P&P racing

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Paper & Pencil racing

If the applet says you have the limited version: Download for full functionality: Java Runtime JRE1.3. (approx. 5MB)

About the Game

It isn't really clear where this game came from, yet it came to us in the class room. The game was played on math-paper, with a grid on it. On the paper a rough sketch was made of a circuit. The object was to come first back over the start/finish line. Fact is, that this simple game took us great time and effort, and was even lowering our school results.
The game starts at the start/finish line, where the players' cars roar their engines... After the lights turn green, the cars set off. They are able to either speed-up or turn only one block per move. The players therefore have to keep track of tight corners, and be sure to hit the breaks in time. Hitting the grass slows the car down to zero, and will make the oponents laugh at him from their mirrors. Making your move after each other, this is probably the only turn-based racing game around.


The original game seems to have spread over the world in a matter of years. No point questioning where it originally came from. Steve Baker invented the game when he was a child and has a nice page about how the game works. Graph Racers.


The game is quite simple to learn. To start with, each car has both a horizontal and vertical speed of zero. At each turn the player is asked to change either the horizontal or vertical speed with one block, or leave them the same. Thus each turn, the player can choose from five options.

Example 1: Accellerating
The blue car goes with a speed of 2 blocks up. The player can choose to maintain this speed (the middle circle), or accellerate to 3 blocks up (the upper circle), as his opponent (pink) did.

Example 2: Steering
The beige car moves with a speed of 1 block to the left and 1 blocks up. The player might choose to do the same as his opponent (blue) did: accelerate to the left, going to a speed of 2 blocks left and 1 up.


  • The race direction is counter clockwise.
  • When the car hits the grass or the border of the track, the speed is reduced to zero immediately.
  • Cutting of corners is permitted.
  • Car's can be on the same point, on the same time. It is therefore not possible to block each other.
  • The last player to finish in the same turn is announced winner.


To steer your racing bolide through the corners, a cursor is displayed with the five possible locations to go. If a circle of the cursor turns red, this means that your car will hit the grass. Hitting the grass slows you down to zero. To move to one of the given locations, click it with your mouse, or use the numpad (4=left, 6=right, 8=up, 2=down, 5=same). You can use the normal arrow keys to scroll through the window.

New game
The applet above gives you the opportunity to play this game online. Initially the game is set up for two players: one computer, and one human. The computer will start, showing you the way. You can change this by pressing "new game": A window pops up where you can choose the number of players. Next you can choose for a normal or networked game. In the 'normal' game you will play only on this computer, although more than one player is allowed. In networked mode, you will play against people on other computers.

Network game
In this mode, you can play against other players on the internet. You will have to enter a name and choose between server and client. If you selected 'client', you will have to enter an ip-number and a port-number of the server. Else you only need to enter a port-number. In both cases: only change the port-number if the default doesn't work.
Finally you get a window where you will be able to chat with the other players. The server will also be able to start new games and kick people. If during a game a client disconnects, this player will be taken over by the computer. If the server disconnects during the game, the game is just over.

Messages and Errors
In the main-screen, there are several status-messages. From left to right, the first one tells you which player is on turn, and what the speed of his car is. Next a message tells you wether the computer is busy, or if a computer player waits for a keypress. If, on the end of the turn a player has finished, it will be shown here. Finally a little message on the right shows you what turn you're in.
In networked mode, you may get an errormessage in a seperate window. In most cases the reason for the error will be that your computer is behind a firewall. The firewall needs to have a port (by default 8190) opened, to play this game.


  • ppracing.java just the java source. All you need if you have some experience with java
  • ppracing.zip a zipfile containing everything: the seperate java files, a html page, the .class files and generated javadoc files.
  • javadoc A description of the sourcecode in html form, just like the official java documentation.