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Thread: Continue Codes.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Aswald's Avatar
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    Default Continue Codes.

    In an earlier post, I mentioned an old computer game in which you had to input about 180 numbers (0-255) to continue a saved game.

    Just out of curiosity, if a good RPG became available for the ColecoVision or Atari 5200, and you had to do this, would it be worth it?

    I estimated that an average game player would need about 15 minutes to type them in, and about that long to copy them down when finished for the day.

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    Of course, the code could always be simplified to leave out pointless save data. 2 characters for location, 3 characters for each person in your party ,their gear and exp. level. Another 2 characters for completed tasks, and 1 more for anything else.
    Example: "X7qFrf8AscP83h9Nz"
    Limit codes to being given after you rest/heal at an inn, and you're golden...unless you worry about the password system being hacked.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Aswald's Avatar
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    Believe it or not, that 180 numbers IS the result of simplification!

    Part of the problem is the way the game is set up. Each dungeon is randomly generated, from 8 "tiles," each with 9 variations, for 72, total. Each dungeon level has 4 such tiles, placed in a 2X2 fashion, for a level of 256 spaces. These variations place certain obstacles, without the need for you to input it later on a save code, and there are literally millions of variations.

    There are 10 such levels. So that's 40 numbers, right there.

    The stairs leading from level to level must be permanent, and, since the relative position of those stairs on levels 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, are identical to 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10, only 5 such positions need be recorded. That's 16 numbers, the 16th determing the math used to place the stairs (so you can't guess by looking at the numbers).

    56.

    The big input comes from the characters. All start out with their stats pre-determined (think "Gauntlet," only more complex), and these stats rise as does the experience level, in a mathematically determined way (for example, Strength for a fighter might rise 1 point every 5 levels, so increase is Level X 0.2). As a result, at the beginning of a "saved" game, you only have to type in 1 number to determine all of the character's stats.

    But, there's armor, shields, items, gems, gold, weapon(s), "+" bonuses, type of weapon (silver, iron, silver-iron?), Mana level (current), Hit Points (current), etc.

    Not to mention certain magic/cleric spell enhancements.

    So at least 2/3 of the numbers deal with the characters. There are 5, total, but only 3 can be used at any one time. You are allowed to skip over inputing a character, if it was never used.

    There's also time passed (like most of my games, things get tougher as time passes by), Rainbow Armadillo friendship indicator, etc.

    The more you want to do, the more you have to do.

    If I ever manage to get a working Commodore-64, and program this game, I would do so with the ColecoVision in mind. If someone can and wishes to convert it over for ColecoVision play, then that code system is the only way, since battery back-up is not going to happen (Sean Kelly explained to me how difficult and time-consuming such cartridges are).

    But, Island of Foxes would be first. It's a much simpler game.

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    Peach (Level 3) devilman's Avatar
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    Hmm.. wouldn't you save yourself a lot of hassle if you used pre-planned dungeons rather than being randomly-generated?

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    ServBot (Level 11) davidbrit2's Avatar
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    Just save a 32 bit random seed. Boom. That reduces 40 characters to 4. Reducing the total from 180 to 144 isn't bad, but there's still a way to go.

    And why are the passwords for the original Bomberman so insanely long? Doesn't it just save the level number?

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    Quote Originally Posted by devilman
    Hmm.. wouldn't you save yourself a lot of hassle if you used pre-planned dungeons rather than being randomly-generated?
    Yes, it would, but where would be the long-range replay value? This way, each time you begin a totally new game, you cannot possibly know what's in store for you! If, by some near-miracle, I ever got this game programmed AND someone actually managed to "port" it over to the ColecoVision, then it would probably be the last such RPG for that system, so it had better stand up well under replay.

    There are a few advantages to this set-up. You can save any number of games in progress. You can start a new game, but keep the dungeon as it was before. Or, you can input high-level characters, with better weapons and equipment, if you feel that the game is too difficult at the beginning.

    If a power outage causes you to lose a current game, you can at least partially start from that point. If, for example, you found a Magi's Cloak for Aracalon, a +3 Silver-Iron Sword for Torai, and Silver-Iron Bolts for a Crossbow-Pistol for Sarah* during the current adventure, you could input this information in when, later, you start with the previous list of codes.

    * Actual names of the Magic-User, Fighter, and Pilferer.


    "Save a random 32-bit seed?" What does that mean?

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    ServBot (Level 11) davidbrit2's Avatar
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    Well, to generate a sequence of random numbers, you have to "seed" the generator with a number that will create a unique sequence. So if you want to keep a sequence of millions of random numbers, you can just save the seed number that you used, and that will give you the same set again. I think some modern random number generators use double seeding and entropy gathering, so a single seeded generator is one of the more primitive types. But it works fine for games.

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    I am glad some games do not use these passwords, like a PC game I used to have. It's save files were 15mb each. It needed to save a LOT of data.

    Then there was Ironsword for the NES. It had maybe a 16 character password. It was the first game where I tried modifying a single character in an arbitrary place and I actually ended up in a different place with totally different equipment!

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbrit2
    Well, to generate a sequence of random numbers, you have to "seed" the generator with a number that will create a unique sequence. So if you want to keep a sequence of millions of random numbers, you can just save the seed number that you used, and that will give you the same set again. I think some modern random number generators use double seeding and entropy gathering, so a single seeded generator is one of the more primitive types. But it works fine for games.
    I'm still not quite sure how that would work?

    With the variations, there are 72 tiles. A dungeon level is 2X2 tiles. It is possible for the same tile to be used more than once, so that makes thousands, even millions, of possible combinations. How would one actually use that method you mentioned to do this?


    Changing a character in this game shouldn't be a problem. The character in question is named during input, and in any case I would provide instructions explaining what number does what.

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    ServBot (Level 11) davidbrit2's Avatar
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    That's just how random number generators work. The simple ones anyway. When you put in a particular seed, you will always get the same sequence of "random" numbers. Also, numbers can come up multiple times, or not at all. So it could pick a seed from the system timer, or ask the user for the seed, then with the random number generator prepped and ready, it can spit out a random dungeon layout which will always be the same when using that seed. Again, most really good random number generators aren't nearly this simple, but for generating a dungeon layout, that would be plenty.

    And Oberfuhrer, try that with Gauntlet for NES. It's insanely easy to do, for some reason. Apparently they don't do very advanced checksumming.

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    How would you input this "seed?" It sounds like an excellent time-saver!

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    ServBot (Level 11) davidbrit2's Avatar
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    Okay, here's the "source code" to an ridiculously primitive random number generator for the Atari 2600 Basic Programming cartridge.

    Code:
    1 S<-9
    2 M<-31
    3 I<-5
    4 F<-3
    5 S<-&#40;FxS+I&#41; Mod M
    6 Hor1<-S
    7 Goto 5
    In case you haven't seen it before, the Mod operator returns the integer remainder when the left operand is divided by the right. So 5 Mod 3 would be 2.

    Line 5 is the brains of the equation.
    The variables F, M, and I are the parameters. Changing these will alter the length of the sequence before it starts to repeat. Also, the value of M will determine the maximum value that can be generated.
    Variable S is the seed. The equation just takes FxS+I, finds the remainder when divided by M, then puts that back into S, which is the seed value. So the seed is basically used to find its next value.

    There are a lot better ways to generate random numbers than this, but it's the only source code I've got on hand right now. Heh. It still illustrates the basic principles, though.

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    Dug up the trusty old Programmer's Reference Guide, and checked out its handy-dandy memory map. There it is; "it" is 5 memory locations. All I have to do is get a working Commodore-64, do a little trial-and-error, and that should do it. 5 instead of 40 is an improvement.

    Maybe I'll use some of those reduced numbers to add an extra option; the ability to "hide" some things in the Dungeon, such as Mana Crystals, Fireball/Lightning/Frost Wands, Healing Potions, or the like.

    Hmmm...aside from Gold, you can also find Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds. These can be converted to Gold (or vice-verca), but relative value fluctuates. An Emerald has a "base" value of 1000, for example, but this can be randomly adjusted upward 7% (1070), or downward 10% (900).

    Best of all, the old subroutine is there, in complete detail! In pen, no less!

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