BY WILLIAM A. SCHNEIDER
In "Arcade Addiction" in the June 1989 issue of START, Associate Editor Tom Byron said he'd bad "a little help" in reaching level 32 of Arkanoid by Taito. Newspeed gave him that help. It's a utility that slows down many arcade games for the ST-without slowing you down.
It's not really cheating-if's an aid. File NEWSPEED.ARC on your START disk.
The Atari ST is a fast game machine - sometimes too fast. If you or your kids like to play games on your ST, I am sure that at one time or another you have wished for a way to slow a game down.
Even though most games have varying levels of difficulty; an even easier level is often desired when you're just learning a game or when a younger person is trying to play. My 9-year-old wanted to play Slither in the January 1989 issue of START. We booted our machine and tried the "slow game" menu option- and it was too fast. But with Newspeed, our troubles were over.
Newspeed lets you add your own levels of difficulty by slowing down your machine. As you improve. you can increase the machine's speed until you have returned to normal.
As a bonus, the ability to cold or warm boot your machine from the keyboard is also provided.
What Does it Do?
Copy NEWSPEED.ARC and ARCX.TTP onto a blank, formatted disk and UnARC NEWSPEED.ARC, following the Disk instructions elsewhere in this issue. NEWSPEED.PRG is a TSR (terminate and stay resident) program. It can be included in your AUTO folder to run at boot time, or it can be run at any time from the desktop. It will install some machine code (less than 2,800 bytes) that will remain in memory until you reboot your machine.
Once Newspeed is installed, activate it in either a GEM or non-GEM environment, in any resolution, by pressing [Control] and [Alternate] simultaneously. Your screen will go to black and white and you will see the following prompt at the top of your screen:
Select: Del (CBoot), Bksp (WBoot), 0-9
Newspeed is now waiting for a key from the keyboard. Your options are
|1-9||Adjusts the amount that the machine will be slowed down,
with 1 being slightly slower and 9 being slowest.
After you press a key, your program will be resumed with its colors restored, after a two-second pause that gives you time to get your joystick or mouse ready to continue your game.
The Slow Key Combo
You can customize Newspeed to respond to different key combinations using the patch program NSCONFIG.PRG, which is also in NEWSPEED.ARC. Make sure NSCONFIG.PRG and NEWSPEED.PRG are in the same directory and double-click on NSCONFIG.PRG. At the prompt, enter the number corresponding to the key combination you wish to use and press [Return]; the combinations are [Control]-[Alternate], [Control]-[Left Shift], [Control]-[Left Shift]-[Alternate] or [Left Shift]-[Alternate]. Next, enter the length of time in seconds to display Newspeed's opening screen when it is first installed. (You may want this on screen long enough to remind you of the current "hot key" combination.) NSCONFIG.PRG will automatically patch the new parameters into the Newspeed program, or inform you if there's an error.
wanted to play Slither,
but even the "slow
game" was too fast.
Newspeed can always be accessed from the desktop and can usually be accessed from within a program. However, you should not try to access Newspeed while disk I/O is in progress or while the Desktop is being drawn.
Because Newspeed may interfere with other terminate and stay resident programs, we recommend you only install Newspeed when you want to play a game. After all, although Newspeed will slow down Word Writer to a snail's pace; most word processors don't save your high score to disk.
Once you have Set your desired speed, it will continue until you change it again or reboot. This will affect all operations with the exception of disk I/O and sound. The delay routine is disabled during disk I/O, but the execution of the code between reads and writes will still be slowed down.
If you have trouble changing the speed during a game, go back to the program's opening menu and try again. If you cannot change the speed in your program while it is running, you will have to change the machine speed from the Desktop before you run your program.
An example of this is Star Raiders from Atari. The opening game screen includes a menu bar at the top of the screen. As long as this screen is active, Newspeed can be accessed. However, after you have started a game; you cannot access Newspeed without returning to the opening menu screen.
Level 33 in Taito's Arkanoid, which the START
editorial staff finally reached- but not without the
help of Newspeed. Not only did New-speed slow
things down, but it actually helped improve
Arkanoid scores when we played "legitimately.
Newspeed will not work with most autobooting games because it cannot reinitialize itself when the computer is rebooted. Test to see if Newspeed works with a game by running Newspeed, putting the game disk into drive A and double-clicking on the program inside the AUTO folder (Some games, such as Arkanoid, have programs in the root directory instead.) If this doesn't work, Newspeed will probably not work with that game. Do not attempt to install Newspeed in the AUTO folder of a copy-protected game disk.
Newspeed will work with many of your favorite public domain and START games.
Check Out the Code
NEWSPEED.S is the assembly source code and is included on your START disk. It was written with AssemPro, but few changes would be required to use the source with another assembler. The code is heavily commented and provides an explanation of how it works.
You will find Newspeed to be a valuable addition to your software library. Not only will you use it to slow down games, but the methods used in Newspeed can be used as a starting point for writing your own TSR code. With a little work, you too will be able to write code that adds new options to programs written by others.
William Schneider is a chemical engineer and plant manager for a Fortune 500 company. He is the author of "The Byte Mechanic" published in START Special Issue #4.