Dafyd McFlanders takes over the gaming helm
Over the last couple of months, gamers within the RISC OS market have been treated to a superb selection of gaming treats. Just as we like it to be at RISC World, if the truth be told - so here's the games column, back from its previous placing out to pasture. As you'll notice over the coming months, we'll be using Games World to provide you with the very latest games news, views and reviews for both commercial and public domain titles.
I'd like to start by looking back at Aaron's editorial in issue 6. He commented at the time on the involvement of RISC World contributors into the RISC OS software market, and how it was very difficult for us to exclude reviews of contributors products when there are so little others on offer. Thankfully, things have improved slightly since then, but a fair amount of the games-related activity has still been on the part of RISC World contributors - at least on the commercial front.
Whilst we're certain that there are future games developments going on now, for which the RISC OS range will be instantly revered, things are oddly quiet at Artex Software towers [despite a recent teaser advertisement within Acorn User], games developments are slowing down in other arenas too, and The Fourth Dimension seem to have changed their market entirely. Skirmish, from The Kindred, has taken a back burner whilst the authors do - well - other things, despite being quoted over two years ago as being ready 'real soon now'.
This is sounding more like a moan the further I write, but it's not intended as such - more of a reminder. If you do have a games title under development, which you think has true commercial potential, why not let us know and we'll point you in the direction of a publisher who can help. Whilst it's doubtful you'll make a million out of it, you may become known as the next David Braben; using the Acorn platform to launch your career into Playstation 2 games guru status. Of course, if it happens don't forget my 2% cut!
Descent 2 launches at Wakefield
I had hoped that we'd be able to include a review of Descent 2 in this month's RISC World, but due to difficulties in acquiring a copy before the RISC World deadline it's not been possible... still, for those of us in the know R-Comp Interactive's Wakefield launch came of little surprise.
In 1999, when Descent 1 launched for RISC OS, the most noticeable thing about the package you received was it tended to also include the Descent 2 CD-ROM. At the time, RISC OS drivers were not available, but thanks to the pen of David McEwan that omission has now been corrected. [David McEwan is best known as the author of various emulator ports, running natively under RISC OS].
Descent 2 is a stunning, true 3D game with lots of excitement. As the sequel to Descent 1, you pilot a small, nimble spacecraft around mines, rescuing hostages and combatting enemy craft. Far more is added in the way of both sophisticated weaponry and flight experience with 10 separated primary weapons and 10 different secondary missile and mine types. Various different cameras can be displayed to help you navigate your way around, markers can be placed and so on.
The RISC OS version adds high resolution screen modes, and 16 and 32 bit colour. Bilinear graphics filtering is also available for that "3D accelerated" look, as well as transparency effects. Do note that this game demands a pretty meaty processor - either a StrongARM or Kinetic machine - and a CD-ROM drive, but that's to be expected as even within the PC market a Pentium II is required.
Descent 2 is available now, in a double pack with Descent 1 for £35 and also as an upgrade for Descent 1 owners at just £15. I realise that the PC versions can now be bought together for £10, but the RISC OS versions do add significantly to the original titles - and the more copies that are sold of this, the better the outlook for future games releases.
Contact R-Comp Interactive by phone on 01925 755043, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the R-Comp website at www.rcomp.co.uk for complete details on this and all R-Comp Interactive games. Rumour has it that a multiplayer version of Descent 2 is shortly due for release - if this is indeed the case, we'll bring firm news in a future issue of RISC World.
Dune II: free from Jason Tribbeck
Every so often, a game comes along which launches a whole new genre. Within the PC market, Kings Quest launched the adventure games genre, as the sequel to Sierra On-Line's original Mystery House for the Apple II. By the same token, Dune - when released by Westwood Studios for the PC - did pretty much the same thing. It's the strategy game that launched a whole new era of gaming, one which subsequently evolved into Command & Conquer and similar titles.
Whilst it's still available from CJE Micros, the original publishers Eclipse haven't released any new games since 1996 - and they do actually own it. With this in mind, the author - Jason Tribbeck - has contacted Westwood Studios with a view to releasing the Acorn version freely via his website. He has, subsequently, made the game freely available at http://www.tribbeck.com/dune2/ - but do go and download the game as soon as possible, as he doesn't seem to o certain of the legalities.
In case you've not heard of it, Dune II is based on the Frank Herbert book Dune, as well as the film of the same name. You are in control of forces belonging to a "House", with the idea being to take control of the planet "Arrakis", by use of the planet resources through buying weapons and technology. A number of skill levels are available, each one getting progressively more difficult, and a wide range of options are available to customise the game each time you play.
I'll have to admit that Dune II was never my favourite game - even when it was first released, I chose to ignore it rather than even to play the demonstration version. It is, however, one of the best strategy games currently available for RISC OS computers - and, until TEK appears, I'm fairly sure it's the only one currently available. Still, it's freely available and whilst it'll take the best part of half an hour to download, it'll cost you less than buying it in the shops.
For that reason alone, it's got to be worth having a quick play with!
Starship Command for RISC OS
Continuing that most disturbing of trends, Jason Tribbeck has released a public beta version of his next RISC OS games-related project, ArcCommand. Essentially a RISC OS port of Superior Software/Acornsoft's classic Starship Command, it expands upon the original game in terms of sound and graphics yet attempts to remain faithful in virtually every other way.
The aim of the game? Pretty much another run of the mill shoot everything before it kills you kind of thing, placing you in control of a starship. At the time of its original launch, Acornsoft likened it to Elite, and - in a lot of ways - it is a 2D Elite.
Starship Command for RISC OS
ArcCommand, as it is known, is still under active development, and there's a possibility it will get an eventual budget release through one of the RISC OS games software publishers... until then, keep an eye on Jason's website at www.tribbeck.com.
Even more games
It isn't just Jason who has been developing games for RISC OS over the last few months, no indeed. Duncan Mortimer has been improving his version of Monopoly, called Deskopoly. The new version includes better Artificial Intelligence for the computer players. Michael Foot has been beavering away on a RISC OS port of yeat another classic BBC game, this time its Chuckie Egg that has been converted, and very fine it is to!
You can find Monoploy, Chuckie Egg and of course Starship Command in the GamesWorld software section of this issue!
The GEK Collection
I'll mention this one briefly, as there's a review featured elsewhere in this issue. From 1993 to 1998, two brothers from Holland developed - under the GEK branding - perhaps ten different games titles for RISC OS. Whilst the majority were in the public domain, four of them - Emotions, Joust, EuroBlaster and Frak - were released as commercial products through The Datafile and ProAction.
Since then, APDL has bought The Datafile, and other developments have occurred to allow the release of a CD-ROM chronology of the GEK games developments for RISC OS. Containing all four of the GEK commercial titles, with the public domain offerings to complete the collection, the GEK Collection retails at £9.90 + postage.
See the review for complete details, or contact APDL on 020 8778 2659 and on the web at www.apdl.co.uk.
Exclusive - in your next RISC World magazine!
The next issue of RISC World will contain, for the first time ever, every single DarcWorld column, as featured in Archimedes World up until its closure in early 1999. The files have been available on the hard disc of the Games Editor for the best part of three years now, and it seems to be an appropriate time to resurrect them for the interest value of all.
As far as the legal situation is concerned: when the items were published in Archimedes World, non exclusive rights were given to publish the item once - no copyright was ever transferred between the author and the publishers (Nexus Media Limited). As such, I can if I wish reissue all of the columns I wrote - and edited - whereas the current owners of Archimedes World (Tau Press Limited) would not be able to.
The only place you'll get this is RISC World - so keep an eye on the next issue!
In the next issue...
...there should be another Games World column. I must stress the should part - you see between the deadline for this issue and the next we have the RISC OS 2001 show, which should promise to have a fair bit to offer RISC OS gamers both old and new. We'll be paying particular attention to the R-Comp Interactive stand, as well as hoping for news of developments from Artex Software. There's also promise of a new release from APDL/ProAction, but - whilst I know what it is - I cannot as of yet tell you a thing about it.
With luck, I'll see you next time to explain a little more about it. Have a good couple of months.