Black Box

by Paul Ford


Issue 16

Jul/Aug 1985

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BLACK BOX is based on an original board game which I once purchased several years ago but which now no longer seems to be on sale. I felt that it was a good game for computerisation and decided to write a version for the Atari to enable me to play the game once more. The resulting program was written entirely on New Years Day. What a way to start the year!

The game seems at first sight to be quite complicated but a study of the 'rules' and a few practice games should make things clear. The object is to deduce the position of four 'ATOMS' placed at random on the grid, by firing 'RAYS' into the box. The ATOMS will affect the RAYS in one of three different ways depending upon their position on the grid and the position of an ATOM can be deduced by the path the RAYS take which is indicated by entry and exit points. The movement is similar to the actual technique I used to determine atomic structure.

Use a joystick in port 1 to position the green cursor on the perimeter of the box at a point where you wish to fire a RAY. Press the joystick button and watch for the exit point of the RAY if there is one. The RAY may be affected by the ATOMS in any of the following ways

1) DEFLECTED off an ATOM (Path 1)

2) ABSORBED by an ATOM in a direct collision (Path 2)

3) REFLECTED back along its path (Paths 3 & 4)

Markers will appear on the perimeter of the grid depending on the action occurring. ABSORBTIONS will be shown by a red asterisk at the entry point only. REBOUNDS are shown by at white asterisk at the entry point and a coloured symbol will indicate both entry and exit points for a RAY which exits from a different point.

Once you think that you know where an ATOM is placed you may move the cursor inside the grid and press the fire button to mark the position. There are four ATOMS in all and once you have marked four positions you may press START to see if your guesses are correct. A yellow ATOM will indicate a correct position whilst any ATOMS you failed to find will be shown in blue. Any markers incorrectly placed will remain red.

SCORING. The object is to obtain the lowest score. One point is scored for each RAY marker and five points for each incorrectly placed marker. A full game consists of 5 rounds.

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