Genesis of: Forest of Doom

Only the bravest souls enter, only the most cunning return!

Defeat innumerable monsters to ransom the king’s sceptre, stolen by the evil wizard and kept deep in the Forest of Doom. 

Your sword, shield and wits are your only allies – pray you find a magical Inn as your only respite!

D. Bruce Moore began writing his first fantasy game for the Coco1 (Color BASIC only) in 1983; a turn-based campaign influenced by Dungeons and Dragons.  He was 14 years old and, while he could barely parse a FOR NEXT loop, his young imagination knew no bounds.

Forest of Doom was abandoned as Bruce learned more about coding from RAINBOW magazine, Hot Coco, and others.  By the time he was 16, he had written and sold several games on his cassette-based Coco 2 to T&D Software, taking those earnings and buying a EDTASM+ cartridge to delve into the arcane world of Machine Language.

Forest of Doom, and programming, was mostly forgotten as Bruce entered college in 1987, using his Coco 3 for writing papers and composing music (using LYRA).

In the Fall of 2016 Bruce’s brother bought him a Coco 2 from a pawn shop for $5. He got Bruce to pull out his old cassettes – most which still worked, and Bruce was smitten again with the Coco (and began teaching his young son BASIC).

Sitting in the “Green Glow” one evening, Bruce loaded up the semi-functional and horribly coded Forest of Doom, just for kicks…

One little edit turned to two, three, crash, four, crash, crash….every 2nd edit seemed to create an unforeseen bug – but the charm of the game not only endured, it grew!

While still in BETA, Bruce hopes to release it soon to the Coco community, so glad to have found you all after so many years.

Continuous music idea nixed

After converting some routines into Machine Language I tested the CoCo2 music player by Simon Jonnason.  Unfortunately, the game performance, while slightly better, was still not sufficient.  Had this been a CoCo3 game it would have been easy, and while it is tempting to move to the CoCo3, I want to leave Forest of Doom as a CoCo1/2 game as it was originally designed.

I will still use the ML routines already created, but will move on with bug fixes and maybe a couple more features (yeah…feature-creep)!

Machine language routines using Structured Code!? On a CoCo?!

In January 1985, T&D Subscription Software mailed out a cassette (#31) with my game GRID RUN (super thrill for me to see my game distributed!) . On that same cassette was something called “Structured Compiled Language”, which boasted BASIC-like syntax and would compile to the “Holy Grail” of MACHINE LANGUAGE!

I was initially excited, but when I tried it out the limitations (no string manipulation, no negative numbers, etc) discouraged me from pursuing it any further.

Fast forward to 2017, I was considering writing some Machine Language routines for Forest of Doom and I remember SCL.  Fact is, I didn’t know anything about Structured Programming in the 80’s, but having since studied it in University and worked for about a decade full-time as a Computer Analyst / Programmer, I could see the benefit of SCL over Assembly Language.

SCL has its limits, but I can bang out some human readable code in a short period of time, and even tweak the compiler (written in BASIC) to suit my needs!

I seem to have off-loaded a tedious and slow bit of BASIC code, used for navigating the Adventure Map, into a Machine Language routine.  The game was OK in BASIC, but this creates the possibility of incorporating some music playing code from Simon Jonassen!




Reward Screen

While it was possible to win Forest of Doom in its original incarnation, the screen consisted of the simple text, “You Won! Congratulation!” and a “Play Again?” prompt.

Not very exciting.

I just finished the mechanics of a semi-graphics reward screen, similar in quality to the Title screen, along with some heroic music for the hardy adventurer.  Much more rewarding!

And, NO, I will not post a screen shot – you will have to win to see it!

(To that end, the reward screen is obfuscated and can only be decoded with a ML routine for which Simon Jonassen provided much appreciated assistance)

Old school Semi-graphics with a high-tech tool

The title screen of Forest of Doom was FUN to make!  Tedious? I guess, but I loved feeling like a teenager again as I worked on it.  Yeah, I stayed up WAY too late doing it, just like a teen.  (Didn’t feel like a teen the next morning, though…)

The Coco manual has a page of graph paper for each graphics mode.  I took a scan of that page and printed it onto a transparency.  (Back in the day I took a long bike ride to the local library to photocopy anything – forget ever making a transparency!)

I found a royalty-free pic via Google search, modified it, and printed a hard copy.  Laying the transparency over it, I went to work on the title screen.

Simon Jonassen pointed me to a great tool he created, SGEDIT, giving me a graphical interface to draw out my graphic based on the template.  Thanks, Simon!