Kickstart Coding With Endless
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Monday, 20 May 2019

Endless is a Linux distribution that comes with all the usual office and entertainment apps. It also includes a range of games involving visual coding with blocks or JavaScript, designed to kick-start kids into coding.

Version 3.5.8 of the distribution comes with the following games, some employing visual block-based coding and others being text-based

Dragon's Apprentice, Aged 8+
An evil force has spread its way across the land of Ovun and is threatening to destroy this peaceful city. Take control of this dungeon crawling adventure game and become the hero that Ovun needs. Unlock the secrets of the hidden Dragon Temples and awaken the dragon, Dalfur. Only this dragon will help you defeat the evil Shadow Warlord and his minions, the Shadow Fiends.
Coding Mechanic: Code Blocks

 

Aqueducts, Aged 8+
All the water has disappeared from your village and it's up to you to save the day. Go on a platform adventure to connect the water pipes and bring water back to your village. Solve puzzles and hack your way through 15 levels of fun and challenging islands. You may discover that you'll learn some things along the way.
Coding Mechanic: Javascript based

 

Tank Warriors, Aged 8+
Take charge of your own personal tank to battle your way through multilevel arenas, defeating the enemy, and completing objectives. Upgrade your tanks to be faster, tougher, and more powerful than your opponents! Hack your tank's AI to outsmart the enemy's tank to become reigning champion. Build your tank fleet with real code! Can you outsmart your own AI?
Coding Mechanic: Code blocks

 

The Passage, Aged 8+
You've landed on a mysterious planet with one mission; find the secret map to locate the hidden bunker. Can you find it? Hack the world to cross perilous lands and the obstacles within. Play to find out if can outsmart the passage.
Coding Mechanic: Javascript based

 

Frog Squash, Aged 8+
Do you have what it takes to cross these treacherous roads? You must dodge arrows, saws, and fire balls and not get squashed! Choose from eight different animals to cross these perilous roads. The key is survival to amass lots of loot and once you master the roads, hack your animal's AI and go farther than ever before!
Coding Mechanic: Javascript based & code blocks

 

Midnightmare Teddy, Aged 8+
You're in a dream … or maybe a nightmare! All of the toys have come alive and are chasing you. Fight them off and run to survive for as long as you can. Want the ultimate challenge? Try out Math Mode and use your number skills as a weapon to fight back the evil toys! Then learn to build the game with Unity Tutorials.
Game Mechanic: Math & Unity 

Of them all, I found Aqueducts the most entertaining. It's a 3D platform game that wants the hero to go through an adventure of interacting with each level's objects in order to manage to connect the water pipes to bring water to his village.

The objects have properties which you manage by tweaking the code attached. When the hero is within range of an object which can be manipulated, a green line appears from him to the object while a mouse icon encourages you to click on it.

For example, clicking on a Water Pipe reveals the property Tube.Rotation which you can change in order to rotate the pipe while at the same time being educated that this is an Integer Variable Token as in "An integer is a type of a number. The variable helps you store positive and negative whole numbers only!".

Depending on the occasion, clicking on a Water Pipe might reveal another property, i.e Tube.Length, or when clicking on the Water itself reveals a String Variable Token in Water.state=LIQUID or GAS or SOLID.The story goes on, having to solve more puzzles as you progress through the levels and interact with the 3D world.

The other "textual" coding game is the futuristic The Passage, a 2D platform game where your character interacts with her world in completing the code by dragging and dropping the missing piece to the right place. Again you don't type code, but instead use your mouse, you observe how the code is used in action.

For example, "hacking" a Platform object requires you to fill in the following, offering a nice demonstration of Class-based programming:

on NextTick()
{
Platform currentPlatform=GetCurrentPlatform();
currentPlatform=......
}

with the available options being True or False.

The rest of the games are pretty fun as well and might probably be more suitable for younger learners as they employ visual programming with blocks. That aside, all the games are good looking too, especially the 3D RPG Dragon's Apprentice, which showcases how Linux games have progressed a lot, to the point where they can even be considered on a par with their Windows counterparts.

On Windows Endless OS can be installed by downloading the installer, which allows you to install Endless OS alongside Windows. The other option for Windows, as well as for Linux, is to download the full ISO image from the Torrent network. After downloading you can prepare a USB stick to run Endless without installing it on your hard disk. With the USB stick you can also reformat your computer with Endless OS, but I think that few will go down that way.

Another option is to download the ISO and run it as a VirtualBox Virtual Machine.Full instructions here. Go for this option as a last resort, because VM's are not optimized for graphics and GPU-intensive work, hence the performance when running the games would probably be dismal.

And just in case you can't find some games, you can always reach for the More Apps menu and download the packages through the package manager. Another convenience found in modern Linuxes.



So a Linux distribution for both parents doing their office work and kids having fun. Or, parents sneaking fun too?

More Information

EndlessOS official

 

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Last Updated ( Monday, 20 May 2019 )