Btw, have you looked around at some other games with this kind of stuff? I think it's common to find Robocode with its epic hardcore community, RoboRumble, thousands of bots, and 15 years of history and think it's the only programming game worth looking into. (And it might be, depending on what you're after...)
- RobotGame.net got a lot of attention recently. I didn't dive in but it looks neat and pretty polished. Python and looked like simple game rules with some depth.
- FightCodeGame is pretty cool. The gameplay seems mostly like a simplistic Robocode clone, but the web site is pretty awesome. The main thing that turned me off (personally) was that they gained launch momentum with a GitHub coding contest and then switched to closed source/for profit shortly after.
- Nodewar is a pretty simple UI, but I think the gameplay itself is pretty sweet. One of the few games I really feel is pushing the envelope with gameplay. I'd say at least half of programming games (including Robocode) are "2+ tanks on a rectangular battle field with no walls".
- CodeCombat seems more of a legit "learn to code" style programming game. It's a common strategy for advertising programming games, but for most games, it strikes me as similar to claiming basketball was designed to keep you healthy.
- PlayBerryBots.com is the web UI for my own game, which is a cross-platform desktop app like Robocode. For now just a simple "write code / run battles", but I may build it into something more robust soon.
Oh yeah and ProgrammingGames.org is cool too. It's run by one of the main guys from the Core War community.
Yeah, even my roboflight is just a '2+ spherical bots in a sphere'.
Hey I think RoboFlight qualifies as pretty new and different. ;)
I need to work on it, but I was considering switching it over to C/C++ Lua like Berry Bots. I realize that Java is a lot of overhead, but due to Robocode I am most comfortable in the language.
It doesn't seem language is the largest barrier of entry into robocode. In order to make a semi-decent robot, many basic systems need to be in place which can be difficult or time consuming to program, especially for newcomers such as myself: wave tracking ( especially enemy's), precise prediction, radar control (especially in melee), movement control (wall avoidance, getting where you want to go),and bullet shadows. Getting these systems into place is necessary to make good bots, however, none of them seem particularly interesting or fun to program, and they can be quite difficult to do well. Perhaps a helper class extending AdvancedRobot could be made to perform some of these functions, so newcomers could spend more time thinking about and programming their strategies. I have seen a school robocode competition video online, and all the robots in it were very basic by roborumble standards, probably because the students had to spend most of their time figuring out basic things as opposed to strategy / AI.
You might try out Code of Tanks, a 3-D tank battle game, which is brand new as of this writing. You write your AI in a .NET language, C# or whatever. Whenever you want to play you create or join a room, run your AI and pick your tanks, and watch the battle live in 3-D. You can watch the video trailer at the website to see it in action: codeoftanks.com