Screeps: The javaScript Programmer's MMO

Have you ever wondered what the code driving the A.I. in video games looked like? In Screeps YOU write that code.

When I think of programming and games, I think of the programming that's going on behind the scenes that is driving the game and its mechanics. Being someone who has done this kind of programming, it's not such an abstract concept for me to wrap my head around. 

Screeps, however, is not your standard MMO / RTS game. Games like Hacknet, TIS-100, and else Heart.Break() are built on the concept of programming qualities but are watered-down -- they're more like pseudo-programming games where the concept is the same, but the execution has been made simple for non-programmer players. Screeps is the real deal, you're working with actual code and how / what you code is important.

code snippet from Screeps, a programming MMO

In Screeps your units, known as creeps, are controlled with javaScript that you, the player write. What parameters you set in the code determines the type of creep you create and what strengths and weaknesses it has. Your code matters, it's the driving force behind what your creeps are doing -- everything from moving, gathering, building, attacking, and defending is entirely driven based on your code.

Given the MMO nature of the game, there is the added excitement / dread that your code might not be good enough to defend your resources once you log off as the game takes place on a single server -- putting your skills to the test against other programmers of greater or lesser skill. 

My Assessment

My javaScript is a bit rusty but the live demo of the game does a good job of breaking down some of the key concepts for writing the various bits of code you're going to need to know to play the game. I want to put a disclaimer here and say that, while you don't need to be a javaScript wizard having a fundamental understanding of programming is extremely beneficial in playing this game efficiently and adds to the overall enjoyment. Any programmer can attest to the satisfying feeling of running their code and watching it work (hopefully on the first try).

Luckily for you, javaScript is a fairly entry-level scripting language and has a lot of documentation all over the internet. On the Screeps website, they even link you to a good, introductory javaScript course offered for free on Codecademy. I wouldn't consider Screeps itself to be a means of learning to program but I do see it's benefit in keeping up your programming practice which is important to keep your logical thinking sharp. 

What I like:

  • Simple design and concept
  • Makes you think 
  • Scripting the functions of your creep is fun

What it isn't:

  • Not a way to learn to program, but is an incentive
  • Not fast-paced - The game moves at a very slow rate
  • Not free-to-play - There is a monthly subscription for more CPU limit to allow you to run more processes which feels kinda pay-to-win to me.

Final Verdict

Screeps is a fun game and has a unique angle to it. While it still has some room to grow, it's moving in the right direction. Using actual programming instead of a pseudo-language actually allows the players to focus on better coding habits and makes practice fun. There is a very active community of people on the game's Slack channel so it also has a touch of the MMO chat to it for the social programmers out there. 

If this sounds like a game you might be interested in check out their website and give the live demo a spin. It's free and it will help you decide if Screeps is a game for you. You can also check out this short trailer video which showcases the gameplay you can expect from Screeps.


Does Screeps look like a game that would interest you? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Our Rating
Have you ever wondered what the code driving the A.I. in video games looked like? In Screeps YOU write that code.
Reviewed On: PC


From Atari 2600 to TTRPG and beyond I game, therefore I am. Can generally be found DMing D&D on the weekend, homebrewing beer, or tripping over stuff in my house while playing VR. Hopeful for something *Ready Player One* meets *S.A.O Nerve Gear* before I kick the bucket.

Published Dec. 1st 2016

Cached - article_comments_article_47447