Captcha Your Imagination

Basic Idea

I go to a website known to send users through a captcha. I screen shot a captcha. The words therein become the title of the prototype I'm building, and the inspiration for the gameplay of said prototype. I really like prototyping. The early exploration portion of game development, the testing of an idea to see if it's good and functional, is one of the most exciting parts of the process to me. This series will give me a chance to do a lot of that, without needing to have an art team or sound guys to help create a finished product, because the goal isn't really a finished product, it's just a simple quick effort.


They are all collected on a separate page, that I can't link yet, because it doesn't exist. Patience.  Also, there's only one so far...


  1. While it isn't a hard constraint, my goal is to "finish" the coding of each project in 4 hours or less.  The clock starts as soon as I load the captcha, so the entire conceptualization to functional prototype process should be no more than 4 hours.
  2. I am not allowed to pre-load ideas or captchas.   That is, if I'm actually buying tickets to a concert or something, and I see a captcha that would be great for this project, I can't save it for later.  This would let me artificially extend the clock.
  3. I am allowed to recycle code/assets from previous prototypes, where possible.  This will allow me to go for more ambitious concepts in the future.  I will also allow myself to use freely available art assets or sound files, as I am neither an artist nor a sound guy.


I'm not going to define a rigid scope for all the prototypes in advance, as I want to keep my options open, since the captchas might throw anything at me. Not all of them may be playable (I can imagine coding up something AI related for example, where I don't have time to make any sort of interactivity, and the user just observes). They certainly won't all be complete gameplay experiences; rather, many will be a system or subsystem that should be placed in a game with a much larger scope. They will generally all be ugly (programmer art!), and mostly soundless. I am a designer/programmer, and thus the general goals will fall within those disciplines. That said, I'm going to be writing fast/lazy prototype style code, with the intention that any of the code written for these would be thrown away and rewritten were they to end up being used in full projects. I will go back (after the time is up) and comment the code at least. I will generally be working on these alone, as I'll just be grabbing a four-ish hour block at seemingly random times, due to my unpredictable schedule.


It is my intention to release all of my prototypes' source files as well. After some quick poking around with the various licenses on the web that I could use, I didn't particularly want to go with any of them (either the conditions didn't work for me, or they were too lawyer-y). So, anything I do release from this process will be released under following conditions:

"All of the source material in this file, including art assets, animations, source code, and sound files are released free of charge to be used as the downloader sees fit, with the following conditions:

  1. Users are free to change, or add to, anything included.  These prototypes are seen as the first step in creating something cool, and there are many steps to go.  Take as many of them as you want/can.
  2. Users are free to distribute their changes in any manner seen fit.   Send me a link, I'd love to see what you've done with it.  I'd appreciate it if you provided a link back to my original as well.
  3. You may use anything in these files in any of your larger projects.  Credit would be nice, and if you make money off of the project, I'd appreciate you buying me a beer sometime.
  4. Do not turn in my source code as your own for a school project, particularly if it's for a class I teach, or I will shake my fist at you.  Do not turn in any of my programmer art as your art homework, or you will fail and be laughed at."


Captcha Your Imagination all began with a conversation I was having with my good friend Rory.  He said, and I quote from our chat history (On July 29th, 2010, roughly 1:30 in the afternoon) here: "I suggest we make a novel out of random sequential Captcha Words, for example, "Out Codded Sequential Bras" is a perfect novel title." I'll leave the novel to him, but I thought the idea was a great way to get inspired for super short term programming projects. Turns out, a lot of folks around the internet have been using Captchas as inspiration for digital art pieces as well, which I guess proves the post modernists right.