Computeractive, Issue 383

Computeractive, Issue 383The latest issue of Computeractive magazine features the last portion of my three-part series looking at practical projects for the Raspberry Pi, and this one is a doozy: it involves getting your soldering iron out.

Going beyond the material originally prepared for my book, the Raspberry Pi User Guide, this latest feature takes some stripboard, switches, wiring and resistors and creates a fully-functional four-way game controller which connects directly to the Raspberry Pi’s general purpose input output (GPIO) header.

The Snake game, created for the book and featured in last issue’s tutorial on writing games using Python and the pygame library, is modified to understand both keyboard and GPIO-driven gamepad input. It’s a lot to ask of Computeractive’s readership, most of whom have probably never picked up a soldering iron before, but I’m hopeful that a few will be tempted to try it out – and made sure there were plenty of diagrams available to make things as clear as possible.

For those who want to take the project further, there are still spare GPIO pins on the Pi – meaning it’s perfectly possible to add a fire button or two for controlling a more complex game. If programming is more your thing, the fact that the code is modified to monitor both keyboard and GPIO input means it’s fairly straightforward to add a second player to the game – creating a simple version of the Tron lightcycle game.

Computeractive Issue 383 is available pretty much anywhere magazines are normally found, or online through Computeractive Direct.

Computeractive, Issue 382

Computeractive, Issue 382Continuing my three-part series for Computeractive, in this issue you’ll find a guide to writing a simple arcade game for the Raspberry Pi using Python and the pygame library. It’s rather more in-depth than the magazine would normally cover, but that’s the whole purpose of the Raspberry Pi project after all: to get more people programming, and to dispel the myth that it’s something only a select few can ever attempt.

Those of you with eagle eyes may spot similarities between this issue’s tutorial and the pygame chapter of my book, the Raspberry Pi User Guide. There’s a good reason for that: the programs are the same. The Snake game is a great way to demonstrate game programming: it requires only four inputs – one for each cardinal direction – has a simple scoring mechanism and doesn’t require AI for the enemies. It also teaches a surprising chunk of the Python language, including the concept of stacks – used to store the location of each snake segment.

Next issue, the final part will be branching off from the book in a dramatic way: introducing the idea of building a custom game controller – to control the snake with, naturally – from scratch and connecting it to the Raspberry Pi’s General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) port. Even if you’ve read the book – and I hope you have – I’d recommend picking up a copy!

Computeractive Issue 382 is available in all good newsagents, most bad ones, and via the Computeractive Direct website.