RISC World

Games World

Paul Brett with the latest gaming news.

When did you last notice a large number of interesting games releases for RISC OS? There have been a few commercial releases this year, including Tek and the updated Desktop Repton, both of which have been reviewed in RISC World. However there hasn't been much to write about with regard to PD, Shareware and Freeware games releases, well that is until now.

Vingt et Un -

This is the latest (and possibly final) release of Vingt et Un by Ian Macfarlane. A full version of this rather wonderful card game costs £10, but we have a demo version for you to try in the this issues games directory. However lets allow Ian to explain how to play in his own words.

The introductory screen
As is usual the application sets its icon on the icon bar when loading is complete. When you click the Select mouse button over this icon, the game's window will be displayed. The pointer will appear within this window.

A welcome message appears with the Vingt et Un logo and if you want instructions you should press the mouse Adjust button at this point OR press Select to start the game.

If you choose to view the instructions, which deal with the rules of play of Vingt et Un itself, these will be presented as a series of pages which can be passed through by clicking on Select. If you need to return to the start of the instructions, press Adjust.

At the end of the instructions, press Select to start the game. To hide the game, click on the window's close icon and to end the game choose the Quit item from the iconbar's menu.

The object of the game
The idea of this card game is to reach a total of 21, without exceeding it, by counting the pips of the cards that are dealt to you. The suits do not play a part in the game.

Aces count either one or eleven at the player's option, court cards count ten, other cards their face value. A total of 21 therefore can be made with an Ace and a ten or a court card and this beats any other combination. The order of winning hands in decreasing order is:-

  • 21 with two cards
  • a five card trick
  • 21 made with more than two cards
  • 20
  • 19
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
    You are not allowed to 'stick' at less than sixteen

Betting is very much a part of the game. You are given chips at the start of the game and, by betting wisely, the object of the game is to increase that amount.

Playing the game
Initially the window is cleared and the pointer will be positioned to a point where the first card will appear. Several chips of various denominations will be displayed at the bottom of the window and represent the player's purse. During the game the contents of the purse is always displayed in this area and the denomination of the chips is arranged such that there are a few chips of each value, so that the player can bet as he/she requires.

The software is written to mimic as closely as possible the traditional card game, in that the cards are drawn randomly (shuffled) and held in a 'pack' and are dealt in this order from this pack and after play, returned to the bottom of the pack. The pack is shuffled at the start of the game, after a player's Vingt et Un or when the cards have gone round twice.

Finally two cards are displayed in the window face down. The pointer is over the top of the lower card which is the player's first card. The other card is the dealer's card.

Peeping at a card
The text at the top invites you to have a peep at your card. Move the pointer to the centre of the bottom of the card.
Select is used to drag on the card in an upwards direction, in order to 'peep' at the value of the card. Part of the other face of the card, showing its value will become visible (see screenshot) and if the drag is completed, then the card will have been turned over and will remain so.
However the drag can be stopped at any time and the card will drop back to its original state with its back uppermost.
Screenshot showing the 
pointer and the card's value side being raised
The text at the top of the window then prompts you to bet, in the knowledge of your card's value.
Choose a chip to bet with, moving the pointer over it and then use Select to drag on this chip to be moved.
The pointer will then be changed to the chip, which should be dragged to the space between the two cards and then released.
Move more chips to increase your bet, but there is a limit of ten chips.
The screenshot shows a chip, valued at five being moved by the player to the stake pool between the dealer's and player's cards.
Moving a chip to 
the stake pool

You will find that you can change your mind about your initial stake and it is possible to move chips back to your purse, but only before you have peeped at the second card.

This then is your initial stake and determines the top limit of the price you can pay for future cards in this game. You signify your acceptance of this initial stake and moving the game on, by peeping at your second card, which will have appeared after you moved the first chip of your bet.

Turning over the second and subsequent cards
After you have peeped at your second card, add the card values together and, if an Ace is present, arrive at two scores: one counting the Ace as one and the second, counting the Ace as eleven. You have three choices:-

  • Stick - and see what the dealer has.
    You do this by clicking Select when the pointer is over the dealer's cards.
    You are allowed to stick if your cards make at least sixteen and you may count Aces as eleven. You might want to stick for a variety of reasons; here are just a few of them:-
    • If your two cards make twenty-one - Vingt et Un - then the dealer can only beat you with one of his own: this is not common. :-)
      The screenshot shows that the Player's Vingt et Un has been equalled by one from the dealer: the dealer takes the player's stake.
    • If your two cards make twenty then there is not much chance of the dealer having 21 or 20 or a five card trick and even less that the card you receive will not 'bust' you.
    • If your two cards make eighteen or more then there isn't much chance of obtaining another card which will not 'bust' you (make your total greater than twenty-one).
    • If your two cards make sixteen or seventeen then, if you have already seen a lot of small valued cards in the last two or three hands, the chances are that there will not be many left for you to pick up in the next card to keep you under 22.
    Screenshot showing the 
player's vingt et un equalled by that of the dealer
  • Buy - increase your stake and keep the dealer from knowing what your new card's value is.
    You must move one or more chips to the centre, where your initial stake is, and the value of this additional stake must be less than or equal to the original stake. Now sometimes you just haven't got the right chips to do that. Don't worry: use a higher valued chip, but your actual stake will be limited to what it should be and you will receive back the 'change' if you loose. If you buy more cards in this hand, this 'change' will go to buying these additional cards.
    You will find that you can - and should - peep at the new card and keep it concealed.
    You might want to buy a card for a variety of reasons; here are just two of them:-
    • Your card count is very low and there may be a chance of a five card trick, which is second only to a Vingt et Un and so very strong. In which case buying the next card is a way of increasing your stake and your eventual winnings!
      The screenshot shows the player's card count at 6 in two cards: a five card trick is a possibility. Note that the player's cards have been turned over as a demonstration; normally they would be kept concealed.
    • You have to take another card, since your card count is less than sixteen, but you have a good chance to make a card count between sixteen and twenty-one and you don't want the dealer to know what's going on.
    Screenshot showing 
the value of the player's two cards as 6
  • Twist - ask the dealer for another card.
    You do this by clicking Select while the pointer is over the next card and you haven't staked any more chips. The card is flipped over so that its value is revealed. You might want to twist a card for many reasons; here are two of them:-
    • If you have cards of value less than sixteen, then you aren't allowed to stick. If you haven't many chips left, twisting the next card is for you!
    • If you have a card value of between twelve and fifteen, you might consider it to be too risky to buy a card, since it could well 'bust' you and you have staked enough as it is.
      The screenshot demonstrates this (normally the cards would be concealed).
    Screenshot showing the 
value of the player's cards as 15
As a matter of etiquette, if you have received a fourth card from the dealer and it brings your pip total to less than 12, you should turn the card face up and twist the last card to obtain your five card trick.

Squaring up at the end of a game
Your turn comes to an end when:-

  • you 'bust': your card value is greater than 21.
  • you 'stick': click Select over the dealer's cards.
  • you have a five card trick
When the last two of these happens, the dealer then turns over his cards and deals more cards as required. He cannot stick at less than 16 also and he will bust if his card's make over 21.

If the dealer has the same score as you, he will have won and he will take your total stake. If he busts or has a lower score, then you will receive back your total stake doubled.

Your chips can grow in value beyond the dealer's capacity or you could loose all the chips you started with. In both cases the game ends.

Iconbar menu items
The Info item leads to a second menu, which shows the information which is available about the application.

  • About This includes program version and status.
  • Help text This file provides detailed information about the application and how it can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • HelpPlay This is the file you are now reading.
Quit : This item removes the application from the desktop.

Differences between the sample and full versions of the game
You are using the sample version of the game. The full version is not available yet, but it is proposed that the following extra features will be incorporated:-

  • A standard set of cards featuring 32k coloured sprites
  • Up to ten chip denominations: much higher scores and longer games are possible.
  • Up to ten texts per message.
  • Save game.
  • Ace splitting into two player's hands.
  • Sound.
  • Veneers provided for backdrop, cards, chips, and settings for features, colours and positioning. The screenshots above show some of the veneers supplied.

Application messages
The program keeps a check on the play and will display a message if you attempt to do anything it doesn't like. During the initial game setup, several checks are made on the presence of key files and sprites. If these are absent, the program will halt with an appropriate message.

The EQlabs SDL port

SDL stands for Simple DirectMedia Layer, and is a generic API that allows authors to port programs (usually games) to multiple platforms that support SDL without having to do major re-writing to support a different operating system. The EQ labs version provides low level access to audio, keyboard, mouse, joystick, 3D hardware via OpenGL and 2D framebuffer across multiple platforms. SDL is written in C, but works with C++ natively, and has bindings to several other languages, including Ada, Eiffel, ML, Perl, and Python. The current version supports Linux, Windows, BeOS, MacOS, MacOS X, RISC OS, FreeBSD, Solaris, and IRIX. The code also contains support for Windows CE, OpenBSD, NetBSD, AIX, OSF/Tru64, and QNX, but these are not yet officially supported. This library is distributed under GNU LGPL version 2, which can be found in the file "COPYING". This license allows you to use SDL freely in commercial programs as long as you link with the dynamic library. The best way to learn how to use SDL is to check out the header files in the "include" subdirectory and the programs in the "test" subdirectory. The header files and test programs are well commented and always up to date. More documentation is available in HTML format in "./docs/index.html"

Not only have those excellent chaps at EQ labs ported the SDL to RISC OS, but they have also ported some sample games, and demos, to show what can be produced using the SDL. These are also included in the games directory on this issue of RISCWorld.



Mad Bomber


EQ Labs should be thoroughly congratulated for their sterling work in porting SLD to RISC OS. All it now needs is some dedicated programmers to pick up the challenge and start writing more games for RISC OS. In fact with the SDL and Paul Johnsons regular series on games writing, along with our serialisation of the Archimedes Games Writers Manual what more do you need to get coding? Oh yes a C Compiler, but then we gave away Easy C a few issues ago. So what are you waiting for?

That's it for this gamesworld. The column will return on an in-regular basis when there is some more exiting gaming news to report.

Paul Brett