Software industry not a ripoff
I HAVE to disagree with Mr Plowman - Sinclair User, January, 1984 - in his assertion that the home micro software industry is a rip-off. There seem to be a few organisations to which profit is more important than building the loyalty of the customer. Most of that revolves around the cassette packaging, which is sometimes so blatantly misleading as to be inevitably disappointing when the game is ultimately played.
I do not object to there being no graphics on Velnor's Lair but should the customer not be told clearly on the packaging? If you bought a Michael Jackson record, only to find when you arrived home that it contained Michael Jackson reading the works of Proust, and if that fact was not mentioned clearly on the sleeve, might that not be unacceptable?
A cassette sleeve should, at the very least, show an accurate display of the game in motion and not a fanciful illustration without the remotest relevance. How many people would have bought Espionage Island had they realised there was no sound, colour or graphics?
That is not to say that we are all in for the quick buck at all costs. As a software writer's agent, we deal with many honest and honourable software houses. We may spend up to six months on a single program, revising and refining with the single motive of presenting the best value for money.
We and they together go into minute detail to ensure bug-free satisfaction and neither I nor many of my colleagues would put forward a program unless it was of a quality with which I would be pleased if I had paid for it at W H Smith.
With a little self-regulating on descriptive wrappers which I am sure will come, I will be in a long-term and rewarding business where people at home with only a Spectrum and a tape recorder can earn a fair reward from their talent for amusing or confounding programs. Fallible we are but 'gigantic ripoff' merchants we are certainly not.
IN THE December issue of Sinclair User, you published my routine for Basic program ciphering. Analysing the routine again, I found a bug in line 9999, which should read: 9999 LET n=n+5: GO TO 9993.
The last word on Orbiter
I DECIDED to write and settle the Orbiter record once and for all. My high score is 7,876,200. It took me nine hours.
Letters poorly organised
I HAVE bought almost every edition of your magazine since last November and although, on the whole, it is of very good quality, I have found your Letters page rather poorly organised. You have now published, to my knowledge, four useful tips, all informing us that by adding a third parameter to the draw statement, interesting geometrical patterns are produced. Accidentally publishing the same tip three times I might accept, but twice in one issue?
I was also amused by your reviewer's claim that the joystick facility on Interface Two was non-standard. How can any add-on from a computer manufacturer be labelled non-standard?
It was also stated that only Psion games responded to the joystick. Quicksilva, Artic and DK'tronics all sell compatible software.
Your reviews, especially those on hardware, are usually highly informative and helpful to anybody choosing equipment but before publishing articles you should make sure that the subject has been properly researched.
Mini-squash lines missing
MINI SQUASH, in the January issue of Sinclair User, ended with line 110. Further lines should have read:
120 GO TO 50 200 PRINT AT 0,0; "YOU HAVE LOST LIFE NUMBER ";Y 201 PRINT AT 10,9; "YOUR" 202 PRINT AT 11,9;"SCORE= ";S 203 PRINT AT 12,9; "AFTER ";Y;"GAME";"S" AND Y>1 204 PAUSE 100 205 IF Y=3 THEN GO TO 213 206 NEXT Y 213 PAUSE 150 214 CLS 215 PRINT AT 0,0; "GAME OVER" 216 PRINT AT 1,0; "ANOTHER GO, (Y/N)?" 218 IF INKEY$="Y" THEN GO TO 3 219 IF INKEY$="N" THEN STOP 220 GO TO 218
Program out of balance
I AM interested in making use of the program on pages 120-121 from the November issue of Sinclair User for keeping track of household accounts and bank balances.
My computer is a 16K and a number of characters required seem to be obvious but I cannot understand line 370 on diagram 3.
Line 370 does not appear to be mathematically complete and I would be pleased if you could confirm that.
A W Orchard
Diagram 3 of John Armfield's programming article was printed incorrectly. Line 370 should have read:
370 LET A$=("." + AND A$(1 TO 2) = "00") AND A$(1) ".") + (A$ AND A$(1) = ".") + (A$(2 TO) AND A$ (1 TO 2) = "0.")
In defence of Chuckie Egg
I FEEL I must write in answer to the review of Chuckie Egg, for the 48K Spectrum, which appeared in the January issue.
The object of the game, to collect eggs and corn in a hen-house using platforms, ladders and lifts, while avoiding giant birds, was correct.
I disagree with the reviewer about many other things. The fact that the birds gave more concern than the ladders, as it is difficult to negotiate the ladders, is difficult to believe. A solution to using them easily and not just as escape routes, is simply to hold the 'up' key down while running past a ladder, and the man climbs up the ladder. The two-key system works for getting off, in and out of ladders as well.
Second, the jump facility was described as difficult to operate successfully. It is almost as easy to use as the ladders. No great skill is needed and after playing the game, technique soon forms.
The playing against the clock has no great significance. Only on a few higher levels is it necessary to glance at the diminishing seconds. It was mentioned that there were three lives per level but you start with five lives at the beginning of the game and gain an extra life for each 10,000 scored.
Also at level nine the duck is released from its cage and every ninth level something new happens.
Anthony Webster, aged 15
In addition to these comments, it has been indicated by other readers that it is easier to play Chuckie Egg with a joystick.
Tracing the family tree
DILYS McINTYRE enquired for an advertisement of a program to produce a family tree. On page 121 of the January issue, or page 150 of the December 1983 issue, such a program is offered by Keysoft.
John Corbett, Sinclair User Club.
Readers who would like to program family trees might be interested in the quarterly magazine, Computer Genealogy.
IN THE REVIEW of the Stonechip programmable interface for the Spectrum, published in the December issue, you mentioned that the interface disabled the keyboard and that a modification would be made to all current units to overcome it. Since then we have had several telephone calls asking if the modification has been made.
The modification was made in September, and all units delivered from that date will not disable the keyboard. Those units delivered with the fault numbered fewer than 100 and most of them were returned and modified.
P J Mills, Stonechip Electronics
Long-life Manic Miner
WE ARE WRITING as we believe readers will be interested in two programs which, when typed in, will either give you 32 lives or let you use a practice mode on Manic Miner.
For 32 lives, first of all type Merge "". Start tape. Stop the tape after merging the first part of the program. List. Type in line 25 POKE 34269,32. Run. Start tape.
For practice mode and everlasting lives, type Merge "". Start tape. Stop tape after merging the first part of the program. List. Type in line 25 POKE 35136,0. Run. Load the rest of the program. Press enter. Then type 6031769. A boot will appear by the lives at the bottom. Press all the keys shown at the same time to change stage.
Stage Numbers to press
1 6 2 61 3 62 4 621 5 63 6 136 7 632 8 6321 9 64 10 641 11 642 12 6421 13 643 14 6431 15 6432 16 12346 17 65 18 651 19 652 20 1256
Keep up the good work, Sinclair User.
S C Chadwick
Counting up the bytes
MAY I add to my letter in the February Sinclair User. The device of including a bytes count routine at the end of a program should be treated with a RUN instruction prior to SAVEing. That clears all bytes which may have been included with the running of the program and, on SAVEing, the same number will always result. To make a check on bytes used, do not use GO TO 9980 but RUN 9980.
Machine code misprint
I HAVE written to report a misprint in your January, 1984 edition. 'Figure five' of the machine code sound effects should have read 33,244,1 not 33,2441 as it was printed because this gives the report 'B Integer out of range'. The highest number allowed in a POKE statement is 255.
Richard Fotiadis, aged 12
No childish tripe
HAVING JUST bought Sinclair User, January issue, I turned to Letters as usual and found a letter by Mike Godwin. I found it bewildering, to say the least.
If he wants to find games which require him to tax his intelligence, try Football Manager, Gangsters, Plunder, Flight Simulator, Heathrow, to name a few.
I am sure many other readers could add their favourites. You have my word that none of those mentioned is in any way "childish tripe".
IN REPLY to Mike Godwin - Letters, January issue - I, too, am 35-ish and want something to tax my intelligence. That is why I write my own programs. It is the ultimate intellectual challenge - conceive the idea, write the program, then the difficult and satisfying part, get it working. Why else own a computer? If all you want to do is play games, buy a games machine.
D B Tombs
Bug in Halls of the Things
I HAVE written about a bug in the supposedly bugless Spectrum game Halls of the Things, where it states that you have to get seven rings before you can get into the last section. I have found a way of getting into the last section at any point in the game.
What you do is press '2', then 'space', which opens the last section automatically. When you have entered the section a little hint is to stop and press fireball as many times as you can and then walk to the other side of the 'maze', where you will find a key. When you get the key you can finish the game by going back to the stairway which finishes the game automatically.
Absence of Ultimate
I AM a first-time buyer of your magazine. While I was flicking through it I noticed your Software Listings did not include any game from Ultimate. Why is this? Is it because it does not advertise with you? The games I have are excellent.
John Rowlands, aged 12
Ultimate Play the Game software is included in this month's Software Directory.
Batting for the Spectrum
I HAVE recently become the proud owner of a 48K Spectrum and my main purpose, unlike so many others who play games, is to find how a home computer can be used in cricket statistics.
As the official scorer and statistician to Hampshire County Cricket Club, and one of the leading authorities on limited-overs cricket world-wide, I would be very interested to hear from any of your readers who has similar interest in cricket statistics and who could help me to learn about computers.
I must congratulate you on an excellent magazine, which caters for a need of the now thousands of Sinclair users, and I have already recommended it to three of my friends, two who obtained 48Ks at Christmas.