The 2005 4K challenge is behind us now, and it got me thinking: A lot of the great old cartridge games of the '80s had a limit not of 4K, but 8K. Of course, they needed all that space for graphics and music, but let's forget that for a moment. Those games focused on gameplay and could do quite a lot with their puny 8K of code. But then, most of them were written to draw on the capabilities of the computer's larger ROM, and with that came abilities granted by the operating system or by the computer hardware itself.

So thinking along these lines, I thought: Why not an 8K challenge? But not just any 8K challenge. After all, an 8K isn't all that different from a 4K; just a little roomier with a little less compression. What we need is a challenge where libraries can be used, just like the hardware on those old consoles, but the game itself must still be kept simple. To that end I'm pleased to announce the very first Cartridge Classic, a competition to create the best games in 8K, with libraries.

Prizes for the competition will be paid out in the ever rarer BYONDimes, with $50 going to 1st place, $40 to 2nd place, $30 3rd, $20 4th, and $10 5th. I'll also be including a year's subscription to my Regex library for all the top 5 and up to 5 honorable mentions. More prizes may be added later; stay tuned. Meanwhile let's go over the ground rules:
  • The 8K limit is only on .dm files in your game.
  • The entry must be submitted with complete source code and all the files needed to compile and run the game. Libraries you use need not be included; they can be downloaded separately. However you should list in a separate file, such as readme.txt, which libraries you used (i.e., Skysaw.Dictionary, Spuzzum.s_smiley).
  • Published libraries (anything in DM.Libraries) do not count against the 8K limit. The libraries used must be free, and they may not be used as "dumping sites" for your game's code. It's one thing to upgrade your library or even submit one during the contest, another to use it to store all your game's code; the library must be available to all. (I'll be adding a simple proc to a DmiFonts update to allow easy use of name overlays, to add class to the games.)
  • Since DmiFonts produces .dm files, those .dm files will also be allowed and will not count against the total. However, they may only be modified to the extent of tweaking font parameters and changing the 'fontfile.dmi' in single quotes to a double-quoted version.
  • Entries must be open-source.
  • Games may be single- or multi-player, or both.
  • Judges may not judge their own games, but they may participate.
  • Multiple games are allowed.
  • You may publish your game(s) on the hub for players to download, either the game itself or the source or both, before the deadline. However there is no requirement to do this or even to create a hub entry.
  • Deadline is October 31, 2005, 11:59 PM BST. That's 3 months away. (A Halloween theme is not necessary.)
Judging will cover all aspects of the game. Gameplay is a huge part of that, since the game must be fun more than anything else. A good interface is key; browse() may or may not be your friend. If the game is multiplayer, some rudimentary troll control is almost a must; nothing too fancy is needed. Sound is great too.

Oh, and one more little detail: You'll be competing against me. I will likely be submitting a revival of my game PlunderMine.

Let's make this the best contest yet. The BYOND community has a lot of talented people, and with version 3.5's new sound features--to say nothing of some of the stuff Shadowdarke and I are cooking up for the next release, which will likely be before the deadline--I know a lot of people can put together spectacular games in 3 months. An 8K limit will be tricky to work with, especially using libraries, but it's very doable. At the end I think BYOND will have a lot of great new games--and I think a few more libraries for making great games.

Good luck!
Whoo! An 8k challenge? :P Maybe I can submit one of my 4k attempts...
If you were to dust off half your incomplete projects and finish them, if they could be compressed to 8K that is, you could well sweep the top 5. Heck, I'd pay $150 to see that.
Letting the judges have games could be a problem... They might give the games they do judge bad scores so they can have a better chance. I understand you're allowing that because you want to judge and enter and you know the people you trust to judge are also the people who will enter and make very good games, but I would just be careful who you pick if I were you.
I'll see what I can do. :P
Aaiko - I hope the judges are more trustworthy than that. =)

You could do some mucking about with stats to remove the impact of deliberately harsh judging, like standardising the scores each judge gives based on the average score they gave to all the games. That way each judge has to rate some games up and some down whether they like it or not.

Might enter... might not... we'll see.
I like Crispy's averaging thingamajig. Even if judges don't mean to they're bound to have different ideas on what should get a nine.

I hope to participate, and have an idea in mind. Hopefully, I can pull it off in 8K. =)
What are your rules about JavaScript? Is there a limit to how much can be done with it? =P
Hmmm....Sounds fun. I don't know if I'll enter or not.
What are your rules on team-made games?
Like say I get my team to help me make a game under 8K, will I be able to submit it?
My teams a little busy right now, and with school coming up.....
Oh well. The deadlines October 31, so I have plenty of time to decide what I'm going to do.
To answer your concern, Aaiko, based on Crispy's suggestion I think I'll handle judging like Gughunter did in the 2002 4K: By asking judges to rank games and using the rank as a score. I.e., the game you vote as #1 gets the most points from your allotment. It'd have to be adjusted so the numbers all come out even, but that's the easy part. In fact this system has a major advantage in that judges having different numbers of entries to handle will offset the totals enough to prevent most ties.

Wiz: Writing a huge chunk of the game in JavaScript, such as just about all of it, would be bad. However writing parts of the interface in JavaScript is encouraged. I used JavaScript in Runt to display the game map. If intelligent work is done with JavaScript in browse() it'll make for a better game interface. The game itself really needs to be a BYOND game, though. No skimping there. (And although I didn't address it, anyone who wants to write their own mini-engine in DM may do so. It's near impossible in 4K, and pretty close to that in 8.)

Jamesburrow: Teams are very welcome to submit games. The cash prize would have to be split among your team. With little things like the Regex subscription that would probably need a team key, or I may just make that part fungible and award it to the whole team. If a team submits a game, please make the judges aware of who was involved in the project.
Are we allowed to make a hub entry for what we plan on submitting?
Last night i dusted off one of my old projects, and I am hoping I'll be able to make a hub entry for it so other people can tell me what they think.
Yes, you can create your own hub entry for it.
I've never asked this, but what are the 4K/8K challenges? =P

I didn't notice the 2005 "4k Challenge" until it was like 2 weeks until it was over, so I didn't bother asking then.

From what I read in your post, I gathered that you submit an entry whose .dm files in the environment total 4/8KB or less. Is that right?
Pretty much, yeah.

Lummox, what about BYONDscape libraries? I'm wavering between doing an sd_DynamicAreaLighting entry and a text-mode entry...
Lummox JR, what are you going to do with the source of the games? Are you going to release the winners to somewhere to something?
Hrm. I wonder if I can talk Shadowdarke into making sd_DAL free. I did that recently with DmiFonts and I know Deadron did it with a lot of his. If it remains BYONDscape-only access it won't be available for the competition.

As for the source issue, I forgot to specify that the entries should be open source. I wonder if it's a little late to change that.

As for the source issue, I forgot to specify that the entries should be open source. I wonder if it's a little late to change that.

Not at all, Lummox. Four days into a three-month-long contest isn't too late to change things around. =P
Indeed. I don't expect any complaints about the open source requirement. =)

I think I'll go with the text-mode one anyway (though do try and persuade him, it would rule if sd_DAL was free; I also freed up my Bscape libraries). One more question, though: Are we allowed to implement a scripting system, as the 4k challenges allowed? If not, where is the line between data and scripting drawn?

I ask because the game I'm doing requires a lot of situation-specific programming. There are a number of different AI behaviours that need to be scripted, and a whole lot of other objects and object interactions that need scripting as well. Hard-coding these would both be impractical and send me way over the 8k limit. However, the basic systems will not be modifiable with the scripting; it wouldn't be able to turn the game into, say, a card game, or a Stickster clone.

I can't explain it more without giving out information that I'd prefer not to be public just yet, in case I don't finish it. If you want more details before deciding, please email me.
Yes, scripting is always allowed. As long as it's not something like the whole game being done in JavaScript or Flash with BYOND as a stub loader, it's fine.

Considering the difficulty of doing a good scripting system even when size isn't a factor, good luck to you.
I have a question. What you say 'open source code' do you mean that it will be given away to all people of BYOND?
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