Posted by (twitter: @yorgle)
June 2nd, 2014 7:19 am

It’s time once again for another MiniLD!  And for this one, let’s take a step back… in time!

The theme this time is the RETRO CHALLENGE!  Write a software for some classic/retro hardware… Don’t have any old hardware around? No problem!  Emulated systems are fine!  Don’t know how to code in ASM?  No problem! Use any of the old development or game making tools from that machine’s time.  You can use any hardware emulation or simulation platform… basically anything that can be emulated/simulated on reasonably recent hardware, but not including modern system VMs.  that’d be cheating.  (Let’s say, try to stick to previous generation of home computer technology (pre-windows) if you’re going for Intel based stuff.  So, MS-DOS based games would be okay if you wanted to go that route.)

So, if you want to make a Commodore 64 game in pure asm? Great!

You want to make a BBC Micro Basic program? Great!

You want to use Deluxe Construction Set on an Amiga? Awesome!

You feel completely insane and want to write for a barebones Atari 2600 VCS?  Go for it!

You feel like making a Hypercard Stack for a Mac Plus?  Huzzah!

Are you up for the challenge?

I should note that you don’t need to write a game for this.  If you want to make a tool, a toy, a demo, a particle accelerator simulator?  That’s awesome too!

This Mini LD will start on June 13th and run to June 23rd.. give or take ;).  Things can get a bit dicey and cumbersome working with these old  platforms, so squeezing it on two weekends is probably worthwhile.  You don’t need to provide web-based emulators for your platform. Just use whatever packaging is appropriate for your device, and we’ll work out best practices for emulation in the comment thread here…


94 Responses to “Mini LD 52: THE RETRO CHALLENGE!”

  1. beforan says:

    Oh my god I am so in for this, great choice. Although it does mean I can’t use Unity, which I was gonna for my next ‘Jam, to familiarise myself with it.

    Now I have to decide whether to write for C64, Amiga (I grew up with commodores in a big way) or cop out and make something for DOS…

    • goerp says:

      After having done a C64 game for a miniLD I would think a C64 game would be easier than a DOS game. Graphics and sound would be easier to integrate into a game with some of the cross assemblers out there. I’m quite pleased with this one:
      But maybe there are great tools for DOS as well.

      • beforan says:

        I’m just frightened of undertaking a real project in assembly 😛 I have written a few short 6502 test programs before, but nothing major. In DOS I can use C++…

  2. Jacic says:

    I like the idea! I’m hoping I have time to participate. Earlier this year I wrote a Chip-8/SuperChip emulator, so I’m thinking I’ll make a game for that.

  3. c4ooo says:

    Can we use a ti84 ? Or is that to new? If we can’t this came to early for me couse ime currently building a computer using a z80 cpu.

  4. dancan12345 says:

    This is gonna be my first ludum dare and its gonna be AWESOME!!
    great use of a irregular theme

  5. Filth and Money says:

    Holy crap, this sounds hard! haha, if I do this, I might need to interpret the theme very liberally.

  6. Tosic says:

    I wasnt born in 20th century, so this will be really hard, but lets give it a shot anyway, I got two options and I would really like if you guys would help me decide. So here are the options:
    1) Use batch or qb64
    2) Use a modern software to make something vintage
    3) ?

  7. Which platforms classify as retro? Would anything released over ten years ago fit the criteria?

  8. goerp says:

    I thought I would make something for the previous LD and I didn’t so I’m not making any promises this time, but this is just my cup of tea (with a biscuit).

  9. ReactorScram says:

    Can I make a demake of my LD27 game for this? I would have to convert some 3D assets to 2D and downscale a lot of things, but the art might not be considered original.

    • BleuLlama says:

      I’ll say.. yes. If you can get modern assets onto a retro platform, go for it. Just make it stuff that you’ve created yourself, and not copyrighted materials.

      • beforan says:

        first thing my girlfriend suggested was demaking my Mini LD 48 game for DOS. it’s graphical style would certainly work fine (flat colour tile based, would be nice and easy, just lots of drawRect like stuff…)

        I wanna do something new and different though.

  10. Wabbit12 says:

    Wow awesome! I’m really interested in this… I am thinking of trying something the Game boy color. This will be my first mini dare as well as in general. Time to get my feet wet!

  11. Optimus6128 says:

    Cool! Last time I almost started something for Amstrad CPC+ for the demake competition. I was too lazy to finish. Maybe this is my second chance!

  12. nuclear says:

    Hurray! another oldschool mini-ld :)
    I totally enjoyed the last one ( ) where I made this ( ). So I might go for something similar again (DOS 3D game-ish-thing). Or I might try to do something for the Gameboy Advance… that would be cool too. Either way I’m totally in!

  13. jitendragarg says:

    Need suggestions for this.

    I want to do an MS-DOS game. But, I don’t have any idea about the tools I can use. I am good with programming, and pretty bad at art. Which tool should I go for?

    Also, I know VB,, and C#. So, any tool that use similar language for scripting is fine too.

    • beforan says:

      qbasic on MS-DOS might suit you? I don’t know how it’s graphical capabilities are, but i do remember mucking about with it a little in the early 90s.

      peronsally, I’m using C++ on MS-DOS for this one. Have spent the last few days in a DOS 6.22 install in VirtualBox getting a feel for the tools that are about. is a modern C/C++ compiler for MS-DOS that’s based on a VERY popular C compiler of the DOS era (Watcom C – compiled such things as the DOS version of Doom!)

      Deluxe Paint for DOS isn’t too hard to come by and was popular at the time (though it came from the Amiga scene, I gather a looot of people used the DOS version for game art back in the day).

      If you’re familiar with C# you may get on OK with C or C++ – the syntax is similar, C++ has objects… you do have to do more heavy lifting though. And learn about pointers.

      Also check out this if you want to program VGA graphics in DOS in a 16-bit or 32-bit C or C++ app:

      • BleuLlama says:

        For what it’s worth, the Deluxe Paint for DOS to get would be Deluxe Paint IIe. DPaint FTW!

      • jitendragarg says:

        I remember using pointers back when I was in Uni. It has been quite a while though, so it might take some time. qBasic sounds interesting though. So, I will go for that. Thanks for the great suggestion.

        • Optimus6128 says:

          Yeah, qbasic was fun in the past. I used to make demos for it, if you avoid PSET but do DEF SEG = &HA000 and POKE offset, value in Screen 13 you can fill the screen fast enough on a 486 with good gfx card. Alternatively, some other functions like line and bitmap setting can be fast iirc, but better in something less than screen 13 because there is no double buffering. And some people use ModeX and stuff, with OUT, they have done some amazing stuff for qbasic.

          Alternatively there is Freebasic for DOS too, don’t know requirements, maybe it needs at least 386, but it’s much faster, I use it in windows, maybe in DOS with some Vesa you can have various resolution and color depth, although maybe some VGA 8bit will be better.

    • GamerGoddessDin says:

      Adventure Game Toolkit (AGT) had builds for MSDOS, Amiga, Commodore 64, and Mac OS Pre-X. The Master edition which includes some rudimentary audio and graphics capabilties to fancy up your text based adventure games was only available for MSDOS.

      I was able to acquire it fro just yesterday. I’ve sadly lost track of several of my old games I wrote for it in 3rd and 4th grades.

  14. dzozef says:

    Can it be a demake of an existing game from another platform (when I’m not the author of the original game) ?

  15. sealfin says:

    @BleuLlama: Would it be permissible if I were to not try to develop a game, but if I were to instead try to develop a few levels for an old game? (I’ve copies of Marathon:EVIL, Forge, and Anvil on an old Mac…)

  16. meganmorgangames says:

    This sounds like a great excuse to try and write something in LOGO for the TI-994a. I used to write all sorts of neat games back in the 80s with that language.

    This brings up a question of legality, however. I haven’t owned a Texas Instruments computer in about 20 years. If I use an emulator (as presumably a ROM for LOGO) is that going to be a legal issue?

    • BleuLlama says:

      Well, there’s the thing, right? Emulation of consoles and such gets pretty gray. Some people will say that unless you physically have the hardware, you shouldn’t be using the emulation of that hardware. (Roms and cartriges specifically.)

      1. This is going to be for educational purposes, which likely falls under fair-use clauses.
      2. have been archiving a lot of this stuff anyway, so it’s all freely available through there. (ref: jsmess)
      3. Unless it’s mainstream IP (Pac-Man from Namco, Tetris from Nintendo) then no company would care anyway.


      Just go for it.

  17. Gallefray says:

    Does a PDP-10 count? 😀

  18. Tosic says:

    Um… can I use a game engine that is 8 years old?

  19. Tosic says:

    Oh, Oh, I have remebered something: Is it allowed to use the oldest VB, ’cause, well it is the oldest VB.

  20. Tosic says:

    Sorry, but can you answer both questions

  21. Donutttt says:

    Would it be ok to use something like Batari Basic? Sounds like that’d be fun

  22. Tosic says:

    Since I cant really find old versions of vb, can I use vb6(it appeared 1998 – before ludum dare and in 20th century)

  23. hirsch says:

    Borland released Turbo Pascal 5.5 (1989) for free in the past:

    There seem to be even older TP compilers to be online :)

  24. S0lll0s says:

    As a barely-nineties-kid I don’t have any experience with actual retro hardware, so I’ll have to work some DCPU-16 magic.

    This should be a great miniLD, have fun everyone!

  25. Epsilon says:

    My goodness. I’ve finally found a practical reason for learning Commodore BASIC. I’m really excited for this, my first of hopefully many miniLDs.

  26. GaTechGrad says:

    Am I the only one making a game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)? I found a great set of tutorials for writing the 6502 assembly code.

    • beforan says:

      I considered it, but doing something beyond little tests in 6502 ASM was a bit daunting, so I decided to leave NES or C64 alone for now. Though lots of things are really straightforward, such as writing to video memory, so should be a lot of fun.

  27. FyberOptic says:

    I’ve never done a MiniLD before. Is it solo only? I managed to sputter out some tiles for my LD29 entry so I can do it again if necessary, but my brother was curious if he would be able to help with this one if I enter.

    I had some experience years ago with making little GB, GBA, NES, and SNES demos, but I remember all too well what a pain it is to deal with limited registers, and with a lack opcodes for things like multiplication and division. Plus the dev environment isn’t that nice to work with. Mailstation also popped into my head, but a) I doubt anyone here has ever heard of it, and b) I’m the only person to ever write an emulator for it! Plus it’s Z80, and again with the flashbacks of assembly, despite my fondness of the CPU.

    I’ve been re-acquainting myself with DOS development and managed to put together a decent automated environment of Notepad++, OpenWatcom, and DOSBox. But after managing to pull off an incredible 5 FPS to blit the screen full of tiles in unchained VGA mode 13h, I’m starting to remember how hard this stuff was too compared to today!

    • BleuLlama says:

      Technically, it /should/ be solo, but MiniLDs are even more relaxed than regular LDs, so if you do work with someone on this, please be sure to clearly note this with your submission. The real goal here is to get people working on stuff, so even though I would (and the rules) prefer single-person entries, if it means the difference between someone working on it (with you) or not working on it at all?, then I’d definitely go with working on it with someone. :)

      Cheers on the dev enviornmnet. Very nice. I’m sure that with some tweaking, double buffering and vblank whatsits, you’ll easily be able to get that up over 5fps. Keep at it! 😀

      • FyberOptic says:

        There’s magic in those VGA latches. I pulled it up to 18fps.

        • Optimus6128 says:

          It’s indeed harder to have good framerate than I remember in the past. I am working on an a demo for 386 or 486, depends on how much I can optimize. Writing straight forward code on OpenWatcom can give some ok framerate on 386, depending on what you do. But even a simple fullscreen plasma (one of the easiest effects to optimize) cannot easily reach a very good framerate, unless you optimize in assembly. But I guess for a game things will be easier than demo with full screen pixel per pixel effects, you can hardware scroll in ModeX in all four directions and only render few sprites and get some good speed on 386.

          Actually, in how many Dosbox cycles do you get these results? Do you have set cycles in auto or max? Max will give plenty in my I7, faster than a good Pentium 1 speed. But auto setting is confusing, it might make things slow. Around 8000 is like a 386dx40, tested with norton SI even if it’s not precise. A 12000-16000 is a fair to good 486 I think.

          • FyberOptic says:

            I was leaving it at the default 3000 cycles, since I was hoping that would help me maintain a similar experience for anyone else who just installed it. I don’t really have a super modern computer though so that might be slower than for others. I haven’t a clue where my old Norton Utilities disks are to test it. Maybe I can find something to benchmark with, because that would be a better indicator of where I’m at.

            If I just blit the entire screen once and then scroll the screen around randomly I can pull off the full 70fps no problem, but that might change once I start making some actual game. I can only update tiles that need updating, and hope I don’t get any kind of graphical flicker, since pageflipping is out if I stick to just using the traditional 256K of VGA memory and scroll a 640×400 area. Actually, it’ll be a little less than 640×400, since I figured out how to use the split-screen functionality to put a status bar. And if I use any of the video memory for tile storage for fast blitting with the latches, I’ll have even less scroll area. But seeing as I have no idea what I’ll make yet, that might be fine!

          • FyberOptic says:

            So I did find my disk for Norton Utilities 6.01, as well as Checkit!, and my results are: ~8000 cycles = 100mhz 486 in Norton Sysinfo, and ~4000 cycles = 100mhz 486 in Checkit. This is on an E6300 Dual Core (not the Core 2 Duo version), 2.8ghz. Though different versions of Sysinfo might give different results, too. I think I have a later version somewhere.

            • Optimus6128 says:

              I think the 486dx at some mhz is what the SI reports at the first screen and it’s way off. Or have you used the benchmark (in some tab, I think with Alt+B)? This is the one I use to get an idea, and then play with Ctrl+F11/F12 to change cycles and see where it falls compared to the other bars. It’s more accurate when I later compare some games like Doom with the speed it reports. I think you have to climb at 20000 cycles for 100mhz 486.

              There is also PcEM emulator, quite unknown, one has to boot and install DOS like a real machine. But they say it’s more accurate (but still far off) and you can even specific choose CPU, Mhz and even how fast or slow your graphics card is.

              And there is also TopBench which has a bit database of PCs, it compares it and shows it relative to many others on the list.

  28. Shigor says:

    Too lazy to go 8bit… but I guess DOS and Turbo Pascal is retro enough these days?

  29. Epsilon says:

    I have a question. Is this a competition or a jam?

    • BleuLlama says:

      as mentioned to FyberOptic above: (This applies to compo vs jam … or solo vs with someone)

      “Technically, it /should/ be solo, but MiniLDs are even more relaxed than regular LDs, so if you do work with someone on this, please be sure to clearly note this with your submission. The real goal here is to get people working on stuff, so even though I would (and the rules) prefer single-person entries, if it means the difference between someone working on it (with you) or not working on it at all?, then I’d definitely go with working on it with someone.”

  30. GamerGoddessDin says:

    Time to go dig up my old AGT files. Might even try out some of the “Master” Share/Abandonware version exclusive features.

  31. Britt Brady (Gloom) says: basically the same exact theme is going on at the same time with this jam. cray cray

    • BleuLlama says:

      I knew about that one, but this one is a lot less stringent with the rules, and it also opens it up for making non-games as well. Theirs is also for 8/16 bit consoles, whereas for this if you wanted to make something for an Amiga CD32 (32 bit 68020 cpu) you can. (or 24 bit Amigas for that matter)

  32. dancan12345 says:

    If we have time could we do a 5-in-1 game or something?

  33. koredozo says:

    Got Dungeon RPG Maker for the PC-9801 working just in time for this. Count me in. I don’t think I can do custom art but look forward to some FM music :)

  34. metaldemon says:

    Awww crap. I sold my ZX81 to a collector a couple of months back. And Virtual Machines are not really my thing.

    The school year is coming to a close, so homework is more prevalent than fun.

    However, since I am fooling around with arduinos at school anyway. Is it okay if I wire up some buttons and an LCD screen and make a simple ASCII based game with an arduino? 😀

  35. josaphat says:

    This would be a first for me, but I’d like to try my hand — I’m not really clear with a “mini-LD” like this how to (register?) and so forth, though. (The links up top are all for the next “real” LD in 70 days) — need I do anything more than make a declaration on here?

    I don’t rightly have a means to get my project onto real hardware in the next week, but c/o Vice, I’d like to see if I can still remember enough to cross-compile a C64 game off my Linux box. I’m hoping/assuming that using “modern” tools is fair game, as long as the resulting game runs on the older hardware?

    • BleuLlama says:

      You just hit submit in end of the post above. You don’t need to “register” as such. You don’t even need to make a declaration here, unless you want to. 😉

      It is not necessary to get your software onto physical hardware. That would be cool, but not required. Emulation is just fine. :)

      And sure, Modern tools are AOK. No reason you need to be limited to what was around in 1982 if you’re doing an Apple II program. Cross-assemble, use modern IDEs… whatever. As long as it produces something that could be run, as expected, on old hardware, that’s great. 😀

      • BleuLlama says:

        Smiley overload. sorry about that. 😉

      • josaphat says:

        Right on. Thanks for the clarification.

        So far the toolchain looks better than the game, but it’s getting there. Custom compilers taking in PNG graphics and various text files to build a Commodore 64 binary, with a kernel, loader, and bootstrap written in 6510 assembler and cross-compiled.

        Due to time crunch, though, my husband is doing most of the map and dialog creation and some embedded scripts, and I’m doing the compilers, assembler, and graphics.

        No sound or music yet … creative Commons may be the answer. Maybe a MIDI-to-SID compiler…

  36. Kemoiz says:

    A proper time to wipe off the dust from my C64C ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Also, the first time I’m gonna do something more than border flashing in pure ASM.

  37. FyberOptic says:

    So is there any firm deadline decided at this point? Is it midnight eastern time tomorrow night? I’m curious since it’s getting close and I’m starting to have to decide what to focus on and what to skip.

  38. Optimus6128 says:

    Hoi hoi, I am going slow with my entry. Not much in the mood. I have something, but I hope it will even have gameplay at the end.

  39. Blueberry says:

    Luckily I stumbled across this compo a few days ago. :)

    I am now almost done with my Amiga 500 bootblock (1k) game, but there is a bit more to do. Is Monday night (European time) OK?

  40. Optimus6128 says:

    Best MiniLD ever! I was pretty happy coding again oldschool, after months of laziness (gaming, youtube), learned more about the CPC+, motivates me to make a real game for it. I hope there were more contests like this.

  41. naufr4g0 says:

    I’ve been waiting for so long for this LD contest, cause I’m currently practicing in the development of games for C64 in assembly.
    Unfortunately recent days were very busy for me, so I couldn’t partecipate. :(
    I hope there were other contests on retro-hardware. :)

  42. Bad Sector says:

    Last week i had the whole week off and i made a 3D maze program for my old DOS computers (a 286 and an original IBM PC 5150, although the latter isn’t fully operational yet). I spent most my time doing other stuff (playing games, etc) and i only noticed the MiniLD at Saturday night :-P. Too bad, because i would have spent more time trying to make a game out of it. I wanted to make a dungeon crawler in space… well i might do at some point in the future once i have my IBM PC running.

    Since it isn’t finished (and wasn’t really made for MiniLD, i just happened to make it during the MiniLD by accident), i’m not posting it. Instead here is a video of it running on my 286 in slow mode (turbo off), which i assume it is running around 6MHz or so. Eventual goal is to have this running on the original IBM PC at 4.77MHz.

    In “person” the flashes aren’t visible and the updates feel more instant. I’d guess that they happen because of the CRT.

  43. Jedi says:

    I got a very, very late start on my SNES entry so please don’t close this in the next couple of days if you can help it! Thanks! 😀

    After some seriously hard-headed engineering, I was able to make a flash cart that let’s me play my game on the original hardware. Now that I think about it, I guess that hardware could be part of my entry too!

  44. howieV (binarygirl) says:

    i would love to enter.. i would like the tackle amos on the amiga again.. for the life of me tho i cannot remember a single command ;p

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