Friday, March 20, 2015

Stick a Fork In It

Typically, sticking a fork in something means that it's finished. In my case, however, it means that I've only just begun.

I'm trying to participate in the GitHub Game-Off 2015. I created a tadpole game on the theme of "change" for the Game-Off in 2013. There was no Game-Off in 2014. This year the theme is "The Game Has Changed." The meaning behind that catchy phrase is that to participate, you fork another game repository on GitHub and modify it.

For some reason, it seems infinitely more difficult than making a game from scratch. Just picking a game to fork was overwhelming. There are just so many. All Game-Off games have to be playable in a browser, so I try to stick with ones that are made with some JavaScript/HTML5 technology because I only have a limited amount of time and don't believe I have long enough to learn anything completely new (a fair number of past entries have been created with Unity, for example).

js-warrior, one of several HTML5 Dragon Warrior clones
I thought about forking one of several Dragon Warrior clones that are hanging around.

The draw for me was that I always loved that game and its sequels on NES back in the old days. But how could I modify it? Change the game assets to be frogs or something I suppose. When I was a kid I dreamed of being able to create my own towns and castles and dungeons for the game. I thought about adding simultaneous multi-player using Websockets, with which I have a bit of experience. But in the end I decided that most of them are so unfinished that the biggest thing I could do to them would be to add in all the missing parts of the original game. And while that would be somewhat satisfying, I could just play the originals on my Raspberry Pi Emulation Station any time I want. I can't play on the web, though... Oh well, maybe I can come back to this later.

My daughter wanted me to do a Flappy Bird clone. There is a pretty good one, Clumsy Bird, which uses MelonJS. But it just didn't feel right. I don't know, maybe I'm just over the whole Flappy Bird thing. It was fun a year ago, but now? The suggestion did inspire me to write a comic though (it runs next week). Anyway, I've also thought about doing a side-scrolling infinite runner for a while now so I searched for a good candidate to fork. Unfortunately, I didn't find any I thought would work for me. That will have to remain on my to-do list as well, but I'll probably write one from scratch if I ever get a few weeks free.

But I finally found a good candidate for forking. Octocat Jump from the 2012 Game-Off is about as close to perfect as I can find. I like the jumpiness of it (I can use a frog instead of the Octocat), it's JavaScript, it already has a to-do list of things I should be able to add, and it uses a game framework called Crafty that looks like it should be easy enough to learn in a short time. I'm already about a week behind, so I hope it goes well.

All my hard thinking about forks over the past week also gave me the idea for today's comic.

Amphibian.com comic for 20 March 2015