Introducing: b1nary her0

by Darius Kazemi on September 1, 2006

in Uncategorized

I guess I’ll tell you about the project I’ve been working on.

A few months ago, I was attending a Boston Postmortem meeting. There was no speaker, so it was games night, and some folks from Harmonix brought Guitar Hero. Everyone played and had a blast. As the night was winding down, my friend Mike Gesner (Dragonfly Game Design) placed the guitar controller he had brought for the event onto the table in front of me. As we were chatting, I picked up the plastic guitar and started pressing random buttons.

Suddenly, I realized that pressing the fret buttons on the controller is very similar to counting in binary. Each fret button would map to a bit in a 5-bit binary word. “That would be a terrible game,” I thought. “It would show you hex values on the screen and you’d have to strum along with them.”

Sometimes you get an idea so incredibly stupid, you know you just have to follow through with it. Hell, within a few minutes, I’d even come up with an incredibly (awesomely) stupid name: b1nary her0. Note the one and the zero. I am a marketing genius.

So I called my friend Craig Perko, who I’d been meaning to do a project with for some time. He instantly saw how stupid-but-awesome this game would be. I also enlisted my friend Kevin (Mopis) to help provide some music.

So Craig and I built a prototype for the PC in Torque Game Builder. I handled the audio code and level design. Craig did everything else. It works. It’s not fun. It’s so damn hard it’s barely playable. But you can hook up a Guitar Hero controller to your USB port using a converter, or use the keyboard, and strum along with the music.

That’s pretty much the whole game. Need to hit a 1 on the beat? Hit the high fret and strum. See a 2? Slide one fret lower and strum. Uh oh, 3 coming your way? Hold down those two frets and strum.

It’s obviously going to look much better in the future. That’s just feeble programmer art.

I’ll list some key features we’ve implemented here:

  • play with a Guitar Hero controller
  • easy to make new levels and compose new songs (text editor and some WAV files are all you need)
  • built-in super-crappy “synthesizer” (feed it WAV files and it will sequence and transpose them)

Some key features we have yet to implement:

  • terrible ’80s hacker movie story. “Dude, you need to thrash on the guitar of hacking in order to defeat the encryption on the mainframe! Totally rad!!!!”
  • songs that are good. All the songs so far as the test ones that I wrote. Kevin’s need to be integrated.
  • vertical guitar powerup. I’m thinking when you play the guitar vertically, we’ll show you the actual binary instead of the hex values, but we’ll also increase the tempo of the song by some 10% or whatnot.
  • [EDIT] bitwise logic mode. As if the game weren’t already hard enough, there will be a mode where instead of a falling “A” you’ll see “A & 5″ and have to strum “0″. (Thanks for reminding me, Dave.)

Oh yeah, and this game will be released for free. I would honestly feel bad even attempting to make money off of something like this.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got to show you. I’d love to hear some feedback.


David Ludwig September 1, 2006 at 3:13 pm


Honestly, this sounds almost like an educational tool for aspiring assembly programmers. Perhaps there ought to be a few levels with simple math problems (addition, subtraction, perhaps a few binary operators.) In this case though, it might make sense to start displaying each numbers’ binary representation, at least at first.

Patrick Dugan September 1, 2006 at 6:26 pm

Obviously the mechanic is too obscure to be marketable, but I’m proud to know you over this. This could be a nice footnote in gaming history.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: