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For Wizard's Crown Fans


6502_workshop
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I recently completed one of my Apple II bucket list items and created a patch for Wizard's Crown which modifies the movement keys to align better with the numeric keypad.

 

The original keys were awkward to use, and chosen at a time when numeric keypads were not prevalent (1985). There were alternative key sequences that appear to have been  available, but I am pretty sure they were not chosen to save memory. The patch includes a detailed write up of my observations.


The patch is available on archive.org. The direct link is:

https://archive.org/details/wizards-crown-numeric-keypad-patch

 

-Mark Lemmert

6502 Workshop

 

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Thanks for this.  SSI's movement numbers were always weird to me.  Yes it's true that keypads for the Apple II weren't common but people had access to calculators and whatnot so they were at least familiar with that layout.  You get used to it after a while, but this helps a lot.

 

Can you please look into Eternal Dagger? 

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6 hours ago, Tempest said:

Thanks for this.  SSI's movement numbers were always weird to me.  Yes it's true that keypads for the Apple II weren't common but people had access to calculators and whatnot so they were at least familiar with that layout.  You get used to it after a while, but this helps a lot.

 

Can you please look into Eternal Dagger? 

You're welcome! Glad to hear you found it useful. This has been bugging me for years. Granted I haven't played Wizard's crown in decades but the keys are so weird every time I thought about playing Wizard's Crown again some day I vowed to do something about the keys.

 

I haven't played Eternal Dagger but definitely plan to and when I do I'll take a swing at a similar patch. With any luck they carried over the same code for parsing the movement keys. 

 

On a historical note, when spelunking in the binary file I think I also figured out why they chose the keys they did. 

 

The Apple II did not have a numeric keypad build into the keyboard until the Apple IIgs was released in 1986. The Apple IIe Platinum had a numeric keyboard but that wasn't released until 1987.

 

Wizard's Crown was released by Strategic Simulations in 1985.

 

While an external numeric keypad existed at that time, most users did not have one. This product was likely targeted at businesses buying computers to run accounting software. Accordingly, the developers of Wizard's Crown did not appear to optimize the movement key assignments for intuitive use on a numeric keypad. 


The original Wizard's Crown movement keys were as follows: 

8 1 2
7    3
6 5 4

 

Obviously, this was not intuitive on a numeric keypad but there was logic to it on the regular keyboard, because 1 is north and then number keys wraps around the compass in sequence, counter clockwise. But, in practice, all players I've talked to found those keys very clumsy to use on the regular keyboard as well. 


My best educated guess as to why the developers chose those original movement key assignments is because: 

a) most people didn't have the external numeric keypad.

b) The ASCII values for the number keys are adjacent. 


For example, these keys are not assigned and I think could have been used for movement keys:

I O  P 
K L  ;
, .  /


However, the ASCII values of those keys aren't numerically adjacent so the code would have ended up with a pile of CMP/CPY/CPX machine opcodes to parse the keypress.

 

Instead, the code uses a lookup table in conjunction with parsing the movement key and handing control off to the movement subroutine, which takes less memory than the alternative. Ultimately we're talking about a handful of bytes but when developing an 8-bit RPG, loosing a handful of bytes could mean having to exclude an important feature or piece of content from the game. 

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33 minutes ago, BydoEmpire said:

That's one of those games I always thought looked cool but never played.  I should give it a shot some time.

I got both games out of a bargain bin about 1989ish I think.  I tried to play Wizards Crown for a bit but it was just too darn complicated and I gave up (I was probably 12 or 13 I think).  I really want to try them again though as they seem pretty fun and they're actually not nearly as complicated as some of the games I've played since.

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4 hours ago, Tempest said:

I got both games out of a bargain bin about 1989ish I think.  I tried to play Wizards Crown for a bit but it was just too darn complicated and I gave up (I was probably 12 or 13 I think).  I really want to try them again though as they seem pretty fun and they're actually not nearly as complicated as some of the games I've played since.

 

The part I found complex was the tactical combat. I'm usually a fan of tactical combat but in Wizard's Crown it seemed to complex and perhaps more importantly to me, too slow (30 minutes per battle easily).

 

When I played it back in the day I mostly used quick combat and since I started replaying it last month I've been exclusively using quick combat and it's been lots of fun.

 

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