LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

development and releases of new/rewritten text adventures
fuzzel
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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sun Nov 17, 2019 1:31 pm

tricky wrote:
I know you've done it now, but did you try BBC BASIC for your main OS?
A few years back I wrote the first level of Lords of Time Part 2 in Basic, and from recollection it had around 30 locations and probably a dozen objects. Even at that small scale the file was quite large but the worst part was the speed of printing the location as you moved around. I'm thinking Philosopher's Quest here. I then abandoned the project, deciding to pluck up the courage at a later date to do an assembly language adventure instead. I'm glad I did!
tricky wrote:
I wonder if anyone has or would add serial emulation to one of the emulators (jsbeeb maybe - web permitting) to allow beeb connections between emulated beebs?
This sounds fascinating and I've only given it a cursory thought so far. My realistic idea of a MUD was really to incorporate computer generated mobiles, some creatures like goblins and elves, but also pretend adventurers, for example, Arnie the Berserker and Hecate the Witch, but I'd really like to experiment with programming a true MUD. Am I correct in thinking that I could use Beebem's Econet facility to connect several versions of Beebem running on my PC? I envisage one version would be the Master, on which the game itself would be running, and have several slave versions which would sent their inputs to the Master which would perform the action and send a message back to the slave screen, the important point being that only one version of the game would be running (on the Master).

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tricky
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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by tricky » Sun Nov 17, 2019 1:36 pm

I meant the "compressor".
Don't know about Econet, but I seem to remember a network option proposal.
If you have real time wandering monsters, then you aren't that far off multi-player, but it might add a big overhead to puzzle solving.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sun Nov 17, 2019 1:41 pm

There are loads of brochures / manuals on Chris's Acorns website which I've downloaded. I'll read through them and see if I can get a connection working between two emulated beebs. I will of course have to handle data transfer using assembly language so will have a read through the advanced user guide. I presume Acorn User and Micro User would have had articles on using Econet so I'll trawl through those as well.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:04 pm

Looking into it, I think Econet is probably most useful in the context of a LAN and the sharing of peripherals eg disc drives and printers.
Beebem's RS423 Comm function sounds more appropriate. I've just used it to play a MUD through Commstar and it works ok.
The question is, how do I use it to connect to another emulator, either on the same PC or on another PC on my home network ?
What I'd like to do, if anyone can help, is to send a test set of data, even just a couple of bytes to another PC in my home running Beebem.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by WrightStuff » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:03 pm

fuzzel wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 1:31 pm

Am I correct in thinking that I could use Beebem's Econet facility to connect several versions of Beebem running on my PC? I envisage one version would be the Master, on which the game itself would be running, and have several slave versions which would sent their inputs to the Master which would perform the action and send a message back to the slave screen, the important point being that only one version of the game would be running (on the Master).
Yes you can do that.
All you need is the Econet Advanced User Guide, all the OS calls to send/receive messages and even example programs are in there.
The Econet emulation in Beebem works perfectly well until you start chucking round lots of messages at the same time. Then it seems to get clogged up and weird errors like 'line jammed' start occurring.
I think in later (4.x?) versions of Beebem you can configure RS423 output to a named ip/port, so you should be able to get 2 Beebem instances talking to each other. An RS423 implementation is going to be simpler to implement but then you are limited to a maximum of 2 human players ?

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by WrightStuff » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:41 pm

fuzzel wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:04 pm
Looking into it, I think Econet is probably most useful in the context of a LAN and the sharing of peripherals eg disc drives and printers.
Beebem's RS423 Comm function sounds more appropriate. I've just used it to play a MUD through Commstar and it works ok.
The question is, how do I use it to connect to another emulator, either on the same PC or on another PC on my home network ?
What I'd like to do, if anyone can help, is to send a test set of data, even just a couple of bytes to another PC in my home running Beebem.
Ok, this is how you do it over RS423 (assumes 2 Beebem instances running on the same physical machine) :
  • Unzip to a pc folder
  • Run ncat.exe from a cmd prompt : 'ncat -v --broker 25232'
  • ncat should report 'ncat: Listening on 0.0.0.0:25232'
NOTE: you may have to whitelist this application with your antivirus/firewall to prevent it being identified as malicious and quarantined/blocked.

Then load up 2 instances of Beebem, and do this on each :
  • Options -> Freeze when inactive : off (unchecked)
  • Comms -> RS423 Destination -> IP:localhost:25232
  • Comms -> RS423 On/Off : on (checked)
On each Beebem instance load up or type in JGH's simple serial chat prog :

Code: Select all

10 ON ERROR OSCLI "FX2":OSCLI "FX3":REPORT:PRINT:END
20 *FX229,1
30 *FX2,2
40 REPEAT
50 IF ADVAL(-1):OSCLI "FX3,3":VDU GET:*FX3
60 IF ADVAL(-2):OSCLI "FX2,1":VDU GET:*FX2,2
70 UNTIL FALSE
Then just chat....a keypress in one Beebem instance will appear in the other, and vice-versa.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:38 pm

Many thanks for this, WrightStuff, I've found a few articles in the Micro User regarding getting two BBCs to talk to each other but obviously that involved two physical beebs with a cable, not appropriate to those running emulators. I should now be able to start work on a simple program to demonstrate it works. Am I right in thinking this method will only work for two emulated beebs ? If so, I guess the Econet route would be an option.
For information, the articles referred to above are from the September and October 1983 issues written by Paul Beverly.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by WrightStuff » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:57 pm

Using ncat in broker mode you are not restricted to 2 emulated Beebs. You can have as many as you like. An emulated RS423 broadcast network of sorts.
The important thing to note is that any data sent to the broker is sent out to everybody else who is connected, except the author.
So with more than 2 users connected you would have to do some filtering in the client program to prevent a client acting on data not intended for them because everybody (apart from the author) receives all data. A check on the first byte of a new msg maybe ??

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:18 pm

I've had to reprogram the parser analysis again, this time because I'm trying to emulate MUD where you can have several of the same object eg brands, umbrellas and boats to cater for several players. The problem manifested itself thus. If you type TAKE BRAND then the program would look through the list of objects until it found a match i.e. brand 1. However, that particluar brand could have been somewhere else. I then got the program to keep looking until it found the correct one in the location eg brand 5. When it found that it would take it. However, when it came to drop the brand eg brand 1 it would look until it found one in the location which was obviously no use. To solve the problem I've had to devise verb types as follows:
Type 1 eg GET - noun can be in location or worn
Type 2 eg PULL - noun can be in location only
Type 3 eg EAT - noun can be in possession or location
Type 4 eg DROP - noun can be in possession or worn
Type 5 eg WAVE - noun can be in possession only
Type 6 eg REMOVE - noun can be worn only
Type 7 eg NORTH - no noun required
Type 8 eg EXAMINE - noun can be in location, in possession or worn
All 96 verbs now have a type and the appropriate subroutine will deal with the object accordingly using its own rules.
This seems to have solved the problem. Having to incorporate several verb categories isn't something you'd consider for a second when playing someone else's game. Has anyone else writing a text adventure encountered a similar problem?

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sun Dec 01, 2019 2:54 pm

I've now included a value for all treasures and updated the SCORE command to accommodate. In the game you drop your treasures in a sanctuary location, in this case the lake. I've also added a VALUE command so you can see what each object is worth before you dispose of it. This will have one use in particular in the game..
Land Score.jpg


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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sun Dec 01, 2019 7:35 pm

Thanks tricky. I'm greatly enjoying writing it, particularly the improvements I'm doing with still more on the way. I'm being extremely faithful to the original in terms of location text, objects and puzzles and with the Beeb's sideways ram I'm confident I'll have more than enough memory to cope. The speed's impressive too, it being written in assembly language. Here's another change I made last week. I'd originally decided to print short object descriptions in the location and also the inventory with a more detailed description if you type EXAMINE. However, to be faithful to the original I've switched to long object descriptions for the locations. See examples below:

Short description:
land loc short obj desc.jpg
Long description:
land loc long obj desc.jpg
Regarding, Arnie's shotgun, I'll explain a bit closer to the release date what that's all about!

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:48 pm

I've spent the last couple of days rewriting my wordwrap routine, it was bugging me that occasionally a space in position 40 on the line would cause the wordwrap routine to print a blank line. Rather than find my error I drew out a new flowchart from scratch and reprogrammed it, first in assembly language and then quickly a BASIC version because I knew there'd be bugs and it's so much easier to bug test in BASIC. The new wordwrap had the added benefit of being able to handle the location text which previously I wrote as four separate data statements because BASIC can only cope with 240 characters per line. I had to wordwrap each block of text and if this resulted in one word on a new line or a short line, I had to adjust that block and the next block. My new version prints all the locations, one following the next and also seemlessly adds on the objects. So the presentation now looks a lot more professional. I've also incorporated the wordwrap into inventory printing so this also looks a bit tidier. Here's a comparison for one location, old v new. I'll do a big test tomorrow to make sure it works ok then I can get back onto puzzle code writing.
Old version:
Warm Room Old.jpg
New version:
Warm Room New.jpg

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by jgharston » Sat Dec 07, 2019 10:19 pm

WrightStuff wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:03 pm
All you need is the Econet Advanced User Guide, all the OS calls to send/receive messages and even example programs are in there.
The Econet network transmit and receive calls are neatly packaged up in the Net library and a demo of them in BeebFrame.

Code: Select all

$ bbcbasic
PDP11 BBC BASIC IV Version 0.32
(C) Copyright J.G.Harston 1989,2005-2020
>_

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by leenew » Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:18 am

Just popped in to say hello and to say I am really enjoying watching the development of this game.
Well done mate =D>

Lee.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by streaks » Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:48 pm

"You own nothing. You are wearing nothing. What now?"

Good question. What the hell did I do last night?
streaksy (at) gmail (dot) com

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:50 pm

streaks wrote:"You own nothing. You are wearing nothing. What now?"

Good question. What the hell did I do last night?
Hi streaks, I'm sure you'll find out soon enough on social media. :D
A very appropriate moniker for your post you have too !

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by streaks » Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:53 am

Yeh, turns out nude poverty is just my style
streaksy (at) gmail (dot) com

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LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Tue Dec 31, 2019 5:09 pm

Well, I'm nearly finished now programming the puzzles. Another adaptation I've done this week was to switch to 16 bit messages as I'd hit the 256 barrier. Thank goodness for beebasm, all I had to do was a search and replace in notepad of "JSR mess" with "LDX#0:JSR mess" which means I'm using the Accumulator for message number (low byte) and X-register for message number (high byte) where messages 1-256 have X=0 and messages 257-512 have X=1. It would have taken me AGES to do this scrolling through my programs listings on the beeb (and I'd be bound to miss a few).
Next steps are to add the extra messages including a few jokes, which aren't pertinent to the puzzles but give the game a bit more user-friendliness and playability. I also need to include a save game facility (I have a rudimentary one anyway from my previous project) and incorporate the MUD "levels" to the score. Finally I'll need to add the mobiles from my Land printout, I'll probably read up on how Bug Byte (Twin Kingdom Valley) and Level 9 / Mosaic (Erik the Viking) handled theirs, my initial thought would be to assign a route bit to each location and ensure these are non-contiguous, so for example the wood elf stays within the confines of the wood and the viking stays on the viking isle. Finally a walk through to correct any typos and add any further messages for the obvious actions people may try. Six months in, definitely getting there now...

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by JohnH » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:07 pm

I love the verbose location descriptions. To save on screen real estate and prevent excess scrolling removing earlier text, would it be worth just showing a short description for locations that you've already visited, and only showing verbose on the first visit or in response to an EXAMINE instruction? Might not be worth the extra memory overhead if you are getting short on space though.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:03 pm

Hi John, you must have read my mind, I have a spare byte for each location and I'm using the 8 bits as on/off flags for different things eg dark / light locations and inside / outside locations (as I intend to include some weather text like the original). One of these was for whether you've visited a location before. A slight problem with this is that the locations are stored in 4 SW Ram banks, so when you load a saved game this information will have been lost. It would be too much for me memory-wise to incorporate this extra byte for each location in a save game file.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by JohnH » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:38 am

Hmm, also if you were to make it true multi-player you'd have to store visited/not-visited on a player by player basis for each room, and this would soon become a big memory overhead as it wouldn't fit in your spare byte. Ignore me :D

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:55 pm

JohnH wrote:
Hmm, also if you were to make it true multi-player you'd have to store visited/not-visited on a player by player basis for each room, and this would soon become a big memory overhead as it wouldn't fit in your spare byte.
You're quite right, I hadn't actually thought that through yet but it would probably be prohibitive in terms of memory usage.
After having a couple of weeks off writing LAND (which has been rather welcome as it's been a fairly intense 6 months so far) I thought I'd put together another to-do list before officially releasing the game. Unfortunately, my progress towards completion will now be slowed down somewhat, I have to help my daughter with her GCSE revision so I'm not sure when I'll manage to get it finished. Here's what I need to do to reach the finish line.
Single User Version - this will be the initial release. The multi-user aspects of the game will involve me getting to grips with Econet / RS232 from a standing start so I'll do that version later.
1. I need to restructure the code, there is far too much JMPing around so I'll need to replace them with subroutines (JSRs and RTSs) where I can. Does anyone know how many nested subroutines assembly language on the beeb allows and what sort of error you get if you exceed it?
2. I need to check through all the messages in the printout and ensure I include them. I still have plenty SWR to accommodate them. Some messages relate to the multi-user version so these can be left out for the moment.
3. I still have a maze puzzle to do which is more complicated than simply finding your way out of identically described rooms. This will take a bit of thinking through.
4. On the Viking island there's a puzzle including a boulder and I'm not sure based on the code in the printout how this works. Unfortunately the DEC-10 at the University of Essex has long seen turned to rust so I can't actually play the original game to see how it works.
5. The scoring system works and to give the game a MUD flavour I'll assign a ranking eg novice, magician, wizard as your score passes various milestones. MUDs allow the option of entering a name and choosing your sex so I may or may not incorporate these elements on this version.
Another MUD element is health, stamina, etc for combat mode. Again I may leave this for the multi-user version. However, there are monsters in the game, some of which are standard objects you don't fight but just have to eliminate by solving a puzzle and there are others which can wander around. I need to decide whether its worth incorporating the combat mode so you can fight them or just have them as static characters for show at various locations. I'm keen to get a playable version out so may switch this to the MUD version.
6. Save game facility. I've reserved a part of memory where the game variables can be stored so a save file can be created. However, the locations are stored in sideways ram including an extra byte for each location, for example whether you've visited the location before, which can change during the game (see above posts) and I haven't the memory to have this byte saved so I'll need to work out what to do here.
7. To add atmosphere to the game I'm going to include weather. I've not started on this yet but it is in the original so I'll include it. I don't think it affects any puzzles but it will improve the game.
8. Once the above have been done I'll do some thorough testing. Not just typos but at each puzzle trying various obvious things and determining whether to include a response or not. Again, do I remain faithful to the original and leave improvements out or add a few extras for playability?
9. Release game and start work on the MUD version. Alternatively, start work on the second in the trilogy (MUD or MIST) - now that I have the basic adventure system coded it'll be a massive temptation to start work on the next game.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by JohnH » Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:56 pm

Hi fuzzel,

that's a whole lot of improvements, additions etc. to get done but I'm sure you'll work your way through them :-) I'm really looking forward to playing the game.

How do you save your saved games in the single player version? Are you just *SAVE-ing a block of ram containing your "variables"? If you were opening a file manually and writing out the data then you could append the visited byte for each location, or you could group the visited bits of each eight locations into a byte and write them out instead. I don't know how many locations you have but you could get 400 locations into 50 bytes using this method. Of course I've no idea how complex your data structure is for your locations plus spare byte in SWRAM so this might be incredible complicated to achieve and i'd probably take a month of Sundays to do just the bit-slicing part of all that :-(

Please forgive lack of commas, i'm very tired right now and can't be bothered with them ;-)

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:16 pm

Well, I've had a day off work so set to work on the maze puzzle and I can now strike off point 3 off the to do list above. Next up is point 7 - the weather system. In answer to your question about the *SAVE file, JohnH, I've used a block of zero page addresses, some at &C00-CFF and the object locations are in a block somewhere else so these are all copied to a 2 block save game location. Not very much really. I remember reading in one of Alice's Micro User columns that she thought that short save game files meant a very uncomplicated game but I'm not sure that's true. A lot of the puzzles don't need a byte, for example to say whether a puzzle has been done or not, the game just checks whether an object eg a dragon is in a certain location or not and once the puzzle is solved the object moves to a dead location and you're free to carry on. I could incorporate the location visited or not bit x 380 or so locations in the save file but it would take a bit of effort to do so it's lower down on the list of priorities. Given how quick the location is printed anyway I'm not sure it's really that necessary.

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:33 pm

Points 5 and 7 from above added. Thanks for the interest in my progress JohnH, you've given me some impetus.
I've added the 10 MUD rankings from novice all the way up to wizard.
Land 240120.jpg

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:03 am

After several failed attempts I've finally managed to get mobiles moving around the Land. I've taken a leaf out of Trevor Hall's (of Twin Kingdom Valley fame) book by incorporating a local map for each mobile using a bit from the extra location byte so the wood elf doesn't wander off into the desert for example. I'd originally just included the text "The wood elf arrives." and "The wood elf leaves." but I'd still got a bit of room left for messages so the program now tells you where they've gone to. Here's an example.
Elf moves.jpg
I'm pretty close to the final testing phase now having decided not to make the code more structured by reducing the number of JMPs (if the game works then why change it?). Just the save game routine to add first...

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:16 am

I'm now writing up the walkthrough of the game which is strange because although I've programmed all the puzzles I've not actually played and solved my own game yet! I'm also compiling a list of bugs and suggestions to improve the game a bit before the release. I may add some game characters just to give the game the atmosphere of a MUD but until I start work on interactions proper this will be mainly for effect. In the meantime, it's nice to see a couple of the original authors from Essex making an appearance:
wizzes.jpg

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by tricky » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:55 am

Looking amazing.
For future reference ;)

Code: Select all

.mess
LDX #0
.messX
...

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Re: LAND - A Multi-User Dungeon (well almost)

Post by fuzzel » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:56 am

I've just completed my first walkthrough proper, naively assuming that a few minor bugs apart, I could have a finished version available for download. Not quite! I've found 31 bugs and 20 non-essential but very nice to have improvements. A slight issue is that the bug fixes will take some additional memory (main program and messages) but I'm down to 40 bytes remaining for the main game proper and 200 bytes for messages. I've identified two ways I can save space on the game itself, a bit of a restructuring of the code, replacing JMPs with JSRs and RTSs and also moving the compression words up in memory which, although a bit of a headache to do will save me 512 bytes which should be enough to get me across the finish line. I'll probably have to add another SWR bank to the game to accommodate the extra messages but this will be worth it (SWR banks will then total 7 - 4 for locations, 2 for messages and 1 for objects (short and long descriptions).

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