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We had PET computers in my high school, 4032's IIRC, and a few classic games to go with them - the excellent Space Invaders port, Star Trek of course, and a few others. These all used PETASCII for graphics, if any.

In my last year there I found someone had brought in a bunch of new games, and one in particular still strikes me as odd to this day. It was a shoot-up-from-the-bottom game like Space Invaders, but had several submodes, in the fashion of Gorf or Astro Blaster. I seem to recall that the player's ship was two triangles and perhaps fired two shots at the same time?

All of these sub-games featured graphics that were far in advance of what I had seen before. One in particular consisted of a small number of alien ships (two?) mid-screen shooting lighting bolts down the screen. These were not typical graphics, they appeared semi-transparent and seemed to be vectors. Beyond that, everything was fast.

Can anyone hazard a guess what this game may have been?

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    There's an optional high resolution graphics board for the Pet that supports 512x512 graphics. The game you're thinking of was probably designed to use it. – snips-n-snails Sep 26 '17 at 20:12
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    The final PETs also use a 6845. So no doubt you could set character height to a single row, rupture every line, and hopefully find a sufficiently useful bunch of first lines amongst the character set to get close to real pixel output. But you wouldn't be compatible with most PETs. – Tommy Sep 26 '17 at 20:22
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    Sorry I should have mentioned that this was on the 4032's, IIRC. They were in use since around 1982. I have updated the question to note this. We definitely did not have graphics cards. – Maury Markowitz Sep 26 '17 at 20:30
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    My quick research suggests the 6845 CRTC made it into all PETs with issue 3 and issue 4 boards, which either includes "Fat-40" 4032s or all 4xxxs, sources disagree. Not sure that I'm actually being helpful here though, this is probably a digression. – Tommy Sep 26 '17 at 20:54
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    @tommy Here's a (modern) demo apparently using the technique you describe: youtube.com/watch?v=ktUguF1TnJk – tofro Sep 26 '17 at 22:28
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And it's definitely Star Spores. I found an interview with the author, who it turns out lives fairly close to me, and he mentioned the line-drawing routine which I'm sure is referring to the lightning bolt effect.

It seems this game has been lost to history. The interviewer mentions trying to find a copy to upload, but look as I might I cannot see it anywhere. Interestingly, the game was originally distributed on BBSs, so it might still be out there on someone's archived file library.

UPDATE: As it was a BBS upload, it's not clear how widely it would have spread. It's possible this was not well known outside the Ontario area. For those of you who have not seen this game, if we do track it down, you need to check it out. It was far in advance of anything else I saw on the PET.

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    The author mentions that he has a copy on cassette but hasn't made an effort to determine how to convert it; if he could be persuaded to upload an audio grab of that then it could be recovered. I'd definitely be willing to have a crack, being au fait with the Commodore encoding. If ever anybody should happen to speak with Jim Summers, it would be worth an ask. – Tommy Sep 28 '17 at 22:04
  • Very long shot: This thread on a site about a handheld computer (Pyra) mentions a PET emulator that included Star Spores... the link to the PC version seems dead, but (a) it suggests a copy exists (or did), and (b) there may be a way of getting in touch with person who wrote the emulator. – TripeHound Sep 29 '17 at 7:19
  • @Tommy (and Maury) [This thread] on the Vintage Computer Federation site claims to have a copy... – TripeHound Sep 29 '17 at 7:29
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    @Tommy for comparison, here is the file extracted from the NaCL version: cleverdomain.org/starspores.bin (I think it's the raw binary rather than a disk image, but I don't know my PET all that well). – hobbs Sep 29 '17 at 20:19
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    @MauryMarkowitz Snapshots are entire emulator save states, you create one while using the emulator and then later use it to restore the emulated computer back into the exact state it was in. To get it working I renamed it to all caps STARSPORES, started xpet with it in the current directory and changed the following settings: Drive Settings -> True drive emulation -> Off, Virtual device traps -> On, Pet model settings -> PET model -> 4032. Type LOAD "STARSPORES",8 and RUN. Don't hold shift to type any of this, use the 2 key above W for ", and use the 8 on the keypad. – Ross Ridge Sep 30 '17 at 17:16
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This was indeed Jim Summers who wrote Star Spores. He also wrote Slime and Astro-Rescue.

You can find them on my site, with his permission.

Star Spores

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