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Temple of Apshai Trilogy Maps


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#51 8Bitter OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 3, 2014 9:24 AM

4) Atari 8-Bit - When comparing graphics of the Monsters from six systems side-by-side, I have to ask myself what it is that I like so much about the Atari 8-Bit version of the Apshai Trilogy.  It can't be that it has the best graphics, for it certainly doesn't; the graphics are decidedly underwhelming.  In fact, the Bear, a regular prowler of the basement and cave entry area, is an embarrassment graphically.  The Bear looks downright mean (okay, somewhat mean) on the Commodore 64, but on the Atari 8-Bit it looks more like a pig standing on two legs.  The Bear's graphic on the DOS version look kind of like a cuddly pink teddy bear, which is, thankfully, worse than a pig (at least a pig can be quite nasty-- what can a teddy bear do?).  I get graphics-envy when I see the graphics of the Atari 8-Bit game beside some of the other systems.  Yet, for me, the Atari 8-Bit version plays the best, while the best-looking versions (the Amiga and Atari ST) play quite differently.

5) Commodore 64 - This system's graphics really shine here to the point that I prefer the graphics of the Commodore 64 over the Amiga and Atari ST.  Though the C64's 8-bit graphics may not match either of the 16-bit systems number of colors or larger Monsters, there is something about their simplicity that really stand out for me.  The Rat, in particular, truly outshines the other ports of the game with its ferocious teeth-filled grin that are posed to smoothly chomp-down any hapless adventurer.
 

 

This is a neat series of articles about a game that defined my first experience with micros.   I owned a C64 but my close friend owned the original Atari 800.   We were exploring Apshai at the same time and comparing notes because the play was so similar.   Upper Reaches of Apshai was actually my first computer game which was ironic as it was also my first introduction to the concept of a "dependency" (i.e. I was unable to play it as I didn't read the fine print indicating that I needed the Temple of Apshai program tape to play).    Bang.  My first introduction to home computers and I find myself with a game I'm unable to play because I lack the core engine.    Temple of Apshai was ahead of its time in that way I think (i.e. having a core engine with lots of the differentiation in the 'data' files which were sold like D&D modules).

 

I like that you're comparing graphics and the table you've got is really neat.   As you've pointed out, the Atari graphics are, unfortunately, a bit blockier than their cousin micros.   Likely this is due to an exclusive reliance on player missile graphics to render the creatures  which is done at a 160x192 resolution aspect ratio.   If they'd chosen, instead, to use hi-res graphics mode (320 x 192) and character-based graphics to get hi-res pixels and just used player missile graphics as "fill" to add color, that might result in higher res monsters.   Maybe that'd be a neat project for someone to try.   The C64 graphics in the updated trilogy look largely unchanged from the orginal series released in 1983.  There, they used 3 hi-res sprites per monster and overlapped them to achieve the look of a single multi-color hi-res sprite (C64 only supported a single color per sprite in hi-res mode).  This resulted in very detailed looking monsters using 320x200 aspect ratio pixels (i.e. about 2x as fine in the horizontal as the Atari monsters).  

 

I think a neat next step would be to compare the original monster graphics for some of the systems compared to their updated versions.  I can say from my experience that the Atari version, though still relying exclusively on player missile graphics, at least overlapped them in the updated version to achieve multi-color monsters with better detail than their first version (all of the monsters were monochromatic as they relied on a single player missile graphic).  Again, the C64 versions largely only differ in color choices between the two versions though I do see some monsters represented slightly differently.

 

Music in the *original* C64 version is unique and I recommend you play that version a bit to hear the haunting organ-like score used there.  When I played, I truly felt that I was in a haunted house and the sense of tension it added to such a simple game was amazing.  Years later, when my brothers and I think about playing the original C64 temple of apshai, we all remember the music and the heart-beat inspired tempo that played when a monster appeared.  It was truly unique and it would be neat to compare sound effects and musical scores. 

 

Anyway, fun series of posts that is near and dear.  Thanks for putting this together!


Edited by 8Bitter, Wed Sep 3, 2014 9:41 AM.


#52 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 3, 2014 12:31 PM

Upper Reaches of Apshai was actually my first computer game which was ironic as [...] I was unable to play it as I didn't read the fine print indicating that I needed the Temple of Apshai program tape to play).


I hope that you were able to return it... or better still, get the first one and have them both.
 

Temple of Apshai was ahead of its time in that way I think (i.e. having a core engine with lots of the differentiation in the 'data' files which were sold like D&D modules).


I've wondered about the game data.  Would it be a matter of figuring out how it's set up and then replacing the data with different data to get a new expansion?  I've accidentally loaded non-map data into a expansion level before and the game does start.  You can't play this "level," but with the right data then "Unofficial Expansions" could be created.  I'm quite surprised that nobody did this "back in the day," as the game series was quite popular.  Heck, maybe there actually ARE some unoffical level that were distributed via disk and BBS.  Has anyone seen any unofficial/user-made expansions, or a description of how the data is set up?
 

I like that you're comparing graphics and the table you've got is really neat.


I like creating them too, but they take a LONG time to setup because I have to play each game.  Some of those computer systems I've never even emulated before (Amstrad, Atari ST), so before I can play the game I have to learn how to use the system to, at least, boot a disk.  Among all the different conversions available, I'm quite surprised to see that this game was never ported to the Sinclair Spectrum.
 

Atari graphics are, unfortunately, a bit blockier than their cousin micros.   Likely this is due to an exclusive reliance on player missile graphics to render the creatures  which is done at a 160x192 resolution aspect ratio.


I really like your technical comparison of the screen modes; it makes for great reading.
 

I think a neat next step would be to compare the original monster graphics for some of the systems compared to their updated versions.


I'd thought of that and I like the idea, but it's time consuming.  I played most of the first level of the Atari version of the original Temple of Apshai earlier this year.  I had seen the game before, but never really played it.  Not only is the original game slower because it was written in BASIC, but the gameplay is a bit different too.  Fatigue in the Trilogy is near meaningless and it can be ignored, whereas in the original game your character can become tired during a battle, not be able to fight and die because of it.  It changes the core gameplay dynamic much more than it sounds like it would do.  Other gameplay changes were made between the Trilogy and the original game, but it is the near removal of Fatigue that makes the later version a better game to me.
 

The C64 graphics in the updated trilogy look largely unchanged from the orginal series released in 1983. [...] Music in the *original* C64 version is unique and I recommend you play that version a bit to hear the haunting organ-like score used there.


I loaded up Dunjonquest: Temple of Apshai on the C64 (using the VICE emulator). It has been a VERY long while since I played this version-- which I'd only played in passing before.  I created a random character, equipped him and then played for a little while today based on your recommendation.  I died on the very first Antman as I was too tired to actually fight.  I have a tendacy to walk in the dungeons by "running" (pressing '9') and this contributed to that-- really, it was directly to blame.  Running is a hard habit to break.

The C64 original's graphics are quite different from the later Trilogy release.  The graphics, while having color over the original Atari version, are much less detailed than the 1985 re-released game on the C64.  The music is interesting, but I especially like the "heartbeat" that is heard while battling a monster.  lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub.  Does it sound like a heart?  No.  Does it sound like a neat effect?  Yes.  Plus, somehow it really does add tension to the game.
 

Anyway, fun series of posts that is near and dear.  Thanks for putting this together!


Sure.  I hope that you have enjoyed reading them so far even half as much as I've enjoyed writing them.

#53 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 3, 2014 12:37 PM

A quick update on my progress playing Temple of Apshai's "Curse of Ra." In the last few weeks I've played and completely mapped (by hand) the first two levels.  I'm half-done with the third level. I plan to play all four levels, finishing them, before I actually start making maps using screenshots and tables listing the monsters.

After "Curse of Ra" I'm going to trying tackling:

  • Dunjonquest: Hellfire Warrior (September 1980) - Stand-alone sequel to Temple of Apshai.
  • Dunjonquest: The Keys of Acheron (September 1981)- The first expansion for Hellfire Warrior.
  • Dunjonquest: Danger in Drindisti (1982) - The second expansion for Hellfire Warrior.

It'll be quite some time before I picture myself getting to these games, but that's the goal.  Who knows, maybe this decade I'll have played and mapped all the games in the Dunjonquest series!  That's nine games.  Those nine games don't count the tenth game in the series, which is "Gateway to Apshai."  That is a very different kind of game-- but neat in its own way.



#54 8Bitter OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 5, 2014 12:41 AM

I hope that you were able to return it... or better still, get the first one and have them both.

Oh, naturally I hung onto it and just requested the Temple of Apshai from my parents at the time.   It was an agonizing two week or so wait.  I dutifully began play with level 1 of the original series as it just "seemed proper" and recall my first monster was right in room 1 -- a skeleton with glowing red eyes.  Magical. 

 

I've wondered about the game data.  Would it be a matter of figuring out how it's set up and then replacing the data with different data to get a new expansion? 

 

 

The original game was composed as a BASIC / machine language hybrid (at least, on the C64).  I listed the code and, in that version, in theory, this seems entirely possible.   It would be some slog interpreting all of the variables as there are dozens but I've been able to decipher a number.  So yes, this seems entirely plausible.  In fact, I've considered doing this very thing myself.  I'm also surprised no one else did.  Chalk it up to having the rights to do so...

 

The C64 original's graphics are quite different from the later Trilogy release.  The graphics, while having color over the original Atari version, are much less detailed than the 1985 re-released game on the C64.

 

I guess I was referring to the monster graphics most of which are bit-for-bit identical (i.e mosquito, leech) and some have differences but just in a way that's 'different' rather than much better.   The walls of the dungeon and the look and feel of the main character are, however, very different.  Looks like they used 3 hi-res sprites to form the main character whereas, in the original release, they used one multi-color sprite to create that rather odd looking "Robin Hood" if facing left, "Armored Knight" if facing right character glyph. 

 

I recall listing and inspecting the code to learn how it all worked.  I've always wanted to know exactly how combat worked, how strong certain monsters were, what effect did "parry" vs "attack" vs "thrust" have on combat, etc.   I've learned a lot but not quite figured all of the above bits out.   Just for grins, here's a few bits I recall learning you and the Atari fans of the game might find interesting:

 

* monster speed – Was always bit of a mystery to me:  was this about how quickly they moved onscreen?  Nope.   It’s their attack speed.  Expect to have less time to react to a monster in combat if this is ‘high’.

 

* you’ll be hit more frequently if there are more monsters appearing (though there’s no mechanism in the game for telling you how many are present).   The relationship is linear (i.e. 3 monsters present will hit you 3x as fast as just one)

 

* It takes more strength to wield a hand-and-a-half sword than a great sword.   I believe it takes a 16 strength for the hand-and-a-half sword and 15 for the great sword.  I’ve seen this same behavior in the VIC-20 version and, I believe, the Atari 800 so this is by design (or a repeated bug…).

 

* mercy rule:  if a random character starts with <60 silver and/or has a Strength and/or Constitution that’s too low, it’ll silently re-roll your character before presenting to you.

 

* There’s a 1:200 chance that the inn keeper will, in response to a sufficiently low-ball offer, just give in spontaneously with “I see the gods look with favor on thee – so take it for that!”   I’ve never seen this in play myself but it’s in the code.

 

* Character levels advance like D&D fighters:  2000 exp = level 2, 4000 = level 3, 8000 = level  4 and so on.  I believe a character of > level 8 is considered too experienced (need to re-confirm but there is such a 'status' in the game)

 

* If your combined intelligence and ego score is <20, there’s a chance that the innkeeper will actually raise the price during haggling.  If your combined score is <14, you’re likely better off just taking the asking price as you’ll almost certainly be offered a higher price.



#55 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 7, 2014 5:01 PM

The original game was composed as a BASIC / machine language hybrid (at least, on the C64).


I believe that this is the case on the Atari too, but I can't confirm it. I can't LIST the original Atari program at all. I can use the break key to stop the program, but when I try to LIST it, the computer just "locks up" (doesn't take keyboard input anymore).
 

It would be some slog interpreting all of the variables as there are dozens but I've been able to decipher a number. So yes, [creating new levels] seems entirely plausible. In fact, I've considered doing this very thing myself.


I'd be interested in starting a new thread in the Programming sub-forum to talk creating new levels for either the original or the Trilogy version of Temple of Apshai. Would the Programming area be the best place to talk about this-- there isn't a "hack" area, right?
 

Just for grins, here's a few bits I recall learning you and the Atari fans of the game might find interesting:


You recalled that from memory?! There is some great information in that post!

As for your information on when your character "levels up." I'd love to say that sounds exactly right, but it's pretty near impossible to know during gameplay what level of experience that your character has gained. As you gain experience, it gets easier to defeat enemies and your character takes less damage, but it's hard to guage exactly at what rate this happens. I found a webpage that talks about hacking the original Atari version of Temple of Apshai (and Hellfire Warrior). Here is what it says about level advancement:
 

How do you know when you've gone up a level? That would be nice to find out, wouldn't it? For some odd reason the programs never tell you, but the number of experience points you need to have for each level is 1000 times the square of the level number. So:

Level 1 = 2000
Level 2 = 4000
Level 3 = 9000
...
Level 20 = 400,000 etc.

The highest number of experience points you can get is 16,000,000.


The "hacking" page has much more information too. It can be found here:

http://dangermuffy.b...unjonquest.html

I wonder if "Leveling up" is the same on all platforms, and between the original and the re-released reprogrammed trilogy version?

As far as mapping the levels goes, here is where my gameplay progress currently stands. I'm just finishing-up mapping, by hand, the fourth level of Curse of Ra. That's the last level. After that, I'll start making level layouts from screenshots. I should be able to upload the first one this coming week.

#56 8Bitter OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 9, 2014 11:13 PM

I'd be interested in starting a new thread in the Programming sub-forum to talk creating new levels for either the original or the Trilogy version of Temple of Apshai. Would the Programming area be the best place to talk about this-- there isn't a "hack" area, right?

I think that'd be an intriguing topic.  Seems like the right place to have that discussion.

 
 

You recalled that from memory?! There is some great information in that post!

Hmmmm....well, for the most part.  Though I did, when I was deep diving the code about 4 years ago, print the code out, break it up into logical parts to make it more sensible and heavily annotate it to help me remember what some of it did.   I just dug up those old notes and refreshed myself on some of my more interesting comments.  ;-)

 
 

The "hacking" page has much more information too. It can be found here:

http://dangermuffy.b...unjonquest.html

Ha! Interesting that someone else, at just about the same time, was doing the same thing on the Atari platform!   I decoded about 40+ variables (non-trival given the limitations of Commodore basic wherein only the first 2 characters are considered significant so you get a lot of difficult to decipher variables like "lo" or "ak" and so forth).  That said, he's spot one saying the code is a $%@# mess.   I really gave the author the benefit of the doubt as I was printing and slicing code into logical chunks and co-locating on separate documents to make the "flow" easier to read.   All the while I kept reading, decoding and thinking thoughts like...."hmmm,.that seems unnecessary....why store values in 'ounces' for armor only to then divide by 16, add 0.5 and then convert to an int to round up when you're storing values for other equipment in whole pounds?.....  Wait? Is that a goto to another goto!.....why is this code literally all over the place?"   I think it was an early form of copy protection --- write the code in the most obfuscated form imaginable to defeat even the most dedicated code readers. 

That said, with time, the code can be deciphered and I suspect I've actually gotten farther into it than the blogger.

 

How do you know when you've gone up a level? That would be nice to find out, wouldn't it? For some odd reason the programs never tell you, but the number of experience points you need to have for each level is 1000 times the square of the level number. So:

Level 1 = 2000
Level 2 = 4000
Level 3 = 9000
...
Level 20 = 400,000 etc.

 

Well, the C64 version shares some similarities here as it has the same 16,000,000 experience point limit (i.e. anything OVER this is considered to much).

 

However, the formula is very straightforward and logrithmic -- a one-liner in fact that results in a very clear pattern wherein anything <2000 is level 1 with 2000 = level 2 and then doubling thereafter.

 

As such:

Level 1 = <2000

Level 2 = 2000+

Level 3 = 4000+

Level 4 = 8000+

level 5 = 16000+

.

.

.

Max possible level under cap (16,000,000) = level 14.  Once you're at level 15, you're too worldwise.

 

Well, looking forward to your mapping updates!    Maybe, in addition to a programming thread about adding new expansion modules, we should add a "decoding Apshai" thread where we answer questions such as:

* just how strong are certain monsters?

* how likely am I to get hit by a creature -- what factors are at play?

* what's the difference in defensive strength between different weapons when parrying?

* what's the difference in attack strength?

* what impact does experience have?

* what role do the attibutes really play in the game?



#57 Ward Shrake OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:46 PM

Interesting stuff, Mr. Adam (and 8Bitter)!

 

Kinda fun, reading about all this old "exploring the code, which is about exploring dungeons" sorta thing. As someone said in the reader's comments, over there in the (linked-to, above) blogger's page, where other decoding work was happening: "Nothing like the smell of hexadecimal in the morning!"

 

Be sure to post a link here, if / when the topic moves / switches over to exploring the (Basic? C64? Hopefully!?) code for this old game.

 

Till that part of the subject possibly moves, elsewhere: other hoary old versions of Basic I wouldn't be any help on, but I do recall some really great utilities and programs and such, for analyzing Basic code on Commodore 8-bit computers.

 

"CrossRef" (if memory serves on that utility's name) by Jim Butterfield was a truly wonderful bit of code. A real GebSend, when it came to the idea of finding every single variable used in a C64 BASIC program; every line it was used in, and so on. I think it listed all "jumps" and such, as well -- goto's and gosub's, alike -- making it a LOT, and I mean a LLLOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT easier to go through someone else's code, and figure out what it's doing. And where, specifically, each part of the code is. Breaking things into visual "blocks" was made oodles easier.

 

"SysRes" (again, if I'm recalling these old utility's names, correctly) was another HUGE boon to Basic programming on the C64. You could do all sorts of renumbering of other people's code, if you wanted to ... and it would all work, after you'd told it to renumber the code in logical "spacing" between line numbers. Something that someone had written in "line 1; line 2; line 3..." fashion could be "opened up," sequence-wise, very quick and easy. (In case you wanted to grab some isolated bit of code from somewhere, off by itself, and cut-and-paste it to movie it, in a sense. Lots of other great stuff it would do, that made life SOOO much more pleasant and fun, when exploring other's Basic code.

 

One of the other utilities, or types of programs that helped a lot, were compilers. Sometimes people thought a program was written in machine code, due to it being a lot faster than pure Basic would have been, to do the same tasks ... but early on, some things were just "compiled". It sounds, though, like you folks may be looking through actual Basic code, though ... and if so, then that interests me a surprising amount. If it's machine code, or compiled Basic or something, then it's a lot less easy to go through and "play with" ... but if it's actually in "real" Basic...?

 

Anyway ... just saying! ... and now that I've chimed in, I'll just say "Carry on, chaps!" ... and will pop right back into Lurk Mode.  :)



#58 Ward Shrake OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:55 AM

Adam already knows this, but for 8bitter's sake I'll say that I got a wild hair, and I'm actively working on playing around, now: exploring that Basic code (for the 1983 version of ToA, on the C64 home computer). And, yeah, initial impressions are that things could be more "organizee" in that code! But, it's not TOO too horribly bad.

 

Having rewritten Jim Butterfield's (great!) old Cross Ref program over the last couple of days or so, has allowed me to send formerly printer-only program output to disk. It seems to work fine, in that new mode. So, 8Bitter, if you don't already have access to a list of what line calls what other line, in that program; and/or don't have the complete / alphabetized list of what variables the program uses: just ask! Adam has a copy of it now, too. (But as far as I know, wasn't gonna get too deeply into exploring that code. I think he's likely gonna leave that stuff to other parties...?)

 

Anyway ... part of me can't believe I'm playing with coding stuff on my C64, all of a sudden. And Adam can't believe it, either. But there ya are ...



#59 Ward Shrake OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:57 AM

After spending a bunch of time, recently, playing around with the code for the C64 version of "Temple of Apshai" (the original version, not the later "Trilogy") I think I have a very good idea of what the first user-created module should be: a visit to a spaghetti emporium!

 

More tongue-in-cheek commentary on that program's internal workings: I can also see how certain rooms might be "magical" in having exits and entrances not matching up, and so on. In fact, I'd almost (almost) bet money that those rooms might have been directly inspired by the original game's programming work.

 

By which I mean: back when I used to write programs in Basic, for the C64, I thought it was just expected that any given routine would be off, by itself, and would have three basic features. First, you'd have a common entry point. Any other part of the program, trying to access that subroutine, would "enter" from that "door". Then, inside the "room" itself, there would be some sort of useful work done. A single, well-defined purpose, for lack of a better way to put it. And once that work had been accomplished, there would be a single "exit" from that "room". Back then, I came to expect that from any module or routine, as a given.

 

"Single entry point. Single purpose while you're there. Single exit point."

 

I've always thought that it just makes perfect sense, to code things that way. That is, if you're planning to maintain or upgrade the code, over time. (And especially if someone else, who came after you, was trying to figure out what was going on.)

 

But, hey, this thing was written in the Official Dark Ages ... so I guess I shouldn't fret too much, if it's not up to later standards, internally.

 

As for descriptions of the actual work done, recently:

 

I spent the bulk of my leisure time, on Sunday, just going through the "gosub" routines -- totally ignoring any of the program's hard (that is, unconditional) "goto" statements; or the conditional goto's; etc., etc. I wanted to deal with the "gosub's" and the "return's" first. So, over the weekend I had isolated every single "gosub" call, from anywhere in the program -- (long story shorter: I'd done so by creating a printable, straight-forward, PC-compatible ASCII version of program's listing, by using "CBM2ASC.EXE" on my PC; and then, using the "find" command in DOS, on that same PC, to show me any line in that text file that had "gosub" anywhere in it ... and had routed the output of the "find" command, into another straight-forward ASCII text file. And then, I did oodles of editing that text file, by hand; and sorting of lines via both DOS and Word; and so on.

 

First sinking feeling I had, once that was in a usable form, was the somewhat disturbingly large amount of "subroutines" which were called, using the GOSUB command, by precisely one line. In other words, it looked, just from the list, like a lot of "misplace code" rather than what I think of as a true "subroutine". (That is, something used over and over, by many other pieces of the overall program. And a few of those did exist -- some of them being called nearly 30 or 40 times. But for the most part, what that sorted list of GOSUB calls showed me was that there were a LOT of "subroutines" called by just one line of code, on one occasion. And a nearly-as-large amount that were only used, twice.

 

But in case I'm getting ahead of myself: end result of the yesterday's work on that program's code -- I had a PC-print-able, standard ASCII text file, which contained every GOSUB call found in that program's listing. Each main entry had been sorted, twice; in a sense. (Sorting the whole list, first, by what part of the program the GOSUB call was pointing to; then, when more than one line had called a certain area of the program, I had sorted those separate entries numerically: so it would be more obvious which line or lines had done the actual calling.)

 

Having come up with that neatly organized list of GOSUB's, I could then use the brute force method to go through a print-out (on paper, with various pens and hi-liters) of the program's listing, itself, by hand and eye -- with the main goal there being able to better "see the cracks" between where each subroutine started or ended -- thus, it was hoped, showing me the "black boxes" that make up the program, as a whole.

 

By searching for the "cracks" between those software modules, or the mortar between the bricks, as an alternate analogy, my hope was to better define each "room" -- thus feeling a lot like Adam's adventures, when he's mapping the program's screen-visible gameplay output.

 

What I'm finding is that the "black boxes" which make up the program's code, might have six different exit points apiece. I kid you not!

 

That's not happening in just in one section of the code; but rather, all over the place.

 

I'll triple- and quadruple-check things, as work progresses, but at least one subroutine call just went right to a "RETURN" and then back!

 

Now that I'm able to better see the "mortar" between the "bricks," as it were, I'm seeing one or two short routines which may not have ever been called by any other part of the program! (At least on the c64 version of the code; which I'm presuming was a straight-forward port, probably by simply typing in another computer's code, from a printed listing; and then debugging it until the Basic Interpreter didn't whine.)

 

I'm doing this documentation work, step-by-step, and I don't want to get ahead of myself by rewriting code as I go. But I'll definitely be making some internal alterations to the way things look, before I'm done! For right now, I just want to add some "white space" to the listing, and some REM statements near the "entry door" of various subroutines. Trying to better define the mortar, where it's in between various modules.

 

Some of the peices of code are already "trying to escape" on the first line of the code which makes up that individual "black box"! Instead of doing a series of checks on the current state of some variable or condition, or other, and then making adjustments as needed to whatever needs adjusted, and then, exiting from a single "door" (and, since these are GOSUB's I'm examining, at present, then nicely doing a RETURN to wherever the program had left off) what I'm seeing over and over and over in this code is that the programmers had gone out of their way, seemingly, to point the program's "flow" towards as many "secret, hidden doors" as possible. In quite a few "black boxes".

 

I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that, had I just tried to "eyeball" this code, there's no way in blazes it would have worked out!

 

Adam had to take pains, when he was making his maps, to be sure that he had checked every section of wall, in every room, before he concluded his search of a given room. I'm basically doing the same "brute force" sort of exploration, through the lines of code which make up the program itself.

 

Bottomline: it's good practice, I suppose, for getting back into the swing of looking at other people's (Basic-language) code.

 

It's definitely keeping me thinking, and double-checking my work, as I go! And making sure I am not falling asleep on the job, or making too many assumptions, as I go.

 

Having said all that: I don't mean to knock the game, or the programmers. That's not my goal, at all. I'm just stating my personal opinions, based on considerable work and analysis of what I'm seeing, as I reverse-engineer this (at least) 30-year-old program. And one of the major conclusions I've reached, in the time that I've been "mapping" the code for the C64 "Temple of Apshai," is that there was a reason they had modules that worked with the core engine; rather than "simply" rewriting the core engine, itself!

 

But, hopefully, down the road: the old code will be documented well enough (and/or cleaned up enough) that people like modern hobbyist Basic game coders won't mind making user-made modules for the game. Because, despite being the sad state of the "behind the scenes" part of the game, it works. And people do like the end result.

 

Anyway ... just wanted to chime in, a bit, and pass on some news about the arguable similarities between what I've been doing lately, and what Adam's been doing, all along.


Edited by Ward Shrake, Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:18 AM.


#60 ballyalley OFFLINE  

ballyalley

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Posted Mon Sep 29, 2014 3:58 PM

I have started a separate thread about looking at the BASIC listing of "Temple of Apshai."  It is here:

 

http://atariage.com/...atx-disk-image/

 

This new thread was posted in the main Atari 8-Bit forum (rather than the programming area), because it's about trying to LIST the Apshai BASIC program-- not about understanding and following the BASIC code.  I want to use the copy protected version of "Temple of Apshai," and that version can't easily be LISTed.  Once I figure-out how to do that, I'll make a different posting in the programming section-- if/when that seems appropriate.

 

I haven't worked on the Apshai maps lately.  I got a bit burnt out after playing (and mapping, by-hand) all four levels of "Curse of Ra."  I'll get back to it rather soon, as I've got that Apshai Itch already.



#61 8Bitter OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:29 PM

First sinking feeling I had, once that was in a usable form, was the somewhat disturbingly large amount of "subroutines" which were called, using the GOSUB command, by precisely one line. In other words, it looked, just from the list, like a lot of "misplace code" rather than what I think of as a true "subroutine". (That is, something used over and over, by many other pieces of the overall program. And a few of those did exist -- some of them being called nearly 30 or 40 times. But for the most part, what that sorted list of GOSUB calls showed me was that there were a LOT of "subroutines" called by just one line of code, on one occasion. And a nearly-as-large amount that were only used, twice.

.

.

.

Having come up with that neatly organized list of GOSUB's, I could then use the brute force method to go through a print-out (on paper, with various pens and hi-liters) of the program's listing, itself, by hand and eye -- with the main goal there being able to better "see the cracks" between where each subroutine started or ended -- thus, it was hoped, showing me the "black boxes" that make up the program, as a whole.

 

By searching for the "cracks" between those software modules, or the mortar between the bricks, as an alternate analogy, my hope was to better define each "room" -- thus feeling a lot like Adam's adventures, when he's mapping the program's screen-visible gameplay output.

.

.

.

 

I'll triple- and quadruple-check things, as work progresses, but at least one subroutine call just went right to a "RETURN" and then back!

 

Now that I'm able to better see the "mortar" between the "bricks," as it were, I'm seeing one or two short routines which may not have ever been called by any other part of the program! (At least on the c64 version of the code; which I'm presuming was a straight-forward port, probably by simply typing in another computer's code, from a printed listing; and then debugging it until the Basic Interpreter didn't whine.)

 

.

.

.

...what I'm seeing over and over and over in this code is that the programmers had gone out of their way, seemingly, to point the program's "flow" towards as many "secret, hidden doors" as possible. In quite a few "black boxes".

 

Hi Ward Shrake!  Nice to see someone take an interest in this.  Thanks for the heads up on those Jim Butterfield utilities.  I'll take a look into those, hopefully soon, to see if they are of assistance.  For my part, I ran ToA in Vice (C64 emulator), had Vice emulate a printer, did the old "run-stop" and sent to output of the BASIC listing to a printer (i.e. Vice sent it to a file) wherein I had and ASCII representation of the code that I then loaded into CBMPrg which did some syntax highlighting (big help).   

 

As you've pointed out in the quotes above, there are a LOT of subroutine calls and, unfortunately, delineating the boundaries (entry/exit) points of those subroutines is non-trivial in BASIC.    One way to figure out what does what runtime is to look at the calls based on which user command was called (i.e. T, !, A, L, R, V).  From there, you can map out the call chain for a "T" (thrust) command or a ! command (speak to creature) which will lead you to the combat code.  I've not done it fully yet as I've not delineated enough of the bricks-and-mortar (to use your analogy) in the combat code but that's what I'd plan to do next.

 

I've got my copy of the code broken out into the following printouts wherein I've copy/pasted code that seems to work together into the following groups:

* game initialization (all program initial variables and the loading of the music files)

* character initialization and equipping (includes haggling code with Innkeeper)

* save game (which seems to have a bug for this never works right in Vice)

* combat engine (largest file with lots of x and y variables for character and monster position)

 

As you point out, looking over the code, one would almost think that obfuscation by confusing goto/gosub calls was a form of early protection!  ;-)

 

There's just some plain old weirdness in there.   Look at how the weights are stored for weapons vs armor to get an idea...

 

I'd love to have a separate thread to deep dive this but I'm not up to speed on how far we can take this in an online forum.  I presume this code, even if commercially dead and trivial to access, is still protected so I refrain from posting any listings here.   Anyone have thoughts on that?



#62 Ward Shrake OFFLINE  

Ward Shrake

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Posted Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:47 PM

Hi back, 8Bitter! Good to hear from ya / see some added interest in all this.

 

For what it's worth, be advised that Adam ("Bally Alley") and I have been e-mailing one another about all this, and we're kinda thinking that an "article" over on his "Orphaned Games" web site might not be a bad thing. So I'll be heading in that direction, long term. Short term, I'm open to suggestions and stuff, and the sharing of stuff between us, via e-mails ... if that's a way you wouldn't mind going, with all this?

 

Meanwhile, just to fill you in on what I've managed to get done, of late, on the C64's program documentation effort: I'm halfway through the one largest program's BASIC code, now (eight printed pages worth), as far as typing in all of the hand-scribbled notes I've made over the last several days.

 

The idea of this stage of the game being to add some white space after one "brick" ends, via adding a line with only a ":" on it (which BASIC will just ignore; but it makes it a LOT easier to see that a "run-on sentence" or module of some kind just ended) ... followed by a newly-added REMark line, which generally says something like "Gosub (routine, which was called) from (lines) 123, 456, 789" or whatever the exact line numbers are, in each case ... and then, after that, another "white space" line.

 

To back-step and explain: while I admire what you're trying to do, and partly have already done, I'm not yet ready to try to figure out what each of the "bricks" actually does. I'm trying to hold back, intentionally, on figuring that out ... until I know what's a brick and what's mortar and where each of those materials actually ends, in any given section of the code. Which is admittedly a weird way to go about things ... but my feeling is that if I do it any other way, with some code THIS convoluted and head-hurting, I'm probably just making my overall job harder.

 

With that added white space, and those "headlines" added in, the first half of the listing is no longer just one big, run-on, "monster without a pause" blob of code.

 

Ultimately, yes, figuring out "what does what" is an end goal ... (with cleaning things up as, visually and whatever, being a secondary goal of mine, with this project) ... but for now, I'm just muddling through the sort of things that will tell me where each "subassembly" starts and ends.

 

I've never had to be this thorough, with anyone else's Basic code, to make sense of it. But it is what it is ... and the challenge is motivating.

 

It's very tedious, picky work, trying to define and then label exactly what lines in the program's code are calling exactly which subroutines ... but the "mortar between the bricks" is becoming more evident, as the work gets done. And hopefully, things will make more sense as we go.

 

For now, I'm also fighting my urge to re-write this mess ... err, this wonderful code ... and am thus refraining from moving any of the code around (to "where it belongs") ... but yeah, I can definitely see why someone would want to do it! Way too much "misplaced code" in there!


Edited by Ward Shrake, Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:09 AM.


#63 Ward Shrake OFFLINE  

Ward Shrake

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Posted Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:57 PM

Even though I'm (mostly) trying to focus on "just" figuring out where one thing ends and another begins, staring at the code does make one more familiar with the "logic" -- and I can't help "thinking ahead" to certain parts of the desired re-write.

 

Quoting 8Bitter:

 

>  One way to figure out what does what runtime is to look at the calls based on which

>  user command was called (i.e. T, !, A, L, R, V).  From there, you can map out the

>  call chain for a "T" (thrust) command or a ! command (speak to creature) which will

>  lead you to the combat code.  I've not done it fully yet as I've not delineated enough

>  of the bricks-and-mortar (to use your analogy) in the combat code but that's what

>  I'd plan to do next.

 

Okay, just to clarify ... if I'm understanding what you said, and assuming I'm also understanding the program's coding and logic, then here's how I see things:

 

 - - - -

 

(1)  There's a portion of code about two thirds of the way into the program, which seems to be how the program determines what a user pressed; and what to do about it.

 

(2)  As a major part of doing that, the original programmers had set up a long, seemingly non-sensical "string" made up of seemingly-random, individual letters and symbols.

 

(3)  That "string" of letters and symbols appears to be being sort of "scanned" to see if what key the user pressed, correctly corresponds to a command that the program understands.

 

(4)  If a match is indeed confirmed, between what key the user pressed and one of the program's commands or functions, then the program branches, or "goes somewhere" else -- with "where it goes" being determined by a bit of code involving some logic like, "ON (variable) GOTO (line A, line B, line C...)"

 

 - - - -

 

My list of questions about that could go on and on, for a while ... but I'll let these brief highlights suffice.

 

My main question about that is: if I'm interpreting that stuff, above, correctly, then why in Geb's name would they "bury" that VERY speed-critical bit of code THAT far back?!

 

I ask that because, in BASIC, any subroutine which needs to be accessed all of the time, over and over, ought to be located as near the beginning of the code as possible ... so that the computer's BASIC Interpreter does not have to search through every line of code, starting at the code's beginning, every bleeping time that routine gets called.

 

My main comment on that state of affairs -- (if, again, I've correctly figured their "logic" out) -- is that Job Number One, when it comes to be re-write time, is moving that bit of very speed-critical code to as near the start of the program as possible. I'm confident that one alteration, alone, will most likely make a noticeable improvement in speed.

 

Re-writing that one section of code, to make it "faster" ought to be another big priority with the re-write I anticipate being an itch that I'll have to scratch, at some future point.


Edited by Ward Shrake, Tue Sep 30, 2014 1:01 PM.


#64 Ward Shrake OFFLINE  

Ward Shrake

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Posted Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:07 PM

On second thought ... don't anyone answer those (technical, C64) questions. We're getting way off-topic! Before it gets any farther off-topic, I'll just quit bringing such things up, in public.

 

And now, back to your regularly scheduled message thread ... already in progress.

 

:)



#65 ballyalley OFFLINE  

ballyalley

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Posted Thu Dec 4, 2014 3:45 PM

"Curse of Ra" Level 1 Map Awaits Adventurers like You


I have finished creating the map of the first level of the "Curse of Ra." I originally mapped this level, by hand, back in August of 2014. As I expected would happen, I got a bit burned-out creating three maps for "Upper Reaches of Apshai" right in a row, so I gave it a break for a few months (but not before mapping all of "Curse of Ra" by-hand). I got the itch to enter the world of Apshai again a couple of days ago. Yesterday I played the game again... and the fun is still there to be had for all those foolhardy, so-called heroes, who find playing 8-Bit dungeon-crawls a load of fun. Yes, this describes me perfectly well.

Level 1, the "Well of Forever," is for the Atari 8-Bit "Temple of Apshai Trilogy" version of the game. Other computers systems can use this map too; the room layouts will be the same (or similar), but some treasures and traps may be in different areas.

 

Blight Hangs Over the Desert


If you enjoy playing the Apshai games, it's certainly not because of the extremely good graphics (especially if you're a fan of the TRS-80 version, which has no graphics at all). It's the background information and room descriptions from the manuals that, when available, help to make playing the Apshai games deeper than the graphics lend themselves to creating alone. Reading the background for "Curse of Ra" helps to add depth-of-play, but this prologue is only in the original "Curse of Ra" manual. It is not included in the manual for the "Temple of Apshai Trilogy." For those who have waited since 1986 to know the goal of the third part of the Apshai Trilogy game, then there is no reason to wait any longer. You can stop holding your breath now and read on...

Here is some basic background from the "Trilogy" manual under "The Apshai Scrolls" (aka table of contents)
 

Welcome to the fabled land of Ra, home of the Sphinx, the Pyramid, the Altar of Ra, and through it all, the Curse. This is the last of the Apshai journey, wherein you will learn the secret of the Curse, and perhaps learn your own fate.


That doesn't add much to what you know, but there is more in the Prologue:
 

Further exploits of William Nailfoot

Great Geb! Will this sand never end? At least I was able to buy a camel. I can't imagine trying to walk in this stuff, especially with my old foot injury.

I sure hope that old St. Gulik knew what he was talking about. He was a monk at Benedict's Monastery back in that town above Apshai. I was there for a while with all the other adventures looking for treasures, but I got hung up when I stepped on a godforsaken nail. I had adventure aplenty, though, when I could finally walk again.

One of the treasures I found was this moth-eaten, decrepit book, "The Secrets of St. Gulik." In it he mentions this legend of the curse of Ra. Here, let me read it to you:

The Secrets of St. Gulik

I journeyed south across the Great Desert, led by a miserable heathen guide, who got us totally lost. But in the course of our diversion, we stumbled across a place from time out of mind. Four great edifices dominated this deserted, sandy terrain.

"This land was once ruled by a mighty pharaoh, dedicated to the glorious sun-god, Ra," my louse-ridden guide explained. Each of these constructs contains treasures of wealth beyond imagination, but all are guarded by the demons of Ra. Anyone who violates them will carry the Curse of Ra into infinity.

"But legend holds," he continued (I noticed his eyes had taken on a cunning cast) "that combining certain objects-- the sacred glyphstone, an ankh of Zukor, a magic crystal, and most important, the diamond-studded altar of Ra-- can create a magic powerful enough to overcome the Curse."

Knowing the legend to be just myth believed by the ignorant and unbaptized in the true faith, I recognized my duty lay in exposing it by recovering these pagan idols for the glory of the One True God. I secretly searched and found the hidden entrance to the Well of Forever, with just enough time to recover one of its treasures. The next morning, horrendous pains attacked my viscera. Nothing I did-- not brews or medicinal herbs I had-- nothing relieved me.

My guide and I barely made it back to the monastery; how we found our way, I'll never know. Now I'm dying, close to the end. The curse, the curse...

So, laddie (or lassie), I'm off exploring for that fabled site. Like to come along?


You can choose not to go on this journey to the terrible land of Ra. No one will think less of you. In that case, load up a different game. Maybe something like Star Raiders or Jumpman is more to your liking. When you're done with that foolishness, you must set your course for the desert. Your first stop is the Well of Forever, which is the resting place of the legendary Glyphstone. With it, you will be on your way to lifting the blight that has lain across the region for far too long.

 

Use This Map to Help You on Your Way


The map for "Well of Forever" includes all of the room numbers, secret doors, entrances and exits in the tunnels and from the Well. In addition, all the treasures and traps in the level are marked among the 25 rooms. The map follows:

Temple%20of%20Apshai%20Trilogy%20(Curse%

The level has been broken-up into three sections on the map: Desert Outside of Pyramid, Steep Downward Tunnels and Beneath Pyramid / Well of Forever. The arrows on the map, each marked with a letter, lead to other sections of the level. Exits B, a pit, and C, a tunnel leading out of the Well, are one-way only. In these two cases, you'll find an arrow with no other corresponding arrow. The other corresponding letter, B or C, is marked on the map so that you'll know where you land when you fall down the pit or when you exit the Well. There is no second arrow in these two cases, which indicates that you can't go back the way that you came.

On the map is a list of the seven treasures available in the pyramid and Well. Next to each treasure, I have listed where it is located and its value in silver pieces (SP).

Here are the treasures, along with the Room locations, followed by the treasure's description from the "Curse of Ra" manual:


T01 - Diamond (100sp)(Room 16) A small naturally formed diamond.

T02 - Chest with Arrows (0sp)(Room 5) Some normal arrows are in the chest.

T03 - Silver Mirror (150sp)(Room 18) The mirror is solid silver.

T04 - Gold Ankh (30sp)(Room 10) A golden Ankh lies on the ground near your feet.

T05 - Figurine (45sp)(Room 20) This is a copper figurine of a small animal. It can't be worth much but you decide to take it along anyway.

T06 - Glyphstone (0sp)(Room 11) This is it! The object of your quest, the legendary Glyphstone. You feel enlightened by its presence. [Note: This Glyphsone is magical! It permanently raises your Intelligence by one.]

T07 - Elixirs (0sp)(Room 21) These potions in the strange vials appear to be perfectly good elixirs. You decide to take them with you.

Rather than look at the treasure list with its descriptions, here is concise listing of the treasures:

Treasures (Listed by Treasure Number):


Item Value Room(s)

T01 - Diamond 100sp Room 16
T02 - Chest with Arrows 0sp Room 5
T03 - Silver Mirror 150sp Room 18
T04 - Gold Ankh 30sp Room 10
T05 - Copper Figurine 45sp Room 20
T06 - Glyphstone 0sp Room 11 - T06 Raises Intelligence +1
T07 - Elixirs 0sp Room 21


Treasures (Listed Room Location):


Room 5 - T02 - Chest with Arrows
Room 10 - T04 - Gold Ankh
Room 11 - T06 - Glyphstone (Raises Intelligence +1)
Room 16 - T01 - Diamond
Room 18 - T03 - Silver Mirror
Room 20 - T05 - Copper Figurine
Room 21 - T07 - Elixirs


 

Not So Pesky Traps


There are seven kinds of traps, but the manual only gives descriptions for four of them. I created descriptions for the Cobra, Scorpions, and Tarantula traps.

1) Cobra Trap (Rooms 2, 4, 14, 20, 21) - Cobras don't make nests, but they do protect their eggs. You have trampled across some of those eggs, and this cobra, with its hood raised, has already managed to make a few stabs at your leg. You try to stumble away before the venom takes you to the ground.

2) Ceiling Trap (Room 9) - From the ceiling shoot small darts that have an irritation venom on their sharp tips.

3) Dust Trap (Rooms 3, 25) - Dust and sand blow around you violently, stinging your eyes.

4) Needle Trap (Room 5) - A small needle coated with a weak poison springs out of the chest and toward your hand.

5) Pit Trap (Room 11) - This is the Pit of Infinity. Quickly! If you can just grab the edge... (Better luck next time).

6) Scorpions Trap (Rooms 6, 7 and 8 ) - The ground is lose in this area with small crevasses in the earth, which seem manmade. They make perfect hiding places for desert creatures like arthropods. Unfortunately, you've stumbled across the home of some scorpions. Their tales are poised to sting. You'd swear that that they were advancing on you with a menacing thirst for revenge for disturbing them.

7) Tarantula Trap (Rooms 12 and 16) - A group of large tarantulas falls from the ceiling right onto your back. If you're quick you'll be able to knock them away without too much trouble. Wait. Is that one pairing up with a friend? Can these spiders call to each other for help? It sure looks like it. Best get out of here quick!


Here are the traps listed by location:


Room Description

Room 2 Cobra Trap
Room 3 Dust Trap
Room 4 Cobra Trap
Room 5 Needle Trap
Room 6 Scorpions Trap
Room 7 Scorpions Trap
Room 8 Scorpions Trap
Room 9 Ceiling Trap
Room 11 Ceiling Trap
Room 12 Tarantula Trap
Room 14 Cobra Trap
Room 16 Tarantula Trap
Room 20 Tarantula Trap
Room 21 Cobra Trap
Room 25 Dust Trap


 

They Crawl, Hiss, Snap and Sting


There are no Monsters in the Well of Forever, but you'll encounter spiders, snakes, arthropods and an animal. The Monster descriptions from the manual follow:

1) Cobra - This large, green or black snake flattens its head when angry. Its venomous bite can kill a man instantly.

2) Jackal - This ferocious, dog-like creature scavenges the desert in search of dead or dying flesh to rip apart for its ravenous appetite.

3) Scorpions - Relatively large insects with nasty stinging tails, scorpions crawl upon the victim they are attacking and deliver many injurious blows.

4) Tarantula - This hairy spider is found in dank passages. Its sting is not deadly but should nevertheless be avoided.

Heed the Cobra warning very well. If you don't kill it right away, or you don't heal yourself after it attacks you, then even a high level character is going die alone-- just another victim who lies resting in the desert. Forever.

I wish to register a complaint by writing a letter to Automated Simulations to let them know that scorpions aren't insects. What were they trying to do; give cockroaches a bad name?

I took screenshots of the four Monsters that I encountered during the level and compiled a short bestiary, which can be seen here:

Curse%20of%20Ra%20-%20Level%201%20Monste

 

One Treasure Down; Three to Go


You've found the Glyphstone mentioned in "The Secrets of St. Gulik," one of the four treasures said to be required to lift the Curse of Ra. Your appetite for exploration has been whet, but not satisfied in this short excursion through the Well of Forever.

You'll find plenty to keep you occupied in your desert journey to the Sphinx, where you've heard you'll unearth the Ankh of Zukor. There are no riddles to solve with this Sphinx, but you will encounter far more adventure, Monsters and treasure then the Well had to offer. Your journey in this accursed land has only just begun!

#66 ballyalley OFFLINE  

ballyalley

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Posted Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:00 PM

Temple of Apshai Trilogy, Curse of Ra
Level 2 - The Sphinx


I have finished creating the map of the second level of the "Curse of Ra." All fifty-two rooms have been numbered and accounted for on the map. All treasures and traps are marked on the map too.

On December 4, 2014, I posted the level 1 map, "Well of Forever," that was created from screenshots. I've been playing the second level of "Curse of Ra," off and on, since that time. I originally mapped this second level by hand, back in August of 2014 (when I mapped all of the "Curse of Ra" levels). Getting this latest map laid out exactly as I wanted took more time than I had expected. This wasn't because it was difficult to map, but because getting the layout with the treasures and map keys onto one overall map took some careful organization.

This map of level 2, "The Sphinx," is for the Atari 8-Bit "Temple of Apshai Trilogy" version of the game. Other computer systems can use this map too; the room layouts will be the same (or similar), but some treasures and traps may be in different areas.

 

By Geb's Beard, Where's Apshai?


In "The Sphinx," the adventurer is seeking another one of the legendary four treasures. Depending upon how you read the Prologue to "Curse of Ra," you're on one of two possible missions in this game. You are either seeking to collect the four treasures to prove that there is only One True God and that no Curse of Ra exists, or you are out to collect the four treasures to break the Curse of Ra. Either way, you're looking for the same four treasures. Here, you're seeking the "Ankh of Zukar" in the Sphinx in the Great Desert. As soon as you enter the Sphinx, you become trapped and the only way out is to find another exit.

Automated Simulations' mythology doesn't have a strong connection between "The Temple of Apshai" and "Curse of Ra." The feeble association is only described in the very short background story on page four of the "Curse of Ra" manual (but not included in the Trilogy manual). A book called "The Secrets of St. Gulik" mentions the Great Desert and the Curse of Ra. Unlike "Temple of Apshai" and "Upper Reaches of Apshai," there are no giant ants in "Curse of Ra," and certainly there is no scent of vanilla to go along with them. This third adventure has a very different feel from the other two games included in "Trilogy."

While playing "Curse of Ra," keep in mind that you're not exploring in Egypt, but a place that is inspired by it. The game's authors were probably just making this game up as they went along. While there is at least one mention of Egypt in the descriptions of level 3 (see the description of the Chariot Wheel treasure), the game's authors picked little details from different places to make their game sound interesting. They weren't worried about real-world consistency. This is great, because it gives me an opportunity; I can name the Sphinx that is explored. I've christened the huge statue, filled with monsters and treasures, as the Apshian Sphinx of the Great Desert. Naming the Sphinx statue after the Apshaians alludes to a deeper connection between the original game and this second expansion pack with Egyptian-themed levels.

I read about the Sphinx located in Egypt when looking for background material for level 2 of "Curse of Ra." I did this because I had hoped to find a quality picture of a Sphinx to include in this posting. I have always presumed that the Sphinx explored in this level is similar to the Great Sphinx of Giza, but this doesn't seem to be so. The Sphinx in this level has the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle. There seem to be three main kinds of Sphinx. A few have some of these animal or human attributes, but I couldn't find an actual account of a Sphinx as it is described in "Curse of Ra."

Let all the talk of Egypt fall aside. We're looking for snatches of Apshai, which may exist in a world parallel to our own. Close your mind off to our own world as you explore "Curse of Ra," for our domain doesn't endure in the worlds of Apshai and Ra.

 

Move Along; There's No Back-Story Here


Other than what was provided in the prologue to the "Curse of Ra," there is absolutely no context provided for the Sphinx level in either the original "Dunjonquest: Curse or Ra" or the "Temple of Apshai Trilogy." I'm providing a background created by myself but based on the previous Apshai games, some details dropped like crumbs throughout the "Curse of Ra," and just plain made-up narrative. The following chronicle is of my own devising; it is not canon. Though it wouldn't pass the Automated Simulations or Epyx list of approved reading material, I hope that you'll find it interesting as an unofficial account that makes your exploration of "The Sphinx" more interesting.

 

Background Chronicle


    Word spread quickly among the people of the desert when William Nailfoot found the legendary Glyphstone in the Well of Forever.  Rumors sprouted immediately that this adventurer was someone who wasn't out to plunder the sacred places of the ancient people, but was instead searching for the four mythical treasures to break the Curse of Ra.  People came searching for William to find the truth. Who was this man?  Were the reports accurate that William had been seen weeks or months before, above the rediscovered Temple of Apshai?  Was William related to Brian Hammerhand, the now legendary adventurer who had sought his fortune in Apshai and found it there?  Was he out to loot, or was he helping the desperate peoples of the desert?  Indeed, did William Nailfoot find the Glyphstone at all?  
    It was with all of these unanswered questions on his mind that a man, looking like a beggar, found William as he left the Inn.  The man, in near-rags, approached William the Warrior (as many had begun to refer to him) and spoke to him quickly in an accent that the Warrior did not recognize.
    "Sir, can you spare a moment?"
    William was already reaching into his pocket for some coins to give to the vagabond.
    "I do not seek your aid, at least not in coin," said the man.  "I'd rather have some of your time, if you can spare it.  I'm sure that some time spent now will save much of it later."  A smile spread across the man's face, which William now saw was shaved and clean.  No, he wasn't a beggar at all.
    "I'm sure that I can spare a moment for the likes of you.  Haven't I seen you around here before?" William asked.
    "Oh, you surely have!" The man was surprised to learn that he had been remembered.  "I sell trinkets at the market.  My entire livelihood is made selling what others would throw away.  My name is Nikolas.  I've no surname, though many refer to me as the Junkman.  I think it's meant as an offense, but I take pleasure in hearing it."
    "Junkman, eh?  I like it.  I've no surname either, but I've acquired Nailfoot, after an unfortunate accident I had when walking on a dock.  I've still got a scar.  Curse that rusty nail!  Lockjaw nearly killed me, but I've come back stronger than I ever was before."  William grinned broadly as he remarked on the strength he'd gained through his many exploits, and now, here in the desert, continuing his adventures once again.
    Nickolas motioned to William to approach him, which he did without fear.  There was little crime here, despite the many wicked tales heard about the desert people.  Besides, William had no doubt that he could protect himself from this small man.
    The Junkman said, "It's commonly known that you found the Glyphstone.  Do you still search for the other three treasures?"  A look of surprise passed across William's deeply tanned face.
    "And who says that I've found the Glyphstone?"
    "Ah, well, everybody says so.  Is it not true?"
    "Nickolas, I've some bad news for you.  'Everybody' is wrong.  I've not found anything called the Glyphstone.  I've never heard of it before.  Is it worth much?"
    "Ah, I suppose it's wise to play as though you've never heard of it.  I guess there are some people who might try to fetch it from you.  I'm here for another reason.  I've come across some 'junk' that just might interest you.  That is, for a price."
    The friendly smile that William wore broke.  "So it comes down to money after all, hey, Junkman?"
    "Not at all.  I don't ask for your money, though others might ask a small fortune, or keep this information to themselves.  I've got enough to get by.  I ask you for your time, sir.  And a promise."  The Junkman eyed William now with a serious gaze, which turned into a stare which William could not break.  Before William knew it, he was following Nickolas back into the inn.
    The last clear memories that William had when he woke up the next morning in his room were a night of conversation, and drinking with the Junkman.  Afterward, there had been laughing and women.  Oh, the women!  The more William tried to remember it all, though, the farther away it slipped.  Finally, all he had left of the previous evening was a picture in his mind of the Sphinx, the Ankh of Zukar and a phrase that made no sense: "The Wrath of the Pharaohs obliges those who seek about it." William didn't know what to make of it.
    The same morning, while buying last-minute supplies at the bazaar, William came upon the Junkman, who winked at him and said, "Today I feel that fortune will smile upon you, William Scarfoot."  With that, he laughed deeply at his own joke and saw to a customer who was examining some of his trinkets.
    Soon after, while William saddled his camel to head out to the Sphinx, the sky began to darken.  On other mornings he'd wasted entire days waiting for skies that threatened of sandstorms to pass him over.  This was one day that William would not allow to slip through his grasp.  He felt as though today was more than just another day of exploring.  Today might be a day of which legends are made!

 

How Do You Spell That?


The "Ankh of Zukar," found in the Sphinx in the Stone Cabinet (Treasure 7 in Room 42) is one of the four treasures required to break the Curse of Ra. The original Dunjonquest manual spells "Zukar" ending in either "or" or "ar." I choose to spell the treasure as "Zukar" when referring to it, unless I'm quoting the manual directly, in which case I defer to the manual's spelling.

 

Bird's-Eye View


For the first view of the Sphinx, I created a picture that a tourist might appreciate. It's an above-view layout of the Sphinx. It doesn't show the rooms, but it does allow the player to see that the level is actually shaped just like a Sphinx. For the colors, I made the bottom level (the legs and lower body) light gray. The second level (the middle and upper body) are a darker gray. The head of the Sphinx is the darkest gray. If you look at the head, you can make out where the ears and nose would be located.
Sphinx%20-%20Body%20-%20Overview.gif

I thought that if I overlapped the three levels of the Sphinx, it would match up and look correct, but it doesn't work out right. My failed attempt at an overview did come close to looking like the Sphinx, but it was just not accurate enough. In upcoming levels of "Curse of Ra" (specifically "The Pyramid" and "Temple of Ra"), there are descriptions of tunnels that twist as they descend and ascend. This means that where the player ends up may not be exactly above or below where he entered the tunnel. I took this into consideration and adjusted the map so that it looks good, or at least looks right to me.

I really like this overview of the Sphinx. It shows what I suspected all along (and why I created the overview to begin with): the person who designed the level probably created an outline of a Sphinx and then filled in rooms to make it function properly as a "dungeon" level.

 

The Map


The map of the "Sphinx" includes all of the room numbers, secret doors, entrances and exits. In addition, all of the treasures and traps in the level are marked among the 52 rooms. The map follows:

Temple%20of%20Apshai%20Trilogy%20(Curse%

On the map is a list of the fourteen treasures available in the Sphinx. Next to each treasure, I have listed its location and value in silver pieces (SP).

There are two small changes that I made to the map of the main body of the Sphinx that required alterations to the screenshots. Room 10 is a hallway with a pivoting stone to the east. As you walk toward the pivoting stone you unexpectedly appear in the western half of Room 11 without even traveling the complete distance of the Room 10. The description of Room 11 gives no explanation of what occurred other than that you wonder "What happened?" There is no way back west and you're now in a room with no apparent exit and a fierce Monster to face.

I figure that either an error was made when programming the map and it was "fixed" with a short explanation in the manual, or it's that old magic of Apsahi working against you again. To make the map line-up correctly with the rest of the map, I had to shorten the length of Room 10 and I made Room 11 slightly smaller.

 

Treasures


These are the fourteen treasures included in this level. Here is a picture of the screen after I've collected all of them and then returned to the inn:

Curse%20of%20Ra%20-%20Level%202%20-%20Al

Here are the "Curse of Ra" manual's descriptions of all the treasures found in "The Sphinx:"

T01 - Quiver of Arrows (0sp)(Room 4) A very old and dusty quiver filled with normal arrows lies near the upward-leading staircase.

T02 - Herbs [Elixir] (0sp)(Room 41 and 46) As you travel across the room, you chance upon some mysterious Egyptian herb in a pouch, which makes you feel wonderfully well. (When eaten, these herbs act exactly as healing elixirs.)

T03 - Two Gold Coins (20sp)(Room 33) As the panel shuts behind you, it hurls a pouch containing 2 gold pieces.

T04 - Silver Tray and Pouch (530sp)(Room 11) In a neat little pile, you find a silver offering tray and a pouch containing 3 gold pieces and 1 small ruby.

T05 - Dagger and Gem (340sp)(Room 48) On a dusty stone platform lie a silver dagger and a small sapphire.

T06 - Jewelry (200sp)(Room 21 and 22) A collection of gold and silver jewelry are found in the small and rotting wood chest.

T07 - Cabinet Trove (240sp)(Room 42) A small stone cabinet contains a sapphire Ankh of the Egyptian god of darkness, Zukar, 2 gold bracelets and a silver coin.

T08 - Coins and Treasure (410sp)(Room 51) Aha! A small diamond, 3 gold nuggets, 3 gold pieces, 100 silver pieces and a diamond ring.

T09 - Coin Pouch (480sp)(Room 13) A moldy pouch containing 2 platinum pieces, 8 gold pieces and 200 silver pieces.

T10 - Gold Jackel (1,800sp)(Room 52) Could it truly be???!!! Yes! It is a solid gold statue of a jackal.

T11 - Clay Tablet (0sp)(Room 9) In the corridor you find a clay tablet with cuneiform writing on it. Don't even ask! We don't read cuneiform either.

T12 - Bronze Ladle (5sp)(Room 18) Left over from the mysterious pot, you find a bronze ladle.

T13 - Chariot Wheel (7sp)(Room 28) Too bad, you have no use for this broken chariot wheel (except as a souvenir of your trip to Egypt).

T14 - Mithril Dust (0sp)(Room 20) Some dust sparkles of mithril. Deciding to see how long it will last, you apply it to some nearby shafts of rotting wood, and it turns them into magic arrows.


For those who would rather not look at the description-filled treasure list, here is concise listing of the treasures:
 

Level 2, "The Sphinx" Treasures


Treasure Overview (Listed by Treasure Type)

Item  Value Room(s)

T01 - Quiver of Arrows 0sp Room 4
T02 - Herbs 0sp Rooms 41, 46
T03 - 2 Gold Coins 20sp Room 33
T04 - Silver Tray and Pouch 530sp Room 11
T05 - Dagger and Sapphire 340sp Room 48
T06 - Jewelry 200sp Rooms 21, 22
T07 - Cabinet Trove (Ankh of Zukar) 240sp Room 42
T08 - Coins and More 410sp Room 51
T09 - Coin Pouch 480sp Room 13
T10 - Golden Jackal 1800sp Room 52
T11 - Clay Tablet 0sp Room 9
T12 - Bronze Ladle 5sp Room 18
T13 - Chariot Wheel 7sp Room 28
T14 - Mithril Dust (for magic arrows) 0sp Room 20


Treasure Overview (Listed by Treasure Room)

Room  4 - T01 - Quiver of Arrows 0sp
Room  9 - T11 - Clay Tablet 0sp
Room 11 - T04 - Silver Tray and Pouch 530sp
Room 13 - T09 - Coin Pouch 480sp
Room 18 - T12 - Bronze Ladle 5sp
Room 20 - T14 - Mithril Dust (for magic arrows) 0sp
Room 21 - T06 - Jewelry 200sp
Room 22 - T06 - Jewelry 200sp
Room 28 - T13 - Chariot Wheel 7sp
Room 33 - T03 - 2 Gold Coins 20sp
Room 41 - T02 - Herbs 0sp
Room 42 - T07 - Cabinet Trove (with Ankh of Zukar) 240sp
Room 46 - T02 - Herbs 0sp
Room 48 - T05 - Dagger and Sapphire 340sp
Room 51 - T08 - Coins and More 410sp
Room 52 - T10 - Golden Jackal 1,800sp


 

Out, Damn'd Trap! Out, I Say!


There are seven kinds of trap in "The Sphinx," but the manual only gives descriptions of four of them. I created descriptions for the Cobra, Scorpions and Tarantula traps.

Cave-In Trap (Rooms 5 and 15) - One of the stone steps under you crumbles, causing you to fall flat on your face.

Cobra "Trap" (Rooms 13, 27 and 52) - With you in mind, the builders of this pyramid created crevices especially for Cobras. These nooks are not exactly traps, although you may find a Cobra willing to bite you to protect itself from being stepped on by a clumsy clod like yourself.

Flame Trap (Room 18) - Quickly and silently, a shape flies overhead and pours a pot of boiling oil upon you.

Needle Trap (Room 21) - As you rummage through the chest of jewelry, you prick your finger on a poisoned needle.

Pit Trap (Room 20) - Watch it! You almost fell out of the nostril! Luckily (?), your fall was stopped by a sharp spear sticking out from the side of the nostril.

Scorpions "Trap" (Rooms 32 and 46) - Most of the floor and walls are covered with Scorpions. They look quite upset with you and their tails are poised to sting. Watch your step!

Tarantula "Trap" (Rooms 7 and 10) - You've seen some giant spiders before, but this one Tarantula seems to have had a special home built for it. There have probably been generations of Tarantulas breeding here over the centuries, with each generation poised to bite the unwary adventurer.


Here are the traps listed by location:

Room    Description

Room  5 Cave-In Trap
Room  7 Tarantula "Trap"
Room 10 Tarantula "Trap"
Room 13 Cobra "Trap"
Room 15 Cave-In Trap
Room 18 Flame Trap
Room 20 Pit Trap
Room 21 Pit Trap
Room 27 Cobra "Trap"
Room 32 Scorpions "Trap"
Room 46 Scorpions "Trap"
Room 52 Cobra "Trap"



Monster Listing

There are nine monsters in "The Sphinx." Four of the monsters are old favorites, and the following five are new to this level: Criosphinx, Gryphon, Lynx, Sphinx and Wild Camel. Here is a description of each of the baddies that will be encountered:

Cobra - This large, green or black snake flattens its head when angry. Its venomous bite can kill a man instantly.

Criosphinx - Similar to the Sphinx, the Criosphinx has the head of a ram instead of a human. While attacking, it is especially vicious, since it is able to attack simultaneously with its paws and sharp horns.

Gryphon - This type of creature has the head and wings of an eagle and torso of a lion. It loves to talk and will start up a conversation at the drop of a sword.

Jackal - This ferocious, dog-like creature scavenges the desert in search of dead or dying flesh to rip apart for its ravenous appetite.

Lynx - This intelligent creature of the cat family prefers an arid habitat. It has the stalking instincts of predator cats and the swiftness of a jaguar.

Scorpions - Relatively large insects with nasty stinging tails, Scorpions crawl upon their victims and deliver many injurious blows.

Sphinx - The Sphinx is a large creature with the head of a man, the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle. It is rumored that a human can pass one only after solving a difficult riddle.

Tarantula - This hairy spider is found in dank passages. Its sting is not deadly, but should nevertheless be avoided.

Wild Camel - Found exclusively in the desert, this typical, everyday Wild Camel kicks viciously with its sharp hooves.

I took screenshots of the Monsters that I encountered during the level and compiled a short bestiary, which can be seen here:

Curse%20of%20Ra%20-%20Level%202%20Monste

 

Seeking Two Legendary Treasures


When the Sphinx has been fully explored, half of the legendary treasures have been found. The latest acquisition is the "Ankh of Zukar." When you exit the Sphinx, you see that the sandstorm has lifted, and you've already got the Pyramid on your mind. You hope to find the magic crystal inside the Pyramid, but will you be able to come back from a place that so many others have failed to return from?
 
 
Special thanks to Chris++ for editing this posting for errors.

#67 Ward Shrake OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:33 PM

I like what you did there. The idea of mapping what's there, and documenting it in detail, is cool in itself. You know I feel you do fine work in that regard, so there's not much "new" I can say on that part of things. (Other than "Fine work, as usual, my friend".)

 

The "in the spirit of the original writings" additions you made to the backstory or "vibe" add something really cool. I've enjoyed your past additions in that mode or spirit, and feel you really nailed things. (Again.) This time, though, it feels like you'd taken it up a notch. (Using "Scarfoot" as a play on "Nailfoot" as just one example.) What you're doing makes the "deepening the gameplay" experiences, feel "even deeper" and more immersive than before. And that's a good thing for fans of these cool old dungeon-style games.



#68 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 17, 2015 12:32 PM

I was reading through some Eypx/Automated Simulations catalogs when I learned that "Hellfire Warrior" was originally going to have another name. Here's the information I've gathered:
 

The Lower Reaches of Apshai
 
Descend into the depths of Hell!
 
Beneath the ruined temple of the dread insect god there lie older and darker ruins. Evil and danger lurk in every corner of the dungeon.
 
Your warrior, veteran of many battles in the Temple, now faces the princes of darkness themselves. You'll find magic to aid you in your quest, but it won't be easy. To survive in the Lower Reaches you'll need all your wits and the strength of your sword arm. You'll find it worthwhile to visit the Apothecary F'nord or Malaclypse the Mage for help against the denizens of the labyrinth. The art of F'nord or Malaclypse comes dear though, so be ready to spend your hard-won gold there.
 
"The Lower Reaches of Apshai" is a supplement to "The Temple of Apshai." You must have the Temple to play it. It includes an Apothecary and Magic Shoppe module, data files for an additional FOUR dungeon levels, and a Book of Lore describing them. Great glory and treasure await if you've the courage.

Minimum Configuration Requirements:

Same as "The Temples of Apshai"
 
Rating: Intermediate complexity . . . easy to play . . .1/2 hr. and up playing time.
 
$14.95 Cassette $19.95 Disk
 
Available May 1980


Notice that in this catalog it seems that the "Lower Reaches" was going to be an expansion for "Temple of Apshai," but when "Hellfire Warrior" was eventually released, it was a stand-alone game.  In May 1980, a flier about an update about the upcoming game was sent to owners (or included with a game-- I am unclear about this):
 

Important Note:

Due to some unforeseen difficulties. "The Lower Reaches of Apshai" has been delayed and will not be available for shipment in May. Please do not order this item until we announce that it is available. We're redesigning part of the dungeon to make it even better, but unfortunately that means we don't have any chance of having it ready in May.

5/9/80

 

I guess this release-date change did affect atari users, since "Temple of Apshai" wasn't released until 1982 for the Atari 400/800.



#69 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 27, 2015 4:20 PM

How interesting. I always assumed that Hellfire Warrior was an attempt at taking the Apshai style in another direction, just to see what could be done with the overall paradigm. I guess it turns out that the direction was only different by a couple of degrees!

 

I've just re-read several parts of this thread. Adam, you've done a LOT of work on detailing the Apshai games. Just lining up the Bestiary (etc.) images alone, to make them neatly accessible and easily readable, took serious effort, not to mention all of the descriptive writing. This should be a damn book. Nothing else like this has ever been done for these popular games. Much applause for the tremendous efforts. You shared a few of the above exegeses with me as they were taking form, but seeing everything at once really explodes the eyes.



#70 therealbountybob OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 1, 2015 4:29 PM

I've not really played Temple of Asphai series as I spent my time immersed in Ultima III, but looking at this will have to give it a proper go :thumbsup:

 

ballyalley - Any chance of a PDF of the great info above?

preferably one with white/light backgrounds on the graphics for printing on an inkjet ;)



#71 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 2, 2015 2:58 PM

I always assumed that Hellfire Warrior was an attempt at taking the Apshai style in another direction, just to see what could be done with the overall paradigm. I guess it turns out that the direction was only different by a couple of degrees!

 

"Hellfire Warrior" is different from the original "Temple of Apshai" game and its two expansions.  For example, "Hellfire Warrior" uses magic, and this requires a new set of rules.  Plus, there are other differences that make the game harder.  For instance, some areas have groups of rooms without room numbers, which makes them hard to map.  I still have very little experience playing these sequels to "Temple of Apshai."
 

Just lining up the Bestiary (etc.) images alone, to make them neatly accessible and easily readable, took serious effort,

 

Using layers in Photoshop makes creating the Bestiary easy. The difficult part is finding all of the baddies in the different games and taking screenshots of them and then cutting them out.  Actually, that's not hard eithers-- but it is time-consuming (yet fun).

 

I'd still love to play the Macintosh version of the "Temple of Apshai."  I expect the monsters and creatures in that game have a unique look about them because that version uses high-res B&W graphics (like all early Mac games).  Except for one blurry screenshot of the Mac "Temple of Apshai Trilogy," I've not seen it before and the disk has not been dumped yet because of its copy-protection scheme.
 

not to mention all of the descriptive writing.

 

I'm glad I take the time to write backgrounds for these games where none already exists in the manuals.  This has prevented me from adding the last two maps of levels 3 and 4 from "Curse of Ra."  The Level 3 map and monster listins is 100% done.  The map for level four has been created too, but not yet labeled in Photoshop.  These maps are just waiting for me to add proper descriptions that I create for background material.
 

This should be a damn book.

 

You're right; all of this information should be in a book.  I'd buy it.  Alas, I've not plans to write such a book.
 

I've not really played Temple of Asphai series [...], but looking at this will have to give it a proper go :thumbsup:

 

It's too bad that this game (and other role-playing games) don't fit the Atari 8-Bit High Score Club model.  The Dunjonquest games are fun to play, but scoring isn't really something that's possible (unless you count the collected gold as some sort of score).  I'd like to hear of any experience that you do finally have when you play this game.

 

ballyalley - Any chance of a PDF of the great info above?
preferably one with white/light backgrounds on the graphics for printing on an inkjet ;)

 

I'm not sure if I'll make a pdf of the information included here (that's too close to a book for me), but I do plan to create a website devoted to this game that would include all of the material in this thread.  I have no plans to make B&W versions of these maps for an inkjet.  I've printed these maps in color when I used to have a color inkjet; they look great (if a bit small).  I only have a B&W laser printer now, but printout look okay.  When I'm completely done mapping the twelve levels of the "Temple of Apshai Trilogy," I had planned to print full-size maps of the levels as posters using snapfish.com.   These would look great on my wall... but alas they would take up too much room.
 
Thanks for the feedback, everybody.  I hope these maps have encouraged some people to play the Apshai and Dunjonquest games!

 



#72 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 6, 2015 2:52 PM

New Adventurer Enters the Temple of Apshai!

Yesterday I received an SD card reader for my Atari 8-bit that shipped from Poland. It's a black SIO2SD from Lotharek's Lair with a 2GB SD card (one that I had extra lying in a junk drawer). It cost a total of about 90 U.S. dollars, which included the SIO2SD and an 8GB SD card with about 1GB of Atari software included. It shipped in about ten days. It looks like this:
 
SIO2SD Hardware_001.jpg
 
The SIO2SD emulates a floppy drive using standard SD cards. It plugs into the SIO port on the Atari computer as would any normal SIO device. It loads the "floppies" (ATRs disk images) very quickly! This is one freakishly-speedy floppy drive: it takes six seconds for a "disk" to load and a game to begin playing. The speed can be cranked-up even more, but it's fast enough for me out-of-the box; I feel no need to adjust the speed setting. I highly recommend the SIO2SD to anyone looking for a way to load ATRs without the need to have some sort of modern computer hooked up to the SIO port. You can buy the SIO2SD here:
 
http://lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=23

What does this have to do with this "Apshai" thread? Simple: the first game I tried on the SD card reader was "The Temple of Apshai Trilogy" on my Atari 130XE hooked-up to a 27" Sony Trinitron CRT television using an S-Video cable (it looks great!). I wanted to check if I could save a character to a blank floppy "disk" on real hardware and then load the character into "Apshai" and have it work expected under emulation. I created a character using my real Atari 130XE and saved it to the SD card. Then I used the "Altirra" Atari 8-Bit emulator to load the character from the SIO2SD and played the game as the same character. It worked brilliantly.

I was excited and entranced by my new toy and I found myself playing through the entire first level of "Temple of Apshai" in one sitting starting with a new, suitably-fantasy-named, character name "Prinmar." I rolled the attributes (where the possible range is 3-18) for my character using the "First Edition AD&D Character Generator" that's available at Dragonsfoot.org:
 
http://www.dragonsfo...1echargen.shtml

I rolled ten sets of six character attributes with the "Best 3 of 4 dice" option set in the generator. I then picked the best set of stats and distributed them to the attributes where I felt the numbers would work best. As a Dungeon Master back in the 80s and early 90s I found this method of creating the attributes fair to players. A weak character would never choose to be an adventurer. Who would set about heading out to the Temple of Apshai with a Strength of three or a Constitution of four? Such a weak character would struggle to pick up his own foot (let alone a sword) and he probably would have died of some childhood disease before reaching adulthood. I ended up with following attributes:

Intelligence - 14
Intuition - 12
Ego - 12
Strength - 13
Constitution - 16
Dexterity - 14

These attributes are fair; there isn't even one overly-high value.

I still needed to know how many silver pieces to give my new character. This was easy to establish. I had the "Temple of Apshai" create a character for me; that character had 90 silver pieces (pretty low, actually). I rebooted the "The Temple of Apshai" and created my own character. I entered my pre-rolled attributes and then gave my character 90 silver pieces. I bought my equipment from the shrewd-bargaining Innkeeper: a broadsword (an inexpensive choice), some light armor (chainmail), a large shield, and a bow with six arrows. That left me with exactly zero silver pieces. I was broke; it was time to set upon my exploration of the Temple!

As always, after loading the dungeon (near-instant using the SIO2SD) the first Room's description set the scene before me: "The smooth stonework of the passageway floor shows that advanced methods were used in its creation. A skeleton sprawls on the floor just inside the door, a bony hand, still clutching a rusty dagger, outstretched toward the door to safety. A faint roaring sound can be heard from the far end of the passage." From this first room I headed north and began to explore the rest of the temple. I made frequent exits back to the Inn to recover from battle injuries, drop-off treasures, buy more salves and save my character periodically to "disk" (Oh, how I love my new SIO2SD!). I fully explored the dungeon in about two hours, while managing to avoid being killed even once. I simplified my travels through the Temple using my Level 1 map and treasure descriptions posted in this thread on June 28, 2011:
 
http://atariage.com/...s/#entry2313372

When I finished exploring every room and collecting every treasure in Level 1 of the Temple of Apshai, I had gained 4,055 experience points and 7,822 silver pieces. In the Temple I had found a Magic Cloak (said to protect the wearer from injury, though I'm not sure exactly how this works), a sword with Mithril worked into the blade (Magic Sword +1), 17 magic arrows and 14 healing elixirs. I had also managed to encounter all of the level's monsters: Antmen, Fire Beetles, Giant Ants, Giant Beetles, Giant Leeches, Giant Mosquitos, Skeletons and Swamp Rats.

The "Dunjonquest" games closely mimic the first edition of the AD&D ruleset. The experience points that my character earned would make him, just barely, a level 3 Fighter (referred to by the title Swordsman). In the "Dunjonquest" games, the character level is never revealed. Yet, I'm not the first person to wonder what level that I have reached, and how much experience points affect the gameplay. In posting #53 of this thread, "8Bitter" wrote how he believes experience points work. He said:

* Character levels advance like D&D fighters: 2000 exp = level 2, 4000 = level 3, 8000 = level 4 and so on. I believe a character of > level 8 is considered too experienced (need to re-confirm but there is such a 'status' in the game)


You can read more in his postings, here:

http://atariage.com/...-3#entry3067064

That's not all there is to say on the matter of experience points. On the Lemurian Congress website, Adam Thornton made a blog post on June 8, 2010 about mapping and exploring the "Dunjonquest" games on the Atari computer. In a post called "Hack Your Dunjonquest," which covers "Dunjonquest: Hellfire Warrior" (written in BASIC), Adam explains how experience points affect gameplay. "Hellfire Warrior" is the sequel to "The Temple of Apshai," so what he writes may not be directly applicable to either the original "Temple of Apshai" (written in BASIC) or "Temple of Apshai Trilogy" (written in assembly language), but this is the most concise and detailed description of how experience points work in the "Dunjonquest" series that I've come across before now. I find it important enough to post Adam's complete findings on experience points here.

Experience Points

One of the more mysterious aspects of both "Temple of Apshai" and "Hellfire Warrior" is how experience points are evaluated. You are told the number of points you have, and the "Book of Lore" says that you will benefit from a greater number of points, but it's difficult to figure out HOW.

Here's some insight. The programs DO check your "level" during combat, and characters with a higher level definitely get an edge in the calculations. Some stats also go up when you return to the Innkeeper with a higher level than you previous had (in a circuitous and bizarre chain of statements that I haven't bothered looking closely at).

How do you know when you've gone up a level? That would be nice to find out, wouldn't it? For some odd reason the programs never tell you, but the number of experience points you need to have for each level is 1000 times the square of the level number. So:

Level 1 = 2000
Level 2 = 4000
Level 3 = 9000
...
Level 20 = 400,000 etc.

The highest number of experience points you can get is 16,000,000.

Note that certain things in the game (like potions) can silently raise your stats, which might APPEAR to be a level bonus but isn't really. Also, "Hellfire Warrior" (at least the ATARI version) seems to have a bug where the Innkeeper gives you different numbers for your stats when you arrive from the ones you see when you return to the dungeon, and this discrepancy persists, as though the arrival stats are unmodified and the exit stats are modified by bonuses. Weird.


You can read the full blog posting about hacking "Hellfire Warrior" here:

http://www.dangermuf...unjonquest.html

(Note that sometimes this blog requires special permission to access it. It seems that right now anyone can read it without being a member of the blog.)

After finishing the first level of the Temple of Apshai to my satisfaction, I returned to the Inn and took a screenshot of my character's statistics.

Temple_of_Apshai_(Prinmar)(Real_Hardware).jpg

Here is the same screenshot, but this time taken from within the "Altirra" emulator after I loaded the character from the SD card:

Temple_of_Apshai_(Prinmar)(Emulation).gif
 
It's great that I can simply move back and forth between emulation and real hardware so easily. It's amazing what hardware and software is available to modern Atari 8-bit computer users.

I hope that this post inspires some of you (that have been reading along with this thread) to play the game. If you do, then I'd be interested to hear about your exploits in the Temple of Apshai or any of the other "Dunjonquest" games. Whether you're a first-time player, or a longtime veteran of the Apshai series, load up a "Dunjonquest" game (on any of the many systems on which the series was released) and give it a proper run-through a full level. Tell me about your experience-- and don't forget to read the room descriptions from the manual.

All ya warriors young and old: good luck playing and exploring the "Dunjonquest" series. Be careful out there!

#73 MarcoC OFFLINE  

MarcoC

    Combat Commando

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Posted Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:01 AM

Absolutely fabulous work you've done.  The DunjonQuest games were the first adventure games I ever played on the computer -- Morloc's Tower, then shortly afterwards Temple of Apshai.  I can't wait to see you tackle Hellfire Warrior.  I never played Danger in Drindisti or Keys of Acheron, but I have to say I found their manuals somewhat disappointing, with cursory, rushed room/monster descriptions and back story.  Hellfire Warrior and Temple of Apshai's manuals almost seemed like a labor of love by the developers.

 

Early on in this thread, I saw you say that you never encountered the Centipedes and Spiders mentioned in the Temple of Apshai manual.  I don't know about the Trilogy version, but I definitely have seen Centipedes in one of the Apple II versions of ToA (there are at least 2 non-trilogy version of ToA for the Apple).  If I remember correctly, the trap near the chest in level 1 room 54 triggers a fight with Centipedes.  I don't recall ever encountering Spiders, but I never explored levels 3 and 4 to the same extent as 1 and 2.

 

Marco.



#74 ballyalley OFFLINE  

ballyalley

    Stargunner

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Posted Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:49 AM

Absolutely fabulous work you've done.

 
Thanks; I'm glad that you like what I've written here.  Maybe it will inspire you to play the games again.  I still play the Apshai games on a semi-regular basis.  I have yet to post the maps for Levels 3 and 4 of "Curse of Ra" that I've already created.  Whenever someone posts in this thread it reminds me that I need to do that soon.
 

I can't wait to see you tackle Hellfire Warrior.

 
A couple of weeks ago I played "Hellfire Warrior" for the first time on the Atari.  Well, not for the very first time, as I've played it in passing before, but this time I fully mapped (by hand) level 1 and most of level 2.  I also mostly completed making the map of level 1 in TIFF format using the game screenshots.  The Dunjonquest games have animated, two-frame, mono-colored monsters rather than color, non-animated monsters as in the "Temple of Apshai Trilogy."  I made screenshots of both frames of all the monsters from levels 1 and 2.  I need to figure-out an easy way to make animated GIFs for the monster listings of these games, as the monster graphics look much weaker when presented without the animation.
 
I did encounter an error while playing "Hellfire Warrior" that caused the game to crash.  I posted about it here:
 
http://atariage.com/...r-syntax-error/
 
I need to follow-up and see if I can figure-out how to fix that error.  If anyone has any suggestions, then please post them in that thread.
 

I found [the "Danger in Drindisti" and "Keys of Acheron"] manuals somewhat disappointing, with cursory, rushed room/monster descriptions and back story.

 
It's true that not all of the Dunjonquest games feature the same rich manuals, which only makes it more impressive to see the full manuals.  When the trilogy was released some of the additional background information from the original manuals was omitted, which I didn't know about until I started exploring the games in-depth several years ago.
 

Hellfire Warrior and Temple of Apshai's manuals almost seemed like a labor of love by the developers.

 
There was great thought put into these Dunjonquest games, but I don't think that it was just love that spurned the creation of these wonderful manuals.  Remember that the games began life on the original B&W TRS-80 computers: the games did not have any proper graphics.  The eye-candy couldn't be found on the screen, it had to be written down and the players imagined the games to the best of their abilities.

 

Early reviews of the Atari versions of the "Temple of Apshai" praise the improved graphics, even though looking at the Atari BASIC release of the Apshai games doesn't do them justice when they are compared against the reprogrammed machine language release from 1986 of the Trilogy.
 
It is the game's backstory that captures my imagination, which is the reason why I chose to create some supplemental background material for the games that I've posted about in this thread so far.  I would love to read other people's Dunjonquest/Apshai fan fiction.  If you know of any that exists, then please point it out to me.



#75 MarcoC OFFLINE  

MarcoC

    Combat Commando

  • 5 posts

Posted Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:48 PM

Maybe it will inspire you to play the games again.

 

It already has.  After running across these maps, I decided to do a little hunting, and I finally found a disk image for the Apple II version of Hellfire Warrior.  I've been trying to find one of these for years.  I am now playing the Apple version for the first time again in about 3 decades.  Sure, the Atari version's graphics are probably better, but I was mainly an Apple man.  As I'm sure you realize, it's all about the nostalgia.

 

I'll let you know if that same bug on level 6 also shows up on the Apple version.

 

Marco.






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