For a long time, it was being debated
if the Color Computer could create a true 3D game along the lines of the
PC classics, Doom or Wolf 3D. Many said that the Color Computer,
as many of the early 8-bit machines, was too slow to do the necessary 3D
calculations required to render each scene at a decent enough frame rate
to make a fast paced action packed game.
But one man was able to provide a glimmer of hope on this subject, John Kowalski.
He had developed an algorithm that did the necessary calculations fast enough
and created a demo program to prove it. The demo was called Gloom
and in it, one could navigate around a 3D environment using a stock standard
Tandy Color Computer 3 and it ran at a good frame rate.
This impressed everyone but there were many who felt that the final proof
would be to create a full game. I decided to take up the challenge and Gate
Crasher was the result. A "Wolf3D" style game featuring a full 360 degree
3D environment, explosive 2 channel digital interrupt driven sound and five
levels of the hottest action seen in a CoCo game for years! This game clearly
proved that 3D gaming of this type is possible even on an old 2 Mhz
8 bit computer.
Original Story Pretext
It is an era of high technology, an era of perfection, an era of the mind
enhancing Brain Implant devices. Small microcontrollers implanted into the
human skull acting as a "co-processor" to the brain. With this device, a
persons abilities can be enhanced while disabilities removed. Millions of
people worldwide have undergone surgery to have a device installed and reap
the benefits of an improved lifestyle.
"He who controls the mind, controls the world."
But there is now evidence to prove that there is more to these devices
than creating the perfect human. Leaked information has revealed that each
implant has a means of remote control via the internet-providing low orbit
satellite system also owned and operated by the same company creating these
implants. This has been found to be used as a form of mind control allowing
the CEO of the company to control things such as the outcome of an election,
the buying habits of consumers, even to invoke death!
You are the Gate Crasher and it is time to crash this party, destroy all
the computer data and defeat the evil CEO himself!
Gritty, prophetic and visionary all in one! :)
The biggest challenge for me in this game was making everything run at a
descent frame rate. This was accomplished with the aid of John Kowalski's
"Gloom" 3D environment algorithm as well as heavy use of self modifying code.
Gate Crasher represents a milestone in Tandy Color Computer gaming in that
it is the first true full 360 degree, free movement solid 3D action game
of this type for this machine. The game uses an unofficial 128 x 96 x 16
color graphics mode. Even utilizing double buffering, each screen only takes
up 6K of memory, reducing the workload on the CPU to update each display
frame. A further optimized version of the dual channel interrupt driven sound
routine used in my last game allowed explosive sound effects to be had without
too much CPU overhead.
Yes this game had it all...the player's gun would bob up and down as he walked,
you could hear your footsteps, your gun recoiled when it fired, security
doors that can only be opened by cracking the color coded locks, your gun
would make a cool reload sound when ammo was found and the evil CEO had a
classic evil laugh!
Avoid the programmers but destroy that
Get the suit before he gets you !
The storyline setting for Gate Crasher is obviously futuristic. Set in the
near future, the vision is of a world under the control of a powerful corporation
head who has found a way to control the minds of the unsuspecting public
by feeding them hope and an enhanced way of life in the form of a brain implant
that he can secretly control.
In this game, you infiltrate the 5 level building of the corporation with
the goal to destroy all information about these implants but I have planted
a little surprise on level 5. Here you encounter the head CEO, the man
responsible! He hides in his large office which is heavily surrounded by
his "suits". Once you get past the suits, you get to fight the CEO himself.... and
the little bugger has a very familiar face. Look at the title of this game
to get a clue. :)
One feature I would have liked to add into the game was a way to start at
a desired level. Either have a game save function or a level code that is
disclosed at the completion of each level. To compensate, I had made these
level maps available that shows the starting positions of all the characters.
The red dots are the most important, they are the suits that you need to
destroy or avoid. They wander around the corridors like drones.
A really cool feature is that when you destroy 3 or more suits in rapid
succession, the computer lets out a "Woohoo!" to signify the andenalin rush.
Oh well, gotta do my part to promote violent behaviour in this modern world.
Marketing and Sales
I was aiming at this game being released
for the upcoming PennFest 2000 (see next project page). I knew the Color
Computer market was getting smaller and smaller as time went on and I felt
that most sales of this game would be had at that fest.
I was right. About 40 copies of the game has been sold to date, making it
less than my last game, Pac-man. Even though Gate Crasher represents a milestone
for 3D action type games for an old 8-bit computer, the market has
shrunk so much that I felt that my game programming days for this computer
have come to a close. This was to be my last game for the Tandy Color Computer.