Low Resolution Only
by Clayton Walnum
Moonlord Planetinsky was still a bitter man.
Even though he had succeeded in virtually single-handedly defeating last year's alien attack (the entire Titanian Territorial Guard had been stymied by the aliens' unusual strategies), even though he returned home a hero to the adulation of thousands, he found that, deep inside where it really counted, he was still as insecure as a newborn cub.
It was the name, you know.
It sounded so much like a title of office that people could rarely resist bowing when introduced. It was a matter of amusement for most, but Moonlord hated it.
His childhood had been no laughing matter, either. He had always been the one with the cootiumphaloids (imaginary creatures about the size of a temphibootawep; if the other kids said you had them, you were an outcast), and now as an adult, he still found that his unusual name was anything but an asset.
Why, he often thought, couldn't he have been given a normal name like Fredolotington Alnertopater or Eddyboperty Elnopilersop?
So he became tough—the toughest starfighter on the Saturnian moon of Titan. Nobody—nobody—dared cross him.
Now it seemed he had another job to do.
Moonlord stepped off the Slider-walkatron and crossed to the headquarters of the Titanian Territorial Guard, clutching the telegramomes-sagecard in his left hand. It was from Leeryup Coddledoop, Commander-in-Chief of the TTG. He snickered to himself as he remembered the last time he had seen Leeryup, tucked into a hospital bed, every part of his body except the bones swollen like over-filled cameladesertliquibags.
"Guess he won't bow to me again!" Moonlord said out loud. A few people glanced in his direction, but none let his gaze linger. Moonlord was a hero—and they loved him—but they knew better than to draw attention to his peculiarities. He drew a deep lungful of smoke from his smokyngstickolungolator, and exhaled a swirling blue tornado.
When he stepped into Commander Coddledoop's office, the gray-haired man behind the desk stood up and saluted. Even though Moonlord was a civilian, he now received the same respect as that awarded to an Admiral of the fleet. To say the least, the TTG were inordinately impressed by Moonlord's handling of the last alien invasion.
Moonlord sat down without returning the salute, and stared at the Commander, saying nothing.
The Commander sat slowly, fighting the urge to bow with all his soul. Heavens, but old habits died hard!
"Uh...ahem," he began eloquently. "...uh...To say the least, the TTG were inordinately impressed by your handling of the last alien invasion."
Wow, thought Moonlord, Deja vu. But he said nothing, just sat, waiting.
"We have a tiny problem," the Commander tried again, "one that requires your...er...delicate touch."
Moonlord's eyebrows climbed his forehead. "You wouldn't by any chance be referring to the new fleet the aliens have sent out, would you?"
"Well...it's a problem kind of...er...similar to that."
"Urn...very close to that, actually."
"Sort of...well...‘identical’ would be the appropriate word, I guess."
Moonlord sighed. "Are you or are you not referring to the new alien threat?"
"I believe that would be an accurate paraphrase of my previous remarks."
"Have you ever considered politics?" Moonlord asked.
"Never mind. It was a rhetorical question."
Moonlord stood up and crossed to the Commander's newly installed compudigibinotometer-ST, the one that had recently replaced the long-loved compudigibinotometer-XE, and called up the galactic map.
The aliens were everywhere.
"Let the good-times roll," Moonlord muttered.
"Excuse me?" said the Commander, standing to get a better look at the screen.
"I'll take the job," Moonlord said, turning toward the Commander. "I'll show those alien scum that they can't mess with Titan."
The Commander positively glowed. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" He was so delighted that he forgot to control his inner impulses. Before he knew it, he was bending at the waist, performing an elegant bow. "Ohhhhh, nooooo. . ." he muttered.
It was the Commander's opinion that hospital food hadn't improved much since his last stay.
So, where is it?
Moonlord ST is a translation of the original Moonlord published in issue 46 of ANALOG Computing. Those of you who are familiar with that game will find that this version, though greatly enhanced graphically and using the mouse instead of a joystick for input, is almost identical in game play. The only differences are the addition of a novice level and the ability to "ram" alien craft.
Actually, there is one other major difference: You don't have the option of typing in the program for Moonlord ST. Just like most full-scale ST programs, the source code is much too large to be published here. All game files and the source code are available on this month's disk version or on the Delphi ST SIG.
Note that the file MOONLORD.DAT must always be in the same directory as the main program file, MOONLORD.PRG, and the disk should remain in the drive during game play.
Playing Moonlord ST
When you run the program, the first thing you'll see is the title screen. After you've finished admiring Maurice Molyneaux's excellent work, click the left mouse button and select a level of play. Those who've never played Moonlord before should select the novice level. Moonlord is a tough game to complete and, until you've managed to develop some good strategies, you won't have a chance on the expert level. The novice level gives you a higher energy allotment, and the aliens' attacks have a lesser chance of damaging your ship.
After selecting your level, you'll see the galactic map, represented on your screen by an 18 × 8 grid. Each square in the grid is one sector of the galactic milieu, and hidden within these 144 sectors are the 50 alien craft you must locate and destroy. Since aliens always travel in pairs, only 25 sectors actually contain the enemy.
To make your job a little easier, there are two starbases you can dock with, to stock up on supplies and make repairs. There's one at each end of the galaxy, and, of course, just like the aliens, they're randomly placed at the beginning of each game, forcing you to explore.
To win the game, you must locate and destroy all 50 alien craft. You have only 100 Galactic Standard Days in which to complete your mission. It'll take careful conservation of supplies and planned movement, so those who like to leap into the fray without a strategy will find failure a constant companion.
Though there's only one way to win the game, there's many ways to lose (can't make it too easy for you, now can we?). The first is to run out of time. You've got 100 days. No extensions. All begging will be ignored.
The second way to lose your hero status is to allow your energy to run out. Keep your eye on it; when it's gone, so are you. Don't forget to check the status of your weapons, either. If you should be in the heat of battle and find that both your weapons systems are down, you'll have to resort to ramming the aliens (more on that later). That means heavy damage. Also, every time you ram an enemy, you're taking a one-in-ten chance of destroying your own ship.
Finally, use of your ship's warp capabilities is a risky venture indeed. Each time you decide to utilize them, you're taking a one-in-ten chance of destroying your engines and ending the game.
Below the galactic map, you'll find the bridge. This is where you gain access to the ship's main functions. There are four systems available here: scanners, cruise engines, a status display, and warp engines (weapon systems are accessed from the scanner display). To select a system, place the mouse pointer over the system name and click the left mouse button.
Note that at times some of your systems will be damaged and thus unusable. You can tell at a glance which systems are down: their entries in the systems menu will be disabled. The only exception to this is the long-range scanners. They work automatically each time you move, so they have no menu entry. You can check them on the status display (see the section "Status" below).
To move your ship from one galactic sector to another, select the "cruise" command. You are allowed to move in any of the eight compass directions, but you should note that diagonal moves are actually counted as two moves, and the required energy and time are deducted as if the move were completed with two non-diagonal moves. When you click on the cruise systems, you'll be asked to select your destination sector. Place the mouse pointer over the sector and click the left mouse button. Your ship will appear in the target sector.
Each sector of movement uses ten units of energy and one day of time.
Throughout the game, it's important to keep close tabs on your ship's condition and supplies. You can't afford to be stuck far from a starbase when your energy is almost depleted, and it helps to know what weapons are functional before you spring into battle. All this information is available in the status display. To view the status display, select the "status" system from the bridge menu. The status display screen will then pop into view.
Your ship's six systems are displayed on the left, each followed by a number indicating how many days are needed to repair that system. A zero means the system is fully functional.
On the right, information on supplies, as well as the time remaining and the number of aliens remaining, can be found.
Damaged systems must be repaired before they can be used. Damage is measured by the number of days the crew requires to complete repairs. If you don't need the damaged system right away, you need do nothing. The crew will automatically get to work, applying their best efforts to the restoration of your ship. Remember: One sector of movement on the galactic map consumes one day. A system that requires three days to repair will be operative after a move of three sectors.
If you find you must make repairs immediately, before continuing with the game, you may do so by selecting the "repair" system from the status subsystem menu. Use the mouse to tell the ship's computer how long you wish to wait for repairs by placing the mouse pointer over one of the arrows and clicking the left mouse button. When you're satisfied with your selection, press the right mouse button. The repairs will be made and the status screen updated.
If more than one system needs repair, the times are not added together. Each system has its own crew. For example, if your photon launchers require four days to repair, and your short-range scanner needs two days, it'll take only four days to fix both systems. Given the above circumstance, if you should select only two days of repair time, the short-range scanner will be operational, while the launchers will require two additional days of repair before you can use them.
Don't forget that the time you spend waiting for repairs will be subtracted from the time available to your mission. Sometimes it's better to continue crippled then to waste a lot of time waiting for repairs to be completed.
Should you find that you must move a long distance in a minimum amount of time, the warp engines may fill your need. Unfortunately, the warp engines are still experimental; their safety and reliability cannot be guaranteed. You have no control over where you'll end up, and each warp carries a one-in-ten chance of leaving you engineless, helplessly afloat in the timeless void of space. In other words, the game could come to an abrupt end.
Each wrap consumes one day and 30 units of energy. Due to its undependability, you may have to jump several times before you get where you want (or at least in the general area).
You have two types of scanners on your ship: long-range and short-range. The long-range scanners fill in the galactic map as you move, and since they function automatically, you need do nothing except repair them when they become damaged.
The long-range scanners examine the sectors adjacent to your position and mark the galactic map appropriately. Empty sectors are indicated by a white dot, aliens are represented by a red circle, and starbases by a blue circle. Your current position is marked by a green circle. In most cases, your position marker will be outlined in yellow. However, if you should be in a sector containing aliens or a starbase, your marker will be outlined in red or blue, respectively.
The "scan" system on the bridge menu activates the short-range scanners. When you select this system, the short-range scanner display will pop up.
The short-range scan allows you to see your current sector in greater detail. Each sector of the galactic map is divided into 36 smaller sectors. Suns, aliens, starbases, as well as your own ship are all represented by icons on the short-range scan display. Four systems commands are available from the short-range scan sub-system (SRSSS) menu: bridge, cruise, phaser and photon.
To return to the bridge, select the "bridge" option.
You may move about in the short-range display in much the same manner as in the galactic map. Select the "cruise" system from the SRSSS menu, press the left mouse button, then use the mouse to select your destination.
Unlike the galactic map, your movement here is somewhat restricted. You can't move through a sun, an alien or a starbase. If anything is in your way, you must maneuver around it. Also, "diagonal" moves are not allowed. This is because, as I mentioned before, diagonal moves are interpreted as two non-diagonal moves. Since the aliens will attack each time you move, only single moves are allowed.
Movement on the short-range display consumes no time, but uses three energy points per sector.
The phasers are the first of your weapons systems, and your most powerful. When activated, they release a burst of electro-magnetic energy in every direction, damaging any alien craft on your scanners. Nothing can block their energy beams, not even a sun. The amount of damage done depends on the number of alien craft present and the distance they are from your ship. Damage is cumulative. You may have to fire more than once to get the job done.
To activate the phasers, select the phaser system from the SRSSS menu, then use your mouse to tell the ship computer the amount of power to allocate. (Click on the arrows to increase or decrease the amount, and then press the right mouse button.) Each power point will be subtracted from your remaining energy, so be stingy, allocating just enough to get the job done.
Photon torpedoes (globes of compacted light energy) can be used to fire on any alien craft that is in alignment (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) with your ship. Their range is sufficient to strike any ship on your scanners, and a strike is always fatal. To fire a photon, select the photon system from the SRSSS menu, and then use the mouse to click on the appropriate point on the photon aiming compass.
Firing a photon consumes no energy, but nothing comes for free. In order to fire photons, your launchers must be in working order, and you must have photons on hand. At the start of the game, you are given ten photons. You'll be restocked only when you dock with a starbase. Obviously, you're going to have to use them judiciously.
If you should find yourself in the midst of battle with all your weapon systems down, you can still defeat the aliens by ramming them with your ship. Because your ship is much larger than the aliens', this will always be fatal to the enemy. However, by resorting to such desperate measures, excessive damage may be caused to your ship. Specifically, up to three systems may be damaged, and there's a one-in-ten chance that the damage will be sufficient to cripple your ship permanently, thus ending the game.
When you set out from Titan Base, your ship will be carrying all the supplies it can hold. It'll be necessary at certain points in the game to stock up. For this reason, there are two starbases, one at each end of the galactic milieu.
The starbases move from game to game, and will not be marked on the galactic map until you locate them—one of your top mission priorities, obviously. Once you locate a starbase, you must—if you plan to restock your supplies and make repairs—go to the short-range scanners and dock with the base. Docking is accomplished by moving your ship on top of the base. All your supplies will be restocked, and all systems will be repaired.
All missions, regardless of success or failure, will be evaluated by the personnel at Titan Base. Your score is based on the number of aliens you destroyed, as well as the amount of time and energy you used (the less, the better). Also, you'll get much higher scores at the expert level than you will at the novice level.
At the end of the game, if you want to play again, press the left mouse button. To exit back to the desktop, press the right mouse button.
I wish I were an artist, but I'm not. Though I designed all the game screens and icons, it was ST-Log Contributing Editor Maurice Molyneaux who made them come to life. He took what were only barely acceptable displays and turned them into a professional-looking piece of work. Thanks, Maurice!
The sound effects for Moonlord ST were created using G.I.S.T. by Lee Actor and Gary Levenberg of Synthetic Software (G.I.S.T. is available through The Catalog). This is a sensational program that takes all pain out of generating sounds and makes implementing those sounds in your programs simple beyond belief.