This little game took the 6th form by storm. You would often walk into a room and find four people trying to fit their hands onto one keyboard, and arguing about who got to sit on the chair!
About a year ago, Nokia, a mobile phone company, included a game called 'snake' on a range of their mobile phones. It quite a fast and skillful game that had you controlling a perpetually moving snake to prevent it from hitting walls or itself, but at the same time getting points by picking up 'apples'. Ironically, picking up apples increased the length of the snake, so the more points you amassed, the harder the game became. There was a stage where everyone was competing for the highest high-score and claiming to be the best snake player in the world...
A year or two earlier, I found a little shareware game called Duel, where two people had to control a beams of light each. The beams would continue growing as the game progressed until eventually one of the players made a mistake and hit the other beam of light or a wall. Then the victor would get a point and the game would restart. It was great, but it was only 2 player, so I promptly made a 4 player windows version of the game in VB4, the most up-to-date version of Visual Basic at the time. I called it WINDuel. It was played for a while, and then forgotten until one boring day in the 6th form block at school, during a 'snake' conversation, I suggested that I should write a four player version of the classic Nokia 'Snake' game, using the code from my conversion of Duel.
From there it grew and grew, I wrote in code to make the game more interesting, complex and exciting as the days went by - to keep interest going. I got a lot of good feedback and suggestions, and would often borrow a friends laptop to code these on-the-spot! Eventually the game had full-blown capture-the-flag and teamplay modes, detailed levels and about 20 different types of powerups, ranging from simply lengthening/shortening the snake, to reversing it and allowing it to cut other snakes down to size...
Eventually it was decided that the game was having a detrimental effect on the amount of work being done and I was asked 'not to encourage its use'. I stopped developing it, and the game stopped being played a few weeks later, just in time for the end of term.
Why I did it
It satisfied a need, it was great fun while it lasted and it started a craze! It was fun working to other people's expectations and ideas and coding 'while-you-wait'.
If you are a little confused by the screen shots, I will attempt to explain them here.
The long red, yellow, green and blue lines are the snakes. If a snake is carrying a power-up or flag, such as the red snake in that picture, then the powerup is drawn on the head of the snake, as if it were being pushed along.
The little coloured squares are 'powerups', i.e. it is them that players strive to pick up and use. They range from flags, one owned by each team, to 'red cross' health packages and simply food that enables the apples to grow.
The grey boxes represent walls of a 'castle' and are impassible. The edges of the 'cavern', the pool of 'lava' and the moat are all impassable as well.
The numbers and names along the bottom of the screen-shot are the scores, names and colours of the players.
Hopefully that should clear things up. Since I am learning Java at this minute, I hope to be able to revive this game with some net-code, and hopefully write a client-side applet to embed in a web page. This would bring the game to a wider audience, and would also good programming practice for me!