ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

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ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Baber64 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:13 pm

Jadeworld II: Chan's Ambition
An Adventure Construction Set Production
by John Baber

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Chan's Ambition (includes ACS files and CCS64 shareware)
https://www.mediafire.com/file/979cp61y ... d.rar/file

Jadeworld ACS November 2018 (my complete collection of ACS games and all extras)
https://www.mediafire.com/file/3r9p4zus ... d.rar/file



Making this final game is a love note to the Jademan Comics of my 1990s college years, and to Stuart Smith's Electronic Arts eighties game Adventure Construction Set. Although various newer versions of ACS were made for the Commodore Amiga and IBM PC, the game system itself was unchanged and never updated from the original Commodore 64 version (I can't recall if the Apple II version came first, although the sound obviously was inferior to the 64's beautiful SID-chip synthesizer).

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A few notes on the implementation of this 15-region stand-alone ACS adventure:

* The initial region was conceived of as an everlasting training area for new characters. After defeating initial enemy characters, there is a 5-10% chance of similar thugs regenerating when you revisit the rooms. (This "random enemy" chance was not activated for the later mass-melee regions, for the obvious reason that you're trying to watch a story unfold without the interference of new additions.)

When creating a new character in ACS, you want to randomly roll up stats that have an above-average (indicated by an 'up' graphic character) speed, dexterity, and life. If you manage to create a character that takes half-damage or only damage from magic attacks, save them and add another.

This game is ideally played with a new character and an existing "expert" character created and retired from a previous ACS game module from the others I created over the years. That way the novice can gain the various upgrades and power boosts that Chan's Ambition allows, while being guided by the superior skill of the existing expert.

You could also roll up four brand-new characters, have them tough out the training region, and then try your luck at the advanced levels. (This is an option I have not tried out yet.)

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* Once you leave the starter region, look out! The encounters in mass melee battles become very deadly, very quick. In the first encounters, such as battles with the Clan of Assassins or Poison Dame's zombies, you can simply RUN THROUGH THE BATTLE and avoid it entirely. In playtesting, I was killed many times over when I chose to stay and fight. It took a lot of planning (with 2 characters) to finally kill everyone in Poison Foxy and Poison Dame's ambush of the heroes (the third region).

In later regions, completion of the region is only possible with the death of a high-level enemy. There will be a visible gate that needs the treasure token to obtain passage. In some cases, the ally of the player (such as Skeleton Secretary or The Supreme) will simply give you the token to pass the barrier. But your friends won't do this until every threat in the room is dead.

* While I endeavored to accurately simulate the kung fu styles using the ACS game mechanics, there are obvious limitations. Every kung fu master in the game can be overwhelmed with a chi (magical attack) assault. This is good because the player can never equal the fighting power of the top masters, who are essentially gods in play terms. As Incredible Chap observed in the comic at the death of Jupiter, "he was a master, but there's always someone better".

* This game pushes the limits of the ACS game engine. I mean that literally. There is a little bonus in the game where you can obtain a summons token. Using this magic item summons "The Supreme" the leader of Global Cult and Chan's friend. The ACS game system was pretty good for 1985, but summoning any character not in the region's starting lineup corrupts the game and the names of other characters. It can also crash the game! Use this summons sparingly, only as a last resort.

There are places in the game where having the Supreme aid you certainly helps. But you can finish the game without him, also. Try the game first using the various times you can summon his aid, and then try it on your own. (Replay value)



* This game was conceived of because of an interesting bug (or feature) I discovered from programming "Oriental Heroes: Global Heroes" (HEROES3.D64) back in the 1990s. In the Global Cult vault, I stacked a shocking electrified gate (new gate) with a summon creature tombstone on top of it. Assuming there are sufficient slots open on the level (some characters had to die before you try to summon new ones), you can tap the tombstone to summon a new character the next round.

But this triggered something very odd with the existing enemy characters. They knew a summoned enemy was arriving, and try to walk over that space where they are due to arrive. But there's an electric gate space there. They then tried to walk over the electric gate, shocking themselves! ACS is very specific that non-player characters cannot interact with special spaces like that, these are reserved exclusively for the human players to step on. Yet somehow, the game engine accurately renders the effects. If the computer character has a low enough life level, they die when stepping onto these spaces. A new feature!

Given the very limited random AI of ACS, this was a delight to discover a new feature in game design. So as an homage to that 1994 happy programming discovery, I reuse such stacked spaces in two regions of Chan's Ambition in 2018. (The proper activation of these spaces is explained to the player as a sort of cheat. Basically, you need to wait until one or two characters die in that region before tapping the summoning tombstone.)

* Sometimes game design is just working in a mistake. When testing Poison Dame's zombie region, I accidentally set "friendly" Guy as an enemy. Rather than fix him, I just added a message space where Poison Dame had hypnotized Guy into serving her, something that happened regularly in the actual comic, by the way. The first time I play-tested the battle though, I couldn't understand why Guy kept throwing molotov cocktails at my characters. (Guy has really bad aim for some reason, I thought.)

* The Gang of Four heroes are very annoying in game terms in that they're always throwing seemingly worthless missile attacks (slingshot, molotov, mini-bombs) at invulnerable kung fu masters. But sometimes, there is a small chance that they shatter that person's armor! And of course, missile attacks leave them open to a sneak melee attack. This is the first Oriental Heroes game where the player is actively encouraged to send the Gang of Four to oblivion...

At the close of the 55 issues of the English version of the comic book, we are told Chan Ou-Wan is simply handed his retirement pay and returns to Japan. But reading the Chinese Hong Kong version of the series a decade later, I learned this is not what happened! Incredible Chap learned that Chan's various maneuvers in Global Cult had led to the death of his friends. So he set up a little ambush to deal with Chan. This was a plot point I was happy to add into the game module, to give Chan some form of moral punishment for his various selfish misdeeds in the game (and the comic). Enjoy!

NOTE: CCS64 is a shareware Commodore 64 emulator for MS-DOS/Windows computers. I include the download version as a convenience ONLY. I was pleased and surprised that I could get it to also work on Windows 10 without any special "compatibility mode" bootup, either. Please support the author of CCS64 and if you like their software buy it!

Shade and Sweet Water,

-John Baber
November 1st 2018

What an Oriental Heroes comic looks like on yt:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUDJKK1JhOc



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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Baber64 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:20 am

To be clear:

* The CCS64 emulator is not needed to play this game. It will work with your favorite Commodore 64 emulator.

* You can burn the 'HEROES0.64' file onto a real Commodore 1541/1581 floppy disk, and play the game the old-fashioned way.

* The 'HEROES0.64' is unfortunately not a stand-alone game. That would be 'Racing Destruction Set', also released in 1985 by Electronic Arts. My custom game map needs you to run Stuart Smith's Adventure Construction Set and then choose the option to play a game disk. It is for this reason that I include the CCS64 shortcut file 'ACS Play.C64'. This simply speeds you through the slow Electronic Arts copy protection to the menu asking you to insert your game disk. That's all, and that's the only reason I include the shareware version of CCS64.

Here is my "Chan's Ambition" ACS custom game map by itself, no Adventure Construction Set, manuals, instructions, or emulator:

https://www.mediafire.com/file/wmcdsdkc ... 0.D64/file

Enjoy!

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Keighn » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:54 pm

It has been a long time since I’ve seen a new ACS adventure. I DLd this immediately. Then I started to get nostalgic on all the versions of ACS. There were NOT a lot of readily available images of the game on each rig (c64, DOS, AppleII, Amiga). Or should I say the M ake an adventure disks weren’t available.

This is damn cool. I had honestly though almost no one batted an eye at the ACS anymore.

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Keighn » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:27 am

Due to some bad copies of appleII ACS it was impossible to make adventurers. I need to properly thank everyone who helped and I think I included a txt thanks in there. For Apple II I MEGA THANKS qkumba on the google groups for appleII.

ACS compilation v1.0

And just for fun:
Stuart Smith's Other Games


I found your media firelink by accident and quickly included the files in the zip. I’m a pretty big nostalgic freak for ACS and the first thing for emulation I wanted was working copies and access to the base adventures. I hope others maybe decide to work with the engines a little.

Later I will explore ACK and some other creation kits for the retro. I find it fascinating that you can still work the editors and make/save new adventures.

I agree the sound on the c64 was the most memorable. Boot up dos or appleII and it’s very different. There are a lot of graphical differences on all versions but I will say c64 is lacking. There are missing gfx for each of fantasy, sci-fi, and especially spy-mystery.

Based on Apple and some placement on dos/Amiga I will make altered versions by redrawing. I want to get rid of duplicate tiles in the tilesets and rearrange some esp in sci-fi. I believe the planets/moons should all begin THINGS rather than CHARACTERS-CREATURES.

It’s a little OCD I suppose.

Again, that’s some awesome work you put into this. Just awesome.

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Baber64 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:53 am

Hi Keighn.

You are the reason I shared these adventures online. Until now, the only person who saw these was my little brother in the early 1990s. I had bought a second-hand Commodore 64 system for him, just so he could play some of the games like Super Mario Brothers (it was on the 64 before the NES, surprise).

If you've played the sample Rivers of Light and Aventuria games included with ACS, then you already know the game limitations.

I created my adventures to minimize the biggest problems in playing ACS, and workaround things that annoyed me about the demo adventures. So for instance, one goal of characters in my games is to find the area with "speed training" to boost the character speed up above 5-6 spaces per turn. This simulates the kung fu ability of "lightfoot", of kung fu masters simply flying through a room before anyone can attack them. Fun stuff.

Read the text files to see what adventures to try first. In Chan's Ambition (HEROES0.D64), the initial region is for building up the fighting skill of your beginner character(s), so that's a nice place to start.

So glad to meet a fellow enthusiast of the game. And remember: If your emulator has a turbo mode to speed up the gameplay, like CCS64, use it. The game is much better when you can speed it up from the default 1MHZ.

Thanks for your post, again!

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Baber64 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:01 am

Regarding your additional post on editing: Yes, I found that by setting CCS64 to automatically make disk saves, I could create whole maps from scratch. Although what you see are simply my 1990s maps and to make new adventures I would 1) delete the regions and 2) adjust the various game settings for items and characters.

Simulating various kung fu styles in ACS took some conceptual work. To allow a computer-driven AI character to run through various levels of kung fu attacks, I set some of their magic spells as disappearing. So their next magical attack would then be the next higher level of kung fu. It works surprisingly well.

The ability of kung fu masters to rest and heal their injuries is also simulated nicely in ACS.

Watch the above youtube video to get a sense for the comics in question. Reading them is not necessary but helps "sell" the fantasy levels in your mind, which is where all good Commodore 64 8-bit adventures get their graphics from. ;-)

Another thing to keep in mind with my game adventures is that I tried to conceive of challenges for experienced ACS players. So you need to use every trick to survive in the adventures I created, such as re-entering a room several times to thin out the enemies in one room. Or another trick is to get some friendly character to follow you down the stairs so the AI enemies see them instead of your player characters. ACS has surprising flexibility.

Probably the biggest flaw in ACS is that "summoning" characters can delete doorways or crash the game outright. I guess you would call it a "beta feature" that Stuart Smith included back then.

And as I note for this game, the neatest trick is to fool an AI opponent into stepping onto a damaging space, something that the game manual says is impossible. (Only human players are supposed to bump obstacles or walk onto spaces.)

I am glad to meet you!

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Keighn » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:12 am

Reading them is addictive and one begins looking for more.

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Keighn » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:28 am

Back in the mid 90s I was working on a simple castle fantasy adventure and was really interested in changing up combat weapons. I loved the idea breakage could be implemented and penalties to skill while using. I did make sure hands could be attained but I think I dropped the breakage to 0 or 1%. Hands were about useless as the damage was set to as low as possible (maybe 0 I can’t recall). I messed up on sorting the graphics so there were inconsistencies. Castle of Darkness was the one I was slowly working on. At the time it was copied from my Dads adventures (the frizz series) so it had many creatures I hadn’t edited. Castle of Darkness is primarily human and humanoid guards and less of creatures.

I definitely thinks that’s pretty crafty to get opponents to walk on certain squares. After playing Land of Adventuria I was certain something like that might not be possible. That white rabbit alwYs ducking out for example due to squares it couldn’t walk on (I wanted to kill it but ZOOP! Gone).

Here’s a cute experiment I performed with the dos version. I selected a fantasy builder kit. Then I erased everything but graphics. There are a few default items like floor, doors, store, etc but no weapons, etc. it leaves gold 81 and Creatures treasure 1 tribket.

Next I let acs finish adventure (I set it to lowest difficulty and increased regions to max 15). And away it went. Note I also let it create as many items and stuff it wanted to. ACS basically only creature treasures and I was curious on names, picture, weight/value. Every item it creates can be picked up and dropped at will and you can carry 3.

The weird is the enemies it created. It filled up persons friends up to 128 but made them all WEIRD! Some have -11,000 wealth and the oddest stats. Some had odd letters and numbers for weapons and armor. Note: ACS didn’t create any item but treasure so there was no weapon/armor listing. Very weird.

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Keighn » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:26 pm

I don’t know if I mentioned:
http://www.joltcountry.com/phpBB3/

They are a bbs forum dedicated to many things esp construction sets like ACK and ACS. While traffic is light it is active and mega helpful.

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Re: ACS: Chan's Ambition (2018)

Post by Baber64 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:00 pm

Yes, I have read up on the newer Adventure Kits and so forth.

I've tried experimenting with "Let ACS finish your adventure" using my characters and magic items, but nothing playable seems to come out of it. When you need one item to finish the entire adventure, it put it in the next room! Oh well. It's a start.

I hope you'll find my adventures playable, although they are meant to be played in sequence, so start with HEROES1 or BUDDHA1 or Jadeworld1.

There is also the standalone adventure "Mushitsu", which was just my idea of having a game with a bunch of throwing stars and ninjas. The game closes with a timer running where the Emperor of Japan can order everyone (including the player) to commit seppuku and end the game. You have to fight your way through his guards and kill him before he has "magical energy" enough to activate the spell! It was also fun experimenting with hidding panels in the walls which would lead to the next level.

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