Boulder Dash (A8)
In 1982 or 1983, Chris Gray (then around 14 years old) wrote a game based on The Pit (ARC) in BASIC. He showed it Inhome Software, who liked it, but needed someone to translate it into 6502 machine code. Just then, professional programmer Peter Liepa wanted to get into games, asked Inhome what is in demand, and they connected him with Gray. However, Liepa found Gray's game stiff and short-lived, and Gray himself to have an opposing taste.
Liepa started writing a new game inspired by boulders and earth. After days, he finished the now-famous fake physics. The following six months, he thought about polishing, and did polish two hours a day. Since Inhome wanted a recognizable protagonist, Liepa doubled all tiles to 16×16 pixels and worked hard to scroll smoothly (instead of making caves smaller, as clones would do). Next, he created the protagonist directly in an editor. He never thought about his species ("I suppose in my mind he was kind of a furry smurf"); he much rather wanted him to blink his eyes and tap his foot. Every 500 points, you get a bonus life, and the background shimmers for two seconds.
Inhome had meanwhile vanished, so Liepa searched Byte magazine for American publishers, specifically the close east coast. He sent a disk to First Star Software, whose president was so hooked that he came late for an appointment. First Star collaborated on the difficulty curve, asked for different colors per cave, and conceived intermissions: Every four caves, you get a bonus life and play an optional mini-cave. Gray could only get minor ideas (like the huge title font) through; eventually, lawyers discussed credits and royalties. On October 28, 1983, First Star bought all rights.
Developer Peter Liepa had backgrounds in music and synthesizers, so he was interested and succeeded in designing a full soundtrack and even implementing attack and decay, all suited to the hardware and game experience.
Over the title screen and main menu, an original song loops. In-game, atmospheric sound effects spread over the POKEY chip as follows:
|Channel 1||Channel 2||Channel 3||Channel 4|
The higher in the cave the sound comes from, the likelier it gets through:
Rockford walks through earth (loudly) or through air (softly).
Uniquely to Boulder Dash (A8), whenever the amoeba grows through earth, it echoes Rockford's last step.
To record two loops plus 10 seconds, the game was started in Altirra 3.90 with:
- Ripper: ASMA
- Recorder: Professor Chaos
- Game Credits:
(Source: Liepa in interviews. Game lacks audio credits.)
- mobygames.com/game/atari-8-bit/boulder-dash - MobyGames.
- mobygames.com/game/atari-8-bit/super-boulder-dash - MobyGames.
- gamefaqs.gamespot.com/atari8bit/996905-boulder-dash - GameFAQs.
- gamefaqs.gamespot.com/atari8bit/278349-super-boulder-dash - GameFAQs.
|Boulder Dash||• • • • • • • • • •|
|Boulder Dash II||• • • • •|
|Rockford||• • • • • •|
|Notable Personnel||Peter Liepa|
|Notable Companies||First Star Software|