Genre: Platform Arcade      Creation Date: Original 1986 / Update 2019      Language: 6809 Assembly Language     System: Tandy Color Computer 3

An update to my original 1986 release tuned specifically to the Tandy Color Computer 3.

 The History and Evolution of Donut Dilemma

1984 - TRS-80 Model 1 Version

I originally created Donut Dilemma in 1984 for the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1. This was my 6th commercial grade game released back when I was a young teenager still in High School.

Written in Z-80 Assembly Language using a 32K (home hacked) cassette based system using Radio Shack's EDTASM Editor/Assembler, I consider this to be my best programming effort for this machine and was comparable to some of the best games available for the TRS-80 at the time.




The idea for Donut Dilemma was based on our family business in the 80's when we owned and operated a small Donut Kiosk at a local Shopping Mall... ironically next door to a Tandy Electronics store!  

We had a specialized machine which automated the process of making and cooking the Donuts. Every day, we made a batch of dough in a large bowl which we poured into one end of the machine. The machine would then plunger a pre-measured  amount into the familiar donut ring shape and into the hot cooking oil. A series of guides would move the floating donuts, cooking one half then flip them over to cook the other half until eventually  lifting them out of the hot oil via a conveyor belt and into a rotating cooling tray, ready to be bagged and sold.

Occasionally, things would go wrong and we had to stop the machine to remove the mangled donuts before resuming.

It was these moments that led me to the revelation that this had the hallmarks of a great and original game idea and so Donut Dilemma was born!

The name of the character you controlled was Antonio which was based on my father, Antoni.

1986 - TRS-80/Tandy Color Computer Version

By the end of 1984, I had transitioned to the Tandy Color Computer with its high resolution color graphics. In 1986, I had decided to recreate a version of Donut Dilemma for this machine with plans to pitch the game to Tandy to sell the game in their stores.

After 6 months of development time, I began looking for a distributor and in 1987, I had success with Tandy offering to sell the game via their 750 stores Australia wide. Tandy provided me with an official Tandy Catalogue number (26-9649) and I manufacturered the packages for Tandy. I designed the artwork, wrote the manual, arranged the tape duplication and wrapped each in a clear plastic ziplock bag.

This was available on cassette with a CoCo 1&2 version on one side and a slightly modified CoCo3 version that supported the higher clock speed and modified colors on the flip side of the cassette.

The original CoCo 1&2 version used a new technique I discovered to coerce an additional 2 colors from the CoCo's 4 colors (red and blue) utilizing a method of horizontal color striping to generate these 2 extra PAL artifact colors on a standard PAL CRT TV. This worked well here in Australia in the 80's but doesn't work properly on a US NTSC TV.

Donut Dilemma sold 3400 copies via Tandy in Australia and was my most successful game.




2008 - PC Version

The information I have on this version is rather thin but a version of Donut Dilemma was being created by a pair of experienced game designers in the PC arena as a fun sideline project. One of the developers had grown up here in Australia having been a fan of the original TRS-80 Model 1 version back in his younger days.

A real shame it was never finished because the artwork and animation was top notch.

2013 - The Maximite

In 2013, I recreated Donut Dilemma on a small kit computer designed here in Australia called The Maximite. It was a small PIC32 based computer created by
Geoff Graham and originally presented in the Australian electronics magazine, Silicon Chip (March-May 2011). It ran a very powerful Basic created by the designer and was very fast.

Donut Dilemma on the Maximite was written entirely in Maximite Basic and ran just as fast as the Assembly Language Color Com
puter version. It featured 240x216 graphics in 8 colours with 8 bit Amiga MOD format sound effects. It contained all 10 levels from the Tandy Color Computer version and supported the Nintendo Nunchuk and Atari style controllers.




2014 - The Microbee

In 2014, Mark McDougal, creator of various transcodes to the Tandy Color Computer (Apple II version of Lode Runner,  Taito's Space Invaders, ZX Spectrum game of Knight Lore) had asked me if I would be interested in having my original TRS-80 Model 1 version of Donut Dilemma converted to run on the Australian computer system, The Microbee.

I agreed and sent him the original Z-80 source code and within a week had it running as a perfect copy of the original.

The Microbee had a lot in common with the TRS-80 such as a Z-80 CPU and the ability to redefine the character set to match the TRS-80's low resolution graphic characters.

You can see by the screenshots below that the Microbee version looks just like the TRS-80 Model 1 version. Thanks to Alan Laughton for the screenshots.

2019 - Tandy Color Computer 3 Update

This is a long overdue update to the original Donut Dilemma created over 30 years ago for the Color Computer.

I had released a slightly enhanced version for the Color Computer 3 with improved colors and faster operation to satisfy Tandy's request it be CoCo3'ized but I have had many ideas over the years to improve it in areas such as gameplay without changing it too much from the original.



Here is a list of improvements I have done...

  • JOYSTICK CONTROL - Removed the awkward keyboard control of the original and replaced it with joystick control. Back in 1986, I didn't know how to read the Color Computer joystick port from Assembly Language. Also, back then my keyboard control skills were far better but over time, my dexterity has been somewhat reduced. (read...I'm getting old!)

  • BLACK BORDER - Removed the white border which was available on all CoCo games using a graphics screen (or the green border if using the other colorset). This border color could not be turned off or changed on a standard Color Computer 1 and 2 using the Motorola 6847 Video Generator. The Color Computer 3 could but only when running a GIME chip graphics mode. So I thought that if I could modify Donut Dilemma to open a GIME mode that has the same resolution and number of colors (4) as the VDG mode, the code would not know the difference and function normally. Once in a GIME mode, I could change the border to black (or any of the 64 colors available).  It worked perfectly and wished so many early games of the time would have done the same.

  • GAME TIMING - In activating the higher clock speed of the Color Computer 3, this put the game out of balance in certain areas. This made some parts too hard and frustrating to play and so I adjusted these areas to be timed more closely to the original timings while retaining the extra speed in areas where it was needed.

  • RGB AND CMP - Supports the RGB and CMP palettes correctly.

  • MORE FUN - Adjusted the game to be more fun to play to a wider game playing audience of varying skill level. I've removed the practice mode of the original (it gave unlimited lives) because that's all that people chose but increased the number of lives the game starts at to 9 as well as tune the game to be easier to play.