Nov 28 2010

Small World

Over at 8bitRocket, back on 19 November they announced* a contest to produce a retro web** game. Specifically, a game which is inspired by an Atari*** game, with an executable package**** not to exceed 16kb. For the non-tech types, that’s pretty small these days.

*- I need to give a shout out to Gaming After 40, because I saw the announcement repeated on his blog. I happened to be extremely busy on the weekend of the 19th, and missed 8bitRocket’s original post.

**- web being any web platform– Silverlight, Flash, HTML5, Javascript, if you could do a small enough Unity game I imagine it would be ok…

***- Atari being defined extremely broadly.

****- ie: the program and all the resources it’s going to use.

Anyway, I’m going to build an entry, and I’ll try to make posts as I progress. Click the read more for the first.

So the first question is whether I’m technically able to enter at all. I’ve never had reason to pay much attention to the size of my .swf files early on, usually my target is between 1 and 2 MB, or 64-128 times larger than the maximum size for the contest.

Step 1 of course was to launch FlashDevelop, create an empty project, and compile it. It came out a 828 bytes (.8kb)

Step 2 was to write a ‘Hello World’ program. Since the ultimate project needs to be an interactive game, mine implements a splash screen, key handler, state machine, and timer. :) You can see it here.

With a 16k target, I don’t -think- there is any reason to worry about a pre-loader.

You can also see that I’m cheating a little by using system fonts rather than embedding. I’m telling myself that the Atari 800 had a system font in ROM, so that’s ok. The little ‘Hello World’ comes to 2.55kb for a debug build, and 2.01kb as a release build. If it comes to it, I can tweak my release options. I think I’m in business.

One last note…this is a screenshot of Windows Task Manager’s process list…

My debug flash player needs to grab 12MB of system RAM to run my ‘Hello World’ … or approximately 256 times more RAM than my Atari 800 had!

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