A breakout game in Haskell using SDL and FRP, with Wiimote and Kinect support.
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This is a Haskell breakout game implemented using the Functional Reactive Programming library Yampa.

Haskanoid Video

The game has been created for educational purposes, but tries to feature a substantial amount of the complexity often found in real arcade games. In particular:
  • SDL 1.2 graphics and sound.

  • Multiple input devices (keyboard, mouse, Wiimote infrared, Kinect).

  • Differentiated subsystems for physics/collisions, input, rendering/multimedia, logic, etc.

A version of this game using SDL2 has been made available by Keera Studios for free on Google Play for Android. There is a bug that makes the app not close or save the game when you exit it. I know how to solve it, I just haven't found the time to push that change. Please, report other bugs of that Android app here. You can follow the progress of the port for Android on facebook and twitter.

Haskanoid on Android

We would like to call on Haskell programmers, game developers and anyone with an interest in Functional Reactive Programming and/or Game Programming to review the code, ask for clarification when the code is not clear enough, and help us improve the game, and the state of FRP/Yampa programming as well.

This game was used to present a Declarative Game Programming tutorial at PPDP 14 (see http://keera.co.uk/blog/2014/09/24/game-programming-videos-code/ for details). Slides are linked from that website.


The game is available on hackage. All the media resources are included with the distribution (see LICENCE for redistribution terms). You can install it with*:

$ cabal update
$ cabal sandbox init
$ cabal install haskanoid
$ ./.cabal-sandbox/bin/haskanoid

If you want to explore the code and possibly make changes, do the following:

$ cabal update
$ cabal unpack haskanoid            # or git clone http://github.com/ivanperez-keera/haskanoid
$ cd haskanoid-*                    # Game resources are here
$ cabal sandbox init
$ cabal install
$ ./dist/build/haskanoid/haskanoid

To play it with the wiimote, you need to run the program with the special arguments +RTS -V0. See http://github.com/ivanperez-keera/hcwiid for an explanation.

*Additional notes:

  • Users of GHC 7.8 need to run additional steps. See issue #2 for instructions.

  • MacOSX users (or anyone without a wiimote) might want to disable wiimote and kinect support. You can do so with the cabal flags wiimote and kinect, by running cabal install --flags="-kinect -wiimote".

  • To use of the above installation instructions (with disabled wiimote and kinect support, see bullet point above) you need the following packages:

    On debian/ubuntu, you can install them with:

    $ sudo apt-get install ghc cabal-install
    $ sudo apt-get install libsdl1.2-dev libsdl-mixer1.2-dev libsdl-image1.2-dev libsdl-ttf2.0-dev
  • To enable wiimote and kinect support you also need the following packages:

    • CWiid (wiimote)
    • freenect (kinect)

    On debian/ubuntu, you can install them with, respectively:

    $ sudo apt-get install libcwiid-dev
    $ sudo apt-get install freenect


To try and make things as clear as possible, the code includes a much haddock documentation and comments as we could reasonably fit. You can compile those with:

$ cabal unpack haskanoid     ## Or git clone this-repo
$ cd haskanoid-*
$ cabal sandbox init
$ cabal install --only-dependencies
$ cabal configure && cabal haddock --executables --internal

Related projects


There are a few obvious ways to improve this code:

  • If you are interested in FRP: The physics/collision subsystem, which works in three steps (simulation, detection and correction), is too naive. Because there is no control no point-of-collision or time-of-collision detection, this results in a collision engine that depends greatly on the number of frames per second. In FRP there is little control over the delta times used for the simulation. Implement a better system.

    • NOTE: Maths are used for physics and collisions all the time. Matrices are your friends. Don't reinvent the wheel, just recall freshman algebra.

    • NOTE: I recommend the following introductory book, which also has really good pointers: Jason Gregory's Game Engine Architecture.

    • NOTE: when programming such a system, it's incredibly easy to get caught up in tiny details that provoke huge increases in the complexity of the problem. The kinds of shapes you allow matter. Whether they are concave or convex matter. Whether you allow rotation matters. Don't underestimate this problem: professional engines such as AndEngine get this wrong as well (see a pinball video on Keera Studios' facebook page for details). Start small, try to simplify, and grow steady. A don't, don't, don't even think of optimising until you have, at least, solved the problem.

  • If you are interested in performance: you'll notice that this game has growing memory demands. There's a trivial change to one module that makes the game run in constant memory per level (using only 3M).

    See also: http://keera.co.uk/blog/2014/10/15/from-60-fps-to-500/

  • If you are interested in game design: this game is quite simplistic, consisting only of blocks that must be hit. Some ideas for improvements: things could fall when a block is hit; some blocks might be "poisonous"; the ball could go faster or slower with time; each level might have a timer to complete it; the paddle might tilt to the sides as it moves, the inclination depending on the acceleration (or the Wiimote roll).

  • If you are interested in FP concepts and game programming, you might want to try and think about the following: The resource manager is very simplistic: resouce loading happens at level transition, resources are unloaded only by the garbage collector as references to them are removed from memory. This overly-simplistic work might not scale well for complex games. The problem, once again, of implementing such a subsystem is that it's an IO component that may fail and must work asynchronously, yet synchronise with a pure game component. The following are suggested:

    • Implement a loading message, and make the game wait until resources are loaded.

    • Make the resource manager asynchronous, so that resources can be loaded/unloaded in the background, even before the next level starts, and making the display responsive (again).

  • If you are interested in Human-Computer Interaction and Input/Output: adding support for new devices is really simple. Using a kinect, for instance, requires minimal changes (we have code that works with the freenect library). But maybe you can connect it to more interesting devices, such as mobile phones, or brain sensors, webcams, or the new (upcoming) Kinect, which will do eye tracking!


If you find this game attractive and would like to use it to teach functional programming or other subjects, we'd be very happy to know about it. We can provide extra material that you can show to students (videos, screenshots, etc.).