TouchDevelop Basics: Simple Tool for Making Games

Several years ago Microsoft Research released "TouchDevelop" a web-based app-building tool that could be used on mobile devices. In other words, an “app” that you could use on a mobile phone to make other apps.  From it’s humble beginning, TouchDevelop has become a robust tool for making games and social apps, and more recently a great way to use Minecraft and develop IOT applications.

Programming TouchDevelop applications requires the use of a proprietary scripting language that does not strongly correlate to other c-based languages like C++ or C#. From personal experience, it took a while for me to figure out how it all worked.  One of the groups of students that I like to introduce to TouchDevelop are business students.  With TouchDevelop I can introduce them to software design, requirements planning, app marketing and strategy, and entrepreneurship. Typically I will do a workshop in survey IS courses that all business majors are required to take. Using two class periods, I’ll first teach them how to create a basic TouchDevelop game, and then suggest ways that they could modify the basic game to create something unique and interesting. Then I’ll teach them the fundamentals of app marketing and strategy.  The feedback I get is pretty positive, and some students end up changing their majors because they loved the project.

To help these students complete their projects out of class, I have created a 35-minute video version of the in-class demo that I do, and hosted it on Microsoft’s Channel 9. The title of the video is “TouchDevelop Game Basics: Syntax, Creation and Publication” and is part of the Azure in IS Lab Series. The page on Channel 9 has short-cut links so that students can navigate to the part in the video that they want to review after watching the video through. The video covers everything from first click to publication and assumes no prior knowledge of programming or game design.

Take a look and tell me what you think.