Historically significant games originating on TRS-80 Model I/III or PET?

        ( Do not forget the games by my creator! )
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Is there really no [Leo Christopherson] overview and/or fan page out there or am I just too under caffeinated to find it?

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There’s a database of games with search-by-author (but no narrative or interview)

And there’s his website (archived)
ANDROID_NIM

I wrote the original Android Nim program for the Radio Shack TRS-80 computer in 1978. It was well accepted since few graphics programs were done on that machine owing to the low resolution and lack of color. The feature that most people commented about was the android animation which included head and arm movement and eye blinking. People also liked the bad attitude the computer had when it lost.

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I don’t know of one but Leo Christopherson really deserves a comprehensive fan page and overview of his games. It’s hard to say that any of them were notable so much as foreshadowing where game development would naturally go. Quite early examples where it isn’t graphics on the screen but like a character brought to life. And music, too. That it was done on the most graphically limited of the 1977 trinity adds a measure of irony and a testimony of his technical skill.

Dancing Demon is certainly well remembered and for the more casual observer indistinguishable from the TRS-80 itself.

Duel n’ Droids was an early 2-player fighting game. I doubt it directly inspired the genre but it was very much along the same lines.

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Jim McGinley did two GDC talks about interesting features of TRS-80 games. May not be directly relevant but seems to be in the same area.

Warning: he has a tendency to misspeak TRS-80 as TSR-80. I consider it a personal weakness that I cannot let that slide.

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I remember typing in the “chase” game from Creating computing, (into an Apple II, modifying it, etc.) or it may have been elsewhere (I have that volume of CC, so will look it up tomorrow). It may have been called “Escape from Zombie Island” and was a turn-based game, so really pre-dates the PET, TRS-80 (and Apple II). Pretty sure it was called Zombie something as I do remember one message that appeared at random: “Zoinks! here come the Zombies”

-Gordon

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Wow, I was unaware of Duel n’ Droids … I haven’t found gameplay videos from a quick cursory search, but from screenshots it looks to me like it was inspired by the light saber duel in Star Wars.

I’ll admit I don’t know much about Leo Christopherson but obviously he was a talented pixel artist. At the time, pixel art and animation was not well understood. The importance of pixel art and animation was not well understood. When Connie Goldman was hired by Mattel, they gave her (like all other programmers) a week to work on a practice project. She “wasted” almost the entire week just drawing and hand converting better looking pixel graphics and she thought she was going to get fired. Instead, they were shocked at how good the graphics looked; they had no idea the Intellivision could make stuff look that good.

That was a non-obvious revelation, though. Computers and consoles were technological marvels seemingly dominated by specs and technical capabilities. It was obvious to try and innovate with more powerful hardware. It wasn’t obvious that the artistic side was even more important.

So, looking at the incredible pixel art and animation Leo Chirstopherson brought to the TRS-80, I can’t help but be reminded of how this wasn’t even obvious to people at the time.

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I think Temple of Apshai may have originated on the TRS-80, but it seems to have been developed for the PET at the same time?

ToA started on the PET. Jim Connelley bought a PET in 1978 using the excuse that he wanted to use it for DnD dungeonmaster bookkeeping. He then wanted to do a game to pay for the machine, and asked Jon, who he knew had some game design experience. They came up with Starfleet Orion, then Invasion Orion, and then ToA.

Although various histories say “TRS-80 and PET”, and there may be some truth to that, Jon suggested they were still on the PET at that time.

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It dates to around 1974 on DTSS on the GE 645. I’ve tried my best, but I cannot find the original author’s name.

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Cool, thanks for the clarifying info! I wonder if it’s worth checking out Starfleet Orion and Invasion Orion … I guess I’m more interested in game mechanics details than actually playing them. (Interested for purposes of using in a more modern design.)