The Archimedes Gamemakers Manual
Copyright © APDL and Terry Blunt 2002. All Rights Reserved
This book is for those new to the Archimedes, and probably new to games programming. Of necessity, some knowledge of programming in Basic is assumed, so with this in mind working with a copy of the BBC Basic Guide to hand is advisable. For those producing promising games but needing to delve deeper into the Archimedes for more advanced work, serious consideration should be given to the expense of the Programmers Reference Manual.
The Archimedes Gamemakers Manual can be separated naturally into two parts. The first is a guide to planning and design, as well as programming techniques particularly applicable to games. The second part is three groups of subsections that concentrate on each loosely defined game type. As it is impossible to precisely define a game type reading over several in the same group will probably be necessary. There is a final chapter devoted to using the Basic assembler to produce useful ARM code extensions.
The ideas and methods contained here are intended as a guide rather than a set of absolute rules, so with experience it will be possible to extend and improve on this work. Also, even the very best programmers will admit that there's always a different view of a familiar task, so it pays to look closely at any program listings that come to hand. The ideal solution to a problem could quite easily be buried deep inside something as remote from games as a desktop diary program.
I would like to thank Minerva Software for their interest and suggestions while this book was in its early stages, Nick Pelling for some timely help near the book's completion, and Steve Turnbull for encouragement and moral support throughout the development of this, the most complex work I have undertaken to date.
The Archimedes Gamemakers Manual is © Terry Blunt and Sigma Press. This edition also © APDL. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher nor circulated in any form, binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
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Preface to this edition
This book is being revived and re-published because there are now very few technical or how-to-do-it books for RISC OS. At one time the many magazines published listings, often for games, which enabled people to find out how it was done and to write their own programs. As you might expect, games are always one of the first things that people try to write, and Acorn computers have always been very easy to program for the learner.
When it was written in 1990 the generic name for Acorn's 32 bit computers was still 'Archimedes'. The fastest machines available only had ARM 3 processors and almost all users had an ARM 2 and the standard operating system was RISC OS 2. Hard discs were a rarity and most machines only had an 800K floppy. I Mb of RAM was the most that could be expected as this was the norm on A3000 and A310 models, although 2 Mb was increasingly common and there was a sprinkling of 4 Mb machines. So to reach the widest possible market programmers had to write for the lowest common denominator machine, ARM 2 with 1 Mb of RAM.
It's amazing how well they did. Some of these games are not only still playable but just as much fun and as addictive as they were when first released.
Modern RISC OS machines are very much more powerful in all respects. They have much better graphics, are immensely faster, 8 Mb of RAM would be regarded as 'cramped', and a hard disc is the norm, not the exception.
Despite the advances the underlying system is still very similar to that of 1990. For this reason almost all of the techniques described in this book still work very well today, and will probably work in the future. This means that this book is still a valuable resource for the budding games programmer.
You probably won't write the next great blockbuster (though who knows?) but you will probably have a lot of fun.
Our thanks to Sigma Press, the original publishers, for permission to re-release this book. We will be serialising the entire book over the next three editions of RISC World, if you can't wait then a full printed version can be obtained from APDL at the usual address and there is also a Special Reader's Offer (see the RISC World Contents page for details).