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Gauntlet by Donald R. Lebeau 1984


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#51 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:44 AM

So has anyone noticed any differences between the demo and registered versions so far?

#52 Shamus OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007 10:40 AM

Err, six levels, different weapons/enemies? Did you even try it? :)

#53 donlebeau OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2008 1:31 PM

Wow this is nothing short of amazing!

Thanks Phil for finding the disk and everyone else involved in making the game available for download. I'm so glad it wasn't lost forever. I had discovered that all my source and master disks were unreadable about ten years ago and never thought I'd see it again. I've already downloaded the files and I can't wait to get the emulator up and running.

What do you guys use fo joysticks? Gauntlet required the 8 direction Atari stick. Is there something like that that works with the emulator. Do gamepads work? Is there a good site with information on how to set everything up?

My two youngest daughters didn't even know I wrote a video game way back when. They think I'm some kind of hero now. :)

Some responses to posts generally in the order I read them in:

Thanks for all the offers of money. :) But please don't send me any. I'm just happy the game is still available for those who appreciate it.

Heaven:

I think it was a combination of things, mostly timing, that stopped Gauntlet from taking off. It was originally targeted for the APX, but by the time it was finished, Atari was in trouble, APX had been shut down, and all the companies I submmtted it to were hesitant to publish anything for the Atari until the market sorted itself out. I also provided too much content up front and charged too much for the registered version. Shareware marketing was a very new idea and it wasn't until ten years later that Apogee and id figured out how to make money that way. It was still a lot of fun and an experience I'll never forget.

Poobah:

Yeah, same thing happened to me. A lot of the stuff in the registered version like the BOT and other weapons were from people's suggestions. I'm a sucker for a good idea and some of the stuff I just had to put in just because it sounded so cool.

Gauntlet AI:

When I decided to go with the destructable terrain, I realized that the ships couldn't have any pre-scripted movement paths or anything else like that, so I had to make them aware of their environment. Each ship always knows the location of the player ship and they have tools to determine Line of Sight and to look for obstructions in their movement path. Each ship type has it's own scripted state machine that decides what to do depending on if the Player ship is in LOS, it's range, the surrounding terrain, and the type of weapons it carries. The challenge was making this code fast enough and there is a lot of throttling code in there to keep the graphics running smoothly. The ships actually get dumber as there's more stuff on the screen, but you don't notice it because, well, there's more stuff on the screen. :)

I never liked the look of the terrain. At first it was a solid color but everybody hated it. So I randomized it since that looked "better". There wasn't any room to do anything else (like Worms did with their terrain) and still have 50 screens of content. You gotta love those old machines.

The manual:

LOL! I forgot that I even did a cover illustration! I showed it to my wife and she reminded me that it was HER idea. :)

Copy Protection:

The wasn't any copy protection on the disk. I figured that if somebody payed for it, they wouldn't give it away for free.

Thanks again to everyone that made this possible!

#54 Goochman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2008 2:22 PM

Best thing joystick wise is to get a Stelladaptor from this site - Its a USB connector that allows you to hook up an original Atari Joystick to your PC. It gives you the genuine feel with the emulators.

#55 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2008 2:59 PM

Err, six levels, different weapons/enemies? Did you even try it? :)


:P

Played the demo for years. Fired up the extended version under emulation. Have determined to try my original copy and the new version to find the differences.

#56 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2008 6:02 PM

The full version seems a lot tougher than the demo. Or maybe I'm just a lot older now. Probably a little of both!

#57 Goochman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2008 7:35 PM

The full version seems a lot tougher than the demo. Or maybe I'm just a lot older now. Probably a little of both!


Im getting the same feeling - got my arse kicked within 3 screens twice........I am gaming god no longer :)

#58 donlebeau OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2008 8:37 PM

(Cackles)

:twisted:

(Actually, there are some difficulty differences between the demo and the registered version. I haven't ever played them back-to-back, but the AI in the registered version has more time to run because of the improved graphics performance, so they "think" more. But the biggest difference is that in the demo version, each screen contains the same enemies while they are randomized in the registered version. Because some enemy types work exceptionally well together, sometimes you'll walk onto a screen that has a particulary potent mix of ships on it, making that screen harder than what you'd expect. Also I assumed that anyone buying the registered version would be pretty good at the basics, so I cranked up the difficulty a bit to make it more interesting.)

Edited by donlebeau, Mon Jan 7, 2008 10:54 AM.


#59 Bennet OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008 1:04 PM

Wow! It seems that once a year I'd do a search to see if the 'Registered Version of Gauntlet by Donald R. Lebeau' surfaced anywhere online and it looks like it just came out! I was only 9 or so when the shareware one came out and I remember asking my Dad many times to buy the real version. (I asked him about it a few days ago and he still remembers the game and me asking!)

It had to be one of the most played games on my Atari 800XL, and one where I never fully figured out the 'magic' that made it work! Like how the enemies detected line of sight when the terrain was destructible... I have guesses now as to how it'd work but back then it was pure magic! Years later when I learned 6502 assembly I wanted to see if I could cheat in the game, my goal was to make the ship invulnerable to damage. So I disassembled the game file looking for suspicious 'dec' instructions. It took a few tries but I finally nop'd the right one and it worked. Crazy! I'd have loved it if the source code survived... I still would have loved to read it today.

I agree with the other posters that the final version is much harder than the original. I was killed in the first few screens until I found out that flares are my new weapon of choice since they're the only weapon that can cut through the constant stream of shots firing towards the player!

So thank you for the many years of fun and for sharing the inside info about it! I'd have gladly sent the $35 now also, though since you don't want money I'd at least share how much I enjoyed it!

-Bennet

#60 gtkakega OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008 7:21 PM

wasn't sure what game everyone was talking about until i dl'ed the game... i went ahhhh... i remember ordering this game from one of the many atari PD catalogues at that time.... fun stuff

#61 happymonster OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 19, 2008 4:59 AM

At last!!

Gauntlet is one of my top 3 Atari games and still one of my all time favourite games. Compared to other computer games of the time, I couldn't (and can't) believe how many different features there are in there. From the free form pixel movement, to the control system, pixel perfect collision and destructable terrain. I also was really impressed with the AI and not sure how you had time to check for line of sight with everything else going on.

If you would like to explain a bit more about how the code works internally I would be more than interested!

About 4 years ago I started my first shareware game for the PC and the concept of Gauntlet was something I wanted to develop straightaway and bring to a wider audience. I tried searching for your name and gauntlet to try to find you on the Web but can't find anything besides a few links to the free version. I thought your post address in the original game was unlikely to still be current!

So, in the end I created a game called Storm which was inspired by Gauntlet, but expanded somethings. It has the same kind of control system (but running at 60hz), pixel perfect collision, destructable terrain and some of the same weapons and enemies. But it also has throughout the 50 missions, 24 different weapons you can collect and you can have upto 4 at once. The levels scroll and are all different sizes, and can include undestructable terrain hidden behind the normal one. There are also new enemies, features and different mission objectives for each level (rescue prisoners, destroy generators, etc..). I also made the game playable on quite old machines as well as new ones as well. I wanted to bring the concept and my tribute/expanded game to a wider audience, but like you didn't get much response. A few people 'got it', but I guess it was too different (and awkward with keys/joypads) for a lot of people.

I no longer do shareware games, or have a webpage. But here is a screenshot for those who are interested:
Posted Image

Despite my efforts, in some ways Gauntlet is still better than my game. A tribute to you sir! :)

Edited by happymonster, Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:01 AM.


#62 tjb OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 19, 2008 7:47 AM

At last!!

Gauntlet is one of my top 3 Atari games and still one of my all time favourite games. Compared to other computer games of the time, I couldn't (and can't) believe how many different features there are in there. From the free form pixel movement, to the control system, pixel perfect collision and destructable terrain. I also was really impressed with the AI and not sure how you had time to check for line of sight with everything else going on.

If you would like to explain a bit more about how the code works internally I would be more than interested!

About 4 years ago I started my first shareware game for the PC and the concept of Gauntlet was something I wanted to develop straightaway and bring to a wider audience. I tried searching for your name and gauntlet to try to find you on the Web but can't find anything besides a few links to the free version. I thought your post address in the original game was unlikely to still be current!

So, in the end I created a game called Storm which was inspired by Gauntlet, but expanded somethings. It has the same kind of control system (but running at 60hz), pixel perfect collision, destructable terrain and some of the same weapons and enemies. But it also has throughout the 50 missions, 24 different weapons you can collect and you can have upto 4 at once. The levels scroll and are all different sizes, and can include undestructable terrain hidden behind the normal one. There are also new enemies, features and different mission objectives for each level (rescue prisoners, destroy generators, etc..). I also made the game playable on quite old machines as well as new ones as well. I wanted to bring the concept and my tribute/expanded game to a wider audience, but like you didn't get much response. A few people 'got it', but I guess it was too different (and awkward with keys/joypads) for a lot of people.

I no longer do shareware games, or have a webpage. But here is a screenshot for those who are interested:
Posted Image

Despite my efforts, in some ways Gauntlet is still better than my game. A tribute to you sir! :)


Can your game be downloaded/purchased or do you have any plans to make it available?

tjb

#63 happymonster OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:37 AM

It can't be downloaded at the moment, I will make the full version available for free in a year or so I think.

#64 6502 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 19, 2008 4:45 PM

Hi,

do you tried the download here:

http://www.atariware...mode=det&id=844

EDIT: It is also only the nonregistered version, sorry.

Edited by 6502, Sat Jan 19, 2008 4:49 PM.


#65 Heaven/TQA ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:01 PM

6502... i guess he ment the PC game...

#66 tjb OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:49 PM

Yes, I was referring to HappyMonster's PC based game.

tjb

#67 donlebeau OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:52 PM

Hi HappyMonster,


I almost re-wrote Gauntlet for the PC but couldn't get past the lack of any good controllers. Plus at the time writing machine control software for the PC paid a *lot* more than games did (at least for me.) I think it's great that you wrote a game based on Gauntlet. Pretty humbling to think you liked the gameplay that much as use it for the basis for your own game. :)

I just got interviewed for a German Atari mazine which is going to include Gauntletak on the cover disk. I described a lot of technical details in it. I also sent an email to Bennet explaining how I did the LOS calculation - pretty tricky stuff actually. If you want I can send it to you.

It's pretty big, so I hesitate to post it here unless there's some interest. If anyone wants to see it, let me know.

Here's a couple of things that you mentioned that weren't covered in it.

(Geek warning!)

The "free form pixel movement" took me a while to figure out. How do you get an object to move in any direction and be able to accelerate at any rate? I tried a lot of approaches that were too math-heavy and couldn't be handled fast enough by the 6502. The I remembered a wargame called "Foxbat and Phantom" by SSI that I had played that used a "ring gauge" to handle climbing and diving. The gauge had ten spaces around it like a clock face, and when you wanted to climb or dive, you moved a counter around the gauge the distance of your climb or dive rate. Anytime the counter passed 0 you went up or down an altitude level. What was cool is that it could handle *any* climb or dive rate, so in a really steep dive you could drop like five altitude levels every turn.

So I gave each object two "ring gauges", for the X and Y directions, along with a current speed for each. 30 times a second, I would update these gauges with their current X and Y speeds and the object would move a pixel if either guage wrapped around. It was very clean and super fast. When I had to plot lines to calculate Line of Sight, I used the same approach. I figure out the slope of the line, like left 5 and up 2, and shifted those byte values left until one of them had the high bit (bit7) set. Now I used them as my X and Y "speeds" and everytime I added them to the X and Y guages, I would move a pixel - so if I wanted to scan a line 20 pixels long, I would just do 20 iterations and I was done.

The "pixel perfect collision" was actually a byproduct of the fact that I determine all my object collisions in video memory (i.e on the screen). As I erase and paint objects, I check for missing or added pixels - those indicate another object occupying the same space. All the collision work is done in the draw routines, so it's pretty efficient. Once I arrived at that approach, everything pretty much fell into place.

The only tedious part was that all object fonts had to be designed to interact "mechanically" with each other. The fonts had to be designed so it was impossible for a laser font to drawn over an eneny ship font without disturbing any pixels. A lot of times I would design a cool looking ship, and then have to revise it because you could "shoot through" it. In some of the boss ships, I actually left them some "shoot through" areas in order to make them more challenging.

I evaluate and redraw objects on the screen 30 times a second. Originally I did them 60 times a second by using the video interrupt, but objects that were moving near the top of the screen tended to go transparent because they were being erased while that portion of the video memory was being rasterized. I ended up using altenate video interrupts to handle drawing and AI so that each one would be processed 30 times a second. (It's not quite that straightforward because the interrupts just stuff requests in queues and all the actual work is done by background queue handlers, and an overseer monitors how much work is in each queue so it can shuffle the workload around, but that's the general concept.)

Every object on the screen is drawn using a "fontlist". That's a list of the fonts it uses along with how long each font gets displayed. Like the Player ship had eight fonts displayed in sequence to make it look like it has rotating lights. The fontlist also has some branching and looping features so that I can animate the object in different ways depending on the situation. There's even special commands like "destroy object" in the fontlist so I can create an object like an explosion and have the object deleted when the animation has run it's course.

There's three kinds of objects in the game, Terrain, Smart, and Dumb. Terrain gets painted once and is just a mass of pixels cluttering up video memory - it can only be detected and/or erased. Smart objects have an AI state machine attached to them and Dumb ones don't. Of course the Smart objects take more memory and a lot more processing time because they have to process and save their AI state and they are also capable of creating other objects (firing). Dumb objects are very minimal, usually just a fontlist, a location, and a direction. Bullets are the typical Dumb object.

I ran into a problem with things like homing missiles. Are they Smart or Dumb? I needed too much overhead to make them Smart, so I made them Dumb but added commands in the fontlist that made them accelerate towards their target as part of teh normal font sequencing. So I ended up offloading some of the simple AI functions to the font handler which freed up time to make my Smart objects a lot smarter. In the end, the font handler managed most of the object behavior and a big part of the AI. For instance when a bullet "explodes" all that happens is that the object's fontlist is changed to an explosion fontlist - the explosion animation plays out and the object is deleted automatically. Mirvs work the same way, but they create a bunch of dumb objects instead.

Way back when, I had written a lot of details about how everything worked for others who were designing their own games. It was usually hand written and mailed out. Should have made copies, I've forgotten most of it.

BTW, Storm sounds pretty cool. Is it still available? I'd love to get my hands on a copy.

Edited by donlebeau, Tue Jan 22, 2008 2:01 PM.


#68 happymonster OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:04 PM

Thank you very much for the explanation! Feel free to PM me the full article, I would be happy to read it all.. :)
It was great reading there all the limitations you had to overcome. Much more advanced than other games which were still dealing with simpler arcade mechanics and char/tile based movement.

BTW: There are some cases where you can shoot diagonally through some of the mines. ;)

Donald, PM me your email address and I'll send you the full version of Storm. It is very similar to Gauntlet in parts, and very different in others. I hope you view it as a worthy tribute to your game and ideas.



Hi HappyMonster,


I almost re-wrote Gauntlet for the PC but couldn't get past the lack of any good controllers. Plus at the time writing machine control software for the PC paid a *lot* more than games did (at least for me.) I think it's great that you wrote a game based on Gauntlet. Pretty humbling to think you liked the gameplay that much as use it for the basis for your own game. :)

I just got interviewed for a German Atari mazine which is going to include Gauntletak on the cover disk. I described a lot of technical details in it. I also sent an email to Bennet explaining how I did the LOS calculation - pretty tricky stuff actually. If you want I can send it to you.

It's pretty big, so I hesitate to post it here unless there's some interest. If anyone wants to see it, let me know.

Here's a couple of things that you mentioned that weren't covered in it.

(Geek warning!)

The "free form pixel movement" took me a while to figure out. How do you get an object to move in any direction and be able to accelerate at any rate? I tried a lot of approaches that were too math-heavy and couldn't be handled fast enough by the 6502. The I remembered a wargame called "Foxbat and Phantom" by SSI that I had played that used a "ring gauge" to handle climbing and diving. The gauge had ten spaces around it like a clock face, and when you wanted to climb or dive, you moved a counter around the gauge the distance of your climb or dive rate. Anytime the counter passed 0 you went up or down an altitude level. What was cool is that it could handle *any* climb or dive rate, so in a really steep dive you could drop like five altitude levels every turn.

So I gave each object two "ring gauges", for the X and Y directions, along with a current speed for each. 30 times a second, I would update these gauges with their current X and Y speeds and the object would move a pixel if either guage wrapped around. It was very clean and super fast. When I had to plot lines to calculate Line of Sight, I used the same approach. I figure out the slope of the line, like left 5 and up 2, and shifted those byte values left until one of them had the high bit (bit7) set. Now I used them as my X and Y "speeds" and everytime I added them to the X and Y guages, I would move a pixel - so if I wanted to scan a line 20 pixels long, I would just do 20 iterations and I was done.

The "pixel perfect collision" was actually a byproduct of the fact that I determine all my object collisions in video memory (i.e on the screen). As I erase and paint objects, I check for missing or added pixels - those indicate another object occupying the same space. All the collision work is done in the draw routines, so it's pretty efficient. Once I arrived at that approach, everything pretty much fell into place.

The only tedious part was that all object fonts had to be designed to interact "mechanically" with each other. The fonts had to be designed so it was impossible for a laser font to drawn over an eneny ship font without disturbing any pixels. A lot of times I would design a cool looking ship, and then have to revise it because you could "shoot through" it. In some of the boss ships, I actually left them some "shoot through" areas in order to make them more challenging.

I evaluate and redraw objects on the screen 30 times a second. Originally I did them 60 times a second by using the video interrupt, but objects that were moving near the top of the screen tended to go transparent because they were being erased while that portion of the video memory was being rasterized. I ended up using altenate video interrupts to handle drawing and AI so that each one would be processed 30 times a second. (It's not quite that straightforward because the interrupts just stuff requests in queues and all the actual work is done by background queue handlers, and an overseer monitors how much work is in each queue so it can shuffle the workload around, but that's the general concept.)

Every object on the screen is drawn using a "fontlist". That's a list of the fonts it uses along with how long each font gets displayed. Like the Player ship had eight fonts displayed in sequence to make it look like it has rotating lights. The fontlist also has some branching and looping features so that I can animate the object in different ways depending on the situation. There's even special commands like "destroy object" in the fontlist so I can create an object like an explosion and have the object deleted when the animation has run it's course.

There's three kinds of objects in the game, Terrain, Smart, and Dumb. Terrain gets painted once and is just a mass of pixels cluttering up video memory - it can only be detected and/or erased. Smart objects have an AI state machine attached to them and Dumb ones don't. Of course the Smart objects take more memory and a lot more processing time because they have to process and save their AI state and they are also capable of creating other objects (firing). Dumb objects are very minimal, usually just a fontlist, a location, and a direction. Bullets are the typical Dumb object.

I ran into a problem with things like homing missiles. Are they Smart or Dumb? I needed too much overhead to make them Smart, so I made them Dumb but added commands in the fontlist that made them accelerate towards their target as part of teh normal font sequencing. So I ended up offloading some of the simple AI functions to the font handler which freed up time to make my Smart objects a lot smarter. In the end, the font handler managed most of the object behavior and a big part of the AI. For instance when a bullet "explodes" all that happens is that the object's fontlist is changed to an explosion fontlist - the explosion animation plays out and the object is deleted automatically. Mirvs work the same way, but they create a bunch of dumb objects instead.

Way back when, I had written a lot of details about how everything worked for others who were designing their own games. It was usually hand written and mailed out. Should have made copies, I've forgotten most of it.

BTW, Storm sounds pretty cool. Is it still available? I'd love to get my hands on a copy.



#69 tjb OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 22, 2008 7:20 PM

I just got interviewed for a German Atari mazine which is going to include Gauntletak on the cover disk. I described a lot of technical details in it. I also sent an email to Bennet explaining how I did the LOS calculation - pretty tricky stuff actually. If you want I can send it to you.

It's pretty big, so I hesitate to post it here unless there's some interest. If anyone wants to see it, let me know.


I'd *love* to see this as well :)

tjb

#70 Velcro_SP OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:39 AM

Yes, this must be ABBUC magazine? I would LOVE to get a copy, in fact I would love to get an ABBUC subscription, period. I didn't know that they had cover disks and am somewhat amazed right now.


I just got interviewed for a German Atari mazine which is going to include Gauntletak on the cover disk. I described a lot of technical details in it. I also sent an email to Bennet explaining how I did the LOS calculation - pretty tricky stuff actually. If you want I can send it to you.

It's pretty big, so I hesitate to post it here unless there's some interest. If anyone wants to see it, let me know.


I'd *love* to see this as well :)

tjb



#71 Shannon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:40 AM

Yes it is interesting to read what techniquest programmers used. Especially when related to AI in the early days. That being said I'm amazed you remember so well!!

#72 potatohead OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:15 AM

That's the sign of a labor of love for sure.

Donald, it would be great reading. No worries on if there is interest. There absolutely is!

---and thanks for an excellent game! I've a few friends running emulators now, to run this and a few other 8 bit great games. It's as fun now, as it was then, IMHO.

#73 happymonster OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:34 PM

I've sent the full version of Storm to Don, but I thought some of you might enjoy the demo version. The reason I'm not releasing the full version to the public yet, is because I told people who brought the full version it wouldn't be available for free to the public for a year or so.

I first released the game about 4 years ago and is designed to run on low-end PC's as well as higher ones. I've successfully run it at around 60fps on a PIII 300mhz PC with some gfx and sound options turned off.

It's very similar to Gauntlet in some ways, and different and expanded in others. Hope those that liked Gauntlet like this.. :)


Storm Demo


I look forward to Don's development details and comparing them with Storm's!

#74 tjb OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:44 PM

Yes, this must be ABBUC magazine? I would LOVE to get a copy, in fact I would love to get an ABBUC subscription, period. I didn't know that they had cover disks and am somewhat amazed right now.


I just got interviewed for a German Atari mazine which is going to include Gauntletak on the cover disk. I described a lot of technical details in it. I also sent an email to Bennet explaining how I did the LOS calculation - pretty tricky stuff actually. If you want I can send it to you.

It's pretty big, so I hesitate to post it here unless there's some interest. If anyone wants to see it, let me know.


I'd *love* to see this as well :)

tjb


I recently joined ABBUC and received my first magazine and disk. It's really nice and professionally done but alas, it's all in German. Having said that, if I had it to do over again I would still have joined. To me it's well worth the price for the disk alone.

tjb

Edited by tjb, Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:44 PM.


#75 tjb OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:45 PM

I've sent the full version of Storm to Don, but I thought some of you might enjoy the demo version. The reason I'm not releasing the full version to the public yet, is because I told people who brought the full version it wouldn't be available for free to the public for a year or so.

I first released the game about 4 years ago and is designed to run on low-end PC's as well as higher ones. I've successfully run it at around 60fps on a PIII 300mhz PC with some gfx and sound options turned off.

It's very similar to Gauntlet in some ways, and different and expanded in others. Hope those that liked Gauntlet like this.. :)


Storm Demo


I look forward to Don's development details and comparing them with Storm's!


Very cool. I like it. Too bad you don't still sell it. I imagine you could sell a few copies to people around here (myself being one of them) ...

tjb




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