At some point in the 1980s, my friend who owned an Apple computer picked up an interesting “game”. It was called RobotWar and when I heard him tell me the title over the phone I don’t think I waited for an invitation to come on over and try it out. After all with Robot AND War in the title, it just had to be awesome.
The game did turn out to be awesome, but not in the way we thought.
Instead of a shoot-em-up game of mechanized robot death, it was a game of programmed robot death. Which for all of my circle of friends was a bit daunting at first. It was only after repeated readings of the instructions, groups discussions and finally some examples we found printed in a magazine that we were able to grasp the basics of the game and start enjoying it.
Occasionally I will hear a mention of it on a blog or see an old ad for it like the one above and think back to those long summer days, huddled over an Apple ][ trying to figure out what this meant…
AIM + 5 TO AIM ; MOVE GUN
AIM TO RADAR ; SEND RADAR PULSE
IF RADAR < 0 GOSUB FIRE ; TEST RADAR GOTO SCAN FIRE 0 - RADAR TO SHOT ; FIRE THE GUN ENDSUB