Hour of Code and CodeCombat meet again in 2014

Hour of Code aims for 100 million students this year

Javascript code close-up with neon graphic overlay
Image credits : 
Photo by Jen Wike Huger
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Next week, Code.org is putting on the Hour of Code for Computer Science Education Week, and it's going to be epic.

Last year, Hour of Code tried to introduce ten million students to coding in one week, but actually they got fifteen million. This year, they're going extra global and shooting for a hundred million students.

And, CodeCombat is happy to help out as one of the tutorial partners that students can choose. We've been gearing up for this for four months to make an awesome beginner programming experience—the one we all wish we had had when we were younger to show us how much fun coding can be, or even that we could do it at all (no one ever told us).

CodeCombat programming game participates in Hour of Code

Here's a "tiny" list of the new stuff we've come up with:

Heroes: choose from 9 warrior, ranger, or wizard heroes, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and programming abilities.

Items: now all your programming abilities come from the 250+ items you can unlock, so as you earn new gear, you learn new programming concepts.

Levels: 50+ all-new levels in the new beginner campaign, with 5 new levels every week.

Gems: bonus rewards for beating levels let you customize your hero and item progression through the game.

Worlds: the Dungeon and Forest worlds are nearly complete, with the Desert, Mountain, Ice, and Volcano worlds in the pipeline.

Sound effects: grab your headphones, because now there's a lot more to hear than just sword_attack_1.mp3.

Music: we've got new music tracks from our composer, José Antonini.

Visual design: the interface and website are looking great with Fully Illustrated's artistic touch.

Voices: you probably couldn't tell, but the voice acting is no longer just George and his wife doing different accents for every single unit!

Bugfixes: we have been busy, with over 1500 commits since August. CodeCombat is totally open source, and we couldn't have done it without our Archmages.

Playtesting: with the help of our Adventurers and 18 classrooms' worth of playtesting-based usability improvements in the past several weeks alone, we're now getting players as young as seven all the way through the end of the forest campaign.

45 languages: our Diplomats have been hard at work translating tens of thousands of strings so that players everywhere can learn, with the latest entry being Galician.

Documentation: with our Scribes' help, we now have beginner-friendly documentation for six programming languages.

Real-time input: the later levels unlock input flags for a merger of coding and gameplay, where heroes can respond to your clicks in real time.

Beginner multiplayer: not just for expert developers any more, we have three beginner hero arenas in the mix.

Python: is now the default language, with Python master Matt making it easier than ever to get started with programming.

Faster app: with a new WebGL renderer, months of code optimizations, and a lot of testing on old machines and browsers, the new CodeCombat will run smoothly on almost anything, even Internet Explorer 9.

Faster servers: with Michael's upgraded AWS setup, serving tens of thousands of concurrent players during the Hour of Code will be a cinch, with fast load times for all.

Diverse gameplay: we've made sure to include not just combat levels, but also puzzle-, collection-, and building-focused levels so as not to be too gender-imbalanced.

Amazing autocomplete: this really helps younger students without great typing skills get into the game while still typing real code.

CodeCombat subscriptions: so that you can help support CodeCombat and so that we can say thanks, we're making extra bonus levels available for our monthly paid subscribers; the core level progression is still free so that everyone can play.

Check out where we were before last year's Hour of Code.

Originally posted on the CodeCombat blog. Reposted via Creative Commons.

About the author

Nick Winter - Nick graduated from Oberlin College in 2008 with a triple degree in Math, East Asian Studies, and Computer Science. He founded his first successful company (Skritter) in 2008 and started work on CodeCombat in early 2013. He's an avid sci-fi fan and lives with his wife in San Francisco.