8 Video Games for Web Developers


Hey, this is Devon, and today I’m going to
tell you about eight video games that will make you a better web developer.
There’s this whole sub-genre of games that’s popped up in the last few years that’s basically
around, creating algorithms to do various things. And the one I played most recently
is called Automachef. It’s a really cool game where you’re sort of setting up this automated
kitchen in a restaurant. You start the level and the game gives you
a food that you are going to be making and then tells you how you need to make it: the
ingredients you need and the different processing you’ll have to do on the ingredients to get
the final dish. You take these components that each do different things – for example,
you have conveyor belts that move food through your machine – and you piece them all together
and build something, some sort of contraption that will make the food the game is asking
you to make. These are really just algorithms. It’s the
same sort of thing you do to solve problems in programming except, whereas in programming
the syntax of the language you’re using makes up the components of your machine, in these
games, you have a more visual representation of that with actual parts that you’re piecing
together to create the machines you need to make to build whatever it is you’re making.
There are a bunch of games like this. Automachef is not the only one or even the best one as
far as I know. There is also, Infinifactory, there’s Factorio, and if you need something
that’s hitting on almost every platform, there’s one called Human Resource Machine that’s a
lot of fun. it’s on mobile devices. So if you have an iOS or Android device, a tablet
or a phone, you can play Human Resource Machine on that. Automachef is a great game in this
genre, and it is available on Steam for $15. The first thing you’re going to notice about
Return of the Obra Dinn is that it has a really striking look about it. It’s made to emulate
really old computer graphics, and you can actually pick which computer system you want
to emulate with the graphics, and it’ll apply different shaders to the game. But that’s
not really what the game is about. The game is about being an insurance adjuster.
Fun, right? But it actually is pretty fun because what you’re doing as an insurance
adjuster is you’re sort of investigating this mystery. This ship, the Obra Dinn, it set
sail with some trade cargo, never actually arrived at its destination, and now five years
later, it’s drifted back ashore, completely empty.
So it’s up to you as the insurance adjuster to go on the ship and investigate and find
out what happened to the people who set sail five years ago. And to do that, you’re given
this superpowered pocket watch that lets you turn back time and watch the events when you
come across someone’s remains, and your job is to go through this book and fill in the
name of the person that died, how they died, and where applicable, who killed them.
It reminded me a lot of debugging or coming into a legacy code base that you’re not familiar
with because you don’t really have a frame of reference. You don’t know what’s going
on or how, so you just kind of pick a spot that seems relevant and you start investigating
from there and trying to understand how the pieces fit together, and, in the case of your
code base, when you’re debugging, where it’s breaking, where it’s not doing what it’s supposed
to be doing. I think that The Return of the Obra Dinn does a great job of capturing that
and wraps an interesting story around it and some really cool graphics too. Return of the
Obra Dinn is $20, and you can get it on Steam, Switch, Playstation 4, or Xbox One.
HackNet is a game about hacking, and it’s not the first game about hacking, but it is
one of the more authentic games about hacking. What’s authentic about it is that it uses
actual Unix commands to do the hacking. You’re going to be using “ls” to list the
contract contents of a directory. You’re going to be using “rm” to delete files. You’ll use
“scp” to copy files across servers. If you’re not comfortable with the command line, this
is a great low-pressure way to get some comfort using the command line and doing things and
understanding sorta how you get a sense of where you are on the computer and what you’re
able to do when you’re using the terminal – when you’re using a Unix terminal specifically.
If you’re running Linux or Mac , you have access to this by default. It’s a really powerful
tool for developers. If you’re using Windows, newer versions of Windows have the Linux subsystem
that lets you access Linux inside of Windows, and so you would have access to a terminal
too. It gives you a fun story to explore too. There
is a well known hacker who’s been killed and you’re trying to understand what happened,
and so you’re working through this story and unraveling the mystery as you’re actually
using real terminal commands. HackNet is available for $10 on Steam.
In Wilmot’s Warehouse, you play as this little square with a face and you’re actually managing
a warehouse. You’ll get deliveries and the deliveries are also little squares with icons
on them, and you don’t know exactly what the icons mean, but you’re tasked with arranging
the warehouse and organizing it despite that. At certain points throughout the game, people
will come in and give you orders and you’ll have to go fetch the items out of your warehouse
and bring them to them. And you have a time limit in which to do that. So hopefully you’ve
organized your warehouse in a manner that’s at least efficient enough that you can go
and find the stuff. But without a doubt, you haven’t, and you’ll
discover that as you’re trying to fulfill these orders. So the next time you’re between
orders, you’re gonna want to go back and reorganize. This is basically a game about refactoring.
I do this all the time when I’m writing code, I’m, I’m actually trying to maintain code
I’ve written months back that seemed okay at the time. Maybe I wrote something before
that didn’t quite work exactly the way I wanted it to, and now I want to go back and fix it.
I’ve always got a limited amount of time and I’m left with a decision about whether it’s
worth it to go back and refactor the code or if I just run with it. Wilmot’s Warehouse
does a great job at capturing that and creating that same decision for you and giving you
lots of opportunities to practice making that decision in the low stakes context of this
game that’s actually really fun too. Wilmot’s Warehouse is $15 on Steam and on
Nintendo Switch. In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, you and
another player are tasked with diffusing a bomb. The catch is that one of you can only
see the bomb and cannot see the bomb diffusal manual and the other player has the manual
but cannot see the bomb. The game is about communicating back and forth.
The player with the bomb is describing what they see, and it’s not always very straight
forward. It’s not always easy to describe. Some of the markings are abstract and it’s
just difficult to get across what you’re looking at. The player with the manual is having to
describe… first having to understand what bomb the person is actually looking at so
that they know they’re looking at the right section of the manual and then describe how
to diffuse that piece of the bomb. As a developer, you’re often working on or
with a team, and communication is critical. So this is good practice for that. But also
even if you’re not working with a team live in real time, you’re hopefully at least documenting
what you’re building and that documentation is just an asynchronous form of communication.
What Keep Talking does for you as a web developer is it lets you practice really quickly and
figure out what works and what doesn’t. You can incorporate some of what you learn there
into your real time communication with your team or into your documentation of your code,
your software, and your libraries. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is available
on just about every platform you can possibly imagine. It’s $10 on a mobile platforms, Android
and iOS, and then it’s $15 on Steam. Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and just about
any virtual reality platform you could have. If you have a virtual reality headset, it’s
a really fun way to play this game because it enforces that separation between the player
that can see the bomb and the player that can see the manual.
VIM Adventures is the most directly applicable game on this list. It is actually teaching
you how to use a code editor called Vim. Vin is a really interesting editor. It’s almost
game-like itself. I use it on a regular basis and it sort of makes me feel like I’m playing
a game when I’m writing code, but it’s not just for fun. It’s also really useful. It
lets you do some things that typical code editors do not. So if you think about Visual
Studio Code or Sublime Text or Atom, those texts editors are always in insert mode. That
means when you open one of those applications and start typing, whatever keys you press,
those letters are going to start coming out in your code.
In Vim, that’s not the default mode. You’re not inserting by default. So when you launch
Vim, each of your keys have some sort of function that affects your code. One of those functions
is to change to insert mode. In insert mode, you can start typing just like any code editor.
But when you’re not in insert mode, you have some really powerful features you can use.
For example, you can replace words or you can do selections. You can navigate through
your code in various ways. The best way I’ve heard it described the, the benefit of coding
in this way is that you wouldn’t paint a picture by taking the brush and holding it down on
the canvas and keeping it down on the canvas the entire time until the painting is finished.
Most of the time, you’re gonna have the brush off the canvas and you’re gonna be doing other
things. Maybe it’s thinking about where to place the brush or blending colors together.
Something along those lines, and code is really the same way.
Most of your time spent coding is not entering characters into your editor… well, probably
shouldn’t be at least, but most editors sort of enforce that mode of working on you because
they’re always in that mode by default. Vim breaks with that and gives you some other
options for ways to manipulate your code. Vim Adventures is a game that teaches you
how to use Vim. The biggest downside of Vim is that it’s extremely difficult to learn
because there’s not a good way to discover what each of the keys do in the application.
So you sorta just have to memorize what they do. I don’t think anybody really memorizes
them all, so you just memorize the ones you use.
Vim Adventures does a great job of teaching you that by using Vim’s keys to navigate through
an adventure game, and it’s actually a pretty fun little game.
The way you buy this one is a little bit different from all the others. Most of the games, or
actually every other game on this list. You pay for it once and then you own it and you
can play at any time. Them adventures. You pay $25 for a six month license and you just
access it through your web browser so you don’t, as long as you have access to a web
browser hooked up to something that has a keyboard and you can play, but the $25 only
gives you six months, so you can’t, you can’t go to it in three or four years and pick up
and start playing again. The good news is that. Six months is probably
all you would need to clear all of the content of the game. And by the time you do that,
you’ll have a pretty good grasp of them. And the game is not really, it’s probably not
compelling enough to go back to after you’ve finished it, and really the goal of it is
to learn Vim so once you’ve done that, you, you won’t really need it anymore. So effectively,
$25 gets you this game. The next game on the list is a little different
from most of the others. The game is called Kind Words,and what it is, is it’s really
like a… I dunno, it’s like a forum. It’s like an internet forum wrapped up in a game.
When you launch the game, you see a little person in a room sort of from an isometric
point of view, and you see that person sitting down at a desk. There are these paper airplanes
flying through the screen and you can click on them and each one has a motivational message
from a real person who’s also playing the game.
You can also write your own motivational messages, and those get sent to other people’s games
as little paper airplanes that they can read. The other thing you do in this game is you
can make and fulfill requests and what the requests are… you’ll type a problem you’re
having, and other people can receive that – and it’s anonymous – but they see your problem
and they can respond directly to your problem. So it’s sort of a more direct way to get help
than the generic motivational messages that are flying through as paper airplanes. You
can also look at other people’s requests and try to type messages to help them. This game
is really something different, and I think it’s a great way, one to get your head out
of code for a little bit, which is really important. You don’t want to get burned out,
and this is a way to sort of break out of that and also gives you some strength that
you may need, especially if you’re suffering maybe with imposter syndrome. That’s a good
opportunity for you to get in and make a request and while you’re waiting for people to answer
your request, jump in and look at some other people’s requests and try to see what you
can do to help other people feel better, to help people, other people move through their
days and get over the problems they’re having. Kind Words is $5 and it is available on Steam.
If you’ve been around the internet long enough, you probably remember Geocities. It was a
place where anyone could go and build a website and they would host it. And they had these,
I think they called them neighborhoods, and they were just basically sections of Geocities
around different themes. So if you had a sports website, you would be in a particular neighborhood
with other sports websites, video game websites, all shared a neighborhood, movie, websites,
music websites… It was really the first place that I’m aware
of that democratized access to publishing on the internet. It closed and a few years
back. Some people kept archives of it, but it’s just not what it was before.
If you want to get a little taste of that, there’s a game I discovered called Hypnospace
Outlaw that really captures the feel of Geocities. In Hypnospace Outlaw, you are essentially
a moderator on the internet, over a community, very much like Geocities, and you’re given
these tasks and you have to go through and moderate the Geocities-like websites.
It’s got a really fun, quirky sense of humor. It’s fun to read the pages. They all have
music blaring in the background and they’re just tacky and pretty gross, but it’s fun
to look at and they’ll remind you of that time if you experienced it. If you didn’t
experience it, it’ll give you a taste of what the web was like in the late 90s and maybe
into the early 2000s, and all of it’s wrapped in this interesting game with a fun story
and lots of cool things to discover. Hypnospace Outlaw is available on Steam and
it is $20. Those are eight games to help you become a
better web developer. I’m sure I probably missed a few games that could belong on this
list, so if you have ideas for those, post them in the comments below. I’ll have links
in the description to all of the games I mentioned. If you’re working to become a web developer,
head over to my website, RadDevon.com. I’ve got lots of resources there that will help
you transition into a new career and change your life.
I’ll see you in the next video.

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