Keywords: inspiration

One Christmas when I was a kid, my aunt and uncle bought me a book called Tim Hartnell's Second Giant Book of Computer Games. It contained several dozen games spanning many genres, each written in BASIC. Tim Hartnell was a programmer who thought that programming should be accessible and fun for everybody; he would've liked BYOND. His games are a perfect fit for the DM language, and most of them can be a starting point for a truly great game.

In the entries below I'll skip some sections that aren't especially gamey, like "Discovering the Real You" which had stuff like tarot and biorhythms. "A Bit of Magic" is a section of computer guessing games that are the sort of multiply-by-9 tricks you see in e-mail these days. Focusing on games, though, leaves you a lot of choices and a lot of great ideas to use.

Action and Excitement

The Big Maze

This game puts the player in—surprise—a maze. BYOND can generate mazes pretty well. Obviously this is just a seed, so think bigger. Maybe there are multiple levels to the maze, or it's fully 3D—as likely to go up or down as in any other direction. Mazes are good places to set adventures, or treasure hunts. Or maybe you could have players chased around by a stick mon—wait. Well, how about a minotaur?

Cavalier 'Chute

The player controls a skydiver, parachuting onto a raft that's being tossed about by ocean waves. The skydiver can move only left or right. As the levels progress, the raft gets smaller and moves faster. Land in the water and it's game over. Points are earned for how well you land.

Jumping Fallout

This is a pretty clever game actually. You have the numbers 1 through 9 above a 9×9 grid of blocks and empty space. Each turn, a row on the grid can be moved left or right, wrapping around as it goes. As the row moves, Numbers fall through into the empty spaces. Your goal: Move as few rows as possible to clear the numbers from the board. A variant makes you try to get the numbers in order. As a BYOND game you can go further and make this a timed puzzle, and add sound effects.


This twitch game requires two players to press their keys as fast as possible. Advanced levels may show an arrow, a pattern, whatever, and require fast response. BYOND isn't as suited for twitch play, but this concept has legs enough that you could get something out of it.

Hutt Racer

Your car is headed down a track that winds left and right, while you dodge cars coming at you and the track gets narrower as you go. The farther you can go without crashing, the greater your score.


On the space patrol, your ship is battling an alien on a 10×10 grid. Neither of you can leave the edge grid (it doesn't wrap) but your goal is to blast sectors of space out of existence around him until he can't move. You can't blast him directly (or you'll die in the blast), but you can trap him against the sides or in a loop of destroyed space. The game tells you how much danger the alien is feeling (more as he gets near to the sides) so you can adjust your strategy. If you think about it, this is rife with multiplayer opportunities, and you could even set it in a hex grid for a nice variation.


Yep, this is what you think it is. But in this game the goal isn't to mark the entire field, but to get across safely.

Car Thirteen

This is kind of like the old board game Stop Thief! where you're trying to catch a criminal on the city streets, but you have to follow the clues where he is. At the outset you're informed of a robbery at a specific intersection. During the game your car has to get to where the robber is, but the robber keeps driving around trying to evade you. You receive updates on the radio as the thief moves in different directions or stops at a red light. The original game took place on a very simple map, but you have more freedom on BYOND.


This twitch game is an archery game where you try to stop a moving indicator at just the right time to control how far left or right, up or down you go.

Daniel Morgan's Militia

The British are coming! You move left and right and fire your limited ammo at the ranks of British soldiers, represented by random digits, loosely arranged in several rows. The further back and the higher number they are, the more points they yield. The soldiers keep advancing until you win or lose, and then your soldiers are rated based on the score, shots fired, and the skill level at which you played. This could be adapted to multiplayer, and even be made to run in waves. And for you British, you can pretend the bad guys are Argentinians or something.


Your goal is to rack up fares and tips by picking up passengers and taking them to their destinations; both appear at random points on the map. The fare goes up the longer you take to get there, but the tip goes down much faster, so it's best to be quick. Driving around uses up gas, which you have to pay for, so you have to refuel periodically. The game ends when you run out of gas. Getting held up at a rail or bus station also reduces your fuel. This would be a blast with multiple players, competing for passengers in a big map. Introduce other traffic issues like red lights and construction zones, and you've got a heck of a competition. For even more fun, try a delay between passenger appearances.

Through Dungeons Deep

Ghost Hunter

Think of this as sort of a stripped-down adventure with melee combat. You're trapped in a haunted house, going from room to room and battling undead monsters that come at you. The game tosses in Batman-styled "sound effects", and as you fight them you grow stronger. Your dexterity, stamina, and speed are the major factors, with stamina going up for each success. Dexterity is your chance of landing a hit, stamina vs. a monster's scare factor determines how likely they are to hit you (stamina goes up as you win battles), and speed figures your chance of escape. Get strong enough to take on the spirit in the basement, and you can rid the house of its ghosts forever.

Gotham Runner

After the apocalypse, you and your trusty mutant pit pony are on the run trying to cross 100 miles of the wasteland that was New York City before a pack of wild dogs on your trail can catch up and kill you. You have four choices at each stop: Eat from supplies, proceed cautiously, make a run for it, or take a rest stop. Each choice comes with its own perils. As you go the pack gains on you, but you also have to deal with the perils of the encroaching wilderness, gangs of mutants left behind, contaminated rations, and the possible death of your pit pony. Can you make it in time?

Orbital Pilot

This game is essentially a choose-your-own-adventure, with a series of yes/no questions that can lead you into further trouble, or to victory or disaster. A yes/no interface could be a powerful one in any game, not just an adventure.

It's a Mad, Mad World

Another yes/no choose-your-own, this one abandons logic and puts you in the place of an escaped mental patient whose hanglider has crashed on a beach. You might encounter tigers, pirates, genies, and more. If you encounter pirates in the water for example, you can to back to shore or you can board and become a pirate yourself for a few years. As an idea seed, take any standard game idea and throw in a few gallons of zany.

Off The Wall Adventure

This is sort of a proto-Roguelike, in which you're cast into a random cave system. There's no persistent mapping in this game (computers of the time just couldn't handle random terrain too well). The scenery is rich, including illusionary walls, natural breaks in the rock, crystal chasms, etc. But while you're enjoying that, and finding occasional loot along the way, monsters will come and attack you and sap your health; you can fight or try to run from each one. When I was a kid I tried modifying this with more descriptions and some fun stuff like a shopkeeper who could sell you vital supplies. It's a fun place to get started adventuring.

The Sporting Challenge

The Kentucky Derby

While you might need to rename this for trademark reasons, the concept is pretty simple. Players bet virtual money on virtual horse races. The odds remain constant (although you could come up with a scheme to change that) and determine your payout. The odds also determine the chances that a given horse will move at each "turn", and you see them race across the board. This could be changed to the odds of them accelerating, with their speed dropping bit by bit as they go along, to give it a more fluid feel. This game practically begs for multiplayer action, and you don't just have to race horses. How about mice or cockroaches?

Home Run!

This is another game of timing, which is used to determine how well you hit a baseball. The concept can be expanded, though, allowing pitchers to throw the perfect pitch or not, possibly also influencing outfield play. This concept could easily be modified to other sports like soccer, although I will not be held liable for any rioting that may result.


This one is kind of an odd fighting game. You pick one of six positions on the mat to take, and once you and your opponent are in the same spot, one will have the initiative. The attacker picks a move, and the defender counters. There are six attack moves to choose from, six defense moves, and the lower number you pick, the higher chance you'll succeed but the lower the points you'll get for it. Play goes to 32 points.


A sister program to Judo, the boxing one just chooses a different theme and a different style of combat. Both combatants choose an attack and a defense (but from fewer choices), and that determines the success of each. You gain points as you go along, and can win on points or a knockout.

Australian Rules Football

A game combining strategic choices and timing, this one has both teams trying to score the most before time runs out. The choices are of course simplified, which is good because I don't even understand those. If this was American football the choices would be something like pass or run, with options to punt, try for a field goal, or run a normal pass/run play on 4th down. Timing takes over from there. Many fairly successful football games have been built around the premise of both teams picking an offensive and defensive play to run. There's lots of room for multiplayer fun with this concept.


Choose your club, and hit it with just the right timing to avoid a hook or a slice, and to get maximum power. The original game didn't show a course or let you aim, so anything you do on a modern computer will be a big improvement. The same can be done with mini-golf, too, allowing players simply to point and click to control their aim.


Like the football game, this is about choices, but the timing element is taken out. I'd explain more what the choices are, but like a great turtle once said, you have to know what a crumpet is to understand cricket.

Just for Fun

The Creative Process

This poetry generator is kind of like Mad Libs, building off a list of verbs and nouns and such and a few simple templates, outputting a result that's still better than anything Emily Dickinson ever wrote. You could easily build a game on this, perhaps something like Lexiconomy that uses a Mad-Lib form, jumbles up players' noun and verb submissions, and lets you vote on the results.


This "trivia for one" game scrambles the names of cities and judges you on how many moves it takes to unscramble them.


The goal in this game is to find a number that the computer can't turn into a palindrome in less than 5 moves. Each move, the computer will reverse the digits and add that to the number, which normally gives it a palindrome, but by some clever thinking you can outlast it. Something along these lines is probably good game fodder.

The Polybius Cipher

This simple program just encodes or decodes a message for you. It'd be pretty easy to build a game around the concept of cracking simple ciphers.

The Patented Limerick Machine

A limerick generator that takes some rhyming words and phrases and throws them together. Simple, really. Why not make it a game? What if each player came up with a limerick with certain rhymes, and their lines got mixed up and put into different results? Hilarity ensues.


A quickie domino game of chaning together matching ends until you run out of tiles.


Flip a coin! You pick a combination of 3 coins in a row (like heads, tails, heads) and the computer picks a different combination based on knowing the odds. In three tosses if neither case comes up, you keep flipping until one of your sequences has appeared. Play to five rounds. Because of the way the odds work, the computer should always be able to find a better combination. But mix in more players and, well, all bets are off!

Story Board

More Mad-Libs fun. Perhaps you could make a list of sentence templates and then use that to string a bizarre but funny story together. The more players the merrier.

Intellectual Twisters

Betty Big-Brain

This game generates seven numbers, usually in the range of 1-200 or so, and generates a target number. Using two of the given numbers, and an operator (+ - * /), you must come as close as you can to the target number.

The Word-Square Engine

Ever play word searches? BYOND is more than capable of taking a list of words, and building a word search grid to find them in. It's a fun challenge to program, and you can easily make it into a clever game.

Oliver Rand / Bridget

Your goal is to beat the computer by connecting lines from left to right, while it's trying to connect from top to bottom. This is similar to Hex, only it doesn't use hexes. Picture a checkered 11×11 board with light corners. You take the dark squares on the left and right; color them red, then color all the others in the same rows. All remaining dark squares become blue. Except for the corners, you have to fill in the light squares a turn at a time with your color until you can move all the way from the left end to the right without leaving your color. The computer can actually be taught how to win the game no matter what you do, as long as it goes first.


This checkers variant is based on the struggle of the Lapplanders and Finns about 2,000 years ago. You capture pieces the same way as in checkers, moving forward only and jumping over opposing pieces. You play to 7 captures. When your piece reaches the other side, it becomes your enemy's piece—though not a king like in checkers—since the Finns and the Lapps eventually melded cultures.

Scintillating Simulations

The Mayor of Minneapolis

You're running for mayor against another candidate. The voters have specific pet issues, which adds up to a sort of ideal budget they want. Whoever gets closer to their wishes wins the most votes. You find out what they want from several polls run during the prgogram, which say an issue is vital, unimportant, important, or perhaps neutral, based on your pledges.

Big Joe's Space Rig

There are several kinds of cargo you can choose from, but the best payouts come from the loads that are most perishable. During the game you control your speed and when you stop to sleep or eat. Failing to eat or sleep can have some bad consequences, as can speeding too much—it can get you fined by the locals. This is pretty easy to flesh out into a bigger trade game. Why not start here and make the next great game of trade empires?

The Crusades

This checkers variant is based around the historical First Crusade, with one player as the Byzantines and one as the Saracens. Each playable square corresponds to a historical city. There are no multiple jumps. You gain a point by jumping an enemy piece and by reaching sanctuary the other side—where your piece is then removed from play. The first player to score 5 wins.

Sheep Station

You're in charge of a sheep station and it's up to you to make it profitable. There's an ideal number of sheep per acre, and your land can be parceled out to support both sheep and grain. You can buy, sell, or barter as you go along, and each year you have to pay mortgage fees to the bank. The cost of food and land fluctuates. The goal is to manipulate the market and gain value for your station.

The Oval Office

During your presidency, you have to control spending (ha ha ha ha ha!) while also managing economic factors like inflation and unemployment that annoy the voters. Random events cost the country money, and some investments build up the treasury. Can you stay in office before the angry public recalls you? Can you make it to a second term?

Grand Prix

Have you ever thought of racing as strategy more than action? If so, you'll like figuring out when to shift gears, and change your acceleration and brake pressure. At each turn you're informed of the maximum recommended speed for that section of the track, your tachometer and speed, and how much distance you've covered. In a multiplayer setting, this can get really interesting.

Asteroid Mine

Running a successful ore mine on an asteroid can be a challenge. You have to keep the hydroponics and oxygen web stocked, which means you have to worry about growing and harvesting, while you also have to decide how many hectares to mine. You need a certain number of workers to mine each hectare, and of course the station's population use up oxygen and food. Not every hectare you explore will bear a lode, and you may or may not sell to the visitors your station receives each cycle. Your station has maintenance overhead for robots and such, and you can come under attack from hostile aliens. Can you make the asteroid successful?


Based on a city in Bolivia, this simulation requires you to manage food, taxes, and population. If enough food isn't produced, you have to buy it. To buy food, you have to tax the people, so you have to control how much you tax them. The more food they have, the more they'll multiply. You can't just let them starve, though, because once their population falls below a level like 10,000, you'll be removed from office.

Roman Empire

Playing out a test of strategy to determine the next emperor, your goal is to use your allotment of troops against your rival's equal allotment of troops to gain control of the empire. Each turn you can only move or attack, but you can't do both. When you attack your opponent can move in troops as a response. It's simplified combat, old world style.

Making Your Own Games

Somewhere in there, the next great BYOND game is waiting to be born. Actually about fifty of them are waiting to be born. If you ever get stuck thinking up game ideas, remember that even a simple concept can make a terrific game. This was Tim's second book like this, remember. Creativity is easier than you think—just start small.

Nifty list Lummox. Thanks :)
Great List Lummox!
Stop Thief! Sounds like fun =D
If you've never played Stop Thief!, this is how it goes: The game board is a small section of a city, broken up into tiles. Some of those tiles are street, some are inside buildings. The game starts the thief at some random location and then keeps you guessing as to where he is, by playing sound effects as he moves about. The thief may go through a window, causing you to hear breaking glass, or you may hear a door open or just hear footsteps.

The way the board is laid out, the first few moves may not tell you anything significant because several different spots might be the thief's real location. It's part logic puzzle, part memory challenge, all fun. Incidentally, lists this as one of the most culturally significant board games in the last 200 years; its major milestone was to be one of the first widespread games to integrate electronics into its core gameplay.
I thought this was going to be a post about an STD...
Its a board game? Wow, is it still availiable?
Very inspiring.. Too bad im hard up for time and not idea ^_^.. Love the effort though, im sure more list's like this one will get BYOND going into the right direction once again.
Ooold post I'm bumping here, but it's opened my eyes a lot, as much as I hope it does others.