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Code.org Resurrects 'Flappy Bird' As Programming Lesson 72

Posted by timothy
from the keeping-up-with-the-times dept.
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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Code.org Resurrects 'Flappy Bird' As Programming Lesson

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  • Copyright? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:16PM (#46359211) Homepage

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

    • Speaking of that, why was the game pulled?
    • Re:Copyright? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:35PM (#46359507)

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

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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 argu

      • by Lennie (16154)

        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.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          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, a

          • 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.

        • 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? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:45PM (#46359643) Homepage

      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".

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

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

    • 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.
  • by Arith (708986) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:24PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • by Arith (708986) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:37PM (#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.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          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.

        • by Cenan (1892902) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:55PM (#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.

        • ... 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.

        • 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.

    • 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.
    • by Phics (934282)

      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.

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

    • 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.

      • by waimate (147056)

        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.

    • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    $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?

    • by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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.

  • This is the perfect opportunity to breed more Flappy Coders. I can't wait to see what Flappy Coding will bring us next!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Beta Slashdot.

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

    Flappy Bird on the C64

  • 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.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      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. ;-)

    • by hubie (108345)
      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.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

  • http://www.sesamestreet.org/cm... [sesamestreet.org]

    That is all.

  • 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.
  • 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?
    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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]

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