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The scourge of many a gamer from the C64 era are the immortal words: "Another visitor. Stay a while. Stay forever!" For the uneducated, those were the memorable words uttered at the beginning of each game of Impossible Mission. Speech was memorable back in those days as it was rather hard to get digitised sounds on home computers. Of course, the fact that the game was fucking hard to finish also made it memorable to most people. I think I'm the only one I know of who has ever completed that game. Mind you, the first time I completed it was 13 years after I first played it. Those fortunate enough to work out how best to avoid the robots often stumbled on the password puzzle system. Having the manual helped here, as it explained how it worked. Putting the pieces together to get a letter of the password was still tricky though, thanks to duplicate pieces and pieces that didn't form a whole being able to pieced together.
The first thing I'll say about Impossible Mission 2 is don't play the Amiga version as it is complete and utter balls. The C64 version is superior to the Amiga in terms of controls, feel, and surprisingly graphics. Now with that out of the way, I can say that IM2 was both harder and simpler at the same time. The rooms were harder. There are some rooms that I've been unable to find an exit to without killing yourself - bad design for sure. Some rooms require the use of robot power off's, which is also bad design thanks to the final room requiring them. Speaking of the final room, it's a pain in the ass. The room itself has a time limit of something like a minute or two. Dieing takes time away from the normal time limit, so if you happen to kill yourself too many times you just lost aswell. I finally reached that room just then, 15 years after I originally played it, and now I've got to go through the game again to get to it once more (I failed the room completely). The puzzles are simpler. This time, you only have to get enough numbers of each colour to make up the correct combination to progress to another tower. Before you progress to the tower though, you'll have to get the musical sequence. There are 6 actual pieces and 2 fakes in the 8 towers. Once you exit a tower, you can't go back to it. Despite all the things I've found wrong with it, it's easilly just as addictive as the first one.
For the 48 hour programming competition I entered, I decided I would do an Impossible Mission clone. The results speak for themselves. While not being exactly like the original, it captues the feel. I've decided that I want to expand upon what I did in those 48 hours and create a full 20th anniversary tribute to the original game. My programmer art skills reek of pure programmerness, so I started questing for people willing to make the graphics required for a tribute game. Unfortunately, it seems no one wants to do art unless it's 3D or it involves money. As I discussed in a previous blog, I only entered that competition to see if I could do a game in 48 hours. Where's that spirit with everyone else? I'd like to get this game done and looking real nice, and then once that's done try to track down Dennis Caswell (the creator of the original game) and show it to him and see what he thinks. I can do the code easilly. I can make the rooms easilly. Making decent looking textures is beyond my patience levels.
darknation has generously offered to do the art. What a champion. Anyway, for his benefit and yours, here's what he has in store for him.
The number of tiles on each screen is 40 across and 30 down.
The images used currently assume a tile to be 16x16 pixels. The images can be saved in any format that DirectX can read. I prefer PNGs, but if you choose to use GIF or JPG or TGA that is fine as DirectX reads those files in.
Animation is defined through a .set file. It is a text file that states the animation name, the time (in 1/60ths of a second) it takes to progress to the next frame, and any number of source images that specify what that frame should look like. The limit to the number of frames in a single animation is 4 billion and something (2^32), so don't feel restrained or anything.
The player takes up 2x3 tiles. The animations the player has is:
Most are pretty self explanatory. Search is the player facing the background and searching an object.
The robot takes up 2x1.75 tiles. The 1.75 was a code hack. Originally it took 2x2 tiles, but the collision used isn't pixel perfect and consequently it was quite difficult to jump over the robots. The animations used are:
My robots completely suck it. The original ones actually pivoted on the spot instead of just turning their dome. Something to that effect would be great. If not, pivoting dome will suffice. Originally the robots were going to be grey scale with the ability to specify what colour should be applied to them, but that would look like balls. Go wild.
The robot's laser is currently 3x1.75 tiles. I am considering lengthening it to at least 5 tiles to more accurately represent the original's laser beam width.
Floors consist of two graphics - the one facing the camera, and the one placed above that at about 1/4 the height that player/robots draw over. These are each one tile, and tile according to the width of the floors.
Same as the floors. The width of the lifts is 3 tiles, but the texture used is one image tiled 3 times.
This is the job with the most freedom for you. Make up graphics for common household items (animated if you wish) scaled to look decent near the player (2x3 tiles). Don't feel limited by the objects in the original game, as some of them seem quite out of place 20 years later. Use some from the list and make up other cool items if you wish, or follow the list religiously, it's up to you. The objects in the original game include:
lounge chair/lamp combo
kitchen sink with microwave
study desk with chair
some kind of funky computer thing
another kind of funky computer thing
chest of drawers
old style computer tape backup machine
Each computer will have at least one operable computer. There should be a graphic for placement in the rooms. Pick a tile width and height that looks best, and I'll code accordingly. There'll also need to be a computer screen and a font for use on the screen. The screen won't be limited by tiles. The highest resolution the game supports is 1024x768, so don't go above that else all the extra detail will go to waste (it doesn't need to be particularly detail though - it's a monitor screen).
I shall get back to you on this one.
There'll need to be more stuff for use in the elevator shafts outside of the rooms, and also for the interface used outside of the rooms for solving the puzzles. I'll get back to you with detail information on this, as none of it is coded and I don't have a screenshot of the C64 original to show you for comparison. Another thing that will be needed will be menu graphics, a finish screen will have to be decided upon, and a totals screen (I'll whip up a mockup so you have an idea what should go where).
http://www.geocities.com/gooberman_and_friends/screenshots.html - reference screenshots of the current game
http://home.arcor.de/cybergoth/epyx/impstrategy.html - screenshots of the c64 original