Some Old Games for the TI-99/4A
Way back in the early years when 16k of memory was a lot to work with, computer games weren't quite as fancy as they are today. Ah, 16k... Now a simple "Hello World" program needs more than 16k it seems. But back in 1988, that was a lot of memory!
Ok, the games were pretty lame by comparison to what we have today. But both programming them and playing them was just as fun as anything you can find out there today. After all, we didn't know any better.
I got started in computers around 1984 and was completely self taught until 90's when I started taking some classes though work and on my own. But even though I was self taught at the time, in 1988 I came up with a few really cool games.
Two that stick in my head are Karate Challenge and Mission Destruct both for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A home computer. I had written the required Pac-Man clone and also cloned Frogger, Q'Bert, and even some card games. But these two were rather original.
Unfortunatly, none of my games really made me a large amount of money. I simply didn't have the skill needed to market. So when offered the chance to sell the entire set of TI games I jumped at the chance. I was getting a little burned out on games anyway. I just didn't (and still don't) feel artistic enough to make the games reflect what I wanted them to.
Asgard Software (now gone) purchased the games and marketed them and recopyrighted them in 1989 under their name. This was fine with me. I only wish they would have left my name on them some place so the world would know I existed.
Some of my games were also released for the Atari 400 and 800 computers and the Commodore 64. None of them ment as much to me as these two do. Mainly becasue the others were clones of popular arcade games. These two were very original and innovative for their time.
Today, I no longer have a real TI-99/4A computer to play these on. I have resorted to using an emulator. This isn't too bad, but one trick I used in Mission Destruct really sucks under emulation. You see, these computers were 16 color systems. Or maybe the TI was 32 colors. I can't really remember any more. But the fact is, that isn't a lot of color. In mission destruct, I took advantage of the fact that these games were played not on a monitor, but on your TV set. TVs have long lasting images and the computer altough slow compaired to what we have today, could still out run a TV set. So I wrote a routine in machine code that could change the background color and various rates. By doing this faster than the TV could keep up, I produced the effect of a rainbow of thousands of colors slowly scrolling up, down or even standing still on the screen.
As far as I know, I was the first to pull this stunt. It was a real hit and I got requests form many other programmers asking how I did it. I never gave full details on it but I did sell (for a few bucks) the binary code that I used to do it. Other programmers didn't need to know how it worked at that point. They just called the routine I wrote and passed some options and then TA-DA! rainbow of color on a machine that shoudn't have been able to do it at all.
The bad part, under emulation it doesn't work and really is annoying. The screen simply flickers various colors and the magical effect is lost. Oh well, we can't have everything. At least I got the chance to play my old games again and share my story with you.
No, I don't write games any more. Well, nothing fancy at least. Once in a while I will whip out a little game here or there but mainly I write web pages, web applications, and business programs. Business programming isn't as entertaining, but there is a lot of money to be made and constantly creating new tools makes me very happy.
I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I have enjoyed telling it. The screen shots on the right come from the two games I wrote and just finished playing. I can't get to all the levels of Mission Destruct yet, but I will keep trying.
If you are interested in trying these games out yourself, you are welcome to download them. The link below will get you the self extracting file that has everything you need. Because the games are played on your PC using an emulator, it isn't exactly what you are use to. But if you read the instructions after installing, I am sure you will be able to figure it out.
Read A Review Of Mission Destruct found on page 32 of the January 1991 issue of MICROpendium.
You can get more information about the TI/99-4A computer by going to 99er.net. This is a very good TI site with a lot of history and more. Some other valuable video game history sites are The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers or TI-99/4A Game Shelf.
|Game Title||Computer Systems||
(Frogger knock off)
|TI, Atari 400/800, Commodore 64/128||
(Q'Bert knock off)
|TI, Atari 400/800||
|Atari 400/800, TI|
(Pac-Man knock off)
|Commodore 64/128 only||
(Dig-Dug knock off)
|Atari 400/800, Commodore 64/128||
|Cards Vol 1
(vol 2 never came about)
|TI, Atari 400/800, Comodore 64/128||