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YaBasic

Since the great industry of videogames started there have always been people saying they can make better games than the pro’s. Everyone has this idea of the or their perfect game, even me. Do a football game with the database of Championship Manager, gameplay of PES2, graphics of FIFA, lifespan of This Is Football and that great shootout mode from Ultimate Soccer on the Mega Drive. However I have neither the multi-million pound budget or the technology to create this game, nor do I have the knowledge. Back in the heyday of the PSOne Sony ran a competition called Net Yaroze. Presenting entrants with a black PlayStation it gave those with basic games writing knowledge to create games, and these would be copied onto the Official PlayStation Magazine demo disk for people to play. Readers would vote and the winner got a prize. I can’t really remember the details as I was oblivious to Net Yaroze at the time. It’s from buying old demo disks for 50p on car boot sales that I have caught up with this popular move by Sony.

As we all know sales of the PSOne tailed off slightly after the release of the PS2, but for Sony to dodge through expensive taxes they marketed the PS2 as a home entertainment system instead of a games machine. To succeed with this move they (Sony) added a program called YaBasic to every demo disk released with the machines. The programme’s name means Yet Another Basic, in the language of a programmer it’s one of the most simple forms of creating games. What this means is we can learn to create very basic games (like Pong- no offence intended) but it seems some people have gone a step further. Looking at one of the best resources on the net, www.yabasic.co.uk, there are people from around the globe who have created early versions of the Final Fantasys and other wacky but cool titles.

One of these games, most probably the best one ever made for the programme, is called Leonard. Facing frantic gun battles against a computer opponent (or another human) you earn cash by shooting icons and can spend this cash in a shop on new weapons, as can the computer opponent. Computer player movements and purchase options are random and not scripted, making this much more than a simple blast-em-up. Whilst not sounding impressive, remember this is created in a language similar to what Pong and Snakes is written in.

YaBasic isn’t a game for the light hearted though. Much patience is required as well as trial and error to make the damn things work. Of course, you could always copy the code from the website mentioned above, but being allowed to branch out and create anything we want is quite remarkable. Perhaps the most impressive thing is the demos and other things you can find. Those who like creating videos from stunts in GTA Vice City will have a field day here as you can create various logo’s and scrolling text for people to read. Someone even made a maths helper. If you wanted to find out the radius, diameter or circumference of a circle then you could type in the required values and the game would work out what you wanted it to do. Magic. Not as good as a portable calculator but effective for those confused with pressing so many buttons for one action.Obviously anything that requires prolonged typing should require a keyboard, and thankfully YaBasic supports a USB one.

I’ll be quite honest here; I was all up for reviewing YaBasic, but writing about a ‘game’ that enables the creation of titles is dead hard to do. Obviously lifespan is almost infinite as there are endless games to create, but graphics and gameplay can only come into account with the quality of code you are using which would depend on your knowledge of the C language. Hmm this is proving to be much more taxing than I first thought.

Anyway, there really isn’t much more to say seeing as that’s it. YaBasic is the best value for money on the market because it’s free. You know that demo disk you chucked up in the loft with your PS2 box? It’s on that, next to the FIFA 2002 demo. Now all you need to do is follow the in game instructions.

To sum it up this is the pinicle of the next generation console war and Sony should have done far more to push it into our faces. Instead it was a lucky few who stumbled across it playing the demo disk one day. Shame on you Sony, shame on you.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

Gentle persuasion

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