ChipWits is Looking for a Publisher

In March 2008 ChipWits was named one of the Top 10 Apple II/Mac Games of all time by Maclife.com.

ChipWits is an award-winning classic game originally created by Doug Sharp and Mike Johnston in 1984. The game teaches the basics of coding through programming a robot using an intuitive icon-based programming language.

When it was originally released, it opened to rave reviews by Byte, Icon Review, COMPUTE!, INFO64, MACazine, MacUser and many other nostalgia-inducing magazines.

With the increased interest in the importance of computer science education, we firmly believe the game is ripe for a new generation of fans.

The original ChipWits attracted a rabid following. We plan to build a ChipWits franchise. We are already thinking about Battle ChipWits (with a possible tie-in to the BattleBots TV series) and ChipWits World.

We’ve spent the last year porting the game to Unity and are currently seeking a publisher / producer that can help bring a modern reboot of this game to a new generation of fans! If you’re interested, please reach out! (Contact details at the end of this post).

TL;DR – The Pitch Deck

Our pitch deck is here:

Game play preview

Where we are so far

The alpha 1 build is a re-implementation of the original game with the original rules and with graphics and sound inspired by the original Mac and Commodore 64 versions but with a UI designed to be compatible with modern web, PC and consoles. The game is written in C# using the Unity game engine.

Let’s Play! (Click Play Now to play in your browser)

We recommend exploring the game by first running an existing ChipWit through a mission (see Greedy in Greedville). Then, you can build a ChipWit from scratch (see Your first ChipWit). We would recommend using two monitors or printing this post to make the directions easier to follow.

You can also download a platform-native playable demo here:

Greedy in Greedville

  1. Launch ChipWits by clicking the “Play Now” button, above, and press Free Play:
  2. On the Choose a ChipWit screen click Greedy and press Select:
  3. On the Choose a Mission screen, select Greedville and press Select:
  4. Now, click the Play button to watch Greedy self-navigate the maze and gobble up some coffee, pie, oil cans and SD cards. The game is over when Cycles drops to 0. How high of a score can Greedy get given 6,000 cycles?

Things to try while you’re watching:

  • Adjust the speed of the game by clicking Play again
  • Click the perspective button to see the maze from different vantage points
  • Watch the Program box on the right. Can you figure out what is happening?

Your first ChipWit

Now that you’ve watched a pre-built ChipWit navigate Greedville, it’s time to build your own robot.

  1. Click the Back button and click “Change ChipWit”
  2. Click New ChipWit
  3. Name your ChipWit and click Create
  4. Select Greedville as the mission
  5. Your ChipWit starts with an empty program and 6,000 cycles. If you click Play, you’ll see it does nothing because there are no chips – click Pause to stop.
  6. Let’s plan out our program. We’re going to write a simple ChipWit that tries to get nearby oil (and usually fails). This is what our program will do:
    • “Look” for oil. This checks for oil in the robot’s line of sight.
      • TRUE: If true (I see oil!), then “feel” for oil. This checks for oil right in front of the ChipWit.
        • TRUE: If true, then grab it and start the program over.
        • FALSE: Otherwise, move closer and try again.
      • FALSE: I didn’t see oil. Turn right and start again.
  7. Let’s write our program. Start by clicking the Edit Program button. This opens the program editor:
  8. The traffic light shows where the program starts. Select the slot next to the traffic light and click on “Look” and then “Oil”:
  9. Now, we can continue to build our program. See the “T” and “F” labels on the slot? Those stand for “True” and “False”. So if we see oil, next we want to “feel” for oil. Continue to build out the program as follows:
  10. When you’re done, click the Back Button and then click Play to see your ChipWit in action.
  11. When your ChipWit keeps spinning in circles, you’ll soon realize it takes a bit more logic to build a robust ChipWit. Try clicking Back and “Restart Mission” until you get a room like the one above, with an oil can within the line of sight of the ChipWit. Then, you can click Play and get your first 50 points!

What comes next

In the classic game, typically a player will start to explore some of the other chips (like flip coin, smell and zap), and challenge themselves to beat their own high scores. Then they can explore new missions. Each environment has its own unique challenges, such as ChipWit Caves containing dreaded electrocrabs that randomly get in your ChipWits’ way. Or Octopus Gardens that pushes you to learn and master the concept of stack-based programming in order to maximize your score.

Ultimately, we envision extending the original game dynamics by providing a story mode with guided puzzles that incrementally teach you how to play and possibly a custom mission editor to design community-contributed missions.

Where we go from here

The game is fully playable but missing some key elements before it is ready to release:

  • Graphic Design work to improve the look and feel of the game
  • An engaging tutorial, perhaps with a Story Mode
  • Music and modernized sound effects
  • Platform porting and play-testing
  • Marketing

Our small team is motivated and would like to partner with a publisher / producer to modernize the game and make it as successful as it can be!

If you’re interested in making money by publishing this classic game, please contact us at playchipwits@gmail.com .

Thank you!

Who we are

Doug Sharp

Wrote two hit computer games in the mid-80s: ChipWits and Cinemaware’s The King of Chicago. He was a manager and coder in Microsoft Research’s Virtual Worlds Group. He’s written two novels–Channel Zilch and Hel’s Bet–of a planned quartet about kickstarting the Singularity by stealing a space shuttle.

Mike Johnston

In Memoriam, 1955-2018 – Original Co-creator of ChipWits

A portion of ChipWits profit will go to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (oif.org) in Mike’s memory. Mike was a Lecturer in the U of M Department of Education. He was a founder of two software development companies (Discourse and Interactive Illusions).

Mark Roth

Software Engineer and Managing Director at a high-tech investment firm. Became interested in coding while playing ChipWits as a kid. Founded Octagon Software, LLC and writes games for fun.

Josh Burker

Educator and author of The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun and Guide to More Fun, Josh first played Chipwits in 1985 on his Mac 512K. Over the years he has managed to trick a Mac Plus into running the program, followed Doug’s resurrection of Chipwits, and once won a Chipwits t-shirt in a competition. He is now helping with community relations for Chipwits.

One thought on “ChipWits is Looking for a Publisher

  1. As far as I can tell, the Adobe AIR installer no longer installs the ChipWitsII.air file. In my experience, I can’t seem to install any other air files. I wonder if this has to do with the demise of Adobe Flash.

    There is some good news though. I have found that an installation pin my case, Windows 10] of ChipWits II can be copied to another machine. Presumably anybody else’s machine. Therefore a zip file of the folder would probably work for the same O/S. Until someone is willing to take over to extend the life of ChipWits, this may be the only way to keep it alive.

    I have it running on four machines now simply by copying the folder from the Program Files (x86) directory. Apparently, the installation process does not create any registry changes that are mandatory. I did create a shortcut of the ChipWitsII exe file to place on my desktop.

    Like

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