Outer Orbit


About Outer Orbit
Outer Orbit is an attempt to create a “Spacewar!-for-one” as a tribute to the line of heritage of digital video games. It combines elements of the most classic shooter games, Spacewar! (1961/62) [1], the first known video game on a digital computer, Computer Space (1971) [2] [3] [4], the first coin-operated digital video game, and Asteroids (1979) [5]:

  • From Spacewar! it borrows the comic book spaceship, the central star, gravity and orbital mechanics,
  • from Computer Space the game mechanics of the saucer opponents and the time-based gameplay,
  • from Asteroids”, well, the asteroids, which serve here just as additional obstacles to make the game a bit trickier.


Note: A wave has a fixed duration of 80 seconds. You may progress to the next wave/level, if you manage to outscore the saucers in a given level, i.e. shoot the saucers more often than your ship crashes, by this maintaining a positive balance. Mind that the balance is reset to zero at the start of each level.

Tip: Like in Spacewar! enter an orbit around the gravitational star by aligning your spaceship perpendicular to its center and firing your thruster for two or three seconds. — Do not attempt to destroy asteroids, dodge them.

Implementation Notes: The sound-scape is for the most a homage to Computer Space, less the background hum. The display font is based on definitions for a PDP-1 font renderer (early 1960s) and implemented in software. In order to bring the iterative machanics of a gravity based game to the modern age of asynchronous rendering, the game is computed internally in fixed time slices of an 1/100th of a second and the display rendered on demand.

Setting an Initial Level: Experienced players may want to select the initial level by specifying a wave as an URL-parameter, as in Outer Orbit for a game starting at wave #30.