Rascan/Digiscan was a lot of hard work
and I had a desire to return to game programming. But the Color Computer
market was not what it use to be. Here in Australia, the Color Computer had
finally been discontinued. Access to the US Color Computer market was hard
to come by with no easy access to Color Computer magazines for information.
It seemed like a Color Computer blackout. I knew that my only chance lay
in tackling the US market before the Color Computer was also discontinued
I therefore decided that my next game had to be impressive, it had to fit
into a 32K ROM cartridge and I had to pitch it to the Tandy Corporation in
the US. It was my last hope.
Original Story Pretext
I never actually created a storyline for Cosmic Ambush for reasons that you
will understand as you read the rest of this page. The game was a vertical
shoot-em-up with you piloting a space craft (with a cool revolving gun barrel!)
defending various space fortresses from a variety of enemy attacks. Your
space craft had a variety of weapons starting from a meek single shot gun
up to multi-fire. Upgrading your weapons required you to hit the weapon upgrade
targets that randomly appear but a direct hit to your craft would downgrade
your weapon as well as drain some of your shield energy. Various recharge
targets are available for you to re-energize your shield. There were a variety
of enemy craft each with it's own unique combat style.
The major deciding factor for this
game which determined how large the code could be, how much graphics and
sound I could include and how the entire program is to be stored in memory
was based on the goal that this game was to be marketed as a 32K ROM cartridge
game. 32K was the largest size cartridge that could be used on the Color
Computer 3 without resorting to additional circuitry within the cartridge.
I had seen how many of the successful game sales were on cartridge and this
was due to the decrease in software piracy by using a cartridge medium compared
to a magnetic medium such as a floppy disk or cassette. With 32K as my limit,
I wanted to create a game that appeared far bigger. I wanted lots of smooth
scrolling graphics and sampled sound effects.
I had worked out a way of creating unlimited smooth vertically scrolling
backgrounds. I had developed a new method for creating sprites. I also developed
a new sound routine that used the Color Computer 3's programmable timer interrupt
to provide 2 channel sound effects during the game with no noticeable
interruption in graphic animation. I was planning on Cosmic Ambush to be
the best "shoot-em-up" style game ever created for the Color Computer. But
alas, trouble struck......big trouble.
High Score Page
Half way through developing the game, Tandy in the US officially discontinued
the Color Computer. This meant that they were not stocking anything new for
the machine. That was the final nail in the coffin for me and I felt that
Cosmic Ambush had no future...so I stopped development. I was quite disappointed
but I knew I couldn't blame Tandy. The time for 8-bit computers was well
past the use-by date but I guess I felt that the Color Computer 3 had not
had its full potential tapped.
Six months went by when a friend of mine came over to my home and asked to
see what I had done with Cosmic Ambush. I dug out the old files and loaded
it up. I began demonstrating the game and my friend was very impressed with
what he saw but what caught me by surprise is how impressed I
was! It's amazing how different things look when you haven't seen it
I decided then and there that I was going to finish Cosmic Ambush, at least
to a point of being complete enough to release as shareware. I thought that
maybe shareware was a viable way of "selling" it. I had omitted various planned
features in the game such as a scrolling starscape behind the scrolling
background to create a parallax effect. I simplified the enemy flight patterns
which were originally to be more like arcade Galaxian. And I didn't create
any game instructions or package artwork.
Marketing and Sales
Well, as shareware, Cosmic Ambush sold 1 copy at $7US. That sent me a strong
message... there was no future in game development for the Tandy Color Computer.
I made Cosmic Ambush freeware and I packed up my Color Computer 3 and became
an Amiga user.
I had owned an Amiga 1000 for a few years and was very impressed with it
but unfortunately, I never had time to do any actual programming on it. I
had fallen behind with that machine and I knew it would take a long time
for me to develop anything worthwhile that could compete with existing
It was the end of my Color Computer era. :(