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3D Monster Maze

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[ webmaster ] [ 2005-07-11 16:05:45 ]

3D Monster Maze is a computer game produced by J.K. Greye for the Sinclair ZX81 platform (16KB memory expansion required), published in 1981 by M.E. Evans. Rendered using low-resolution character block "graphics", it has a remarkable place in the history of computer/video games, being the first 3D game for a home computer.

Selected landmark 3D games

The landmark 3D firsts for other platforms were Atari's Battlezone (1980), an arcade 3D video game built with specialized vector graphics hardware, and its predecessor Spasim (1974), running on graphical terminals of a big multi-user university computer. While some sources consider 3D Monster Maze also to be the first in the first-person shooter home/personal computer game genre, this classification can also be perceived as inexact, because there is no actual shooting (or other means of the first person's active interaction with the environment, except for navigation) involved. One of the earliest 3D games for the ZX81's successor, the ZX Spectrum (and, indeed, for that second generation of home computers), was Quicksilva's Ant Attack (1983).

The landmark 3D personal computer game literally living up to the first-person shooter title is Wolfenstein 3D (1992), the immediate predecessor of Doom.


The graphical view, animated at around 6 frames per second, is composed of 88 pixel black-and-white characters, so the view is roughly square, taking a 2524 area on the 3224 text screen. Part of the screen is reserved for the score count, and a one-line status message is occasionally overlayed at the bottom of the graphical view.

The game 3D engine and the random maze creation code is written in Z80 machine code (probably produced with an assembler). This is augmented by several tens of BASIC lines for less critical tasks, such as the initial greetings and the game legend animation. No copy prevention is embedded into the game; moreover, the magnetic tapes of the time being unreliable, there is an entry point in the BASIC code that allows saving another program copy to the tape once loaded (for archival/backup purposes).

Game overview

The player is placed into a 16 by 16 cells maze, which contains an exit (always in an end of a cul-de-sac) and a hostile monster, the tyrannosaurus rex. The object of the game is to escape through the exit without being eaten. Initially the t. rex lies in wait. Once the player starts moving, the beast begins hunting. Thereafter, it may either calm down again (if the player goes into a part of the maze that is far enough), or vice versa, approach the player and, having obtained a direct view of its prey, run directly for it!

The current t. rex anxiety level is reported to the player in the status line as an indirect clue to their relative location. The initial REX LIES IN WAIT is followed by HE IS HUNTING FOR YOU, which can get elevated into FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING, REX HAS SEEN YOU, and a desperate

Points are awarded for each step made by the player any time the dinosaur is on an active hunt, as well as upon successfully getting away through an exit and into another maze, thus collecting even more points playing there until eaten. When the game ends, the player can either "appeal" or continue playing again in the last maze. If the appeal is attempted, it's rejected with 50% probability (in which case the player is sent back to roam the same maze again). An appeal which is accepted effectively results in the computer self-reset via BASIC's NEW statement.

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[ webmaster ] [ 2005-07-11 16:05:45 ]

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