Saturday, August 13

Code Kata For Game Developers

I've spent some time wondering what a set of Code Katas for game developers would look like. I'm thinking mostly in the context of learning a new language. Here's the list I have so far.

  • Mandelbrot set plotting
  • Simple raytracer.
  • Breakout clone.
  • Simple MUD.

Each kata would conentrate on different aspects of coding. The first, the Mandelbrot set is an old standard. Once it's done, you will know the mechanics of creating a 2d display, drawing on it, and getting decent performance out of simple numeric computation.

The raytracer, our second kata, takes us through the basics of 3d math and rendering, without actually requiring interactivity and will allow us to deploy most of the maths code needed to support 3d games on the platform. The two games suggested as exercies are Breakout and a simple MUD.

Breakout is a 2D graphical game, which would build on what was learnt performing the Mandelbrot set kata, and in addition require realtime interactivity and input, something not covered by the previous two katas, and also be a "proper" game with an initalisation phase, along with an update and render loop, giving us a framework to build our actual games around.

The final kata, the MUD concentrates on areas neglected until now: networking and text processing. These are important aspects of any platform and multi-player play. It should have enough game logic to support NPCs, and containers at the very least, but can be elaborated indefinitely..

I think these four kata would leave you in a very good position to go on to implement games on the platform you were exploring.

I'm wondering if there should be a fifth kata? I don't want this to become an exhaustive list - it needs to be a set of exercises that should take little more than a day each. One working week seems a reasonable time for a professional game developer to explore a new platform. What would he/she do on the fifth day. Any suggestions?