The Raspberry Pi is a wonderful piece of technology, but many people don't use it to its full potential. With your Raspberry Pi you can create anything you want – a robot that senses its environment, a media centre to watch movies, or a world of...
The Raspberry Pi is a wonderful piece of technology, but many people don't use it to its full potential. With your Raspberry Pi you can create anything you want – a robot that senses its environment, a media centre to watch movies, or a world of fantasy and adventure created from some simple lines of code and a lot of imagination from yourself.
In the 1980s, computer graphics were still in their infancy, with blocky game characters and a limited palette of colours to work with. It was very common for adventure and role-playing games to be completely text-driven, with the player using their imagination to create visions of the game world.
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Games such as Zork created rich worlds, with engaging stories and characters, but with very few graphics to illustrate the environments. This remained the case until the late 1980s and early 90s, and only changed due to some fantastic work by LucasArts, which created a collection of classic graphic adventure games such as Loom, Monkey Island and Full Throttle.
For this tutorial, we will be using our Raspberry Pi and a programming language called Python to create our very own text adventure, with our own game world and some characters to inhabit that world. And all of this will be created using some Python code and a few programming concepts.
Python is an easy-to-learn programming language, which has become a firm favourite for Raspberry Pi users and schools across the UK.
So what is Python?
Python is a textual programming language, and by that we mean that it is typed into an editor. Python uses a very forgiving syntax and is very easy to read, which makes learning to code a really enjoyable experience.
On the Raspberry Pi, we already have a great code editor installed as standard – it's called IDLE and we will be using it to build our game. You can find a link to IDLE on the Raspberry Pi desktop.
Python comes pre-installed on every Raspberry Pi that is running the Raspbian operating system. If you haven't got Raspbian installed on your Pi, you can grab a copy from the Raspberry Pi website.
It is part of the easy-to-use NOOBS (New Out Of the Box Software) archive, which can be downloaded and then extracted to a blank 4GB (or greater) SD card.
Currently there are two versions of Python available: versions 2.7 and 3. For this tutorial, we will be using 2.7, because it has the greatest amount of support and documentation. Python 3 is an excellent language to learn and it is certainly the future of the language, but it is currently in a state of flux and should only be used by experienced Python programmers.
Creating a narrative
Our game needs two things: a story to keep the player entertained, and logic to control how the story unfolds. For our story we're creating the world of Narule, where magic and adventure are around every corner. And we're creating a hero – you – who must travel the land, visiting new villages and settlements, and talking to people to learn more about this land and the dark shadow cast upon it.
To start our project off, we've created some narrative for you to expand upon. Feel free to make the story your own – that's the whole point of this tutorial. This is your game. To get you started, we've created some code to act as a starter template. You can download a free copy here.
Download the code, then open it using IDLE ('File > Open' and navigate to where you downloaded the code). Now take a look at the code and pay particular attention to any lines that start with a #, because these are comments in the code, which have been added to help you understand what the code is doing at that point.
Currently our code has a basic story for us to expand upon, and we will do that during the course of this tutorial. Our story unfolds via blocks of text that form our narrative, and you will see that each block looks similar to this:
chapter1 = "It was a cold night, and the rain swept in from
the west with a ferocity known only to the gods"
These are called variables, and they enable us to store lots of text or numbers. We use them to contain our story, and then when we want to use them, we use the print function like this:
The print function looks inside the variable and prints its contents on the screen, which is really handy and means that we only have to write the story once and we can re-use it as many times as we wish.
Python has rapidly increased in popularity in recent years and is now one of the most widely used programming languages in the world. If you are considering using it for your next web development project, then you may also be aware of Python’s...
Python has rapidly increased in popularity in recent years and is now one of the most widely used programming languages in the world. If you are considering using it for your next web development project, then you may also be aware of Python’s emerging rivalry with a younger language, Go.
Currently a hot topic of debate among developers, some are heralding Go as the new alternative to Python. So what is behind this discussion, and which language should you choose?
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There are striking similarities between the two languages; in particular, both prioritise succinct, readable code, and keeping things simple for the developer. But there are also significant differences that make trying to judge which is the superior language almost meaningless. Each language is better suited to particular use cases, so if you are torn between Python and Go, the key is to match the strengths of the language to the individual requirements of your project.
Here, we take a look at the pros and cons of Python and Go, and identify which use cases lend themselves better to each language, so you can cut through the debate and make the best decision for your project.
Where has Go come from?
Go, also referred to as Golang, is one of the new kids on the block having been released by Google in 2009. Despite its relative youth, this lightweight, open source language is rapidly making a name for itself among developers for its ease of use and performance benefits. The TIOBE index for Go reveals a huge spike in its popularity in the last two years, whilst a survey by Stack Overflow shows that developers voted it in their top five ‘most wanted’ languages.
Python, by comparison, was first released in 1991 and currently sits in the top five most popular programming languages. It holds the number one spot in Stack Overflow’s ‘most wanted’ list. An open source, high level, object oriented language, Python is favoured by developers for its clean, concise code and wide range of applications.
Pros and cons of Python and Go
Understanding the ‘Python versus Go’ debate, lies in comparing the pros and cons of using each language. Let’s take a look at what they are:
Libraries and frameworks
One of the biggest advantages of using Python is the vast collection of libraries and frameworks that are available. Django and Flask are two of the most popular web frameworks which enable you to bring a web application to life in the fastest time possible. Python also offers a rich selection of libraries in specific areas, such as data science and artificial intelligence, data security, forensics, and allows for fast prototyping.
In contrast, while Go does have some library support, it is spotty and nowhere near as extensive or mature as Python’s offering. You will also notice the absence of a single dominant framework, such as Django for Python. The Go community appears to be almost averse to frameworks, with many developers arguing that you shouldn’t use one to start with. While this may be true in some instances, in many cases using a framework will significantly speed up the development process, saving both time and money.
There is no getting away from the fact that Go is fast, and because Go is a compiled language, it will naturally be faster than an interpreted language like Python. That said, if speed is not the primary concern of the project, Python is widely considered to be ‘fast enough’, and you are unlikely to encounter performance issues until significant scale is achieved.
The two languages also have a very different approach to handling concurrency. Go has inbuilt support for concurrency and is particularly resource efficient, making use of goroutines, which are less demanding on CPU and memory. Python on the other hand, does not have inbuilt support for concurrency, relying instead on a concurrency library and is less resource efficient.
Python and Go are both designed on similar principles, promoting concise, readable code. This makes it easier for a developer to learn, write, and understand both languages, allowing them to focus on problem solving and the aims of the project, rather than wrangling with the code itself.
Python is dynamically typed and therefore has the edge when it comes to developer productivity. Go is more verbose, requiring more characters of code to achieve the same functionality. Go makes up ground, however, with its static type system, as bugs can be caught at compile time rather than at execution. So while Python may be faster to write, a developer may spend less time optimising the code with Go. Learn for more **Python Libraries**
Both languages are simple enough that projects can be passed between teams relatively easily and the code can be understood by new developers.
As the more mature language, Python benefits hugely from a large active community of developers who are keen to offer support, plus a wealth of easily available resources and documentation. In comparison, the Go community is much smaller and the pool of resources is far less developed. This will undoubtedly change in time, but at the moment, Python leads the way on this front.
While both languages can be used for a wide range of applications, they lend themselves better to particular use cases.
Python’s large selection of libraries and frameworks make it ideal for web development, cutting time-to-market and allowing the developer to add functionality straight out of the box. They also make Python one of the best languages at the moment for data science and machine learning. In addition, Python is well suited to rapid development and prototyping.
On the other hand, Go’s focus as a language is system programming, service software, and microservices. It is a good choice when speed of execution or concurrency are the main priorities for your project. Developers also argue that Go is better for large, production-grade applications, due to the fact that it is compiled, statically typed, and has integrated concurrency.
The key to deciding whether Python or Go is the better language for your project is understanding the pros and cons of each language and matching them to the individual requirements of your task.
Python benefits from a large selection of libraries and frameworks, making it particularly suited to web development, data science, machine learning, and fast prototyping. It also gives it the upper hand when it comes to developer productivity, along with being dynamically typed and less verbose. Python also benefits from a large, active community and a more developed pool of resources.
Go, however, has the edge in terms of speed and is the better choice when performance or concurrency is a priority. It is well suited to systems development, service software, and microservices. Whilst it lags behind Python in terms of library support and the size of its community at the present time, it is a much newer language and so this may well change in the future.
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