Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 77 / OCTOBER 1986 / PAGE 52

Lumpies of Lotus IV

John and Jeff Klein

This whimsical game casts you in the role of a spy on a hostile planet and features a realistic, three-dimensional maze. It runs on the IBM PCjr with cartridge BASIC, or on the PC with BASICA and color/graphics adapter.

When "Lumpies Of Lotis IV" begins, intergalactic trade ships have been hijacked near the planet Lotis IV, and economic crisis threatens the galaxy. Lotis IV is inhabitated by Lumpies—a primitive, but cunning tribe of creatures who live underground. Although their technology is crude, the Lumpies are famous for their ability to put almost anything to use as a weapon. You have been dispatched to spy on the Lumpies and discover whether they are indeed hijacking cargo ships. If the Lumpies have taken prisoners from the crews of the missing ships, you must free the captives as well.

During your approach to Lotis IV, a severe atmospheric storm sends your spacecraft plummeting to the planet's surface. When your mind clears after the accident, you find yourself wandering in a warren of underground caves, without any weapons or communications gear. Your only hope for survival is to find the Lumpies' communications center so you can summon a rescue team from home—freeing any prisoners you find on the way. The more prisoners you rescue, the greater your reward will be after returning to your home planet.

3-D Adventure

Type in the game and save a copy before you run it. The screen displays two different views of your adventure at all times. The right side of the screen displays a map of the current level of the Lumpies' extensive system of caverns. The map shows only the rooms that you have already visited. The arrow on the map shows your present location and which direction you are facing. The left side of the screen gives you a three-dimensional view of what's in front of you.

The game is played entirely with keyboard controls. To move or change direction, press the appropriate cursor key. The cursor-left and -right keys move you left and right, respectively. The cursor-up key moves you forward (in the direction you're facing), and the cursor-down key reverses your direction 180 degrees. The X key toggles the 3-D window off and on. The X key toggles the two-dimensional map display off and on. To check your current status, press the S key. At other points in the game (fights, for instance) the program prompts you with additional choices.

You start with a strength rating of 20 and no weapons in your possession. Your strength decreases by a factor of 1 whenever a Lumpie hits you during a fight. Your strength is replenished whenever you enter a cave containing food. Don't let your strength dwindle to 0—if that happens, your mission ends immediately.

Unearthly Contests

In the peculiar world of Lotis IV, even seemingly innocuous objects such as wrenches and yo-yos can be used in a fight. Each object's power is rated on a scale of 1 to 9, and the power rating is more important than the object's description. For instance, a yo-yo with a power of 4 is more effective than a wrench with a power of 1.

To obtain a weapon, you must defeat the Lumpie who wields it. In these contests, the one holding the higher-powered object has the best chance for victory. Randomness plays a key part in these struggles, however. Since any weapon may break on occasion, don't be too foolhardy. You can always choose to flee the scene rather than start a fight or continue one that's going badly. If you flee from a fight, the Lumpie remains his original vigor and remains in the same location. When you defeat a Lumpie, the creature surrenders its weapon to you and disappears in humiliation, never to return to the caves.

Prisoners are found at various locations within the underground maze; they are freed automatically when you encounter them. Certain caves also contain ladders which allow you to move between the first and second levels. To complete the game, you must find the communications room and call home for rescue. You can free additional prisoners after calling the home planet, but you won't win until you return to home base. You do this by checking your current status and answering yes when the program asks whether you want to go home.

It takes considerable skill (and a certain amount of luck) to complete the game successfully. If you and a Lumpie engage in a struggle with objects of equal power, the outcome is unpredictable. The map layout remains much the same each time you play, however, so with practice you'll learn the best route to victory.

Design Your Own Maze

Lumpies of Lotis IV is designed to offer a reasonable challenge to most players. With a few changes, you can alter the level of difficulty to make it easier for younger players to solve, or increase the challenge for anyone who has mastered the usual game. In addition to rearranging the rooms and objects on the existing levels, you can add entirely new levels of your own.

The DATA statements at the end of the program contain all the information for the maze. Each level is 22 squares long and 20 squares wide; the information for that level is represented by 22 DATA statements, each of which contains 20 numbers from the range 0–8. Here's an explanation of what each number means:

0 wall
1 empty corridor
2 door
3 not used
4 ladder
5 Lumpie
6 food
7 prisoner
8 communications room

The first five numbers in this list are easy to understand. Wherever a 0 appears in the DATA statements, the program creates a wall in the maze. The value 1 signifies an open corridor, and 2 stands for a door. The value 3 is not used; 4 creates a ladder.

The value 5 indicates an 85-percent chance that a Lumpie will appear in that section of the maze. Where the value 6 appears, the program determines randomly how much food to place in that cave. A prisoner is indicated by the value 7. The number 8 stands for the communications room. To keep the original character of the game, you should not include more than one communications room. (Note that it's impossible to travel through the communications room. If you change this room's location, make sure that it's placed at the end of a corridor.)

When customizing the program, make sure that the entry to the first level is not a wall (this is the sixth number in the first DATA statement). For a game of average difficulty, the number of Lumpies (5) and the amount of food (6) should proportionally be about equal on each level. This pattern gives the player a fair chance of surviving long enough to complete the game. To change the game's difficulty, simply alter the balance between Lumpies and food. The more Lumpies you find in relation to food, the more difficult the game, and vice versa. Note that these factors aren't absolute: After it reads the DATA statements, the program adds a few random Lumpies to the maze.

As written, the game includes two complete levels. To create a third level, you must add 22 DATA statements at the end of the program and change the variable LEVELS in line 90 from 2 to 3. The arrangement of numbers in the DATA statements corresponds exactly to the two-dimensional map displayed on the right part of the screen. If you're not sure how this works, run the program and draw a map of the entire first level; then compare this map to the DATA statements in lines 2010–2220.

In "Lumpies of Lotis IV," the computer always displays two views of your progress through a complex underground maze. In this screen, a Lumpie impedes your progress temporarily.