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Well, it's not like Snake is really an easy game. It may seem like it at first glance, but it's harder than it looks. (At least at a decent speed like that.) You have to keep track of quite a few things, while managing your action speed (not too fast, nor too slow). I tend to prefer games where I can take my time to think, but this was a game I thought I could actually implement.

One thing I'll note about this implementation is that it's possible to change your mind on which direction you're going, as long as you do it before the game is done checking the keyboard for that step - it takes whichever key was the last one you pressed. Obviously, that's harder to take advantage of at the 1kHz speed than at 60Hz, but still possible (at least in theory).

This is different from some other implementations I've seen, where pressing a key will actually make it immediately move in that direction (allowing you to go faster than the timer if you want to), or queue up inputs so you can press e.g. up-right-down and then sit back for a few frames. (Mine did the queue at first, but I'm finding it tricky to hit the game objects at first try (and there's no real visual indication of having done it), so I'd often end up starting with a few Fs in the queue...)

Yeah, switching direction back the way you came is pretty much an instant game over, since that counts as colliding with yourself (it actually does that backwards move and sees the collision as with any other tail hit). That's part of the reason you start the game with 2 tail segments, so that it's consistent that way from the start.

I think I've seen that be a game over in other implementations as well (as opposed to not allowing you to make that turn, which I'm less sure I've seen), but it's been a while, so I can't be sure. In your case (at least in the gif) it might not even have been that, you might have just switched direction towards the right too soon.

It would have been easier to tell if I had made the head a different color, like I wanted to, because then we could see where it ended up. But I both ran out of code space and wanted to minimize the run time since it was so slow, so... yeah.

That custom mode looks pretty good, and with that speed it does seem a lot more playable (or at least enjoyable).

Well, thank you? I'd guess it's probably mostly that I've been doing fairly small and self-contained projects that are graphical in some way, which makes them appear more interesting and lets them be ready sooner. (I've also been spending rather more time on Senbir stuff lately than I probably should...) (Though I won't deny that having experience playing around with related things probably helps too.)