Deciphering this Screen

I've got  the Bombcast on right now, listening to a bunch of guys talk about video games.  Going to write a simple blog that I can do while listening to them at the same time.  This is for people who wanted to know what the heck is going on on this screen in Star Raiders.

Die, you slippery little Zylon bastards!

The plus in the center is the aiming cross hair for your targeting computer.  The plus means that you're facing forward; if you're looking through the aft view port it's a minus. 

The box in the lower right of the non text area is part of the targeting computer that shows you how close you are to a lock-on, which doubles your fire with a single trigger press, and guides your shots into hitting the target a lot more efficiently (locks are a great way to knock back the enemy 'sfire as you try to slap them down).  Four bars in there light up when you have vertical and horizontal lock, but the bottom two bars light up when the range is right for a lock on.

Having the attack computer on is good when you're hurrying to kill guys to save a base that's about to die, but otherwise it's a waste of energy.  Although, not as much of a waste of energy as:

The tracking computer.  In the upper right of the text bar is either a "T" or a "C".  If the T is there, it means that the targeting computer is off, which is smart.  What it does is switches the view to rear view if one of the enemies slips to your aft, no matter how far away they are in the sector, and automatically selects a target based on how near the enemies are.  It's a big drain on energy, and energy expenditure is the inverse of how you get your final rank.  You switch the basic target tracking with the M key, if the tracking computer's off.

Other features of the computer are the lower left and lower middle numbers, which show vertical and horizontal targeting for the current selected target.  The lower left is the X axis, and the lower middle is Y axis, with pluses being toward the upper right quadrant, and negatives toward the lower left.  R is range, with plus numbers being to your fore, and negative to your aft.

Should the computer be destroyed, all of these features are gone and you have to track down enemies with long range sector scan and visual clues, and switch from fore to aft view manually.  If you take damage and you're trying to save fuel anyway, you almost won't notice these things' absence, although the rangefinder really helps when you're trying to hunt down bad guys.

The V is velocity, which you alter through thrusters and hyperspace thrusters.  Good for chasing after the enemies who prefer to run from you or hide deep in the sector, the slippery bastages.

K is how many kills you've racked up.

The most important stat on this screen is E, or energy.  When you hit zero, you're dead.  Shield hits drop you quite a bit, and your weapons, photons, drop you a bit.  Everything pretty much costs energy, so you have to be careful you're not running it down too quickly, both for score and survival purposes.

On the screen right now, the cruiser is near the middle, and seems to be locked on.  Cruisers are harder to hunt down, they're usually the guys you have to hit the engines to chase after.  It looks like it's firing a photon at you in this screenshot, but that could be you shooting at it.  The cluster of dots below it show that it's likely that your photons and its photons have met and exploded.  It's nice when stuff explodes because the game slows down, allowing you to think more about what you need to do.

The fighter in the upper right, the TIE-Fighter looking guy, is in a spot that is very, very bad, because your photons shoot out of the lower part of the screen.  It can hit you and you can't do much but maneuver to dodge it...  which is a bit weird since without any velocity you're basically a sitting target.  Not saying this game is perfect.

Finally, the reason the screen isn't black as space is because the shield is on.  Without shields, one photon hit or hit from an asteroid collision is instant death.  With them, you lose energy, and if you aren't on easy level, you take damage most of the time, losing the functionality of one of the features above, or other stuff I haven't mentioned.  It's always one system that's affected, and it's either damaged (partially functional) or destroyed (most of the time completely nonfunctional, which is especially bad if that happens to be your shields).

*sighs*

Back to listening to the Bombcast full time :)

If anyone's interested in more of these I can tell you what you see on the Galactic Chart and the Long Range Scanner, but this was sorta filler.  I guess I could cut and paste to the game page for some points...  Maybe I'll do that.


EDIT:  I did!  See the Star Raiders page for (many) details!
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4 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

I've got  the Bombcast on right now, listening to a bunch of guys talk about video games.  Going to write a simple blog that I can do while listening to them at the same time.  This is for people who wanted to know what the heck is going on on this screen in Star Raiders.

Die, you slippery little Zylon bastards!

The plus in the center is the aiming cross hair for your targeting computer.  The plus means that you're facing forward; if you're looking through the aft view port it's a minus. 

The box in the lower right of the non text area is part of the targeting computer that shows you how close you are to a lock-on, which doubles your fire with a single trigger press, and guides your shots into hitting the target a lot more efficiently (locks are a great way to knock back the enemy 'sfire as you try to slap them down).  Four bars in there light up when you have vertical and horizontal lock, but the bottom two bars light up when the range is right for a lock on.

Having the attack computer on is good when you're hurrying to kill guys to save a base that's about to die, but otherwise it's a waste of energy.  Although, not as much of a waste of energy as:

The tracking computer.  In the upper right of the text bar is either a "T" or a "C".  If the T is there, it means that the targeting computer is off, which is smart.  What it does is switches the view to rear view if one of the enemies slips to your aft, no matter how far away they are in the sector, and automatically selects a target based on how near the enemies are.  It's a big drain on energy, and energy expenditure is the inverse of how you get your final rank.  You switch the basic target tracking with the M key, if the tracking computer's off.

Other features of the computer are the lower left and lower middle numbers, which show vertical and horizontal targeting for the current selected target.  The lower left is the X axis, and the lower middle is Y axis, with pluses being toward the upper right quadrant, and negatives toward the lower left.  R is range, with plus numbers being to your fore, and negative to your aft.

Should the computer be destroyed, all of these features are gone and you have to track down enemies with long range sector scan and visual clues, and switch from fore to aft view manually.  If you take damage and you're trying to save fuel anyway, you almost won't notice these things' absence, although the rangefinder really helps when you're trying to hunt down bad guys.

The V is velocity, which you alter through thrusters and hyperspace thrusters.  Good for chasing after the enemies who prefer to run from you or hide deep in the sector, the slippery bastages.

K is how many kills you've racked up.

The most important stat on this screen is E, or energy.  When you hit zero, you're dead.  Shield hits drop you quite a bit, and your weapons, photons, drop you a bit.  Everything pretty much costs energy, so you have to be careful you're not running it down too quickly, both for score and survival purposes.

On the screen right now, the cruiser is near the middle, and seems to be locked on.  Cruisers are harder to hunt down, they're usually the guys you have to hit the engines to chase after.  It looks like it's firing a photon at you in this screenshot, but that could be you shooting at it.  The cluster of dots below it show that it's likely that your photons and its photons have met and exploded.  It's nice when stuff explodes because the game slows down, allowing you to think more about what you need to do.

The fighter in the upper right, the TIE-Fighter looking guy, is in a spot that is very, very bad, because your photons shoot out of the lower part of the screen.  It can hit you and you can't do much but maneuver to dodge it...  which is a bit weird since without any velocity you're basically a sitting target.  Not saying this game is perfect.

Finally, the reason the screen isn't black as space is because the shield is on.  Without shields, one photon hit or hit from an asteroid collision is instant death.  With them, you lose energy, and if you aren't on easy level, you take damage most of the time, losing the functionality of one of the features above, or other stuff I haven't mentioned.  It's always one system that's affected, and it's either damaged (partially functional) or destroyed (most of the time completely nonfunctional, which is especially bad if that happens to be your shields).

*sighs*

Back to listening to the Bombcast full time :)

If anyone's interested in more of these I can tell you what you see on the Galactic Chart and the Long Range Scanner, but this was sorta filler.  I guess I could cut and paste to the game page for some points...  Maybe I'll do that.


EDIT:  I did!  See the Star Raiders page for (many) details!
Posted by EleFlameMax

That's fairly good interface for a game on the Atari. Was there any documentation when you first picked up this game?

Oh, and if it's over... It's over. But it was only over when I said it was over. So now it's over. I am the over maker.

... :'(

Edited by ahoodedfigure

There was an instruction booklet, yeah :)  Of course :)  We got it when it first game out, in ancient times.  All documentation was in color then, with inset paintings (well, prints of them). (You can find the documentation online, either in html or pdf, if you're curious.)

This is the Atari 400/800/5200 version, though.  Not the 2600 version.  The 2600 version still had a lot of the same features, but from what I remember it was stripped down, and felt like a different game.

D'oh!  Come back!  I'll be nice!!

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@EleFlameMax:

There was an instruction booklet, yeah :)  Of course :)  We got it when it first game out, in ancient times.  All documentation was in color then, with inset paintings (well, prints of them). (You can find the documentation online, either in html or pdf, if you're curious.)

This is the Atari 400/800/5200 version, though.  Not the 2600 version.  The 2600 version still had a lot of the same features, but from what I remember it was stripped down, and felt like a different game.

D'oh!  Come back!  I'll be nice!!