Title: Dragon, the best videogame I ever made (playthrough video)
Posted: August 01, 2008 (12:46 AM)
Between the ages of 6 and 21 I programmed more little games for the Apple II computer than I can count. 95% of them were done in Applesoft BASIC. In high school I started to make some arcadey type games, still just using BASIC. So for instance, Silverblade was an okay fighting game inspired by Golden Axe, but the characters were only as big as your thumb on the screen. To make them bigger under BASIC just slowed the game down too much. Silverblade II had more enemies and better AI, but everyone was still as big as your thumb. With Conjurer, I made a platform game mimicking Conan, but at this point my designs had become so ambitious relative to what BASIC could do on a 1mhz computer that playing speed slowed to a crawl.
I wanted to learn assembly language so I could make a fast game, but I never had been able to find a book explaining how you could do cool animation routines in the Apple, or have sound effects that didn't stop the game moving. It wasn't 'til 1995, well after the Apple's heyday, that I found some helpful information in Apple magazines archived in the library of my university. With the aid of a pile of how-to-write-assembly programming books, the Merlin 8/16 assembler and the stuff I photocopied from the magazines, I finally wrote an 8-bit arcade game with an assembly core on my Apple IIGS. That game was Dragon. I only completed one level of it but that level is 17 screens long, and packs a lot in.
I tried the game the other day on the Virtual II emulator and found I liked it perhaps better than I ever did before. There's stuff I'd complain about in it if I was reviewing it, but some of that isn't evident in the video I've made (Eg - When you enter a new room, the place you enter is where you will always reappear - sometimes this can be a game wrecker if you enter in a yucky spot, etc.)
So I've played through the game and recorded the whole first level for folks to check out. Graphics, sounds, music, levels, coding, all by one guy, like in the olden days. Now that I worked out how to do this I may follow with vids of a few of my other decent games.
Hope you dig it
Posted: August 01, 2008 (12:37 PM)
That's pretty impressive.
Was that using the keyboard or an oldskool 'stick?
Posted: August 01, 2008 (01:28 PM)
Nice vid. Honestly, I don't think I'd enjoy playing that game since a lot of it comes down to nail-biting passage navigation, but there's no arguing the quality. It looks like one of the prettier Apple IIe games and the sound effects are vintage stuff. I would hook my Apple IIe computer up in celebration (I managed to snag the one I played as a kid from the elementary school when they discarded it), but I don't have a joystick so playing most of the games gets rather tedius.
Posted: August 01, 2008 (09:28 PM)
Thanks guys. The real game is controlled by a joystick. I ran this on an emulator for the videoing purposes and played with the arrow keys on my mac. As the chap who wrote it I can say the emulation is 100% in the looks and sounds department.
If you ever feel the need to play it, I can send you the image, but I think the video gets everyone off the hook in terms of actually needing to play it ;)
Though it's not evident from just watching the vid, holding down button 1 on the joystick lets you move in that stacatto slow way, called 'caution mode' - got the idea from prince of persia... that's how you can move through the narrow bits with a good degree of control.
In an ideal world I don't think I'd have made the walls fatal, but the only way I knew how to program the collision detection for the scenery involved a routine already in the apple which could just check if a sprite had touched absolutely anything. That meant the walls had to be fatal, but then I guess that's what led me to having the caution mode and to making the levels so windy.
Actually what I'm proudest of are the bits where you have to time going through a narrow part with your beating wings. Had no idea that would be in the game or even possible - it was just a great sideeffect that came out of the nature of that super strict collision routine. I didn't have to do any x,y polling or programming to create it - I just had to draw scenery that would exploit it, once I realised it was there to be exploited.
Posted: August 01, 2008 (09:49 PM)
If I could play this game on my Mac, I would. Then I would review it. Despite looking primitive or whatever, it's still an impressive feat considering, as you mentioned, that only one guy was behind it. This should be in the HG database.
Posted: August 03, 2008 (12:50 AM)
I'm flattered at the idea of being in the DB, but sinc the game is incomplete I feel it probably shouldn't be. As well as which, even the original target audience (the Apple II folk, people of my age and older now over at comp.sys.apple2) only found out about the game's existence at the same time as anyone reading these posts here at HG. '95 was pre-internet community days except for ahead-of-the-curve geeks. If you did something like this today, you could easily hook up with all relevant parties and stuff almost immediately, and people would be playing your game. But in '95 I pretty much was just making the game for me, and then for anyone I could make a floppy copy for and hand it to in person.
Silverblade II on the other hand is a complete game, but it's gonna look pretty silly after you've seen Dragon ;) Plus it's kind of cheap - I don't know if I can beat it without a bunch of cheating.