My name is Paul Evans, It's been 6 or 7 years since my last bot change.
Robocode is a terrible addiction and my bot SandboxDT has not been changed since 2004 but I am pleased to see it is still in the top 60.
It has recently come to my attention that a UK Charity (The Raspberry PI Foundation) is about to release a new computer on the market - this computer is the "Raspberry PI".
The foundation's aims are to manufacture a computer so cheap that anyone should be able to afford it (The "B" model will be $25) - their purpose is to get youngsters programming again - not just learning to use Word and Excel.
Robocode is a good fit to these aims and I would like to ask this community to help bring the joy's of programming to the next generation of youngsters.
What I would like to see:
Stage 1: An all inclusive distribution of OS and Robocode and relevent Robocode/Java documentation - The Raspberry PI will boot from an SD card into a linux OS - to get prospective coders into Robocode lets make getting Robocode up and running as easily as possible (as easy as PI).
Stage 2: As for stage one but with an ide customised for Robocode - libraries loaded an default robot ready to go. (BTW The compuer has at most 256MB ram (shared by the GPU) and runs a arm processor at 700Mhz).
Stage 3: Let's try and get the really young ones involved - Java is fairly heavyweight - can we have robots written in lighter languages such as Python (Jython?) or some other language or script. A distribution like this needs to be really easy to get started - most parents and teachers do not code - at primary school there may be no effective IT support.
Stage 4: Tanks, Bullets and warfare ain't to everyones taste - however Robocode has an excellent headstart in that because it has a very effective sandbox for allowing strangers code to run in - it provides an excellent environment to allow code swapping and running without risk - ideal for schools. It would be nice to see if the Robocode Physics and display could be exposed in a nice interface to allow the teaching community to develop new games - I wan't to encourage developers, not plagiarisers - by changing the physics of the game a teacher could force the youngsters to experiment and write their own code not just lift a bot from the internet.
It's been a long time since I've been an active part of this community - and I know I'm asking alot - I have no affiliation with the Raspberry PI or the Foundation but I have been a school governor and have been unimpressed at the level of IT skills being produced out of UK schools - I think Robocode and the Raspberry PI can help.
I you think this is a good cause please promote this page on the home page of the wiki to ensure all in the community can see it - fix up any links etc that I haven't done - feel free to take the lead. As a sweetener if the community takes this project to heart I'll give details of an innovation in SandboxDT not released to the community to date (and which I think is unique to DT)- I may even start to develop again.
Paul Evans - author of Sandbox DT