Genesis (CRL) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing

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Genesis
By CRL
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Computer & Video Games #52

Genesis

The Genesis Adventure Creation System consists of a suite of three programs. TEXTURE is the text editor, the business part of the package, in which the adventure is created. DEPICTER is the graphics and sound creator. CLONER is the module used to save the adventure created on to tape and in a playable form.

The Text editor is operated from a series of menus, which always occupy the top half of the screen. The menus are displayed in a box to the left, to the right, memory usage is constantly monitored. The lower half of the screen is the input/edit area. Upon selecting one of the options from the main menu, a sub-menu replaces it without the screen completely clearing. Where there are further sub-menus, the same process continues. Input of vocabulary, object and location data, etc., is carried out in the lower half of the screen as the appropriate prompts appear.

Despite trying hard, after some five hours spent reading the manual and experimenting by inputting location and object details, I was nowhere near to understanding how the utility is supposed to be used to create an adventure, let alone have the beginnings of one up and running.

The main menu screen is displayed in 80 character mode, and is none too easy on the eyes. Presented in unfriendly words whose meaning is not very obvious, the option headings and prompts are not at all helpful, with choices such as: Ob.Status list, and Def.Objects. If in doubt, it is usually helpful to consult the manual.

Unfortunately, the manual does not make easy reading either - the size of the text is microscopic. After borrowing my granny's specs, I just about managed to read it, but was disappointed with what I saw. It is not very well ordered, and starts off with generalised examples before getting properly to grips with the subject - if it ever does. I always find it easier to use a program if there is a concise list of instructions, with an example or two, rather than a lot of verbose technical waffle.

Turning to the Texture Options Reference Section, I started by trying to enter my first object. In addition to a reference number, I was dismayed to discover that I had to give it a name quite separate from the actual description of the object to apepar in the game. Every time I tried to go back on a previous object, I seemed to get the message telling me that this was a new entry, and asking me to confirm it. 'Bytes used' started to be registered, but other than that, the object seemed lost forever, as I exited the option with no confirmation or comment. My input had either been soaked up, or ignored - I wasn't sure which.

Associated with the object definition option is an object status option. On selecting that, I was asked for a name for the status! Nowhere could I find any guidance as to what on earth I should be putting in for either this or the status itself.

Things seem incredibly complex for a utility that is supposed to make adventure creation easier than programming! For example, the ACTION for a TAKE command is entered as: CALL <30>: (OBST(CARRIABLE,OB1)=01 MSG<17,1> FINISH: (OBLC(OB1) PLOC1) MSG<9,1> FINISH: (OBST(CARRY,OB1 0) MSG<8,1> FINISH: COPY<1;OBST(CARRY,OB1)>CALL<39>FINISH:

I was beginning to get the feeling that learning Assembly Language would be just as easy and a whole lot more useful:

Graphics are created on an entirely separate program, DEPICTER, and although I fared a little better using this, I found it was heavy going, and I failed to produce a picture. The sound feature also offered a challenge, but one that I soon abandoned.

Because the graphics creator is a separate program module, the complete adventure cannot be run from within the utility.

To create the fully playable version is fiddly to say the least. First, data must be saved from the CLONER module, and then to the same tape must be added saved data from both the text and graphics editors.

Although the utility appears to be well programmed, the overall impression I got was that it was written by professional programmers for professional programmers. But having said that, I would emphasise that I found it very difficult to follow how to use this utility.

I therefore conclude that Genesis fails in its objective - to simplify the task of creating and adventure game.