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November 2, 2009 11:11 AM   Subscribe

DroidQuest, Gate and Logicly are modern logic puzzle games based on the classic educational games Rocky's Boots (1982) and Robot Odyssey (1984).

Originally conceived as a sequel to Warren Robinett's Adventure (1979) for the Atari 2600, Rocky's Boots became a revolutionary educational game that combined Adventure's interactive graphical environment with gameplay that taught the player how to build more and more intricate digital logic circuits. And as you might expect from the creator of one of the first Easter Eggs, it also contained a few secrets (like a hidden room with an alligator that would eat your cursor).

Robot Odyssey was the fiendishly difficult sequel to Rocky's Boots, in which the player tries to escape from the labyrinthine Robotropolis by programming and reprogramming three robots named Sparky, Checkers and Scanner. (Perhaps in response to Robot Odyssey's difficulty, its successor Gertrude's Secrets (1986) was much simpler and did away with logic gates entirely.)

While these games have nearly faded into obscurity, thankfully there are a few nostalgia-driven games in the same style that run on modern machines. DroidQuest is an incredibly faithful remake of Robot Odyssey made in Java, while Gate presents robot rewiring puzzles with a simpler, slicker interface. Finally, if you just want to hook up some logic gates in a sandbox environment, Logicly is a bare-bones but pretty Flash implementation.
posted by speicus (22 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks so much speicus! I played these games after school in computer club, but had no recollection of their names.
posted by unmake at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2009


These games remind me of Widget Workshop (link to game trailer). I had a lot of fun messing around with that, back in the day.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 11:27 AM on November 2, 2009


I remember finding out that "Rocky's Boots" had absolutely nothing to do with The Italian Stallion.
posted by GavinR at 11:35 AM on November 2, 2009


EEEE!!! I loved Rocky's Boots and Robot Odyssey when I was a kid!! (probably not surprising given that I ended up in the engineering profession). I spent hours and hours playing those on my Tandy 1000SX

there's a similar flash game called KOHCTPYKTOP that is really addictive, but lacks raccoons
posted by Dr. Twist at 11:40 AM on November 2, 2009


Did you say "Robot Odyssey"? My Childhood Flashback Mechanism is going berserk right now. Hours of frustration are coming back to me as terrifying music plays in my head.
posted by etc. at 11:42 AM on November 2, 2009


I was just the right age when I was first exposed to Rocky's Boots, and I'd already been making use of boolean logic to make my rudimentary BASIC programs, but because I'm a numbskull I didn't really "get it" until some years later. The UI was horrible, but it was a damned fine game.

I never ran across Robot Odyssey that I recall, but if this Java remake is faithful to the original, it's neat and very intricate for a piece of single-disk 8-bit software.

Thanks!
posted by majick at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2009


Wow! Robot Odyssey! I played that thing for hours every day -- it was one of my very favorites, and I'd completely forgotten the name. Thank you!

(I think the game got too difficult for me around the part where one robot has to navigate an invisible labyrinth by responding to signals sent by another robot navigating a parallel labyrinth. If I recall correctly, it took me so long to get past that point that I was too burned out to go much further).
posted by treepour at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2009


Rockey's Boots ... my god, how I loved that game on my Laser 128. Wow. Thank you for this.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:52 AM on November 2, 2009


One longstanding question I've always had about Robot Odyssey the game — was it consciously based on Robot Odyssey the book? Or vice versa? The plots seem so similar that I just can't imagine that they were invented independently, but I've also never seen any credit given by one to the other. (Granted, I never actually owned the manual to Robot Odyssey the game, so maybe it's buried in there somewhere.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:00 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why hello there, my childhood!
posted by cortex at 12:00 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awesome, I love a good puzzle game.

However, the author must be kidding when he describes graphics made by " fellow DroidQuester Cory Phillips", he writes "his graphics are just jaw-dropping wonderful. Personally I'm not much of a graphic designer, so I've never tried to make rich-detailed textures like these. When I design graphics I figure if I can see it and it manages to convey the information I wanted to show, well that's enough. But Cory's work gives an exciting new dimension to DroidQuest, conveying a sense of depth and atmosphere I always felt DQ was capable of showing" Check out the link for the screenshot he talks about: here.

Erm, lol? I mean the graphics are nice in a retro-pixelly way and yet I have the slight suspicion he is overdoing the praise a tad.
posted by Glow Bucket at 12:06 PM on November 2, 2009


Sparky, Checkers, and Scanner!
posted by EarBucket at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2009


Forgive my pedantic nitpicking, but since this is about games that teach programming, can anyone tell me what's wrong with this, on the writing of DroidQuest?
"The Orange color is fairly light because I was using the Java constant Color.orange. Later on I changed all references of that to Color(255,128,0), which produces a much deeper orange.
delmoi? Blazecock? Anyone?
posted by orthogonality at 12:31 PM on November 2, 2009


re "The Orange color is fairly light because I was using the Java constant Color.orange. Later on I changed all references of that to Color(255,128,0), which produces a much deeper orange."

-full pathname? ok, java.awt.Color
-name of constant? Color.orange is a valid member of Java 1.4.2, while Color.ORANGE is the proper spelling in Java 1.6 (according to some Googling)
-color? (255,128,0) is a nice orange...

Honestly though, that quote made sense to me - it simply says that the provided constant value for the colour orange was deemed too light, so a custom colour value was used instead of the constant.

also - Logic gates are kewl.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:56 PM on November 2, 2009


(full package name, sorry)
posted by Artful Codger at 12:57 PM on November 2, 2009


Artful, I'm focusing more on a design question than on the details of the Java API: "Later on I changed all references of that...

Hint: David Wheeler famously said: "All problems in computer science can be solved by _______________."
posted by orthogonality at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2009


First, thanks for the Wheeler reference, which i hadn't seen before (... comes from being an auto-didact).

That "Later on I changed all references of that" part - seems more like bad grammar than bad practice. We don't really know how the programmer made the substitution: global search/replace in the source, new application-scoped constant, subclassed java.awt.Color...

god we're nerds
posted by Artful Codger at 1:17 PM on November 2, 2009


I was hoping it was the mid-90s again so that the answer could be "the part where he said to use Java lol". Oh to slag on the early JVM implementations once more.
posted by cortex at 1:20 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


One longstanding question I've always had about Robot Odyssey the game — was it consciously based on Robot Odyssey the book?

Whoa, WTF is that book? You're blowing my mind here.

The game was released in 1984, and the book was released in 1988. Based on the cover, there is no doubt that that book is an adaptation of the game. It's drawn straight from the opening cutscene. Have you read that story? It says "Robot Odyssey I"—do you know if there were more?
posted by designbot at 1:46 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to play quite a lot of Robot Odyssey on the IBM PC in the mid-1980s. I don't know whether it was because of the logical consistency of the visuals, or the steady escalation of the puzzles from easy to difficult, or the built-in tutorials to get you started, but it was by far the most immersive experience I've ever had.

The entire game was one system that had its own logic, and nearly everything in it could be interacted with in some way. No other gaming experience, from Sierra games to 3d first-person shooters such as Marathon or Unreal, has ever had that kind of enveloping effect. I remember my entire vision narrowing down to just the area on the screen, as I alternatively entered and exited the macro programming mode inside a robot.

It's easy to look at the CGA graphics nowadays and wonder what all the fuss was about, but games like this prove that giving users a discrete set of tools to manipulate at will can create a stronger sense of involvement than any efforts at advanced sound and graphics.
posted by squid patrol at 11:21 PM on November 2, 2009


It says "Robot Odyssey I"—do you know if there were more?

I have a copy of the book, which I picked up on a lark at a used book store last year and haven't read yet. I've searched online, and as far as I can tell, there was never a published sequel.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:55 AM on November 3, 2009


designbot: "The game was released in 1984, and the book was released in 1988. Based on the cover, there is no doubt that that book is an adaptation of the game. It's drawn straight from the opening cutscene. Have you read that story? It says "Robot Odyssey I"—do you know if there were more?"

Nope, not as far as I know. It was evidently intended to be the first in a series, but I don't think any more were ever published. I pestered a lot of librarians with this question in the very early '90s, to no avail.

My recollection of the book is hazy, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing that really screams "marketing tie-in" as you'd expect. (I think I still have it around somewhere; it was an odd enough book that I'm fairly sure I held on to it.)

The author, Fred D'Ignazio, mostly wrote computer-related nonfiction, including "Katie and the Computer", which rings a bell for reasons I can't quite put my finger on.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:43 PM on November 3, 2009


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