I wanted a game good enough to be sold
by Tandy in all their stores Australia wide so I decided to port my best
TRS-80 Model 1 game to the Tandy Color Computer (CoCo) and submit it to Tandy
Australia with the hope they would add it to their stock line.
Donut Dilemma had the advantage of having a more familiar platform style
of game play than Neutroid 2. Other successful games such as Donkey Kong,
Lode Runner and Miner 2049er proved that this genre was popular internationally
so I began programming with the hope that this game would finally offer me
some success worth talking about.
Original Story Pretext
"Angry Angelo has raided Antonio's Donut Factory sending the entire complex
amuck! Donuts have come alive and are jumping around in wild frenzies. Machines
have gone out of control throwing cooking fat, dough and icing sugar everywhere.
You must help poor Antonio climb ladders, jump platforms and ride elevators
to reach the top floor and shut down the factory's power generator which
will restore law and order."
Kinda looks familiar don't you think? Yep! Ripped it straight off the TRS-80
Model 1 version ! :)
This was my first game that used a true high resolution color graphics mode
on the CoCo and I was concerned it would be too difficult for me to achieve.
Being accustomed to manipulating a mere 1K screen display on the TRS-80 Model
1, I was wondering if the game would be fast enough writing it for the 6K
screen display I was going to use. I ploughed on and hoped for the best.
Following on from my desire to beat the color limitations of the CoCo, I
devised a way of pulling more colors than was normally available. I couldn't
use the US artifacting trick (mentioned in the Neutroid 2 page) so I began
experimenting with the 128 x 192, 4 color modes to see if I could fool the
tv to display extra colors here under the PAL video system.
I discovered that by placing horizontally alternating lines of magenta and
orange, the television output (the CoCo only had a TV output) would display
red! Also, alternating horizontal bands of magenta and cyan would create
a light blue. I created Donut Dilemma to use this new capability giving the
most colorful display I had seen in a color computer game...6 colors!
Later I had to remove this feature due to the new Color Computer 3 being
released with an RGB monitor which didn't allow this color mixing trick to
work. The images below are from the Color Computer 3 version.
Level 1 - Ladders and Platforms
Level 2 - Fat Spurters
Level 3 - Sugar Sprinkler
Level 4 - Cream Blaster
Level 5 - Conveyer Belts
Level 6 - Chopper Block
Level 7 - Puzzle Platforms
Level 8 - Berserk Bucket
Level 9 - Crumble Caper
Level 10 - Power Generator
I added an extra level in the Color Computer version over the TRS-80 Model
1 version. Level 9 was titled, "Crumble Caper" and when the player first
starts the level, it appears quite straight forward...except that as he/she
steps on a platform, it begins to crumble beneath their feet and they only
have just over a second to jump to another part of the flooring before they
tumble to their doom. There is practically no chance to stand still! This
is my favourite level and is not so difficult once one works out its simple
Designing the graphics on Graphic Worksheets
Marketing and Sales
Now here's an interesting story....
After completing the game and attempting to sell
copies via the usual channels of computer clubs, I finally drummed up the
nerve to send a copy to Tandy Australia's head office. I felt the game was
good, if not better than many of the games they were already selling but
I kept my expectations low. In the past, all games except for a few educational
titles were imported from Tandy Corporation's main warehouse in the US. That
seemed to be where most of the decisions were made as to what became the
It was around mid 1987 and Tandy had already released their new Color Computer
3 about 10 months prior, an enhanced version of the older model that had
been selling for 6 years. It had better graphics and a faster CPU. I had
purchased one as soon as it became available but was concerned that Tandy
may reject my game due to a possible new focus of only considering games
that utilized the features of this new model.
Then came the big surprise! I got a phone call saying that they liked the
game and were interested in marketing it Australia! The conditions were that
I supply a complete package of color artwork, instructions and cassette tape.
They also asked for a version enhanced for the new Color Computer 3. We made
a deal that I supply both versions on a single tape. They would buy it for $6.90
a package and pay for the freight from my home to their warehouse.
Well, the profit margin wasn't huge,
only about $3 per package, but it was a start in the right direction so I
accepted. The first order to come in was for 1000 complete packages and I
shipped them on the 5th of August, '87. They even supplied an official Tandy
catalogue number... CAT. NO. 26-9649. I was in!!
Now here is the really interesting part. I later found out that the local CoCo
magazine, "Australian CoCo", was holding a competition in conjunction with
Tandy for the best game submitted written for the new Tandy Color Computer
3. I didn't know about the competition. When I submitted my game to Tandy,
it was soon after the competition had closed and they had chosen a winner.
The winner gets their entry added to Tandy's product line and more importantly,
bundled with the Color Computer 3 in a special Christmas package (see photo
My game missed the competition AND wasn't written to exploit the new computer's
features and yet they added it to the product line as well as the special
Christmas package! It even appeared in Tandy Australia's annual product catalogue
(1988, page 135). That's what I call luck!
After the first 1000 copies, Tandy followed it up with another order and
another order. In the end, 3400 copies were sold. A vast improvement over
my previous attempts. I knew that my next step was to create something
specifically for the new Color Computer 3.
I had a fire burning within and I was aiming for a checkmate!