I have to thank Peter Fletcher (@Recta_Pete on Twitter) for requesting me to do this guide. It’s only taken a few years to get my arse and brain into gear to get it done. There’s also an accompanying saved game editor – DemoZoo link will go here.
Download and install …
I found a copy of the game from an abandonware website (which also had the DOS, C64 and Amiga versions on it) and copied it to my STeem emulator’s hard-drive partition.
To save you the hassle of searching for it, click here to download your own copy of it.
It was nice to have a pre-hacked version that plays straight off a partition, compared to continually loading/resetting a game based off disk images. There didn’t seem to be any disk or manual protection either, which made this job a little bit easier too.
This version was hacked by Conan back in the day, but there is an Atari Legend version which has been tweaked by cb/AL (under the guise of the French Gemdos Crew) so that it will also work on Atari Falcons too.
Install and play
Once the game was installed, I launched it and created my own character. Let’s call him ‘New Guy’. His stats really aren’t that impressive …
With your miserly 50 pieces of silver, you can buy some arrows and a shield from the InnKeeper drop-down menu. Suffice to say that you might survive a few levels of the game, but only if you keep finding lots of treasure chests, avoiding all but the easiest enemies and looping this around and around. Eventually you can buy better weapons and armor etc. That’s how all of these Rogue-like games work.
However, after creating my test “weakling”, I also noticed some other characters were already saved on this disk image, and they included ‘Conan’ and ‘Fabian’.
Let’s take a look at Conan …
You can tell from the stats that this saved game file had already been hacked and would allow you to play the game on a much easier footing than if you’d used ‘New Guy’ above.
Comparing the saved game files
I’ve always used WinHex in the past for looking through Atari ST memory dumps and it comes in handy for looking at saved game files too. There are other hex editors out there for your system(s). In the bad old days, I used to use Antic’s Disk Doctor!
I’ve opened both New Guy and Conan’s saved game files in WinHex so that we can compare the two files and see what the differences are between them.
New Guy has a *lot* of empty areas (with 0 bytes) from the second row onwards. This is because he’s got naff all in the way of armour, any arrows, other weapons etc.
Now take a look at Conan’s WinHex view…
I compared the two files using the built-in WinHex tool and there were 48 differences found. There’s definitely a lot more information being crammed into Conan’s 86 bytes than in New Guy’s character!
Due to the amount of differences found, I will break them down into blocks so that we can work out which bytes belong to which statistic on the screenshots.
Breaking down the bytes into their meanings
The initial statistics that appear in any of these kind of D&D based games are our first port of call. In this case they are:
A: Hex offset in file
B: Hex value (New Guy)
C: Decimal value (New Guy)
D: Hex value (Conan)
E: Decimal value (Conan)
F: My findings (worked out by comparing screenshots above vs decimal values)
A B/C D/E F
14: 0C/12 12/18 - Intelligence (all stat values are a max of 127)
15: 0B/11 12/18 - Intuition
16: 07/07 12/18 - Ego
17: 06/06 13/19 - Strength
18: 0A/10 12/18 - Constitution
19: 09/09 12/18 - Dexterity
So we now know which bytes to change (up to a maximum of 127) to give our character a boost.
I did a lot of changes for this character, who I named ‘Big Cheat’.
The next set of bytes to find are the character’s weight, experience and how much silver they are carrying.
A B/C D/E F
24: 00/00 00/00
25: 00/00 01/01 – Experience (Longword starting at +$24)
26: 00/00 88/136 – So New Guy has 0, but Conan has 100422 ($018846)
27: 00/00 46/70 –
A B/C D/E F
28: 00/00 00/00
29: 00/00 01/01 – Silver carried (Longword starting at +$28)
2A: 00/00 8B/139 – So New Guy has 140, but Conan has 101136 ($018B10)
2B: 8C/140 10/16 –
The weapons and armour stats
A lot of the differences between New Guy and Conan are that Conan is carrying x, y and z, whereas New Guy might as well be carrying a pea shooter in comparison.
This is trial and error work though as not every 00 in New Guy’s column and a 01 in Conan’s means that he is carrying something that New Guy isn’t.
So to save you some time and effort, here’s what I’ve found out with the rest of the stats.
The good stuff that you *can* carry
A B/C D/E F
1A: 01/01 06/06 – Weapon (0=None, 1=Dagger, 2=Shortsword, 3=Broadsword, 4=Bastardsword, 5=Greatsword & 6=Magic Sword)
1B: 00/00 05/05 – Armour (0=None, 1=Leather, 2=Ringmail, 3=Chainmail, 4=Partial Plate & 5=Full Plate)
1C: 00/00 09/09 – Plus for weapon (up to 9, e.g. if you have 6 in Weapon and 9 in here = Magic Sword+9)
1D: 00/00 00/00 – Plus for armour (up to 9, e.g. if you have 5 in Armour and 9 in here = Full Plate+9)
1E: 00/00 02/02 – Shield (0=None, 1=Small & 2 = Large)
1F: 00/00 01/01 – Carrying a bow? (0=No, 1=Yes)
20: 00/00 00/00 – Arrows
21: 00/00 31/49 – Magic Arrows
22: 00/00 0A/10 – Salves
23: 00/00 0A/10 – Elixir
Coding the cheat routine using my new-ish engine
Coming soon .. aka when I finally start creating it 🙂
Walkthrough (Atari 8-bit version)
The link below is to an old post covering the complete walkthrough, plus maps from the Atari 8-bit game. The Atari ST conversion should in theory, use the same maps, monster layouts and such like. However, the walkthrough does point to some anomalies between the 8-bit and 16-bit versions (extra monsters and such like).
Back in the old days, this would probably have ended up on a Maggie or DBA disk magazine article instead of this blog post.
It might be bit long-winded but it covered almost everything I wanted to write about this hack.
The guide to the saved game file is complete (as near as I can) on here (and will end up on the Atari Forum Wiki at some point) and I daresay Peter is a happy chappy wading through the game.
Whether he, or someone else, creates/updates the Atari 8-bit maps to include the differences found in the 16-bit version, is entirely up them. If you do, let me know and I could host the updated walkthrough on here.