There are those with programming know how and then there are those without. Unless I count setting the Hard Disk recorder to “tape" my favorite show, I would definitely fall in the last category.
Where to start when learning programming languages
I’ve often seen comments of readers wishing they had the knowledge to create; programme “X", Game “Y" or hack Device “Z". It believe often the biggest hurdles would be programmers face is the where do I start question. For a beginner the information available can feel overwhelming. Even the series on programming by wololo’s own Acid_Snake can feel like being asked to run the marathon while you’ve just learned to about walking.
The premise of Human Resource Machine
Human Resource Machine takes a gamefied approach in introducing players to the world of programming, more specifically the math behind the language(s). The player is hired as a manager in a firm that is all about efficiency. Each level presents your manager with a task and to progress the player has to program his subordinates to get the needed results. Every level the variations in the requests of your higher-ups make it more difficult to get your worker to do their job correctly. Not only that, your boss is auditing you right where you stand on the work floor.
As said every level the player is asked to program their subordinate. Level by level the player (l)earns new “Commands" to solve these programming puzzles with. The final language consists “just” eleven commands but the developers claim that is enough to replicate most computing algorithms. If so that would explain my brain freeze.
The major reason why Human Resource Machine works so well is because of it’s visual debugger. After you’ve given your orders you can literally see them being carried out, step by step. This tremendously helps with grasping what a specific command line doesn’t work or isn’t in the right place for it to work. Another big plus is that there are no loading times so expect to learn at your own pace. Experienced programmers can still benefit from the game since the automated efficiency goals ask players to get the required solutions in as few command lines and or steps as they can.
I’ve seen prettier games. If my purchase would hinge upon my opinion of the game’s art assets I would probably close the game after a first glance. If you’re into programming or want to learn about programming please don’t let the game’s art direction get in your way. Truth be told after a few levels the very basic style grew on me and now I actually think it serves it goal quite profoundly.
My only gripe with how the game functions is that the area where you drag and drop command lines is kind off small. There were times when using the touchscreen that I accidentally moved around some commands. And oh yeah the game can be really difficult and the hint system doesn’t actually give away a level’s solution. Instead it pushes the player to investigate by offering program language terminology. Look I’m not saying that after playing this game you’ll be able to hack your PS4 and run .iso files o.O. However I do think that if you are a (beginning) programmer and want to give your brain a run for it’s money you should definitely consider Human Resource Machine. Even if you don’t want to get into programming but just like math or puzzles in general HRM will give you a very cerebral experience.
I’ve tested the game on the Nintendo Switch with a preview code made available by the developers. I have one code for the Switch version of Human Resource Machine (US) to give away and will be doing so on the Wololo forums. Let me know in the comments or on twitter what you would use your programming skills for. Don’t forget to either use or mention your /talk nickname so I can PM you the code. The giveaway ends 7th of April 2017 00:00 PST