Video game historians and digital “archaeologists” are keen to unearth the secrets of the classic Atari game, hoping to explore how to make games when the game’s hardware was very limited at the time. The maze game Entombed, launched in 1982 on atari 2600, is particularly noteworthy because it still bothers researchers today.
Developed by Western Technologies Inc and published by US Games, the game traverses a continuous vertical rolling maze as it tries to escape enemies. Since early game boxes didn’t have a lot of memory to store static maze designs, developers relied on a technique that programmed the maze — that is, building mazes in game running.
John Aycock of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and Tara Copplestone of the University of York in the UK expressed interest in the game, but said they could not explain how it worked. “It’s a deep hole in the unknown,” Aycock told the BBC. “
As the BBC reports, the game’s maze is claimed in order
As the game draws each new maze block, it needs to decide whether to draw a wall or a space for the game’s characters to move. Therefore, each block should be “wall” or “no wall” — “1” or “0” on the computer bit. The game’s algorithm automatically determines by analyzing a maze. It uses a five-square tile that looks a bit like a fragment of a Russian block. This tile determines the nature of the next block in each row.
The logic for deciding what the next square should be is limited to a possible list of possible values in the game code. Based on the value of the 5 blocks, the table tells the game to deposit a wall, not to a wall, or to choose randomly between the two.
The tricky thing is that no one seems to be able to figure out how this possible watch is made. After exhausting other possibilities, including reverse-designing the table, the researchers contacted Steve Sidley, one of the players involved in the game development, but even he remembers being confused by the watch. Sidley told the researchers.
The basic maze generator is written by a steamer who has left. I contacted him to try to understand the role of the maze generation algorithm. He told me that it was when he was drunk and his brain was drained, that he had compiled a compilation all night before he was in a coma, but now he couldn’t remember how the algorithm worked.