Super Scratch Programming Adventure!
Learn to Program By Making Cool Games
$24.95, 160 pages, 2012
By the LEAD Project
No Starch Press
ISBN 13: 978-1593274092
A great, non-threatening introduction to programming
This book’s subtitle is, “Learn to program by making cool games!” but let me say right at the start: this book doesn’t really teach you how to program in general. Instead it teaches you how to program the Scratch game programming environment.
Scratch is a mostly drag-and-drop environment that lets you build simple animations, play sounds, and determine when objects overlap. The book walks you through creating some very simple games such as making characters walk around the screen, collecting “dimensional strings” without getting zapped, dodging bad guys in a maze, and battling dark wizards in space.
The games are corny but don’t let the simplicity of the storyline fool you. Although the games seem simple, they introduce important programming concepts. They show how to use variables, loops, events, broadcast messages, sprites, animation, timing, pseudorandom numbers, sound, and more. They also show how to use the Scratch programming environment to build programs, edit images, and interact with the user.
After reading this book and working through the example games, you won’t know how to program in general-purpose languages such as C#, Java, C++, or Visual Basic, but you will know some of the fundamentals needed to understand those languages so learning them should be a bit easier. There are many differences between Scratch’s drag-and-drop approach and those other languages, which require much more typing, but Scratch may provide a gentle and entertaining introduction to programming concepts. And you just might end up writing some games that are fun enough to be worth playing more than once!
The book’s forward says Scratch is designed for ages 8 and up, and that seems about right. I’ve run a few programming camps for kids, some of which used a drag-and-drop environment somewhat similar to Scratch, and most 8-year-olds can handle this sort of thing fairly easily.
If you’re an adult and you want to learn “real” programming, you should probably look for a book about the specific language you want to study such as C#, Java, or whatever. For example, check out my “easy” book C# 24-Hour Trainer and my faster-paced book C# 5.0 Programmer’s Reference.
If you’re a young aspiring game developer looking for a fun introduction to programming, or an adult who wants to try a different method of programming, this book may be perfect for you!