Hackers making games run on odd hardware is always at least a giggle, and Flappy Bird on a plotter instead of a screen actually adds to it in a way. For our younger readers, I’ll explain a plotter is a type of printer which draws on paper with a pen. For our even younger readers, a printer is a device which ‘printed’ computer documents onto paper. For our youngest readers, paper is a thin, lightweight material made from mashed-up trees, nowadays mostly used to make bags for Greggs sausage rolls. Plotty Bird uses one pen as the bird, leaving lines of its path as it flops and crashes as a delightful record and artifact.
It’s like Dong Nguyen’s 2013 mobile hit (or Helicopter Game before it, or innumerable games named Crobby Bird and such after it), see, only on a plotter. Plotty Bird even draws randomised levels, according to creator Wesley Aptekar-Cassels. What a lovely thing.
“It works by streaming HP-GL commands to the plotter in real time – the game gets around 20 ‘frames’ per second,” Aptekar-Cassels explains for the technically curious.
Should you have a HP7440A plotter lying around somewhere, you can have a go yourself. Plug it into your PC, grab Plotty Bird from GitHub, crank it up, and mash Enter to get flapping. It might also work on other plotters which support HP-GL, and if the possibility of playing Plotty Bird yourself has the slightest relevance to you I trust you already know what that means.
I, like Aptekar-Cassels, am pleased by how the pen lines leave a clear record of successes and failures. It’s like the end of a Super Meat Boy level, where you watch all your failed attempts and final victory at once, only you can stick this to your fridge door.