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1. What is this page?

This page discusses a sim­ple but unusual game by OldCoder named BEWorld. The game is unusual only in tech­ni­cal respects. It's a sim­ple demo but at one point it was the world's largest single-file Tcl video game as well.

The game appear­ed at the time to be unique in that it in­clud­ed sprites, level maps, sound effects, and back­ground music all in a single Tcl script.

The code was 100 pages in length even after sub­tract­ing blank lines, com­ment separator bars, and binary data blocks.

BEWorld is still fully operational as of this wri­ting. The game is stand­ard in Laclin and port­a­ble to other distros. This page provides the source code need­ed for ports.

The scope of this arti­cle includes both Laclin and other distros. The tar­get audience is Linux game­devs who are com­for­ta­ble with CLI.

2. History.

OldCoder wrote BEWorld large­ly from 2010 to 2011. The earliest drafts might date back to 2008 or 2009.

BEWorld was a fork of an older (apparently unnamed) pro­gram writ­ten by the Steve Havelka who resided in Portland at the time. Havelka wrote the first pro­gram as a demo for a FOSS project of his named Brick Engine.

As a side note, Havelka work­ed with an artist named Master Bismuth or MURB who later became one of OldCoder's long-term as­soc­i­ates.

The flavor of BEWorld was, and remains, simi­lar to that of a real-time Nethack. There are sever­al connected rec­tang­u­lar levels and the goal is to travel through the levels and make it to the end.

However, the pro­gram is far more lim­it­ed than Nethack. It should be thought of as a demo or proof of con­cept.

This said, the game features sprite code that's easy to work with, both ran­dom and in­var­i­ant levels, a map gen­er­a­tor that should work in other games, sup­port for em­bed­ded music and sound effects, the start of an object-oriented com­pon­ent framework, and other use­ful features.

As of 2021, the pro­gram was still work­ing fine despite a decade of changes in FOSS.

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Typical BEWorld scene
Typical BEWorld scene

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Denizens of Caspak greet the hero
Denizens of Caspak greet the hero

3. Get a Load of the Code.

To browse an HTML version of the code, click here. Be prepared to be amazed be­cause this is Tcl code most crazed.

Note: Don't try to copy-paste and use the HTML version. It won't run. Reason: The sound effects and music binary data has been been omitted from this copy be­cause the data is huge and ir­rel­e­vant for browsing pur­poses.

The actual and complete source code is provided in downloadable form further down.

4. Dependencies.

BEWorld's stand­ard dependencies, the ones that are readily avail­able in most Linux distros, are light. They include:

gcc, cmake, SDL core 1.2.15 and SDL components such as sdl-mixer, Tcl 8.5.X or 8.6.X — preferably 8.6.12 or above — Xorg, libmikmod, and other libraries need­ed by SDL to play sound and/or music files.

SDL needs be SDL-1 as opposed to SDL-2. Note that the two series of SDL can be in­stall­ed side-by-side. sdl-mixer must be compiled so as to sup­port MOD files by way of libmikmod.

The sound system used in most Linux distros, these days, will often be pulseaudio. BEWorld works with pulseaudio but a well-known tweak to the pulseaudio con­fig­ur­a­tion might be need­ed. If sound is present but it's borked, add the fol­low­ing two lines to and restart pulseaudio:

load-module module-alsa-source tsched=0
load-module module-alsa-sink tsched=0

As a last resort, run BEWorld from a bash script that resets pulseaudio both be­fore and after a BEWorld session.

There's only one non-stand­ard dependency, Brick Tcl 5.4, which was de­vel­op­ed by Havelka as one of the sup­port­ed Brick Engine modes.

The API changed repeatedly, so it needs to be Brick Tcl 5.4 exactly. This page includes source code for a snapshot of that release.

5. Building BEWorld.

The source code for Brick Engine, Brick Tcl 5.4, and BEWorld can be down­load­ed as a single ZIP file from the the fol­low­ing link:

If the stand­ard dependencies dis­cus­sed in part 4 are in­stall­ed, it's nearly trivial to build BEWorld.

You can do the build either as root or as an ordinary user. In the 1st case, BEWorld is in­stall­ed to the dir­ec­tory tree “/opt/beworld”. In the 2nd case, it's in­stall­ed to $HOME/beworld instead. The pro­ce­dure is as follows:

unzip -o  /somewhere/
cd beworld-bundle-211113
bash -e  ./

Substitute the appropriate dir­ec­tory path for “/somewhere”.

That's all there is to it. However, you may need to do post-build tweaks as dis­cus­sed below.

If you do the build as root, BEWorld is in­stall­ed to the dir­ec­tory tree “/opt/beworld”. If you do it as an ordinary user, BEWorld is in­stall­ed to $HOME/beworld instead.

If the build is suc­cess­ful, the script will tell you the com­mand to use to run the pro­gram.

If BEWorld runs, but there's no sound or music or it's borked, try resetting the sound system both be­fore and after you run the pro­gram. The required steps will depend on your distro and/or sound system.

If sound effects work but back­ground music doesn't play, you need to install both a copy of libmikmod and a copy of sdl-mixer that was built to use libmikmod.

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The Flames of Heaven
The Flames of Heaven

6. Tips and tech­ni­cal notes.

* To get God Mode, capture the Cross. Santa Claus will then boom out “Ho ho ho” and grant you temporary invulnerabiliy.

* It should be pos­si­ble to make it through the Flames of Heaven. However, as of this wri­ting, OldCoder didn't re­mem­ber how to do it suc­cess­ful­ly.

* If you get into the car, you're safe from attackers but not able to shoot at them. Pressing Fire will just make the car honk instead.

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