Welcome to the first edition of TI-USER, a publication which we hope will appeal to a broad range of TEXAS owners as a source of news, program reviews, hints and ideas, competitions and perhaps most importantly as a means by which a steadily growing population of TI 99/4A owners can communicate and thus improve their knowledge of an undoubtedly excellent and powerful machine.
In this, our first issue, we have two full listings, both of which are games, the first in BASIC and the second in Extended BASIC.
Also included are reviews of TI's Munchman cartridge game and the Extended BASIC module as well as some short demonstration programs and tips.
Since TI-USER is intended for owners who are keen to learn more about their home computer and to share their dis- coveries, we will publish letters, articles, programs, tips etc. and will answer all related questions either through these pages or directly. 'Bugs' are elusive things and quite often a letter to a magazine will inspire a myriad of answers and discussion and help not only yourself but other users as well.
For the more experienced owners we shall have sections for Extended BASIC routines and discussion of the Mini-Memory Module.
Remember TI-USER depends on its readers to submit letters and articles and to tell us what you think of us. If you think we're being patronising or too technical, or if you think we should concentrate on one thing and not another, then write and tell us, we'll be glad to hear. Happy Computing ...
Thorn EMI will shortly be releasing two modules for the TI, SUBMARINE COMMANDER and RIVER RESCUE. Versions of these games for the ATARI computer are of a very high standard and when they finally arrive, watch out for reviews in these pages. Both modules are expected to retail at around GBP 24.50.
Two modules from an American company called Funware
are already available in this country.
The first, HENHOUSE, is a delightful game in which you must collect eggs and load them into a truck whilst protecting the henhouse against wolves and poachers.
The second game, RABBIT TRAIL, is based loosely on the arcade game Crazy King, though instead of jumping over barrels thrown by a malicious gorilla, you are a rabbit jumping over weasles, collecting carrots and avoiding hawks and other creatures. The graphics in these games are excellent and the ideas simple but intriguing. Rabbit Trail has seven different playing screens. Perhaps a little pricey at around GBP 28.00 but good, nevertheless, again watch out for reviews.
As a taste of things to come, companies such as Atari, 20th Century Fox, Milton Bradly, Scott-Foresman and CBS as well as EMI are producing modules for the TI.
In particular, Milton Bradly have come up with a plug-in unit with some very special applications. Used in conjunction with their baseball module (shortly to be released) you can move your players around the field by TALKING to them !
Hands up all those who get bored waiting for tapes to load. Now, hands up all those who would like a disk drive but can't afford the GBP 500.00 plus price tag that accompanies it. Well, relief is on the way in the form of some new peripherals from TI.
The first of these is an adapter called the 'hexbus' and it is this that allows the use of these peripherals on the 99/4A since they were originally developed for the CC-4O, a miniature portable computer which is just entering the U.K. market.
(web note- no CC40 and no hex bus peripherals seem to have made it to the UK)
Once the hexbus is attached you may then use any of the stackable units in the same way as other add~ons.
Probably the most important of these will be the new wafer- tape microdrive which is a data storage device with capabili- ties somewhere between a cassette recorder and a disk drive.
Its advantages are that in terms of a disk drive it will be cheap (around GBP 100.00) and in terms of a cassette recorder it will be fast (a 52K program will load in about seven seconds !) The wafertape uses tiny cassettes which slot into the front of the microdrive and up to 48K can be stored on any one tape.
Other peripherals in the same range include an RS232 interface and a four-colour printer both with prices of between GBP 100.00 and GBP 150.00 and the whole range should be available later this year.
On some home computers the Control key has little or no application in Basic programming and hobbyists often delight in discovering unorthodox uses for it. On the TI it has an extremely useful application in that it causes the keyboard to return the ASCII codes 128 to 159 which just happen to be the codes in the user defined section.
On page 95 of the users reference guide a list is given
which key to press to return which ASCII code although one
has been left out, that is Control Comma for ASCII 128.
The usefulness of this becomes apparent when we wish to
create a picture on the screen using 'Print' instead of
Hchar and Vchar e.g.
Line 110 redefines the lower case 'a'.
100 CALL CLEAR
110 CALL CHAR (97,"185C5A99185C5A18")
120 FOR I = 1 to 25
130 PRINT "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"
140 NEXT I
150 GOTO 150
Lines 120 to 140 print 25 rows of small 'a's.
If we break the program the characters return to their original shape('a').
Now let's try this :-
10 call char (128,"1866181C2A0811456")
Type RUN and press enter, then hold down the control key and press the comma and what happens ?
Hey presto, our defined character appears on the screen.
We can now place this character in a string just as we did before and 'print' (or 'Display' in extended Basic) it onto the screen, added to this you now have the ability to see your defined characters while you are programming.
After you have run and entered line 10 add these lines :-
5 CALL CLEAR
xx In line 30, hold down the control key and press
the comma 28 times, then close inverted commas.
20 FOR I = 1 TO 25
30 PRINT xx See Note below x
40 NEXT I .
50 GOTO 50
The examples given are not particularly inspiring in graphical terms but with a little imagination the technique used becomes very powerful and allows the creation of complex . high resolution screens.
After a time the energy from the pill runs out and our poor old Munchman begins to resemble someone at the terminal of an over-ambitious pub crawl. Plucking up their courage, the ghosts immediately turn and race after you, hangover and all ! Once you have linked up a maze, you move to the next sheet and here the ghosts not only look different but move faster and have increased intelligence.
Extra men are given every 10,000 points (you start with three
men), there are twenty different types of ghosts and around sixty
different speed levels.
For Pac - man fanatics, one of the drawbacks of Munchman is that the maze never changes throughout the game but this is more than made up for by the phenomenal speed of the game and the character and intelligence of the ghosts.
At first the movement of the Munchman is a little hard to get used to due to the fact that it tends to slide along the corridors a bit and after a while you discover some routes that it prefers to others. You can use either joystick or keyboard to play. Pushing 'P' will freeze the game until you start it again by pushing any key.
Once again, this cartridge game, like many other Texas products.
demonstrates the power and potential of the TI and is thoroughly
Incidentally, for those who already have the module, the programmer has left in a routine he used to view the faster sections of the ame, without having to play all the way through the lower levels - it is practically impossible to reach the higher levels anyway !). Turn on the machine and select the game until you get the prompt "Press any key to start", you then have three seconds to hold down the shift key and press '8' then '5' then '8'.
When the selection screen appears you must enter first the round (O-2), then the level (press enter for numbers under 10) and finally the number of players you want (up to 9 1). Try entering 2, 17, 9 and just watch that speed
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