I agree with almost everything zompist just said about Flash, and I probably hate it a lot more than that, too... and yet it's still the right choice here.

Escape the room games are perfect for Flash. Everything is a clickable button, there's some simple manipulation of things by rotate or zoom or pan, and the bookkeeping isn't much more than incrementing a few variables or setting doorIsOpen to 'true'.

That's exactly what Flash is good for. It might even be possible to make this sort of game without seeing a single line of ActionScript (that's Flash's underlying scripting language). Or at worst, not dealing with very much more than a few conditional checks and loops.

I can't think of any other language or environment that would even be close to as appropriate, unless we're allowing time travel back to the 80's, in which case I would vote for HyperCard.
posted by rokusan at 11:37 AM on December 10, 2011

While I don't have a tutorial for Flash Proper, there are tools out there that are supposed to make it easier.


I played w/Stencyl a little bit earlier in the year. IIRC, it is based off the Scratch interface, which means that it uses this idea of code as "blocks" that you stack them together. You drag and drop a loop block that looks like a letter C, then in the inner round part of C you would plug a block with the instructions to execute.
(Here's a screenshot of what it looks like)

You still have to learn, but you're not all typing by hand. Stencyl has a library of objects and actions that people can use to plug into their code.

It also has a tutorial when you run it.

Something to look into that might be easier than diving directly into actionscript.

I should point out that Stencyl also allows for iOS exports (not sure how that all works).
posted by symbioid at 11:38 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Flash for Dummies is good; other books would tend to bog him down. Then there are tutorials.
posted by jgirl at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2011

I've recommended Kongregate's Shootorial before - I found it pretty doable (although I do have some minimal programming knowledge) and it's handy that it has all the art assets for you so you don't have to worry about that side of things.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:59 AM on December 10, 2011

Depending on how complicated you want your game to be, a good language for a simple game would be Scratch. Scratch is designed specifically for new programmers, and there's even a tutorial already about making a (simple) escape-the-room.
posted by anaelith at 12:05 PM on December 10, 2011

An alternative would be Love2D, which uses LUA, or Gamemaker, which can construct games without any programming.
posted by hellojed at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2011

Thanks for the great info! She's now happily playing around with Scratch.
posted by BrashTech at 3:45 PM on December 10, 2011

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