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teach your kids to build their own game with Python - 1

mustafaanaskh99 profile image Mustafa Anas Updated on ・8 min read

I used to be a coding trainer few months ago. Our students were former street kids coming from under-privileged societies. You can imagine the lack of education they had. As a teacher there, I had to make my lessons fun and easy for them to grasp, so I would often use games to do so. I was going through my old files and I found this lesson plan I wrote to teach the kids how to build the famous game Space Invaders. At the beginning it seemed an impossible mission, but they actually loved it and got to love coding because of it!
Anywho, with no further details, I am going to share this lesson in three posts here. today is the first, hoping that any beginner or parent would find it helpful.

to follow up with this tutorial, you will need to have Python installed, and a text editor. OR, you could use this online text editor and create a project that uses turtle too (we'll talk more about this in a bit).

Using Turtle for Graphics

Python itself is just a programming language. It can go deep enough in ordering the computer what to do, but it does no graphics on its own! (think of it as Javascript, it still needs HTML to display anything).
For that reason, we will use a Python GUI (Graphical User Interface) Library called Turtle. A turtle is a pen that you put on the screen and move it however you want to end up having something drawn on the screen.

to order python to bring the pen which we will use to draw, we can type this line:

Pen = turtle.Turtle()

however, as we said, turtle is something that is not part of who Python is, so we will need to tell it to bring it from somewhere outside (do now worry, it knows where to find outside stuff).
So we will always include this line at the top of our file:

import turtle
Pen = turtle.Turtle()

GREAT! now that we have the pen, we need to start drawing!
Image your hand is holding the pen and not Python. for example, to draw a straight line to the right, you just move the pen to the right by sticking your hand to the paper and moving it to the right!
So we know we need to tell Python to do two things:

  • Put the pen on the paper (screen in Python's case!)
  • move the pen x amount of distance to the direction we want! So let do that:
import turtle
pen = turtle.Turtle()

pen.pendown() #this line puts the pen on the paper
pen.forward(100) #now move the pen forward 100 steps!

Now if you run your code, you will see a little arrow moving on the screen!
There are few things we should memorize now about how to move the pen. Because we not only have forward, but other things too!

  • pen.forward()
  • pen.backward()
  • pen.left()
  • pen.right()
  • pen.penup()

Now I want you to try each on your own before we continue.
...
...
They seem intuitive right? .backward() moves the pen backwards. Except that left and right do not actually move the pen but rotate it a certain degree.
Now try copying the code below and pasting it in your text editor. What do you see?

import turtle
pen = turtle.Turtle()

pen.pendown() #this line puts the pen on the paper
pen.forward(100) #now move the pen forward 100 steps!
pen.right(90)
pen.forward(100)
pen.right(90)
pen.forward(100)
pen.right(90)
pen.forward(100)

that is right!
we moved our pen in the right way to draw a square, great. Now lets increase the values in the brackets following forward because we want a bigger square! (this is where our game will be happening).

.
.
.

But hey wait a second, did you notice that in our code there is two lines that we repeated THREE TIMES! don't you think it is ugly to do so?
I mean there should be a way to tell Python to read something again and again without having to write it many times!

YES you guessed right!
we can actually only write those two lines one time, and tell Python to read them three times! this is how we do it:

import turtle
pen = turtle.Turtle()

pen.pendown() #this line puts the pen on the paper
for side in range(3): #see number three? its what reminds Python,  THREE times!
  pen.forward(100)
  pen.right(90)
pen.forward(100)

This is called a for loop. It allows you to do ONE thing MANY times without re-writing the same thing!

Great, now we have a big square, and we want our game to be inside it!

wait! did you know that you can change the color of your pen? just by typing .color('name_of_color'). Try it! ie: try pen.color('red')
Before continuing.

Before continuing, lets make sure we know what we want exactly in our game:

  • Our character that moves and shoots enemies!
  • Enemies characters that move towards us 👽
  • We get destroyed if an enemy touches us
  • An enemy dies if our bullet touches it! 🚀

Great! Now we can finish these one by one! First, lets create US. we are just a pen that moves inside the square. But wait wont we be drawing if we do so?. You are right, but remember when we said we can tell Python to put the pen away from the paper? what happens is, the pen still shows on the screen, but it does not leave trace behind it when it moves. So lets do that!

we create a new pen called player (we), and put it away from the paper.

import turtle
pen = turtle.Turtle()

pen.pendown() #this line puts the pen on the paper
for side in range(3): #see number three? its what reminds Python,  THREE times!
  pen.forward(100)
  pen.right(90)
pen.forward(100)

player = turtle.Turtle()
player.penup()

now if we try to move the player (player.forward(100)) it will move leaving nothing behind it. Anyways, we dont want to write the value every time we move it! Instead, we will tell Python to move it only one step every time we press a key!

Lets first tell Python to listen carefully, because when I press the letter D on my keyboard, I want the player to move one step ahead!

wn = turtle.Screen() #initiate the window
wn.listen()
wn.onkey(myFunction, `d`) #this waits until you press <kbd>D</kbd>

but wait what is myFunction??
That is an important question.
In Python, a function is a set of orders we give to the computers. What is an order? EVERY line of code written in Python or any other language is an order! so we could write a function that just says hello! or collect the lines of code we just wrote and draw a square! One special thing about functions, is that they do not happen until we call them!
Just like how your mom calls dad to ask him to get some stuff for home? you call a function to do something. so here, we need to tell myFunction to move our player only one step to the right! So each time we press d, our player moves a step ahead.
This is how we make this function:

def moveRight():
 x = player.xcor()
 x += 10
 player.setx(x)

Lets take a while here to explain this code;
the def word is just Python's way of knowing that what's after it is the name of the function (yes because you can name your function whatever you want 😄). Now we know that moveRight() is the name of the function. Now the two dots after the function just indicate that here is where the function starts. If we write them, then we press Enter, we will notice that the editor will immediately make us start the next line with a bit of space empty.
Why? this is how Python know that this line is part of this function

Great, Now lets see what is part of this function.

x = player.xcor() this sentence has some weird math behind it.
(if you happen to know what the Orthonormal system, you will know what this is). But all you really need to know is that this x now has the current position of our player (notice that the code says player.xcor()).
Now we said we wanted to move a step to the right. so we need to increate x by a step!
this is what this line does x += 10. You can try a number other than 10 and see how fast/slow your movement is.
Now after increaing the value of x (where our player used to be), we need to assign x again to our player. and this is what the last line does: player.setx(x)

Try running the code and moving the player.
Now you should be able to move to the right 🎆 after pressing D.

Easy right?
Now lets use the same logic to make to the left.
HOLD ONE 🔔
notice, when we moved to the right, we increased x, but when we move to the opposite direction, what should we do??

def moveLeft():
 x = player.xcor()
 x -= 10
 player.setx(x)

But to run this function, we need to ask Python to run it when we press the letter A on the keyboard! So lets make Python listen to the letter A again.

wn.onkey(moveLeft, 'a')

Great!
the only thing missing now is moving forward and backward!
To do so we can use the same logic BUT, math plays around a bit here.
When we were moving right and left, we were using xcor(). But now we will be moving forward and backward, that's why we will use ycor() instead.

wn.onkey(moveForward, 'w')
wn.onkey(moveBackward, 's')

def moveForward():
 y = player.ycor()
 y += 10
 player.sety(y)

def moveBackward():
 y = player.ycor()
 y -= 10
 player.sety(y)

now run your code and move around!!!
YAYY!! 🎆🎆🎆
We are free to move now!
this is how our final code looks like:

import turtle
pen = turtle.Turtle()

pen.pendown() #this line puts the pen on the paper
for side in range(3): #see number three? its what reminds Python,  THREE times!
  pen.forward(100)
  pen.right(90)
pen.forward(100)

player = turtle.Turtle()
player.penup()

def moveRight():
    x = player.xcor()
    x += 10
    player.setx(x)

def moveLeft():
    x = player.xcor()
    x -= 10
    player.setx(x)  

def moveForward():
    print('something')
    y = player.ycor()
    y += 10
    player.sety(y)

def moveBackward():
    y = player.ycor()
    y -= 10
    player.sety(y)

wn = turtle.Screen()
wn.listen()

wn.onkey(moveRight, 'd')
wn.onkey(moveLeft, 'a')
wn.onkey(moveForward, 'w')
wn.onkey(moveBackward, 's')

turtle.done() #this just keeps the window open until we close it

You have come a long way!
Next tutorial, we will get our enemies in the game, then start the fight!

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Discussion

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madebydavid profile image
David Sutherland

This is great!

In your listing at the end I think you might be missing some lines - before the functions:

player = turtle.Turtle()

And a little later, before binding the event handlers:

turtle.listen()
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mustafaanaskh99 profile image
Mustafa Anas Author

Correct!
thank you for the note

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rozzaygh profile image
Rozzaygh

Great work keep it gonna try soon

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mustafaanaskh99 profile image
Mustafa Anas Author

second part coming today!

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mustafaanaskh99 profile image
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niklahun profile image
niklahun

Hey!
Nice guide!
Maybe, just maybe we could also focus on writing standard code also?
Please Read PEP8 before you go on with this.
Cheers
Dani

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mustafaanaskh99 profile image
Mustafa Anas Author

thanks for the suggestion!

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winkoman profile image
winkoman

In my case (pycharm + linux) I was not able to close the window without "turtle.done()" at the end, just in case somebody else experiences this problem :)