Chimera Mac – Remastered

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Chimera 1.0 for the Mac and PC, almost 28 years after I wrote the original, is now available. It’s free to play. This is what modern folk call a Minimum Viable Product. It’s not a very good game, I know that, but it forms the basis for something a lot better, which will contain all the ideas I had for the sequel back in the day, plus some recent ones. You’ll like that I think. Next year.

It’s cursor keys and space bar to play. Look at older posts for debug keys if you want to mess around with it. 

I will of course update this from time to time. I have plans for more audio, skins from the other 8-bit versions and maybe some bonus stuff too. My biggest hurdle writing this again was to stick to the mission. It’s so tempting to tweak something here and add something there. I avoided that for the most part, making the bare minimum of changes, like being able to move as little as you want instead of a block at a time, like the collision system pushing you around blocks, like the improved “event handler” and more context specific terminal help text. 

Underpinning all this is the result of learning some modern C++ (I was one of the first people in the industry to learn it and to teach my team the basics of object oriented programming back in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s, so the basics were already there). This education will stand me in good stead for future versions that will really be a lot more interesting than this retro experiment.

It has not been easy doing this, but like anything worthwhile, it wasn’t supposed to be.

I have lots of plans, 1.0 is just the beginning of my adventure, aged 46, going on 47.

Download and give me your feedback on Twitter @shahidkamal (please see links below)

Update: PC version available, quit bug fixed in both versions, links below:

Mac version: chimera-mac.zip

PC version: chimera-pc.zip

Chimera Beta (sort of)

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Latest build of Chimera now available for Mac. Will shortly be available for PC.

Most of the sound and feedback text is now in. Instructions follow:

  • WASD or cursor keys move the player
  • Space bar for action to pick up static objects, or combine them with another static object in front of you, or to consume bread or water, or drop a missile in a blue missile room, or access the terminals (which currently don’t tell you much)
  • Arm four missiles to start the self-destruct. You then have 60 seconds to exit via the green room
  • Moving uses energy up faster. If you’re carrying something, energy gets used up even faster. If you’re pushing against a block, that uses up energy. It’s more efficient to move without bumping into blocks
  • Radiators drain your coolant, the closer you are to a radiator, the faster your coolant drains
  • Missiles drain your coolant, as does proximity to an armed missile
  • When you die, hitting the L key (lower case ‘l’) will reLoad the game

Debug mode can be entered by pressing the ‘/’ key. I recommend playing without debug, but here are the keys anyway:

  • WASD moves you a room at a time around the map, cursor keys still move player as usual
  • ‘e’ replenishes your energy, ‘c’ replenishes your coolant
  • ‘r’ resets you to the first room
  • ‘m’ gives you a missile
  • ‘t’ gives you the torch
  • ‘k’ clears your inventory
  • ‘p’ places a missile, or rather, just increases your placed missile count
What’s left?
Music
Help text on terminals
Bug-fixes, tuning and a little polish.

Get the Mac build here: chimera-mac-0.5.zip (This version should work on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and above)

Get the PC build here: (coming soon, currently a bit buggy.)

Update on PC build:

I’m hitting some issues with the PC version, primarily audio related. Theoretically, a recompile should work. In practice, I get crashes on audio playback and it might be because my version of the Cinder library is not up to date. I’ll have to look into that. Bear with me, it’s going to be a few days. The Mac version is smoother for some reason, even on slower machines. I’ll look into that.

Second Playable

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I promised you a second playable this Sunday, and here it is. Quite a few changes.

I recommend playing the game in normal mode, instructions are as follows:

  • Cursor keys move the player
  • Space bar for action to pick up static objects, or combine them with another static object in front of you, or to consume bread or water, or drop a missile in a blue missile room
  • Arm four missiles to start the self-destruct. You then have 60 seconds to exit via the green room
  • Moving uses energy up faster. If you’re carrying something, energy gets used up even faster. If you’re pushing against a block, that uses up energy. It’s more efficient to move without bumping into blocks
  • Radiators drain your coolant, the closer you are to a radiator, the faster your coolant drains
  • Missiles drain your coolant, as does proximity to an armed missile
  • There is no text feedback in the game yet, that’s for the next build, along with more sound and perhaps some music (next Sunday)
  • When you die, hitting the L key (lower case ‘l’) will reLoad the game

Debug mode can be entered by pressing the ‘/’ key. I recommend playing without debug, but here are the keys anyway:

  • WASD moves you a room at a time around the map
  • ‘e’ replenishes your energy, ‘c’ replenishes your coolant
  • ‘r’ resets you to the first room
  • ‘m’ gives you a missile
  • ‘t’ gives you the torch
  • ‘k’ clears your inventory
  • ‘p’ places a missile, or rather, just increases your placed missile count

I’ll do a PC build in about an hour, but for now, here is the Mac version, which this time should hopefully work on Snow Leopard (that’s OS 10.6) or above.

Here is the Mac version: chimera-mac.zip

PC version (without the trademark sampled speech and scream): chimera-pc.zip

 What’s left?

  • Text feedback (if you’re new to the game, you won’t know what’s going on, text feedback will help a bit)
    • Terminal help (similar to text feedback)
  • Title screen
  • Control screen
    • Mouse control
    • Rotational key control
  • Sound effects
    • Heartbeat
    • Pick-up
    • Combine
    • Disable
    • Self-destruct klaxon
    • Consume energy
    • Consume coolant
  • Music
    • Titles
    • Win game
  • Animations for disabling animated objects
  • Points tally at end of game
  • Energy and Coolant tuning and placement of pick-ups

It’s almost done!

First Playable

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Screen Shot 2012 11 04 at 21 55 37

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At long last, here is a playable (some might call it a pre-alpha, or something modern like that) of Chimera, the game I made in the early part of 1985, when everything changed for me.

For now, there is a link to the use-at-your-own-risk Mac version near the bottom of the post. There’s no installer or anything fancy, so you had better know what you’re doing.

A PC version (without the trademark “Chimera” and “aaarrggh” scream sadly due to a bug) will be made available here shortly too.

I wrote this in C++, with low-level duties provided by the excellent Cinder library. No GameMaker or Unity, I wanted to write in C++ and that’s probably because I’m a stubborn old git. I used my MacBook Air and a Dell laptop. My day job is exceptionally demanding and rewarding, so this took me a long time, working mainly on weekends, with some morning or evening duty.

The graphics are straight from the original, having been unearthed for me by @sokurah, an amazing digital archaeologist if ever there was one. I took the graphics sheet, cut the masks and images, recoloured them and multiplied them by 4 in each axis. The scream and the chimera sample were also unearthed by @sokurah. I edited them to remove some glitches and they went straight in. For some reason, I can’t get them working on the PC version yet, which might be a Cinder issue.

The room data was taken straight from a paper listing I still had of the original data, which I typed in by hand. It was an old listing, so I had to do a fair amount of manual editing to get everything right again, but also wrote a little map editor to make the fixing easier. 

The puzzles are as per the original, inserted by hand.

Major changes from the ZX Spectrum original include:

  • Interactive objects get their own colours
  • Spaceman animation is independent of movement
  • Animation and movement are not hardwired to one another anymore and the player doesn’t have to move a block at a time
  • All movement is directional using the cursor keys
  • I implemented the brilliant collision push system used in Knight Lore to make manoeuvring around blocks and exits easier
  • A screen shake has been added, you might or might not get to see that
  • The spaceman is always in yellow
  • I’ve renamed “bread” and “water” to “energy” and “coolant”

Some notes:

You place a spaceman on the Chimera ghost-ship. You have to destroy it and escape. To do that, you have to solve a series of stupid puzzles, whose logic defies me and will probably defy you too. 

For the first puzzle, you need to find the spanner to disable electric fences before combining the spanner with a bolt to form a warhead. Take the warhead to a blue missile room and arm it by swapping it for the bread. (Don’t ask…)

Once you have armed all the warheads, get the hell off the ship before it self-destructs, heading for the green room.

Remember, this is not even an alpha really, it’s a first playable and no doubt has many bugs. If you want me to keep on working on this, I really could use your feedback and would be grateful. It’s rough around the edges and is still missing a huge amount of polish. The terminals don’t work, there is no real UI or front end. It will all come together.

Keys:

Cursor keys to move

Space bar to pick up or use

Once you die, and you will probably die often (if you grab something you shouldn’t, or your energy or coolant runs out, or the ship blows up) you will need to load the game again by pressing the ‘L’ key – make it lower-case, I typed it upper case so you didn’t confuse it with a ‘1’, but you’re probably confused already…

You can cheat, really easily in fact, but I’m not going to tell you how. I would prefer it if you didn’t use WASD, but you will anyway, out of reflex, and you will realise what one of the cheats is. Don’t press ‘t’ to get the torch as a cheat either. I’d rather you just found it. Or press ‘m’ to immediately get a missile, because that’s just cheating.

Anyway, please, please, please let me have your feedback. This game will not make much sense to you. I don’t care. It means more to me than you could possibly imagine, and it will only get better. I aim to have a finished version of this remake by the end of the month.

Link to Mac version: chimera-mac.zip

 Link to PC version: chimera-pc.zip

(Thanks to @sokurah, @retroremakes, @kommanderklobb, @eastmad and many more)