One Man And His Droid © Clive Brooker 1985

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Play One Man and His Droid

One Man and His Droid

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Publisher:-

Mastertronic

Year of publication:-

1985

Original Computer:-

48K Sinclair Spectrum

Sales:-

250,000+

Design & programming:-

Clive Brooker

Other formats:-
Commodore 64
Atari 800
Amstrad CPC
Commodore C16-Plus4

Yes

 

Background

With Easter 1985 fast approaching, with 10 whole consecutive days off work, I was itching to start a new project and only had one slight problem. No idea's for a new game, but the option to indulge a hobby, 15 hours a day for 10 days. If I didn't begin something soon, this time would be wasted. Thinking back on the previous two published games, both had used different code to scroll a view on a larger maze, albeit only in a small portion of the screen. So I had the opportunity to spend some time attempting to develop a routine that would work faster and cover a larger area of the screen. First I needed some graphics to test the code I was developing. Designing a few brick characters was quite easy and for some reason, I also had a go at doing a small sort of roof in a similar style. With Knight Driver I had manually calculated and inserted every character for the one single maze. Games needed to appear a lot bigger with loads of different levels and only 48K of limited memory to play with. I designed a few routines that could insert entire vertical and horizontal tunnel structures from a specific point in memory and this is where large sheets of graph paper came to save the day. Suddenly, an entire complex maze could be defined in only 200 bytes, the possibility for a 20 level game had arrived! To test all these machine code routines, I thought it would be handy to design an animated graphic that would remain centre screen, whilst the scenery moved. Thus the spinning Droid was born. Still no real game concept at this stage, but I was able to produce some productive work.

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The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

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With this part of the code working, I then thought that it would look nice if I could get something moving in the maze independently, yet still had no idea of what the game would be. Not being artistic is a minor handicap when you need to draw something visually acceptable for a commercial product! I used a piece of graphic software I had developed, that made it easy to draw a random squiggly shape, then let the computer apply some mirror transformations. So, after all this time I must confess that I simply bashed away at random shapes, joining odd bits together, until they actually looked OK. These became the Ramboids and to get them to move I applied a simple logic that they would continue in a certain direction until they hit a stop and would then reverse. I added some more code that also made them bump off of the centre screen Droid. Now I could see something happening with the game, but it still had no objective. I simply played the non playable game waiting for inspiration as to what to do next. I can't recall why, but I eventually came up with the idea that if there was a single pot in the maze, the Droid could be used to coerce the Ramboids into it, though this would be too easy and no fun. By insisting that they each have to be inserted in the correct order - suddenly the prospect of an original and thoughtful game emerged.

Loading screen

Opening titles

Loading screen

Opening screen

So there we have it. The game concept for what was commonly regarded as a highly original idea, really came from nowhere, simply as each part of the development process pointed to the next stage. It has even been suggested that One Man and His Droid may have been the inspiration for the very successful and addictive Lemmings series of games, that came some years later. Certainly, if one is to look at some of the basic genres of games over the years, OMAHD makes a good candidate for Lemmings, which also has lots of little men that you have to coerce home with some building and demolition tools. Indeed OMAHD even had the tunnelling tool that was critical in some of the later stages to gain access to the Ramboids pot. And again, as in Lemmings, tunnel in the wrong place and the game becomes impossible!

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The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

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I felt that the game just needed one further bit to make it complete and following the theme now established, I introduced a pre level gamelette, that involved steering the Droid up through a massive chamber, with lines of Ramboids that would alternate their movement patterns. This created a problem when then Ramboids squished the Droid into one of the side walls. I solved this problem by adapting the game to force the Droid back to the ground. Again, no fully developed ideas, it all just came about. This approach to designing a game was rather crazy, yet spawned an interestingly different game, quite by accident.

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Top of the wild Ramboid chamber

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Top of the pre level game

With the entire game working in under 10 weeks from starting, it was time to consider finding a publisher. The obvious easy course was to approach Mastertronic, as I already had the contacts. A simple telephone call was all it took to arrange a meeting at their new London offices - Mastertronic was expanding successfully, rather rapidly. The Mastertronic office was a friendly fun place, complete with one of the most awesome pinball tables I'd ever seen - not to mention loads of home computers. I took my young son Simon with me to be the official demonstrator, after ensuring that he could actually play the game (with a few helpful tips from his Dad.) So Simon demonstrated the game to Mastertronic's John Maxwell (acquisition and follow through man), he was rather impressed, though I suspect that he may not have quite followed the theme of the game. He said that he was keen to acquire the game, but just wanted to run it past their star programmer, David Jones first. Mastertronic not only made a very quick decision to buy the license, but immediately committed to commissioning several programmers (and a musician) to rewrite the game for other computers. The musician was to be Rob Hubbard, who wrote the music for the commodore 64 version, whom today, is Technical Audio Director for the American games company, Electronic Arts. Rob became one of the master craftsman of C64 music scene and you can hear an updated Midi version of the music (performed by Chris Abbott), from the Spectrum links page.

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The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

The droid from One Man and His Droid

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Mastertronic's quality of output was becoming main stream for a budget £2.00 price and One Man and His Droid was launched amid a PR fanfare on a river boat on the Thames. A fun and exciting evening, meeting the computer games press, together with Mastertronic's star programmer, David Jones. Shame he split his trousers just before his demonstration to the press - for some reason, he always faced forward during the demo, I wonder why? I do recall, that when my name was called to demonstrate OMAHD, I was so engrossed talking to the team from Computer and Video games, that I almost missed my cue. On a closing Mastertronic note, my small son Simon (10 - 11) was the only kid on the block with a gratis Mastertronic XL teashirt! Still, he liked it, even if it almost swept the floor. John Maxwell dreamed up the name One Man and His Droid and whilst I wanted a spacey sounding name, it was certainly right and appropriate for the game - thanks John!

One Man And His Droid went on to become Mastertronic's 13th best selling game with over 212,000 copies sold, plus inclusion in countless anthologies.

Scenario

You have flown to the planet Andromadous with your droid to capture Ramboids, a male form of alien sheep. They only have an active life of twenty minutes, so to teleport them back to Earth in a suitable form you will have to move fast. As time runs out you must control your droid up through the hundreds of free Ramboids to gain access to the cavern entrance. The left hand status panel will then show which order the Ramboids have to be coerced into the teleport receptor, 4 or more Ramboids correctly installed will allow you to move to the next cavern.

Being a bit stupid the Ramboids only move in a certain pattern, either up right bump, down left bump or vice versa.

The droid has three modes of operation as shown on the bottom of the control panel. A quick press on the fire button will alter mode from fly, to dig, into tunnelling. A long press will show the location of all the remaining Ramboids. Tunnelling correctly is probably the most important skill required to succeed in capturing all the Ramboids in all 20 caverns.

When you have another go, the password system will allow you to start where you left off.

Gameplay

The game must be run in a 48K Spectrum emulation. With later Spectrum's there is a conflict with the code that generates the starting gamelette, which makes it virtually impossible to complete and enter the main game.

The main game has 10 different mazes in which you first need to discover the location of the receptor pod and then a strategy to coerce the Ramboids into it, in the correct order. When the sixth Ramboid has been "sent home", provided that 4 were in the correct order, the password to the next level is revealed and you play the pre-game gamelette, prior to starting the next level. Each maze is played twice, the second time with additional bricks that move as Ramboids but do not count - they only complicat matters.

 In the higher levels, the receptor pod is hidden and some tunnel exploring is necessary to find it and also adopt a strategy to selectively install Ramboids without them falling in at the wrong time. Also the higher levels have "Ramboid Chutes" which they are sucked down, but are impenetrable to your Droid.

In the pre game gamelette, your objective is to travel to the top of the chamber and drop into the game chute. A Random arrangement of Ramboids perform patterns of movement that you need to bypass without getting squashed into one of the sidewalls. The easyist time to move up is when the ramboid rows are moving in opposite directions but you must avoid getting caught in a "hoop".

Keyboard Controls

By default, One Man and His Droid tests to see if a Kempston joystick is attached. If it is then whatever keys your emulator uses for a Kempston joystick are the ones to use. However, if the emulator does not recognise a Kempston joystick, then both of the two following strategies are adopted.

Sinclair joystick emulation:- using the keys 6 - 0

Keyboard controls if a Kempston joystick is not detected

LEFT

X,V,N

RIGHT

C,B,M

UP

Q,W,E,R,T,Y,U,I,O,P

DOWN

A,S,D,F,G,H,J,K,L

FIRE

1,2,3,4,5 (Advances through the modes. HOLD fire to search)

If the Keys are not working, this is because the Emulator has inadvertently met the test my program makes for a Kempston Joystick connected. When I designed my games I wrote a single input routine that runs a test to see if a Kempston Joystick is connected and if that it true, then it disregards the keyboard. In this case, you need to select a Kempston joystick in your Emulators settings, so it can actually use the joystick.

Hints Tips & Cheats

Passwords to start game level from

1: NONE

2: EMPIRE

3: PREDATORY

4: RUMINATE

5: RYEGRASS

6: VACUUM

7: VAMPIRE

8: RAGOUT

9: GRAIN

10: AASVOGEL

11: BLIZZARD

12: CLOCHE

13: COLANDER

14: ECTOPLASM

15: ECOLOGY

16: FEROCIOUS

17:FETLOCK

18: GOOSEBERRY

19: GRAVITATE

20: UPANDAWAY

A quick way to bypass remembering these passwords, is to use the master password cheat programmed into the game. It's PAULSIMON backwards, followed by a letter where A=1, B=2 etc. For example, to start at level 10 the master password would be:- LUAPNOMISJ (notice the J=10th letter of the alphabet.)

References kindly reproduced from The World of Spectrum

Magazine

Issue

Type

Crash

12.85 page 164 Ediition 23

Review

Sinclair User

1.86 page 122

Review

Your Sinclair

1.86 page 38

Review

Sinclair User

5.86 page 22

Tips

Your Sinclair

11.86 page 42

Tips

Crash

7.89 page 6

Cover Game

Crash

8.89 page 36

Tips

SSD-II

Web site

Information

Within this Hints Tips & CHEATS section, it seems worthy to mention the dubious activities of the programmer Harry S. Price. He stole over 20 commercial games, modified them, then re-sold them on as his own work! He modified One Man And His Droid and sold it as Don't Say It, Spray it.

One Man And His Droid

Don't Say it, Spray it

One Man And His Droid screenshot

Don't Say it, Spray it Screenshot

The two screenshots above are taken at the same point in the first maze. The changes that Harry S. Price made are:-

The original graphic set including the font has been stripped out and replaced.

Ditto with all the sound effects and a tune plays when no keys are pressed.

The mode icons have been replaced with text and the score moved to the bottom.

The pre-game journey through the field of Ramboids has been removed.

Overall, the look and feel of the game is a significant downgrade.

No elements of this web site may be reproduced without the prior consent of the author.

© Clive Brooker 2001-2012, 2020

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