Are you a beginning Java programmer looking to improve your skills? Or maybe you're an experienced programmer looking for an easy way to test some new ideas in artificial intelligence? Robocode could be just what you're looking for.
Robocode is an educational game originally developed by IBM to teach Java programming. Players in Robocode develop autonomous robot tanks and pit them against each other. Tanks drive around the arena, scan for opponents, and fire at other tanks.
If you're interested, first make sure you have Java installed. You can get it from java.com. Then go to the Robocode site linked above and download the Jar file.
On Windows or Mac OS X you can double-click the Jar file to install it. On Linux I had more luck installing it from the command line with this command:
java -jar robocode-setup-1.0.7.jar
Here's a screenshot of the game running:
You can see my robot, Killer, in red fighting against one of the sample robots named MyFirstRobot.
What started out as a pretty simple game to teach Java programming has now grown into a challenging world-wide competition. There are some amazing artificial intelligence programmers working on these robots.
A great place to start learning more about Robocode is the RoboWiki. I recommend the Robocode Beginner's FAQ. The also have a big list of open source robots that you can test against your robot and study for inspiration.
Robocode is a great way to expand your Java programming skills and learn about artificial intelligence programming. It might also be the perfect environment to test the enemy AI for your next game.