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ASCII Portal In the Works 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-do-what-we-must-because-we-can dept.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun points out a video showing Portal, redone with ASCII graphics. It's still in development, but appears to be quite far along. Its creator, Cymon, says on his website, "I have Windows XP, so all binaries will by default be for Windows. But I will also be including the source code with the distribution and am doing my best to write it cross-platform compatible, so it should compile in Linux and Mac. I've had successful builds done in Linux." He also talks in detail about his design plans and ideas.
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ASCII Portal In the Works

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  • Innovative (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:25AM (#28700849) Journal

    I must admit that my first thought was why and that its gonna lost all the interest in ascii mode where it would just teleport from one place to other. However after seeing the video, it seems to be a lot more than that and has very neat portal like effects. I loved how it creates the landscape on the "empty" space instead of just teleporting, which makes it seem continuous.

    In an indirect way this also showed me that current games aren't just about graphics and innovative gameplay would had been forgotten. Portal could had been done years ago the same way its done here. However it was new kind of game and had good and fitting graphics, so the usual thought that new games aren't innovative doesn't really cut.

    I hope this gets converted to linux aswell so I can play it over ssh :)

  • Re:Innovative (Score:3, Interesting)

    by corsec67 (627446) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:55AM (#28700941) Homepage Journal

    The graphics of the text Portal seem to be similar to games I played on my TI-83, I think the name was "Ultima", so if a 6MHz Z80 can do almost the same graphics, it is definitely something that could have been done a long time ago.
    (The TI-83 was released in 1996, but I bet that something like text Portal could have been made for a 286 with power to spare)

    Honestly, I like 2D games, since the emphasis is more on gameplay and less on pretty graphics.

    I played enough text based MUDs back in the day that I like that as well, with almost no graphics at all, but it would be hard to make a text based action game. (Now there is a challenge, and some probably already exist)

  • Re:Innovative (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:02AM (#28701167) Homepage

    But that actually kills gameplay.

    There are more reason for ascii 2d than just being easy to create.

    Ascii is also easy to recognize and player can easily "read" situation. It is sort of high-contrast graphics that is very hard to pull with graphical tiles. I tried tilesets for DF and stayed away from it ... it just made game look messy.

    And, once you get from 2d, you loose overview. I have seens roguelikes turned to classic dungeons (you can not really do much more thanks to underlying blocky nature of those games) and it was pain to play. Mazes of random rooms are not pleasant to navigate at all if you do it from first person view...

  • Re:Innovative (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cgomezr (1074699) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:21AM (#28701247)

    The thing is that, as opposed to graphics, text characters are symbols that have been explicitly designed (and evolved) to be easily distinguishable.

    There are several roguelikes that give you the option of using ASCII or tiles (Nethack, Dwarf Fortress if you count that as a roguelike, Crawl, etc.) but tiles are mostly a choice for newbies who are scared of ASCII. An experienced player will always choose ASCII because it will give him a broader view of the situation. With ASCII, it is easy to have an 80x50 dungeon in full view, with every object perfectly distinguishable. To do that with tiles in most current screens, you would need 16x16 tiles and those tiles are just too small to look decent and distinguishable (see this one [], for example) while an ASCII char is perfectly distinguishable at even smaller sizes than that.

    So roguelikes using tiles typically just let you see a smaller part of the dungeon, which is a disadvantage, and thus any experienced player who wants to play in the best way possible will choose ASCII.

    So no, it's not just a matter of being easier to code or saving CPU time. For some kinds of games, ASCII is just better.

  • by m50d (797211) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:55AM (#28701357) Homepage Journal

    Just set your SDL_VIDEODRIVER to aalib (or better, caca, for colour). Ascii frozen bubble can be quite fun.

  • Re:Innovative (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:25AM (#28701457) Journal
    There's 2D, and there's poor graphics. I found the flash game based on portal [] to be a lot of fun. It had simple graphics, but they were good enough to make the game fun without having to memorise a list of symbol to thing mappings. In some ways, I found this more fun than the original. A lot of the puzzles in portal seemed to be 'jump through this portal and then, while you're rotating, hit this small bit of wall,' while the puzzles I enjoy most are the ones where you have to figure out which bit of wall to hit. The ASCII version seems to be very similar to the flash one with a few tweaks.
  • Re:Not ASCII (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:01PM (#28705035) Homepage Journal

    I can double nitpick your nitpick!

    First, you're not being pedantic at all. The confusion about what "ASCII" means has caused no end of grief. Look at all the web pages that are full of "?" glyphs because people are confused about what characters they can safely use. And that's actually an improvement over they way things used to be. For a long time most web pages didn't even specify character set, and browsers were supposed to guess. One resulting glitch: Internet Explorer tended to assume that any page containing a right-curly-quote was in Japanese!

    One reason I parted ways with Project Gutenberg and Distributed Proofreaders was their stubborn insistence that anything you can type on a U.S. PC keyboard is "ASCII" and therefore universally readable. They've since discovered their mistake, but are still sort of in denial about the consequences.

    Other nitpick: strictly speaking, there's no such thing as an ANSI character set. It's not even sloppy usage, because when somebody says "ANSI character" it's less than obvious what they're talking about. Probably CP 1252 [], or maybe CP 437 []. The Wikipedia article on CP 1242 claims that it's called "ANSI" because of confusion with Latin 1 [], which supposedly started out as an ANSI spec. (CP 1242 and Latin 1 are the same except that the former uses some codes that the latter doesn't; and yes, that does cause problems.) That rates a big {Citation Needed} from me.

    Ooh! One more nitpick! CP 437 is often referred to as "extended ASCII". Now, this game looks like it's running on a PC using CP 437 displayed on MS-DOS's "ANSI" terminal emulator. (So called because it implements ANSI X3.64.) So EVERYBODY'S RIGHT!!!!

If it smells it's chemistry, if it crawls it's biology, if it doesn't work it's physics.