Steve W. Lucas games

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Strident
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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#16 Post by Strident » Thu Jan 28, 2021 4:26 pm

A Journey Through Space sounds like it'll be a variation of one of the existing games; probably the Journey of a Space Traveller/A Visitor from Space one. I'm guessing Wizard's Quest will have familiar elements too. Snow White, at least, has the chance of being something new.

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Garry
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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#17 Post by Garry » Fri Jan 29, 2021 2:12 am

Agreed. Now that I've got the source code, I'll be able to determine any commonality. Just off the cuff, they don't appear to be the same as any of the others, as the maps published in the book are quite different (I think). Time will tell.

For what it's worth, Snow White has graphics and Wizard's Quest borrows elements from original Adventure.

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#18 Post by Garry » Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:47 am

Just a little update.

I've typed in all three games from the MSX Adventure Programming book. The first one (The Wizard's Quest) is complete and I've started playing it. I need to play it to completion to make sure there are no typing errors. I did notice a few bugs as I was typing it in, so I might do a bug-fixed version for CASA. I couldn't get it to run as listed, as it gave me an 'out of memory' error at line 70. I had to change the CLEAR 7000 to CLEAR and it works. It's definitely not one of the Steve Lucas games that I've played before. It's fairly typical of his style, essentially a treasure hunt with the treasures scattered over a very large map and monsters blocking the way at various points.

I'll try to check the typing on the other two and play them in the next week or so.

Woohoo! Home-brew type-in adventures are fun.

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#19 Post by Garry » Sat Jan 30, 2021 8:07 am

Oh, crap! I spoke too soon. I just got an 'Out of string space in 2890' error. It looks like it won't work with disk. I'll have to save it to a cassette image and try it from that. Any MSX experts out there?

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#20 Post by Alastair » Sun Jan 31, 2021 12:33 am

Garry wrote:
Sat Jan 30, 2021 8:07 am
Any MSX experts out there?
I'm not but if you haven't seen it yet there is a wiki on MSX-BASIC Instructions which may be of some use. In the meantime you could try various clear values, starting at 4000 and increasing or decreasing the value by a few thousands or hundreds until you get to a value that works.

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#21 Post by Garry » Sun Jan 31, 2021 1:11 pm

Alastair wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 12:33 am
I'm not but if you haven't seen it yet there is a wiki on MSX-BASIC Instructions which may be of some use. In the meantime you could try various clear values, starting at 4000 and increasing or decreasing the value by a few thousands or hundreds until you get to a value that works.
Thanks Alastair. I had tried changing the clear values and found that it stopped crashing at around 4000 or 5000. However, the game just crashes further on with an 'Out of string space' error. This occurs at different points in the game depending on what you've done, including things that you've done successfully earlier in the game. It looks like it's got something to do with dynamic string building when it does something like A$=A$+"blah". I'm guessing that there's no garbage collection and it eventually runs out of memory.

As far as getting more memory is concerned, I think this is more of an emulator issue. After some Googling, I found that the MSX has a 'feature' whereby if you press Ctrl during startup, it does not install the device driver for drive B and if you press Shift, it does not install the device drivers for drives A and B. I'm using blueMSX and found that you had to press left Ctrl or left Shift on the PC keyboard for this to work and the timing is quite dicky.

Anyway, I got the sh*ts with it crashing when deep into the game, so I'll try again later.

The good news is that I've checked the typing on 'Snow White' and played it to completion. What an awful game! It has no redeeming features whatsoever. This had the same issue with the 'Out of string space' error once you got deep into the game, but I was able to get through it by starting again and playing a minimum move solution. Screen grabs, map and solution to follow shortly.

Next up is 'A Journey through Space'.

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#22 Post by Garry » Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:31 pm

I'm sure nobody is the least bit interested in this, but I finished checking the typing for 'A Journey through Space' and did an extra version to read the data file from disk, rather than cassette. Let's see if I can get through it without all the 'Out of string space' errors.

Incidentally, I am now confident that these are all new games and not rehashes of magazine type-ins.

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#23 Post by Garry » Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:27 pm

Steve Lucas is famous for writing buggy games. He has outdone himself with 'A Journey through Space'. The game is impossible to finish!

The aim of the game is to repair your spaceship. In the first room, you find a damaged panel. I presume this is something that has to be repaired, so the first thing I try is REPAIR PANEL (just to see if I'm on the right track). Bugger me if it doesn't prompt me to insert a tape to save the game. "Oops, must be a typo", I thinks to myself. So I check the code against the book and there's no typo. The game understands REPAIR, FIX and MEND, but if you enter any of these, it goes to the save game routine. There is NO routine for repair, fix or mend, nor is there any discussion of it in the book. Sheesh. I am now wading through the book to see if I can work out what you're supposed to do to fix the panel.

[Later...]

In order to complete the game, you have to complete five tasks. Completion of the tasks is indicated by the variables SC, SD, SE, SF, and SG. The book says these will be described later, but they never are. SF and SG are never set in the code. Therefore, I can safely assume that both the book and the code are incomplete. Argus Books, I want my money back!

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#24 Post by leenew » Tue Feb 02, 2021 10:17 pm

I LOVE Steve Lucas!!
Seeing as getting his games to work is always more enjoyable than actually playing them, then surely these are the most fun of all!
I wonder if the Amstrad version of this book is just as buggy?
I don't have it by the way... The only site offering a download of the pdf is asking for credit card details as a verification. I don't trust it enough to give it my details!

http://h.barefootcook.com/1372.html.

Lee

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#25 Post by Strident » Tue Feb 02, 2021 11:47 pm

Yes, that book might be useful as it has the same games in it according to the index.
http://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Adventu ... 64_%26_664

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#26 Post by Exemptus » Wed Feb 03, 2021 12:03 am

leenew wrote:
Tue Feb 02, 2021 10:17 pm
I don't have it by the way... The only site offering a download of the pdf is asking for credit card details as a verification. I don't trust it enough to give it my details!
Please do NOT enter anything on that site: it is a scam. These type of sites are automatically generated as bait, and they will create Google hits for practically any PDF book you are looking for. The book is not there (there are no books there at all, actually; it is all fake). There is the possibility the book has been scanned and exists elsewhere, but please exercise extreme caution when looking for such things.

By the way, I agree with Lucas' poor programming standards. Nothing wrong with the ideas, but coding was definitely not his calling. Those were different times, and expectations were different as well, so allowances have to be made. But even in the day he was not a role model to follow as per technique, in my opinion.

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#27 Post by Garry » Wed Feb 03, 2021 12:45 am

The contents of the Amstrad book are identical to the contents of the MSX book, so if I can find a pdf of the former and it has the missing section, I will be able to do the Amstrad version and fix the MSX version. So near, yet so far.

I must agree on Steve Lucas' programming skills. He was a prolific adventure author, yet his adventure framework left a lot to be desired. Apart from his games being buggy, I could never understand why he didn't improve his framework over the years. It started out bad and it never got any better. It's like he never learnt anything. Surely, he must have looked at other people's adventures and seen that there were better and more efficient ways of doing the parser, the logic and the display.

Does anyone know what happened to him? Is he still around?

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#28 Post by Strident » Wed Feb 03, 2021 2:55 pm

I have searched quite extensively online but I've not found any trace of him so far. I don't have any biographic details for him which makes things trickier.

The Amstrad version of the book seems very rare. I've found references that a copy went for £113 on ebay about ten years ago. That's a lot to pay for a book of games that probably don't work.

I wonder how close the engine he kept on using was to the John R. Olsen TRS-80 one...

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#29 Post by leenew » Wed Feb 03, 2021 11:19 pm

I wonder if it's worth a mention on any of the Amstrad forums?
If someone has the book, then just a few mobile phone photos may be enough to get the info needed?

Lee

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Re: Steve W. Lucas games

#30 Post by iamaran » Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:36 am

Garry wrote:
Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:27 pm
Steve Lucas is famous for writing buggy games. He has outdone himself with 'A Journey through Space'. The game is impossible to finish!

The aim of the game is to repair your spaceship. In the first room, you find a damaged panel. I presume this is something that has to be repaired, so the first thing I try is REPAIR PANEL (just to see if I'm on the right track). Bugger me if it doesn't prompt me to insert a tape to save the game. "Oops, must be a typo", I thinks to myself. So I check the code against the book and there's no typo. The game understands REPAIR, FIX and MEND, but if you enter any of these, it goes to the save game routine. There is NO routine for repair, fix or mend, nor is there any discussion of it in the book. Sheesh. I am now wading through the book to see if I can work out what you're supposed to do to fix the panel.
Apparently it was scanned by Howard Price of the MSX UK Users Group on Facebook. There may have been an errata sheet that didn't make it?

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