What if you could play a video game inside Notepad? Usually, I’d add in the classic meme, “said nobody ever,” but in this case, someone asked the question. Daniël Haazen, otherwise known as Sheepolution, had the idea and set out on a three-year quest to make it happen. The final product, titled And yet it hurt, is an ASCII art style RPG you play entirely in Notepad. Or well, almost.
When Daniël set out to create a game played in Notepad, he immediately realized there would be a problem he couldn’t get around. To play, you would need to open text files, read, make changes, and save. Then Notepad would need to recognize those changes and act upon them accordingly.
That was the first problem: Notepad doesn’t check for updates to files. So the player would need to close and open files after every change, which would be inconvenient. The solution Daniël landed on was to leave Notepad and move to the freeware program, Notepad++. Notepad++ does detect changes in files and act upon them, which solves that problem. Daniël skinned Notepad++ to look like Notepad and moved on to creating the game.
If you’re a little disappointed that you can’t play the game in Notepad, don’t be. If you really wanted to, you could open all the files in Notepad, make changes, save, close the files, and reopen. It’s perfectly playable but incredibly inconvenient. It’s better to go with Daniël’s solution.
Once you’re into the game, the story presents you with a tale as old as time. You (you get the name the player, and choose gender), are the child of tailor parents in a medieval setting. One day while you’re out delivering clothes to customers, a dragon burns down your home killing your parents.
After a few days of sulking, you come to an obvious conclusion. You have to kill the dragon in revenge. You get a few quick fighting lessons, and then you’re off to the next town to buy weapons and start your quest.
The methods of playing the game are novel. You’ll want to keep the Notepad interface and a folder full of the game’s files open side by side. When you want to move to a new location, find the file (a text file named home, or weapon shop, etc.) and drag it to Notepad.
You’ll collect weapons, armor, items, and increase your health. Blocking attacks is as simple as deleting information from a file fast enough. Attacking involves adding data to a file. It’s all very straight forward.
I haven’t played through the entire game yet (I had to write this article after all), but I’ve enjoyed the simple story for what it is, and more importantly, the novelty of playing in a new and unique way.
You might be wondering how much the game costs. You get to decide! Daniël uploaded the game to itch.io where you can choose what to donate—if anything at all. He also uploaded the source code to GitHub, which is pretty awesome. And you can read about his efforts at his blog. If you’re on the fence, maybe try it for free. If you find it’s worth the time, go back and tip Daniël for his efforts.