PerlayStation Games Console (Part 1)

Itchy fingers

A few reddit posts ago I saw an interesting article about maze generation and game written in Perl. Game development, I fully believe, is key to intellectual engagement, provides amusement to developers and non developers, and highlights the capabilities of a programming language. This led to an brief exploration of other Perl arcade/action games; Such games such as construdo and deliantra show how complex games can be created. Frozen Bubble is another addictive Perl classic. As a non-developer, I find these games only demonstrate the chasm between my lack of coding agility and the cleverness of others.

It's been done before

SDL and OpenGL seem like a way to go. A useful list of gaming libraries are provided by Debian Games Perl development packages and deliantra are examples of what can be achieved. Some interesting frameworks Quest3 are available although many with no recent updates e.g. this one.

But old dogs like me can't learn new tricks (or even old tricks for that matter), I figured the easy way to bridge this chasm between my capability / capacity to learn and that required to produce a respectable output requires a new framework. I hear groans all around, but wait, don't touch that dial,...imagine a framework that is simple enough for the newcomer or old timer, complex enough for a respectable game production, and accessible enough to be installed without needing a snowstorm of dependencies. Big ask? To have arcade games with moving sprites, collision detection, gravity, scrolling shooters, platformers, RPGs, and yes all these written in Pure Perl? Easily? Without being familiar with complex external libraries? Well I tried...I tried using GUIDeFATE ( a GUI designer) drawing sprites in is clearly possible...but certainly not accessible.


Most people will have some difficulty installing GUIDeFATE (its current iteration on CPAN is near end-of-life, due shortly to be overhauled into version 0.15). Furthermore, I feel firstly that there are several components that I have yet to learn, including event handling, user interactions, etc. Secondly, for the code that is generated to useful and easily used in producing different games it needs to be consistent, and abstract out the complexities of the graphical and user interactions and thirdly that I will need a significant amount of third party help.

Consolation games

So, a radical step backwards, and look at game development as an abstractable process, with functions that can be extended to any interface/backend etc. Let's make console games that look like arcade games...a Perl games console, with games running in a console (i.e. a terminal window). Terminal games do exist, and some are even written in Perl, but the majority are made using "single use" code, i.e code that one cant borrow to develop one's own ideas easily.

Term::Graille is a step in that direction. You will have encountered it in one of my previous blogs. As a platform it includes pseudo-pixel graphics, with multiple graphical operations, and an Interaction module with Menus, Dialog boxes, Selectors etc. Later it will feature an Audio/Speech module, and Sprites. As a system its goals will be to have minimal dependencies, and key will be simplicity. Initial applications will be simpler tools that will enable game development that follows...text editors, sprite generators, graphics. All of these delivered through familiar, intuitive interactions, but all on the terminal window.

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About Saif

user-pic An Orthopaedic Surgeon, A Tissue Engineering Scientist, Lecturer, (and Hobbyist Programmer, Electronics Engineer and Roboticist)