What is Kodu?
Kodu Game Lab is for building games! Kodu is a programming environment designed by Microsoft for Windows and the Xbox 360. Kodu enables you to build games using a series of visual elements in a rich 3D environment, without having to learn a single line of code.

The core of Kodu Game Lab is its intuitive user interface.
external image wheel.jpg
From the interface, you choose visual commands to determine the actions of the characters and environment, rather than having to type lines of code to build your games. Think of the commands as rules that the game characters and objects must follow.
external image kodupic.jpg
In the example above, whenever the character sees an apple, they will move toward it. At the same time, whenever the character bumps into an apple, they will eat it.

What isn’t it?
While what you can build with Kodu is significant, there are limits to what you can achieve. Building games of expansive size with countless characters will tax the Kodu Game Engine. Luckily, Kodu has a built in indicator to let you know when you’re stretching the game engine beyond it’s capacity. A thermometer to the right of the screen indicates clearly whether your game is becoming too big to manage. If it is, it’s a simple matter of reducing the size of the game space, or removing peripheral characters from the game. That’s not to say that Kodu can’t be used for building games of surprising complexity! What you can achieve with Kodu can be surprising.

Where do I start?
  • Start simple
    There are a number of ways of approaching building a game, but our suggestion initially is to keep it simple. Our suggestion for your first attempt at building a game is to create a simple environment, and then program a bot (one of the characters you can place within the game) to perform some simple actions.
  • Read the GDC 2009 review of Kodu
    In this review by GDC, make shortly after the release of Kodu in 2009, the review compares and discuss the basic principles behind the game.
  • Get some inspiration!
    Watching what other users have created is always a great way to get ideas, and see how they have approached the game. There are many samples included with Kodu itself, plus there are many more available online. RPG Example and Space Dungeons are two examples to take a look at.
  • Download and edit
    Download some of the games already created on the Planet Kodu website. You’ll also want to try the dozens of games that come preloaded with the Kodu Game Lab software. Play the games, look at the way the characters have been programmed, and then try to replicate it in your own game.

Final Note: Kodu Game Lab for PC is still in Beta, but the most recent version has removed the majority of bugs, and is now considered to be a far more stable release.

Where can I download Kodu?
It is available for free at http://fuse.microsoft.com/kodu.html. The download link is on the upper right side.
Depending on your system, you may also need DirectX 9, Microsoft .Net Framework v3, and the Microsoft Game Studio XNA Framework. The Kodu installer will tell you if you need one of these additional downloads.

Class Assignments
Intro to Kodu

Links and Other Resources
Planet Kodu - Great resource for example games, programming challenges, and much more
Primary Kodu page at Microsoft Research
Kodu blog at Microsoft Research
Online Kodu Game Creation course - Very in depth. A great place to learn more about not only Kodu, but good game design
Kodu Club at Explorer Elementary
Kodu tutorials and help

Want to know more?
There are lots of other tutorials available on the Internet including:
Full Game Video Tutorial with Narration! – Generic Wars
Several Kodu video tutorials
There are also many, many video tutorials available on YouTube.