Wizards are cool. ThoughtSTEM, a San Diego development team that began life as a handful of PhD students from the University of California, know this and believe that they're cool enough that they might help sneakily teach people to code. As such, they have brought their successfully Kickstarted former PhD research project Codespells [official site] to Steam Early Access.
As their Kickstarter video outlined, the guys at ThoughtSTEM have always felt a bit shortchanged by video games' interpretation of the arcane arts. Historically, there's been too many restrictions and too few options afforded to players when it comes to spell-casting. CodeSpells hopes to change this as it draws from the team's Tolkien-esque childhood fantasies, aiming to create a thriving open world playground for would-be wizards to hone and refine their own spells through code, whilst simultaneously bestowing the virtues of coding upon its players in the process.
I've not had the chance to test CodeSpells yet, but it does sound like a very promising idea, one John was taken by when he discovered it last year. The simple colour-coded multi-window interface looks welcoming, even to an absolute coding cretin like myself. Should you wish to simply blag other players' spells, because coding seems initially too intimidating, then that's fine too. It's nice to know that the game will ease in players facing an otherwise alien concept.
At this early stage I can't help but picture Garry's Mod, but with lightning bolts and fire balls which, in all honesty, blows my mind. Creative Mode is the stage the team are developing now, which is essentially single player, and once that's complete, ThoughtSTEM have their eyes on multiplayer.
Although successfully Kickstarted, ThoughtSTEM has steered CodeSpells towards Early Access as it seeks continual community feedback which. Given one of the goals of the project is to teach, that makes sense. Long-term, if CodeSpells can deliver what it suggests is possible, this could be something quite special.
CodeSpells is available now on Steam Early Access for £14.99.