We had four entries to our ON-to-09 contest, which called for a game - any kind of game. Thanks to all who entered!
Two entries came from experienced programmers - LFS and Blackmagick - and two from folks who are “less further along” in their programming careers - Erik (age 13) and ChessBoy (age 9). Since we had two very different types of programmers, you might think it’s not entirely fair to judge all four entries as a group, but the contest rules (which of course, could never be bended in the slightest possible way ;) ) don’t call for a distinction to be made between levels of experience. Still, we thought all four entries were great so we decided that regardless of how they are ranked (we usually award 2nd Runner Up, 1st Runner Up and Winner), everyone who entered will receive the first official Phrogram T-shirt! That may not sound like that big a deal but it is worth noting that these T-shirts are not available in any store. In fact, we haven’t even taken them out of the box they came in yet.
So - - LFS, Blackmagick, Erik, and ChessBoy - just send your preferred size and mailing address (in a private message thru the site or email to email@example.com) and I’ll make sure someone on the Phrogram team (uh, that would be me; Zman is too busy writing code and WaltM is working on some licensing stuff) gets one off in the mail to you. Now, on to the entry summaries and results.
(1) Math, by ChessBoy. As the youngest person entering this contest, ChessBoy was also clearly the most enthusiastic. Thanks for a great post on your interest in programming and your aspirations to start selling your software stuff! We think that’s a great idea and if all goes as planned, one of these days, we’ll have a new site up - call it phrogramgames.com - where you can do just that. As for your program, it’s a very solid effort on a number of levels. One, it uses structures and “helpful methods” to make it easy to follow and does some pretty sophisticated things, like switching from mouse-based entry on the screen to text-based entry in the console and “show current high score.” The console graphics were also very nice, and I’m still trying to figure out how exactly you created them ;). All in all, this is an extremely impressive first entry for someone who is not even in double digits in their age range - nice job!
(2) ToobRacer, by Blackmagick. A relatively new addition to Phrogram’s community, it’s clear that Blackmagick is not new to the world of programming. Anything this well conceived and executed in 3D makes you realize how powerful Phrogram can be in the hands of one who can “unleash the force” and there’s no question Blackmagick has that force. As he notes at the top of the game’s code, ToobRacer “simulates the movement of a fighter jet but with more extreme turning and much simpler controls as found in video games.” The opening screen and set-up are smooth, the game play is challenging, and the ability to customize the course is really cool. We especially liked the “select a ship” feature - you can get a single thruster bullet, or a single thruster with a sidecar, or a double-thruster. It’s really hard to find any weak points in this entry, so we won’t even try!
(3) TicTacToe Advance, by Erik. Erik, thanks for a great first entry, which definitely adds some cool layers of original thinking to the classic game that has been programmed in Phrogram before and is documented in Jerry Lee Ford Jr’s Phrogram Programming for the Absolute Beginner book (see p374). So, while the core elements of your program won’t score all that highly in the “does it break new ground?” category, you also accomplished some very nice enhancements, with a choice of motifs (of the four, I liked natural the best) and your interesting way of prompting the players to add the next X or O. Plus, your code was very efficient - getting it all done in 176 lines sure beats Jerry’s version, which took over 500 lines! So while we tip the Phrog's proverbial hat to your work with a T-shirt (he doesn't actually wear one), I’m sure you’ll understand after reading the comments on ToobRacer, that you won’t get the grand prize this time out!
(4) Jail Break, by LFS. LFS has won our contest before, and he also wrote Phrogram Chess, which is included with our Phrogram Talk Add-in Library. As we’ve come to expect from this TLA guy, his ideas for a clever game are just as clever as his code. We especially liked the bouncing ball in the rectangle on the opening screen (feels like it’s trying to escape!), how the ball gets put back on the paddle and then pushed back off with an up arrow tap, and the live scoring. The comments also help other programmers follow, and learn from LFS's nicely organized code. With it use well-described use of structures, arrays, conditional statements, and methods, there is (as per the usual) not much to quibble with on Jail Break, except how hard it is to score highly! So, LFS - thanks for entering again, and showing the field how brilliantly a game in Phrogram can be done!
And the winners are ...
Now it’s time to rank our top three, which is how we usually decide on who gets the prize. I’d start with the usual disclaimers about how this is (ahem) a highly subjective process because reasonable folks may differ on who did the best work, but the bottom line is, with only 4 entries (next time hopefully more), we don’t want to exclude anyone from recognition! So, after careful consideration, everyone is a winner!
Again, thanks for submitting (or even thinking about submitting) a contest entry. Stick around, things will get even more interesting for Phrogram as we go further ON ... to-the rest of '09!
the Phrogram Team