Where’s the last place you’d expect to be able to play a game on your computer? The word processing program? Image editor? How about your text editor? That’s right — you can fight your Fontemons in any program that makes use of fonts, because mad genius [Michael Mulet] has created a game that exists entirely within a single Open Type font file.
[Michael] has harnessed the power of ligatures to create a choose-your-own-adventure-style turn-based game that pokes fun at both Pokemon and various typeface names. You start by choosing between Papyromaniac, Verdanta, and Proggito and face off against enemies like Helvetikhan and Scourier.
This works because there are many ways to draw glyphs on a screen. [Michael] chose Type 2 Charstrings, which is a vector graphics format that Adobe created for PostScript. It can draw pixels with a series of move specifications that tell it to draw up, to the right, and then back down before closing off the pixel with an implicit operator that draws from the starting point to the ending point. [Michael] was able to create two shades of gray by drawing smaller versions of the pixels and making the image by combining white and black pixels.
If you just want to play the game, you can either download the .otf file or just try it out in the browser. You’re supposed to use ‘a’ and ‘b’ to make choices that advance the game, but we soon discovered that spamming other keys like ‘v’ and Enter will lead to strange places. If you play it straight, it takes about 20 minutes, but there are enough secrets built in to make it last five times as long. [Michael] was kind enough to create a tutorial for making font-based games, but if you just want to get going, the game engine is open source.
What other fun things can you do on that locked-down work computer? If it has Excel, you can use it to do animation or just kick back and watch a movie.
You may not have noticed, but we here at Hackaday really love our clicky stuff. Clicky mechanical keyboards, unnecessarily noisy flip-dot displays, and pretty much anything made with a lot of relays — they all grab our attention, in more ways than one. So it’s with no small surprise that we appear to have entirely missed perhaps the clickiest build of all: a fully operational 8-bit computer using nothing but relays.
What’s even more amazing about our failure to find and feature [Paul Law]’s excellent work is that he has been at it for the better part of a decade now. The first post on his very detailed and very well-crafted blog describing the build dates from 2013, when he was just testing LEDs in the arithmetic-logic unit (ALU). Since then, [Paul] has made incredible progress, building module after module, each containing a small portion of the computer’s functionality. The modules plug into card cages with backplanes to connect them, and the whole thing lives in an enclosure made from aluminum extrusion and glossy black panels for a truly sleek look. The computer is incredibly compact for something that uses 400+ DPDT relays to do its thinking.
In addition to the blog, [Paul] has a criminally undersubscribed YouTube channel with a quite recent series going over the computer in depth. We included the overall tour below, but you should really check out the rest of the videos to appreciate how much work went into this build. We’ve seen relay computers ranging in size from single-board to just plain ludicrous, but this one really takes the prize for fit and finish as well as functionality.
Continue reading “Homebrew Relay Computer Looks Like It Could Be A Commercial Product”