April 26th-29th 2013 :: Theme: Minimalism

Ludum Dare 26 — April 26-29th, 2013
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by Cybearg - 48 Hour Compo Entry

Video (for those who can't play): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o2WSCxtwIk

Play as a little bat named Ping. Guide her through dark caves using echolocation, finding tasty bugs and avoiding dangerous owls and painful crashes.

The game will require an Atari 2600 emulator like Stella to work.

EDIT: Try JavAtari (link above) to play the ROM online rather than having to download Stella.

Press spacebar to use echolocation and move using the arrow keys. Using echolocation costs 25 points. Points can be gained by making progress to the right and by eating bugs. Avoid owls and walls or you will lose a life. Try to navigate using as few echolocation pings as possible in order to maximize score.

Downloads and Links




martijn says ...
Apr 28, 2013 @ 9:31pm

Holy crap, are you the guy on twitch that was programming his game on an actual atari.

either way, this is a pretty fun game. I found myself constantly using ping and not really getting any score.

Also sometimes when I ping, the bird moves forward. Is this by design?

Cybearg says ...
Apr 28, 2013 @ 10:10pm

I don't know how exactly to reply to comments, so I'll just awkwardly comment on my own thing...

Nope, that's someone else, though I did program this FOR the Atari. I don't know how you'd program ON an Atari 2600. Maybe using an Atari 800 computer? That wasn't me, though.

By the bird, I assume you mean the owls and not the player (since you're playing as a bat). In either case, no, the ping isn't programmed to move anything. Perhaps it looks tricky because the owls, bugs, etc. all move in the dark and you can only see them with a ping.

CagedRat says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 3:26am

Love it! One of the best Atari 2600 games I've played.

skwirl3014 says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 4:58am

Wow, an actual rom! How exciting

Cybearg says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 5:02am

To those two would like to play but don't want to download an emulator, try JavAtari, which allows you to emulate the game online: http://javatari.org/online.html

Sadly, I wasn't aware of it when I made this post.

danblack says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 6:09am

Nice game and really nice touch making a Rom. I also didn't pay much attention to the score though. Personally I would have liked to have seen a slightly different play structure. For example hitting anything taking you back to the start of the level (with infinite retries) but having only limited 'pings' per level to make it more of a challenge. Really nice game though. Well played sir.

Apr 29, 2013 @ 6:19am

Downloading the ROM isn't working for me =(

martijn says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 7:39am

Anyways Great game

Apr 29, 2013 @ 8:30am

It is, you can't really help what you get famous for, sadly, and people LOVE to judge you or put you down for what you do... it sucks. And I need to play this, I need to play so many games, lol. I'll have to make a special hour of the day to get through it.

Cybearg says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 8:38am

@ButtercupSaiyan: Sorry to hear. Maybe make another screenname to do other stuff with so things won't follow you around.

@Filth and Money: Try the mirrored link. I had someone else say they couldn't download any file called "ping" for whatever reason, so I put the bin in a zip. Maybe it'll work better.

@danblack: Setting the player back to the start of the level is kind of arbitrary, since the levels are randomized from a set of 16 + a random roll for spawns, so putting them back is the same as letting them continue on, except for their inability to gain further points (which, in your case, don't matter anyway). Plus I worry that it would be too frustrating.

I had considered allowing only a certain number of pings per screen but rejected it because I was afraid that the player being stuck in the dark with no pings left would be a dick move on my part. Still, it may be something worth trying out in a future revision of the ROM. Perhaps give points for how many pings the player has remaining once they reach the end of the stage, rather than basing them on their progress? I like the idea.

danblack says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 9:45am

I didn't realise the levels were random. Yeah that idea only works if you are making progress, which would also be nice.

As for limiting pings I wouldn't worry about stranding a player in the dark. Maybe you could band the levels. 3 stars if you use < 3 pings, 2 stars for < 5, 1 star for < 7. So there is a limit but a pretty easy one and still an incentive to use less.

I hope you take the concept further. It really nice already and got loads of potential.

josefnpat says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 11:30am

I downloaded and built stella from source to try to play this game, but all I got was some purple curtians, and then it locked up.

I then installed a java7 plugin to use the website you mentioned, and I got this: http://i.imgur.com/LfIdX00.png

*Sigh* Perhaps you can post a video? That'd be super cool.

Clavus says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 12:09pm

Great little game :)

Cybearg says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 12:53pm

@josefnpat Why did you need to compile? I think that there are compiled binaries for most systems available for Stella: http://stella.sourceforge.net/downloads.php - Unless you're using some version of Linux that is incompatible?

Here is a video briefly showing some gameplay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o2WSCxtwIk

@danblack It's certainly something I'll consider. Your star rating idea would probably need to be converted into a score since the nice thing about a score is that is can be easily quantified. If I get three stars on one room, two on another, and three on the next one, how exactly can the cumulative progress be saved? Displaying all those stars on screen in some kind of star-based total score is not practical on the Atari 2600, sadly.

As for the randomized levels, I'm pleased that you weren't able to notice that they were looping. Yes, progress would be nice, and maybe that can be done in a later version. For now, though, I had limited time and limited space (4kilobytes). The ROM is filled up to within 40 bytes of the 4kb limit, so there will need to be some reworking in order to build it so that more can fit in.

Xeke_Death says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 3:55pm

I got just over 500 points! I managed most rooms with one or two pings. I noticed that I could still use my echo location even if I had less than 25 points, and I never went below 0. Would be handy if I was going for distance, but what is the point of distance if you don't have the points to show for it?

Brassawiking says ...
Apr 29, 2013 @ 6:10pm

This just strikes me, that if you had made this back in the days, it would probably have been a real powerhit among gamers. Great job!

Cybearg says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 2:00am

@danblack Try ROM v1.2 a try. you may find it more to your liking!

Cybearg says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 2:26am

To clarify the above, those curious to see advancements to the game can check out the AtariAge link above, but remember that only the version I posted originally is valid for voting, so please only vote on the original ROM in the first link on this page.

nintendoeats says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 4:56am

Now hold on a second...Warren Robinett spent a month giving Adventure multiple rooms. Are you sure that you didn't write any code beforehand :P

It is awesome that you made this. It's also actually a pretty good game. I feel like any other comments I might have about it would be pointless.

Gremlin says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 5:01am

I can't seem to get the original ROM to run. The second version works in the emulator without a problem, but the first seems to have issues (just shows up as random purple lines). I'm on Windows running the Stella emulator, though the Java one gives me the same issues.

john_conder9 says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 5:02am

I liked it but I have to say it was quite a challenge! I'm not so good at this type of memory lol, so my score never really got over 100. Awesome concept though, playing as a bat and using echo-location to navigate is something I never thought I'd be doing today.

Cybearg says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 5:47am

@Gremlin I've never encountered that issue... Well, if you can't get the first version to work, then consider that second version to be a bugfixed version and rate it, instead. It was made within the allotted time for bug fixes, anyway.

@nintendoeats I had some great tools with the vBb IDE for batari basic (http://atariage.com/forums/topic/123849-visual-bb-1-0-a-new-ide-for-batari-basic/) that allowed me to create the maps in a quick, point-and-click program, rather than typing them out one bit at a time.

Thanks to all for the kind words! I'm glad that folks are enjoying my humble contribution. :)

biscuitdough says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 7:11am

Cool in concept, points for just being on the 2600.

timtimtimtim says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 7:12am

fun execution of theme. i loved the score-based incentive for using few pings. i would have liked it better if the rooms weren't randomized and progress was saved after death, though

PiotGuy says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 8:26am

Cool and very innovative, I really like it !

ashdnazg says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 2:04pm

It's an absolutely wonderful game mechanic!

MinionStudios says ...
Apr 30, 2013 @ 11:55pm

Great game. Really fun and a little tough. Wish it was a cartridge

Osgeld says ...
May 1, 2013 @ 3:13am

good 2600 title, could have been a retail game back in the day

TenTonToon says ...
May 1, 2013 @ 6:01am

Awesome! The fact that it's actually an Atari 2600 game is mind-blowing to boot, but it stands on its own merits as a real fun game, with a great main mechanic, and also fits the theme to a t.
Hands down, one of my favourite games of this LD! :D

Now, maybe you could contact the guys from RGCD to make some physical copies of this game? :) If you do, save one for me!

Congratulations! :)

Demurgos says ...
May 1, 2013 @ 7:29pm

That's impressive how you coded this game for Atari. It's well rendered and nice. Although it become a bit repetitive, I love the concept.

So bad there's no PM system (or I don't know how to use it) but you leaved a comment on this game : http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=15080
You told that controls are clumsy and unintuitive, can you explain why you feel that ? Because I simply coded the movement following a grid like on most of puzzle games, up to go up, right to go right and so on. You're not the first commenting this way and I'd like to understand what's really the problem to improve it.

berkano says ...
May 1, 2013 @ 7:51pm

I'm blown away... really creative idea in a 4k atari rom... minimalism to the max!

Cybearg says ...
May 1, 2013 @ 7:52pm

Sorry, I was mistaken, Demurgos. I think that fewer people would get confused if you listed the arrow keys first at the primary method of movement. I read the QZAD keys as being the movement controls and was trying to move around with that, which was very clumsy.

SmilingCat says ...
May 1, 2013 @ 10:32pm

Wow, knowing what I know of programming the 2600 hardware, this is no small feat to have done this from scratch in 48 hours.

On top of that, it is actually a really cool game concept and well executed at all levels.


rzfmzn says ...
May 2, 2013 @ 2:38am

Dude, fantastic! =OD
(and its not awkward to answer to people) =OP

Jyrkface says ...
May 2, 2013 @ 5:04am

Fantastic game! Really enjoyed the authenticity of the retro feel. Definitely feels different from just using atari 2600 samples and old graphics, and, given the theme, I thought presentation was damn near perfect on all fronts.

Tyro says ...
May 2, 2013 @ 5:16am

This is superb! Colliding with the wall always felt like it was genuinely the player's fault, rather than being the result of wonky code. The sound effects were fitting and the visuals simple yet well pieced together. Finally, I liked how using the echolocation was entirely optional, allowing a more skilled player to stay shrouded in darkness longer.

One of the best LD games I've played of late. Give it a try, peeps.

Jorjon says ...
May 3, 2013 @ 7:22am

Impressive! Really good job!!

Spiridios says ...
May 3, 2013 @ 5:50pm

Would have liked another mechanic rather than health, but over all really liked the game. The fact that it's on an Atari is just cool.

Cybearg says ...
May 3, 2013 @ 10:49pm

@Spiridios What did you have in mind?

Test User says ...
May 5, 2013 @ 5:37am

Nice atari game!

pvwradtke says ...
May 5, 2013 @ 6:53am

Great, I wish more Atari games were this good back then. Loved the sonar idea and the graphics are just what I'd expect from an old time Atari game. If there's a drawback, is that the sonar usage could be a bit more restricted, with a wait time between each ping. Other than that, great game.

ohsqueezy says ...
May 5, 2013 @ 1:32pm

I like the the score system, using the distance traveled without using ping. It lets players choose their own level of difficulty and integrates risk/reward into the basic controls. :D

May 8, 2013 @ 2:22pm

Wow, very cool game! Reminded me of my childhood!

The game has many screens, the pacing is very nice and the difficulty curve is not steep (i lost my first life only after 10-15 screens). The fact it is a rom for Atari make this game as minimalist as it can be!

Overall, a very fun and enjoyable experience, awesome work! Congratulations!

SnoringFrog says ...
May 9, 2013 @ 10:07am

Cool idea, even cooler that it was made as an Atari 2600 ROM. Managed to get a top score of almost 1200 before I decided to call it quits.

Hume says ...
May 10, 2013 @ 12:42am

Hey, you played UltraPew as "Play Ping on LD", so I did...sorry there was nobody on the server at the time ;)

I'm really impressed. It works, it's playable. I did have an input issue with the Java emulator but it was clearly not YOUR issue.

Really excited about your dev journal too -- I spent most of LD dealing with technical issues too, but you made a point of posting progress. Fascinating read, much appreciated.

Cybearg says ...
May 10, 2013 @ 2:12am

@Hume The dev journal was actually kind of fun.

Haha, it's cool that my little bit of self-promotion paid off there. Thanks!

fermcg says ...
May 11, 2013 @ 12:17am

Saw this on the video compilation and thought "Cool... the guy made something Atari Style"... Paused and searched for it...

It's actually an Atari ROM!!!!

Spiridios says ...
May 16, 2013 @ 7:54pm

@Cybearg It felt a little overly punishing, but then a lot of Atari games were like that. I played it again to give a better answer to your question.... And I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking for a different mechanic (the problem with checking back 13 days after leaving a comment). Perhaps some kind of score modifier/subtractor for hitting walls (though pinging already does this).

May 28, 2013 @ 3:57pm

The pixelart is really nice.

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