Beginning Game Programming for Teens with Python

This is a post by Tutorial Team Member Julian Meyer, a 13-year-old python developer. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter. Have you ever wondered how video games are created? It’s not as complicated as you might think! In this tutorial, you’ll create a simple game called Bunnies and Badgers, where the hero, the […] By .

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Step 2: Add Scenery

Let’s start by adding a background to the game scene. This can be done with a couple more screen.blit() calls.

At the end of section #3, after loading the player image, add the following code:

grass = pygame.image.load("resources/images/grass.png")
castle = pygame.image.load("resources/images/castle.png")

This loads the images and puts them into specific variables. Now they have to be drawn on screen. But if you check the grass image, you will notice that it won’t cover the entire screen area, which is 640 x 480. This means you have to tile the grass over the screen area to cover it completely.

Add the following code to at the beginning of section #6 (before the player is drawn on screen):

    for x in range(width/grass.get_width()+1):
        for y in range(height/grass.get_height()+1):
    screen.blit(castle,(0,345 ))

As you can see, the for statement loops through x first. Then, within that for loop, it loops through y and draws the grass at the x and y values generated by the for loops. The next couple of lines just draw the castles on the screen.

If you run the program now, you should get something like this:

Much better – this is starting to look good! :]

Step 3: Make the Bunny Move

Next you need to add some actual gameplay elements, like making the bunny respond to key presses.

To do that, first you’ll implement a good method of keeping track of which keys are being pressed at a given moment. You can do this simply by making an array of key states that holds the state of each key you want to use for the game.

Add the following code to at the end of section #2 (after you set the screen height and width):

keys = [False, False, False, False]

This code is pretty self-explanatory. The keys array keeps track of the keys being pressed in the following order: WASD. Each item in the array corresponds to one key – the first to W, the second to A and so on.

The playerpos variable is where the program draws the player. Since the game will move the player to different positions, it’s easier to have a variable that contains the player position and then simply draw the player at that position.

Now you need to modify the existing code for drawing the player to use the new playerpos variable. Change the following line in section #6:

    screen.blit(player, (100,100))


    screen.blit(player, playerpos)

Next, update the keys array based on which keys are being pressed. PyGame makes detecting key presses easy by adding event.key functions.

At the end of section #8, right after the block checking for event.type==pygame.QUIT, put this code (at the same indentation level as the pygame.QUIT if block):

        if event.type == pygame.KEYDOWN:
            if event.key==K_w:
            elif event.key==K_a:
            elif event.key==K_s:
            elif event.key==K_d:
        if event.type == pygame.KEYUP:
            if event.key==pygame.K_w:
            elif event.key==pygame.K_a:
            elif event.key==pygame.K_s:
            elif event.key==pygame.K_d:

Wow! Those are a lot of lines of code. If you break it down into the if statements though, it’s not that complicated.

First you check to see if a key is being pressed down or released. Then you check which key is being pressed or released, and if the key being pressed or released is one of the keys you’re using, you update the keys variable accordingly.

Finally, you need to update the playerpos variable in response to the key presses. This is actually very simple.

Add the following code to the end of (with one indentation level, putting it at the same level as the for loop):

    # 9 - Move player
    if keys[0]:
    elif keys[2]:
    if keys[1]:
    elif keys[3]:

This code simply checks which of the keys are being pressed and adds or subtracts from the player’s x or y position (depending on the key pressed) to move the player.

Run the game and you should get a player just like before. Try pressing WASD. Yay! It works.

Step 4: Turning the Bunny

Yes, your bunny now moves when you press keys but wouldn’t it be even cooler if you could use your mouse to rotate the bunny to face a direction of your choosing, so he’s not facing the same way all the time? It’s simple enough to implement using trigonometry.

Take a look at the following illustration:

In the above image, if (5,3) is the position of the bunny and (2,4) is the current position of the mouse, you can find the rotation angle (z) by applying the atan2 trigonometric function to the difference in distances between the two points. Of course, once you know the rotation angle, you can simply rotate the bunny accordingly. :]

If you’re a bit confused about this part, don’t worry – you can continue on anyway. But this is why you should pay attention in Math class! :] You’ll use this stuff all the time in game programming.

Now you need to apply this concept to your game. To do this, you can use the PyGame Surface.rotate(degrees) function. Incidentally, keep in mind that the Z value is in radians. :[

The atan2 function comes from the Python math library. So add this to the end of section #1 first:

import math

Then, replace the last line in section #6 (the player.blit line) with the following code:

    # 6.1 - Set player position and rotation
    position = pygame.mouse.get_pos()
    angle = math.atan2(position[1]-(playerpos[1]+32),position[0]-(playerpos[0]+26))
    playerrot = pygame.transform.rotate(player, 360-angle*57.29)
    playerpos1 = (playerpos[0]-playerrot.get_rect().width/2, playerpos[1]-playerrot.get_rect().height/2)
    screen.blit(playerrot, playerpos1) 

Let’s go through the basic structure of the above code. First you get the mouse and player positions. Then you feed those into the atan2 function. After that, you convert the angle received from the atan2 function from radians to degrees (multiply radians by approximately 57.29 or 360/2π).

Since the bunny will be rotated, its position will change. So now you calculate the new bunny position and display the bunny on screen.

Run the game again. If you use just the WASD keys, then the game should behave exactly like before. But if you move your mouse, the bunny rotates too. Cool!