From Claptrap to Claptraps

Normally I use this blog to drone on about my own claptrap. However, today I’d like to use it to have a look at a friend’s.

Level 1 – It’s all uphill from here…

To be more precise, a computer puzzle game called Claptraps, written by “testpilotmonkey“. It’s one of the most joyfully bonkers and imaginative games I’ve ever played – the sort of thing Oliver Postgate would have come up with if he’d have been given a book about scripting languages.

The game itself was written in the language Python with the help of the wonderful PyGame SDL library.  If you’ve ever want to write a computer game for GNU/Linux, Windows, or Mac OS this combination is the place to start and indeed Claptraps will work beautifully on all three of these platforms and doubtless several more besides.

I think this game is really rather special for lots of reasons:

  • it is released under the Free Software Foundation‘s General Public Licence or GPL. That in itself is a marvellous and selfless thing to do, particularly when you consider how much hard work has gone into the game.
  • the quality of the music testpilotmonkey has composed to include in the game – I really enjoy listening to it.
  • the graphics, which have a wonderful cut-out animation feel
  • and, most of all, the standard of the puzzles. The game design is incredibly clever and the puzzles are fiendish but solvable with thought. That makes it one of the most rewarding games I’ve ever played.

I could talk about the game at length here, but why not download it yourself from testpilotmonkey’s blog?

The game has come on in leaps and bounds since this video was made of an early demo version, but it’s worth a look:

The gameplay is loosely inspired by the games in the Repton Infinity suite with dashes of Bonecruncher and XOR. However it has a personality all of its own, something which you don’t get in modern games written by huge teams.

I’m hoping to do some work of my own on Claptraps if I get the chance over the coming weeks – in true GPL spirit I’ve been studying and modifying bits and bobs already which I hope to start sharing soon. The code is very, very clearly written and I’m looking forward to having a proper dabble with it enormously.

NB: As the game is still a work in progress, GNU/Linux users may find they need to append two lines to

#!/usr/bin/env python
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

Also, don’t forget to right click on the in the file browser, and go to PropertiesPermissions and check the Execute check box to Allow Executing File as Program. You’ll also need to make sure you have the pygame package installed on your computer – but if you’ve installed GNU/Linux in the first place I’m sure you can manage this.

Windows users can just click on the .exe. I know nothing at all about Apples apart from the fact that Granny Smiths are my favourite and my mother’s bramley crumble with custard is delicious.

One Reply to “From Claptrap to Claptraps”

  1. Thanks for posting about this, and I'm really glad you're enjoying the game!

    And I'm glad the code is clear too, but I've probably committed a few programming sins in there. Still, it works, and that's the main thing.

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