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Subject: The comp.sys.acorn.games FAQ

This article was archived around: Tue, 03 Oct 2006 08:27:19 +0100

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Archive-name: acorn/games Posting-Frequency: monthly (approximately) Last-modified: 3nd August 2006 Version: 2.10 Maintainer: Matthew Hambley (faq@aether.demon.co.uk) Disclaimer: Approval for *.answers is based on form, not content.
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1 The comp.sys.acorn.games FAQ 2.10 - 3nd August 2006 This FAQ was written because the various posters to csa.games got fed up answering the same questions over and over again with often as little as two weeks separating each occurrence of a given question. Please read this FAQ before you post any questions. If you spot an error, inconsistency or spelling mistake you must do two things: 1) Pat yourself on the back (that's the easy bit) and 2) (the hard part) E-mail me so I can correct it. If you have a suggestion for a new question or an improved answer to an old one please don't hesitate to contact me. Please note that due to the depressingly large amounts of spam which afflict my FAQ e-mail address I automatically delete all mail which does not have the word "FAQ" in the subject line. Simply replying to this post is OK otherwise make sure you include "FAQ" somewhere in the subject. Current maintainer: Matthew Hambley <faq@aether.demon.co.uk> Web version: <http://www.aether.demon.co.uk/faqs/games.html> Revision History ================ Only the 3 most recent releases are given here. Should you wish to view the complete history, visit: <http://www.aether.demon.co.uk/faqs/games-history.html> v2.10 (2nd August 2006) * Added "AcornGamez" * Weeded some dead links Revision History ================ Only the 3 most recent releases are given here. Should you wish to view the complete history, visit: <http://www.aether.demon.co.uk/faqs/games-history.html> v2.09 (1st March 2005) * Spotted that the complete history URL was missing. v2.08 (1st Feb 2005) * Added the Brain Games site as a source of free games. This whole section is currently under review Questions and Answers ===================== 1. General Questions 1.1. Why are so few games released for Acorns? Acorn Games are usually written by university students who have some really great ideas and do some good coding but then graduate. They then tend to be offered proper jobs which they take and suddenly find they don't have the time (or their contract prevents them) to code. The other problem is the small market place which means that only a handful of small companies can be supported. 1.2. What is the difference between a game, a game demo and a demo? A demo is intended to demonstrate some programming/graphical/musical flair and techniques - any "gameplay" is peripheral to the program. A game demo is either a cut-down or "crippled" version of a commercial or shareware game or a rolling demo. It is designed to demonstrate the gameplay aspect of a game and encourage you to buy it. A game is a program intended to have lots of gameplay... 1.3. Superior Software were possibly the preeminent games company on the Beeb and they where one of the first to do anything for the Arch. Where have they gone? A very good question. For a long time everything seemed to point to them having wound up years ago. Every so often someone would pipe up with the claim that they where still trading but that was easily dismissed as duff gen. However recently it has become apparent that they /are/ still trading. They have re-launched themselves as Superior Interactive and seem to be looking to break into the Wintel games market. You can find out a little of what they are up to at their web site[1]. Their Acorn products may be purchased through APDL. [1] http://www.superiorinteractive.com/ 1.4. Where can I get free games from? You may like to try some of the following sites: * The Soup Kitchen[2] * Acorn Arcade's download zone[3] * Brain Games[4] are a commercial enterprise with a few free games and game demos [2] http://www.soup-kitchen.net/software/index.html [3] http://www.acornarcade.com/cgi-bin/gamelist [4] http://www.maceng.karoo.net/BG/ 1.5. What resources are available on the web for Acorn game players? These links may prove useful to you: * The Acorn Gaming pages[5] * AcornGamez news site[6] * Cheats prosper[7] * Acorn Arcade[8] [5] http://www.acorn-gaming.org.uk/ [6] http://www.www.acorngamez.tk/ [7] http://www.doggysoft.co.uk/cheat.html [8] http://www.acornarcade.com/ 1.6. What about game solutions? * Swallow's solutions[9] [9] http://www.swallows.demon.co.uk/arc/hints/hints.html 1.7. I want to give my games some stick! A3010 owners will know it is possible as their machines come with joystick ports. If you own any of the other Acorn machines then you will require an interface. At the moment Stuart Tyrrell Developments[10] appear to be the only people manufacturing joystick interfaces. They also provide joypads for use with your Risc OS machine. [10] http://www.stdevel.demon.co.uk/ 1.8. How easy is it to write a game for Acorn computers? Too much deep techie talk is off topic in this group (csa.programmer is the place for that) however discussion of general principles and game concepts is perfectly acceptable. If (presumably) you've never written a game, you'll want some idea of how video games tick and the usual sorts of routines you'll need to program them. For a first game, I'd suggest using one of these libraries: GameSuite <ftp://ftp.uni-stuttgart.de/pub/systems/acorn/acornet/long/info/www/s/i_43.html> Development was halted by Andy Southgate a while ago when He stopped working on it. In it's current state (3.00), it's still pretty good if you feel the environment suits you. It's best suited to people who like BASIC and assembly language programming since the core routines are in two modules with numerous SWI calls. The documentation is pretty thorough, and all the source is provided, though most of it is pretty cryptic and uncommented. Popcorn <http://www.soup-kitchen.net/software/popcorn.html> By Matthew Bloch, Popcorn is a games library still in development. It comes as a series of linkable AOF libraries written mostly in C, with all the source provided. No support is provided for BASIC programmers, though it could be added. In terms of features, it is slightly better specified and flexible than Gamesuite, but at the expense of speed. In addition, there were some articles published on using it in Acorn User (Dec '96, Xmas '96, Jan '97) and an example game. These libraries will do a lot of the hard work for you such as object processing and sprite plotting; be warned that you won't find either of these perfect, and will probably want to hack a lot of the code around. Both contain some useful hints on game coding and a certain amount of tutorial material. These libraries only handle 2D (flat) games programming; if you want to write something in three dimensions, there are huge tomes available on the subject. The comp.graphics.algorithms FAQ is a good place to start. TAG is a 3D graphics library written by TBA Software which has been successfully used in some of their games. TBA is no more so both the engine and its source code have been made available on the TBA CD-ROM from R-Comp. Source for BHP and Cobalt Seed are also included on this disc. Be warned that knowing how to code a game is only half the battle: If you want to release something commercially, slick presentation and careful design are essential. Get other people to draw graphics or compose music if you don't feel your skills are up to a commercial standard. Spend a while planning rather than just diving headlong into the coding. Finally, hold your game up to the light of a similar offering running under DOS or Windows and ask whether /you/ would pay the money you're asking for your game. A lot of people have PCs and prefer playing games (and spending money) on those. Finally there are a number of commercial games for which the source has been released. At the time of writing only one of these has not been ported already: Golgotha. 1.9. How can I write multi-platform games on my Risc OS machine? At first this may seem like an impossibility. Games written for a Risc OS machine only have a hope of working on other ARM based computers (which are a little thin on the ground) and then only if they have a similar architecture. It is however possible through the plethora of Gameboy emulators. A UNIX package for creating Gameboy games has been ported to RISC OS. Its libraries are a little primitive but they should be useable. It may even be a useful introduction to games programing (see the previous question) Find the package on the porters web site[11]. The most common text adventure formats used on Acorn machines are also ports of very well supported formats. Inform for instance can be used on everything from C64's to Linux boxes. See the section on text adventures for more information. [11] http://www.plasma.demon.co.uk/gameboy/ 2. Foreign Games 2.1. I have seen Spectrum and BBC Micro emulators. What about other platforms? What emulators are available? There is a nigh on comprehensive list of emulators held at the Acorn Gaming[12] site. [12] http://www.acorn-gaming.org.uk/index.php3?p=Emulation/index 2.2. Some IBM compatible games look a bit crumby when run on the x86 card. What can I do about this? If it is the actual rendition of the game on screen which is not right then you may find that adding these to your momitor definition file helps. # 320 x 200 (112Hz) startmode mode_name: x_res:320 y_res:200 pixel_rate:12587 h_timings:42,14,12,320,12,0 v_timings:2,50,0,200,0,30 sync_pol:2 endmode # 384 x 200 (111Hz) startmode mode_name: x_res:384 y_res:200 pixel_rate:18881 h_timings:68,0,66,384,66,0 v_timings:2,16,32,200,32,8 sync_pol:2 endmode 2.3. Why am I having trouble with x86 sound? A common solution to this problem is to investigate PCSound from R-Comp Interactive[13]. This bit of trickery will, with the aid of a MIDI synthesiser be it hardware or software, improve PC sound for a number of games. [13] http://www.rcomp.co.uk 2.4. So how do I complete Quake then? Unless you are absolutely positively stuck then stop reading now. I don't want to spoil the fun for you... Still here? OK, to complete Quake look for the floating ball. This is the target for the teleporter. When you teleport you will end up where this thing is. So, just wait for the ball to be inside Shub Niggrath (The big tenticular end of game gardian) and then teleport. You will telefrag Shub and win the game. It might be possible to win by whacking the Cthuhloid one enough times with the axe too. 2.5. What the hack is Angband anyway? To answer this question I'll quote this brief introduction by the author of the RISC OS versions: Angband is a dungeon adventure game, similar to Dungeons & Dragons in some ways, but with the emphasis on strategic use of equipment, magic and skills rather than role-playing and problem solving. It is (loosely) set in Tolkien's Middle Earth, although some variants of the game draw on quite different sources. Angband is the single most addictive computer game I have ever played... I barely even look at Tetris these days ;) Possibly the first port of call for finding out more should be Musus Umbra's RISC OS angband site[14]. For general Angband information including links to the Acorn port why not try Thangorodrim[15]. Alternatively Acorn Arcade has some Acorn spacific links in its Game Support pages. [14] http://www.verelanthe.ukgateway.net/musus/angband/ [15] http://thangorodrim.net/ 3. Text Adventures 3.1. What is interactive fiction? Interactive fiction (IF), or text adventures, are games in which the player and the computer interact through a textual interface: the player enters commands and the computer responds by printing text to the screen, generally what the player can see and what effects the previous command had. The player's input can be a simple command in the format <verb> <noun>, such as "take sword" or "open door". Modern games will also be able to parse quite complex sentences like "take the gold coin out of the treasure chest and bite it. Then close the chest". Playing interactive fiction, then, is like reading a novel in which you are the main character. 3.2. How do I play interactive fiction on a RPC/Archimedes? Many interactive fictions are available as platform-independent storyfiles, which are played on an interpreter. There are at least half a dozen rival formats and, unfortunately, there aren't Acorn ports of interpreters for every format. One of the most popular interactive fiction storyfile formats is the "Z-machine" format, as used by Infocom and, more recently, the Inform compiler (see below). An excellent interpreter for games in this format is Zip 2000. This is a multi-tasking application with many features. Zip 2000 is shareware (ukp10 registration), but a freeware distribution is available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[16] If you prefer there is another z-machine interpreter called Frotz. The big difference between this and Zip 2000 is its front end which some people prefer. It can be found at the authors web site[17] The Hugo engine, HE, is an interpreter of storyfiles generated by the Hugo compiler (see below). It is currently a single-tasking application, invoked from the command-line. HE (archived with the Hugo compiler) is available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[18] The TADS interpreter allows you to play games in the TADS run-time format. This is also a single-tasking application, identical in appearance to the DOS version. TADS is available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[19] A Level9 interpreter has also been ported to the RPC/Archimedes. This is used to play games published by Level 9 Computing, such as "Lords of Time" and "Snowball." It currently runs in a taskwindow on the desktop. L9 is available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[20] Actual games are available from a number of sources. As mentioned above, the Infocom games ("Zork,""Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," etc.) can be played with Zip 2000. These games are commercial software, and are often repackaged by the copyright-holders, Activision. The most recent collection, "Masterpieces of Infocom," contains all but two of the games. This may not yet be available in Europe, so the previous collections, "Lost Treasures of Infocom," (vols. I & II) may be a better bet. "Zork I" has recently become freeware, and is available from Activision's Web site[21] A growing number of very high quality freeware and shareware games produced with the Inform authoring system, and playable on Zip 2000, are available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[22] Hugo games are, currently, less prevalent, but a handful are available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[23] A number of TADS games are available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[24] The Level 9 games are probably no longer available to buy anywhere, but are available from a number of FTP sites. L9 can handle these games in any format (except not Spectrum Z80 files, these must be converted to SnapShots). An archive of several Spectrum games (Z80 format, so convert) is available via anonymous FTP from would you credit it?[25] Lastly, there are one or two games available as RISC OS applications. Some of these are available via anonymous FTP from that funky IF archives site again[26] [16] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/interpreters/zip/ [17] http://www.argonet.co.uk/users/musus/frotz/index.htm [18] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/programming/hugo/executables/ [19] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/programming/tads/executables/ [20] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/level9/interpreters/level9/ [21] http://www.activision.com/ [22] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/inform/ [23] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/hugo/ [24] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/tads/ [25] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/spectrum/level9.zip [26] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/archimedes/ 3.3. How do I write interactive fiction on a RPC/Archimedes? There are a number of publicly available authoring systems for creating interactive fiction in one of the storyfile formats mentioned above. Inform is undoubtedly currently the most popular and ported authoring system available. It compiles source, written in it's own language (fully OO and reminiscent of C), to a "Z-machine"-format storyfile. Inform is available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[27] It has recently come to my attention that there is a very good site concerning the technicalities of writing adventure games with extra links at this site[28] Hugo is much newer than Inform. The language bears comparison to Inform, C and BASIC, but much of the (sometimes confusing) punctuation has been removed, and the whole language optimised for clarity and ease-of-use. Hugo source compiles to its own format storyfile, which removes many of the more limiting restrictions of the "Z-machine" format. Hugo is available via anonymous FTP from the IF archives[29] [27] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform6/ [28] http://www.gnelson.demon.co.uk/inform.html [29] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/programming/hugo/ 3.4. Ooo, interactive fiction sounds like fun! Where can I find out more? There are two newsgroups devoted to interactive fiction. If you are interested in /playing/ these games, you should subscribe to rec.games.int-fiction[30] If you want to /write/ interactive fiction you should subscribe to rec.arts.int-fiction[31] The Interactive Fiction Archive is a huge repository of interactive fiction games, authoring systems, utilities, documentation and other related material. It is found at the IF archives[32] Both the rec.arts.int-fiction FAQ[33] and the rec.games.int-fiction FAQ[34] are available from the IF archives. [30] news:rec.games.int-fiction [31] news:rec.arts.int-fiction [32] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/ [33] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/rec.arts.int-fiction/FAQ [34] ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/rec.games.int-fiction/FAQ 3.5. That's all very well but I like pictures! Well now you can have some. Recently a port of Sarien has been completed. Sarien is an AGI interpreter. It will allow you to play old (generally pre 1989) Sierra adventures. For instance, Leisure Suit Larry and the various Quest games. (King's, Space and Police) All you need is the original game and a copy of Sarien, available from the authors web site[35]. Apparently there is work underway to produce an interpreter which will play more modern Sierra games. Possibly even more exciting is the SCUMMVM. SCUMM is the system used by Lucas Arts for, among other things, Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. It can also be found at David McEwens web site[36]. [35] http://www.acornemus.freeserve.co.uk/ [36] http://www.acornemus.freeserve.co.uk/ -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.1-sb1 (RISC OS) iD8DBQFE0OOyMrwdKMmRE3sRAuZ8AJwN1iEhnUMQGWqTqEPuCPCKOWmhVACgjBxP vuR5pBIMYZF5duzxpJdS1Fw= =78kc -----END PGP SIGNATURE----- -- (\/)atthew )-(ambley Maintainer of the comp.sys.acorn.games and programmer FAQ lists E-mail : faq@aether.demon.co.uk Public key ID : C991137B http://www.aether.demon.co.uk/faqs/