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First Graphics Game Written On/For a 16-Bit Home PC

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the it's-an-e-antique dept.

Classic Games (Games) 159

The GPI writes with a story about Scott's Space Wars, a piece of gaming history: "This game was written by the famous game author Scott Adams, who founded Adventure International, the first multimillion dollar PC game company. It was founded over 30 years ago and developed for early 8-bit home PCs, i.e. TRS-80, Apple II, Atari. Scott's Space Wars is the first graphics game that was ever written at home, for a 16-bit home computer. The original source code is available as photos of the original 1975 hand-written manuscript. The last purchaser of the manuscript paid $197,500 in 2005. A brief video shows how the game was played."

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I remember that game (2, Funny)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825699)

It had better controls and playability than anything on the PS3 or XBOX 360.

Re:I remember that game (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826269)

Better control than your parents, too.

Re:I remember that game (0, Troll)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826471)

This got modded up?

seriously?

You're going to ignore 30 years of game development in favor of a snarky comment? I mean, there's contrarian thinking and then there's...

this.

Re:I remember that game (3, Funny)

a09bdb811a (1453409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826579)

seriously?

No, not seriously.

Re:I remember that game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27827067)

You have to assume that anyone who idolizes Rollins with a good ol' fashion Hank quote has got to have a negative amount of sense of humor. Seriously, Rollins was born without any humor at all. A human black hole. I think he's Glenn Danzig's brother. The Joe Escalante of his generation.

Nice (5, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825701)

The first computer I ever saw in person and worked on was a TRS-80 model III. I was in the 7th grade and my junior high school had a lab with a bunch of them. I can remember playing games that looked very similar to the video. This was 1982, so it was probably something different, but the same idea, using letters and symbols. We learned basic in that class and did a little bit of graphics stuff ourselves. I don't remember it all that well now, but I do know that I loved it.
 
I enjoyed it enough that my dad bought the family a Commodore Vic-20. That was a big deal as our family didn't have a ton of money. I don't think we even owned a vcr yet at that point. I spent tons of time on that thing, and took all the classes I could get in jr. high and high school. It really was a cool time to be messing with home computers. I had a friend in the 8th grade that wrote a text adventure and was selling it out of a local computer store. He didn't make a lot but it was just fun to be able to do that kind of stuff. I'm not sure if there is a similar environment or feel like that anywhere any more. (Or more likely - it's somewhere I'm just not in it, too old to see it, etc.)

Re:Nice (0, Offtopic)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825725)

I'm such an idiot - I wrote all that and I've been thinking more and more about it. I saw that game on the PC of a friend's dad - a couple years before I worked with computers in school. His dad was an engineer for Carsten Manufacturing - they make Ping golf clubs. Ah well - we did do similar stuff on school computers - but it was at Doug Avann's house that I saw this game or a copy of it that was based on Star Trek. I'd forgotten all about that until tonight.

Re:Nice (0, Offtopic)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825733)

No, you're right. We've destroyed unregulated industry-- you can't just start your own business anymore, doing anything. Your initial risk is either monetary or legal; you have to break the law a lot to get started, or put up a lot of money you might lose and probably don't really have anyway.

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825763)

That is patently untrue. I know that people like to say that sort of thing, but whether you care to admit it or not, regulated industry is a lot easier to get into than a system where the big guys call all of the shots.

Additionally it depends what sort of business you're talking about, a great deal of businesses are not like you're describing.

But then again, why question what the elites of industry want, I mean it's not like they're acting solely for themselves.

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825927)

Additionally it depends what sort of business you're talking about, a great deal of businesses are not like you're describing.

Basically, anything where you're in competition with a corporation. Sure, starting up a restaurant or hair salon isn't any different than it was 60 years ago. But try starting up a software firm? A movie studio? How about you try starting up a broadband internet business?

Anywhere there's any amount of money, expect to be blown out of the water. A frivolous lawsuit or a herd of lobbyists doesn't cost a corporation anything, but it costs YOU your business, and your car, and your home...

Re:Nice (4, Informative)

abigor (540274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826283)

Can you be more specific about what's so hard about starting up a software firm? I've been a part of three startups, and I'm now independent and working with another small company, and none have encountered any problems whatsoever with lawsuits or lobbyists. What exactly did you have in mind?

Also, people start movie production companies all the time (every independent movie that comes out starts their own, it seems) and they don't have any problems. A close friend of mine is a movie cameraman on various big-budget Hollywood films, and he sometimes works with smaller independents just for the hell of it. Never mentioned any legal issues.

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826343)

. But try starting up a software firm?

Wait, why do you think this is so hard? I've worked at two different software companies that started within the last seven years. One has been reasonably successful, and the other is struggling along. Many many software companies start every year. A lot of them fail for various reasons, many are successful. Some phenomenally so. Google was nothing more than a startup, literally in a garage, in 1998. Now, of course, it is a multi-billion dollar company. It happens over and over again, and there is nothing to stop you from doing it as well.

A frivolous lawsuit or a herd of lobbyists doesn't cost a corporation anything, but it costs YOU your business, and your car, and your home...

A corporation is easy to establish. Set it up and you too can have your car and your home protected from lawsuits that don't cost anything. There is nothing to keep you from starting your own business but your own fear and a good idea.

Re:Nice (2, Funny)

gadabyte (1228808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826535)

It happens over and over again, and there is nothing to stop you from doing it as well.

the crushing weight of regulation has so far prevented adoption of my rearden-fill bean bag chair.

Re:Nice (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826621)

I have no clue what a rearden-fill beanbag chair is; mainly what rearden might be.

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

YenTheFirst (1056960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826987)

I have no clue what a rearden-fill beanbag chair is; mainly what rearden might be.

'rearden', I suspect, would be a reference [wikipedia.org] to a character in the 1957 novel 'Atlas Shrugged'

The novel is known for it's viewpoint on capitalism, and unregulated markets, as the ideal. I expect the reference works into that.

Personally, it's one of the few books I've started reading but didn't finish. The side characters/'bad guys' at the beginning of the book were just way too fake. If I'm going to read a novel that thick, and give its philosophy and arguments real weight, I don't want to wade through strawmen to do it.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27829051)

It's a reference to the novel Atlas Shrugged.

Re:Nice (1)

overbaud (964858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827013)

What like google? Or facebook? Both new kids on the block against big business like an established yahoo or LinkedIn or mySpace in their day.

Re:Nice (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27827261)

Ever notice how all libertarians are ugly, gross-looking dudes?

It's true. That's why they hide in their basements and pollute the internet with their stupidity.

Re:Nice (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828237)

regulated industry is a lot easier to get into than a system where the big guys call all of the shots.

A regulated industry IS a system where the big guys call all of the shots.

Re:Nice (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827147)

Nonsense. Games in particular. My company's nearly done with our proprietary 3D engine technology (we've got an absolute whiz with the graphics side of things, keep him in beer and pizza and he'll be implementing "DirectX 10 only" stuff in SM2 all night), and we've already got licensees lined up, as well as two indie-game titles around 70% complete. It's not that hard if you have a clue.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27828585)

This is complete nonsense. It is just as easy to start a small company writing games today as it was in 1982. Small kids can still do it. The only difference is they're using Flash today rather than BASIC.

Re:Nice (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826307)

7th grade? I was in college when both the Trash-80 Model III and the VIC-20 were released. Time for my pills...

What I learned from my TRS-80 MC-10 (1)

cenc (1310167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826351)

My first computer was a TRS-80 MC-10.

What I learned it after about an hour of playing with the basic on it, was that I needed a better computer.

It is a lesson I am still using almost every day, as I sit at my duel core processor with 6 gigs of ram and raid 0. I still need a better computer.

Re:What I learned from my TRS-80 MC-10 (2, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826997)

gigs of ram and raid 0. I still need a better computer.

The mnemonic I learned was : RAID 0 - The 0 stands for the amount of bits of data that are safe in the event of a single hard drive failure.

RAID 5 may serve you better my friend.

Re:What I learned from my TRS-80 MC-10 (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827223)

Raid 5 is great, if you like painfully slow writes, and have space to waste.

Re:What I learned from my TRS-80 MC-10 (1)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827561)

TRS80 and Apple II were 8 bit machines ... I would also argue the point about it being the "first" game written for a 16 bit machine.

First game I saw on an 8 bit machine was "electric fence" which ran on an Altair. Pretty sure the first game on a 16 bit machine would have have been written in BASIC.

Sure am amazed about some of these claims, and the fact that halfwits end up beleiving them

Re:What I learned from my TRS-80 MC-10 (1)

tachyonflow (539926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828543)

My first computer was also an MC-10! (You, me, and maybe ten others, heh...) My realization came when I was typing in a text adventure game from the back of a book, and got the dreaded "out of memory" error. :)

I hear you about needing a new computer... the 5GB of memory in this Mac Pro starts feeling tight after running a few Firefox, Eclipse, and VMWare processes...

Re:What I learned from my TRS-80 MC-10 (1)

cenc (1310167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828977)

My favorite game was the hours of typing, followed by 'what is behind door number one'.

LOL

The second lesson I learned was basic sucks, and I need a better programing language.

Re:Nice (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826383)

I'm not sure if there is a similar environment or feel like that anywhere any more. (Or more likely - it's somewhere I'm just not in it, too old to see it, etc.)

I've been thinking about this, and I think it was so much fun because you could do anything anyone else could. Coming up with cool new ways to arrange colored text on the screen, interesting ways to use the arrow keys, new different kinds of menuing systems, if you could see it (and it often was cool), you could reproduce it. And a single person could make something very cool in little time, it was just a matter of imagining it.

Nowadays, it takes an artist or a team of artists several months to make something cool, and only the smallest projects can be made by a single person. It is so much harder to manipulate what happens on the screen (and this is coming from a person who is an experienced programmer), and it is not as easy to change someone else's source code. You may have a cool idea, but good luck implementing it alone.

So many things have changed. Fortunately more powerful computers make up for it.

Re:Nice (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826545)

Well, Kongregate(.com) is the best example of small, very nice, creative things, that one person can do alone. And I dare to say, that they beat many large multi-million games in terms of pure fun and addictiveness. If only they would support other plug-ins, like Java applets, and maybe even things like the Quake live 3D engine...

Re:Nice (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826671)

Yeah, there are little corners where you can still do it, and realistically, a javascript game is not far out of the reach of most people. The barrier to entry now is significantly higher than it used to be, though. You have to be a programmer, an artist, something of a musician; not to mention the programming concepts are significantly more complicated (javascript is a lot more complicated than basic). In the old days you could do something that looked ok after learning how to print stuff on the screen and read stuff from the keyboard. Now you have to at least wrap your head around events, functions, and timers in order to build even a basic game.

Back in those days, I thought it was awesome to get a basic 10 note beeping melody coming out of my computer. That just doesn't cut it as awesome anymore.

Re:Nice (0, Troll)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827153)

You have to be a programmer, an artist, something of a musician

Or have a few friends.

Re:Nice (3, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828065)

My son's attending college. I've instructed him to be on the lookout for starving young artists; I'm willing to pay them a small pittance to create game art for my pet project. Plus, it's an in for him to talk to potentially cute artsy chicks.

Re:Nice (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828557)

As a college student who has used game projects for such purposes: your son is fortunate. :)

Re:Nice (0, Offtopic)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826571)

That's an interesting way of looking at it - I'm glad you shared it.

I don't have a lot to add or anything - I need to think it over and process it but I did want to let you know I appreciate it.

Re:Nice (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826635)

Thanks.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826965)

I don't agree; You have to know where to look though. www.tigsource.com for example is a nice community which is creating and showcasing a lot of very interesting stuff created by single persons or small teams.

A lot of them seem to approach game making more pragmatic and use readily available tools such as gamemaker or other existing game engines.

Take a look at games like Seiklus or Glum Buster for some realy good examples !

Re:Nice (2, Interesting)

YenTheFirst (1056960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827027)

It's not entirely the same, but I really cut my teeth on programming on a TI-83+ graphing calculator. It had a variant of BASIC, fairly simple graphics capabilities, and it was fairly easy to pick up.

Incidentally,I think that environment was my first exposure to the ideas of open source software, too. Programs could be shared easily, by linking calculators, and being interpreted, all programs came with source. I certainly learned a bit by reading programs from other students, or downloaded from the internet.

Also, I get a lot of the same feeling of experimentation, reproducibility, and real capability out of messing with microcontrollers, like the Arduino [arduino.cc] . I think there's really something to be said for working and playing on a relatively limited system. Limitation breeds creativity, perhaps?

Re:Nice (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827091)

YES

Re:Nice (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828411)

Limitation breeds creativity, perhaps?

Is it me or is it ironic that you wrote a long and eloquent post to say that.

Re:Nice (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827671)

First computer I ever used was a Radio Shack TRS-80 MC-10 during the early 80's.

For those uninformed on the specs, the stock MC-10 had only 4K of RAM onboard, expandable to 20K via an external 16K module. (And god forbid you ever bumped the thing during a lengthy coding session!)

My setup also used the optional audio-cassette recorder for storage and a dot-matrix printer.

I kept that system in use all the way up to the early 90's before swapping it out for an Apple II+.

The interesting thing about the MC-10 was its unusually compact size considering the time period it was originally introduced. In the right hands, the thing could've been modded into a completely portable netbook-like device, once paired with a proper display and a power source. For that matter, an MP3 player with line-in recording could replace the audio-cassette for storage and even act as a far more advanced file system versus the older method of playing the tape until the correct program file came up. (A process almost as tedious as disk swapping in the early Macintosh days.)

Sure, I miss the little guy at times, but I doubt it'd get too far trying to run a game featuring complex 3D scenes versus the old "make a big colored block chase another colored block around the screen" games I used to write.

Re:Nice (1)

un1quen1ck (972732) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827871)

Oh, to tell u kids about the Olden Times, I knew a dude from our school computer lab (a small six-by six ft closet) who wrote an improved version of Lisp on a TRS-80. Improved, yes, as it had garbage collection! And another guy who calculated Nepers number on an iron core HP box. Oh yes, back then we would REALLY program in binary - with self-modifying jump tables. And how did I get acquainted with these guys? Well, I wrote an improved version of "Space Invaders" where the action was in true 2D, using bit-shifted graphics characters. After that stupid idea of mine I was the most hated geek, as the other real geeks would have hard time getting computer time on the TRS-80, as lamers would spend time just playing my game. And did I already mention that the computer lab was a retrofitted outhouse with electricity, both ways uphill in knee-deep snow?

vid (0, Troll)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825793)

wow, that was a really informative video.

Psych.

Re:vid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826773)

If you didn't like the video get your compiler out and transcribe it. Then send it to me ;-).

you call those graphics? (4, Insightful)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825799)

I mean at least space wars at least had real graphics and not a bunch of ASCII characters. I guess this qualifies for some minor footnote in history, somewhere, somehow, but I'm really at a loss as to where. While we are at it do we know who A) wrote the first 8-bit PC game? B) Wrote the first 32-bit PC game? and C) Wrote the first 64-bit PC game? Ok...now how about the first C64 game? What about the first PC game? What about the first Apple II game? I could probably think of a million "firsts."

Any takers? :P

the first commodore 64 game (4, Funny)

ifeelswine (1546221) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825859)

Re:the first commodore 64 game (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826011)

thanks. that made me laugh.

Re:you call those graphics? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27825979)

I was the first person to get bored by your comment; does that count for anything?

Re:you call those graphics? (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826147)

Each person has their own firsts in gaming history. Especially us geeks. 1975 was 8 years before my birth, but I'm still interested. I never played this game, and doubt I ever will.

I still wanna know about it though. My first gaming experience was playing pong on some insignificant console around '88/89. Time moved slowly in my computer childhood. I didn't even realize the internet existed until '97, and didn't get my first taste until '99.

I love the history of computers as much as I love the history of the world. Considering world history, any crashing on it is as much you crashing on the first wheel, or the first use of pottery, or the first example of democracy.

Geeks love history.

Re:you call those graphics? (3, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827379)

A) wrote the first 8-bit PC game? B) Wrote the first 32-bit PC game? and C) Wrote the first 64-bit PC game? Ok...now how about the first C64 game? What about the first PC game? What about the first Apple II game? I could probably think of a million "firsts."

First 8-bit PC game and first Apple II game are probably the same: Steve Wozniak's reimplementation of Breakout in Integer BASIC.

Re:you call those graphics? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828143)

I also fail to see why this is being called a graphical game, when it is clearly a character-mapped display. Maybe if the characters were redefinable in software (or even dropping in a ROM with game-specific symbols), but seeing as they were using standard letters it looks like they weren't.

old != classic (5, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825825)

Just because a game is old, doesn't mean it's a classic. A classic is a game which stands as a pinnacle representative of its type, an archetypal game that defined or created a genre, or a game so supremely crafted and so well-loved, that its appeal transcends its era.

Re:old != classic (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826741)

Just because a game is old, doesn't mean it's a classic. A classic is a game which stands as a pinnacle representative of its type, an archetypal game that defined or created a genre, or a game so supremely crafted and so well-loved, that its appeal transcends its era.

doom

--
shift, ctrl, and alt do not like me 111111

Re:old != classic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27827007)

Article is tagged "classicgames", which fits these meanings of "classic":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic#Golden_age [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic#Something_old [wikipedia.org]

Had the story or TFA refered to "the classic game Space War", you'd have something to get schoolmarm about.

Re:old != classic (1)

jimmy (22598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827333)

DNF?

Graphics are over rated. (2, Insightful)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825855)

xyzzy!!!

good memories (3, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825915)

Although utterly mediocre (at best) by comparison with the work of his contemporary Infocom, Scott Adams' adventure games, complete with typos, tacky jokes/puns, outright bugs, and illogical "solutions", were endearing in their own way.

Spent quite some time playing Adventureland; Voodoo Castle (with the periodically exploding test tubes which you needed to wear a suit of armor to carry); and The Count on a VIC-20 with and without my family as a child, and I have many fond memories.

> smoke cigarette
OK. There's a coughin (sic) in the room.
> open coffin

Re:good memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826709)

I tried to play a few of the Scott Adams adventures, but found the parsers too simple compared to Zork and the like which were around at the same time, and never was able to get into them.

Your post helped me see some of what I was missing, so thanks for that. I still have a handful of emulators around; maybe I'll give one a shot.

Re:good memories (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826783)

Cool! Like I said, the solutions aren't exactly logical, so no matter how smart/good you are at Infocom-type adventures (and I'm not), it'll probably take you a while, due to trial-and-error and "wtf?"-moments.

I'd start with either The Count or Voodoo Castle since they're a little more sophisticated/coherent than Adventureland. And feel free to have a walkthrough at hand. Seriously though, it's mostly nostalgia at this point. Infocom has aged well - Scott Adams not so much.

my games costed a nickle (-1, Troll)

Timberfox (1537013) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825923)

Well, back in my day, we wrote our source code on type writers, and we pirated .WAV files on 40 floppy discs! ...lol, people who can remember the 80s are funny ...and old

Re:my games costed a nickle (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826029)

Young man, I still have my flowchart template around here somewhere. If I could remember where I put it. :P

Re:my games costed a nickle (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826247)

Rap his knuckles with your slide rule.

Re:my games costed a nickle (1)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826595)

Pen and paper is an enviable deveopment environment that never suffers from crashes or data loss. I used to use the same technology in my early days of programming.

Though I remember once during the 80s my big brother deliberately hid my workbook and I couldnt finish my project.

I suppose youd call that a denial of service attack now.

Re:my games costed a nickle (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826253)

Hmmph! Unless that typewriter had a tape punch attached to it, you can GET OFF MY LAWN!

And this is meaningful, why? (3, Insightful)

Count_Froggy (781541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27825983)

So what if this was written on a 16-bit hardware computer. I know of graphic games written in the Apple ][ Sweet-16 interpreter (a 16-bit machine in software installed on all Apple ][ machines) long before this. And, this machine was a one-of-a-kind creation that had no meaningful volume, even by the standards of the time. Lastly, it isn't graphical if it used TEXT CHARACTERS to represent the game elements. There were other games written on PDP-11 and LSI-11 machines (also true 16-bit hardware) that predate this.

Re:And this is meaningful, why? (3, Interesting)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826241)

If you had an Apple II before 1974, then you had something a lot more interesting than an Apple II on your hands.

AFAIK the only 16-bit computers outside the defense sector were at Hewlett-Packard. This is the first homebrew 16-bit machine I've seen.

Re:And this is meaningful, why? (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826353)

hell, back in the late 50s people were doing pong-like games on their oscilloscopes.

Re:And this is meaningful, why? (1)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826715)

prove it.

Re:And this is meaningful, why? (3, Informative)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827761)

Tennis For Two [wikipedia.org]

Created in 1958 on an analogue computer. ANALOGUE!

Re:And this is meaningful, why? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827457)

So what if this was written on a 16-bit hardware computer. I know of graphic games written in the Apple ][ Sweet-16 interpreter (a 16-bit machine in software installed on all Apple ][ machines) long before this.

No, you don't, as this game was written before the Apple II was designed. Hell, it was written before the processor that the Apple II was based on was designed.

And, this machine was a one-of-a-kind creation that had no meaningful volume, even by the standards of the time.

Most machines of the time had no meaningful volume. This machine was entirely typical of home computers in the pre-Altair era.

There were other games written on PDP-11 and LSI-11 machines (also true 16-bit hardware) that predate this.

But not home machines, not built using microprocessors, so a different class of game.

Re:And this is meaningful, why? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828873)

But not home machines, not built using microprocessors, so a different class of game.

This seems like kind of an arbitrary distinction. Much much later, I had a Sun 4/260 as my primary desktop system (and space heater.) First game on a homebuilt 16 bit seems much more impressive to me!

A Pre-Adventure Scot Adams game? (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826061)

...hmm, I wonder if it runs on Linux. /ducks!

Seriously, I wonder if there's an image. I have both Apple II and TRS-80 emulators.

I am not at all sure (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826073)

that this can be called a "graphics" game. Looks to me like 16x32 text mode, with some of the characters re-defined. As I recall, you could re-define characters in software in some of the lower-resolution text modes.

ask a sight impaired person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826259)

if those are 'graphics', see what they think

Re:I am not at all sure (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826319)

I am not trying to nitpick; text-mode screens were much easier to deal with, and you could quickly refresh them by just generating a new screen of text... text was very fast. Using actual graphics modes, on the other hand, required bit-blitting bitmaps into the graphics memory and so on, which tended to be very slow in comparison.

Re:I am not at all sure (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828169)

I don't think it's a problem that the game used a text mode - in 1975, given the price of memory, any real graphical mode would have been very expensive to implement, even in black and white.

It's just that by using a text mode, it's not really a graphical game. However how different is a text mode from a graphical tiled mode, e.g., the C64. Redefinability is key, and arbitrary positioning capability (on the C64 this was via sprites). The graphical hardware on this machine couldn't do that (it appears). On the other hand, it could cope with character-mapped Snake I expect. Or you could drop in a ROM with game-specific characters.

For 1975 I'll let it slide.

The IMP 16 processor (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826077)

was a bit of a curiosity. They did indeed use them in Sun engine analyzers. My brother has one of those if you'd like to see what a real National IMP 16 processor card [selectric.org] looks like.

Re:The IMP 16 processor (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826555)

That was interesting -- the ad your brother links to says that a basic model was $825, more depending on memory and options. Going to an inflation calculator ( http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi [westegg.com] ) shows that it would have cost $3266.19 in 2008 dollars. That was once upon a time, quite a pricey machine.

So what does dear old Adams design now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826139)

Ascii version of Unreal Tournament?

Should add "on record" to that claim (3, Insightful)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826583)

Its the first graphics game written on/for a 16-bit home pc on record. There's always the possibility that someone wrote one before Scott Adams and didn't "publish" their work.

Re:Should add "on record" to that claim (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827421)

Yes, and the article is very cautious to do so. Still, we know that this game is the first for the hardware it ran on (as it was designed by a relative of the hardware's designer), and there are good reasons to think the hardware was the first home 16-bit system (it was produced using the first 16-bit microprocessor, less than a year after that microprocessor first made it to market).

Re:Should add "on record" to that claim (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827443)

Except that it is not a graphics game. It is text-mode. There is a huge difference, and this ain't it.

Big Whoop (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828745)

There's always the possibility that someone wrote one before Scott Adams and didn't "publish" their work.

There ain't nothing easier than to write a game and never publish it.

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27826751)

So, Scott Adams thought 'Klingon' was spelled with a 'C'...

Re:So (1)

YenTheFirst (1056960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827061)

So, Scott Adams thought 'Klingon' was spelled with a 'C'...

FTFA:

Since the word Klingon starts with the letter "K," Scott was asked to explain why a "C" was used. His response was that the "K" didn't look as good on the playing field.

Re:So (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827467)

And if it were really a graphics game, it would have made absolutely no difference: he could have made it look any way he wanted.

This is the third time in this topic I am trying to make this point: THIS IS NOT A "GRAPHICS" GAME! It is a text-mode game, set in the 16x32 low-resolution text mode. There is really a huge difference between text and graphics modes!

I am all for giving credit where it is due, but this game gets no credit for being "graphics". It was not. The methodology was completely different, and actual graphics games were much more difficult to do.

Re:So (2, Informative)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828895)

Depending on platform text and graphics mode might not have been so different.

The TI99/4A, for example, had a fairly standard process to redefine characters. Even the reference guide had a short basic program to change a text character into a little jumping man animation. They weren't true sprites, but with some cleverness could do many of the same things.

The 8-bit Atari had player missile graphics with similar functionality.

Re:So (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828897)

This is the third time in this topic I am trying to make this point:

Can't sleep, huh?

Not the first.. (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27826981)

While this may be the first game for a 16-bit personal computer, I don't believe it is the first game for any personal computer.

I will offer a more likely contender: TARG for the Processor Technology SOL-20. I recall typing this game (and several others I've forgotten) into my SOL back in 1975. TARG became available commercially on a cassette called GAMEPAC 1, I just happened to have the GAMEPAC 1 manual sitting here and it's copyrighted 1977.

Since the article claims sometime in 1975 as the "release' of Space War, it is probably going to be difficult to pinpoint exactly which app was written first, they appear to date to almost exactly the same time. But since Space War was a one-off production for a unique custom computer, it hardly had the impact of an app like TARG that was widely available on a commercially produced personal computer (that came as a kit or pre-assembled).

In case you're interested in TARG, it was a dart throwing game done entirely in text mode, with animated graphics. IIRC you used keys to move a cursor up and down and the space bar to toss a dart at a target. A little custom character flew across the screen. I'm restoring my SOL now and TARG is the program I'm trying to get to run first. The CPU is working but alas my RAM boards are dead so there's no memory space to run even small apps.

Re:Not the first.. (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828555)

replying to remove wrong mod

manuscript purchase price isn't credible (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27827059)

I call shenanigans on the claimed $197,500 purchase price. The whois data for the web site [exoticsciences.com] says that it's controlled by Richard Adams himself. It looks like he's also the author of the Wikipedia pages about himself and his company.

I have no problem with the guy writing about himself in the third person, but I can't bring myself to believe that he paid his brother six figures for a twelve-page program listing.

Ran on VAX too (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827145)

I remember this game well. We used to play it on a VAX at uni. It had Tholians in it too that would spin a web around you (well, draw a box around you). A good proportion of my computer allocations were used up on it (good thing you could allocate other terminals and steal people's accounts - oops, was that my outside voice?). It was a highly addictive game.

Re:Ran on VAX too (2, Informative)

robertc99 (1366201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828747)

I suspect the game your thinking of was "warp" written by Larry Wall. It definitely had tholians spinning a web around you. This game is hand coded in assembler for a very specific machine architecture. Theres no way it ran on a Vax.

Wasn't 1979's TI-99/4 the first 16 bit home comp? (1)

BigBlockMopar (191202) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827163)

Wasn't the TI-99/4 the first 16 bit home computer? While it wasn't until 1981's TI-99/4A that you could play Parsec, there were many classic games you could play on either: Munchman. Car Wars. Hunt The Wumpus.

Re:Wasn't 1979's TI-99/4 the first 16 bit home com (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827207)

I was thinking the same thing but from TFA:

"It turns out that both the game software and the computer hardware were created at home by three brothers all in college in the mid '70s"

Trying to get rid of it again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27827565)

From the article: This first and only one of its kind manuscript was last purchased by a private collector in 2005 for US $197,500. That's the year of authorship times 100. To own it yourself now, contact the collector through the librarian at the link at the bottom of this page.

Define graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27827683)

So if this is the first "graphics" game for the 16 bit pc, what did non-graphic games look like? Did they put text on the screen too? What makes it graphics? If it doesn't spell words?

Hardcore: Pre-keyboard Program Entry (3, Interesting)

cmholm (69081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27827817)

After reading the story, this sounds like a sure-fire "Outliers" scenario. The Adams brothers lived near Cape Canaveral. Richard constructed a video camera as an adolescent, before building a custom 16-bit computer from scratch, when all of the kits were strictly 8-bit. Richard, Scott, and Eric programmed the system initially from front panel switches, until Richard build a keyboard, based on existing designs. Just as Bill Gates created Altair BASIC at what was most likely the earliest possible moment, so with the Adams brothers getting their start.

It would be interesting to know what the family, school, and social background that gave them the shot at such an early entre into digital hacking.

Empire (1)

JerryQ (923802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27828091)

I first encountered Empire on VAX machines, but I believe it was originally written for 16 bit machines in 1972. Home machines? - I guess not. http://www.langston.com/#OlderP [langston.com]
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