DescriptionIn Alternate Reality: The City, you are one of many people who have been abducted from earth by aliens and transported to an alternate dimension where you are dumped in a strange, yet familiar city. Your quest is to explore the city, and find the clues that will lead you to your captors and help you get back home.
In addition to standard first-person RPG features of that era, like skills, stats, experience points and a repertoire of shops and places to visit, the game offers moral evaluation of your character, and depending on your actions you become good or evil, and that affects how the environment reacts to you. Encounters are not necessarily just resolved with the turn-based combat system, but you can also try to trick, charm or bribe opponents. The storyline is non-linear, for example allowing you to take a job in order to enhance a particular skill or just to pass away time.
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- "Alternate Reality: Part One - The City" -- UK title
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DevelopmentPhilip Price, the designer originally planned to release 4 interwoven games that could only be solved if the player owned at least two of them. They were given the working titles The City, The Wilderness, Revelation and Destiny. However, while The City was being developed for the Atari, publishers Datasoft got cold feet about being able to convert the game for other platforms in time for the Christmas sales, and asked to have The City split up in two games, where the first part would then be converted and released in time for Christmas, and the second part The Dungeon would be converted later. So it came to be that Alternate Reality ended up as a quartet in five parts where only one part was ever released.
Macintosh versionThis game was released on many platforms, including the then-very-new Macintosh. The Mac version was notable because it did not use the Mac GUI toolbox or in any way conform to the Mac UI. In the early days, even Apple didn't realize that such a product could not sell - some of the pain in programming the Mac in those days came from having to initialize all the GUI managers yourself because they didn't assume all programs would be GUI programs.
This is the only commercial program of any kind that I know of, which actually took that route. It's unclear if it would have succeeded if their choice of actual interface had been better, but combined with a generally hard-to-use unique interface and very slow speed, the game was just too hard to play.
Atari 8-bit version
The game was originally developed for Atari 8-bit computer family and it had some unique features that didn't make it to the more advanced computers. First of all, Alternate Reality featured a raycasting engine with texture mapped walls, the same technology that would be used later in early 3D shooter games. The game would change rendering depending on time of the day or apply weather effects. Most of Atari games would display up to 16 colors or less, some managed to show slightly more using hacks or TV-artefacting, however, Alternate Reality could display up to 64 colors on the same screen - a stunning feat. Another feature was an advanced four-channel music system developed by the same guy that could play cue music or effects based on location in the game world and it even would show lyrics to the songs played.
Information also contributed by weregamer
Related Web Sites
- Alternate Reality on the Web (Contains screenshots, music, maps and information on planned but unrealized sequels/additions. )
- AtariMania (8-bit) (for Atari 8-bit: game entry database; downloadable release; software sets; advertisement; additional material.)
- AtariMania (Atari ST) (For Atari ST: game entry database; downloadable release; software sets; manuals; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (For Atari: exhibit reference ID CH15421; additional material.)
- Commodore 64 Boxed Sets (For C64: high quality software sets digitalisations.)
- DOSBox, an x86 emulator with DOS (Statistics page of compatibility with original DOS version.)
- Hall of Light (For Amiga: game database entry; package material digitalizations; screenshots; additional material.)
- Lemon 64 (For C64: game entry database; magazine reviews; documentation; cover art digitalizations; additional material.)
- Lemon Amiga (For Amiga: game database entry; magazine reviews; manuals; additional material.)
- Macintosh Garden, an abandonware games archive (For Macintosh: reviews; artwork; downloadable releases; manual; screenshots; additional material.)
- Replacementdocs (Map) (Literature for DOS/Windows.)
- Replacementdocs (Map Template) (Literature for DOS/Windows.)
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (series) (encyclopaedic entry for combined platforms of the series.)
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