Star Trek: 1971 Text Game

    When we made a list of the best games of all time on the habr , the idea slipped through the comments several times that the topic turns into a list of the oldest games that you can remember. And then I thought, what if I really try to recall the very first game I played? Maybe I'm wrong, because it was almost 30 years ago, but it seems to me that the very first, and by the way, a very good game for that time, was Star Trek

    . It is believed that the original version was created by Mike Mayfield in 1971, but I found it in the mid-80s. Perhaps now the game process will no longer seem as exciting as it was then, so I decided to write about it solely from my remaining memories, and with a little use of the source code.

    I played it on SM-3 , which had the then very popular Videoton VT340 terminal, which had a black and white alphanumeric screen that displayed 16 lines of 80 characters.

    The game itself by genre is a text-based turn-based space simulator, so to speak. It was necessary for a limited time to destroy all the Klingon ships located within the playing field measuring 8x8 quadrants, each of which in turn is divided into 8x8 sectors.

    They must be destroyed by a phaser and photon torpedoes, the stock of which can be replenished at several bases scattered across the galaxy. Phaser can destroy several Klingons at once, especially if they are close, but it takes a lot of energy. Torpedoes destroy them one at a time, and energy is not spent on it, but you need to precisely aim. I remember that the speed of displaying the coordinates of the flight of a torpedo on the display was slow, and you could observe the process as if it were happening in real time.

    The captain has at his disposal a computer that can calculate the course of the ship or torpedo. However, he, like any other system, can be damaged in battle, and then you have to take the course yourself. Even greater difficulties arise if a star is on the way, and you need to get into the right sector the first time, going around it, otherwise the Klingons will fire at the ship when the move goes to them. Here is an example of such a situation: The

    computer does not take into account obstacles, and to master the torpedo so that the torpedo passes by the star but hits the Klingon, great skill is required. The directions were set in a very unusual way, in polar coordinates with an angle from 1 to 9. Those who played probably remember. Even in the game there was a protective field that could be controlled.

    From the time of its creation until the end of the 80s, there were a lot of different versions of the game. There were complicated options, with new types of objects and enemies. There were versions in BASIC, Fortran, Kobol and other languages ​​for almost all types of computers that existed then. The version I played was classic, only slightly modified and translated into Russian by someone. Now, only a listing has been preserved from it, which was printed out for transfer to the Radio86PK-compatible computer that appeared around that time, so that you could (just incredible!) Play at home.

    As you can see, some needles are broken, and the printer used a two-color, red-black ribbon, which either due to a malfunction, or because it was from the wrong printer, partially painted the letters below with red color.

    Perhaps among the readers there will be those who played this very version, or even those who translated it, I bring here a few catchy phrases:

    Messages from Russian Star Trek
    Space curvature coefficient (0-8)
    Ensign Zinin reports: “Wrong course, captain!”

    Engines stalled in sector 1, 4! Navigation error

    Scientist officer Grits reports: “devices show the absence of enemy ships in this quadrant.”

    150 units of energy hit the ship from sector 6, 3
    (the protective field dropped to 562 units.)

    *** Short-range locators are faulty ***

    Techniques insist on repairing your ship
    Estimated repair time: .4 stellar days
    Do you authorize repairs?

    Of course there were other games, but all alphanumeric, in addition, the line spacing of the video tone is quite large and not suitable for games. Most games were like Star Trek, turn-based, but there were exceptions, such as Tetris. We called such games "dynamic" then. This meant that the action is ongoing, not waiting for the player to respond from the keyboard.

    And I also had a printout from an unknown graphic computer screen located somewhere in an inaccessible place. As it turned out, it still remains in the closet:

    I managed to recall the name of the game: “Sheriff”, due to which I found an article written in 2012 about the creators of these games. Maybe someone will also remind you of the good old days, here are some screenshots from that article taken from the emulator:

    Hidden text


    a Land

    In those days, graphic games seemed unbelievable. One could only dream that they would once become colored. As I said, I could not play these games, and I could only look at the printout and imagine how it might look in motion.

    But back with Star Trek. After writing the article, I decided to try to play it all the same. Using the listing, I found the version closest to the one I had in the 80s, and after a little correction it started up. I started playing, gradually getting used to the long-forgotten atmosphere. When the next torpedo, despite the course calculated by the computer, suddenly flew in the wrong direction, I suspected something was amiss. And when, a little later, the start of the engine ended in an error (going beyond the boundaries of the array), it became completely clear.

    It turned out that in the version published in 1978 in the book “ 101 Basic Games, ” with which, apparently, all versions that went around the country were typed, there was a mistake. When indexing an array to calculate the course of the ship and torpedoes, the real value is rounded, although the author expected it to be truncated. These lines are visible on the scan of the page above.

    3110 X1=C(C1,1)+(C(C1+1,1)-C(C1,1))*(C1-INT(C1))
    3140 X2=C(C1,2)+(C(C1+1,2)-C(C1,2))*(C1-INT(C1))

    As a result, if the fractional part of a given course is greater than 0.5, the direction is calculated incorrectly, and if it is greater than 8.5, an error occurs. 30 years ago we played like that. At first they thought that this is such a feature of the game that introduces additional difficulties, and then they found and fixed it, but I completely forgot about it. Interestingly, the original version of 1972 did not have this error.

    I fixed the program and started the game again. Although there were surprises, everything went approximately as I remember from earlier times. In a battle with three Klingons, the computer was damaged, and I honestly calculated torpedo courses in my mind. At the right time, the engines broke down, I had to drag myself through several quadrants, wasting time. Although before the start of the game I slightly increased the time allotted for the task, it quickly melted, and by the end of the galaxy flyby I had only a few star days.

    When flying into a quadrant with the penultimate Klingon, photon torpedoes broke, and a phaser had to be used. While I got to the last enemy, the launcher was repaired, but as if it were evil, a star appeared on the line of fire, and the torpedo could not be used. I had to spend the rest of the energy on the last phaser strike. Last Klingon battle cruiser destroyed, federation saved! So after many years, another star battle was successfully completed.

    I wish you good luck in that you want to return to the past, in Star Trek or your other first game, because finding it and making it work today is no less interesting than actually playing.

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