Before starting Shootah I hadn’t done any game development in years, but it’s far from my first attempt. Recently an old friend from my college days found a long-lost classic, and one of the few games I could honestly say that I finished. Presenting: Wally the Worm!
A variation on “Snake” (if you hadn’t guessed), Wally the Worm sees you guiding your blocky red invertebrate around a number of character-based worlds in search of food (in the form of green asterisks) without crashing into the walls or your ever-expanding tail.
It was written circa 1994 in Turbo Pascal, which was, not-coincidentally, the development environment installed on most of the PCs at Reid-Kerr College. At the time I was still getting used to the idea of the modern PC, and the fact that the same program could be run on a potentially infinite number of different hardware configurations. Before then, a game that was written on one Atari ST, say, would run pretty much identically on any other Atari ST. In the PC world I had to adapt to the idea that different machines might run at different speeds. I had no idea how to ensure a constant framerate, but I knew of a handful of different processors that were in common usage. I figured I’d just let the player choose a game speed based on their processor and slow the game down via a number of empty for-loops accordingly. Not very far-sighted – within a couple of years the game would become unplayably fast on even the cheapest home computer – but it did the job. The job being to amuse myself and my friends during dull free-study periods. It even includes a handy “boss mode” that can pop up a fake DOS-prompt mid-game should a lecturer come snooping around to see what you were staring at so intensely.
It’s as simple as can be, but I was insanely proud of it at the time. If you’d like to give it a try, you can get it from the download link below. To run it on a modern computer, you’ll have to use DOSBox. The usual caveats apply, of course. I don’t remember adding a “delete everything on your hard drive” function, but then I have trouble remembering what I had for dinner last night, and the source code is long since lost, so proceed at your own risk: