The comp.sys.sinclair Crap Games Competition 2021 - 25th edition!



Author:  Titanius Angelsmith Model:  48K Spectrum Formats:    .TAP   .Z80
Submission date:  3 December 2021 Documentation:  loading & game instructions, probability guide Tested on:  Spectaculator 8.0
Recycled from Seven/Eleven (Generic BASIC version) by Tim Hartnell

Download it here

It's December, it's dark, it's cold, it's very expensive to heat my house and the last thing I wanted was for the CSSCGC to go wandering down Bad Idea Boulevard again. But as Christmas nears, salvation comes from the Lord (that's our dearly-departed Creator, Sir Clive Sinclair, his name be praised) who sent an angel into the darkness. Actually, it was Titanius Angelsmith, but that's close enough for me.

Titanius has tackled two of my Challenges in one game. The White Challenge is entirely at my discretion; I know I said "program a computer you've never attempted before", but just as acceptable in this instance is "program in a language you've never attempted before". John Connolly's attempt to make a bare-bones game for the Jupiter ACE required learning a bit of FORTH; Titanius has opted for a first-ever attempt to program in LOGO, a language usually associated with turtle graphics. But there's no aquatic reptiles to be found here. The original Seven/Eleven was written in 1983 by the late, great Tim Hartnell in his Giant Book of Computer Games; it starts on page 173. A DOS-based version of the game is playable online via DOSBox. Titanius saw this game, and he saw that it was good, and that it could be remade in LOGO. As if to give the game some extra credibility in this competition, it's based on craps.

To load this legitimately, you'll need a copy of Spectrum LOGO; load this as you'd expect, follow the instructions that Titanius explained and that I've helpfully added to the game package, and fire away. There is a .Z80 snapshot as well, that I'd usually discourage, but it'll be useful for those who are lazy.

Once you've loaded the game, here's how it works: you have 100 sestertii (Titanius' way of discouraging gambling, with a currency 1,750 years out of date), and you must first roll two dice to find your target number. Roll 7 or 11 at this stage for an instant win - or 2, 3 or 12 for an instant loss. Any other number becomes your target. Now, you must roll the dice again until you score your target number again to win - or, if you roll 7 or 11, you lose. If it sounds odd, play the game and you'll soon pick it up.

On the face of it, this looks like a fairly bare-bones Spectrum game - white screen, blue and red text, six UDGs for the faces of the dice, and that's your lot - the text has even been kept as close to Tim Hartnell's original as possible. It could have been done in BASIC in an amount of memory that wouldn't trouble a 16K Spectrum, but this is missing the point - if this is genuinely Titanius' first attempt at programming in LOGO, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, then it works. Well... mostly. The original, apparently, had bugs; so does this version, if my experience is anything to go by. Sometimes, while attempting to hit a target number, you may roll a win or a loss but it'll carry on regardless - and your pot of money can run into negative figures, which may prompt a visit from some burly centurions sent from the Roman Central Bank to force you to pay denbts. If this was a BASIC game I'd be all over that like a rash, but my understanding of LOGO is zero, so even if Titanius sent me the listing, I wouldn't understand what was wrong.

I've been doing a few probability calculations behind the scenes; these have been included in "Jim's additional material". As it's nearly 25 years since I last studied statistics for A-level maths, I might have been a bit rusty, and statisticians may tell me I've made a gross oversimplification of the calculations - but as I've worked it out, overall there is a 4/9 chance of a win on each round, taking into account instant results in the first roll and what happens subsequently. The game takes away 15 sestertii for a loss and gives 15 sestertii for a win, so you can expect to be able to play for a while, but eventually you will lose all your Roman coins. DOMVS SEMPER VINCIT, or hashtag gambleaware in 21st Century Newspeak.

It would be far too generous to say this was any more than a two-mask game, and had it just been made in Spectrum (or ZX81) BASIC it'd be a slam-dunk two-and-two, passing the type-in test along the way... in a way that the LOGO version might not be able to! Even so, Titanius can be well rewarded for his effort. At the very least I need to increase the effort score to four Ricks for meeting two challenges, even if the White Challenge wasn't quite in a way I'd envisioned - but the host's decision is final. And as that's the score that the aforementioned Genesis 1:28 achieved, which is the closest comparable game, I'd say it's a fair result.

And if anyone was wondering, with a bit of trimming of the text down to its bare essentials and the INKEY$ removed - I can confirm that Tim Hartnell's original listing can be crammed into a 1K ZX80.