The Slave (Gregory Software) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing

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The Slave
By Gregory Software
Atari XE/XL

 
Published in Computer & Video Games #58

The Slave

The Slave claim to fame, apart from being British, is that the resulting adventure is not limited by the memory size of the machine it runs in. The bulk of the data remains on disk, and is accessed as needed by the program.

The Slave comes on one double-sided disk. Side one contains the creator itself, and side two, the now extinct Atari DOS 3, and without them your masterpiece cannot be compiled into the finished article.

On booting up the disk, you're presented with a menu, from which you go on to the various sub-programs which take some of the hard slog out of creating your adventure.

I say 'some' because no utility can hope to create an adventure without a little application of brain power.

First and foremost comes the writing down on paper of the concept which will eventually become an adventure. I drew up a small map, and added a few objects and problems.

The next task is to enter text messages. These cover location and object descriptions, replies to examining an object, and messages resulting from an action in the game. As you create each description, you have a whole screen to work on.

As you save each description to disk, a status line keeps track of how many sectors you have used, and information about the contents of each of the files are displayed, so you can tell where you're up to.

Next the locations are linked with the Exits editor. As the name suggests, here you inform the editor of the legal exists, and where they lead to.

The process now becomes harder, in the flags editor. Flags are used to keep track of what is happening while you play the game.

For instance, if you've found a key and unlocked a door, the flag assigned to the door would be changed, so you won't have to unlock it every time you go through.

Setting the flags correctly, and making sure they are updated properly during the game, requires a lot of careful thought.

Now the adventure must be given a vocabulary by creating two Basic program files, one for verbs, the other for nouns. All you have to do is to type the words in as Basic DATA statements. Each line holds a group of words of similar meaning.

Now some code in SAL must be written. SAL (Slave Adventure Language) is what interprets the commands, and acts accordingly. It moves the player from place to place, checks to see what's been done, and issues messages as play progresses.

Because SAL is a language, it has its own commands, resembling a cross between Basic and 6502 Assembly Language. This is by far the hardest part of the adventure creating sequence.

All that remains is to arrange your files on to a fresh blank disk, and use The Slave once more to compile them into machine code.

Slave is a good program. As far as creating an adventure is concerned, it has its own commands, resembling a cross between Basic and 6502 Assembly Language. This is by far the hardest part of the adventure creating sequence.

All that remains is to arrange your files on to a fresh blank disk, and use The Slave once more to compile them into machine code.

How good is The Slave? As far as creating an adventure is concerned, it does remarkably well. Just about every possibility and option likely is covered, including adding sound at title screen, and game save and restore.

Unfortunately, it does fall down in two areas. Firstly, if you can't program in Basic to begin with, the The Slave is not for you. SAL is not an ideal way to learn.

This brings me to my second gripe - the documentation. The manual supplied with my copy was not the final version; even so, there were some glaring omissions which cost me a lot of time in trying to figure out where I was going wrong.

Even so, if you can live with that, and have plenty of imagination and time, then The Slave is for you.