News, features and tips for teachers, computer science advocates, and other heroes in education

The Hour of CodeCombat

Next week, is putting on the Hour of Code for Computer Science Education Week, and it's going to be epic. Last year they 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). 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, 'cause now there's a lot more to hear than just sword_attack_1.mp3.
  • Music - we've 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 IE9.
  • 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 - as for you to help support CodeCombat and for us to 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.

... and all that's just in the last four months! Check out where we were before last year's Hour of Code:

and where we are now:

Excited yet? Join us next week in the Hour of Code! (Or just, you know, play now.)