Route 80

by Dick McGrath

The Road to TRS-80 Gaming

Welcome back on the Road! For those of you who are just joining us, ROUTE 80 is your main highway to TRS-80 computer gaming! Sometimes we’ll follow the high road directly to main line articles and reviews of games for the TRS-80. At other times, we’ll wander down some of the little-used alleys and pathways branching off the main thoroughfare, exploring such out-of-the-way hamlets as peeks and pokes, bits and bytes, and puts and gets. But, always will we remain true to our main compass course. To provide you with more enjoyment from your TRS-80.

First, let’s take a look at a road map of where we’re going in the future of computer gaming.

It is, after all, the time of year for soothsayers to try their hands at predicting the future of our favorite pastime. Practically every new issue of the popular computing magazines carries someone’s version of what we can expect during the next year or the next decade in the world of computer games. For what they’re worth, let’s take a look at some of their forecasts.

Everyone agrees that computer games are just hitting their stride, with greater sophistication and complexity evolving with every new generation of software. This continual evolution is a necessity. Computer gamers are a restless lot, who are never satisfied with the status quo. In a constant search for better products, their expectations rise with every new purchase.

Most of these expectations center around technical innovations. Sound effects and voice synthesis are already part of state-of-the-art programming. Future hardware will undoubtedly produce refinements and higher fidelity in sound production. Greater flexibility in player input can also be expected. First there were keyboards, then joysticks, and in the future… authentic input devices, including steering wheels, foot pedals, aircraft control columns, and even voice-actuated command systems. As hardware capabilities improve, we can anticipate more realistic graphics, including cartoon-like screen animation and video-disk random-access projected visuals. The catch-phrase that pulls all of this together in the far-distant future is total immersion. The player will be completely isolated from his surroundings; totally projected into a fantasy world of three-dimensional wrap-around animation, unimpeachable audio reproduction, and total interaction with the game environment.

The more philosophical (and perhaps more realistic) of our crystal gazers reject the role of technological development as the guiding force of the future. They believe that the continued popularity of computer gaming does not depend as much on new technology as on new and imaginative uses of current technology. Computer gaming is here to stay, but just as in music, movies, and other art forms, public taste in computer games undergoes continual change. The successful software producer will be the one who anticipates each fluctuation in the cycle and provides imaginative programs to satisfy each new gaming fad.

This is where the greatest disagreement exists among the experts. Where do we stand right now? Have shot-em-up, fast-action arcade style games peaked as some believe they have? What about the text-oriented fantasy adventures that they replaced? Are they due for a comeback, or are they hopelessly out of date? Several major software companies are staking their bankrolls on opposite sides of this question. What is my prediction? Well, the next wave of consumer enthusiasm will be lavished on a marriage of the two… Realistic simulation adventures requiring careful strategic planning but which also provide real-time interaction and visual display. Such games could re-create detective mysteries, cops and robbers action, fantasy adventures, tactical military scenarios, westerns, international political intrigue, or even gothic romances!


In the last issue, I described one of the subscription program services (Cload Magazine), and promised others in the future. Here are two more from one company. SoftSide Magazine has been providing quality programs since at least 1980. They conveniently divide their publication into three segments; one each for the Atari, Apple and TRS-80 computers. They also provide cassette and disk versions of the program listings printed in the magazine. They specialize in rather lengthy adventure-type games, business, utility and specialty programs. Each issue contains three to five programs for each computer. The cassette version is $75.00 a year and disk is $125.00. It is available from SoftSide, 100 Pine Street. Holmes, PA 19043.

The same company also produces Adventure of the Month, a subscription service which provides a high quality text-oriented adventure every month. A six month subscription is $29.00 on cassette or $49.00 on disk. This service is available from Adventure of the Month, 6 South St., Milford, NH 03055.

I’ll look at another subscription service next time!


Let’s turn off the main highway for a few moments and examine one of the side streets on our journey. The street sign says “Peeks and Pokes Parkway”. The buildings here look modern and very utilitarian, but little used. Peeks and Pokes give you direct access to computer memory locations. A peek allows you to look at the value stored in a location, while a poke lets you change the value. Peeks are passive little things, but pokes can be dangerous! A poke in the wrong location can set off a chain reaction of undesirable consequences. Fortunately, everything can be set aright by simply rebooting the system. This, unfortunately, will also destroy any programs currently in memory. So, be careful about poking around in places that are unfamiliar!

Peeks and Pokes vary from simple examination of a single stored value to complex subroutines providing fast action full-screen graphics and other esoteric manipulations. We’ll occasionally wander this way and pick up some usable programming techniques. Here are a couple of simple things:

Peeks do not work alone. They must be part of a command as PRINT PEEK (15360) or A = PEEK(15360). To examine a sample of memory peeks, type in this program:

30 GOTO 10

Then input these peek addresses;

293A value of 73 indicates a Model III machine, otherwise Model I.
14312A value of 63 indicates that a printer is ready, anything over 127 indicates a printer is not attached or not ready.
1431A value of 255 indicates a tape machine, all else indicates disk.

We’ll explore more of Peeks and Pokes Parkway in the future. You can save that little program if you want. We’ll use it again.


This is a neighborhood that is strictly for fun: with occasional prizes as well! This month we have a contest for fantasy adventure and simulation buffs. List the names and authors of the ten programs containing the following:

  1. Possum Hollow to Knawbone;
  2. Paul Bunyon’s Magic Axe;
  3. Guide is Ingtemba Gombu;
  4. Double Eagle II;
  5. Clipper Flying Cloud;
  6. Guido and Fido;
  7. A difficult dumb waiter:
  8. Elder Brother Cooks, The Money Lender;
  9. The Ghost of Backpack Sam;
  10. Pirates, a Mongoose and a Parrot.

Send your list of answers to:

Dick McGrath
2008 Calle Miranda,
Fullerton, CA 92633

The winner will receive a $25.00 gift certificate from Joe Broderick of The Software Affair, 10127 E. Rosecrans Ave., Bellflower, CA 90706.

NOTE: In the event of duplicate correct answers. a winner will be selected by a random drawing from among the correct submissions. All lists must be received by December 31, 1982.

That’s the end of the road for now. I’ll see you again next issue…

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