Now that spring is here, what better time to showcase a game I started back in the 80s called Snow Blower.
As you might get from the name, this game involves a Snow Blower. For those of you without snow, a Snow Blower is a machine, often gas-powered, that scoops up snow and throws it out of the driveway. It is also called a Snow Thrower. Here in the northeast US, a Snow Blower is a necessity if you have a driveway (and don’t want to pay someone to plow it for you). At our location in Maine, we average about 5 feet of snow in winter, although that’s not all at once! More recently we haven’t been getting quite that much, though.
Anyway, the goal of this game is to clear the snow out of your driveway. To do so you drive a snowblower around the screen and the area it touches is cleared of snow. For obstacles, there are two: a snowmobile that occasionally races across the driveway, filling its path back up with snow; and a snowman that chases you around as you try to clear snow. If the snowman touches you, the game ends.
This game is not completed as it is missing several important features and the gameplay could use some tweaking.
For starters, it does not keep score in any way. I’m thinking that it perhaps should have a score that is based on money. You’d start with $500 and the faster you clear the driveway, the more money you get.
The snowman is a bit aggressive and when it gets you, nothing happens. There really ought to be a few “lives” or something. Or maybe you lose more money. The snowman also doesn’t look much like a snowman — it looks like some sort of green monster.
The game immediately ends if the snow blower leaves the driveway, which is annoying. It probably should cause you to lose money.
The snowmobile doesn’t affect the snow blower if it runs through it, which seems wrong. It probably ought to do something, perhaps push the snow blower up or down out of the way.
There is also only one screen consisting of a wide, boring driveway.
I designed the game back in high school, probably during study hall. Here you can seem some of my original notes:
I wrote the game in BASIC XE. Atari BASIC does not have player/missile (sprite) capabilities built-in and it is too slow for a game like this anyway.
I no longer had a digital version of the game, but I did have a printout, which I laboriously typed in. The entire game (currently) fits on a single page:
The game uses player/missiles graphics for the snow blower, snowmobile and snowman. It uses redefined characters for the screen, such as the trees and snow.
The game runs in graphics mode 2, which is 20x12 characters. There is code to do something with the display list, but I’m not sure what is being modified.
A screen is created by PRINTing the layout using characters. A variety of screens can be designed using this technique.
I hope to get Snow Blower updated in time for next winter, so stay tuned!
An ATR disk image with this game is available as a perk to Goto 10 paid members. In your favorite emulator, insert Basic XE.bin as the cartridge and insert SnowBlower.atr as D1:. After booting into BASIC XE, type this and press return:
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Although it did drop below freezing overnight a couple days ago!
I seemed to have an issue finishing projects as a teenager.
Three is a countdown timer, but it doesn’t do anything.
Since there is now “window” at the bottom, it is technically Graphics 2+16.
I’ll have to read up more on display lists to see what the code does, but it doesn’t seem like any display list changes were necessary for this game.
It's amazing how you have kept these old sketches and programs all these years :)