Our first obstacle we had to overcome was the lack of sufficient input devices to the Atari 2600. Many computers these days come with a keyboard and mouse, enabling the user to type things as well as point at them with their the mouse or their finger if they are really stupid. Our Atari 2600 unit came with one bulky joystick which could be shoved in (at least) four directions, as well as a large red button that responded (at least) half of the time we mashed it. One of our programmers suggested that, in order to provide more options, we allow the user to plug in a second joystick and use that as well, but I kindly reminded them that the people we're aiming our technology at are very stupid and would probably end up trying to eat or hump the second joystick. As a result, we were forced to make do with one joystick and assign many functions to it, as shown in the following diagram:
The intro screen. You may not be able to tell, but we took out the full motion video and replaced it with those two blocky guys and that garbled nonsense on the bottom. We feel this was a good choice.
Once we agreed on this setup, we began programming. I, as project lead, had to determine which critical aspects of "Warcraft III" should be kept and which should be thrown out due to the sheer complexity of features like "pathfinding" and "multiple colors." This was a very difficult decision for me, as "Warcraft III" is a game possibly more complex than "Warcraft I" and "E.T." combined. Here's a short example from my logfile detailing some of the decisions I was forced to make so we could fit the entire game into one cartridge and still have room for the Easter Egg which shows the words "Something Awful" fly out of gigantic throbbing penis:
Peons will be represented by glowing orange blocks. Peons carrying gold or lumber will be represented by glowing orange blocks that make horrible screeching square wave noises.
Orc Burrows graphic will be replaced with stock image of tree which takes up 80% of the screen.
Humans technology tree will be simplified to "Build castle -> Build atom bomb."
All tilesets besides "green and sometimes brown" will be deleted to make room for "more green and more brown."
Computer AI will be scaled down to arbitrarily pick from three choices: "move right," "attack," or "randomly lock up entire game."
3-D view will be scrapped in favor of "2-D and sometimes 1-D" view.
When the human's Farm building is selected, the sound of cows and chickens will be replaced by horrible screeching square wave noises.
Mp3 soundtrack will be replaced by horrible screeching square wave noises.
Opening full motion video introduction will be replaced with large red square which flashes terribly fast, accompanied by horrible screeching square wave noises.
With the major gaming decisions out of the way, we started working on the original artwork. We tried contacting Blizzard Entertainment so they could lend us their original artists, but I guess they were really busy this year and never got back to us. We had to make do by searching major IRC networks for the best ASCII artists currently designing .nfo files, and came up with a strong team which was able to accurately convert the high-intensity "Warcraft III" artwork into a more technology-friendly alternative. Here are two examples:
UNIT: Human Sorceress
DESCRIPTION: These female Magi, sent by the Magocrats of Dalaran to watch over the volatile Battle Magi, use their arcane powers to aid the Alliance forces whenever Humanity is imperiled. Although their powers are not often used directly in combat, the Sorceresses are able to aid the Alliance warriors with a wide array of specialized conjurings and magical effects.
TECHNICAL INFORMATION: We're fairly sure the Human Sorceress is designed to look like she's moving to the right, but now that we look closer at it, we kind of think the graphic may be of a dinosaur looking down and to the left. Regardless, we're not sure why the Sorceress / Dinosaur is wearing three horizontal gradient stripes. I think its author, "JaY-Z33," was trying to hint that maybe this unit had been wading through large amounts of grape juice for the past few hours. We weren't able to ask him, as "JaY-Z33" is now back in school and he is not answering his ICQ messages anymore.
UNIT: Orc Headhunter
DESCRIPTION: The disenfranchised Trolls of northern Lordaeron have once again pledged their savage services to the Orcish Horde. These cunning warriors are trained from birth to hunt, track and trap the most dangerous beasts in the wild. In times of war, however, Troll Headhunters turn their mighty spears upon the enemies of the Horde without hesitation. Capable of hurling their deadly spears at distant enemies, Troll Headhunters provide invaluable cover fire for the other warriors of the Horde.
TECHNICAL INFORMATION: Okay, I don't have any idea why the Orc Headhunter lacks a spear (which is his only weapon), nor why he has little doggy ears and is apparently wearing sunglasses. The art team said "spears are too hard to draw" which doesn't make any sense to me because aren't spears just long lines with a little pointy knob thing at the end? I asked them why they couldn't draw spears, and they promptly threatened to go on strike, so I left them alone and went back to the coding department (my dad's basement).
The next step was to integrate the art, coding, and gameplay into one incredible package, a package that would blow the gamer's socks off, assuming the filthy little bastards in Asia or Africa or wherever can afford socks, which they can't. We had to leave out a small portion of "unnecessary" gameplay and features, such as a coherent single player campaign and the ability to make the screen scroll (whenever we tried this, the Atari would overheat and turn off), in order to fit on one cart. Sacrifices like these are difficult to make when you're trying to faithfully recreate the "Warcraft III" experience in under 48 bytes, but our programmers knew a few tricks to optimize code, such as repeatedly calling a function that made a horrible screeching square wave noise. Below are the fruits of our labor!
A vicious Night Elf Huntress rush threatens to take out the Human base and kill all their dudes.
An Undead Abomination emits Disease Cloud, confusing nearby enemies (which are there but couldn't be displayed due to limitations of the Atari 2600 processor).
We feel that our noble and valiant attempt to bring the joy of "Warcraft III" has been a huge success and will undoubtedly entertain millions of poor and pathetic kids across the world's crappiest plains and wastelands. These ratty little kids will never be as well off as you and I, and their plight should make us all realize how important technology is in our lives. If we lived in a world without technology, none of us would be able to log on to this website and see what great people we here at Something Awful are, and why you should probably send us large amounts of money. Of course we wouldn't be able to update this website without technology, so I guess we'd all spend our free time wiggling our fingers in midair and moving an imaginary mouse that never existed. However, the gift of technology is upon us and our selfless devotion to helping primitive clown kids share the fun has resulted in a remarkably innovative and accurate port of the popular PC title "Warcraft III." Now all we have to do is wait for some idiot to donate a few million TVs and install electricity in the filthy huts throughout the world, and we'll be one step closer to making their dreams come true. No, not the dreams of eating at least one cooked meal a day, we're talking about the dreams of playing a game that produces horrible screeching square wave noises.
Do you wish to know what computers will be doing in the year to come? With a sigh I shall exert the minimal effort it takes to reveal all. Feel free to print out these predictions and share them with your friends via fax.
Old mixed signals feeling a little stale? Try some new ones!
day 2: still working on the car
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.