LAND — the game for rare PDP-11 Soviet clone. Windows reincarnation.

In far 1988, being a sixth-grader, I became for the first time, acquainted with the computer. The DVK-3M with the integrated black-and-white display and two five-inch disk drives; gorgeous but not for now. My first acquaintance took place with games from ASP corp. ─ three young programmers who had specialized in computers of the DVK family.

A couple of entrepreneurs established at our school two DVK-3M steams and had set a fixed rate of 1 Soviet ruble per 1 game hour. We scrimped on lunches, and some people begged parents for money to play after lessons in “Super StarTrek”, “Tetris”, “Cat”, “Garden”, “Sheriff” and of course the “LAND” game! Since those days, I have very sentimental feelings about everything related to those games and computers, just like John Connor no doubt does to the Terminator first model.

The LAND game reached a level of special popularity. In fact, it was one of the Lode Runner clones, but we were simply delighted! Many years have passed, and these computers have hopelessly become outdated and have ceased to function, but nostalgic feelings periodically have an effect. There is some desire to remember the good old days and play childhood games.

The purpose of the game LAND consists of collecting all the chests on a given level and to reach the door on the following level. Be careful of demons and biomass. You can run, climb up on ladders, destroy brick walls by shooting at them. Pay attention that the destroyed bricks are recovered over time. Demons cannot be killed. If the demon dies by a hit of biomass, in the upper part of the screen a new demon is reborn.

The idea to make the Windows version has been a recurring dream of mine for a while. As a result, I decided to make my idea into a reality. The first thing I did ─ I tried to contact the authors of the game, hoping to get at least the sprites and the timings of all the actors. I managed to get in contact with Alexander Grechishkin, the author of the game, but unfortunately, any source code doesn’t exist anymore. The game was written in 1986, in the assembler and therefore even the availability of source codes wouldn’t help out me here. I’d like to give a fair warning from here on, I will go deeply into the technical details.

With a little thought, I made the decision to remove screenshots from the UKNC emulator (the Soviet microcomputer, compatible with DVK and PDP-11) independently cut sprites and then to transfer the game levels manually. Next, I drew them in a text editor.

XNA framework 4.0 was selected as the platform for the development of the game. It is not a secret that Microsoft has refused further development of this framework, but the open-source implementation of MonoGame lives and prospers. Personally, I find that despite some insignificant errors in MonoGame, I successfully transferred the project with XNA to MonoGame in only 10 minutes. Also, XNA has appeared in a very simple, and clear piece, as for 2D.

I processed screenshots from the emulator in Photoshop, increasing the cut material twice. The project contains 2 sets of identical sprites, under white and black background exactly as it was in the original game.

Maps of locations are an array of 50 x 14 characters. All maps are stored in text files and can be edited in a text editor with a font of the fixed-width if necessary. Also, I have added the opportunity to independently generate sets of maps and to connect them to the game. For this purpose, it is necessary to create a bank of maps in the Content/Maps folder and to fill it with maps on a template from the map. template file which is located in the same place. The game includes 2 sets of maps from the original versions of the game which were found on the Internet.

Actually, the game — is a copy of an array of levels that changes over time. Actors, the room, biomass, demons, bullet and the hero influence the status of this array. Independently only demons, bullets and the hero can move.

The timings of the actors had to be tweaked manually. All the same, it turned out pretty close to the original.

Game control is simple. The same as in all similar games:

  • Cursor control keys — the movement of the hero;
  • Z, X — shoot to the left and to the right;
  • Q — to start the game from the beginning;
  • R — to start the level from the beginning with the loss of one life;
  • ; — the following level;
  • F10 — to switch to the following set of maps;
  • F12 — the game on the full screen.

Source codes can be found on a company’s Github or you can download a Windows installer with a compiled game ( I ask not to harp at source codes too strongly. It was coded all in good fun).

Well, and now I invite everyone to feel a deep sense of nostalgia together with me.