In-depth review of CodeCombat


#1

I would like to share my feedback about CodeCombat with all of you :slight_smile:


The good:


Learning experience is great, being able to see how your code affects the game world surely helps out those who need more visualization when they’re learning something new.

Levels are well designed, hints are actually helpful and useful (as they should be!). In my opinion someone who never had anything to do with coding surely will be able to learn a lot, if they’re patient and ready to experience something quite different from usual topics, classes.

Community is really helpful and the no-code policy seems to be working most of the time, enhancing user experience even further.

Levels and campaigns are gradually increasing in difficulty, teaching new concepts and more advanced programming topics on the way.

New players are able to skip the ‘tutorial’ campaign and jump straight into 2nd campaign level – forest. While this feature is great people who know how to code a bit will probably find forest campaign slighty too easy, so it might be a bit hard for them to stick around, as there’s no way to advance further with a skip. As far as the learning experience go – I think CodeCombat is amazing experience.


Paid content review:


More missions, more things to learn and most importantly (in my opinion) – “hunters” and “mages”!

Those classes are a blast to play and truly fun from coding perspective, as you have much more options than with a “warrior” class. You’ll be able to create really fun and interesting code for spells, so that your mage knows how to use his spells efficiently.

I think they’re quite well balanced as well, they don’t really stand out in terms of power and all levels in the game can be completed with warrior without a hassle. They provide more coding options than a raw power, which in my opinion is great.

You also get to keep all of your unlocked missions as well as heroes even if you don’t subscribe anymore – which is fantastic!


The not so good:


The only complains I have about gamification is gear progression and the ability to outright out-gear some levels in the game.

What do I mean? Some levels with appropriate items can be solved as easily as writing endless loop in which player finds nearest enemy and attacks it.

I think gear progression (armor, helmet, shield) is not really well designed for younger audience – as they usually want to spend their gems to upgrade their items regularly. This is, most of the time – waste of gems and not the best decision, as said pieces of gear won’t really be used ever again as soon as there’s one with better stats available.

The same concept applies to weapons most of the time – but there’s more variety and next tiers are not strictly better in all situations, so this time it’s slightly better.

There’s one level in the game which stands out in difficulty and in my opinion, is a huge difficulty spike for most people. I think it won’t be huge difference in upcoming weeks/months if there’ll be few more levels which will prepare better players for such an obstacle.


Ideas regarding complains and how those could be addressed:


  • Armor/helmet/shield could perhaps use tiers instead of being all separate items – this would allow to upgrade them regularly, giving feeling of progression as well as not waste any gems on previously bought weaker parts. For example: if there’re 10 armors which are progressively better it could be turned into 10 tiers, each tier representing one of the 10 armors. I think this would solve the biggest issue (in my opinion) for younger audience. (You would need to upgrade your armor on tier-by-tier basis, but the overall gem cost would be slighty higher than the final armor available, for example)

  • Regarding huge difficulty spike in one place – I think some levels which emphasize splitting your code into phases would help people a lot, it would surely help to divide a problem/mission into smaller pieces, which can be solved independently of one other.

PS: Sorry for my english and chaos… I’m not really a good writer :wink:


#2

@Gabbek Which level were you talking about? Perhaps more levels to help teach useful concepts used for completing that level might be a good idea to add?


#3

I was talking about final level in mountains campaign. Surely! I agree with you :slight_smile:


#4

Without giving code, what was your approach? I choreographed the group units based on time and created a path to follow.

I am wondering if another few levels on time sequence or path finding might help before that…


#5

I’ve split my code into 4 different phases. One for each ‘room’, if I may say so. I had just the basic gear as I haven’t bought anything expensive to that point so my warrior had around 400 hp which made it a bit tricky, but I was able to tank & destroy ***** in 2nd phase, couldn’t take a hit from some final enemies, but troops did the job. If my memory serves me well I haven’t seen most of enemies in earlier levels - which made things a bit more complicated as I had no idea about their basic behaviour (haven’t played subscriber levels until I’ve reached final campaign).


#6

Excellent feedback, and it is very well written! :smiley:

I find the “armor tiers” idea very interesting. Hopefully the CoCo team will consider it. :slight_smile:


#7

Well written review. My 10 yr old son definitely falls into the category of ‘buy the new, shiny thing as soon as it is available’ camp. And as I’ve tried to tell him, wait and get something really awesome.

I like your suggestion of tiers. Another option would be the ability to sell items to retrieve some of the gems. Helps teach them about responsible upgrading, but that not all is lost. Also helps clean up the items list, because as you say, once you have something more powerful, you’ll never use the weaker ones.


#8

Yes, Summit’s Gate is entirely too difficult (and it runs pretty slowly). The levels in the Glacier are pretty hard, too. Perhaps we need to make Summit’s Gate into a challenge level with a special reward and then have a new end-of-mountain gate level that people can actually defeat?

Love the item tiers idea; I think we’ll implement item selling first and see how that goes.


What level do you have to beat in Cloudrip Mountain to unlock Kelvintaph Glacier
#9

@nick Perhaps this is where we ask, which parts are for a “game” and which are for teaching?

From a game stand point having the end level be difficult is like taking a test. If you pass the test you have “mastered” the techniques required for that level.

However from a teaching standpoint, if the content in the Glacier campaign is useful for the students, to have a test prevent the student from studying further may conflict with that purpose.

Should there be “test” or “exam” levels given in each campaign that award you with a badge that says you have mastered “dungeon campaign” ? In the military soldiers are often awarded badges based on the wars they have been through. Perhaps like a “merit” badge or such, one could receive a token next to their name or in their profile that shows they have accomplished this?

And levels like the Summits Gate could be used to award them? Like mastery levels? And have a place where one could look at another players “profile” and see their “mastery” levels.

Or perhaps there could be more levels included that would help bridge the gap between the skills needed to complete something like summits gate and where they are after the last level completed in that campaign? For instance skills like pathfinding and choreographing could be introduced and practiced.


#10

That seems very reasonable and logical, IMHO. I don’t have access to the analytics, but I assume Summit’s Gate has a very low completion rate.

However, note that several levels in the Glacier (the three Kelvintaph levels) would fall in the same challenge category, I believe.


#11

Regarding Summit’s Gate, as someone who does not consider himself a good programmer (I use codecombat to motivate myself to carry on. I am a team leader, so I do not need to program much myself, but it is important to know what my team members are doing), I saw the level as a blast.
Yes, it was hard, but it was doable. And I have not felt so rewarded in ages. Beating that level was a breakthrough for me, as if I had broken a blockade that I had over me. I knew I could start already programming by myself. So I would not change it (the performance is slow though)
Glacier is another story, I am quite lost in many of the levels. So much that, I have taken a temporary break, to do easier levels and study.
The tier or selling ideas sound great.
In general, amazing feedback :smiley:


#12

@Zuell Could you at all elaborate on the Kelvintaph Glacier campaign, as to what in particular you feel isn’t being taught? Or what might help you or motivate you more.

-HW


#13

Well, I know that codecombat is a game, but still I like those levels that are less a game and try more to teach something.
That until now has not been an issue, since game levels were optional and I was able to come back to them when my programming skills were better.
In the glacier campaign I have already encounter two levels, Kelvintaph Crusader, that I was able to beat without the Bonus and Kelvintaph Defiler in which I am completely lost. I do not think it is a problem of my programming, but more the wish to spend hours understanding what is required of my out of trial and error. Which is no bad thing if it not were the level required for the next Boss Star.
In short, I would move some of the levels to optional and add educational levels in the middle.


#14

@Zuell How many levels do you have shown on the Glacier campaign? Is it just 6?


#15

10 currently