Category Archives: Games

Retro Arcade Racing (at the command prompt of course)

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Hello!

A colourful looking one this week. I like it when a game can be reduced to a really mundane set of rules. Check out my Games Are Boring post. In this video I create a retro looking arcade racer. Its only a couple hundred lines of code, but the end result is quite compelling.

In other news, I seemed to have jumped 20 subscribers in two days. I hope they’re not spam accounts, but I’m wondering what the source of it was.
Jx9

Information Is Beautiful

Hello!

Take a look at this. You don’t need to understand it, for my point to come across, but for now, please just look at it.

In preparation for an upcoming video I’m putting together, the code you see above is all that is required for a fully functional game of Tetris. I wrote it in a way that was readable by an average human (the intention of the video is to introduce some fundamentals), then reduced it until I had to go to bed. There is still scope to reduce it further, but something about it struck me. This handful of characters and digits contains enough information to play a fully functioning game of Tetris. This to me is no different from looking at a strand of DNA knowing that within is encoded all the necessary information to construct people. The characters above contain the definitions for the pieces (Tetronimos), the layout of the board, the rules of the game, animations for lines that disappear, rules for detecting collisions, increasing levels of difficulty, score keeping, user input and control and ultimately displaying it on a computer screen.

Some may argue “Sure, but it needs all the libraries and stuff and an OS to work, which means there’s millions more characters”. I can’t refute this but I propose it does not matter. This humble block of bytes above, is all the information needed within an existing ecosystem to present a fully functioning game of Tetris. DNA on its own doesn’t form life, it still needs an ecosystem to operate within. Likewise, that existing programming ecosystem will not on its own present a game of Tetris, it needs just this extra “blip” of information to make that happen.

At the risk of sounding like a pretentious git, there is a beauty to this. It’s not often that your eyes can perceive the whole of something in programming, but here we are, staring at an imposing rectangle of just about readable C++ code. There is nothing more, nothing hidden; and a programmer can see it is legitimate code, but this arrangement of symbols and characters is all that is required to form a complex, fun and interactive puzzle game, known to quite literally billions of people around the world.

I’ll be uploading the source soon enough, when the video gets finished, but for now, just staring at the image makes me really appreciate information in a new way.

Jx9

The Games List of SHAME

We all have one, but we don’t like to brag about it. We’ve all lectured our buddies about how great a game is, but we don’t mention the fact that we never, well, actually finished the game legitimately. The reasons are varied. Was I too young? Was the game too hard? Did I lack the skill? Was the game any good?

My old friend @gablaxian recently informed me that he had finally finished “Disgaea: Hour of Darkness”. I lent him this game 10 YEARS AGO. I would love to say Gablaxian is rubbish at games (he is) but that would not be truthful. Disgaea is a game that I gave a really good go, but I just did not have the momentum or mental fortitude to see it through. Something about it just didn’t click meaning the game felt like a chore rather than the acclaimed masterpiece that it really is. Prinny.

Feeling a little deflated, I decided to depress myself further by thinking about all the games that I’ve just not bothered finishing, but are actually good games. Sure there are games I’ve not finished because they were bad (although ironically I beat Destiny…), but that’s a different post. This is about highly regarded games, that I love. Please don’t judge me too harshly!! In no particular order:

  1. Secret of Mana (SNES)
  2. The Goonies II (NES)
  3. Super Mario Brothers 2 (NES)
  4. Crash Bandicoot 2 (PS1)
  5. Jak & Daxter 2 (PS2)
  6. Final Fantasy X (PS2)
  7. Exhumed (PS1)
  8. Uncharted 3 (PS3)
  9. Dragon Quest 5 (PS2)
  10. Zelda 2 (NES)

I might live stream these games being beaten (or trying to). At least it’s a theme!

Do you have a “Games of Shame” list? If so feel free to share!

Jx9