Coding without a keystroke: The hands-free creation of a full video game

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The object of each <em>Dig Dog</em> stage is simple: dig through the level to find a bone. And watch out for enemies along the way.

Enlarge / The object of each Dig Dog stage is simple: dig through the level to find a bone. And watch out for enemies along the way.

Update: The solid, unassuming Dig Dog is kind of an ideal “Spelunky on the go” type of video game, and we enjoyed happening upon it first during the 2017 Fantastic Arcade in Austin, Texas. This weekend, Dig Dog gets a proper re-release on the Nintendo Switch, so we’re taking an opportunity to resurface this article that’s ultimately less review and more origin story. After all, Dig Dog isn’t just a solid, cheap option to enjoy with Switch’s portable mode—it’s also a remarkable example of a game coded and drawn as a hands-free experiment. This piece originally published on February 9, 2018, and it appears unchanged below.

Dig Dog is a pretty fun little video game. Call it “Spelunky for kids”—and don’t think of that as a backhanded compliment, either. Dig Dog, which launched Thursday on iOS, Xbox, Windows, and Mac, shaves away some of the genre’s complications, controls smoothly, and has depth. It’s as if the modern wave of randomly generated, dig-for-surprises adventures had existed in early ’80s arcades. (And all for only $3!)

I liked Dig Dog enough when I stumbled upon it at last year’s Fantastic Arcade event in Austin, Texas. But my interest in the game spiked when its creator reached out ahead of this week’s launch to confirm something I’m not sure any other video game creator has done: coding an entire game by himself… without using his hands.

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