Thanks to users sbadger and lurkio on the stardot forum, I’ve been reunited the original BBC BASIC one-liner that begat 2d Star Dodge/Stardodger: Asterisk Tracker!
It was published in the December 1984 edition of BEEBUG Magazine (vol. 3, issue 7; page 9) and is credited to N. Silver.
It’s impossibly short:
It makes extensive use of BBC BASIC’s abbreviations, and the writeup even warns
… Here the programs are extensively abbreviated so that the line will fit into Basic’s keyboard buffer. Because of this, you cannot edit a LISTed version, and so, to allow for errors, it is best to spool out a copy of the text to tape/disc initially. This can be achieved as follows:
type in program
The program unwinds to something much more understandable:
10 L=0 20 REPEAT 25 L=L+3 30 MODE 4 40 DRAW 1279,0 50 DRAW 1279,452 60 MOVE 1279,572 70 DRAW 1279,1023 80 DRAW 0,1023 90 FOR I=1 TO L 100 VDU 31,RND(32)+5,RND(31),42,30 110 NEXT 120 PRINT (L-3)/3 130 X=0 140 Y=512 150 REPEAT 155 PLOT 69,X,Y 160 X=X+4 170 Y=Y-(INKEY(-74)+.5)*8 180 UNTIL POINT(X,Y)=1 OR X=1280 190 UNTIL X<1280 200 VDU 7 210 REPEAT UNTIL INKEY(-99) 220 RUN
The instructions are typical of the day:
The first game (called ‘Asterisk Tracker’) is a very simple game in which you have to guide a ‘snake’ across the screen, whilst avoiding the stars. As the game progresses, more and more stars will be displayed, and the ease of the game rapidly disappears. The Return key guides the ‘snake’ upwards, but it moves down if Return is not pressed. Aim your ‘snake’ for the gap in the wall, and don’t touch any objects as this causes instant death from space acid poisoning!
Um, yeah, N. Silver, whatevs …
It’s pretty amazing that three type-ins could fit on a page: especially when you consider that the BEEBUG magazine was A5!
If you want to play it (and who wouldn’t? We wasted days on this game) you can either run this Asterisk Tracker alone in the browser: Asterisk Tracker, or lurkio has combined them into one, and put them here: Beebug One-Line Games (Asterisk Tracker, a Truffle Hunt clone, and a treasure hunt).
I just wish Graeme Smith were still with us to play this.