Thursday, 28 February 2013

Attack of the A-Holes

Well I've been trying to make my game "Tunnel Jumper" more challenging.  As usual my son Charlie was very helpful through his role as chief "Beta Tester."  He was able to master the game very quickly, and win through to the end.  In fact, it only took him about 15 minutes to figure out all the nuances of the first version of Jumper and then another five to get to level 10.  Based on his experience, he gave me a long list of "improvements."  Here they are:

1. Make the "A-holes" (as he dubbed the alien "A"s) more deadly
2. Make the A-holes "protect" the rare elements 
3. Make the dirt or rock layers less available or thinner
4. Add deadly "lava" to make for more dangers on the screen
5. Add levels of difficulty
6. Add better music and sound
7. Make the levels harder as you progress upwards
8. Have music at the end when you win

I think I have been able to deal with all of these requests.  I've tightened the code and reordered the declaration of variables to increase the speed of the program.  I changed all the prints@s to pokes for the aliens and the player.  This has allowed me the speed to add another alien.  Now you can choose between levels of difficulty.  On level 1 there are 5 aliens, on level 2 there are 6, and on level 3 there are 7 for each screen.  You also can no longer run straight into aliens without dying, although you can still jump on top of them without dying (this can be useful for jumping up to platforms that are usually out of reach).

I didn't add deadly lava, but now I randomly sprinkle red blocks throughout the levels.  These blocks can only be destroyed by a direct hit from your upward digger, so this adds further complexity to choosing where to shoot in order to create workable "stairs."  More red blocks are added on higher levels of difficulty.  Now the amount of blue rock that is laid down is diminished the higher number of screens you complete.  And this is amplified on the higher levels of difficulty.  This means that on higher levels, it is more likely for screens to be created with gaps that can only be bridged by use of spike gun ladders and selective drilling.  So now there is a real need to collect and save these objects for possible use on later screens (Charlie found it easy to complete the earlier version without having to use these special tools).

Charlie used his musical skills to transcribe a snippet of the "Fanfare for the Common Man" into sound statements for the victory sequence.  It only plays if you collect the secret plans, which now appear less frequently (only on level 3 and level 7).  These plans are now displayed as "@" symbols.  I also shortened the timer for each screen before the aliens "gas you," which forces you back a level.  The time limit also varies according to difficulty level.  The higher the difficulty level, the shorter the time delay before you are pushed back.  This really forces the player to move quickly to try to make it to the top of each screen before time runs out.  To create the music, Charlie used the musical score program that I modified from one created by William Barden Jr.  My version allows editing, saving, playback and conversion to sound statements for output to a text file options, to name a few of the additions.  It allows Charlie to compose using a regular range of notes and then to output his work as a string of SOUND commands that I can use in my programs.

I was also able to fix a number of infrequently occurring, but none-the-less annoying bugs. For example in the screenshot to the left you can see the "X" character has been able to drop into the score area of the screen (Thanks Charlie!).  That no longer can happen.  Scoring has been modified so that it is adjusted relative to the level of difficulty.  Rare elements (except for 4 per level) appear under where aliens spawn.

I hope you enjoy the new version for the MC-10 which is available on the Yahoo site.  I hope to have  the code converted to Coco shortly for submission to the Cococoding contest.


  1. Coco version now available. See JGGAMES5.DSK on Yahoo Coco group or my website.

  2. The only thing you need are "Frikin sharks with frikin lasers on their frikin heads!!!!!1!"