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The devs behind experimental 1D address bar games

The devs behind experimental 1D address bar games

November 16, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

November 16, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design

"When you think of it, most video games take place inside a 2D or 3D space, so playing a game taking place inside a single dimension is very disturbing for both players and game designers!"

- Dr. Ludos discusses the novelty of creating 1 dimensional address bar games. 

Rock Paper Shotgun recently published an interview with some developers who create address bar games, which are meant to be played entirely within a website's URL.

This is a neat example of developers thinking outside the box, introducing a genre of niche, experimental games worth exploring. 

One of the most well-known examples of an address bar game comes from Corey Johnson, who developed URL Hunter using JQuery back in 2011, initially by accident.

"I was working on some code and I accidentally created a bug that caused the URL address to rapidly change characters,” Johnson explains. “I kept thinking about it on my way home, so I stayed up that night fooling around with it until I had created URL Hunter.”

Johnson credits the inherent restrictions of the medium as its biggest appeal. "Seeing if I could make a game with these extreme limitations was the most interesting part of creating it,” he says. 

"You can’t program it like a terminal-based game because the address bar doesn’t use a monospaced font, so replacing a character causes all the other characters to move slightly. You have to be clever with how you do movement. Back in 2011, I could only get around 10 fps, which was tough to make look good.”

More recently, Ludum Dare 42 (a competitive 48 hour game jam) produced the address bar game Outrunning Space, an endless runner which pushes players back by every obstacle they fail to jump over until a game over is reached.

Its developer, who goes by Dr. Ludos, reveals that the limited amount of time he had to work on a game for Ludum Dare pushed his creative boundaries.

"It forced me to go all the way into minimalism. I chose to make an address bar game because it takes place in a 1D space. It’s quite a challenge to come up with game ideas that can function inside a screen of only 23 characters of width for a single unit of height!”

Dr. Ludos is convinced that address bar games have an incredible amount of potential ripe for other developers to explore.

"Address bar games are an under-explored field, so I think many designers could invent new kinds of 1D games if someone would like to organize a jam or competition centered on that theme.”

The two were having a larger conversation around address bar games, so sure to read the entire piece over at Rock Paper Shotgun, it's well worth the read.

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