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[TI-99/4a] Vintage CRPG


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Greetings all. I decided I should make a semi-permanent topic about my ongoing project.


Some lengthy background...


While finishing my C.S. degree in college, I was overwhelmed with a desire to dig out my old computer from the basement and fire it up again. The old hardware actually still worked, although I had to get the keyboard replaced. The old membrane-driven keyboards decay over time. The mechanical in there now that should outlast the silicon.


After playing around with it for awhile, and finding some great resources on the web I completely lacked in the old days, I decided I wanted to do some vintage assembly projects.


Why? Well, I blame the fact I hadn't programmed in ten years, and that hobby-wise, I was still back there, a 13-17 year old, desiring to write a game but lacking the skills, patience, and knowledge to do so.


My first project was to convert a game written in BASIC to pure assembly. I learned a lot about the process by doing so, and I was amazed that the complete assembly program was only about 5k, roughly half the size of the BASIC listing. And WAY faster.


My second project, which is incomplete, was to covert the famous "Eastern Front: 1941" game for the Atari 8-bit home computers to my TI. I got the bemused permission from Chris Crawford himself to do so. (He remarked that the project was rather quixotic.) I had a complete listing of the program in 6502 assembly, with a few comments thrown in.


I got a decent amount of the way into it before stopping. Part of the problem was it just wasn't that fun converting someone else's work. The other was trying to understand how the A.I. worked was maddening from the assembly perspective... and I realized I could never be certain I had captured the original game play or not. I may go back and finish this one later.


Having decided to set out on my own original project instead, it was a quick decision as to what I wanted to make: a disk-based CRPG.


The TI-99/4a lacked a great deal of the more sophisticated software of other computers of its time, because very few 99'ers owned disk systems when it was still actively supported. Complicating matters was the unique assembly language it had. Unlike the Apple, Commodore, and Atari systems which all had 6502 chips, porting programs was much more difficult.


So all of the CRPG greats like Wizardry, Ultima, Might & Magic, were nowhere to be found on the TI... it had a very good dungeon crawler called Tunnels of Doom, but that was it. A later developer created a decent clone of Phantasie called Legends, but it ran in Extended BASIC and was rather small-scale, about comparable to Ultima I in scope and complexity.


Anyway, it's been 4-5 years since I started... the project's been interrupted by job hunting, loss of interest, emulator problems, design issues, and so forth. I'm fired back up recently thanks to a brisk emulation development curve, and I hope to push on and complete the combat engine by the end of the year.


Feel free to read up on my efforts, and offer your comments and criticisms. (The two I usually hear are "why in assembly?" and "why waste time on a vintage system?")



Preliminary title screen


First project: TI Trek


Second project: Eastern Front 1941


CRPG Page (updated seldomly)


Ongoing Development Blog



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Nice work Adamantyr. The title screen looks great. I poked around on your site, and the game looks like it's coming along nicely. The map screens reminded me of Questron for the C64.


You won't have to worry about people asking "why in assembly" or "why a vintage system" here.


I had a friend with a TI99 back in grade school, so I've spent many hours on this machine. The TI99's potential as a gaming system was never even remotely realized. It's always good to see more development on this system, particularly in assembly.


My favorite game for the system was definitely Hunt the Wumpus, so much so that I made a port of it to the Atari 2600. There is still work to be done for that game, but it's playable.


Good luck on your project.

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