Lancaster Speedway
Copyright/Publisher: Loadstar/J & F Publishing, Inc., Programmed By: Mark Turmell &
Richard J. Derocher, Release Year: 2000, Genre: Racing Sports, Number Of Players: 1


Many issues back I raved in a Diskovery article about how there were many "program makers" out there in Commodore land, as well as on LOADSTAR. These are programs (or systems) that allow users who don't program to make programs anyway. I said that I would be happy to publish well-made games that came from one of these program makers. One of the more well-known makers was Bill Budge's PINBALL CONSTRUCTION SET, and on LS #177 there was a pinball game (MOJO'S REVENGE) made with it.

Another maker of this sort is FAST TRACKS, which makes it possible for non-programmers to make classy auto racing arcade games. On this issue is a sample of what FAST TRACKS can do, a nifty arcade game called LANCASTER SPEEDWAY by Richard Derocher of Lancaster NH.

Richard is a young programmer who's had some things published on LOADSTAR 128 and he's getting pretty good at writing programs in BASIC. When I was his age, I struggled with a slide rule and never quite got the hang of it. But even though he's a good programmer, he's not up to writing graphic arcade games with dazzling sprite action and real-world friction. I'm not either. In fact, I doubt if there is anyone left in the Commodore field with the knowledge and patience to write flashy arcade games like they used to in the old days.

But with the game makers, any one of us can do it. The trick is to design a good game, not just something dashed off.

LANCASTER SPEEDWAY, apparently named after Richard's home town, seems to be a well-designed, tough auto racing track. I admit that I haven't been able to get my name on the high scores list. In fact, I haven't been able to complete a 5-lap race without killing myself and hopefully dozens of innocent spectators. If I'm going to go out in a blaze of glory, I want company!

The game works simply. You're driving a red car which is controlled with a joystick in [Port 1].

[NOTE:] You can tell a program is pretty old when it insists on the joystick being in Port 1. Since 1990 the standard is for the joystick to be in Port 2 and the mouse in Port 1. You can unplug joysticks with the power on with no problem, but to be safe, you should always have the computer turned off when plugging or unplugging a mouse. The mouse has circuitry inside which can be damaged.

When the program starts you're at the starting gate. You may press RESTORE to go to a menu of three options: SET THE NUMBER OF LAPS, SEE THE COURSE, and SEE THE HIGH SCORES. Use the joystick to make your choices and you're back at the starting gate.

The joystick works as you would expect. Push forward to go faster, back to go slower. Right and Lefy turn you that direction. Stay on the road and watch out for other cars and oil patches. That's the extent of my ingenious strategy.

The screen raster is messed up at 20 MHz so I added a boot which turns your SuperCPU to 1 MHz. POKE53371,0 to turn it back on.

The file was 175 blocks as FAST TRACKS made it. I wondered if Lee Novak's PACKER would handle a file that large and sure enough, it seems to. It cut 64 blocks off the file's size. Bravo, Lee!

And our thanks to Richard for sending us this game and for doing such a good job of it.