Sunday, 22 October 2017

RetroChallenge 2017/10: Dante's Run

This is a weird one. The inspiration for this new game came from a game for the Sinclair ZX81. I was watching a playthrough by Villordsutch of a game called TAI.  It is a Star Wars themed game.  You start by flying a ship through a tunnel in an asteroid. Except this tunnel is not filled with strange space creatures who might inhabit the insides a giant space worm living in the heart of an asteroid.  No, there is a giant skull with stacks of smaller skulls piled on top of it like some kind of Indiana Jones lost temple.  And that's not all.  The temple is protected by "ghost guards."  My first impression was that the game was creepy-temple-themed, but when you get through the cavern you switch to another screen in which you are the Millennium Falcon. A Tai fighter maneuvers around you and you must shoot it out of the sky/space. The mixture of motifs is very weird.
The creepy cavern of the skulls was certainly inspiring. I thought I could achieve the effect of flying upward through a maze using a string array and then just adjusting the pointer variable so you  see a window of the current 15 lines on screen. This way the ship could fly up "towards" the top of the screen instead of the more standard scrolling effect used in basic games that takes advantage of the automatic screen scroll that occurs when you print a line at the bottom of the screen. It turned out pretty well and is relatively speedy.  Now I have completed a Basic game that scrolls up to go along with my games that scroll right, such as Raider, and scroll down, such as my game Boarder (I'm not sure if I'm using the terms up/down left/right correctly--does the window scroll or the information being viewed by it?--I'll let you figure it out).

I thought I would try to create an even more creepy cavern effect. It's nearly Halloween, so I thought skulls and stuff would be neat. I decided as well to do it in the SG6 mode. This means the walls could be made out of the creepy neon mucus green solid character. The ship uses two other characters from the mostly useless lower 128 character set, which are really just random line patterns that represent bit numbers because no external character generator is wired to the MC6847 on the MC10. I chose a block character with two lines on each side for the base of the ship, and a narrow centred line for the "point" of the ship's nose.  The nose part is resilient (i.e. collision detection is only on the base section). 

As the game progressed I realized it was really a descent into hell theme I was developing with the extra graphics I was adding.  I also needed a "goal" stage to replace the Tai fighter-Millennium Falcon stage in the Sinclair game.  I decided to name the game "Dante's Run" and to make the transition stage a showdown with Beelzebub himself. I have been thinking for while I wanted to do a game where you have to shoot through counter rotating shields in order to try to hit the mother ship.  This is that motif, but with the Dark Lord as target. You have a limited time to break through the two fire shields and score a hit on Satan.  If you run out of time before you do, you start back in the cavern.  If you succeed, you score 2000 extra points and you get an extra life.  Your life is measured by the length of your laser when you shoot. You start with 5 lives. You lose a life when you hit one of the dark green guardian specters.  You die automatically if you hit any walls.  Your goal in the cavern is to collect the blue "purgatorial souls." You get 100 points for each one.  When you collect 1000 points you trigger the intermediate stage with Satan.  Shooting the specters can help get them out of your way, but it doesn't score you any points.  Just be careful not to shoot any of the purgatorial souls.  Doing so wont lose you any points,but it might upset the big guy upstairs!  Here's a vid:
I don't know if I'll have any time to do more stuff for RetroChallenge this month. It's mid-term time for me and the term will be heating up a bit for a while.  If I don't get the chance, I wish all my fellow contestants good luck as we head into the final stretch!

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