The challenge posted earlier resulted in some interesting entries. The winner was Jesper, who sent in a Nintendo DS rom that played a Pacman that plays on the upper screen (and spouts lots of debug info to the lower one). The DS screen is too small to fit the entire level, so he made it scroll. His ghosts seemed a bit smarter than mine. Jesper wins my cherished papercraft leet.
Knut wrote his solution in Python with pygame. Steffen wrote it in C++ with SDL just like I did, but his ghosts respawn when they die, and blink before the pill timeout ends, so he went beyond the limits of the prototype requirements.
What have we learned? I learned that something like this takes no more than a few hours to put together, less time than I expected. Also, SDL is great for this stuff – except for the NDS solution, everyone used SDL. The resulting code is horrible – for example, I’m just redrawing the entire screen each frame. I think everyone agrees that it’s not possible to extend it much further, and shouldn’t go into production. Would I want to make the full game, I’d definitely start from scratch. Coding is quick, good coding takes time.
I’m definitely going to prototype more in the future, and try to get small ideas on the screen that can be completed inside of a day. I don’t think it should be longer than that, this is really about having something to show to either check how feasible something is, or sometimes to just get the sceptics of your back.