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One of the other fortunate things we were able to spend some time on last week was Kodu for the XBox 360.  Kodu is one of those things that is difficult to describe in words or even screen shots, and really needs to be experienced to understand.  In a nutshell it is a programming environment and visual programming language that lets kids create fully functional games using just the XBox 360 controller.

So how complex or cool could these games really get with such a significant limitation?

In the end all three kids want to use Kodu more than play any other games or videos at the moment.  And for them to use up their limited computer/game time on a programming environment is quite amazing.

The game works by adding programming commands using the XBox controller.  They are set up in a “when-do” type format (i.e. and “if-then” or “condition-action”).  So, for example, when-kodu-sees-apple do-move-towards-it or when-kodu-bumps-apple do-eat-it.  Sounds strange, but ends up being really powerful when you get into it.  Not only can the robots/actors in the environment have programs, but all the objects (stars, coins, castles, apples, balls, trees, etc.) have their own programs which can be cloned to make an army of autonomous elements.

The kids have created a few race, shoot-em-up, and Mario-style, games – be glad to share if anyone else gets going online.  Check it out and let me know if you get going.

I applied on Microsoft Connect to try to get our Bots on the Rock robotics club into the beta for using the PC version – I’ll let you know if that works out.

Check out the Kodu Forums online for more information and community around this cool new environment.