Delphian – a game resurrection.

Delphian was a C64 space trader game I coded back in the 80s while working at Orpheus. Sadly, although the game was completed, Orpheus was closed down before the game could be released. And so it was lost to history, forgotten by the world…

But not forgotten by me.

I’ve always wanted to resurrect the game, so I think I will. Although all the original code and data has been lost, I still have some of the original paperwork, even notes for a sequel that was designed to run on an Amiga.

The original version (before I joined Orpheus) was a disk based game. But as tape games were popular at the time, I had to drop the disk idea and redesign the game to be a single load. Wasn’t easy to cram everything into 64k RAM, but I managed it with just 3 bytes of memory spare.

So fast forward to now. Instead of tape or even disk, I now have a 512k cartridge at my disposal, and that makes a massive difference!

But what is Delphian? Well, the following will detail my ideas for the new game.

Delphian is a space trader in which the player flies a spaceship that can be upgraded. At the start of the game, you are given the ship by your dying father on your home planet. At first the ship is just a shell, but the player has enough money to buy essential items from a nearby settlement.

The player starts on foot and has to explore shops and other places for all the items they need. The view is a 3D view using software resized sprites. Although the update can be a little slow, all the movement code is driven by a 50hz interrupt so that control response is unaffected.

Stepping up to a shop takes the player inside where the view changes to a hires image. Here, items can be purchased or sold. After leaving a shop upon purchasing items, a hover shuttle flies back to the player’s ship to fit the item. There are a large range of items to buy, ranging from energy systems, drive systems, shields, and of course weapons. There are many types of lasers, as well as missile and rocket pods. Commodities can also be traded, and is the main way to make money. Other items aid exploration (such as ground vehicles or special sensors) as some of the more powerful items are hard to reach.

Danger lies on some planets (rogue droids or ancient defence systems), so the player can purchase a sidearm. Some planets are hazardous, so an armoured envirosuit is also needed, complete with an oxygen supply.

Stepping up to the player’s ship will take them aboard. From here, star charts of explored systems can be examined, as well as lists of installed items and the ship’s inventory. There is also an info-computer, giving detailed information about all discovered items (by choosing an item code), including how to use them. Activating the ship’s anti-grav drive will raise the ship off the ground and prepare it for flight.

The player can fly their ship across the planet surface, either navigating to another place to land, or gaining altitude. At a high enough altitude the ship leaves the atmosphere and enters space. Better drive systems give greater speed, but can also affect energy recharge rates.

Once in space, the view changes to a moving starfield, with resizing sprite objects using 16 frames for different angles. There can be other ships (some friendly, others hostile), asteroids, as well as other phenomenon to be discovered in the far corners of the galaxy… The original game only had a few things to discover, but with much more space, I can add a lot more!

Calling up either long range or local maps allows the player to set a hyperspace destination to jump to, providing a hyperdrive system is fitted. As with most items, different hyperdrives can be fitted, the best having to be found…

The plan is for the galaxy to have at least 8192 star systems, each with 4-8 planets.

There will be music played throughout, and it will change based on the mood of the game, so expect soft relaxing music when exploring, to a thumping soundtrack when under attack!

And that’s it for now!

But before anyone gets too excited, I still have to finish both Soul Force, and then Briley Witch Chronicles, before I can start on a new project like this.

As for Delphian, leave a comment below if you like.

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