MICROSOFT HAS OFFERED software developers a web browser based game that should give them a fun way to flex and improve their coding skills.
'What if coding were a game?' it ponders - and in this particular case, it actually is a game.
The game in question is called Code Hunt and we've had a little go. What can we say? You wouldn't call it fun, but it has a purpose and is practical. Master Chief, Mario and GTA thugs will have nothing to fear from it.
You can choose what language to work with from a choice of two, C# and Java, and slowly work through fixing and changing increasingly complex chunks of code.
Users are scored on the elegance of their code, with functional but ugly code scoring lower than a more aesthetic solution.
"We built Code Hunt to take advantage of the fact that any task can be more effective and sustainable when it's fun. And Code Hunt is fun! It uses puzzles, which players explore by means of clues presented as test cases. Players iteratively modify their code to match the functional behavior of secret solutions," Microsoft said in its introduction.
"Once their code matches, lights flash and sounds play, letting players know that they have 'captured' the code. Players then get a score, which depends on how elegant their solution is, and are encouraged to move on to the next puzzle or level."
Code Hunt was developed by Microsoft Research, which recently launched an experimental 3D web browser. It is based around the Pex Powertool in MS Visual Studio, which analyses what parts of a line of code produce what results.
It's not without its faults, however. We gave it to an experienced programmer, who told us that in his opinion, "It's a bit weird. It seems to want me to make a function do a particular thing, and then gets smarmy and says, 'yes, but it doesn't do this', when I had no knowledge of 'this' in the first place. Did all my bosses write this?" µ