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Atarius Maximus

Death Merchant - Final Version

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ZeroPage Homebrew is playing Death Merchant on tomorrow's stream LIVE on Twitch, hope you can join us!

 
Games:

 (WATCH AT 1080P60 FOR BEST QUALITY)

 

 

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This game in particular is one I'd like to revisit and finally finish up.  David Exton was nice enough to create some fantastic artwork for it so I'd really like to see a release on this one.  In final playtesting (years ago now) I hit some bugs that at the time I was really struggling with figuring out.  I think a re-write from scratch on a few of those problem areas of code would get me back on track.

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Yes, it's been years now, but I can finally call this game complete.  Based on my playtesting and feedback from the ZPH show, I've made lots of changes and haven't come across any bugs. I am considering this the final version, the only exception would be bug fixes if any are found.  Note that I have not yet tested this on real hardware with my Cuttle Cart 2, I plan on doing that this week.  I use A7800 for emulation and it works perfectly with it.

 

Gameplay has been adjusted to make it a little harder to earn money, and much less likely to roll the score over.  You can roll over the score if your Credits go above $999,999.  The game does not keep track of rollovers, I'm really just out of ROM space to develop a method to deal with that issue, the code is farily well optimized and I have 56 bytes remaining of 48K. 

 

Sorry this post is so long, but there were lots of changes and there are a lot of gameplay items to describe.  I hope you enjoy it and Let me know if you do!

 

Here are the changes:

  • Intro/AA Logo screen added
  • Title screen changed to use the skull graphic from David Exton's artwork (the old artwork was based on copyrighted work)
  • Going to the Bank will now auto-fill the deposit/withdrawal numbers to the maximum allowed.  Adjusting numbers by 100 is time consuming, but it has to stay that way, and this was added to assist with that.
  • Your starting debt has been increased to $35,175.
  • Your starting health has been decreased to 50, you will need to visit the doctor sooner if you get into a lot of fights. 
  • Going to the Lender will now auto-fill with a number very close to your total amount owed, again to decrease the time you need to spend adjusting the number.
  • Backpack indicator now represents consumed space.  "Backpack 30/50" means you own 30 items and your maximum number is 50.
  • The maximum number of items you can purchase from the marketplace before you travel again has been adjusted, some items have a higher limit than others.
  • Some prices have been adjusted, and some items fluctuate in price much more than others.
  • A final ranking system has been included.  It is based on the amount of money you have or the amount of money you have in the bank.  You must pay off your debt to get a good ranking.
  • Criminal gang encounters now give you a random amount of cash, rather than the fixed amount of $5000.
  • Gaining Charisma no longer gives you free items from the merchant, however it does still reduce the amount of interest you pay to the Lender.

Game Notes:

  • Death Merchant: He randomly appears when travelling, it could be only once per game session, maybe more.  He is the only way to purchase the larger backpack (additional 49 slots) and knives.
  • Bank Interest:  If you have any amount of money in the bank, you'll earn $500 a day in interest.  If you have more than $10,000, you'll earn $1,500 a day in interest. Free Money! As a bonus, you might receive a bank loyalty bonus while travelling, and interest is gained on that same day!
  • Knives: They are only used when fighting, and you may break or drop one. You must have at least 1 to enter a fight. You find them travelling or can purchase them from the Merchant.
  • Dexterity:  Dexterity increases your chances to win fights. You gain dexterity with each fight.
  • Food: If it falls to 0, it drops your stamina an additional -1 per day.  You can buy more food from the Merchant or rest at the safe house to acquire more food.  Food is reduced by 3 every time you travel.
  • Health: Losing all your health ends the game.  Restore Health with the doctor
  • Stamina: Restore Stamina and Food with Rest. You lose 2 stamina for travelling, and also in fights.  If it reaches 0, you receive an additional health penatly and can't fight.
  • The End:  The game ends when you have played all 31 days, or your health reaches 0.  Time expiring or death does not affect your final rank, it's based on your score when the game ends. 
  • Training: You will gain a +5 Dexterity bonus every time you train.  The amount it costs is random, you can visit the trainer multiple times without travelling to try and get a better price. 
  • Buying and Selling:  The prices are the same for buying and selling in the marketplace on the same day.  There is no penalty for selling on the same day.  The "Max" number will vary based on the vendor's inventory available, maximum limits on certain items, and the maximum amount of backpack space you have.  The Max number is a guideline, in some cases it may represent the max amount you can afford, even if you don't have enough backpack space.  You'll still be correctly limited when you attempt to purchase anything.

I'm attaching the latest a78 and bin files, as well as the source code and graphics files needed to compile it.

I updated the a78, bas, and bin files about 45 minutes after I made this post, and there had only been 2 downloads.  I changed only one single graphical character, it was an extremely minor update.  I simply forgot to make that little change before posting earlier.

 

Edit: v1.21 makes some color changes to make everything display properly on a real TV with a real Atari 7800, as well as a few minor tweaks to item pricing and purchase limits.

Edit: v1.22 fixes a bug I found on the Buy screen with purchase limits and backpack space.

Edit: v1.23 fixes:

  • There is now a message displayed on the Death Merchant screen when you can't afford something.
  • One of the messages was being displayed on the wrong line, purely cosmetic.
  • Adjusted requirements for achieving some rankings based on changes I made earlier today.
  • "This is your last day" warning message now displays when your days remaining is 1.

 

dm_gfx.zip

DeathMerchant_1.2.a78 DeathMerchant_1.2.bas DeathMerchant_1.2.bin

DeathMerchant_1.21.a78 DeathMerchant_1.21.bas DeathMerchant_1.21.bin

 

DeathMerchant_1.22.a78 DeathMerchant_1.22.bas DeathMerchant_1.22.bin

DeathMerchant_1.23.a78 DeathMerchant_1.23.bas DeathMerchant_1.23.bin

DeathMerchant_1.30.a78 DeathMerchant_1.30.bas DeathMerchant_1.30.bin

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in regard to the credit toll over , what kind of scores were seen on the ZPH session? 5mil 20? you could use hex leading digit and get 6x worth at least. or maybe some graphics table lookup as the leading digit. People could submit the screenshot (activision oldschool) and get the x symbol = 14 you kick ass

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11 hours ago, 351coug said:

in regard to the credit toll over , what kind of scores were seen on the ZPH session? 5mil 20? you could use hex leading digit and get 6x worth at least. or maybe some graphics table lookup as the leading digit. People could submit the screenshot (activision oldschool) and get the x symbol = 14 you kick ass

I don't remember the score that James got.  This seems like a simple issue, but it's really not.  It would take a lot of ROM space that I don't have as every transaction that changes your total amount of money would need to be compared to 999,999, both rolling over past 1 million and possibly losing money and going back under 1 million.  Lots of current features would need to be removed to free up enough space for the additional code. 

 

I'm still play testing the game and I may make a few more simple adjustments here and there to make it nearly impossible to earn more than 1 million (there's enough randomness in the game that it's hard to predict every possible outcome).  This basically involves adjusting maximum purchase limits for certain expensive items and tweaking the range of random numbers that items cost when you travel to another city.  Right now I know it's theoretically possible to earn about $400,000 for one specific item if you're lucky with timing and inventory management, that's probably too much.  There will probably be a version 1.21 with a few tweaks to address this issue. :)

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I tested Death Merchant on real hardware this morning.  The game plays fine, but I noticed that the colors are much too dark.  I was using a standard RF connection to a modern LCD television and some of the text was borderline unreadable.  This version changes the color of the text to brighter, more visible colors on a TV.  I also noticed that I had the Blue and Orange colors reversed on the AtariAge logo, I fixed that.

 

I also made a few additional minor tweaks to the gameplay for maximum purchase quantities and maximum prices on certain items.  I may make one more update later this week if additional playtesting shows any further tweaks that need to be made.

 

Steve

 

 

DeathMerchant_1.21.a78 DeathMerchant_1.21.bas DeathMerchant_1.21.bin

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As a side note, I finally ordered a Concerto Cart.  My Cuttle Cart 2 has been indispensable since I bought it about 18 years ago and looking at the cart now it definitely shows how much I've used it.  Still works great after all these years. :)

cuttlecart2.jpg

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10 minutes ago, Atarius Maximus said:

As a side note, I finally ordered a Concerto Cart.  My Cuttle Cart 2 has been indispensable since I bought it about 18 years ago and looking at the cart now it definitely shows how much I've used it.  Still works great after all these years. :)

cuttlecart2.jpg

Please let me send you a new label for that!

 

  ..Al

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45 minutes ago, Albert said:

Please let me send you a new label for that!

 

  ..Al

That would be fantastic Al!  I've been meaning to ask you about ordering a new AtariVox, my original from goldenax stopped working.  We can talk about it in a PM. :)

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I've been playing this game off and on all day and I discovered another bug that is now fixed.  It was related to purchase limits and backpack space.  I'm going to keep playing it for a  few more days just to make sure everything works perfectly.  Crossing my fingers that this is the last update!

 

Edit:  Sorry, I forgot to make one debugging change before I posted it.  One person downloaded it prior to this, same version number.

 

 

DeathMerchant_1.22.a78 DeathMerchant_1.22.bas DeathMerchant_1.22.bin

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No new bugs discovered, but after playing some more I decided to make a few improvements.

  • There is now a message displayed on the Death Merchant screen when you can't afford something.
  • One of the messages was being displayed on the wrong line, purely cosmetic.
  • Adjusted requirements for achieving some rankings based on changes I made earlier today.
  • "This is your last day" warning message now displays when your days remaining is 1.

DeathMerchant_1.23.a78 DeathMerchant_1.23.bas DeathMerchant_1.23.bin

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9 hours ago, Trebor said:

Copyright 2022 ;)

 

image.png.60cbe284afa0f33c321775b1922e9bc9.png

 

🤦‍♂️

 

I didn't notice that.  Thanks Trebor.  I'll make that change and post another update soon.

 

Edit:  I am working on a solution for the rollover problem.  Once I get that tackled and thoroughly test it I'll post an update with that change and the fixed "Copyright" text.

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I still have more play testing to do so, but I wanted to share the latest version.  There are so many combinations of game options and randomness it's pretty hard to test every possibility in one game session.  It's "complete" again, unless a problem is discovered.  I made so many behind the scenes changes I may miss a few.

 

This version adds:

  • Score Rollover detection. If you score over 999,999 the game will detect it - and you will win the game with the highest ranking. 
  • Adjustments to ensure the rollover detection works with a large sell transaction (within my set limitations).  As a result, pricing was adjusted so I could predict the largest possible transaction in a perfect scenario.
  • Ranking system adjusted to reflect lower possible scores.
  • Bank Changes. The banking system was revamped.  You can no longer adjust the deposit and withdrawal amounts - it simply took to long to adjust them and was tedious.  Deposits and withdrawals are now for the full amount if under $100,000, and ~$100,000 increments if more than that.  This was also made to adjust for the new rollover detection code.
  • Bank Destruction. If you have a VERY large amount of money in the bank, there is a risk of the bank being looted and destroyed. You've been warned.
  • Starting cash adjusted to $7,500.
  • Bank interest earned and random loyalty program cash earned adjusted.
  • New Title screen with no misspellings.
  • Death Merchant screen, Training screens and main screen were updated.
  • Travel screen updated, I slightly adjusted the map and city selection interface.
  • A few movement animations were added.
  • You'll now be warned when your health is low and when it's your last day.

DeathMerchant_1.30.a78 DeathMerchant_1.30.bas DeathMerchant_1.30.bin

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I thought I'd share some hints for the game.  I'll edit and add to this post if I come up with any more.

  • You'll have to visit the doctor early as you start with only 50 health.  Since you start the game in the same city as the doctor, you may want to start some fights to earn a little extra cash and heal up right away.
  • Fighting is a great way to make some quick cash if the prices are right on the current day, that's the time to take some risks.
  • You can camp out in Bedford to fight and easily regain stamina, but remember that resting costs you a day.  Fighting also reduces health and the Doctor is in a different city, but stamina drops much faster than health.
  • Don't forget to transfer your money from the bank to your pocket before the game ends!  It's a good idea to travel to Lost Angeles on your last day for that reason.  You'll get a higher ranking.  Leaving some money in the bank during the game is a good idea as you'll gain interest.
  • Always try and keep at least $9500 in cash on you before you travel, as you never know when the Death Merchant will appear and give you the opportunity to buy a larger backpack.  Getting it early on can really increase your score.  The merchant will also sell you rope and canteens at reasonable prices.  Start a few fights before you travel if you have enough stamina and health.
  • I'd leave additional training until I have a large reserve of cash, as you have to balance the cost with the reward.  You'll have to fight more to recoup that money, but training can increase your chances.
  • Buy and Sell often!  You won't make much money if you don't!  For smaller items you might get lucky but can absorb those losses, larger items might be worth hanging on to for more than one day to get the right price. You'll get a feel for prices once you've put some time into the game.
  • Don't forget that inventory is limited!  The marketplace has limits on all items, and the merchant may run out of inventory on some items. Choose your purchases wisely!
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Just for fun, I hacked the original DOS game that inspired Death Merchant, into, well.... Death Merchant. :)  The original is called "Dopewars" and was released in 1985 by the "Happy Hacker Foundation".  Al said he didn't mind me posting this here.  It's a simple hack using a hex editor, nothing fancy here.  "Knfe"="Knife", it was only a four character field.

 

This is a DOS executable file, so you'll need to run it on a real DOS PC or use DOSBox.  The zip includes two files, death.exe and deathhsc.sco, the .sco file is a high score file.  You can delete it if you like, it automatically re-creates the file when you run the game.

 

I spent a good deal of time playing this on Campus PC's back in my college days.  Enjoy!

 

Steve

DMdos1.jpg

DMdos2.jpg

DMdos3.jpg

deathdos.zip

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