@ 2012 Remainder Software
DISCLAIMER AND TEDIOUS LEGAL STUFF
This software is provided 'as is' and is used at your own risk. We will not be held responsible for any loss of data, sanity or other damage that may otherwise be caused through use of this software.
Downfall is freely distributable. No money may be charged for this software (except on a magazine's coverdisc), or software which uses elements of Downfall's source code or other files. If you know of any cases of this happening please inform us immediately.
The source code (provided separately) may be modified and altered versions of the game distributed but please inform us if you decide to do this. Also please credit us appropriately if you decide to adapt any portion of your source code for use in your own projects.
Phew. Now on with the good stuff...
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS, INSTALLATION AND TECHY BITS
Well, okay, let's get this out of the way first.
Downfall requires any 'classic' Amiga with at least 1MB of Chip RAM and should be simplicity itself to get it started. If you're reading this from an ADF or floppy disk, then simply reboot your machine with the disk in the drive (whether it's real or virtual) and it will load automatically.
If you wish to install this on your hard drive, then you've probably already done it by unarchiving the .lha file the game is also provided in. The only thing that really needs installing is the game's font so it's merely a case of copying the contents of Downfall's Fonts drawer into your own Fonts: assign on your system. If you don't do this the game will still run but you'll be stuck with that horrible default Topaz font. And nobody needs to see that. (If you're playing from floppy and wish to copy it to HD at a later date, it's nothing more than a case of copying the entire contents of the disk to a folder of your choosing on your hard drive, making sure you follow the above instructions regarding the font.)
Please make sure your disk is write-enabled if you wish to save high scores, and (although this may be stating the bleeding obvious) renaming or removing any file provided with the game will result in it not working and you'd have to be very strange to do anything like that.
SO THEN, ABOUT THIS 'DOWNFALL' THING...
Ever had one of those nightmares (or dreams, if you're that way inclined) that you're constantly falling? Well with Downfall, those dreams (nightmares?) become a reality. Sort of. It would have to be a very specific dream, in which you're a mouse and are trying to make sure you land on platforms that are constantly moving upwards FOREVER. Until you do something careless like die. By falling off the bottom to your doom, or being squished at the top.
Yes folks, that's all there is to it. In Downfall, eventually you will die, be it through incompetence or boredom. Your aim is to delay the inevitable for as long as possible by staying on the screen while the platforms scroll up the playfield. This means that should you be too slow, you'll disappear off the top of the screen and it's game over, but being too eager or otherwise making an embarrassing misjudgement means you will meet your end by dropping off the display.
THAT'S ALL WELL AND GOOD, BUT HOW EXACTLY DO I PLAY IT?
Patience, I'm about to come to that. When the program loads and the nice Remainder Software logo has been and gone, you'll be presented with the title screen. As soon as "PRESS P1 OR P2 FIRE" flashes in the top right corner, you'll know that the game is ready when you are. Leaving the Amiga to its own devices for 15 seconds will bring up the high score table (which will be blank the first time you run it - more later) and another 15 seconds of inactivity will lead you to the credits screen which will also give you a brief rundown of the powerups on offer (again, more later).
If you decide you want to have a go (God forbid), then pressing fire will take you straight into the action. If you've got a friend who would like to join in then you'll have to press fire on the joystick in port 1 (i.e. the mouse port) to start a two-player game (note that once a game has started, a second player won't be able to join in until the current go has finished).
Okay, let's assume you're flying solo. As soon as that button has been stabbed, immediately your on-screen alter ego will be falling gently down the middle of the screen. Before too long you will find a platform or two to land on which will, of course, break your fall towards oblivion. You should realise in fairly short order that just standing there will lead to your demise as said platforms scroll relentlessly up the screen, and if you're on it when it hits the top, it's all over. So you'll need to fall again and find something else to stand on, and so it continues until it all goes horribly wrong at some point.
IS THAT IT?
Not quite, my charmingly naive friend. Point scoring also plays a big part in Downfall, and by merely staying alive you'll be slowly but surely adding to your total. You'll also score at a slightly higher rate if you're at the top of the screen, and slightly higher still if you're dangerously close to the bottom. On top of this, you'll also find various objects also heading up the screen on a regular basis, just waiting to be collected. The majority of these will be fruit, or the occasional music note or whatever, and they'll score you 100 points multiplied by the level number you're currently on. However, occasionally you will stumble across actual power-ups (or even power-downs) and these are as follows:
x2 - doubles your standard scoring rate while you're alive.
/2 - halves your standard scoring rate. In two-player mode, this will half your opponent's scoring rate instead.
Shoe - doubles your walking speed (which can also mean you can run straight across small gaps).
Snail - slows you down, surprisingly enough, but does compensate you with 150 points times the level number.
Wings - slows down your falling speed ('floating', it could be called).
Weight - makes you fall faster, but again gives you the same points award as the snail.
Freeze - a rare item that only appears in two-player mode. When collected, it will completely freeze your opponent for two seconds (even if they are in mid-air at the time).
Other than Freeze, all powerups last for ten seconds and can't be combined or stacked. So if, for example, you are currently using a Shoe powerup, you can't collect Wings and have the benefit of both - the Wings will override the previous powerup.
Bear in mind also that only one pickup will ever appear on screen at a time, and their positions are randomised, meaning you may well find some are impossible to reach whilst others are placed very conveniently.
HANG ON, YOU MENTIONED SOMETHING ABOUT LEVELS BACK THERE...
Ah yes. Each level consists of 60 rows of platforms. As you will find out, there is a sizeable gap between each row, so I'm only counting the actual platform rows. Although there is no level indicator as such anywhere in the game, you'll swiftly know when you've progessed to the next stage as the tile graphics will change and you'll score more points for collected pickups. The change from level to level is seamless - there is no pause or waiting for new data to load in, the whole thing just joins together. If you're lucky enough to finish level ten, you'll be looped back round to the first level and you go again.
Now, ten levels may not sound like much, and you might be right. But there are three different maps per level and which one you play is chosen randomly each time you get to it. So effectively there are thirty different levels in total, and quite a number of different combinations.
Regardless, it'll still take a few goes to sail past level ten. The later stages do use platforms sparingly. You'll find several rows are left totally blank, and others will use big long single platforms meaning a big dash to fall off before it reaches the top. Your reactions and decision making will be tested in a big way which might come as a shock if you're accustomed to the relatively easy early maps. And remember, you only get one life, so if you mess up, it's back to the start.
WHAT, EVEN IN TWO-PLAYER MODE?
Yep, even in two-player mode. Things get interesting when there's two of you as you share just the one life between you, so if one of you messes up, you'll have to try again. So on one hand, you'll need to help each other to make progress but on the other, you're competing for points and there are power-ups which can hinder your opponent. It can be cooperative and competitive at the same time and it's up to you how you choose to approach it.
WHAT IF I GET A HIGH SCORE?
Then you know what that means. It's time to enter your name in the Hall of Fall.
It really could not be any simpler. Just use the keyboard to enter your name (a maximum of 14 characters) and press Return when you've finished. In the early days, you'll be doing this a lot as with twenty slots and a blank table by default, it won't be too hard to gain entry to the hallowed hall. (By the way, to ensure your scores are saved, make sure you quit the game by pressing Escape on the title screen. The file is saved as 'Downfall.highs' in the Data directory and is loaded automatically upon starting the game. If you wish to start your high score table from scratch, simply delete the file.)
If you've been playing with two-players and you've both done well enough to earn pride of place on the table, the highest scoring player gets to enter their name (or rude word of choice) first.
ANY IN-GAME KEYS I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT?
Several. It's all standard stuff but here's a quick run-down:
M = Turns music on or off at any time. However, due to some technical problems, this will only work on machines that are running at least Kickstart 2. If you're using an older version you're stuck with it whether you like it or not.
S = Turns sound effects on and off but only during the actual game.
P = Pauses the game. P or the fire button of either player will unpause it.
Esc = During gameplay will take you back to the title sequence (be aware though that your scores won't qualify for the Hall of Fall no matter how well you did). If pressed during said title sequence, will dump you back out to the Amiga's good ol' Operating System and will save your high score file if there have been any changes.
Right, I think that's your lot. Goodbye and have fun playing Downfall.
HANG ON, WHAT ABOUT THE CREDITS...?
Of course, how rude of me. Very well then.
Downfall was programmed in Blitz Basic 2.1 on an Amiga 1200 with a 68040/33 processor and 34MB RAM and brought to you by Remainder Software.
PROGRAMMING: Graham Humphrey
MUSIC: Marton 'Reynolds' Gaspar of TBS
SOUND FX: Wilsh Denaris
LEVEL DESIGN: Mihcael
The Downfall website is at http://downfall.mikendezign.com and we hope to have a Remainder Software site up at some point (thanks to Mihcael for hosting these and to Predseda for working on them). Don't forget the source code to the game is also freely available.
You can also keep up to date with Remainder Software on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RemainderSoftware. Please come and click that Like button.
A big 'thank you' goes out to the following people:
Everybody in the list above who has made such a significant and dedicated contribution to the project and without whom this would never have happened.
David Cruickshank (author of acclaimed titles such as Hydrozone and Alien Fish Finger) for his invaluable advice, feedback and bug fixes which helped me immensely during the coding of this game.
Lonewolf10 for his excellent level editor and feedback.
Ze Emulatron for his level viewer.
Dazzleman for his contribution to a problem I was having with collision.
Clenched for helping me fix a potentially disastrous music bug and for getting the game to work correctly in NTSC mode.
Chris Clarke of the excellent website amigapd.com for the interview.
s2325 for recording videos of the game in action.
Prowler for coming up with the name Remainder Software.
Everybody who has taken the time to play the game at its various stages of development, offer to help, given me any sort of feedback at all or even just read my development diary on EAB. Big thanks to all.
Oh, and not forgetting the Atari 2600 homebrew game 'Man Goes Down' and the Atari Jaguar/Falcon game 'Downfall'. The guys behind this are the ones who started the ball rolling so well done to all involved with them for your excellent work and I hope we've done the concept justice on the Amiga. And thanks to EAB member Sack for bringing the idea of Downfall to my attention in the first place which was really what set the ball rolling; I'd have never known about it otherwise and who knows what I'd be programming instead, if anything at all?
Apologies if you feel you should be on the list but I've missed you out. I'm bound to have forgotten somebody somewhere along the line. Consider yourself thanked.
REMAINDER SOFTWARE: WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT THEN?
I think it's fair to say Remainder Software is something that's happened almost by accident. When I started working on Downfall (which came about as a result of me wanting to get back into programming, and being newly unemployed I thought it would be a creative and productive use of my time, so having asked EAB for suggestions of games to make I chose this one) my aim was to get a full game written and released in a relatively short space of time. But there was another objective.
For me, one of the areas where the Amiga loses out to other retro machines like the Spectrum and Commodore 64 is the comparative lack of new game releases. Quite why this is, I'm not sure. There are some notable exceptions, like Mr Beanbag for example, but brand new games do tend to be thin on the ground. For a machine which was probably the last 'proper' computer to have a big bedroom coder scene this is arguably a surprising situation, especially with the growing popularity of emulation and how accessible and accurate it is becoming.
So with Downfall, not only was I challenging myself, I was hoping, by making the project and everything I did public, that I would maybe inspire others to take up Amiga programming. Before I started, I noticed that there were a few people expressing interest in learning to code, and what better way to learn and to be inspired than following somebody writing a full game from start to finish, complete with updated source code being made available on a regular basis?
I didn't bank on it capturing people's imaginations the way it did. The amount of help I've been given in all departments from the people I listed in the credits (and credit is what they deserve) has been amazing. The time, effort and enthusiasm of these people has really pushed me on to finish this game off as without them a lot of this would not have happened, and if it did, it would have been much later and nowhere near as good. The fact that everything in this game has been made especially for it - right down to the font used - is something to be proud of, not to mention the standard everything (the graphics, music, sound and level design) has been completed to.
Not only that but I, as a programmer, have learnt lots thanks to the help and advice of other coders who have helped me fix problems and given me suggestions to implement other things. So for everyone involved, this has been a very worthwhile task.
So has this inspired other people to code? Well, I've had several nice messages from users telling me they're now going to learn to program, or pick it up again after a long break, so I suppose the answer is yes, but really only time will tell on that one. The best way to give it a chance of happening, I figured, would be to form my own development team which would provide plenty of encouragement and help from a number of people who are willing to put the effort in to make contributions to projects like this one. Downfall has proved that it can work - you just need to be prepared to make the time and put the work in yourself first, and if you show you're serious and willing to learn then eventually you'll get some geunine support which makes life so much easier.
Whether Remainder Software will succeed, I have no idea. At worst, I'll carry on programming regardless - I've enjoyed Downfall so much I'll definitely be wanting to get stuck into another project. And hopefully the guys involved in this with me will remain interested in producing new Amiga games.
But the best case scenario is that we now attract all sorts of people - from programmers, to artists, to musicians - to the team, knowing there's a decent chance that somebody will be willing to help them out when they need it. So if you're interested in joining and want to work on a new game (feel free to bring your own ideas of course) drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll sort something out.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the game.
Graham Humphrey, Remainder Software, 8th April 2012