Pygame

After all the great comments I received because of my Curse of Monkey Island post, I'll certainly be looking at ScummVM soon, but before that, I thought I'd give something else a try.

The latest edition of the Make magazine, had a small article on pygame, which is

"a set of Python modules designed for writing games. It is written on top of the excellent SDL library. This allows you to create fully featured games and multimedia programs in the python language. Pygame is highly portable and runs on nearly every platform and operating system."

I've mentioned before that I was looking for a framework for writing games. I tried out Zillions of Games, and wrote a simple sliding blocks puzzle, but I never got back to trying a port of Reve, my Othello program. Zillions of Games is a Windows-only binary, (which doesn't look like it's currently being actively worked on by its creators), so it's not exactly what I'm looking for.

But pygame might be. As Python has recently become one of my favorite languages, I thought I'd give it a try.

Installation was a snap. I already had Python installed on my Ubuntu system for developing Orca, so all I needed to do was install pygame, libsdl, SDL_mixer and SDL_image. All of these were available in the Synaptic Package Manager and I was done in about two minutes.

Before I start looking at the pygame line-by-line chimp tutorial, and the introduction for python programmers, I decided to give a sample game a try out to make sure everything was working fine. My wife has recently bought our son Jewel Labyrinth for his Windows machine (which incidentally keeps crashing on my Windows machine). It's a simple puzzle game and he seems to be enjoying it, so I decided to look for something similar to that. I picked Magicor. I downloaded and unpacked the source code and the data files. To install it, I simple ran:

% sudo make install

in the Magicor directory. Then, when I type:

% Magicor

it nicely starts up the game. It's everything I was hoping for. You get the penguin to create blocks of ice which you then slide or drop to extinguish fires. Nice graphics, good animation, simple user controls (for this game, there were just four arrow keys, space bar and the Return key), interesting sound effects, optional full screen mode, only partially annoying background music and lots of levels which progressively add new features and get more difficult.

Duncan and I were hooked. We wasted spent several hours yesterday playing it.

And there are lots more games to choice from.

This is going to be fun, and after I've stopped playing the games, hopefully I'll still have enough enthusiasm to port Reve to Python using pygame.

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