Copyright (C) 1989 -- 1992
By David Baggett
This program is SHAREWARE. You may distribute it at will, provided you
1) do not charge any money for it,
2) distribute it WITH the documentation, and
3) do not change the program, accompanying data files, or
documentation in ANY WAY.
You are expected to register this program if you use it more than a few
times. Paying the fee entitles you to Blox Plus, an enchanced version of
the game for registered Blox owners only. See below for details.
What's Neat About Blox?
Aside from good ol' addictive game play, Blox features:
o Stunning art-deco graphics,
o Crisp, quick animation,
o Vibrant digitized sound, sampled at *11 kHz* for better fidelity,
o Crystal-clear sample playback on Hippo and ST Replay digitizers,
o Mind-bending hexagon motif, with six rotations per game piece,
o Cleverly selected skill levels,
o Easy-to-use configuration program that checks your Blox directory
for correctness (to ensure proper installation) and lets you set
game options, and
o Convenient hard drive support: will not clobber the OS or your installed
resolution and palette choices like most other games. Blox is a friendly
Blox Plus, available to registered Blox owners, has the following additional
o Awesome *stereo* sound effects using STe DMA sound,
o Nifty *special* pieces like bombs and transparents,
o Challening Advanced and Tournament skill levels for Blox pros,
o and over 30 *new* 5-hex pieces.
Blox is shareware, but Blox Plus is not. To get Blox Plus you have to
register your copy of Blox. To register, send $15 (US) to:
5640 Vantage Point Road
Columbia, MD 21044 USA
Overseas users please add $3 for shipping and handling. It's usually
a good idea to send a check instead of cash; if you send a check
just write "Blox" in the memo. You don't even have to write a note
to go with your registration as long as your address and the word "Blox"
are on the check somewhere. Simple!
Games like HacMan II and Blox take many hours to design, program and test,
but it'll only take a couple seconds to pop a check in the mail to
get your copy of Blox Plus! Registration money helps me keep my system
current so I can support new hardware like the STe. Please help out by
registering if you like Blox. Thanks!
But WAIT, There's MORE!
You know as well as I do that shareware is all about guilt. To be honest,
I really hate guilt. And I know you've probably got a couple friends who
want Blox Plus, but you figure it'd probably be easier just to register
once and copy the game for them, even though it's illegal. Well, I've got a
deal for you. It's a guilt-free "give it to your friends" plan. Here's the
situation: For every person you want to give a copy of Blox Plus to, add an
additional $5 to your registration and we'll call it square. This means that
friends can share the cost of Blox Plus without pirating -- for each
additional $5 you add to your registration, you get to make ONE (and only one!)
non-archival copy of Blox Plus. Fair enough?
Blox will run on any Atari ST or TT with a color monitor and a hard drive or
double-sided floppy. It requires a minimum of 345K to run; for half-meg
machines this probably means no desk accessories or AUTO folder programs, so
if you're a 520ST owner you may find it easiest to run the game from floppy.
If more RAM is available, Blox will use it to make its title logo spin
around. Regardless of how much memory you have beyond the minimum, however,
the basic gameplay stays the same.
Playing the Game
The gameplay in Blox is simple: you place your pieces on the center
structure to make rings. Complete rings disappear, causing the board to
collapse in. You keep placing pieces until there's no more room on the board
for a piece, at which point the game is over. Easy!
The tricky part is that pieces come out from six different directions.
Use the numeric keypad to steer them around -- the 8, 9, 3, 2, 1, and 7
keys move your piece north, northeast, southeast, south, southwest, and
northwest respectively, where north is up on the screen. The 4 and 6 keys
will approximate east and west, even though no hex actually has an east
and west neighbor (look at the board closely to see this).
If you really get stuck you can force the inner ring to collapse by
"nuking" the board -- press the spacebar to nuke. You start out with
three nukes and get a free one every 5000 points.
Each piece is made up of 3, 4, or 5 hexes, depending on the skill level
of the current game:
Skill Level Piece Types
Advanced 3-hex, 4-hex, 5-hex (Blox Plus only)
Tournament 3-hex, 4-hex, 5-hex (Blox Plus only)
Each hex can be one of the following types:
Hex type Color Function
-------- ----- --------
Normal Ring color Used to build rings
Indestructible White Prevents rings from collapsing
Heavy Clear, white outline Prevents rings from collapsing
Transparent Clear, flashing outline (Blox Plus only)
Bomb Flashing (Blox Plus only)
You plant a piece by either allowing it to run into another piece or by
sticking it sideways onto another piece in transit. When you plant a piece
you are awarded points according to how quickly you planted it; i.e., the
quicker you plant pieces the more points you get. (Technical note: the bonus
you get is the same whether your machine is a 50Hz or 60Hz machine.)
You also get points for completing rings.
The animated marker that moves along the border tells you what direction
the current piece is moving in. Get used to keeping an eye on it; you may
need it on later levels.
Completing five rings takes you to the next level. As you complete more
and more levels, the game gets harder in a variety of ways. But you can find
out what they are on your own...
Game Keys Summary
During a game:
Keypad Move piece in any of the six directions
Spacebar Nuke board (if you have a nuke to use)
F1 Toggle sound on/off
Ctrl-Q Quit this game
During attract mode:
Escape Exit to desktop/shell
Spacebar Skip to next attract screen
Return Start a game
Blox has a long history. Version 1.0 appeared in 1989 as a
four-directional Tetris-type game similar to the popular Valgus Squared
(although the two games were devloped without knowledge of each other).
Even then it had the flashy "art-deco" look, and many of the title pages
were pretty much the same as they are today.
I gave Blox 1.0 to a few friends, who all became incredibly addicted to
it and subsequently blamed me for all the time they wasted on it. Copies of
the game made the rounds at Case Western Reserve University, where it
attracted more fans, some of whom are probably still playing it right now.
So why didn't I officially release such a popular game? There were several
reasons. For one thing, the game desperately needed rewriting -- Blox 1.0
was written largely over a period of a few weeks, and there were many bugs,
some of which crashed the machine. Not only that, but the scoring was
completely bizarre. It was written with tools that were very primitive
compared to what we have now, and consequently it was (to use a technical
term) "flakey as all hell."
I knew that to really do it justice I'd have to rewrite it from scratch,
and that's exactly what happened. In the process, I changed the game from
squares to the more brain-twisting hexagon motif, partly because square-based
games were already out there, and partly because I was bored with programming
Blox 1.0 again and using hexagons made the game data structures a lot more
Converting the game to a more modern game development system has
contributed a great deal to the final product: stereo digitized sound effects,
proportionally-spaced color fonts, full-screen animated sceen wipes, palette
animation and more, that all go together to make what I hope you'll find to be
a professional-quality piece of work.
Who's Responsible for This?
All in all, Blox 2.0 involved about 6 months of work by many people. To
everyone who helped out, a big THANKS.
Neil Forsyth, 68000 assembly language wizard, contributed lots of low-level
code to Blox 2.0, most notably his excellent blitting routines. Getting
a game to run smoothly with 11kHz samples is tough (as anyone who's tried it
will tell you), and Neil's fast raster ops made a big difference.
Tim "Timon Marmex" Trzepacz (pronounced "trespass") did most of the
artwork, and came up with the overall art-deco concept.
David Leary has selflessly playtested the game extensively in all its
forms over the past two years. His unflagging enthusiasm prevented
me from chucking the ST out the window in frustration on several
Bryan Buck also playtested, but most of it was in one non-stop 8-hour
marathon, after which he wouldn't play the game again for a long time.
Bruce Davis brought the game to Case Western, where Glenn Crocker and
others injured their GPA's with too many late-night Blox sessions.
The sound effects are from several sources: Kraftwerk, Jesus Jones,
Nine Inch Nails, Voice of the Beehive, and Carl Orff all auditioned, although
some samples ended up on the cutting room floor due to memory limitations.
I chose artists that I thought would lend a modern, "progressive" feel to
For Blox Plus I played with the stereo sounds a lot to make the whole game
sound as much as possible like an overproduced Janet Jackson song (with sounds
zooming across the stereo field every which way). If you can, try it with
A Few Final Words
If you have any questions or comments about Blox or Blox Plus, feel free to
call or write me:
5640 Vantage Point Road
Columbia, MD 21044 USA
(301) 596 4779
Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Bug reports, high scores, etc. are also welcome.