Jump to content

Photo

Alternate Reality: The City by Philip Price +Links


480 replies to this topic

#76 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:52 PM

oh, I didn't mention that you guys are probably pissing off Xebec now, you bunch of cheaters........examining character data is prohibited by law, and should be punished by death.  :D

View Post


Good one analmux. :roll:

I really don't care. In fact, I think it's fun to examine the code and game in detail, learning how it works and I enjoy this "cheating" myself.

However, I am bothered to see that you still missed the point in regards to the cartridge:

Why make the cartridge "cheatable" when we already have the disks to manipulate and cheat? There really is no point. Nothing is gained. You will always be able to edit the disk based version easily if that is what you want to do.

However, if the cartridge is different from the disk based game that we already have, in that the cartridge is not easily cheatable, then the A8 and AR community gains something. We gain a version of the game that can and will be used for competition and sharing. Since games are about competition and sharing, this is a good thing. For years to come, people will be sharing and proudly displaying their cartridge based characters with each other, for one reason and one reason alone, because the characters will not be "cheatable." People will respect and appreciate a cartridge based character when they see a good one, if you could just make a backup of your character and then edit it, then people would not - the first thing someone would wonder is if you edited your char or not. So, other than running faster, the whole project becomes pointless.

Right now, I could go edit a disk character, make him level 20 and give him 100s for his stats, come on here and post a screenshot or take my character disk to a friends house and show him my character and most anyone would say, "So what? You cheated, nice editing job, who cares?!"

Take the same character on a cartridge that does not allow backups or cheating, show it to a fellow AR fan and you get, "Wow! Great job on that character. How long did it take? I am going to have to get myself one of those cartridges and start playing with you guys...I know I can do better than you! ;)"

Edited by Xebec's Demise, Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:52 PM.


#77 analmux OFFLINE  

analmux

    Stargunner

  • 2,131 posts

Posted Wed Jun 15, 2005 10:17 AM

Good one analmux. :roll:

I really don't care.  In fact, I think it's fun to examine the code and game in detail, learning how it works and I enjoy this "cheating" myself.

However, I am bothered to see that you still missed the point in regards to the cartridge:


Well it is just a joke.....come on man :| (maybe a lame one :D )...and NO I did not miss your point. In fact I would appreciate if there's a contest possible where you cannot cheat. I already wrote that I quite like the idea...but let me say this:

Why make the cartridge "cheatable" when we already have the disks to manipulate and cheat?  There really is no point.  Nothing is gained.  You will always be able to edit the disk based version easily if that is what you want to do.


I once (in the grey past) wrote that I don't like AR the way it is now, and would possibly like it better when it's faster (faster loading, no disk swapping), then I would not want to see any changes w.r.t. the original, so it should be equaly cheatable (which it anyhow will be).

However, if the cartridge is different from the disk based game that we already have, in that the cartridge is not easily cheatable, then the A8 and AR community gains something.  We gain a version of the game that can and will be used for competition and sharing.  Since games are about competition and sharing, this is a good thing.  For years to come, people will be sharing and proudly displaying their cartridge based characters with each other, for one reason and one reason alone, because the characters will not be "cheatable.".....


Yes, and this is exactly the point I would like to make:
:x you cannot make an uncheatable cartridge I said it before!
(or you should have a 100 men strong team (like they have at MicroSoft) that makes the cartridge cheatproof (at least uncheatable within 100 years) with a 2 megabyte protection code).

....if you really want to hold on to your plans, then I think it's a better idea to do AR competitions online with an AR-simulator where character data is saved on a central server (possibly your PC), and can only be accessed by a heavily protected PC executable inside the AR-simulator......but in the end there's always a way to crack every protection.

#78 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:55 PM

Nothing is ever perfect, but some prevention is better than none. After 20 years, I don't think very many people that would play AR for nostalgia, would waste their time cheating this old game, even if the protection was as simple as not allowing backups on the cartridge version characters.

...unless I was offering a $1000 prize to the winner....

...and then, I suppose I would have to take danwinslow's advice and set up an AR kiosk that I can monitor.

*laughs*

Keep the cartridge discussion (and half-baked jokes :) ) in the cart thread, anal. And get off my back!

Edited by Xebec's Demise, Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:08 PM.


#79 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:00 PM

I agree that an online version would be better, but, as you continually point out, even then the datasteam can be hacked and it's not really worth all the work to do it on such an old game. What matters is what is reasonable. That idea is way out there, especially for old AR! It would be cool though, if AR was multiplayer and you could meet and fight other players in-game.

But, reasonably, a simple cartridge that did not allow backups would be enough to keep most people honestly enjoying the game together.

I still like your idea of two versions, a counter or a watermark, that way you, analmux, can have the cheatable version and get what you want also.

The non-backup version should be finished first. If for no other reason, than the fact that it should require less work. Then, maybe even you could write the backup code, for the "cheatable" version and we both walk away happy.

Edited by Xebec's Demise, Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:12 PM.


#80 analmux OFFLINE  

analmux

    Stargunner

  • 2,131 posts

Posted Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:15 PM

I agree that an online version would be better, but, as you continually point out, even then the datasteam can be hacked and it's not really worth all the work to do it on such an old game.  What matters is what is reasonable.  That idea is way out there, especially for old AR!  It would be cool though, if AR was multiplayer and you could meet and fight other players in-game.

But, reasonably, a simple cartridge that did not allow backups would be enough to keep most people honestly enjoying the game together.

I still like your idea of two versions, a counter or a watermark, that way you, analmux, can have the cheatable version and get what you want also.

The non-backup version should be finished first.  If for no other reason, than the fact that it should require less work.  Then, maybe even you could write the backup code, for the "cheatable" version and we both walk away happy.

View Post


oh, you know what?!.....I don't even *care* anymore, so do whatever you like!

#81 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:38 PM

Oh, man!

You just wanted a sparring partner for PvP posting, huh?

:D

#82 deathtrappomegranate OFFLINE  

deathtrappomegranate

    River Patroller

  • 4,389 posts
  • Lipstick on my cigarette

Posted Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:09 PM

Xebec, I love your enthusiam for this game, and I think that quite a few people have probably played it because of your many well-written posts about it here.

However, I think that you're wrong about the cartridge. IMO, it should be identical to the original, with the exception of using the Flashcart to replace the disk drives. It should be a conversion, and not an alteration.

If you're going to mess with the original, you might just as well try to add in some of the "missing" features. FWIW I think that the "rooms of death" should stay too. It really doesn't matter that they were a design accident, the game is what it is.

#83 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Wed Jun 15, 2005 11:49 PM

Xebec, I love your enthusiam for this game, and I think that quite a few people have probably played it because of your many well-written posts about it here.

However, I think that you're wrong about the cartridge. IMO, it should be identical to the original, with the exception of using the Flashcart to replace the disk drives. It should be a conversion, and not an alteration.

If you're going to mess with the original, you might just as well try to add in some of the "missing" features. FWIW I think that the "rooms of death" should stay too. It really doesn't matter that they were a design accident, the game is what it is.

View Post


I am going to point out some things you may have not considered. Even just converting an exact copy of the game onto cartridge is a major change to the gameplay. Whether the time between switching disks and waiting for the game to load was desirable or not, it was still a major aspect of playing the original game. One effect of this could have been that only patient people ended up playing the game for any long periods of time. Patient people are probably also the type that would appreciate all the details and intricacies of AR and would put up with the disk loads. This could partially explain why anyone who played the game for good length of time, thinks so highly of the game now. Those that were not patient with the disk loads, put the game on their shelf or in the trash, to be long forgotten. These are the types that would probably call the game crap, but because they are less patient or have shorter attention spans and could not stand the loading, you do not see much from them anymore as they have long forgotten. Another effect of the long disk loads and time that it took to backup a character is that it discouraged many people from backing up their character excessively, due to the trouble of saving a character, making a copy of the disk and having to entirely reboot, reloading the whole game, in order to continue playing with the backed up character. I don't think you are considering the effects that the original disk loads had on the game. To put the game on cartridge and allow character backups with the speed a cartridge would offer, does change the original game and so I think your argument about not changing the original with a cartridge conversion is contradictory. People would backup their characters much more frequently without having to pay the price of a long reboot and disk copy.

There was never any option within the original game that allowed you to make a near instant backup of your character, like a cartridge would. Every backup you made, you had to really sacrifice some time and effort to do. Accordingly, even if you want to keep the cartridge version close to the original, then a long delay between character backups would be prudent, or at a minimum, some new code that would limit the speed and ease with which you could cheat death. What is the point of death, if it never really exists? There was never really any option within the original AR to backup your character anyway. There was a separate disk copier on the back of one of the disks, but it was not specifically identified as being for character backups and it was very slow requiring disk swaps. Most people that backed up their characters used a third party disk copy program. This is far from being a part of the original game.

Further, it also makes more sense to have backups with the disk based version of the game as a very result of the long load times and waits. If you die, getting back into the game took quite some time because of the disk loads from rebooting. However, a cartridge based game would allow you to create a new character and get right back into the game with very little to no wait at all. Thus, there is less of a reason to have backups.

For the past 20 years, one of my hobbies has been gaming. Not just retro gaming, but I play most of the modern games or at least give them a try. It's very entertaining for me, I just love playing computer games (who doesn't?).

Anyway, from my two decades of gaming experience one thing is certain on the subject at hand; the more challenging a good game is, the longer lived and more appreciated that game will be. Likewise, the easier a game is to cheat or avoid death or loss, the less the game will be appreciated and the quicker people will lose interest in playing.

AR is no different. The cartridge version will be more desirable, playable and generate more interest and enthusiasm if it offers people a newfound challenge without character backups and cheats, encouraging competition and gameplay, instead of the short-lived fun of characters that never die and character hacks, which can be played around with already anyway on the disk based version.

The cartridge conversion is a wonderful opportunity to finally bring this game into a complete Alternate Reality where permanent death is just as realistic as the diseases, drunkenness, exhaustion and starving that may cause it.

#84 Wrathchild OFFLINE  

Wrathchild

    Stargunner

  • 1,533 posts
  • Location:Reading, UK.

Posted Thu Jun 16, 2005 2:52 AM

I've stood back for a bit so I'll chip in a bit here...

As it stands, the AR:City cart currently uses 1/2 of an 8Mbit cart.
Therefore it could be feasible to make a 4Mb version which does
no flash saving whatsoever. I could force it to require a disk drive.

However, in doing some of these cart conversions I feel that the
depency on having a disk drive should be removed if possible.
Yes, most enthusiasts have them, but not all. When reworking
the Infocom parser to cart - I thought how cool would it be to
add a 'save to cassette' option as well. Haven't done it yet, but
as I'll be putting in a 'save state to cart' option, the extra work
isn't too great. However, with AR we don't have the luxury of
being able to re-assemble the whole sources, at best hooks
can be put into the existing code to launch routines in a ROM
bank (which requires control as all RAM between $A000 and $BFFF
is then unavailable) or where code is identified as redundant,
e.g. some of the disk SIO routines, new code can be placed
over this - however those areas are few and far between and
not very large in size.

So an 8Mb cart has 128 banks of 64K, a bank being your smallest
erasable block size. So a character save state will occupy only
a small part of that, but then it only occupies a small part of a disk
so no loss there. So theroretically there are 63 slots (as one of the
banks has my code in it) for character saves. I don't feel
that a 1 character per cart option is good - other family members
may want to play - you may want to rest a character whilst building
up another one - so 4 or 8 slots would probably suffice. How about
the Dungeon? We could still permit the user to export their City
character and import this into the Dungeon. So a 'save slot to disk*'
option would be good too. From what I gather Xebec, you're wishing
to not have an (re)import feature in the City? This puts out people who
have old chars on disk they'd like to resurrect and whilst I agree the cart
version should be treated as an opportunity to take a char through
the game from scratch, I do feel the 'option' to load a character from
disk should be left in which does permit the 'cheating' for those inclined
to use a char-editor on their disk. I'm not swayed by the 'comparing of
chars' argument - just take such claims on faith, e.g. I could doctor a
screenshot of any game and post it into the high-score charts.
What would that gain me... zip.

I'll be getting back into development mode soon (work keeping me busy)
to see what is practically possible with regards to character saving/loading
and will post up the options when I have them.

Take care,
Mark

* a cassette save is not an option here as the O/S routines cannot be used

#85 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 7,432 posts
  • Location:Canyon Lake TEXAS

Posted Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:31 AM

I have a question about the flashrom memory. You say that you are using an 8Mb cart? As in 8 mega-BITS? Not BYTES? That would make the cartridge the equivelant of 1 MEGA-BYTE (MB) in my book, so having 128 64k banks would be impossible. It would be possible IF you are talikng about an 8MB (notice LARGE, CAPITAL B?) large "B" means BYTES, small "b" means BITS. This is the whole reason I've been waiting on the purchase of a flashcartridge in the first place; becuase these 1Mb flashcarts for sale, in reality, a 1Mb flash memory is only 128K! Just like the internal ram of the 130XE! I want a flashcart that can hold comparitvely LARGE amounts of memory, which an 8MB cart would be more what I'm looking for, since if it's TRUE MEGABYTES, that would be 8192K! So, what ARE you really using here? 8Mb or 8MB?!? If it is just 8Mb, that is only 1MB or 1024K, certainly better than 1Mb, but still not all that large, even for an 8-bit I/O source. Let's please be precise and honest about the true memory capacity of these flashrams, I'm so sick of all the confusion surrounding mega-bits and mega-bytes just so someone "in the know" can fool someone else into thinking they are getting much more than they really are...I would imagine that the Flashcart you are working with really is 8Mb or 1MB (1024k) if you are using only half of it, since I highly doubt, VERY, VERY, VERY much, that Alternate Reality: The City is a 4MB (4096k) game! (all info on all disks used to total capacity for DSSD disks (90k "flippies" for a total of 180K per disk-4 disk sides, minus character disk) would only come to 360K!!!
So, what's this BS about 128 64k banks?!?!? PLEASE! :thumbsdown:

IF you have 128 "banks" they would HAVE to be 8k banks for an 8MEGABIT cartridge, or 1024k total, if you are using half the memory so far, then you only have about 32 8k banks. Please get your numbers straight, after all, you are supposed to know what you are talking about! So either you're wrong about the 8MB-Mb thing, or the size of the "banks" or something, but I DEFINATELY know that there is no way at all that there is more than 360k of data on the 4 floppy disk sides of AR:The City!

Edited by Gunstar, Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:40 AM.


#86 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 7,432 posts
  • Location:Canyon Lake TEXAS

Posted Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:45 AM

Xebec, I love your enthusiam for this game, and I think that quite a few people have probably played it because of your many well-written posts about it here.

However, I think that you're wrong about the cartridge. IMO, it should be identical to the original, with the exception of using the Flashcart to replace the disk drives. It should be a conversion, and not an alteration.

If you're going to mess with the original, you might just as well try to add in some of the "missing" features. FWIW I think that the "rooms of death" should stay too. It really doesn't matter that they were a design accident, the game is what it is.

View Post


I am going to point out some things you may have not considered. Even just converting an exact copy of the game onto cartridge is a major change to the gameplay. Whether the time between switching disks and waiting for the game to load was desirable or not, it was still a major aspect of playing the original game. One effect of this could have been that only patient people ended up playing the game for any long periods of time. Patient people are probably also the type that would appreciate all the details and intricacies of AR and would put up with the disk loads. This could partially explain why anyone who played the game for good length of time, thinks so highly of the game now. Those that were not patient with the disk loads, put the game on their shelf or in the trash, to be long forgotten. These are the types that would probably call the game crap, but because they are less patient or have shorter attention spans and could not stand the loading, you do not see much from them anymore as they have long forgotten. Another effect of the long disk loads and time that it took to backup a character is that it discouraged many people from backing up their character excessively, due to the trouble of saving a character, making a copy of the disk and having to entirely reboot, reloading the whole game, in order to continue playing with the backed up character. I don't think you are considering the effects that the original disk loads had on the game. To put the game on cartridge and allow character backups with the speed a cartridge would offer, does change the original game and so I think your argument about not changing the original with a cartridge conversion is contradictory. People would backup their characters much more frequently without having to pay the price of a long reboot and disk copy.

There was never any option within the original game that allowed you to make a near instant backup of your character, like a cartridge would. Every backup you made, you had to really sacrifice some time and effort to do. Accordingly, even if you want to keep the cartridge version close to the original, then a long delay between character backups would be prudent, or at a minimum, some new code that would limit the speed and ease with which you could cheat death. What is the point of death, if it never really exists? There was never really any option within the original AR to backup your character anyway. There was a separate disk copier on the back of one of the disks, but it was not specifically identified as being for character backups and it was very slow requiring disk swaps. Most people that backed up their characters used a third party disk copy program. This is far from being a part of the original game.

Further, it also makes more sense to have backups with the disk based version of the game as a very result of the long load times and waits. If you die, getting back into the game took quite some time because of the disk loads from rebooting. However, a cartridge based game would allow you to create a new character and get right back into the game with very little to no wait at all. Thus, there is less of a reason to have backups.

For the past 20 years, one of my hobbies has been gaming. Not just retro gaming, but I play most of the modern games or at least give them a try. It's very entertaining for me, I just love playing computer games (who doesn't?).

Anyway, from my two decades of gaming experience one thing is certain on the subject at hand; the more challenging a good game is, the longer lived and more appreciated that game will be. Likewise, the easier a game is to cheat or avoid death or loss, the less the game will be appreciated and the quicker people will lose interest in playing.

AR is no different. The cartridge version will be more desirable, playable and generate more interest and enthusiasm if it offers people a newfound challenge without character backups and cheats, encouraging competition and gameplay, instead of the short-lived fun of characters that never die and character hacks, which can be played around with already anyway on the disk based version.

The cartridge conversion is a wonderful opportunity to finally bring this game into a complete Alternate Reality where permanent death is just as realistic as the diseases, drunkenness, exhaustion and starving that may cause it.

View Post

I'm with 100% here! Kudos!

The game should have the option to still save a character to disk. If a character can be saved to flashrom, ok, but it should not be able to be backed up and the disk save option should still be there too! There should be a character DISK involved, no matter what!

Edited by Gunstar, Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:54 AM.


#87 Wrathchild OFFLINE  

Wrathchild

    Stargunner

  • 1,533 posts
  • Location:Reading, UK.

Posted Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:46 AM

Yep, sorry - got my math wrong there ;)

An 8Mbit cart (1MByte - usually the caps state of the 'b' gives it away)
has 16 banks of 64K. The 128 comes from the number of selectable
banks. As the chosen bank resides between $A000 and $BFFF, this
is 8K so 8*128 = 1024KB.

So for AR:City - that would give 7 possible slots for characters.
This may go down to 3 though. The writing to disk 2 side 1 may
also have to be simulated, so each character requires 2 slots,
one for the character and one for the d2s1. To be confirmed
when my understanding of the requirement to actually do this
d2s1 save is complete.

Apologies for the confusion,
Mark

#88 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 7,432 posts
  • Location:Canyon Lake TEXAS

Posted Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:58 AM

Yep, sorry - got my math wrong there ;)

An 8Mbit cart (1MByte - usually the caps state of the 'b' gives it away)
has 16 banks of 64K. The 128 comes from the number of selectable
banks. As the chosen bank resides between $A000 and $BFFF, this
is 8K so 8*128 = 1024KB.

So for AR:City - that would give 7 possible slots for characters.
This may go down to 3 though. The writing to disk 2 side 1 may
also have to be simulated, so each character requires 2 slots,
one for the character and one for the d2s1. To be confirmed
when my understanding of the requirement to actually do this
d2s1 save is complete.

Apologies for the confusion,
Mark

View Post


Thankyou. Personally, I think it's long past time to do away with this "mega-bit" CRAP altogether! If the Flashrom is REALLY 1MB, it should be called a "1MB flashcart" NOT 8Mb! If it's a 1Mb flashcart, let's just be honest and call it what it truely is; a 128k flashcart! As far as I'm concerned, anyone who is making the Atari flashcarts, and anyone in general that uses the whole "mega-bit" designation is being willfully and explicitely DISHONEST. Call them 128k&1mb flashcarts!!! The use of the "mega-bit" designation is only for dishonest marketing to make it sound like more memory; PERIOD. Even though I know the TRUTH, I avoid buying ANYTHING from someone who attempts to fool people with the whole FARCE that is the "Mega-bit" designation. Shame on you! (not you Wrathchild; the people who make the flashcarts and others who use the term so easily and lightly)

The day I actually buy a Maxicart or other flashcart will be the day they stop calling them 1-8Mb flashcarts and start calling them what they truely are; 128k and 1MB flashcarts! Honesty is the most important thing to me. I don't care how great a product is if it can't even be honestly designated, I won't buy it. What else are they attempting to decieve me about after all? Don't insult my intelligence, that's second most important thing to me. I never buy anything I see "intelligence insulting" commercials for on T.V., which is about 99% of them, for that reason alone!

Edited by Gunstar, Thu Jun 16, 2005 4:15 AM.


#89 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Thu Jun 16, 2005 5:18 PM

So an 8Mb cart has 128 banks of 64K, a bank being your smallest
erasable block size. So a character save state will occupy only
a small part of that, but then it only occupies a small part of a disk
so no loss there. So theroretically there are 63 slots (as one of the
banks has my code in it) for character saves. I don't feel
that a 1 character per cart option is good - other family members
may want to play - you may want to rest a character whilst building
up another one - so 4 or 8 slots would probably suffice. How about
the Dungeon? We could still permit the user to export their City
character and import this into the Dungeon. So a 'save slot to disk*'
option would be good too. From what I gather Xebec, you're wishing
to not have an (re)import feature in the City? This puts out people who
have old chars on disk they'd like to resurrect and whilst I agree the cart
version should be treated as an opportunity to take a char through
the game from scratch, I do feel the 'option' to load a character from
disk should be left in which does permit the 'cheating' for those inclined
to use a char-editor on their disk. I'm not swayed by the 'comparing of
chars' argument - just take such claims on faith, e.g. I could doctor a
screenshot of any game and post it into the high-score charts.
What would that gain me... zip.

I'll be getting back into development mode soon (work keeping me busy)
to see what is practically possible with regards to character saving/loading
and will post up the options when I have them.

Take care,
Mark

* a cassette save is not an option here as the O/S routines cannot be used

View Post


I'm not sure if you know this, but one character disk already holds four characters. So even if you only used one bank for a single character disk, that would be four characters. If you could add an additional four that would be a neat added feature, but with four already, I don't think it would be necessary.

I agree, that if possible, the best choice is to have characters save to the cartridge. This is what I would like to see. One of the major points of having a cartridge for any game is to eliminate the need for a disk drive.

As for importing City characters into the Dungeon, this was completely useless. From what I remeber, City characters were much weaker than Dungeon characters and your items did not transfer either. As one of the major differences between a strong character and a weak character is his armor and weapons, a transfer without these things is not worthwhile. Or, it could have been that a Magical Flamesword transfered, but it was extremely weak compared to dungeon items. I remeber being terribly let down with the transfer option. So, if you wanted to develop a powerful character, it was always much better to start off with the better stats and clean alignment that could be obtained from rolling a new Dungeon character. In the long run, you would end up with a better character. The transfer process was one of the worst AR features as the games were programed differently. So, I do not see a need for this, especially since it opens up the cheating can of worms. The disadvantages outweigh any meager advantage of transfering a City Character to the Dungeon.

As far as backups go. I want to point out once again, that it is not doctoring screenshots that I am concerned with, but the cheating of death and the cheating by editing of character backups. The real fun would be in comparing the actual cartridge based characters, by physically taking your AR cartridge with you and plugging them into the Atari and sharing the characters with others. Someone could always post an edited screenshot, but would they have the actual AR Cartridge (by Wrathchild) to backup their claims or screenshots?

Editing a character or screenshot does not gain you anything, but when someone can easily do this, they will. In the end, those that cheat not only cheat themselves out of the challenge and fun of actaully learning and playing the game, but also anyone else involved with the game, as others become discouraged and see the game as pointless if all that the game offers may be edited into existance in a few minutes.

I don't want a cartridge that can be easily cheated with programs that are already easily available. There is really no interest for such a thing for me.

What would it offer? Only the same game, but only slightly faster than what I already can get with Atari800win. To me, that really is not worth it, and therefore, I would not be interested.

#90 Wrathchild OFFLINE  

Wrathchild

    Stargunner

  • 1,533 posts
  • Location:Reading, UK.

Posted Fri Jun 17, 2005 1:40 AM

I'm not sure if you know this, but one character disk already holds four characters.  So even if you only used one bank for a single character disk, that would be four characters.  If  you could add an additional four that would be a neat added feature, but with four already, I don't think it would be necessary.

Think of each bank as a character slot on the disk, rather than a bank
being a replacement for a single disk. Remember, if a bank is erased
then you'd wipe off the other 3 characters :sad:. Unless of course you
read them all in before hand, updated one of the characters and then
erased the bank and write back to the cart. This however needs more
unused RAM which wouldn't be available in a 48K machine as AR pretty
much uses all of it.

Regards,
Mark

#91 Wrathchild OFFLINE  

Wrathchild

    Stargunner

  • 1,533 posts
  • Location:Reading, UK.

Posted Fri Jun 17, 2005 1:46 AM

I don't want a cartridge that can be easily cheated with programs that are already easily available.  There is really no interest for such a thing for me.

Its a flash cartridge, so there's nothing stopping someone from dumping it, hacking the rom image's save state area and then flashing it back to the cartridge. Sure it takes a little longer than with a disk, but nothing can (and will) be done to prevent this, sorry.

Mark

#92 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:16 AM

So, you cannot write to a bank without erasing it first?

What do you have to do to "dump" a flashcart? How about a regular cart?

This post is long, but I feel it is very important to the degree of success of the project, so please read on

Do you have any ideas or recommendations for making cheating your AR cartridge just a little bit more difficult than most people would bother with? If the cartridge was somewhat of a pain to cheat, then I really think the AR cartridge experience would catch-on and spread due to the competitive nature and portability of the cart and I would definitely be a proactive force. To begin with, I think the AR cart deserves it's own website and ongoing Alternate Reality Character Hall Of Fame were player's efforts and experiences can be shared and continually appreciated. That would be the driving force and fun for me! Maybe it could even be several pages that were integrated into Atari Age or eobet's The Original AR website. But I would be willing to purchase a domain for it and manage the site.

I mean, even if a person had to dump the flashcart and then figure out where the new char info was stored and edit it by hand, that would be better than nothing. It would invalidate all the info for memory locations for editing a character and it would disable all the character editors that are out there. That is not a bad start. Yes, someone could still go to the trouble of figuring it out and editing it, but at this point in the game's life, I don't believe very many would go to that effort. Now, the apparently talented programmer that you are, isn't there an additional twist that you could throw in to give your conversion one more step of protection against cheating. I really don't think it would take much as most would like to appreciate the game rather than try to build false bragging rights and cheat the game.

Could the game be burned onto a regular cart and would there be any added difficulty to that? Could it be encoded?

As experience has shown, with the character editors and memory locations for editing a char conveniently available, most people will end up using them because it takes very little effort. I am not trying to stand on a soapbox and say that this is some "evil" act and should never be done, because it actually is fun to get into the code and play around with your characters. The thing is, when all variables of a character can be changed through editing, people will have very little need or desire to play the game.

How does this happen?

1. People that get their interest stirred up about the game will first download the disk images and an emulator and start playing. They would likely do this even if an AR cartridge was available and even if it happened to be the AR cart that was what renewed their interest. It's just easier to do and they don't have to buy a cart so there is no cost or time to wait for delivery.

2. After people start playing the game, they realize or remember that AR is a difficult game and playing challenges them. Immediately, they also remember that there are character editors and hacks for the game. A quick search of the Internet will put all the tools to cheat the AR experience right in their hands. With the info and editors easily available, most quickly succumb to the thrill of changing all of their stats to 255 or even just giving themselves 100 Water Flasks and Food Packets or better stats.

3. After cheating, once people have played around with the game for a bit on the emulator, giving themselves 200 potions, quaffing Treasure Finding potions and shortly thereafter finding the most powerful items in the game and becoming near invincible due to their edited stats and characters, they wander about the City and check out a few establishments. With nothing much left to do in the game, their nostalgia and interest in the game is satisfied and they disappear back into the Internet. There is very little reason left to get an AR cartridge and continue to play and interact with other fans, the challenge and game play spoiled.

The most recent example of this has been with the AR competition I have been running. People have messaged me or posted that they began playing the game, but then shortly thereafter began cheating. I think that everyone so far has admitted that they were cheating and therefore they did not bother to post their screenshots or get involved in the competition and game play discussion. That is the unfortunate part, as a result of the accessibility and ease of cheating, they also did not become involved much with playing or sharing the game either. And then their interest quickly wanes and they disappear. (Unlikely to be interested in an AR cartridge either.) This Alternate Reality thread is only a little over a month old and it has already drawn nearly 2000 views. The interest is out there, but the problem with the current disk based version of the game is that while cheating is initially very attractive and fun, that fun is also very short-lived.

If the AR cartridge had some type of deterrent to cheating then as the competition grew, more and more people would see the challenge and fun in getting an AR cartridge and joining in the fun of playing AR without cheating. If people know that the game physically discourages cheating, they will also feel that sharing their characters, items and stories with others is also worthwhile, which only spreads the interest further.

AR really is a great game and deserves the appreciation and attention that it is getting here and it really is a whole lot of fun, if you can manage to keep yourself from spoiling the experience through cheating, but that is difficult to do when you know that you can change any stat you want in a matter of minutes or even seconds, as with the emulator.

So, please, Wraithchild, see what you can do, see what you can pull out of your programming hat! For cheating and studying the game, we will always have the disk images and emulator. Lets make the AR cartridge something to be valued and appreciated! All it would take is a small bit of difficulty to keep most people interested in and playing the AR cartridge rather than cheating. I know you can do it!



(It's a long post! Just a reminder that I have a few questions at the beginning)

Edited by Xebec's Demise, Fri Jun 17, 2005 12:05 PM.


#93 Wrathchild OFFLINE  

Wrathchild

    Stargunner

  • 1,533 posts
  • Location:Reading, UK.

Posted Sat Jun 18, 2005 5:55 PM

So, you cannot write to a bank without erasing it first?

What do you have to do to "dump" a flashcart?  How about a regular cart?

Good post with good arguments.

Bank erasing: Writing works like any Eprom, all bits are initially high
and then you write the bytes you want - effectively setting some of them low. So yes, you do need to erase first. I'm not sure if you can start writing within a bank at a specific point. If so, you could maintain, for example, a byte that tells you which next free 'block' is within the bank. E.g. $FF is block zero, $7F=one, $3F=two ... $01=7, $00=bank full. Or even, if the first byte of a block within a bank is '$FF' then it is free, but set to $00 would mean its used. Hence, when a save is done, you can move to the next bank. However, at some point you'll want to erase a save 'block' in which case the seven other blocks in that bank would also be erases. So sticking to one save block per bank is the simplist way to go.

Dumping a cart: Easiest way is with an Eprom reader/burner. Hardware also exists to dump A8 carts - even those with bank switching. E.g. Bounty Bob Strikes Back dumped to make the 130XE bank swapping version. Encrypting a cart is useless as the Atari would have to have the decrypted on-fly, meaning extra circuitry on the art board to do that, which means that - although an Eprom reader may not produce a useable image, anything simulating the Atari reading a cartridge would get the data out correctly.

Regular Cart: Makes no difference - also, as described elsewhere, all other cart models don't particularly suit Alternate Reality. The flash model (using $A000->$BFFF only) is the one to use. Yes a read-only 'PROM' (one time write) version could be done - but we'd lose out on the 'flash' character saving - meaning people WOULD need a disk drive.

#94 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Tue Jun 21, 2005 5:04 PM

eobet,

Heres some info on the banks that you could add to your FAQ, noticed it was missing.

Banking average interest/mean failure rate per day & hours

                         Low       Med.     High     Appraise gem/jewel    Hours
Granite Bank          0.5/0.2   1.0/1.0   2.7/3.1         10/120         10 to 19
First City Bank       0.5/0.3   0.9/0.9   2.6/3.0         12/100         8 to 19
Grams Gold Exchange   0.6/0.1   1.3/1.0   3.2/3.3         2/4            8 to 18

Always appraise your gems and jewels at all three banks if possible.  Often one bank will appraise at double that of the other two.  The First City Bank and Granite Bank have a greater chance of appraising higher, but not always and they do charge much more for appraisals. Grams Gold Exchange does not appraise the highest very often, but it clearly has the best banking rates.  When finding a gem or jewel, start at Grams Gold Exchange as they have the lowest appraisal rates - you don’t want to pay 200 gold in appraisals if the gem is only worth 2 gold to begin; even if one bank does offer double the amount at 4 gold you will still end up with less than if you had sold it to begin with.

Also, a correction, this is in the FAQ: "(but always get a second opinion since jewelry,
while more expensive to appraise, can give you up to 100 gold)."

axewater found a gem worth 72 gold and I found a jewel worth 110 gold, so I wonder if the limit on gems is maybe 128 and jewels 255? Although finding a jewel worth 255 would probably be much harder than finding any Magical Flamesword! Take a screenshot if you do!

What is the most valuable gem or jewel that anyone has found? As far as I can remeber, mine would be the one for 110, which was recent. Of course, I never used to keep track as a kid.

Edited by Xebec's Demise, Thu Jun 23, 2005 10:36 PM.


#95 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Tue Jun 21, 2005 5:07 PM

Aaargh! How do you get tables to line up in a post?

Don't forget to respond with the most valuable gem or jewel you have found.

#96 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 7,432 posts
  • Location:Canyon Lake TEXAS

Posted Tue Jun 21, 2005 5:30 PM

I think my most valuable has been 96 gold, I don't remember if it was a gem or jewelry, but I think it was the latter. I might have had some that got me more than that, but I don't recall for sure. I'm continueing my quest as I write this though, so maybe I'll get lucky right now. I'm upto level 6 with a good character, but I haven't bothered taking any pics since level 4 so I guess he's not going to be in the contest, but I will share his story with you all at some point. I already have some good adventures written.

#97 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 7,432 posts
  • Location:Canyon Lake TEXAS

Posted Tue Jun 21, 2005 5:56 PM

BAH! I spoke too soon! I was just killed off by an Assasin! This sucks! Back to the drawing board... :woozy:

#98 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 7,432 posts
  • Location:Canyon Lake TEXAS

Posted Tue Jun 21, 2005 7:16 PM

I encountered a new (to me) person in the city. A weaponsmaster. I *think* I recall encountering one in the Dungeon at one time, but can't be sure. has anyone else ever encountered this person in the city?

#99 Xebec's Demise OFFLINE  

Xebec's Demise

    Dragonstomper

  • Topic Starter
  • 672 posts

Posted Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:26 PM

Yeah, I ran into a Weaponsmaster fairly recently. He looks like a oddly colored theif. It was really surprising, huh? I think that is the only one I have every ran into.

He disengaged from me and left as any good aligned character would do though, so he did not act like a thief.

Iv'e never seen an Assasin though!

I wish you got a picture of that.

#100 Gunstar OFFLINE  

Gunstar

    Gunstar

  • 7,432 posts
  • Location:Canyon Lake TEXAS

Posted Wed Jun 22, 2005 7:26 PM

Yeah, I ran into  a Weaponsmaster fairly recently.  He looks like a oddly colored theif.  It was really surprising, huh?  I think that is the only one I have every ran into.

He disengaged from me and left as any good aligned character would do though, so he did not act like a thief.

Iv'e never seen an Assasin though!

I wish you got a picture of that.

View Post

So do I, but it all happened to quickly, I think he just looked like a thief/mugger/robber type though, IIRC. That was the second time I've encountered an assasin though, the first time I narrowly escaped. they aren't hard to kill if you are lucky, probably about 15-20 HP's, but they take HUGE chunks out of your HP very quickly if the hit, and it was with a poison blade/sword both times too! They mean business!




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users