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I'm taking a class on compilers, and the goal is to write a compiler for Meggy Jr devices (Arduino). The goal is just to make a simple compilers with loops and variables and stuff.

Obviously, that's lame, so the "real goal" is to make an impressive game on the device. The problem is that it only has 64 pixels to work with (technically 72, but the top 8 are single-color and not part of the main display, so they're really only useful for displaying things like money).

My problem is thinking of something to do on a device that small. It doesn't really matter if it's original, but it can't be something that's already available. My first idea was "snake", but that comes with the SDK. Same with a side-scrolling shooter.

Remaining ideas include a tower defense game (hard to write, hard to control), an RPG (same), tetris (lame)..

The problem is that all of the games I like require a high-resolution screen because they have a lot of text. Even a really simple game like nethack would be hard because each creature would be a single color.

tl;dr What styles of games require a. No text; and b. Few enough objects that representing them each with a single color is acceptable?

EDIT: To clarify, the display is 8x8 for a total of 64 pixels, not 64x64.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You can "increase" the color count in a way: make pixels blink, if device allows that, that way very fast blinking pixel will be different from static in looks and color (TFT displays do that to emulate 24bit color). That will add a certain variability. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kromster
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 9:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Calling Tetris lame instantly disqualifies you for... well, I'd say for everything - but retro gaming in particular. \$\endgroup\$
    – ziggystar
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 10:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ziggystar: I disagree. While tetris is a great game, it has been ported so much "everywhere" that it would be kind of lame porting it somewhere else. Moreover, since he has only 8x8 pixels available, I can't imagine any sane and fun way to play Tetris under those constraints. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ A game... On a 8 by 8 screen? Hmm... What about the game of life (google it)? It doesn't have any user interaction though... \$\endgroup\$
    – jcora
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 18:09

14 Answers 14

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Low-resolution constraints was the premise of the Gamma 256 [archive] design challenge. Their mandatory constraint was quite a bit higher than 64x64, but many of the submissions used far less than the maximum.

Darius Kazemi has done (in my opinion), one of the best games on the Meggy Jr. device.[archive] You might look at his work for inspiration.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Shucks, thanks! If OP has any questions they can leave a comment on my blog too. \$\endgroup\$
    – DariusK
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 19:12
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Strikes me that a basic Rogue-like top-down corridor shooter could be possible. At 8x8 you obviously wouldn't have space to show a full room, but you would be able to show a small section of the map. A white pixel could be you (fade to black as you lose health), gold for treasure, red for enemies, green for healing, etc. 1-pixel wide walls, 2, 3 or 4 pixel wide corridors, and it might just work.

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You could write something akin to a tomagatchi or other virtual pet. The original ones were done on very low resolution screens.

Pong is another game that comes to mind for a low resolution display. While it may seem basic, it covers most of the important bits in many games: collisions, physics (albeit simple), game-loop, etc. On such a limited platform, you may be forced to "roll your own" for many of those tasks which may take up more time that you anticipated.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good ideas. I hadn't even considered the idea of virtual pets. And somehow I missed pong too.. Maybe something like breakout would be good. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 9:16
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That makes me think about board games, like Go or Checkers, and puzzley things involving pentaminos or other interesting configurations of uniform parts. I'd stay away from heavily spatial games as well as the text-heavy. Your game pretty much has to be abstract. With 8x8 rez, you might be able to do something as spatial as Sakoban, but I have my doubts.

To be clear here: none of the games named above will work very well. You'll need to create your own game and rules, but I'd suggest keeping the above games in mind when you do so. Simple world states that display easily, but more complex mechanics behind-the-scenes. Your game won't be able to have much metaphor, so I'd stay abstract.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately the small Go board is 9x9. You could try with 7x7, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – ziggystar
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 11:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah! I misread; I though 64x64 seemed a little large for what I remembered of the Meggy Jr. Editing to fix and clarify my answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 20:03
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You could write a little ray-casting 3D engine, like this fellow is working on. Wouldn't require too much color; although your screen is smaller than the one he's got, it might be workable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, that's just great \$\endgroup\$
    – Notabene
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ nice idea; though I don't think it will work as in the example given. Only hope would be to use color and shading. \$\endgroup\$
    – ziggystar
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 11:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesomeness has been redefined \$\endgroup\$
    – Gastón
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome, but I sincerly doubt anything of value in this area can be accomplished with 8x8 pixels. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 16:48
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Game of Life can be a good example for such low-res devices. I have seen the video where this game was made on a LED cube.

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A lot of puzzle designs would work fine in that format. Slider puzzles leap instantly to mind.

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How about Chess? An 8x8 grid with different colours should be fine for some chess.

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What about a reflex game? Kind of like 2player reactor for Android phones.

You could also look to the Wario Ware games for inspiration.

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Wolfenstein 1-D

While it uses 1px height, its width is way longer than 8px, so you'd probably have to come up with something.

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Another idea could be Mastermind.

enter image description here

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I have a playfield with similar restrictions. Mine is 10x20. However, it is still possible to implement many games, although you have to be a bit creative and change the rules of some games. A cool thing is if you have sound.

This is my hardware:

Hardware

Here are my "screenshots":

Tetris

Tetris

Snake

Snake (green) eats food (blue) with its head (red). Be aware of obstacles (grey)

Snake

Guitar hero

Notes falling from top. Press the button (bright) and hold (dark)

Guitar hero

Drums

Drums animate and make sound when a button is pressed.

Drums

Melody memory

Recall a sequence of tones plus light

Melody memory

Game of life

Editing first, then simulating

Game of life

Boulder dash

Player (yellow) must collect diamonds (blue) before he exits (red). Be aware of falling rocks (grey)

Boulder dash

Space invaders

The only one monster loses single pixels when shot.

Space invaders

Skyfall

Similar to guitar hero. Player (yellow) can collect items (green), must collect items (blue) and must not collect dangerous items (red)

Skyfall

Driver

Player (red) drives on a road and must overtake cars on his side while watching cars on the opposite side.

Driver

Pacman

Player (yellow) collects coins (brown) and food (violet) while running through a maze with walls (grey). Be aware of ghosts (blue) unless they are eadible (green).

Pacman

Sokoban

Player (white) needs to move pieces (bright) onto their destination (dark). Use Tetris bricks here, since I already had them.

Sokoban

Flappy bird

I hope that's known.

Flappy bird

Pong

Pong

Others

While not a game, it may still be fun. On the 10x20 display it's possible to display weather or use it as a torch.

Weather

Torch

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Many of the classics would render well with such limited screen space, such as: Tetris, Pacman and Asteroids. You could also try board games such as Checkers, Chess and Backgammon. Also, Helicopter is one of my favorite, simple games.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In 8x8? Tetris? Pacman? Even Asteroids could not fit there. I assume you thought he was talking about 64x64 instead. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why wouldn't tetris work? Each block could be one pixel. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 21:55
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You could create breakout and make the camera follow the ball for larger levels (only vertically) and maybe the pad horizontally making for a larger play area.

The idea of moving the camera is probably necessary for anything on such a small screen.

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