April 26, 2002 -- This week our choice pick from our Resources and Downloads directories is: Robocode, a programming game that teaches Java by letting you create Java "robots," real objects that battle it out on-screen.
Updated this month, Robocode uses a custom security manager to allow custom Java classes written by anyone to run safely on your system. These classes extend a robocode.Robot class, exposing methods such as
fire(1) to allow the object to interact with the game, according to sponsor IBM developerWorks.
The updated version, Robocode 1.0, contains "vast improvements":
- a new Robot Packager
- .properties files
- .jar files and Robotcache
- a Robot Database
- Robot Selection dialog
- .html files
- major scoring changes
- the ability to write to a data directory to store persistent data
- a Help system that uses your browser of choice
- improved event priorities
setInterruptible()call for event handlers
- improved collisions
- new Bullet objects
- and numerous bug fixes.
The game has spawned its own portal, robocode.net, which links to a multitude of related resources. It's also led to the creation of several Roboleagues, including the "Fanatics" and "Gladitorial" leagues. Since its release last year, the game has taken off at colleges across the country. And is even seeing use in computer programming courses as a teaching tool.
Novices can learn basic programming skills playing Robocode, such as calling APIs, inheritance, inner classes, event handling, and so on. Practiced developers should have fun tuning their skills.
After downloading Robocode (for free), you'll be prompted through the coding process to build a simple robotic battle-tank. When you get the hang of things, you'll learn how to upgrade to a sophisticated robot ready to take on competitors.
As its sponsor urges, "Build the best, destroy the rest." Good advice. Try it out.
If you've got a cool resource or download in the field of software development you'd like to share with the world, visit our user submission pages and fill out the simple forms. We'll review them, and post them quickly to our directories. Plus, once a week, we'll pick a particularly useful resource and highlight it for all our readers to enjoy.