18 December 2017
Ned Batchelder’s python success story all started with his son Nat, who is autistic. Nat likes to look at pictures of familiar places, people and things. Ned found that is was often difficult to predict what Nat wanted photos of, leading to him purchasing a digital camera, in order to take a wide variety of pictures of ordinary things, ensuring that Nat will find many of them interesting. While Nat was viewing the hundreds of photographs taken on the camera, Ned noticed that as Nat became familiar with the images, he was clicking in specific places that would lead him to the place that the next picture was taken when the image changed. It is likely that he picked up this style of navigation from other children’s adventure games. This was the inspiration for Ned to create his own image viewer style game that worked using this method of navigation.
As a software developer, Ned had experience with Python from small scripting projects, and he knew that it would provide a flexible environment to experiment with features and see what Nat would find interesting, and any additional skills he would need to learn about python could be done in a python course. Despite the project being small scale and in his own time, Ned encountered classic issues of project development, such as unclear requirements, unpredictable customers and limited developer resources. With the use of pygame, that could be learnt through a pygame python course, and which included functions for image manipulation and display management, Ned started his project.
The game became known as ‘Nat’s World’, and is a virtual world for exploration so that Ned could explore the images of ordinary things in a more complex way, e.g. click left to turn left, click centre to move forward, etc. The basic concept was to create an environment that was made up of a set of nodes, each of which would display an image and was connected to other nodes. One location is made up of a group of nodes, and is called a “spot”. Once a working prototype was out, Ned could then add complexity to the virtual world, with the inclusion of sound and other features. Python allowed for a clear object-oriented basis for building the Node class, and pygame provided the basic ability to display images, create cursors and collect input.
At the end, Ned was able to create something that allowed his son to interact with the world in a new and engaging way. Ned’s story is only one of the many amazing success stories that has come from Python. To create your very own success story, try out a python course, secure coding course, or business intelligence course today at JBI!