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XQUEST

software


XQUEST

v 1.00



9/5/94

by

Mark (Atomjack) Mackey

INTRODUCTION

Anyone who's ever mucked around with an Apple MacIntosh (tm etc.)

will almost certainly at one time or another have come across the

excellent but rather old arcade game CrystalQuest. Generations have

bemoaned the fact that this little gem of a game was only available

on crummy little monochrome fruity things. Well, bemoan no longer.

XQuest is the first groundbreaking port of CrystalQuest to the PC!

Crystals, mines, bonuses, lots of things to wantonly blow up: they're

all here folks, along with a few minor enhancements (evil snigger).

For those few sad individuals who missed the original game, here

is...

THE STORY

The invasion fleet of the hideous Mucoids is hurtling towards the

Earth, intent on blasting it into tiny steaming shreds of radioactive

grit, and only your ship, armed with the our latest top secret

Super Kill-o-Zapper Phaser Photon Laser Cannons can... Hang on,

sorry. Wrong game: start again.

You're a rather jolly lit 15215r1714p tle circular dingus which shoots all around

a rather abstract landscape collecting little blue crystally things,

while avoiding a few mines scattered around. Hmm. Boring, you say?

Well, maybe it still needs a certain something... OK, so we'll keep

the Super Kill-o-Zapper, then, and add a couple of things to blow up.

Happy?

GAME REQUIREMENTS

Required Recommended

CPU 286-12MHz 386SX-33

Video card VGA VGA

Input device Mouse Mouse

Sound Card none Sound Blaster

Memory 350K free 550K free

HOW TO PLAY

To play XQuest type 'xquest' at the prompt from the directory that

XQuest is installed to. You will be presented with an amazingly self-

explanatory menu. In the interests of total software documentation,

however, here is an explanation:

Menu Option What it Does

----------- ------------

Start Game Starts the game

Help Help screen

High Scores High scores

Options Options menu

Demo Demo menu

Quit Quits

Did that help?

Click on an option to select it, right click to back up from one of

the submenus. If you wait for a while a wonderfully exciting demo

will appear, and you will see how a *true* master plays the game

(cough, ahem). (To exit the demo simply click a button or press ESC).

Once you are in the game, you can move your ship around by moving the

mouse. Fire your Super Kill-o-Zapper by pressing the left mouse

button: you fire in the direction that your ship is moving. If things

get too hot, then pressing the right mouse button or hitting the

space bar activates a SmartBomb which will destroy all enemies on the

screen. You only have a limited number of SmartBombs, so use them

sparingly. However, you may occasionally see a SmartBomb lying around

for you to pick up. Handy, huh?

If things get too hot, you can take a break by hitting 'p'. This will

pause the game (and more importantly, the timer) until you hit 'p'

again.

Your object in the game is to collect all of the blue crystals on

the screen. When all of the crystals have been collected a gate at

the top of the screen will open which leads to the next level. If you

complete a level quickly you may earn a time bonus, which will

markedly elevate your score and head you towards that most envious of

awards: a place on the XQuest Hall of Fame!

However, there are hazards that must be overcome. If you hit one of

the red mines scattered around your ship will be instantly Smashed

into Small Piles of Putrid Debris (tm). There are also various

nasties just waiting to remove your ship from contention. The enemies

you may encounter are:

Grunger Fairly harmless, slow and stupid, these are the

hired muscle.

Zippo The same as Grungers except for the slow bit.

Zinger Fires little teeny bullets everywhere.

Miner Lays mines right where you don't want them.

Meeby Big, annoying, tough. Need I say more?

Retaliator You shoot them, they shoot right back. That's

fair, isn't it?

Terrier These little terrors seem harmless, until they

catch your scent.

Doinger The longer they're around, the more danger

you're in.

Snipe Excellent marksmen, Snipes are just *waiting* for

a clear shot...

Buckshot Fires LOTS of little teeny bullets everywhere.

Terminate with prejudice on sight.

Cluster Clusters are slow, harmless, and quite cute

really. Until you shoot them.

Sticktight Harder to shake off than a SideWinder, and twice

as deadly.

Don't forget your SmartBombs if you really get in trouble!

Occasionally, if you are lucky, a SuperCrystal will decide to go

wandering across your screen. This is an opportunity too good to

miss! Collecting a SuperCrystal can give you any of several power-

ups. SuperCrystals are somewhat unstable, though, so they will only

be around for a short while before evaporating. They are also

fragile, so avoid shooting them.

If through some inexplicable stroke of luck you manage to get a good

score you may be offered the ultimate recognition: a place on the

XQuest Hall of Fame. Just type your name in (20 characters max) and

you will attract admiration, awe, adulation and alliteration from the

general public for all time!

If the default settings for the game are not to your liking, you can

change them in the Options menu. You can set the sound volume, adjust

the mouse sensitivity, or define which key you want to activate the

smartbomb.

***WARNING***: There is a very wide range on the mouse sensitivity

setting, so unless you have amazingly fast reflexes I would not

recommend setting this to maximum. A setting of about 1/4 the way

along seems to work fine for me. Also, the sound is quite loud on the

maximum setting, so unless you can cope with the neighbours

inevitably becoming annoyed when you are still playing XQuest at 3am

you may want to keep this down a bit.

In the Demo menu you can record or play back a game. Did you have a

really awesome game yesterday, but your friends scoff in disbelief at

your score in the hundred millions and accuse you of hacking the high

score file? Well, now you can show them! Choosing Record Demo prompts

you for a filename to save the recorded game under (a default

extension of '.dmo' will be added) and puts XQuest into recording

mode. Every move you make will be recorded in the specified file. If

you want you can replace the default 'xquest.dmo' file with something

of your own choosing by either recording directly to it or copying

another demo file over it.

Choosing Play Demo prompts you for a filename. The file

'<filename>.dmo' will be loaded and played for your edification and

enjoyment. If the specified file does not exist your computer will

explode into thousands of small smouldering pieces. You have been

warned.

COMMAND LINE PARAMETERS

-slow

This starts XQuest in slow machine mode. Use this if the game

speed starts fluctuating (this won't usually happen on machines

above a 386-16). Basically this cuts down on the maximum number

of simultaneous sounds that XQuest will play and lowers the

maximum number of sprites (and no: using this option on a faster

computer simply because it makes the game ever-so-slightly easier

on the higher levels is STRICTLY VERBOTEN! We know who you are,

we know where you live, we even know the story about you and the

next-door neighbour's goat, so watch it, OK?)

-nosound

This tells XQuest to ignore any soundcard that you may have and

run the game with no sound. Boring!

-portirq <port> <irq>

On some (strange) setups the soundcard autodetection routines in

XQuest will fail. In this case specify the port number and IRQ

for your soundcard with this parameter. The port number is in

hexadecimal. The "standard" port number is 220, but check the

documentation for your card if you are not sure.

NB XQuest has not been tested with IRQ's above 7 and probably

won't work properly. Still, you only live once, so go ahead

and try...

NNB (or should that be NBB???) The autodetection routine is known

to cause problems with Gravis UltraSound cards. If you have a

GUS, either have SBOS (yecchhh!) loaded, or use the -nosound

parameter. The sound works fine on GUS cards as long as SBOS

is loaded (although it may sound a little strange: I have no

idea why).

TROUBLESHOOTING

Q. My computer turns green, the monitor glows red-hot, and my mouse

melted when I started the game. What gives?

A. Well, my friend, you've probably tried to run this game on an XT,

or on something with a CGA or EGA card, or some other equally

outdated junk. No can do, I'm sorry. What? No, I'm afraid your HP

calculator won't cut it either. Face it, these are rapidly

changing times, you've got to keep up with the high tech stuff...

Q. How come I don't get any sound effects?

A. Well, you either haven't got a Sound Blaster or compatible, or it

doesn't work. If you have a soundcard and XQuest seems not to be

detecting it properly then try the -portirq parameter. If you

don't have one then it's not my problem. Try uttering nice

monosyllabic 'Ping!' sounds under your breath while playing

instead. It'll be almost as good (trust me!), except that it may

cause your friends to look at you strangely and call those nice

men in the white coats who are always so sympathetic...

"I talk to the treeeeees,

That's why they put me awaaaayy..." - Eccles

Q. I went out and bought a sound card especially for this game. How

come the sound effects I get are so tacky?

A. Look, my friend, the sound effects in this game are the best

that money can buy(*)! I spent hours and hours (well, one hour)

ripping the best beeps and twangs from hundreds of different

sources (ie other games, mostly). You got better sounds, mail 'em

to me and I'll put 'em in the next version, and I might even

acknowledge you. Wouldn't that be nice?

(*) A very small amount of money, that is.

Q. XQuest never runs: it just tells me that I haven't got a mouse.

A. You haven't got a mouse.

Well, seriously now, you either don't possess a rodent, you

haven't plugged it into the computer, you haven't plugged it into

the computer at the right place, you haven't loaded an

appropriate mouse driver, or your mouse driver is either (a)

really old or (b) not Microsoft (TM, (C), and lots of other

necessary legal BS) compatible. Fix any and/or all of these that

are relevant.

Note: for those not-so-quick on the update, by 'mouse' above I

meant the little plastic thingys with a ball on the bottom, and

not an actual live squeaky-type mouse. Any attempt to physically

attach a real mouse to your computer will no doubt result in

disappointment for both of you.

Q. My computer locks up when I run XQuest. Why?

A. This could be one of two things. The sound autodetection code in

XQuest conflicts with the Gravis UltraSound card. If you have a

GUS, make sure you have SBOS loaded, or use the -nosound

parameter. SBOS version 3.8b is known to work with XQuest:

earlier versions may have strange effects.

Alternatively, some TSRs are known to conflict with XQuest. In

particular, XQuest will not run properly with sound if you are

running SpeedCache: damned if I know why. Other caching proggies

seem to be OK, though.

Q. Can I run XQuest under Windows ((c), (tm), (legal bs))?

A. Yes, XQuest will run perfectly under Windows. I must confess that

this scared the bejeezus out of me when I first tried it, given

all the horrible hardware-level tweaking in the code for this

gem. However, be warned that XQuest will almost certainly

conflict with any other program trying to use the SoundBlaster.

You might be safest running it with the -nosound parameter, or

alternatively disabling sound autodetection with the -portirq

parameter. I also wouldn't try running it in the background,

'cause you won't be able to see where you are going. XQuest Gods

are free to try this, though, for that extra challenge.

Q. I keep getting an 'Out of Memory' error. What gives?

A. Gadzooks, man! You've run out of memory! How did you manage that?

This little beasty don't require more than 550K or so free. Just

what TSRs do you have loaded, anyway?

Q. But surely you can't expect me to function without my pop-up

rubber ducky program, my resident Z80 emulator, and my online

Encyclopaedia Brittanica?

A. I realise that it's hard to conceive of trying to function

without these civilised necessities, but really, when you want

to play XQuest, that's all the fun you need, right? Delete

all the other guff and put 30 copies of XQuest on your hard

disk. OK? Feeling better? Now breathe in deeply and repeat

after me: "I don't need any TSRs. I don't need any TSRs...."

If you really feel you can't exist without your pop-up rubber

duck and the rest, then try starting XQuest with the -nosound

parameter. You won't get any of the amazing sound effects, but

with no sound XQuest only needs about 350K of memory. If you

can't get 350K free then all I can say is: Get a life!

Q. OK, so we've all heard about how XQuest works and so on. How much

does it cost?

A. Absolutely nothing, mate! That's the best bit about the whole

game! XQuest is released freeware, and no registration fees,

tariffs, taxes, VAT, duty, customs, contracts, licenses,

reimbursement, cheques, cash, or other forms of monetary payment

(with the possible exception of a few bars of gold if you're

feeling generous) are required.

However, I put a lot of time and effort into writing this. If you

enjoyed XQuest then a donation of UKP10 (or US$15) would be much

appreciated, and will encourage me to keep upgrading XQuest. If

you send me a floppy disc and SAE with your donation I'll mail

the next version of XQuest direct to you, when available.

Alternatively, just include your email address and I'll email

the next version to you, which would be easier on both of us.

If you can't afford a tenner, then just send me a postcard.

Any and all feedback is welcome!

The next version should have any and/or all of: better

graphics, more enemies, music, pretty background scenes, GUS

support, and real-time SVGA 24-bit raytracing with surround

sound, tactile feedback, and cybersex! Watch this space...

Q. Is the source available?

A. Well, now that you mention it, if anyone out there really wants

to look at the source I suppose I might be persuaded into it.

Contact me (snail mail and email addresses below) if you have the

burning desire to wade through several thousand lines of under-

commented Pascal and assembly...

ABOUT XQUEST

XQuest was written in Pascal and assembly language using Turbo Pascal

v6.0. The program has been through several incarnations. The original

EGA version was written about 5 years ago using BGI graphics and

AdLib sound (blecch!) but was never released. The current version was

written in 12 months or so during odd free moments, and has survived

4 major rewrites. The graphics were developed on my own sprite editor

(because I can't afford Deluxe Paint II at the moment) except for the

title screens, for which you can blame Persistence of Vision, the

excellent freeware ray-tracer.

ABOUT ME

If you want to contact me and talk about any aspect of game coding

or design for the PC then feel free to do so. My addresses are:

Internet: mdm1004@cus.cam.ac.uk (preferred address)

mmackey@aqueous.ml.csiro.au (only checked every month or

so)

Snail Mail: Mark Mackey

c/o Trinity Hall,

Cambridge CB2 1TJ

UK.

If sending money from the US or other for'n parts, you can either

send a money order or just send cash (in between two bits of card so

it's not obvious). I know you're not supposed to send cash through

the post, but let's face it: shelling out 10 bucks for a $15 money

order is slightly ridiculous.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks are due to Themie Gouthas for his excellent PD graphics

library, Xlib, on which the engine used in this game was based, and

to Tristan Tarrant for originally porting Xlib to Turbo Pascal.

Thanks also to Carlos Hasan for his 'Tinyplay' mod player which I

used as an example for the sound code in XQuest and to my supervisor

for overlooking the fact that while finishing this I got precious

little work done on my PhD project.

Major acknowledgement is due to Patrick Buckland for writing the

original CrystalQuest, on which this game is based (to a small extent

only: I didn't copy it, honest, no, no, please don't sue,

aaaarrgghh!).

Anybody who's read the PC NetHack docs will realise that I owe a

great debt to Stephen P. Spackman and Kevin D. Smolkowski for this

documentation. Warped minds think alike!

Lastly, thanks to all of the numerous beta testers for their help and

insightful comments. Quite a few of the niftier features in this game

are due to their suggestions, and quite a few of the niftier bugs

were removed due to their complaints. Thanks muchly, people!

WHERE TO GET STUFF

To save myself some of the inevitable 50,000 queries, the following

information is provided as a public service:

Persistence of Vision can be obtained by anonymous ftp from

ftp.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de as /pub/pov-ray/POV-RAY2.2/*.zip

XLib is floating around on wasp.eng.ufl.edu as

/pub/msdos/demos/programming/libs/xlib06.lzh (C version)

/pub/msdos/demos/programming/source/xlibpas.lzh (TP version)

TinyPlay is also on wasp.eng.ufl.edu as

/pub/msdos/demos/programming/source/tinyplay.zip

NetHack can be obtained from linc.cis.upenn.edu as /pub/NH3.1/*

LEGAL BUMFF

XQuest is (C) 1994 Mark Mackey. All rights reserved. This

documentation is (C) 1994 Mark Mackey, all rights reserved. Mark

Mackey's rather pathetic sense of humour is (C) 1994 Mark Mackey, all

rights reserved, but anyone can borrow it if they want. Mark Mackey

is (C) 1994 Mark Mackey, all reservations probably correct, and is

used under exclusive license.

Microsoft, Turbo Pascal, AdLib, Sound Blaster, Gravis UltraSound and

most of the other words in this document are trademarks of whoever

trademarked 'em, and their use in this document is not to be taken as

a challenge to such a trademark, even though the chances of a major

company noticing the use of their privately owned words in this

document and suing the bejeezus out of me are pretty miniscule.

Still, you never know what Micro$oft will do next.


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