Game of the Monthby ROBERT "RASSILON" PATTON
that pack plenty of punch
January's Game of the Month is actually three entertaining shorter games by Rassilon (Robert Patton). Pegboard, Rollout and Bounce work with Atari 8-bit computers of any memory size, disk or cassette.
Get ready to have some fun with a fascinating variety of Atari game challenges. There are three separate programs. Listing 1 is ROLLOUT.BAS, Listing 2 is PEGBOARD.BAS and Listing 3 is BOUNCE.BAS. Type in the listings as three individual files, checking each one with TYPO II. Be sure to SAVE copies of the three listings before you RUN them.
In this Yahtzee-like game, your goal is to remove numbers between 1 and 10 from the bar, according to the roll of two dice. You can remove numbers matching the numbers on one or both of the dice. Or you can remove any combination of numbers that adds up to the sum of both dice.
For young children, Rollout is a useful counting and adding drill. For grown-up players, the screen display offers an interesting window into the operations of your Atari's random number generator.
Plug your joystick into port 1 and you are ready to play Rollout. Press the joystick button to roll the dice, then select numbers to remove from the bar. Pushing the joystick sideways moves the selection marker. After each dice roll, the selection marker automatically moves under the bar number that's equal to the dice sum. At the ends of the bar, the marker wraps around. (If the dice sum is 11 or 12, the marker stays under 10).
Entering 0 at the prompt, "How many games do you wish
to play?" will END the program. After you play the number of games you
selected-up to 10-you will be returned to the starting prompt.
(The author of Taxman-Antic, April 1986-Robert "Rassilon" Patton specializes in short, clean game programs that deliver plenty of playing enjoyment from comparatively brief easy-to-type listings. -ANTIC ED)
LAWS OF CHANCE
A lot of information displayed on the screen is not really necessary for playing Rollout. But those continuously updated probability statistics should help you take advantage of the odds when you make playing decisions, as well as being an interesting demonstration of the laws of chance in action.
The top line of the screen tracks the number of rolls, games, and the average number of rolls per game. The next line is the bar containing the numbers to be removed with the joystick-controlled marker underneath.
In the middle of the screen, the dice rolls are totalled in a grid format. The chart tells you how often, for instance, the dice have come up 1-6, 2-4, etc. On the lower right side of the screen you'll see running dice totals- how often the dice have added up to numbers between 2 and 12. The mean value of the rolls is also displayed.
After several games the display may become jumbled as it tries to display large numbers in these areas. Just restart the program, which sets the these variables back to zero.
As explained previously, you can choose to remove a combination of numbers that adds up to the sum of both dice. For example, if you roll a 4-3 you could remove the 4 and 3, the 5 and 2, the 6 and 1, or the 7.
Suppose you have only the 8 and 3 left and you roll a 3-5. You can remove the 3-or the 8. Then you must position the marker under a blank spot on the bar and press the fire button to continue. The 5 will remain on the bar.
When removing two numbers at once, the numbers won't disappear from the bar until both numbers have been selected. If your selection is wrong, the program ignores your request. But to reroll the dice, you must clear your request by moving back onto the wrong selection, pressing the joystick button, moving to a blank spot and pressing the joystick button again to roll the dice.
Remove the big numbers as soon as possible. Sometimes it's best to pass on removing the 1, 2 or 3. Keep track of available combinations, not just numbers remaining. Kids will get more Out of the addition practice if you concentrate on teaching the different possible combinations of each dice roll.
Pegboard is a type of Peg Solitaire, where you must remove pegs from the board by jumping them. There are many variations of this simple jumping boardgame, but we'll play the one called Center to Center.
Pressing the joystick button selects a peg, and the stick itself moves the peg/cursor around the board. A peg can be removed only by jumping an adjacent peg horizontally or vertically to a vacant space on the other side of the target peg. No diagonal jumps are allowed.
When you see the game screen, move the stick in any direction to start playing. This will remove the center peg. The best possible win is to remove all but one peg. And if you are really Mensa material, this last peg will wind up in the center hole.
Once you select a peg to move, press the joystick button. The peg will turn blue and a bell will sound. Now move the peg/ cursor to the vacant space you wish to jump to and press the trigger again. If you change your mind, put the cursor over the same peg you selected and press the button. After you make all possible jumps, press [HELP] for your score. To restart the game anytime, just press the [SELECT] key.
Your score depends on the number of pegs remaining on the board when you can't jump anymore. Three or four leftover pegs is average, two is excellent, and one gets you a genius rating. If multiple jumps are counted as one move, it's possible to get the last peg in the center hole within 18 moves. And if you succeed at this, apply for Mensa membership immediately.
Breakout is one of Atari's classic action games, and I have attempted to re-create it in Atari BASIC with Bounce. One useful difference is that Bounce uses the joystick instead of paddles
When the game screen appears, press the joystick button to serve the first of 25 balls. As usual, keep the ball in play for as long as possible. When the ball hits a brick, the brick disappears. The deflection angle is determined by where the ball hits your joystick cursor. The object is to knock out all the bricks with the least number of balls.
The scoring routine is not part of the main loop, so press [SELECT] for an update.
Bounce uses a number of programming techniques to increase the, speed of execution. One simple technique is to use variables whenever possible. Lines 290-300 assign variables to all numbers used in the main execution loop, lines 30-130. Other techniques include modular program design, simple and concise program lines, PLOT and LOCATE commands and placing the most heavily-used lines at the beginning of the program.
Line 110 lets you move twice as fast as the ball when you hold down the joystick button. However, this tends to lead to the ball being served without pausing the action-a prime reason to start with 25 balls.
Getting the ball "inside" the wall is the best way to cause the greatest amount of damage, because the ball will keep knocking out bricks while bouncing off the wall at the top of the screen-it won't hurtle back toward your cursor until it finds some space to squeeze through. With a little practice, you should be removing the wall very quickly It's possible to do so with only one ball.
Robert patton is an industrial engineer for the U.S. Postal Service. He recently transferred to the New York suburbs from Natchez, Mississipi. As Rassilon-a name from the Dr. Who TV series-he is active on CompuServe and will usually respond to electronic mail sent to 70057,674.