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Old 10-22-2018, 03:44 PM   #21
TheAmishStig
 
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Default Re: Autoduel the PC Game

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Originally Posted by Tom H. View Post
You don't have to second guess too much. You can never really tell how alternate decisions really change things. The devil is always in the details.

I didn't find my software career all that fulfilling. It's more the luck and skill in navigating the opportunities.

Sure you may have had a more compelling skill set for the task of coding a new Car Wars, but the state-of-the-art and detailed skill sets are always changing.
As sad as I am to be saying this...amen.

I enjoy what I do enough to keep doing it...but if I had it to do all over again, I'd have gone into industrial automation instead of software. PLC, CNC, CAM, that sort of thing. If nothing else, I wouldn't be hamstrung by the "What you're looking for isn't in this book, it's too advanced" and "What you're looking for isn't in this book, any idiot knows how to do it and we won't waste time covering it here" conundrum.

I never learned how to do non-blocking input or native applications, at least not more so than "we're not going to teach you why or give you an idea of what's going on under the hood, just copy this snippet and trust us" thanks to just how close to home Abstruse Goose hits.

Great for a career bashing frameworks and websites, not great for really anything else in coding.
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Old 10-22-2018, 03:55 PM   #22
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Default Re: Autoduel the PC Game

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I'm still waiting for "robots" with cameras, sensors, and laser pointers that can referee actual tactile board games.

They can remind you of rules, correct your mistakes, and provide accurate data such as line-of-sight, ranges, and probabilities.
Well, to respond your post after this one, as a former amateur roboticist, I think something on treads or wheels with a combination of sonic, photo and laser sensors could correlate distances. Linked to a library of a machine version of the rules, you might have your rob / droid roaming the game map. Something the size of a wallet, maybe.

Such a little guy could double check movement, correct small inaccuracies from players moving their minis on the map (more often than not its accidental, but you could catch the occasional cheater).

For Car Wars though … eh, CW, to me at least, unless you're in one of those legendary arguments over rules (as so often happened …. *sigh*, I really DON'T miss those), I'm not sure such a little guy would be helpful. It's just my opinion, but unlike a fantasy mini game or a hard core warsims where every fraction of distance counts, CW doesn't have a lot of playing pieces in mini format.

But, that's getting off topic. I'd still love to see a regular top down version of the old school game graphics put into computer format.
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Old 10-22-2018, 06:10 PM   #23
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Default Re: Autoduel the PC Game

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Reverse engineering the code could be a great help for bringing out an updated version, especially if the goal is to have the original version, but just make it look better and run on current machines. Depending on how "modern" their coding techniques were, you would be able to get the entire structure of the code. Even if you have to rewrite it, you would still have a jumpstart on the different methods, functions, objects, and classes new code would require.

You would also be able to get all of the information that was used to balance the game. How much damage a MG does, how often you can fire it, etc. All of this gives a programmer a strong starting position.
Given that the machine code probably isn't obfuscated, one can dump the files from the Apple II or C64 into a Motorola 6502/65C02 decompiler and get assembly out. One would need to know the Asm addresses for the interface code hooks.
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Old 10-22-2018, 09:32 PM   #24
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Default Re: Autoduel the PC Game

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You could probably extend this logic to getting rid of all physical games, but they still have appeal.
Game aids are very useful, but there's a big difference between something that helps you play a game and something that is required for you to play.

Physical games have advantages over their partially digital counterparts, mostly in being able to play them without a device, without convenient power for the device, without Internet access for the device, without everyone being able to see and hear the device, and without worrying about the device or its software ceasing to function.

Fully digital games have advantages over their physical counterparts, in that you can install many of them on a highly portable device, play vs. the computer when nobody is available, and play with your friends whether or not they're present.

Partially digital games combine the flaws without being able to combine all of the benefits. Notably, if the app stops working you have a bunch of worthless cardboard and plastic. I was picking on Golem Arcana as a recent one, but how many people had a defunct Dark Tower back in the day?


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Sometimes its hard to beat the experience of gaming with live people around a table with physical components.
I agree, which is one reason why I don't like to play online tabletop games. I do like conversions that we can play together: my stepdad and I were playing Risk on my Commodore 64 back in the 80s, while nowadays I can pass-and-play a bunch of more modern board games on my cheap Windows tablet.
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Old 10-23-2018, 12:53 AM   #25
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getting back into the subject of the game, is there anyway to get a copy to play on a newer laptop at all theses days?
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Old 10-23-2018, 01:49 AM   #26
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I can't vouch for the accuracy of this, but I seem to recall hearing that Richard Garriott made early games like Ultima in compiled BASIC for the Apple II.
I dug out my copy of The Official Book Of Ultima® from 1990 and indeed Akalabeth and Ultima (not yet I) were originally written in BASIC. Ultima had help from some machine language routines for doing its tile-based graphics and other things.

Ultima II, though, was written in machine language from the start; that was in 1982. Later on they rewrote Ultima I in machine language for the Ultima Trilogy version in 1986.

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getting back into the subject of the game, is there anyway to get a copy to play on a newer laptop at all theses days?
The only legal way would be finding a secondhand copy on eBay or similar. If all rights to the game-as-released have been given to SJG, then it's up to them as to whether and how to resume legal distribution of the game.
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Old 10-24-2018, 12:33 PM   #27
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Default Re: Autoduel the PC Game

No, I did not discover the background of the 2014 Purple Flash. I have guessed it was a neutron bomb but I do not know the reason why that city would have been targeted such as Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where a nuclear detonation created the Wrath of God Crater. :o)
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Old 10-24-2018, 02:29 PM   #28
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Default Re: Autoduel the PC Game

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I dug out my copy of The Official Book Of Ultima® from 1990 and indeed Akalabeth and Ultima (not yet I) were originally written in BASIC. Ultima had help from some machine language routines for doing its tile-based graphics and other things.

Ultima II, though, was written in machine language from the start; that was in 1982. Later on they rewrote Ultima I in machine language for the Ultima Trilogy version in 1986.


The only legal way would be finding a secondhand copy on eBay or similar. If all rights to the game-as-released have been given to SJG, then it's up to them as to whether and how to resume legal distribution of the game.
I had an acquaintance who had both games for his Apple 2e. Even for the time I wasn't too impressed with them as memorable as they are for some people. They're single player games where you lead four characters on a quest, but even for the time there were other games out there will full EGA graphics, and I didn't get why the versions I saw were three color CGA (which mostly looked like black and white graphics).

Interesting stories … I seem to recall you could kill lord British with a sailing vessel armed with canons.
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:19 PM   #29
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Default Re: Autoduel the PC Game

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I had an acquaintance who had both games for his Apple 2e. Even for the time I wasn't too impressed with them as memorable as they are for some people. They're single player games where you lead four characters on a quest, but even for the time there were other games out there will full EGA graphics, and I didn't get why the versions I saw were three color CGA (which mostly looked like black and white graphics).
I don't know when you were seeing this, of course, but the first three Ultima games and the Apple IIe predate the more colorful EGA and PCjr/Tandy graphics systems. (EGA and the PCjr/Tandy systems were introduced in 1984; Ultima III and the Apple IIe came out in 1983. I put a bit more tech talk below if anyone's interested and doesn't want to go look it up on Wikipedia.)

I would agree that they're not going to be very graphically impressive vs. a game designed with more colors and no color blocks to worry about, not to mention the availability of more RAM and storage.

The first Ultima game I had was Ultima IV and I've only played the Ultima games on the PC, so I don't have personal experience comparing them in their time. My first home computer was a Commodore 64, which I got for Christmas in 1983. My first mainstream CRPG game was The Bard's Tale, which was released in 1985 (the same year as Autoduel). Bard's Tale used its combined "current view of the dungeon"/"picture of the monster you're fighting" window well, but like a lot of games of its time the story was shallow. That didn't stop me from grinding up characters to high levels in all three Bard's Tale games, though!

So much nostalgia, purely based in what we had available. :)

-=-=-=-

The Apple II graphics mode that most people remember had 6 colors, but you could only use one of two sets of four colors (either black/white/blue/orange or black/white/purple/green) in each of the small blocks on the screen. Resolution was (effectively) 140x192, blocks were 7x1 pixels. You could also split the screen, turning the bottom four rows into text. The IIe (with 80-column card) and IIc added a 16 color version of this graphics mode.

The CGA graphics mode that most people remember let you use any of the 16 CGA colors (which was almost always black) combined with one of a few sets of three fixed colors (usually green/red/yellow or cyan/magenta/white) and was intended for a monitor. The resolution was 320x200. Actual CGA cards had a composite output as well, so you could hook them to a TV or composite monitor. Games could exploit this to get 16 colors due to color blending.

EGA and the PCjr/Tandy graphics both had a mode that's the same resolution as the common CGA one, but with 16 colors. The later VGA bumped this to 256 colors out of a much wider palette. EGA and VGA also had higher resolution modes with 16 colors chosen from their complete palettes. You didn't have the composte output, though, so you only had the sharp-but-bland four color CGA.

For comparison, the common Commodore 64 graphics mode let you use 4 colors (of a palette of 16) in each of its larger color blocks. Resolution was 160x200, so half the resolution of CGA and similar to the Apple II. One color was shared with the entire screen; the other three were selected per-block with a block size of 4x8 pixels. It also had sprites, small independent graphics that were shown on top of the screen and weren't tied to the screen colors.
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Old 10-24-2018, 11:55 PM   #30
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I think I saw Ultima around the time it was released. I guess I was baffled because the first Apples had full CGA by way of television output, but the 2e's, for whatever reason, didn't.

The acquaintance in question had a color monitor, or so I recall. I recall it being white, black, cyan and magenta … just visually I wasn't too impressed with it because I think largely I was expecting a piece of software that allowed you and three other people to play characters. Which, after a fashion, I suppose you could have done, but it would have been extraneous.

At the time, to repeat myself, it seemed like a lot of the ziplock "table top" games that were booming at the time (including Car Wars) would be ported to computer format (Apple and IBM PC format both), but Autoduel, or at least the version that hit the market, seemed odd to me. Like I said, I saw an add for it in NEXUS and maybe an issue of Space Gamer, and what I saw was what would be called today a "FPS" or "shooter". And then the footage I saw on YouTube showed a top down computer graphic game.

I guess the thrust of my posts on the CW forum regarding Autoduel and other games at the time is that other than Ogre, and one or two other tank games, it seemed like the natural marriage of combining the table top scifi sim and rpg stuff never happened until recently with Ogre (officially that is, there's a number of unofficial digital ports of lots of titles).

And when I look at Autoduel I tend to scrunch my lips and chagrin at the effort. It seemed like every computer programmer at the time, in addition to not taking full advantage of the graphics (as per my Ultima example), also wanted real time for all games, which takes away the whole point of the impulse architecture of Car Wars and Star Fleet Battles.

So, if it wasn't the graphics, then it was the fact the current titles of the time in dead-tree mode weren't being ported to computer platform. And when they were, not only were the graphics bad, but the architecture went from turn based to "real time".

Whatever. It's spilled milk and all that goes with it. Again, a repetition of my previous statement, but Ogre, as it is now via Steam, is what I was expecting for all those old game titles some fifteen to twenty years ago … maybe 25 or more when 3d accelerated games with Quake were coming onto the scene … but it's like I was in my late teens to twenties then, and now I'm over fifty, and Ogre seems to be the only one that was done.

As for CGA, EGA, VGA, VESA, one of the pitfalls is that as technology develops you're in the middle of witnessing its development. And you know what can be done, what computers at the time can do and what they can't, and developers have to create stuff that'll operate across a variety of platforms regardless of what can really be done. And so you get a game like Ultima or Autoduel that are skewed and off key in design.

Sorry if I'm rambling here. Just some good intentioned gamer angst being vented :)
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