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BD4 FAQ / intro / why

Why write BD4? The general history pre-BD4.

The reasons for writing BD4 go back many years. Basically I borrowed a mates C-64 when he went on holiday during a school break and really enjoyed playing boulderdash. A number of years later I found Emerald Mines on the Amiga which has probably remained my favourite game of all time. During 1989 and 1990 a few people (mostly me and my brother) made our own level set which we planned to release but never really got around to it. However I played lots and lots and became very competitive about beating the top scores again and again.

During the next 6 years every once in a while I'd get out the old Amiga and play Emerald Mines, each time going through the levels and incrementally improving on the old high scores. Obviously the lack of real competition was a bit of a downer :-)

So, when Java came out I decided that I should port BD4 for all platforms! Since I had already disassembed the original game (which only worked under WorkBench 1.2 on an Amiga 500), made changes to improve the options and reassemlbed it for an Amiga 4000 to multitask, etc.... I had some idea of how the logic worked. Unfortunately I had not written an Java, so porting the game in one go would have been a little bit much! Instead I 'cloned' it in 'C' and got Bruce to write me some very basic X-Windows code (e.g. initialise, get event, draw bitmap, flush, and quit).....

And so BD4 Version 1.0 was born!!

The first version used flat files and was good fun for a few people in our lab. I then wrote the Java objects which were designed really well, but this meant I couldn't use files (for Java applets) so I designed a central internet based server. So I finished the Java version except for the main Game object. Once the server was done I realised how easy it was to add support into the 'C' written version and release it for Linux, Silicon Graphics and SUN workstations. In April 1997 I release the next version (Version 3) and it took off really quickly. A major bug introduced from version 2 to 3 meant that version 4 was released within a few days of release. Versions 5 and 6 have added major features such as recorded games, level editor support, new objects and offline play.

At last the game was ready for some good global competition.

The problem :-)

The major problem was of course that I had played the game too much so was really good at it. The make this worse I have played the game lots since then (currently Jan 1999) and continue to improve. Add that to the fact that I watched others play and discussed some tactics with honours students in 1997 (Pax, cookae, pac, Rich, matty, Swang) and others I knew (or now know) locally (The K Man, Jimbo, Daniel, Phil, Marvin, qwerty, Agammemnon, jesse, Kavik, blah, ... ) and people on the net (asarkila, Steffest, mason, GLen, seb, durand, .... ).

You get the picture. Well, midyear 1998 asarkila took the number 1 ranking so there is global compeition after all!

The future

It looks good and I'll know I'll still be playing the occasional game for many years to come!