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quickymart

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#284401 19-Apr-2021 21:13
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Evening,

 

One of my boys is very into Nintendo, Super Mario etc etc. He's said one day he'd like to code games (specifically for Nintendo if possible). Only thing is, I have no idea how to get him started on the road to doing/learning this sort of thing.

 

Are there any online courses he could do, preferably free? He is only 8 but sees this as being a possible lifelong career for him.

 

Thanks :)


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michaelmurfy
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  #2695048 19-Apr-2021 21:24
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Look at getting him a Raspberry Pi 4 / Raspberry Pi 400. This can run things like Scratch and more advanced programming languages at a later date if he chooses.

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/digital-making-at-home-parents-guide/




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mdf

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  #2695051 19-Apr-2021 21:36
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You could start with Super Mario Maker for something on the Switch. Great for intro to game design principles.

 

And as michaelmurfy said, Scratch is great. Lots of Scratch coding tutorials online and books at the library. Don't need a dedicated device though, can do it from a browser to see if he gets in to it. For something more game focussed (though 8 might be a touch young) you could have a look at Phaser.


michaelmurfy
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  #2695057 19-Apr-2021 21:55
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Ah yes - was typing from my phone but forgot to mention that Scratch can run on anything.

 

The Raspberry Pi is a great platform as it also teaches Linux, can emulate games (so can run a NES / Nintendo 64 emulator on it) and is a great first computer as if he mucks it up, just re-flash the SD card and he's away again. There are also GPIO pins on the Pi meaning he could even get into making physical electronic things too.

 

The Pi Blog has a bunch of great information for parents.

 

Also +1 for Mario Maker!





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Behodar
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  #2695058 19-Apr-2021 21:59
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If you want a full retro experience then you can install Risc OS on a Pi; it's a step up from a Commodore 64 but still a relatively simple (and fast!) system that's easy to learn. The SD image includes a PDF with a game or two written in Basic.

 

Not for everyone, but worth a mention :)


tchart
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  #2695101 20-Apr-2021 07:23
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You didnt say where you are based but Google CoderDojo + your city. See if there is a CoderDojo near you. I used to help at one in Wellington, was a great way to get kids into coding.

 

Otherwise as others have said;

 

1. Scratch (start here)

 

2. https://hourofcode.com/nz

 

3. https://code.org/  (has Minecraft based tutorials if your son likes Minecraft)

 

4. https://www.khanacademy.org/hourofcode 

 

 

 

 

 

 


quickymart

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  #2695102 20-Apr-2021 07:25
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Thanks for the tips. I was looking for something free or cheap (without having to buy him another device). He already has a Nintendo Switch and an iPad, so will see about getting Super Mario Maker 2 for his Switch - although he tells me "the game doesn't actually have coding in it"?

 

Cheers :)


tchart
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  #2695104 20-Apr-2021 07:29
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Just to add, I would stay away from hardware based STEM tools unless you can borrow (not buy) them.

 

My son (who has been through CoderDojo etc) would build them, use it for a few hours and then never look at it again (Kano computers, raspberry pi, lego based STEM etc).

 

Also, once they are a bit older I'd throw them at;

 

1. Roblox Studio https://www.roblox.com/create 

 

2. https://www.coregames.com/

 

3. https://www.buildbox.com/ 

 

BUT dont start with those as they will frustrate the poor kid.




tchart
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  #2695105 20-Apr-2021 07:31
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quickymart:

 

Thanks for the tips. I was looking for something free or cheap (without having to buy him another device). He already has a Nintendo Switch and an iPad, so will see about getting Super Mario Maker 2 for his Switch - although he tells me "the game doesn't actually have coding in it"?

 

Cheers :)

 

 

There is a version of Scratch on ipad but I would reccomend getting a chrome book or letting them use a laptop.


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  #2695115 20-Apr-2021 07:55
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Swift Playgrounds on iPad is a good introduction to programming. My 7 year old likes playing with it.


freitasm
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  #2695128 20-Apr-2021 08:29
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"He's said one day he'd like to code games (specifically for Nintendo if possible). Only thing is, I have no idea how to get him started on the road to doing/learning this sort of thing."

 

Whatever you do, if he loses interest, let it go. At 8 years old he's too young to know what he's going to be doing later in life. It could be just a phase. Don't force things to happen that don't exist or exist only on your head.





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tchart
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  #2695146 20-Apr-2021 08:47
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freitasm:

"He's said one day he'd like to code games (specifically for Nintendo if possible). Only thing is, I have no idea how to get him started on the road to doing/learning this sort of thing."


Whatever you do, if he loses interest, let it go. At 8 years old he's too young to know what he's going to be doing later in life. It could be just a phase. Don't force things to happen that don't exist or exist only on your head.



Agree. My son started around 7/8 and is now 14. He kind of drifts in and out. He's pretty passionate about it but he goes at his own pace in time with his enthusiasm.

MurrayM
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  #2695157 20-Apr-2021 09:04
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quickymart:

 

He already has a Nintendo Switch and an iPad, so will see about getting Super Mario Maker 2 for his Switch - although he tells me "the game doesn't actually have coding in it"?

 

 

Yeah I think Super Mario Maker is one of those "create your own game without any coding!" type of programs. 

 

There's a couple of development platforms available for the Switch: Fuze 4 and SmileBASIC 4. Both of these are the more traditional coding environments, eg writing actual code rather than dragging boxes around to describe your program à la Scratch. Both use their own version of BASIC, although the Fuze language also has elements of C and Python. Of those two I'd go for Fuze as it has a pretty active community with a forum which is useful for when you have questions, the Fuze team do coding schools around the UK, and it comes with thousands of assets (sprites, tiles, sounds, music, etc) and a sprite and tile editor. Note that I haven't actually used either, I just followed their progress after they announced they were coming out for the Switch.


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  #2695175 20-Apr-2021 09:47
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This: https://www.jaycar.co.nz/tobbie-the-robot-ii-kit/p/KR9260 

Plus two of these: https://www.jaycar.co.nz/micro-bit-go-development-board-bundle/p/XC4320 

= awesome. The programming is done through https://makecode.microbit.org 

You could do away with the robot as there’s some awesome projects you can do just with the microbit itself. I say buy two because of the Bluetooth functionality that’s super simple to program - you can make a hide n seek game where you hide one of them and use the Bluetooth signal strength to find it with the other, or a remote control for the robot.

I did this with my son and it keeps us busy for whole days at a time





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quickymart

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  #2695177 20-Apr-2021 09:49
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Thanks Murray, good suggestions too. He's trying to get Fuze 4 but it doesn't appear available for download anywhere? He has found Smile Basic 4 and is having a look at it to see if he would be keen.

 

MadEngineer: dunno if he'd be into that (I think he's more into the actual coding part) but thanks for the suggestion.

 

I should also point out I didn't push this decision on him - he made up his mind on his own :) hence why I'm looking for something free he can try out to see if it's something he wants to go further with (or not).

 

Edit update: "I think I want Smile Basic", so we'll look into that :)


MadEngineer
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  #2695183 20-Apr-2021 10:07
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You can use the coding website without the hardware for free if you want to try it out. It simulates the hardware in the browser. Fully functional and lets you manipulate the multiple sensors.




You're not on Atlantis anymore, Duncan Idaho.

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