Hover Bovver Bot GameCity.org – A Programmable HTML5 Version For Teaching Children Algorithms

Hover Bovver was a Jeff Minter* game for the Commodore 64 published by his studio Llamasoft. 30 years later, I can still recall the day I first saw it on my neighbours 64. And hearing it, to a Spectrum owner it sounded incredible:

I had a ZX Spectrum so my games sounded like a bunch of wasps in a tin can

Like most of Jeff’s games, he takes a classic game mechanic and adds his own uniquely brilliant take on it. In this case, he takes Pac-man’s famous ‘visit all the locations” mechanic, changes the ghosts for a gardener and dots for grass.

I’ve always had a soft spot for it, so I’ve decided to remake it for my Craft Computer workshop at the forthcoming GameCity**. I was looking for something simple and cute and for some reason the theme tune to English Country Garden popped into my head 😉

Here’s how the prototype looks after Day 1:

The game itself will be mechanically the same as the original but there won’t be any keyboard or joystick inputs…

Instead the children will have to program the “mowbot” via an iconified programming language – a bit like punch cards!  Rather than the procedural “route finding” approach we’re going to use an event driven language.

If nothing else it should result in the kids having lots of garden based floral carnage!

*Jeff and Llamasoft are still making games and are due to release TXK on the PS Vita shortly. He’s like the Game Industry’s Willy Wonka and if you’ve not played his games, you should go check them out – here’s his Llamasoft site.

**GameCity: I’m going to be there from Weds 23rd to the end on Sat 26th, I’ll be at Waterstone’s running Craft Computer workshops.

Leave a Reply