The ROBOX Incident

ROBOX Game Screen

by: Bryan Schappel and Barry Kolbe

Publication date: October 1987

Download the executable (5,848 bytes).

Your bed still likes you, even if you have been gone a long time-and you still like your bed. You hit the sack at about 10:00p.m. and have been snoozing comfortably for nearly five hours, when... there's a crash and a bright flash of white light. (Amazing how none of your neighbors have been awakened, isn't it?)

You leap from bed, as best you can, don your robe and slippers, step on the dog, trip over your stuffed Komodo dragon doll and stumble down the stairs. The back door opens, even though you wanted it to, and you're outside.

Over in the vegetable garden, right on top of the corn that just started to come in, between the carrots and the peas, is a crater the size of your pumpkin patch. (Hey, where did the pumpkin patch go?)

Against your best judgment, you approach this crater- waiting for a big green thing with scales to jump at your throat, but no such luck. There's just a blackened box, with a panel and a button, sitting there. You're about to re-enter your humble abode and pass this occurrence off as a normal everyday kinda thing, when you notice the words Press START on the panel.

Well, you thought that addiction to computer games was cured, didn't you? Not quite. Against your will you press START and...

Playing ROBOX.
You are now the proud owner of a slightly used alien com-puter, sent to Earth for reasons unknown. One nice thing about these aliens is that they speak the English tongue.

The computer uses the universal QWERTY keyboard as an input device and has a built-in CRT terminal for output. There also must be a disk in drive 1 at all times during play.

ROBOX has a total of 42 points. There is a point display at the bottom of the screen; keep a close eye on it, because it tells you if you did something right or wrong. For each new thing you discover, you receive 1 point. If you then do the thing wrong, after having done it right, you will loose 1 point.

Learning how to save/load a game also gives you points, so you may want to figure out how to do these operations first.

Program options.
There are a couple of options available to you, that just make playing more fun. You will notice messages are print-ed to the screen slowly; to speed things up, press the in-verse (Atari logo) key. Pressing it again will toggle it back to slow mode.

The other option is a key-click toggle. There is normally no click, but if you like the click, just press CTRL-CAPS. Press CTRL-CAPS again to turn off the click.

Technical notes.
ROBOX operates in graphics mode 0, on a narrow play-field. The wonderful moving graphs at the bottom of the screen were accomplished by defining a pair of characters with a pattern that would meet at both ends if folded over (like a sine wave). Then, every three vertical blanks, the character definition is shifted to the left with the ROL, LSR instructions, checking to see if the carry was set. If so, bit 7 of the rightmost character is set.

We used a custom screen print routine (the OS will not do narrow playfields) that accesses screen memory direct-ly-this bugger can fill a screen with straight ATASCII text in the wink of an eye. Try that with CIO someday. (Our print routine also does word wraps, making the text easier to read.) There's a custom input routine used that will allow only sixty-four character inputs, alphanumeric only.
All game messages are tokenized to save memory. This also means that you can't look at the disk file for clues. By tokenizing the messages, we probably saved upwards of fifteen sectors. The Scott Adams adventures also used a tech-nique similar to this, so all his adventures could fit into 16K.

We hope ROBOX keeps you busy for the next month. You may want to schedule an appointment at the Hair Transplant Salon in the near future (you could be pulling out quite a bit).

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