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Major Havoc – Make your own levels

For huge Major Havoc buffs, everyone knows Own Rubin the creator and a lot of guys who got into collecting the game over the past 10 years got to know Jess Askey. Jess Askey has spent the better part of ten years taking the original code for Major Havoc, modifying the original gameplay and adding his own levels. (Don’t believe me, check out his volume of Major Havoc posts at Vectorlist)

The most recent generation of guys know Jeff Kulczycki for his Donkey Kong 2 levels, but as best I understand it, Jess’s level additions to Major Havoc are similar but took place in a time where the hobby was relegated to more simple communication systems. Jess released his Major Havoc modifications under the title Major Havoc: Return to Vax a few years back and is now looking to enlist the average MH enthusiast to contribute to another version of the gameplay.

The Major Havoc Level Editor

Late last month on Coinopspace.com Owen Rubin signed up and started participating in the groups for games which he created including Major Havoc. Soon after, Jess Askey signed up and after moving through a couple other threads, posted an inquiry into the level of interest to ‘finally’, as Jess says, release the Major Havoc level editor.

I have been ‘building’ a Major Havoc level editor for a long time and it pretty much works at this point but I’m not complete with the final step of dumping the edits to ROM’s so people can play them. The problem is that since maze parameters vary greatly in size between each definition, the data isn’t super clean in blocks of data (ie… each maze has 32 bytes for wall definitions, 32 bytes for sparkoid and perkoid data, etc) so it gets …..

What is the level of interest for this? I always though it would be cool to release the level editor and have a contest for 8 new levels. Then if Owen is interested, we could write the ending to the game that he always wanted, release the new version which would have…

  1. Existing Levels
  2. 8 New Levels from contest winners
  3. Homeworld
  4. Lots of other fun stuff (more warps, more enemies, speech, star castle?)

Now who’s interested?? 🙂 More importantly…..

Game Archive Jess Askey Website Screenshot
Screenshot of Jess Askey’s Game Archive Website

I have very little familiarity with Major Havoc, not to mention I know nothing about developing additional levels on hardware for arcade games from the 1980’s, so most of what Jess is saying I don’t understand. But, for those of you who know how to fix Major Havoc boards, or know theoretically about this Atari hardware you probably know exactly what he is saying. Regardless, this is a unique opportunity. There are just a handful of individuals who would take such a tremendous amount of their own time to work on one of these games for such a select audience.

Without an intricate knowledge, to me a level editor in the context that Jess talks about it makes it seem as though the average enthusiast, clueless or not, could come up with their own design for a level of Major Havoc! How cool would that be. Whether it makes code or not I can’t say but I am sure my readers can. Regardless, whether this editor pumps out code or makes files that can then be used by Jess to create new levels this is exciting for game designer wannabe’s.

A number of guys already stepped up and said they’re interested. Now for it to actually happen I think some more instructions would be needed from Jess, or at least some more explanation and general direction for a user who might even want to create something but wouldn’t know how to start. Jess has worked on these levels, he surely could share some of his design planning thought processes.

Participate, make a Major Havoc level!

If you love the game. I am going to ask all the simpleton questions to understand what this level editor is, but if you love the game, find out what you need to get involved. I would hate to see this opportunity die and be relegated to the back burned because of a lack of interest. Owen Rubin already said he’d get involved, so if for nothing else you can cheaply say you worked side by side with one of the great Atari programmers.

I will post updates here on additional instructions from Jess as well as any steps taken to keep this cool Major Havoc project moving forward.

If there is any information that I have incorrect above, or can be better explained, leave a comment. I know there is, and it would be great if Jess saw this post and filled me in on some more exact dates and maybe talking a little bit more about the project.

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This is one of the coolest ideas I’ve heard — ever.

There’s nothing like a good level-editor. And there certainly is nothing out there quite like Major Havoc.

A great idea for a great game.

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