Wednesday 27 April 2011

r0x (Atari STE) (2009)

System Requirements

* A 2MB Atari STE.
* A joystick/joypad (two for two-player).
* A colour VDU and a loud sound-system plugged into your STE L/R audio ports.
* A friend to play against (optional, yet strongly recommended).

Note that as from Version 1.00, the hosted here contains STE hard disk installable files, a .ST disk image and a ready-to-go PC version (embedded in the Steem emulator) that is lauchable via a .cmd file. If you choose to play the 'Win32' version of r0x, please ensure that you read the specific instructions so that you can exit from the emulator.


Download r0x (1.00) HERE!
(Full version history is given in detail below).

Commander Perez was not a happy man. He sat alone in the cold empty bridge of the TTA Military Frigate 'Irata', gravely contemplating his current situation. Up until now the mission had run smoothly - his platoon had all but wiped out the renegade death squads of Proxima Centauri in an intense ground battle and they'd reclaimed a previously captured warship in the process. It had looked as though it would be medals and cigars all across the board for his surviving troops on their return to Sol - but not any more...

From assessing the ship's log it appeared that one of the mechanics had left a 3D skin-flick playing in the training holo-deck whilst Perez and his crew were stored in suspended animation on the long trip home. Unfortunately, playing the movie repeatedly over several millennia had completely drained the ships primary battery banks dry. As a result of this, the ship's computer followed emergency protocol, cut life support down to a minimum and jettisoned all expendable personnel - basically everyone except Perez himself. Somewhere out in the cold vacuum drifted his entire crew, floating in their survival suits, catatonic and completely oblivious to the danger they were in.

To make matters even worse, the ship's navigation system had apparently failed during the crew-dump procedure. Perez had been awoken deep in uncharted space.

"Computer!" Perez barked, "Where are we? Give me a nav report!"

There was no reply. Perez leaned out from his chair and swivelled the navigator's VDU round to face him. The screen was blank, empty except for a row of 8 bombs and what appeared to be a cursor in the shape of a bumble bee. Unfortunately, as part of a military cost-cutting exercise the majority of the Irata's previously cutting-edge computer hardware had been replaced by vintage (yet serviceable) 68000-based systems. Perez had in fact signed the authorisation papers permitting the changeover in return for an extra week's paid R&R.

"What the frakk is this?!" Perez roared. He furiously stabbed at the buttons on his terminal and initialised a mid-range radar scan on the bridge's main display. The top of the screen was a chaotic blur of echoes and the ship was flying on a direct collision course.

"What the frakk IS THIS?!" Perez roared (again). He pulled a lever and the ship launched a probe out into the cosmos ahead. It survived about 50 seconds before impact, but not before it had relayed a short burst of video information.

"Computer! Give me full manual control and initiate evasive protocol Delta-Nine-Zero. Lock down all external apparatus and raise shields NOW!"

Commander Perez began to grind his teeth nervously, his brow beaded with cold sweat. The mother of all meteor storms was heading straight for the Irata.

The Game (Arcade Mode)

r0x is a game of skill.
In the single-player Arcade mode, your goal is to earn as many points as you can and survive as long as possible. You control the Irata's movement via the joystick and have a limited number of smart bombs that are activated by pressing the primary fire button. If you get tired of playing, just press 'Q' to return to the main menu.
When you start the game, r0x, treasure, bonuses, 'maluses' and cosmonauts will begin to fall from the top of the screen. Bonuses (bombs, E-X-T-R-A letters and lives), treasure and cosmonauts should be collected, whereas r0x and maluses (reverse controls and skulls) should be avoided.
In the top right corner of the screen you'll see a distance counter. This shows how much longer the current wave of r0x will last. The HUD also displays your current score, how many smart bombs and ships you have left and any E-X-T-R-A characters you've collected (get the full set and you're awarded with an extra life). There's also a space where an exclamation mark will appear if you accidentally pick up a 'reverse' malus, but hopefully you won't make the mistake of collecting one of those too often.
Smart bombs clear the screen and are a lot of fun to use, but we recommend save them for emergencies only. As you progress deeper into the meteor storm you'll often encounter situations where you cannot avoid a collision and it's these times that the bombs will prove most useful.
Want to get an insanely high score? Lightly grazing the sides of r0x earns you serious danger points.

The Game (Vs Battle Mode)
r0x is a game of death.
In the two-player battle mode both players start with three lives (and no bombs) and it's a competition to collect the most floating spacemen. The first player to collect 20 wins. Otherwise, if both players die, the one who has rescued the most wins the round. In the case of a draw situation, the player to survive the longest wins.
Note that to play in two-player mode you require two joysticks.

Additional Features

Right, that's the basic instructions out of the way. So what else does the game feature?
* A menu screen with a message displayer and animated VDU. Make yourself a coffee, sit back and see if your name is in the extensive 'greets' list. ;)
* An in-game playing guide (not that it's really needed).
* A hi score table. (Woo-hoo!)
* A quit to desktop option.
* A SECRET menu (read the messages in the displayer for a clue on how to access it - or just hack our game till you find it! :P)
That's about all. A lot more was originally planned (shop/trading, end of level sequences, etc.), but as r0x is basically an unashamedly simple game we decided that adding features like these wouldn't really benefit the game-play enough to warrant the effort required to implement them.

So, who were the r0xx0r's behind this game?
Heavy Stylus (RGCD)
TomChi (NoExtra)
GFA Code
TomChi (NoExtra)
C-Rem (MJJ-Prod)
Heavy Stylus (RGCD)
Templeton (CVSD)
Crazy_Q (G-Spot)
DMA-SC (Sector One)
TomChi (NoExtra)
Sampled Speech / SFX
Heavy Stylus (RGCD)
TomChi (NoExtra)
Testing / Additional Help
GGN (D-Bug)
Xerus (STOT)
r0x is based on the meteor storm bonus stage in Edgar Vigdal's Deluxe Galaga (Amiga)

Version History

Version 1.00 - Added secret menu, added hi-score saving, added last few music tracks from Crazy Q and TomChi. The hiscore table now includes the wave reached so you can compete for points or progress! Last(?) few bugs squashed, and the program now exits to desktop correctly. Unless further bugs are found, this should be the final version of r0x!
Version 0.99 - Tomchi added a kick-ass intro sequence, sinus scroll on game over and logo bounce on two player screens. Added more music to game and finalised score system (increased grazing reward, added a wave complete bonus and updated hiscore table). Fixed a bug that prevented the game running from an auto folder.
Version 0.98 - Bug fixes, optimised menu code, tweaked gameplay settings and new sprite sheet. Added Moon parallax scrolling effect and new samples. Addressed scoring issues, added spacemen to the single-player game and fixed two-player mode.
Version 0.97 - Initial Outline 09 (Game-Dev Compo winning) release!

Final Words

Work on r0x originally started back in the beginning of 2008 as a joint project between Heavy Stylus (RGCD) and El-Tel (EJT/RGCD). The initial plan was to use ripped sprites from Deluxe Galaga on the Amiga and we were intending to code the game using STOS. However, when the sprite sheets and basic design document were complete, El-Tel had to abandon the project due to work commitments - leaving Stylus with a plan but no-one to help him execute it.
Some time later, after posting about the project on the D-Bug forum ( TomChi emailed Heavy Stylus asking permission to create the game. Several changes immediately came into effect; the ship would have full movement around the screen, a bonus system was designed and a two-player battle mode was discussed. TomChi had the basic engine up and running within a few weeks. C-Rem kindly pixelled a seriously 'rocking' intro screen.
In March 2009, Stylus demonstrated the WIP version of the game as part of the homebrew showcase at ByteBack 2009 (a retro gaming event in the North of England). Around the same time, Stylus' friend Ptoing expressed an interest in the project and submitted a couple of sprites to demonstrate his view of how the game should look. Sadly, nothing further came of this. :(
A month later TomChi contacted Stylus with a real surprise - the sprite sheet had been completely redrawn by Templeton and the game instantly looked about 1000x cooler! :) However, C-Rem's excellent artwork no longer suited the visual style of the game so it was dropped - or was it? ;)
Early May, with the deadline only days away and no-one available to pixel any new screens for the game, Stylus sat down at his PC and worked for two nights straight on creating all the additional (non-sprite) graphics and logos you now see in the game. After a few more difficult evenings the sampled speech and retro sound effects were added, and TomChi managed to get the game running a complete cycle for the first time.
Finally, after a year of on-and-off development, the Battle Mode and last few bits of code were completed at the Outline 2009 party.

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