2008_04_17_thumb.jpg [Our sister programming mag/website Dr Dobb's Journal has been running the Dr. Dobb's Challenge game competition in association with Microsoft Visual Studio, with $10,000 in prizes. There was an initial $1,000 'First Month Challenge' prize for modding the downloadable Windows game.

Here's contest organizer Mathew Kumar outlining the best entries and the 'First Month' winner - all worth checking out for game mod fun, and to see if you can do better for the final June deadline.

UPDATE: Please note that the games are much closer to 'hobbyist' mods created by Dobbs-reading programmers in their spare time than fully-fledged indie classics, so ameliorate your expectations accordingly.]

We'd like to thank everyone for entering the Dobbs First Month Challenge. We thought that even with $1,000 on the line to the best entrant with a month to develop a serviceable work-in progress, it was just going to be too much work for our regular readers who don't necessarily have a lot of time to develop indie games.

We were, happily, proven wrong and there's a fun crop of games now available up on the Dobbs Challenge Critic's Choice download section for you to check out -- including a one button fighting game from Alexkr; Badly Drawn Robots, which can be best described as "Robotron Meets Castle Wolfenstein Meets Dr. Dobbs" and Dobbs Derby, possibly the most ambitious total conversion so far, which turns Dr Dobbs Challenge into a racing game.

We've selected five mods from a rich selection to spotlight here -- four runners-up and the $1,000 winner. If your entry wasn't selected, please don't  think that we've lost, missed or ignored it!

Runners Up

Alexkr's Mod

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AlexKr has created a mod which works as a sort of one-button sumo - hold down the enter key to run towards your opponent and mash it to attack. [details]

Rodhyde's Mod

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RodHyde has created a fast paced shooter with Badly Drawn Robots. The room layout reminds us of the classic adventure game Castle Wolfenstein, even if the gameplay is most similar to Robotron. [details]

Ethanpack's Mod

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Ethanpack's Debugging With Dobbs uses the graphics provided with Dr. Dobbs Challenge to good effect, creating a single screen platform shooter (almost a "run and gun") with Dr. Dobbs firing bugs at the Defy All Challenges enemies that swarm the screen. [details]

Lanza's Mod

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Lanza's mod, called Modpower, is one of the most technically remarkable, as it contains scrolling levels, something that the original engine was not set up to do -- making the title to the original Dr Dobbs Challenge what Super Mario Bros. was to the original Mario Bros. [details]

$1,000 Winner

Punkle's Mod

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Punkle's Dobbs Derby is a total conversion of Dr. Dobbs Challenge, turning the game into a one button slot car racer. [details]

Our judges were impressed by the amount of work that must have gone into the mod after such a short period of time, as it features a completely different game design from the original Dr. Dobbs Challenge game, with new graphics (including a simple particle system), but noted that the game's one button controls were fun even in the game's incomplete state.

 If you entered but didn't win, please don't lose heart. As we've already stated, the judges were very impressed with the majority of the entries, and found it very hard to choose a winner. With a $9,000 prize pool still on offer, it'd be foolish to give up now!

If you haven't even begun developing your mod, there's plenty of time yet too.  The deadline for The Dobbs Challenge is June 13th, 2008, and you still stand a chance to win: Best Windows Game ($4,000), Best Windows Mobile Game ($2,000) Best One Button Game ($1,000), Best Game Starring Dr Dobbs And The Defy All Challenges Crew ($1,000) and Best Total Conversion ($1,000).