TwilioQuest: Pursue Your Next Coding Adventure

Trailer from https://www.twilio.com/quest

Saving the world from dull prose in traditional computer science textbooks, TwilioQuest is the fulfilling way to learn about code without suffering through mazes of confusingly technical content. Featuring quirky programming puns, an addictive retrowave overworld theme, and an endearing character outfitting system, the game gives you a reward beyond what other resources can: fun. This is a great alternative to less engaging methods of introducing yourself to code and, most importantly, it’s a no-risk investment since it’s completely free.

After introducing yourself to Cedric, your trusty robot companion, you begin your journey by learning about TwilioQuest’s in-game mechanics and level progression. Each learning module is cleverly designed as level, named things like the Pythonic Temple and the JavaScript Test Lab. Initiate the level and progress through a set of barriers locked by coding challenges to simultaneously learn and win.

It’s important to have a good time, but of course you want to make sure you’re getting educational value out of the game. I went into this game with pre-conceived notions that it would be just another hand-holding “Hello world!” cakewalk, but I’m happy to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. Starting with the Basic Training module, the game sets the player up for success with fundamentals about programming and how to play. Each of the barriers, however, ramps up the difficulty.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed the challenge to start up a web app using the player’s programming language of choice, make a POST request, and interact with one of Twilio’s APIs. Moreover, a later portion of the level asked me to use ngrok to link my localhost to a public URL. These are impressive challenges for a game targeting beginners, and naturally the more rigorous challenges are more rewarding, both in terms of in-game points and technical skill. The most demanding of them are optional, but you should consider working on them. Handling these types of instructional tasks from documentation are paramount to developer skill.

This is what allows for true personalization of your learning experience since the game allows you to autonomously monitor what you’re ready for. Are you ready to start up a web app on localhost:3000, make a POST request, and authenticate your credentials for a Twilio API? Even if you’re not ready in the very beginning, the game provides you with resources to succeed with enough determination. Just like your favorite anime protagonist, fight and don’t give up!

Your robot companion Cedric (left) trusts you (center) to learn programming and save The Cloud. Don’t let him down!

To see just how an effective teaching tool this game is, I decided to plunder the Pythonic Temple considering I have little-to-no experience in Python at all. I was surprised how quickly I could get things up and running. I assigned system variables, installed a Python extension, set up a system environment, and created a script that prints inputs in under 45 minutes. The challenge instructions linked me to just the right documentation I needed for each piece of the Python puzzle.

While the content is fairly well-rounded to ensure understanding of the fundamentals, it doesn’t replace consistent practice and a variety of information. I’m not claiming you’ll become the next overnight startup success in the tabloids just from finishing a solid round of TwilioQuest. But if you’ve seen a couple of programming tutorials and you want to get an entertaining, hands-on feel for thinking like a developer, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Twilio easily could have used this game as a shameless plug for all their APIs. Don’t get me wrong; the selection of Twilio API education in the game is boundless. But they also don’t leave aspiring developers hanging without establishing a strong understanding of coding fundamentals and the power behind programming languages. This game doesn’t feel like an evangelized sales pitch to coax me into exclusive interest with Twilio. But it certainly does make me feel a little more interested in this company that seems to care about transparency and access to knowledge.

Are you going to give TwilioQuest a try? And, more importantly, do you have a clever programming pun for a level name? Mine would be The Southern C Shore. Get it? Okay, please help me and leave a better one down below.

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