by Andy Eddy
I've been preparing for hibernation, with the weather getting ready to slide to the colder side; so I've been somewhat preoccupied. Would you mind turning the cover towards me so I know what this issue is about? Ah, yes, games. Isn't that special. Well, what shall we talk about then? How about, oh...games?!
No "E" ticket required
There are two methods for playing games with your ST and DELPHI. (Actually, the games on DELPHI aren't ST specific, so any computer user who can get online can play them.) The first comes in the form of the resident gameware that DELPHI has in place. They include games like sports simulations, text adventure contests and a Star Trek game. (What game library would be complete without a Star Trek game?)
Simply type GO ENT and you'll be brought to the Entertainment and Games menu. To show the varied offering, here's a glance at the menu selections:
Entertainment & Games Menu: Adventure Games Music Reviews Astro-Predictions Poll Board Games Role Playing Games Collaborative Novel Sports Games DELPHI Casino Trivia Quest GameSIG VT Games Logic Games Witt's End (Misc games) Member's Choice Help Movie Reviews Exit FUN>Which Selection?
At this bill of fare, you can type the first few letters of your choice. (Type enough to make your selection unique so DELPHI will know exactly what you want to do.) Once there, you have even more to pick from.
You might have noticed from the main entertainment menu that DELPHI has a GAMESIG (run by SCORPIA and ALCHEMIST1; to maintain the mystique, they've chosen to keep their names secret). Just like any other SIG (Special Interest Group), you can read messages in the Forum—or post your own to others— scan a database of reviews and hints, and more. Again, it's located off the Entertainment menu by typing GAM from the FUN prompt.
The other way to enjoy gaming on the ST via DELPHI is the database in the ST SIG. There was a time when public domain software was generally inferior to commercial products, but with dazzling color palettes to work with and the increase in home-brewed programming efforts, some of the freeware and shareware programs out now can be considered market quality.
To get to the games database area, type DAT GAM (an abbreviation of DATABASE GAMES) at the Atari ST prompt. This will bring you right up to where the action is. At the time of this writing, there were over 170 files of game programs and demos in the Games and Entertainment section.
There was a time when public domain software was generally inferior to commercial products, but with dazzling color palettes to work with and the increase in home-brewed programming efforts, some of the freeware and shareware programs out now can be considered market quality.
You could type DIR to begin a directory listing (or DIR NS, which will give you the entire directory without any "More?" pauses), or REA to view the descriptions in chronological order, starting with the most recent file. The file descriptions display information such as the size of the file and how many times it's been downloaded, as well as a brief piece of text that explains something about the program. The file description looks like this:
Name : BASEBALL.ARC Type : PROGRAM Date : 22-FEB-1988 19 : 02 by OLY Size : 112640 count : 18 This Arc'd file contains a baseball game in compiled LDW BASIC. The Game is called statistically Accurate Baseball, a shareware game by Joe Damore. While this game is not heavily dependent on arcade style graphics, it is more dependent on (hence the name). This game will intrigue you and keep you at it for hours on end. To play game after unarcing, double click on the file SAB87.PRG. But be sure to read the doc file first. Keywords : STRATEGY, BASEBALL, ACCURATE, ARC, COMPILED
The games in the DBs (as we call the databases) are well worth the downloading time. When you consider the capability of the ST, given the larger RAM space to work with, some of the programs can get quite large after the addition of digitized sound and flashy graphics.
Hunting for game
Baseball fans have a simulation game for their favorite sport. Called Statistically Accurate Baseball (SAB), written by Joe Damore, it comes with statistical data for four classic, historical teams, who, for the most part, play mathematically correct, based on the actual player averages and pitching stats. Playing is accomplished by clicking on the desired offensive and defensive strategy—bunt, infield in, stealing a base and more. While not equipped with arcade-like graphics, the results of your managerial decisions are described to you as a running play-by-play. Stats can be printed out after the game is over, in order to track the teams' progress.
If you pay the $12 shareware donation, which Damore claims will cover his "three years of hard work, shipping and a disk," you'll receive 32 more team files. SAB, found in the Games section of the ST SIG as BASEBALL.ARC, runs in color or mono.
Eric Lindros is a busy guy, with two maze adventures on our list. Escape (ESCAPE.ARC) and MegaMaze (MEGAMAZE GAME) are intense strategic battles where the main goal is to collect treasures and fend off adversity—a fairly normal gaming premise. They will greatly challenge your adventuring skills. These games are playable in color or mono. A $5 shareware fee is requested for each game. Beyond that, Lindros also is holding a contest for improvements to his programs. The winner, whose ideas Lindros feels are the best, will get $50 and credit in the upgraded version.
One thing to be careful of with Escape and Megamaze is that between the two ARCs (a file type that I'll discuss for the uninitiated at the end of this article) that hold the necessary files, there are some identically named files. Be sure to either extract each ARC to a different disk or folder, so there's no potential of a file name conflict.
Lastly, most everyone remembers a commercial climb-and-chase game from a while ago called Lode Runner, by Broder-bund. Well, WMS and KKS (as they are listed on the game's title screen) have created a monochrome ST clone called Runner's Revenge, that brings back all of the intrigue and lively game play of the original.
One thing to keep in mind is that Runner's Revenge is over 40K in size ARCed, which extracts out to 70 files and more than 87K, so be ready with lots of open disk space. Additionally, the software requires you to place certain files in specifically named folders (such as .SND files going into a folder called SOUNDS). The best plan is to first extract the README.TXT file, then follow the instructions by creating the necessary folders beforehand. When you have that all done, you can extract the proper files to their respective locations.
Not Noah's ARC, silly
We've made mention of files with the ARC extender before, but I haven't explained it to those users who are unaware exactly what makes them so special.
The extender ARC is derived from archive, which in this case is a file—or in some cases, a group of files—compressed into one smaller file. The benefit of an ARC file to the telecomputing enthusiast is obvious: the shorter the file, the less time online downloading it. This may also enable storage of the multiple ARC(s) on fewer floppies or on less hard-drive space.
But being able to ARC files has another plus: Related files can be grouped together, so there is no confusion to what data file belongs to what program. Similar to the folder concept of GEM on the ST, you can keep together all files that work together. For example, many programs come with a README.DOC file, to explain how to set up the program or to describe changes that have been made from earlier versions; other software that requires graphics (like backgrounds for a game) may have multiple DEGAS screens associated with it. With the ARC process, they can be stored en masse, under one roof, so to speak.
Converted to the ST by Harvey Johnson, the ARC.TTP file is the one that handles all these duties, and is even compatible with most versions of ARC for other computers! To make it even simpler to use, Charles Johnson's ARCSHELL (upgraded to an even higher level since its ST-Log debut) is without comparison. Most of the files in the DBs are ARCed,. so if you intend to do any downloading, these two files should be the first ones to acquire.
To get them, go to the Applications section (type DAT APP) and type READ ARC UTILITY to get ARC.TTP. Then go to Utilities (type SET UT, from the DBASES:App > prompt) and type READ ARC SHELL 1.95 (the latest version at this writing). Without question, these two files will be valuable assistants to your file transfer and/or storage situation.
Well, it's about time for me to crawl into my cave for another month. Till next month, C U online....
Make the DELPHI connection
As a reader of ST-Log, you are entitled to take advantage of a special DELPHI membership offer. For only $19.95, plus shipping and handling ($30 off the standard membership price!), you will receive a lifetime subscription to Delphi, a copy of the 500-page DELPHI: The Official Guide by Michael A. Banks, and a credit equal to one free evening hour at standard connect rates. Almost anyone worldwide can access DELPHI (using Tymnet, Telenet or other networking services) via local telephone call.
To join DELPHI
1. Dial 617-576-0862 with any terminal or PC and modem (at 2400 bps, dial 576-2981).
2. At the Username prompt, type JOINDELPHI.
3. At the Password prompt, enter STLOG.
For more information, call DELPHI Member Services at 1-800-544-4005, or at 617-491-3393 from within Massachusetts or from outside the U.S.
DELPHI is a service of General Videotex Corporation of Cambridge, Massachusetts.