After having a Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie marathon this weekend, I fired up a ZX Spectrum emulator and relived playing the text adventure game The Hobbit. I shared some screenshots in this thread on Twitter here:
The Hobbit was released in 1982 for the ZX Spectrum. For it’s time, it has some interesting features, like NPCs that wandered around, and language parsing of statements allowing you to interact with the NPCs, like ‘say to Elrond “read map”‘.
Given the unusual (for the time) ability to interact with the NPCs, there even exists a ZX Spectrum emulator specifically to play The Hobbit, which also shows the state of the interactive characters and objects in the game as you play. This is well worth taking a look at to get an insight into how the game works – quite an achievement for an 8 bit game in only 48k: http://members.aon.at/~ehesch1/wl/wl.htm
I’ve seen posts about the BASIC 10Liner contest before, but this time I spotted posts for the 2017 contest with time to put an entry together. This weekend I spent a few hours putting together an entry using Sinclair BASIC on an emulated Spectrum, using Fuse for MacOS.
My entry is a take on the infinite runner style games, like Temple Run, but re-imagined in glorious 8 bit Sinclair BASIC style, I’ve called it ‘Boulder Jumper’.
If that’s not enough I went completely retro and implemented the graphics using only characters. This is my first entry to the BASIC 10Liner contest, and the first time I’ve written any Sinclair BASIC for maybe 33 or maybe more years.
My first thoughts were how can you possibly write a fully functioning game in 10 lines of code, but you can have multiple statements per line, and enter in either the 80 chars, 120, or 256 characters per line category. I think I’m just about squeezing into 120 per line.
Here’s a screenshot of the awesome gameplay:
Your character is a ‘b’ character, and rocks come from the right moving to the left, as ‘o’ characters. You press ‘m’ to jump and jump over the rocks or get squashed. You get points per rock you jump over, and have 3 lives.
Here’s the code in all it’s Sinclar BASIC glory:
And here’s the 10 lines in the Fuse emulator:
It’s not great and you could do a lot better (this is probably better suited to a ZX-81 than the ZX Spectrum), but it’s my first attempt for the 10Lines contest, and I had run writing and playing it!
If you have any interest in the early history of the computer games industry in the UK (8bit to 16bit), then you have to (if you haven’t already) watch From Bedrooms to Billions, a kickstarter funded documentary by Anthony and Nicola Caulfield. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to those developers that we used to read about in C&VG and the companies behind the games, these guys managed to track down and interview pretty much anyone who was anyone back during those days, capturing amazing stories on film. The documentary also includes an interview with the legendary Matthew Smith who disappeared off the face of the earth for decades. It’s incredibly fascinating and brings back memories from those 8bit days.
Anthony and Nicola also have another documentary currently in production focusing on the Commodore Amiga, also recently successfully funded on Kickstarter and will be released soon, The Amiga Years.
I also stumbled across this video podcast series on YouTube with an interview with the Caulfields, in which they discuss the behind the scenes work involved in production of the first documentary and The Amiga Years – this in itself is also a fascinating insight into the early days of the UK games industry and how the documentary was developed. You can check it out here in part 1, part 2, and part 3.
Early 80s in the UK was prime time for the 8bit home computer games industry. I posted a few links of some interesting computer history documentaries on YouTube a while back, including the TV Drama ‘MicroMen’ which covered the rivalry between Clive Sinclair and Chris Curry at the time.
Here’s a couple more: