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Submitted by Joeri Capens, posted on February 24, 2001

Image Description, by Joeri Capens

Here are some screenshots from my Psion game called ZherØes. It's a tactical action game where you must move your soldiers to strategical places and kill your opponent's soldiers with a bazooka, grenades, a shotgun or TNT. Bazooka missiles are influenced by the wind, grenades bounce against the walls and TNT is extremely deadly. All bombs make holes in the landscape so if you play for a while the landscape is really destroyed. You can play with up to four players and you can control eight soldiers per team.

My beta version includes one character, the snail, but I'm also going to make a turtle, a snake and a frog. I also have to add some more landscapes and sound effects. The game can be controlled with the keys or with the touch screen. If you would like to see more screenshots or try the game please visit my homepage.

It's possible to try the game on your PC. There's a EPOC emulator on the Symbian site but it's difficult to install it and the download size is very big. You can always mail me and I'll tell you what to do. It's also interesting if you're thinking about buying a Psion.

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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

February 24, 2001, 11:06 AM

Mmm Worms... ;) must get back to playing that sometime. Your version looks cool, good to see stuff for other formats.

Do you generate the landscapes procedurally? I guess not since you say you need to add some more. I wrote a Wormsalike with anteaters (my suggestion for a character type!) and randomly generated the landscape each time, with passable if not great results.


Patrick L÷nngren

February 24, 2001, 11:24 AM

Great! I think that EPOC lacks good and simple games. This game is perfect for this kind of platforms. Sadly enought it seems to be made for the MX5 (I have a Revo).


February 24, 2001, 11:25 AM

Hi Myrmy

The landscapes are bitmap files, but my friend Erik Falke is working on a landscape generator. His program will be some kind of plugin.

Anteaters seem interesting characters to me. Thanks for the idea! Do you have some pictures for inspiration? You can always send them to me: I'll put your name in the credit list if you contribute to my game. :-)



February 24, 2001, 11:33 AM

The game is tested on a Psion 5mx, a Psion 5mx pro, a Psion Revo and a Psion 7.

It schould work on almost every EPOC machine, but speed could become a problem with faster machines (like the NetBook). I've programmed it on my Psion 5mx, which has a 33Mhz processor.



Mark Friedenbach

February 24, 2001, 04:34 PM

I wonder what Phil would say about this...

zed zeek

February 24, 2001, 06:17 PM

excellant try doing that on a palm. ive always wondered why palm dominate the market clearly its far better technology another of the beta/vcs apple/intel thingees i suppose


February 24, 2001, 07:46 PM

worms was just a zherěes clone
everybody knows that


February 24, 2001, 08:45 PM

I have to correct you: I've written this program for a Psion, not for a Palm.
Psion uses EPOC as their operating system, which is developed by Symbian.
And Psion uses Intel StrongARM processors in their devices.

So it's not Palm and it is Intel...
Anyway the sytem runs very stable, it's almost impossible to crash it, which is pretty cool :-)


February 24, 2001, 08:50 PM

Well, my first program on my old Psion 3c was called PsiWorms.
Team17 din't really like that...

So that's why I've invented the strange name and the crazy characters :-)

zed zeek

February 24, 2001, 11:56 PM

yes i know :) thats why i said, 'excellant try doing that on a palm'
as in 'u cant do that on a palm'.


February 25, 2001, 02:01 AM

"I'm dead meat!"



February 25, 2001, 06:24 AM


Does anybody know how to make artificial intelligence for this kind of game? Playing against friends isn't always possible so it would be interesting to give the soldiers a "brain".

I'll decribe how a human player plays this game:
Select a soldier
Select a weapon
Move the soldier to a good place so you can hit an enemy
Bazooka or grenade: Select the firing force (low power makes the bomb drop faster)

I've been thinking about trying some moves in the background. The more health is lost by any other team the better. And you can make them smarter by letting them think longer.

The third step, moving, and calculation speed will be the biggest problems I think.

So does anybody have a better idea?



February 25, 2001, 07:04 AM

Oops, sorry, I misunderstood your message...




February 25, 2001, 07:33 AM

It looks so ... so ... so ...
yes !


February 25, 2001, 07:39 AM

Yes I like screw-drivers in game, I think they add some ... errr ... (feel of danger?) ... errr.. ehhh
Sorry all my words flied away. mbe next time ...

Phil Carlisle

February 25, 2001, 11:38 AM

I'm keeping quiet about this :)) hehe... how about calling it "scorched snails" :))

about the AI question, its actually quite a funky problem. We had a developer mode in W2 and WA that showed the trajectories karl was plotting for the projectile calcs for the AI. Sheesh it looked cool!

If you remember the parts in Wargames where the computer was playing the computer at "global thermonuclear war" and it drew all those missile trajectories?? well, that was exactly like W2/WA AI :))



February 25, 2001, 03:07 PM

Hi Phil! ;)

I don't think firing the weapon will be the hardest problem to solve now. It's just a ballistic problem and my twin brother already solved the equations for me (thanks Nick). The trajectories can be traced pretty fast to see if it hits flesh or rock :) I first want to use only the bazooka and add the other weapons later.

The biggest problem I see now is how to get the Zherě to a position where it's 'easier' to hit the enemy. What's the ideal shooting range for a certain situation? If there are obstacles how do I decide if it's possible to get past them and how? I could try every possibility in the background but this will be terribly slow on a Psion (33 Mhz is fast but the OPL language isn't optimised for this kind of calculations). I think I'll make a variable number of attempts per soldier to modify the intelligence.

It's like a chess computer, you can use brute force and precalculate dozens of next steps or you can choose for a more strategic way of playing the game. Because I have limited CPU power I must choose this last method, the problem is that I don't have a clue how to do it right.

Other problems like making it harder for the human player to hit you will be for later. I now want to make enemies with basic intelligence for the least amount of calculations, maybe like Worms 1...

Every idea will be greatly appreciated!




February 26, 2001, 11:54 AM

My 1.735 cents....

to solve the problem of caluclation speed.... Write it in ASM!

Moby Disk

February 27, 2001, 11:06 AM

This is a little tough to explain without an illustration, but I'll try:

As far as AI plotting to get around obstacles, you could divide the world into grid blocks, and use BFS or A* as a maze-path-finding algorithm. Then, try to compute shots that match those paths.

To make the maze finding algo faster, you could subdivide the world into a grid, say 16x16 pixels, with each block being open, closed, or in between. Then find a possible path using the maze-finder. Once you find one, if that path is too loose to plot a shot from, subdivide using smaller blocks, then repeat until you have a clean path.

Idea is to easily compute an approximate path then fire along it.


March 01, 2001, 11:10 AM

Had you thought about having an AI oracle learn offline? You would need to develop a simplified world description which works for the PC and the Palmtop code. Divvying the world into large blocks and saying how full they were for example. The PC can do all the hard learning work relatively quickly and then pass it's experience on to the handheld implementation.
One possible way would be a neural network learning to ape human responses, and thus to generalise. When you are happy you can then hardcode it for the palmtop implemention, where NN evalutation should clip along, there being no need for the network to learn.
One network per map if you use bitmaps would, I think, work really well, moving the critters to reasonable positions in response to your actions. The problem is in adapting to procedurally generated maps. An AI could almost be useful here in removing boring or otherwise broken maps. To clarify this is the AI cannot find reasonable places to hide it's bots, humans will have difficulty too, so regenerate and hope for better luck next time.

Any chance of an implementation for my Palm Vx next 8) ?

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