Thursday, October 12, 2006

Telengard and learning to program

Many years ago a close friend and I loved to play Telengard on his Commodore 64. This was a classic Dungeons and Dragons styled game. It was very well done and lots of fun. It seems to me though that was most fun about it was that it was written in BASIC. With very little effort we managed to break into the running game and customize it.

In fact recently I mentioned the game to him. He seemed to enjoy remembering most that we were able to hack the game. I was an experienced BASIC programmer at that time and it didn't impress me as much. I simply enjoyed playing the game.

I think what this makes clear to me is that programming novices like my friend really enjoy the process of learning by monkeying with a running system. You can just break into a program, examine or change a variable, add/change code and resume execution. I wonder how many beginners do not go on to become competent programmers without access to this kind of interactive system.

This is something that interpreted BASIC is excellent at. More systems need to be like this.