Every year new programmers sign up for their classes hoping to learn how to build the next big mobile app, but instead are forced to re-learn counting numbers. The catch? Instead of counting to 10, they have to count to 2 and 16. And it’s hard. For many students, it feels like a nightmare where they are stuck in kindergarten, and somehow they have a failing grade.
Just like the first time in algebra class when your teacher had to explain that ‘x’ could be any number, eventually it just clicks. My co-founder Matt and I are working on Squally, a game to teach hacking, but before you can walk, you have to learn to crawl. This means that we have to also teach binary and hexadecimal. This game follows a strict ‘no lectures’ policy. Instead, we teach these concepts in the coolest way possible: with a trading card game.
In school, students learn conversion formulas, they memorize charts, and have no reward for their efforts other than a grade on a piece of paper. We want to change this. The great thing about a card game is that you can learn the effect first, and learn the reasoning and math later. Initially, it’s all about winning.
Your enemy has a lot of strong cards? Play the
logical shift right card and cut their attack in half.
Have a binary card with
0111 attack? Play a card to “flip the 4th bit”, and it will become a LOT stronger.
Learn that a hex card with
C attack is the same as a decimal card with
In the context of a classroom, this stuff is mind-numbingly boring. In the context of a card game, it’s awesome. To avoid overwhelming players, cards are introduced gradually. Play through the game and collect cards by beating other NPC players, find them in chests, or get them from defeating deadly opponents in combat. Squally is still a modern game — Hexus is only a tiny piece of it.
Squally is not released quite yet, but it’s in active development. We were accepted to the adviser track of YCombinator’s Startup School of 2018, and we’re doing everything we can to move quickly and make this an amazing game.
For those who are interested, you can sign up for our beta.