Thursday, October 29, 2020

TileCode–Creating games on and for handheld devices

People are Microsoft always seem to be working on interesting and unexpected (to me anyway) things.  My most recent discovery is TileCode. From the website:

Microsoft TileCode is an app for designing, coding, and playing video games directly on low-cost MakeCode Arcade gaming handhelds, as well as in the web browser. With TileCode, we are using the medium of video games to explore the combination of
  • Natural language for informally specifying games goals, rules, and mechanics;
  • Physical computational models that foreground concepts such as data parallelism, pattern matching, and conflict resolution;
  • Testing and debugging of programs to establish confidence in their behavior and to refine specifications;
  • Machine learning to help bridge the gap between natural language and programs, as well as to generate non-player character behavior in games.

Our ultimate goal is to provide a sandbox in which students can express and refine their game ideas, while learning about computation, programming, and machine learning, supported by software engineering practices.

It's a pretty interesting idea. I wonder how it might work in classrooms. There is a webinar about their research later in November that I hope to sit in on.

TileCode builds on a lot of previous work and not just from Microsoft. It builds on Kodu and MakeCode but they reference a lot of other block based tools in their paper - TileCode: Creation of Video Games on Gaming Handhelds

I'm really fascinated by the work I am seeing in domain specific tools lately. While games are a popular topic I'm been following Mark Guzdial's work with domain specific languages for Social Studies with interest. I tend to think that rather than see artificial intelligence take over the job of programming that we’ll see more and more domain specific languages (should we call them tools?) that people will use.  I’m not convinced that AI and machine learning will know when rules are really guidelines.

1 comment:

Garth said...

Looks cool. The problem I see is who has these little handhelds? I have never seen one in the hands of a student in my school. All their games are on their phones. What would tempt them off their phone? Too bad this is not a phone coding app. I imagine the level of complication would skyrocket to make such an app. Right now my intro to programming class is using Thunkable to write phone apps. A game coding app using the Thunkable approach would be very useful.