After a hard day's night with Heroes of Karn and Curse Of The Seven Faces, Clive Gifford dials the YS Adventure Helpline for the latest tricks 'n' tactics.
ROUTINE ADVENTURESThe hallowed halls of Castle Rathbone echo to the sounds of Green Goblin Peter Shaw, piecing together another in a series of adventure subroutines.
A simple room plan, here to flex your adventure programming.
This month, I'm going to be looking more at the structure of an adventure - and the result is not really a routine, more a concept that you should bear in mind once you get the programming itch!
When you've got a rough idea of what you want the room layout to look like in your adventure, you can start allocating variables; in the example we'll be looking at here, array Z() is used to represent the various locations.
The diagram shows the aerial view of a very simple adventure - you'll not find any unfriendly dragons to kill - there are just five rooms, and that's it! Now, getting back to the array Z(), our task is to dimension it so that we can store all the necessary details. Say we dimension the array:
This gives us five by four elements in the array Z() to fill. Bearing in mind the formula Z(N, S, E, W) - where 'N', 'S', 'E' and 'W' indicate North, South, East and
Well, whenever I can actually get
through on the Adventure Helpline to
chat to our Master adventurers (it's that
busy!), it seems they've received calls
from all over Europe! They've even had
the odd call from frustrated adventurers
working on oil rigs in the North Sea.|
First, off, let's hear from Rich Filfghbert in Sweden. He can't work out how to get skiing in Valkyrie 17. OK, Rich, it's like this - type in 'READ BOOK, WEAR SKIS' and make sure you've got those ski poles handy, and away you go! Don't break a leg, Rich!
Another problem that's cropped up in Valkyrie 17 is how and where to obtain money. Well, for a start, you could always naff off down to the village and pawn that necklace that's lying around!
There are a few adventures that I'd have expected to create floods of frustrated callers - namely, The Hulk and Hampstead. Needless to say, you're being very quiet on both of these - which means you've finished them already (Not a hope! Ed.) or you're still trying to crack them. In the event of the latter, here's some advice. Type 'GO DOOR' in The Hulk and you'll get out of the Chief Examiner's Room, and all you have to do to find the credit card in Hampstead, is sit and wait on the bench on Hampstead Heath. That'll do nicely!
Level 9 adventures seem to keep most of the adventuring nation awake at nights. Dave Deals of Sunderland can't get the can of paint through the air-lock. Aha, Snowball, I hear you say. Well, the answer is to put the can into the tool-box
and carry on as normal. Another problem with this adventure game came from
Mr Tam of Wallasy who wanted to know
how to use the screen. Try wearing your
visor, Mr Tam!|
Another well regarded Level 9 game, Lords Of Time, prompted two questions from Sam Whittaker of Twickenham. So, Sam, you can leave the Invention Room by saying 'James Watt' and you can open the door on Zone nine by dropping 'Hope' (the milestone).
There was also an anonymous caller who couldn't climb the broken ladder in Phipp's Colditz. Hmm, not an easy one this - but try asking the prisoner to lift you up after you've fed him and you should do alright.
On the several adventures set in the classic quest style. Artic's Eye Of Bain hasn't attracted quite the interest it deserves, but we did have a question from Richard Ellis of London. He's having trouble freeing himself from the strong pole in the hut near the start of the adventure. Oh boy, Richard! Try lifting the pole ... and do call again if you've got any more problems.
In Adventure Quest, a number of people have confessed that they're having difficulties sorting out what to do with the egg. Obscene suggestions aside, try going South from the Glowing Coals and depositing the egg in the nest.
'VENTURING OUT ...
HEROES OF KARN
In great contrast to Imperial Software's
Curse Of The Seven Faces (the other
adventure reviewed here), this game is a
highly professional affair, even though
it's a straight conversion from an original
adventure on the Commodore 64.
On starting the adventure, you're
greeted with a splendid picture; in fact
many of the locations have accompanying graphics that appear instantly and
add greatly to the whole atmosphere.
However, the descriptions are often too
short, particularly where there's no picture to feast your eyes on.|
Despite fancy graphics and a few other innovations, an adventure stands or falls by the strength of its puzzles, and the flexibility and quality of response to your, hopefully, imaginative commands. Heroes Of Karn is a definite success in this context. The responses are varied and entertaining, and the puzzles are tricky and, in some cases, rather obscure! For example, I eventually managed to get past the Barrowwight by attacking it with a Bible - which didn't seem the most reverent thing to do at the time!
Although Heroes Of Karn supports a few
Interceptor's Heroes of Karn - a puzzling adventure that's destined to become a classic?
commands five or six words long, it's predominantly a standard adventure. However, I'd recommend it to anyone fancying a crack at a 'classic', especially if you've got a few long evenings to spare while you try and solve it!
CURSE OF THE SEVEN FACES
As the software industry becomes dominated by the larger houses,
many adventurers welcome releases from individuals
and the like. Often the 'smaller'
releases can be much more original and
thoughtful than products churned out by
'big boys'. Sad to say, this isn't the case
with Curse of The Seven Faces.
The cassette comes with a photocopied
inlay card which is just fine! OK, it's
not flashy paper, but who cares? But
someone could have corrected some of
the spelling mistakes - I mean to say,
someone's even misspelled the name of the
game! Anyway, that said, you begin your
life as a 'poor pesant', which I suppose is
a humble version of a 'peasant'. I don't
mean to go on about the spelling and
grammatical errors, but they're there in
every location. Believe me, it's difficult
to get into the
|atmosfere, I mean atmospher ... er ... atmosphere! (See what happens when you play too many adventures, Clive? Ed.) The actual story line is pretty unoriginal - you've got to rescue a number of magical items (wands, cloaks and so on) from the forces of evil. Much of the adventure's quite playable, with some reasonable if uninspiring puzzles. However, the error-trapping is very poor. Good adventures should have a number of responses to wrong commands - some to aid the adventurer and others to entertain; needless to say, this adventure fails at both! Once you've read 'You Cannot Do That' and 'Nothing Exciting Happens' for the umpteenth time in a row, you begin to believe it - nothing exciting ever happens! Of course, you can have some limited fun with this kind of programming - I typed in some commands ordering a hero of the piece to eat a slab of rock! And guess what||
A perfect example of a bad adventure. 'Nothing Exciting Happens'!
was flashed up on the screen - yes, you've guessed it - 'Nothing Exciting Happens'. Try it yourself sometime ... and see if anything exciting happens to you! But whether you decide to chew rocks or not, it's bound to be more exciting than this collection of bytes. One to be avoided ...
West respectively - you should begin to
understand the numbers I've included on
the map alongside each room. For example, take a look at Room 2 - it has an exit
North, South and East, so its part of Z()
would look like this:
So, once you've filled the Z() array
with all the data necessary for the computer to understand your map, you're ready
to move around. OK, imagine you're in
Room 2 and you're contemplating moving West - let's assume for this example
that m$ holds the command you've just
typed in, and the variable 'p' is the room
you're currently standing in - a line of
programming would probably look
IF m$="WEST" AND Z(p,4)=0 THEN PRINT "THERE IS NO EXIT WEST"
Of course, not all maps will look like ours
so you'll also need a line like:
IF m$="WEST" AND Z(p,4)<>0 THEN LET p=Z(p,4)
This will see if there's an exit to the West and, if there is, the program sets the value of 'p' to the same value held in Z(p,4).
Next month I'll he looking at a short program combining all that we've covered so far in adventure programming.