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Code.org Resurrects 'Flappy Bird' As Programming Lesson

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the keeping-up-with-the-times dept.

Education 72

Nerval's Lobster writes "Flappy Bird might be kaput, but its hilariously awkward hero is serving another useful purpose in its afterlife: teaching people how to code. Flappy Bird, a free mobile game for Android and iOS that asks the player to guide the titular avian through an obstacle course of vertical pipes, became a sensation earlier this year, seizing the top spots on the Apple and Google Play app stores. Its creator, Dong Nguyen, said the game earned him an average of $50,000 a day through in-app advertising — but that didn't stop him from yanking the game offline in early February. Now Code.org has resurrected Flappy Bird, Phoenix-style, from the smoking wreckage, with a free tutorial that allows anyone with a bit of time to code his or her very own version of the game. There's no actual code to learn, thanks to a visual interface that allows budding developers to drag 'blocks' of commands into place. 'Flappy Bird recently met its untimely death. We might've been tempted to cry all day and give up on spreading computer science (not really, but R.I.P Flappy Bird),' read a note on Code.org's blog. 'Instead, we built a new drag-and-drop tutorial that lets you build your own Flappy game — whether it's Flappy Bird, or Flappy Easter Bunny, Flappy Santa, Flappy Shark with Lasers, Flappy Fairy or Flappy Underwater Unicorn.' Childish? Maybe. But it could help draw people into coding for fun or profit."

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Interesting (1, Redundant)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 7 months ago | (#46359189)

But does it contain information? I think that birds are not binary, which could cause a mapping problem when applied to brains. Bill Gates, renowned education expert, says we don't need teachers, so why are we still paying them? Probably because the teachers are allied with the birds and the Ukranian fascists to poison my soup with malformed XMLs. Slashdort, resist the beta it is spiritual dearth.

Copyright? (5, Insightful)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 7 months ago | (#46359211)

Just because he pulled the game does not mean he gave up rights to it.

Re:Copyright? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 7 months ago | (#46359449)

Speaking of that, why was the game pulled?

Re:Copyright? (3, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | about 7 months ago | (#46359575)

Too addictive [bgr.com]

Re:Copyright? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359507)

Rights? Rights to what? Sprites from Mario or the game concept that has been around for decades?

Re:Copyright? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359571)

Just because he pulled the game does not mean he gave up rights to it.

What rights are you talking about here. The point was drag'n'drop programming so it can't be the code.
Isn't the graphics a blatant ripoff from Super Mario Brothers? I think Nintendo have the rights to that.
The music/sound? I haven't played Flappy Bird but I doubt the lessons include audio from Flappy Bird.
What is left? A sidescroller where you push to jump/adjust altitude. Sounds like a simplified version of Gumshoe but there are probably a bunch of titles out there with the same concept.
At most he can argue the right to the name, as far as I know Flappy and Bird have not been used together that way in a game title before, but I haven't done any research on it.

Re:Copyright? (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 7 months ago | (#46360119)

Copyright only applies to the original code. Not the idea.

The original developer said he made it in a few days, so I doubt they used the original code.

It really isn't complicated to create a lookalike game.

If you want to prevent someone from stealing your ideas, you need a patent.

Re:Copyright? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46360465)

If you want to prevent someone from stealing your ideas, you need a patent.

With the caveat that you can only patent something which is a specific thing and implementation, and has to be (well, is supposed) to be a novel invention.

Patents do NOT apply to "a game in which you tap the screen to go up and down and pass through a maze".

There is nothing at all in that game which would (or should) qualify for a patent. Really, this is "side scroller" meets "Joust". It's essentially a game with a single button, and we've had those for decades.

Piou Piou (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46361357)

Really, this is "side scroller" meets "Joust". It's essentially a game with a single button, and we've had those for decades.

Dang right. I liked Flappy Bird better when it was called Piou Piou, and before that SFCave. At least Piou Piou had powerups.

Tetris v. Xio (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46361345)

If you want to prevent someone from stealing your ideas, you need a patent.

Not according to the U.S. district court that decided Tetris v. Xio. See previous Slashdot story [slashdot.org] .

Re:Copyright? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359619)

I believe that the developer, Dong Nguyen, is on record saying he didn't care about copycat apps.

Re:Copyright? (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46359643)

You can't copyright the mechanics of the game, which is why every successful game gets copied until there's 50 different versions of essentially the same thing.

In fact, I believe this is what Zynga based their business model on -- doing knock-offs of someone else's games.

You can copyright the specific images, but not the mechanics.

Hell, I've got one on my Android tablet called "Happy Poo Flap".

Re:Copyright? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 7 months ago | (#46360037)

I'm just amazed he wasn't sued by Nintendo.

Re:Copyright? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#46360167)

The guy evidently couldn't handle fame and trolls. Doesn't sound like he's up to the task of pulling a King Candy Crush and taking a legal scorched earth policy.

Lego building != Architect (5, Insightful)

Arith (708986) | about 7 months ago | (#46359323)

WAAAAAIIIT wait wait wait ...

"Flappy Bird might be kaput, but its hilariously awkward hero is serving another useful purpose in its afterlife: teaching people how to code."
and
"There's no actual code to learn, thanks to a visual interface that allows budding developers to drag 'blocks' of commands into place."

So.. you're teaching people to code by not teaching people to code?

Re:Lego building != Architect (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359435)

Yes, you are teaching the concept of computer programs. If you want to look at the code click the "Show Code" button. This is a very clever tutorial.

Re:Lego building != Architect (4, Interesting)

Arith (708986) | about 7 months ago | (#46359543)

I'll admit all I read was those two lines :) The only exception I take - popularizing code like this - is we get a flood of useless coders out there, who don't know how a compiler/linker etc etc work. Not to say we don't already have that.. just worse.

On the other hand, sparking that interest is fairly key. Shrug, if it works, it works.

Re:Lego building != Architect (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359669)

I'm not sure it is necessary at this point to know how a compiler or linker works. Many languages don't even use them.

Re: Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46366533)

Another well thought out argument. What could possibly go wrong! Give this brogrammer a medal!

Re:Lego building != Architect (4, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | about 7 months ago | (#46359801)

It's no more a tutorial on programming, than watching the Nature channel is an education to become a biologist. It might spark someone's interest, but I do think that interest would have been sparked regardless.

Re:Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359951)

That's the one.

many people who code, do it because it's their passion.

Goes for alot of IT work. I see two types of people using this:

1) A person who wants to code, has a passion for it and wants to learn more. Might pick up a few tricks from this but gets bored because it's not exactly coding. Just kind of shows you some of the logic behind it.

2) A person who is interested in coding but knows nothing yet: Loves this type of "coding" then goes on to a 'real' language and gets horribly disappointed and frustrated.

Re:Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46362605)

How is it not a tutorial on programming? Is it because it is really basic? The same visual block system is used in other tutorials for more advanced topics including math operations, conditionals, and loops. But I guess we can't have tutorials with immediate feedback and output before getting to "real" programming topics?

Re:Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46361501)

There are very real uses for shitty programmers. Engineers and academics are prime examples.

"Flood of useless coders" ...? (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | about 7 months ago | (#46361895)

... flood of useless coders ...

Who cares? What harm is done? It's not like these noobies are going to be our new co-workers, now or ever. It's not like they are taking bread from our mouths.

We should be happy that beginners take an interest in coding, not surly over some imagined insult to the collective intelligence of coders.

Retraction, apology (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | about 7 months ago | (#46362801)

I withdraw the word "surly" -- it's not appropriate here, and I apologize. Your phrase "The only exception I take ..." is not surly.

Also, I am pleased that you concluded your post with a sentiment that matches my own:

On the other hand, sparking that interest is fairly key. Shrug, if it works, it works.

Re:Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46365477)

They seem to have removed that button from this tutorial...

Re:Lego building != Architect (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 7 months ago | (#46359459)

It's called "encapsulation." Lol, just kidding. All programmers should know what every single line of code specifically does or you end up with crap software with unsolvable glitches.

Re:Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359959)

As good as stuff like this or Interface Builder is for getting simple apps out the door, it's also why if I ever needed to hire help I would never advertise for an app developer: far more widespread incompetence than amongst regular software engineers. It's easier to learn some APIs than learn all about math and computer science and undo the many bad practices you picked up while working without a proper background.

Re:Lego building != Architect (1)

Phics (934282) | about 7 months ago | (#46360293)

So.. you're teaching people to code by not teaching people to code?

Absolutely! Anyone remember Rocky's Boots? Similar concept here - learn all about program execution, logic, conditional operators, and functions which are fundamental to any programming language.

Re:Lego building != Architect (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 7 months ago | (#46363153)

I remember Rocky's Boots and having my cursor eaten by the alligator before I zapped it with the electric fence.

Re:Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46360389)

You mean Lego building != Structural Engineering.

Designing things (legos, matches, toothpicks, mashed potatoes) is very much architecture.

Re:Lego building != Architect (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#46361041)

So.. you're teaching people to code by not teaching people to code?

It uses a Scratch [mit.edu] -like interface, which is "coding" in every sense but typing. You still need to understand loops, conditionals, etc., and you have to learn how to structure a program. The only thing you don't have to know is the low-level syntax, such as correct spelling of keywords. It is a very good introduction to programming, especially for young kids that haven't learned to touch type yet.

Re:Lego building != Architect (1)

waimate (147056) | about 7 months ago | (#46362929)

Yes, it's Scratch-like in construction -- but it excludes concepts like loops and branching. This tutorial is really not much more than configuring a couple of parameters in a pre-built flappy-bird game.

I'm a big fan of Scratch, of code.org, and of teaching kids how to code. But sad to say this offering misses the point entirely.

Re:Lego building != Architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46362753)

It's like teaching people to drive with a drivers-assist :-)

Re:Lego building != Architect (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#46369887)

So.. you're teaching people to code by not teaching people to code?

It's like Wargames, Xzibit and Bruce Lee all rolled into one.

$50,000 per day??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359393)

$50,000 per day in in app advertisement? Is that even possibly correct? I mean he pulled it WHEN it got popular, not long after, so...? What percent of people really click on those things anyway?

Re:$50,000 per day??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359835)

You don't need people to click, viewing a banner is enough to get some cents.

Re:$50,000 per day??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46360145)

No kidding. For the measly sum of $5,000 a day, I will happily chain Dong Nguyen to a chair and whip him constantly until he bangs out another app that puts anywhere near as many eyes in front of those ads.

Flappy Coding Generation (2)

BisuDagger (3458447) | about 7 months ago | (#46359417)

This is the perfect opportunity to breed more Flappy Coders. I can't wait to see what Flappy Coding will bring us next!

Re:Flappy Coding Generation (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359527)

This is the perfect opportunity to breed more Flappy Coders. I can't wait to see what Flappy Coding will bring us next!

Flappy Code. Flappy Programs. Flappy Servers. Flappy Cloud.

Re:Flappy Coding Generation (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359593)

Beta Slashdot.

Very accurate to the real world (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359517)

This is very similar to coding in the real world. When I develop code I essentially do it via Google: I break down my program into a series of functional blocks. I then search for what I want each block of code to do and then copy the code I find into mine, and modify it. Then I put blocks together.

I can't imagine I am the only developer doing this.

Re:Very accurate to the real world (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359673)

Obvious troll is obvious.

Re:Very accurate to the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359779)

Not trolling at all. I do vet the code so that it meets my license requirements of my program if that is what you are referring to. Are you telling me that no one else does this?

Re:Very accurate to the real world (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 7 months ago | (#46361095)

I do that (to a degree) when I'm learning something new, like a new language, or a new library in a language I already know. So, basically when I'm writing toy programs to figure out how something works. As you start to build something more serious, the verbatim code that you find online is likely to become less useful (although it can still be useful for the concepts contained in it). If you can exclusively build your programs out of code you pull out of a search engine, then you're either making something simple, or you're re-creating something that other people have already done.

Why all the popularity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359613)

I'll never understand why it was all the rage... it's the same as that helicopter game that's been around for ages. Damn youngsters.

Re:Why all the popularity? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#46359905)

I still haven't played it or even watched a video about it. I do not robotically follow every hipster trend that happens. As the game has been all over the place, I have seen a couple of screenshots of the game like the one in the article. But I will probably just pass this one. I'm not criticizing the game in any way though.

Re:Why all the popularity? (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 7 months ago | (#46359935)

Flappy Bird didn't gain popularity thanks to a great and innovative concept. It succeeded thanks to 1. initially fake reviews from the author 2. many people downloading it 3. and talking about it (basically asking the same question as yours) 4. more downloads. In other words, the snowball effect...

Re:Why all the popularity? (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 7 months ago | (#46359971)

Flappy Bird didn't gain popularity thanks to a great and innovative concept. It succeeded thanks to 1. initially fake reviews from the author 2. many people downloading it 3. and talking about it (basically asking the same question as yours) 4. more downloads. In other words, the snowball effect...

Well, actually, in a way, it won thanks to an "innovative" concept..

Re:Why all the popularity? (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 7 months ago | (#46369371)

success is very luck oriented and a few early fans can make a huge difference.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/business/of-luck-and-success-economic-view.html?_r=0

Re:Why all the popularity? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#46360015)

Flappy Bird didn't gain popularity thanks to a great and innovative concept. It succeeded thanks to 1. initially fake reviews from the author 2. many people downloading it 3. and talking about it (basically asking the same question as yours) 4. more downloads. In other words, the snowball effect...

So basically just effective marketing.

Re:Why all the popularity? (4, Insightful)

Soulskill (1459) | about 7 months ago | (#46360065)

I don't think there exists a good 'why' for games like this getting ridiculously popular. It seems every so often a game will hit a few social circles in just the right way, and enough people will talk about it that it infects other socials, eventually propagating to where it shows up on 'Featured' and 'Hot' lists, which sets off another round of growth.

At least this one's not another variation on Bejeweled (which was itself very derivative).

Re:Why all the popularity? (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 7 months ago | (#46360489)

I'll never understand why it was all the rage...

You'll understand why if you play one of the clones (use 'flappy' as search term in your app store) like 'iron pants'.

Hint: it's really hard to get even a score of '1' (pass a pipe without crashing). Raging after a few losses is quite common.

Gui Coding (1)

a_big_favor (2550262) | about 7 months ago | (#46359773)

It's really tough to do. If you want to make a for loop, I'd really rather write it than drag the block. Making anything moderately complex is hard to make. I saw one that had multiple types of for, while, ifs and forget nested loops. Variable become hard to keep track of and I felt like I had so many extras. I can't believe anyone actually makes games that way.

There's no actual code to learn, thanks to a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46359795)

So this is a waste of time then. I want to learn code, not how to solve a block puzzle.

On the Commodore 64 (1)

Small Hairy Troll (9576) | about 7 months ago | (#46359933)

One more reason to carry your C64 around with you everywhere you go.

Flappy Bird on the C64

A shame, really (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#46359977)

It's a shame that the game become so big emotional endurance for the creator Dong Nguyen.

To think about all the entertaining and relaxing little moments around the world that the game created in people's lives, he deserved the success.

Re:A shame, really (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46360047)

It's a shame that the game become so big emotional endurance for the creator Dong Nguyen.

I agree, but, I'm hard pressed to see how I'd have a hard time enduring $50k/day for work I've already done.

But, then, maybe I'm just a greedy selfish bastard. ;-)

Re:A shame, really (1)

hubie (108345) | about 7 months ago | (#46360171)

Maybe he came to realize that, just like every other successful game on a portable, most of those "relaxing little moments" are actually when people are sitting and passing time (and other things) on the pot.

maybe a better look needed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46360211)

rename the ipa .zip, open the file read the copyright see who actually made flappy birds.. check the app id objectal-info.plist ... stenerud.org copyright.. nope wait free of charge to change edit modify just thank 2009 Karl Stenerud

Flappy Bird Lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46360687)

The ride never ends!

Flappy suggestions. (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 7 months ago | (#46361017)

The summary has some pretty good suggestions for new Flappy games.
I thought we could so with some more ideas though.
I think an all open source version called Flappy Stallman, would be a good start.
Also Flappy ears. In honour of my girlfriends dog, who I am sure will one day lift off while shaking its head.

Can somebody answer.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 months ago | (#46361377)

If a developer chooses to pull their own app from the itunes store for iOS devices, will the app get deleted from people's phones who may have already installed it the next time they try to sync with their library?

Re:Can somebody answer.... (1)

the computer guy nex (916959) | about 7 months ago | (#46361489)

If a developer chooses to pull their own app from the itunes store for iOS devices, will the app get deleted from people's phones who may have already installed it the next time they try to sync with their library?

No, Apple will not delete anything from your phone. Apple will also not delete anything from a manual sync with iTunes.

If you backup only to iCloud, lose your phone, buy a new one, you are SOL. When you restore to an iCloud backup, only the apps currently available will come down.

Re:Can somebody answer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46362839)

and in my case, I have my ipad set to not update automatically, and I didn't update.
I started flappy bird and it came up as 'flappy r2'.
I'm pissed.

I did the lesson today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46361439)

Then looked at the java script created. To see if lesson I could learn from them teaching others.
I ended up playing flappy.

In What Language is the Code Free App written in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46361455)

code, its turtles all the way down. GUI is just an abstraction layer.

Big dissapointment (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 7 months ago | (#46362961)

I started doing some of the lessons. Like any good programmer, I set about trying to do things in a way that was not intended. I was most disappointed to see that my modifications didn't work in the sandbox. Instead I was just prodded to do things in the approved fashion. It's a wonder that anyone learns anything these days.

Commodore 64 version download (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 7 months ago | (#46363019)

Yep. Had to be done.

Hey, the game is just like one of those crappy type-in games from the magazines back in the day anyway. I don't understand the hype.

http://csdb.dk/release/?id=129... [csdb.dk]

huh huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46369479)

Huh huh. Heh heh. You said "Dong".

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