PDA

View Full Version : Mini Game Competitions



barythrin
July 21st, 2008, 01:29 PM
http://minigamecomp.org.uk/

With some of the programming comments, I was curious if anyone here has been involved in this just for fun competition? I don't recall if the 8-bit programming competition was the same group or if I'm just misremembering but thought there was one like that as well.

Anyway, always impressive to see what people can do to entertain people of today with seemingly limited resources.

carlsson
July 21st, 2008, 11:29 PM
Yes, I have entered in 2002, 2003 and 2005. I didn't place particularly high, but it was fun doing it. The MiniGame Compo is strictly open for 8-bit machines anyway. I'm even unsure if a 8088 class game would qualify. Unfortunately the competition has lost of its momentum and arrangership (?) over the last few years, so it has dwindled pretty badly compared to its hey-day in 2002-04.

ahm
July 22nd, 2008, 05:37 AM
One of my fave C64 games came out of one of these competitions.
Be sure to check out "Splatform (http://noname.c64.org/csdb/release/?id=7183)".
It's also found on the C64 DTV as one of the hidden games.

carlsson
July 22nd, 2008, 07:05 AM
Yep, Robin Harbron (Macbeth/PSW) won the competition three years in a row so the rest of us asked him to step back a bit. :-D First he wrote Minima, then Splatform and then Minima Reloaded. Later on I helped him convert Steve Judd's (Wyndex) quite exotic music player from C64 to VIC-20 so Robin could release Splatform for the VIC as well. Actually I find that version better than the original, due to the bigger graphics.

Trixter
July 22nd, 2008, 02:17 PM
"Exotic" in what way?

barythrin
July 22nd, 2008, 02:47 PM
Yeah, I saw your name in one of the reviews (carlsson) and was wondering if it was you. Very cool, though yeah I can see quite a few entries from a few folks.

carlsson
July 22nd, 2008, 11:30 PM
The music player is minimalistic in the right sense of the word. A couple sets of data manipulated in such ways I don't understand it, I just adjusted the most obvious offsets and memory locations. It took me three attempts to get it right. Wyndex has some neat ideas on music data compression, without using traditional compression algorithms. I once tried to implement a player that uses relative note distance instead of absolute note values. It was interesting, but depends a lot on the kind of music if it is worthwhile or not. You could pack bitstreams (for the cost of execution speed) and get a very small player with data. Personally I average about 0.5K for the player and 300-600 bytes for the music data in a rather traditional track and block format.

Before anyone asks a big "why", remember the difference betwen 1K, 3K, 256K or 640K of RAM. 8)

CP/M User
July 26th, 2008, 02:36 AM
Personally I liked the idea of somebody having a concept of a competition and allowing people from various platforms to submit games for people to vote on.

Personally in my view though, the rest stank - the rules were up the creek, and people had to try all the games from various systems in order to vote!! Personally I didn't have any time to play all the games submitted and would rather play the Amstrad CPC based ones - and there were some good ones (even though one Minigame I saw submitted was an old Type-in published in Amstrad Action!). My main drag with the Minigame competition was the size of the games - the size of the whole game couldn't be larger than 2048k and that included any library files which went with it - so instantly Turbo Pascal programs were out! :-x

Personally I'd rather go out there and just do whatever without the rules and regulations. I've just been working on a simple shoot-em-up game called Interceptor (http://www.cpcwiki.com/index.php/Interceptor) where you're shooting an aircraft from your aircrafts cockpit position. I'm in the middle of adding some extra difficulty to the game which I'm suprised the original author didn't add to the game (given it's got a good sprites driver and plays fine), I've made the game faster by loading data to draw the cockpit windows and made a loading screen (http://www.cpcwiki.com/images/3/33/Intercep4.jpg) to give it some polish to it! :-D The game has probably balloned out from it's original 8k (to over 20+k!), though who cares when you have small 8k game and you have another 34k in reserve sitting there doing nothing! ;-D

carlsson
July 26th, 2008, 08:48 AM
To recapitulate, the whole MiniGame compo stems from one of the yearly flamewars between the Usenet groups comp.sys.cbm and comp.sys.sinclair. You know those where supporters of the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum would bash eachother, telling the otherside their shortcomings (C64: brown, blocky graphics - Spectrum: rubber keys, awful sound).

Someone began to post challenges, one at a time and the programmers in respective team should post their solutions: which computer could perform a task in less code, faster or more elegantly. The challenges grew to game like dimensions, and somebody came up with the idea which computer could produce the best games in 512 bytes. The first year (2001), a total of two categories were open: 512 bytes and 2K. Apart from C64 and Spectrum, a few Atari 800 entries were included. There were no more than ~10 entries in each category, but some quite spectacular ones.

The big boom happened in 2002, when it was decided to only have one category of 1K program size. You choose if you want to write your game in Basic, machine code, compiled Pascal/C whatever, but it should be loadable and runnable on a stock machine. There was some discussion on the TAP and DSK headers, if they should be included in the file size or not. In the end, the decision was that most of them should count to the file size, because on many computers could can store code in the headers. It may seem foreign for novice programmers, but the experienced ones know all the tricks. It may be worth noting that compression is allowed, i.e. if you wrote a 1.5K game but found a way to compress it down to 1K, it is accepted. This is particularly interesting for 4K games, but most of the time you write your game so tightly in machine code that the compression routines can't improve anything.

So in 2002 the 2nd MiniGame Compo was announced wide, and open to practically all 8-bit home computers and video games, with special rules for the video games which have a minimum cartridge size exceeding 1K. The limitation at 8-bit (6502, Z80 etc) was because it still was meant as an extention of the flame war, and while 16-bit computers tend to use more memory, they also have more advanced instruction sets so you can write very complex programs in small code size. I think there is a Tetris clone for 386 in MS-DOS which runs in 256 bytes!!!

In 2003 or 2004, a 4K category was added because a lot of people thought 1K was too limiting. It has fared quite well, but never really got the same recognition as the 1K one. As I've said before, many people including me were expecting to see even more amazing games in 4K than what mostly have happened. Insatiatible, eh?

One year there was a 8K category that received one or none entries. A few years ago there finally was a category for 16-bit: X86, 68K etc. Only one entry for the Neo Geo video game was entered, and it was a rather mediocre looking Bejeweled clone.

So no. Maybe the MiniGame compo has never been open to anyone who like to dabble around, because of the size limitations and an unspoken request that entries should be of as high quality as possible. There were a few crap like games, but nowhere as many as the special crap game compos in which the whole idea is to write a really crappy, malfunctioning game.

CP/M User
July 26th, 2008, 01:51 PM
carlsson wrote:

To recapitulate, the whole MiniGame compo stems from one of the yearly flamewars between the Usenet groups comp.sys.cbm and comp.sys.sinclair. You know those where supporters of the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum would bash eachother, telling the otherside their shortcomings (C64: brown, blocky graphics - Spectrum: rubber keys, awful sound).

Yeah those idiots never shut up!! ;-)

Someone began to post challenges, one at a time and the programmers in respective team should post their solutions: which computer could perform a task in less code, faster or more elegantly. The challenges grew to game like dimensions, and somebody came up with the idea which computer could produce the best games in 512 bytes. The first year (2001), a total of two categories were open: 512 bytes and 2K. Apart from C64 and Spectrum, a few Atari 800 entries were included. There were no more than ~10 entries in each category, but some quite spectacular ones.

The big boom happened in 2002, when it was decided to only have one category of 1K program size. You choose if you want to write your game in Basic, machine code, compiled Pascal/C whatever, but it should be loadable and runnable on a stock machine. There was some discussion on the TAP and DSK headers, if they should be included in the file size or not. In the end, the decision was that most of them should count to the file size, because on many computers could can store code in the headers. It may seem foreign for novice programmers, but the experienced ones know all the tricks. It may be worth noting that compression is allowed, i.e. if you wrote a 1.5K game but found a way to compress it down to 1K, it is accepted. This is particularly interesting for 4K games, but most of the time you write your game so tightly in machine code that the compression routines can't improve anything.

So in 2002 the 2nd MiniGame Compo was announced wide, and open to practically all 8-bit home computers and video games, with special rules for the video games which have a minimum cartridge size exceeding 1K. The limitation at 8-bit (6502, Z80 etc) was because it still was meant as an extention of the flame war, and while 16-bit computers tend to use more memory, they also have more advanced instruction sets so you can write very complex programs in small code size. I think there is a Tetris clone for 386 in MS-DOS which runs in 256 bytes!!!

In 2003 or 2004, a 4K category was added because a lot of people thought 1K was too limiting. It has fared quite well, but never really got the same recognition as the 1K one. As I've said before, many people including me were expecting to see even more amazing games in 4K than what mostly have happened. Insatiatible, eh?

One year there was a 8K category that received one or none entries. A few years ago there finally was a category for 16-bit: X86, 68K etc. Only one entry for the Neo Geo video game was entered, and it was a rather mediocre looking Bejeweled clone.

So no. Maybe the MiniGame compo has never been open to anyone who like to dabble around, because of the size limitations and an unspoken request that entries should be of as high quality as possible. There were a few crap like games, but nowhere as many as the special crap game compos in which the whole idea is to write a really crappy, malfunctioning game.

I could start a flame with comp.lang.pascal.borland about the purpose of using TP3, though they would simply produce stuff full of Long Integers and restrict their programs to 2k! Likewise I'd invoke rules saying programs submitted would also have to run in CP/M.

I know of one person who have tried to make a Minigame though were unsuccessful and put it on their website instead, there's probably a few people who have tried and being unsuccessful though.

I remember compression being allowed, though found it too complicated to investigate further in conjunction with a TP program - it would have to be a compressed COM file which executes and uncompiles itself as soon as it's loaded, I'm not even sure the library which accompanies the program would be very compressable somehow! :-(