Friday, March 20, 2009

Twisty Passages, All Different

I never saw the manual for this game, it was installed in a Apple Compuer Lab long ago.
So I googled it. (It's also known as Alpha Waves)

I saw A Wikipedia Page about Alpha Waves
I saw The Programmer's Blog About The Game

I noticed there was next to nothing about the PLAYING game around on the web. No mention of any game level strategies, maps, or playthroughs to be found.

I decided to make a Continuum Map!

I played the game for 5+ hours with Excel at my side.

After much tweaking and exploring, I made the above GIF. It's a screen grab of the 75% Excel view on a 1280 x 1024 resolution desktop. An amazing huge image in 77K or so. Excel is great for mapping games when you prepare well (text, borders, grid, and go!)

A fun side effect was not knowing exactly where I spawned in the maze. The walls eventually told me. This game taps into your brain, I'd swear it. It's very colorful and varied.

This ran on a 386, people! Full screen! 15+ FPS!


Admittedly this is an obscure, yet groundbreaking game.

Continuum is a game where you bounce around rooms to go through doors. It's very cerebral, yet strangely ineffable. You can thrust forward, turn left and right, and raise and lower the camera angle. That's it for the controls. There are keys and crystals to collect, and different types of bouncy platforms. No shooting, save for one platform type that fires missles where your craft is facing.

You interact entirely in 3d with various objects

Now I keep in mind... this was 1991, This ran on a 386, people! Full screen! 15+ FPS!)

3d Facet rendering had never been done before on this scale, Full Screen, Spriteless, pure genius code. The filled shapes algorhythm and precomputed trigonometric 3d perspective programming techniques made this possible.

The game has two modes:

Action- A Timed Mode. All areas connected with a save game feature, but when time runs out, GAME OVER. This is not a mode favored for detailed analysis, but for kicking Arcade ass once you know the ropes.

Emotion- Free play in discrete areas. I was always more of an explorer than a points whore, so this was my mode. Emotion mode made it possible to make the map without being killed constantly by the time limit,
which came in handy as I was flying without a manual. It gives you one "saved game state" to undo back to. Try, try again.


The DOS version was the last conversion, and it's Soundtrack that permeates every game level was the most ambitious best to be featured in a physics game like this. The Soundblaster/Ad-Lib FM Synthesis jams this game kicks out are unbelievable, is the best use of PC speaker taken to it musical conclusion.

If the soundtrack exists anywhere, I'd feel stupid for using Audacity to make a Soundtrack album: 35.8MB zipped. Not going to link to it, unless someone is interested, but here's the theoretical CD Cover:

I love this game's style, the simple object of ecploring the game and learning its complexity. It's a very universal, abstract, non-violent thing of beauty.

Who knew that
simple was best? Just tons of 3d mazelike rooms, each with a simple Name and a new twist. A simple, unique great game engine with tons of depth thrown in. Timeless & Classy.

Over the years, I learned some rules: Little cubes remove big cubes. If it looks different (platform variations) than it does something different (lightning, creatures, spaceships, teleportation) Some balloons make you lighter than others. There are little Dark-Crystal type shards that you collect for points.

iPhone version? I can dream,,,

That's all for now, folks! Namaste

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