There are very few books on writing computerised games of strategy and fewer still giving actual worked examples. This book aims to fill that gap for owners of Atari home computers, although I hope that the owners of other machines will also find it useful.
This is a book pitched at intermediate level. It assumes that the reader is already acquainted with Atari BASIC. Machine code programmers have also been catered for, with many hints on how to modify routines for their programs. These sections are interwoven with the rest of the text and BASIC programmers can lightly skip such paragraphs, knowing that they are not missing any vital information.
The programs that are presented here generally require less than 16K of free RAM for their operation; the exception is Warp Trog which requires 32K. The Atari 400 and 800 models will also require the Atari BASIC cartridge; the more recent models 600XL and 800XL have Atari BASIC fitted as standard.
The programs are written to illustrate principles rather than to be ‘clever’. The knowledgeable reader is encouraged to enhance them.
I make no apology for numerous references to commercial strategy programs, many unavailable for Atari machines, since much can be learned by examination of the state of the art.
For the same reason, many of the underlying principles in each chapter are illustrated by reference to chess. Although BASIC is not suitable for programming chess, the game provides good illustrations of all the points made in the book, while at the same time the rules are well known.
Writing strategy games requires the blending of many sciences; not only a knowledge of programming but also of certain mathematical and coding techniques. In order to keep the book to a manageable length, I have given a brief outline of such methods where appropriate, then referred readers to other sources for more detail.