Re: [stella] Adventure Project

Subject: Re: [stella] Adventure Project
From: Stirling Newberry <stnewberry@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 03:11:38 -0400
The idea of Adventure mods is as old as the list, but nobody's done anything.

I think the most progressive thing to do is to use the Adventure engine to build a different kind of game, ala Superman and Haunted House, rather than to just add more rooms.

I'm sure that someone with more time that me would be happy to work on such a project. And, perhaps, the information I am coming up with will be useful to such a person. But this is a great deal more ambitious that fits in my schedule. For me Adventure on Stella is what I do when most people would be playing solitaire in airport lounges. This project is, hence, how I would spend the 25 or so hours a year I would other wise be shuffling virtual cards. On the totem pole of Atari programming wisdom, rank me near the bottom - as a result I'm confining my ambitions to something which I can get working which others might be interested it, rather than something I can't get working.

Thus, what I am up to is a bit different - it is accentuating some of the elements in the game that every long time player knows about, but which are generally not important to game play.

Example one - parity. There are two possible horizontal position sets for the character, a thin barrier can be traverseable in one, but not the other. I've modified the room next to the easter egg so that it has a pair of barriers that one cannot traverse without the right parity, and a "well" to make it so that you can get good parity back - by visiting the well - to go through. I've added trap doors - taking advantage of the way Warren laid out the map in the first place. From my point of view the original is the classic game, and it is merely fun to have some other layouts to play in. What I am doing is more scripting than programming, and having other people who want to script in their spare time would be a welcome thing - playing in someone elses twisted application of the game world could well be amusing.

One of the sections of the code, rather than data, I am looking into changing is the random location generator for items, since there are certain games which crop up over and over again, and I would really like to have items in harder to reach places - including the easter egg room etc.

One could, of course take the next step and completely relayout the kingdom - come up with new mazes and so on.

Are there more ambitious projects that could be done with the adventure engine ? Certainly. More progressive, and better programming and the like. Also, at present, more than I can commit to get working.

The balance of Adventure has a lot to do with the scope of the game. For instance, there are only 4 random elements, the bat, and the 3 dragons. The bat traverses the game world and wraps around. If you make the world too big, the random elements become more isolated. If you attempt to add in more random elements then you risk running out of 6502 time to update their positions between frames, or memory in order to track where they are.

Which is why I noted that I was only going to add an easter egg room in the open - which the bat can't get to, and only add other rooms inside "castles" - again keeping the general game balance the same.

So I think there is a sweet spot for how big an Adventure type game can be on the 2600. Maybe it's a little bigger than Adventure, but not that much.

The size of any particular layout is less important than the challenges that can be posed in it. Adventure, because of several unintended consequences in its design, can have some challenges built into a layout that aren't currently used. Think of this as basically adding more selects - a "4" that is harder than the current "3" and so on.

I was hoping that there had been some tangible documentation, but since, as the list owner, I'm sure you'd be aware of it if it existed, ah well, off to do the digital archeology...

As you'll notice in larger games like Raiders, while the game does update in real time, there are no freely moving avatars other than the player. All the baddies are stuck in their respective rooms.

Again merely adding rooms isn't much of a challenge, the code is there to mirror rooms (there are two room layouts that are mirrored already) so if size were all that mattered, on could simply re do the map and add in more mirrored rooms, coming up with tiling. But it doesn't add to the challenge.

One could make it so that the layout itself is more random - have a few tiles that fit together and randomise their order, but that might not help much unless on did something perverse like make it possible to go from one castle to the other under ground.

- - -

The larger goal would be to have some complete different layouts. In effect there are three kinds of barriers - gates, which go from open to close on a collision detect, and walls which can be scaled with movement or bridges, and the magic dot. There is no reason that someone so inclined could not make a large dungeon, or a Mirkwood, or something out of A Wizard of Earthsea. To be honest, the mods I am making are set up with CS Lewis' Narnia in mind as a style guide. Let me work out a few kinks in the current version - one can add some more twists with the gate animation, and currently I am working on that - and let people judge for themselves whether they have any interest in this sort of thing.

Side note:

Does anyone know if the Assistant DA character on "Law and Order" was named for Warren?

Stirling Newberry

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