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Alternate Reality: The City by Philip Price +Links

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Hey Gary,

 

Long time no read. Wow, what a blast from the past. Glad you're still alive and kicking. I hope things are going well for you. I knew Phillip through some mutual friends, and I believe we met, but you probably don't remember me (my name is Tim, and they used to call me the Happy Hacker). Too bad you don't know what Phillip is up to nowadays, it would be nice to hear from him.

 

I also knew Dan Pinal, who you worked with on The Dungeon. Any idea what he's up to now? I lost contact with him ages ago.

 

Hey, do you remember Kris... or crap, what was her maiden name... um... Ching. Do you remember Kristine Ching? I'm still in touch with her (she lives a few minutes away from me).

 

Anyway... nice to hear from you. Thanks for the AR music. Very cool!

 

Aloha, Tim

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Oh and a big Aloha to everyone else here on the forum. Noob here. Just signed up after stumbling across this place while searching for info.

 

I was also a huge fan of the Alternate Reality series. I played both The City and The Dungeon a lot, although I have to admit I liked the Dungeon more [ducks].

 

In fact I became quite the Dungeon guru. I was the first to kill the Great Wyrm. I had a very high level great-good character (level-14, as I recall) that won the DataSoft character contest. I was the first to crack the character checksum protection and create custom characters (RoboCop was one of the more popular), and I wrote the first resurrection program to restore (rejoin) dead characters. I later updated that with a utility that could delete and even undelete accidentally deleted characters, and show both earned and bonus stats as well. And no, the character that slayed the Great Wyrm and won the contest was not hacked. I played that one legit.

 

I still have a lot of my Atari stuff from way back when. Most of it is up in the attic, but I keep my heavily modded 520ST and 1200XL downstairs to play with from time to time. The 1200XL has 256K of RAM in a fully 130XE compatible upgrade that I made myself. It has a dual OS with 130XE OS for new stuff (with built-in revision-C Basic), and if you switch the channel 2/3 switch it changes to an old 800 OS-B for playing older games. The ram upgrade uses bits 7, 6, 3 & 2, but still keeps all the original functions, including the diagnostic ROM routines (normally controlled by bit-7). The control circuit is based on a design by Bob Wooley, but I added and extra logic gate that monitors the ram control bits, and when the default 64K is selected then bit-7 functions normally, but when any extra memory is selected then the dignostic ROM is disabled and bit-7 is used as a bank select bit.

 

I wrote lots of cool little utilities back in the 8-bit's heyday, including the Ultra-Translator; a translator disk that ran way more stuff than Atari's own translator (it could even run cartridge programs) and the Happy-XL stuff.

 

Aloha, Tim

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Oh and a big Aloha to everyone else here on the forum. Noob here. Just signed up after stumbling across this place while searching for info.

 

I was also a huge fan of the Alternate Reality series. I played both The City and The Dungeon a lot, although I have to admit I liked the Dungeon more [ducks].

 

In fact I became quite the Dungeon guru. I was the first to kill the Great Wyrm. I had a very high level great-good character (level-14, as I recall) that won the DataSoft character contest. I was the first to crack the character checksum protection and create custom characters (RoboCop was one of the more popular), and I wrote the first resurrection program to restore (rejoin) dead characters. I later updated that with a utility that could delete and even undelete accidentally deleted characters, and show both earned and bonus stats as well. And no, the character that slayed the Great Wyrm and won the contest was not hacked. I played that one legit.

 

I still have a lot of my Atari stuff from way back when. Most of it is up in the attic, but I keep my heavily modded 520ST and 1200XL downstairs to play with from time to time. The 1200XL has 256K of RAM in a fully 130XE compatible upgrade that I made myself. It has a dual OS with 130XE OS for new stuff (with built-in revision-C Basic), and if you switch the channel 2/3 switch it changes to an old 800 OS-B for playing older games. The ram upgrade uses bits 7, 6, 3 & 2, but still keeps all the original functions, including the diagnostic ROM routines (normally controlled by bit-7). The control circuit is based on a design by Bob Wooley, but I added and extra logic gate that monitors the ram control bits, and when the default 64K is selected then bit-7 functions normally, but when any extra memory is selected then the dignostic ROM is disabled and bit-7 is used as a bank select bit.

 

I wrote lots of cool little utilities back in the 8-bit's heyday, including the Ultra-Translator; a translator disk that ran way more stuff than Atari's own translator (it could even run cartridge programs) and the Happy-XL stuff.

 

Aloha, Tim

1019293[/snapback]

 

First off, Welcome! It's cool that you have an Xe compatible 1200XL, I own one too, I LOVE this machine. I'm also a HUGE fan of the Alterate Reality series also, but what exactly make you believe that YOU were the first to ever encounter the Great Wyrm?!? Personally, I bought the Dungeon soon after it's release, and I had the game finished in the first week I owned it. Though I had no BBS or other access back in the day to let other know. That's quite a bold statement, which I think you could never prove. Anyway, welcome and I look forward to discussing AR and Atari computer with you in the future. :)

 

Edit: Some how I missed that sentence refering to the Datasoft contest when I read it, I only noticed it after posting this reply. Ok, so according to Datasoft's contest you were the first, documented, in a contest, person. But that certainly doesn't mean you were the first EVER. There are LOTS of us who never entered any contest (nor even knew about them).

Edited by Gunstar

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I was also a huge fan of the Alternate Reality series. I played both The City and The Dungeon a lot, although I have to admit I liked the Dungeon more [ducks].

 

So did I. I think I actually played the Dungeon first and the City seemed less refined than the Dungeon to me.

 

Welcome, nice to see people reconnecting with their Atari roots! :D Hey, you may even be able to help with some of the projects around AR... putting it on a cartridge is one such project by Mark Keates (Wrathchild).

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I like both for different reasons. I of course got the City first, and played it to death until the Dungeon came out. When I got the Dungeon, I was initially VERY disappointed that it was not compatible with the City as it was supposed to have been, and further disappointment hit when I DID transfer my City character and discovered just how nutered he had become! :-o :x :_( But after I got into it I really enjoyed the stories/adventures that you had as opposed to just wondering the City, and it SEEMED to be much more indepth; with the use of magic/spells and joining guilds, etc. and the improved EXTERIOR graphics; the cities "establishment" graphics are far, far better than the Dungeon's IMHO. But after playing the game through a few times the adventures become mundane and all you are left with is wondering for random encounters just like the City, which is cool too, But, this is where the City turns out to have much more depth. The the "hidden" aspects of the City are much more in-depth than those of the Dungeon, dealing with stats and posessions and experiences and other things (the dungeon isn't too shabby itself, but not as good in this manner), so in the end, the long-term replay value of the city becomes much more interesting. I'm still finding new things out about it 25 years later, this is not true of the Dungeon, when I play it, I don't encounter new things still or have new conditions occur with my character anymore. The Dungeons still fun, and I get bored of the City's exterior graphics after a while and need the variety of the Dungeon, but now I build up my characters in the City. Then, when I'm ready to venture further with my character, instead of transfering it to the Dungeon via character disks, I use the Dungeon Character editor and re-create my character as closely as possible to the City character. I don't consider this cheating in the least, I just don't get penalized for no good reason except an excuse to either laziness or poor understanding of Philip Price's genious coding. The Dungeon Character Editor is available online, it's a PD homebrew/hack software.

Edited by Gunstar

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I had a very high level great-good character (level-14, as I recall) that won the DataSoft character contest.

1019293[/snapback]

 

Always wonderful to hear from another AR fan! Sounds like you have some connections with AR - find out where Phil is and get Phil in here! :)

 

Also, what did you receive for winning the Datasoft character contest? Photos or scans would be good! :lust:

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I won every game Datasoft had for the 8-bit at the time. (Which wasn't much, and most of which I already owned...) I also recall getting a letter or award certificate congratulating me. I'll have to look around and see if I still have that.

 

The conest was for the best Good and Evil players. The guy that won for Evil called himself Orion, and was only level-10 (if I remember right). My Good character was level-13 when I won, and got to level 14 after that.

 

I played The City mostly on an 800 with a pair of drives, but The Dungeon was played on my 256K modded 1200XL with 3 modded 1050 drives (2 Happys and a US Doubler). Much better game play with the extra RAM and drives. At one point I even wrote a special OS that set up the extra RAM as extra drives, and I would copy the back sides of the game disks into the RAM drives before playing. That worked really well! (Hmmm... I wonder if I still have the code for that anywhere?)

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I won every game Datasoft had for the 8-bit at the time. (Which wasn't much, and most of which I already owned...) I also recall getting a letter or award certificate congratulating me. I'll have to look around and see if I still have that.

 

The conest was for the best Good and Evil players. The guy that won for Evil called himself Orion, and was only level-10 (if I remember right). My Good character was level-13 when I won, and got to level 14 after that.

 

I played The City mostly on an 800 with a pair of drives, but The Dungeon was played on my 256K modded 1200XL with 3 modded 1050 drives (2 Happys and a US Doubler). Much better game play with the extra RAM and drives. At one point I even wrote a special OS that set up the extra RAM as extra drives, and I would copy the back sides of the game disks into the RAM drives before playing. That worked really well! (Hmmm... I wonder if I still have the code for that anywhere?)

1025113[/snapback]

 

Madness! But oh, so wonderful. :)

 

I wonder if that OS code you wrote could be patched into one of the open source Atari 8-bit emulators to make a dedicated and easy to use AR package? One that you basically just fired up and played without ever noticing any disk swap or needing to configure anything...

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Hi all,

 

Just started playing again after ten or so years ....

 

I played the dugeon alot back on the Atari, never completed it since I didn't know how to cross the ferry.

 

Anyway playing the city and surving quite well on my first character after spending a hour getting some good stats.

 

First thing I needed to do was get a dagger. Previously I always went to Sharps but from reading here Occums is cheaper. Anyway in the dungeon I determined the bargining formula and it worked last night in the city.

 

Bascially to get the best price without getting thrown out is:

 

((Current Price - Last Offer Price) / 3) + Last Offer Price then rounded up.

 

It works for at least three offers.

 

Last nights example.

 

I was at Sharps with CHR 14 so the current price is 208 coppers and my last offer price was 0.

 

So (208 - 0) / 3 + 0 = 70 (you must round up!)

 

Sharps changes price to 139

 

so (139 - 70) / 3 + 70 = 93

 

Sharps changes price to 116

 

so (116 - 93) / 3 + 93 = 101

 

Sharps changes price to 108 and I accepted the offer.

 

If I had gones to Occums I would have saved more but if you follow this formula you only need to pay around 50% of the inital price.

 

David.

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Hi - good to see another AR fan :)

 

Interesting observation about the price of goods, although I'd suspect that the actual calculation is a bit more complex than that - it must use the charisma value somewhere, and possibly also your appearance (e.g. rich, poor, etc.)

 

?

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ahh, formulas.

 

If you can figure out any other formulas for AR, i would appreciate if you would share them.

 

They are the last bit of info about the game that we haven't really been able to figure out.

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I think he did everything in ASM, something like 32 bit binary calculations in some places.

 

From memory, I don't think clothing (or lack of) seemed to make any difference in AR: The City.

 

Most of the character traits and effects on things are fairly well known (e.g. Wisdom improves chance of discovering Poison potions).

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I haven't tested the formula completely for the city. But for the dungeon it works exactly. CHR does not effect the result. If you offer one less copper than the above formaula (or forget to round up) you get outrageous offer.

 

However if you do not start off on a clean slate with the shop owner then the formula does not work.

 

I think CHR effects the inital price only.

 

I'm working on the monster/weapon statistics trying to work out the trends buts its hard, when you kill the monster you can't see what your last damage was ... any ideas?

 

Does anyone have any weapon or monster data already compiled?

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i tried using Artmoney on the pc version, but i didnt get anywhere past the character stats. Cool program tho.

 

Its for changing the memory resident variables for your health and stats, etc, but you have to identify the stats in memory first, which i couldnt do.

 

Maybe you could do better.

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Has anybody encountered a problem with the A800 version where you cannot enter (or more properly, cannot STAY INSIDE) buildings such as taverns and shops? After enjoying the 64 and Amiga versions for years, I've decided to listen to all the people who say that the Atari versions can't be topped, but this problem is really getting to me. It says "Entering", loads for a bit, then immediately zaps to "Leaving". But it is not a stuck key/joystick, as only certain types of buildings are affected at any given time. Leveling up fixed it the time I could enter taverns but not inns. Now I can enter inns, but not taverns or shops. Any thoughts?

 

Am playing through A800WinPlus.

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From memory, you can exit using the joystick so that could be a cause.

 

Also, if you've insulted shopkeepers and blacksmiths you'll often get thrown straight out.

 

Not to mention times where shops are closed, although it should tell you first.

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No, it's not the GET OUT YOU WORM problem, nor is it the place being closed, I've checked those possibilities (because, yes, it would say so.) And again, it's not the joystick being stuck pointing down or anything, I'd notice that as well.

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Disk images. I think I've located the problem, though, which is taking snapshots inside buildings which it says not to do because of disk caching.

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...or maybe not, as I have been scrupulously avoiding snapshotting inside buildings and I'm still getting this problem now. Short of enduring the "real" saved game inconveniences, is there any way to play this game in multiple sessions using an emulator?

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jcompton - you cannot use emu snapshots to save state in AR City. The game writes data to Disk 1 Side 2 and if it is inconsistent then it thinks you are playing a pirated copy and immediately exits you from Taverns and such.

 

Someone on the A800 mail list provided the following possible solution to using save states - but the best way is to 'S'ave you character and back it up.

 

A few weeks ago I asked about how to properly save your character on the Atari version of the city. The general answer to this was to press the “S” button and save the traditional (slow!) way. Unfortunately the much easier and faster method of saving state by having the emulator freeze a copy of the ram just doesn’t work. This problem is definitely related to the fact that disk 2 side 1 is actively reading and writing data which gets corrupted if it does not correspond with the correct ram image.

 

After playing with this for a while I’ve come up with a procedure which is reliable and much, much faster than pressing the “S” button. Here is what you do (I am assuming that everyone uses Atari800win):

 

1) Create several folders in your game directory. Mine are labeled as follows: “active copy”, “save position 1”, “save position 2”, etc. When playing keep the windows explorer open in the background so you can easily access these directories.

 

2) Configure Atari800Win misc->file associations so that the software recognizes the .atr and .a8s file associations.

 

3) Put the disk images for Disk 2 side 1 and disk 2 side 2 in the “active copy” directory. I recommend booting disk 1 side 1 and disk 1 side 2 from a separate location since you will not be using these later.

 

4) Create a character and initialize a character disk. Put this disk image away in case you actually do want to save your character at one point or transfer over to The Dungeon.

 

5) When playing have the drive selector look at and use the disk images in the “active copy” directory.

 

6) When saving your game, press the “p” button to pause the game, and use the alt-z command and save state (*.a8s file) into the “active copy” directory. You should only have disk 2 side 1, disk 2 side 2, and your save state file (.a8s) here.

 

7) After doing this immediately copy these three files in the “active copy” directory to any of the save position directories. Overwrite any older files if there are any.

 

8) Here is the key: If you want to restore an older game or position, all you have to do is close the emulator, copy the files from one of the save position directories to the “active copy” directory (overwriting of course), and click on the .a8s saved state. You will immediately, and reliably be re-joined, right back where you left off!!!

 

This sounds like a lot, but after setting everything up, this makes things extremely fast. I’ve been using this now for a few days and it works great. Another good advantage is that after saving your position (step 6 and 7) you can immediately continue your game without restarting the emulation. This makes game play much more fluid and enjoyable.

 

I must have played The City hundreds of hours on the C64 back in the late 80s. I can’t believe that I actually tolerated so much disk swapping and slow loading times - I know I just can’t take it right now. The fact that the Atari emulation doesn’t require manual disk flopping, and this little procedure I’ve come up with is allowing me to get back into the game without all of the frustration.

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That sounds about right. Since the game writes to disk you really want to use a seperate game disk per character.

 

Another tip: you can run Atari800Win in accelerated mode (Performance/Speed/120%). At the lower accelerated speeds you still get sound and benefit from slightly faster gameplay.

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