Law is a 1997 chaos remake by Jim Purbrick. The following text is taken from the web archive of the old homepage.
Law is a multi player strategy game written as a Java applet and based on the classic ZX Spectrum game Chaos. Play.
Along with a lot of my friends, my first experience of computers was with a ZX spectrum in the 80's. It wasn't a stunning machine, programs took ages to load off tape and when they did garish colours, transparent sprites and farty sound effects were the order of the day. However, these were the days before established games companies and so many of the wackiest and most innovative games ever were written for this modest machine. One of these was the best computer game ever written - Chaos by Julian Gallop. It had strategy, variety, luck, humour and, unlike modern war games, it packed all of this less than five frantic minutes. I whiled away many a Saturday with Joe, Tom and the rest, devising devilish and cunning plans involving gooey blobs, undead crocodiles and all of the other bizare spells that Chaos packed into it's 48k of pure excellence. Eventually though, tradgedy struck when our tape copy of Chaos sucumbed to wear and refused to load. Slowly the spectrums wore out as well and were either replaced by Amigas or Guitars. Chaos was all but forgotten until I came to University, discovered the Internet and with it Jpp.
Jpp and JavaEdit
Jpp is a fantastic little spectrum emulator that transformed my laptop into a spectrum. Soon I was hooked once again on classics such as Chaos and Jetpac. Later that year I had some spare time as the exams were over and at the same time Dan Page discovered this new programming language called Java. Unlike the bland C++ programs we'd been writting for coursework, Java allowed all sorts of coolness: graphics, networking, sounds, GUIs and the ability to embed all of this within a web page - suddenly we could write computer games. Wanting to start with something simple, Dan wrote a java version of space invaders, which can still be found at the JavaArcade. Nostalgia quickly took hold and we both decided to write some more classic games in Java, so after drawing some suitably retro graphics for JavaVaders, I embarked on a labour of love writing a Java version of my favourite computer game ever - Chaos.
The idea of Chaos as a multi player game played over the internet had a lot going for it: it is a turn based strategy game and so requires far less bandwidth than an arcade style game and it is much more resilient to the sort of lags the congested internet imposes. It is also much bigger and more complex than many arcade games. Although I didn't want to leave anything out for fear of damaging the perfect game balance that Chaos had I often thought about it while drawing the 156 images and writing the 72 classes that currently make up Law. Although I initally had some help from Geoff Weller and later from Dan, Chris and Rich, it still took me a year of occasional work to get it done. I nearly gave up at one stage when I lost all of the source code and had to stuggle on with decompiled class files provided by Mocha.
Now that I have got something finished there is a very big temptation to stop here. Law includes all of the features of Chaos as well as a GUI, some prettier Graphics and internet networking. The most pressing need is to set up some Law servers so that anyone can play a multi player game over the internet. If you have a machine connected to the net, please see the Law Server Appeal. Beyond that I'd like to add AI players, but although I have left some hooks in the code for it I have no idea how to go about it. If you have any idea of how to do this, get in touch. One of my initial ideas was to add new spells to Law as well as including those from Chaos, so I might clean the spell code up to allow extra spell plug-ins and release a Spell Development Kit (SDK) so anyone can add their own spells. If I get that done I think Chaos will be set for another 10 years.
Law is a multi player, turn based, fantasy war game. Each player takes on the role of a wizard and attempts to kill the other wizards by casting spells or summoning creatures to attack them. Wizards start off with a random selection of spells and must use them strategically to win. Some spells can be used to make the wizard more powerful by giving him magical armour or weapons. Others directly attack other wizards or creatures while a large number summon creatures to fight for the wizard. The creatures summoned all have various abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Some can move quickly or even fly across the battle field, others are strong or tough in combat. Some creatures can act as mounts to carry their summoner across the battle field, others launch ranged attacks while undead creatures can only be harmed by magical attacks or other undead. In addition to using spells and creatures well, a further element of strategy is added by the fluctuations of the world's alignment. When chaotic spells are cast the world itself is made more chaotic so future chaotic spells are easier to cast. Equally casting lawful spells makes the world more lawful. Another option is to summon illusionary creatures, which can always be cast successfully, but are vulnerable to other wizards disbelieving them. Manipulating the world's alignment to your advantage, but the other wizards detriment and bluffing opponents with illusions is essential to being a successful wizard.
Starting the gameEdit
Choose one of the various choices of network or local game from the opening screen. On the next screen enter the names of the players next to the colour they'd like to be then check the box next to the name. When all of the players have been entered click the start button and the game will begin. When playing a network game only the first player will be able to start the game so if the start button doesn't light up, just wait.
Playing the gameEdit
Law is played in a series of game turns. Each turn is played in three phases; the spell selection phase, the casting phase and the movement and combat phase. Within each phase the players take it in turns to complete the appropriate actions. A number of different screens are used in the game, but title bar at the top of the screen is always present and shows a lot important information. The align-o-meter on the left shows the current alignment of the world. As the world becomes chaotic the golden globe moves toward the pentagram, when the world is lawful it is closer to the scales. On the right is the message bar, this displays information about who's turn it is and what is happening in the game. To cancel any action, simply click on the cancel button.
The spell selection screen is initially very bare. This is so other players cannot see your spells. Once you've made sure that no one is looking, click on the show spells button. A list of your spells should appear on the right of the screen.If you check the box next to a spell's name, information on the spell will appear in the center of the screen. Once you have decided which spell to cast, make sure it is selected, then click on done. Dialogs may then pop up to ask for further casting options.
Casting takes place on the battle screen which shows the positions of all of the creatures and wizards. Whenever the battle screen is visible you can find out information about a creature by right clicking on it. The numeric keys can also be used to show all of the creatures controlled by the corresponding wizard. To cast a spell, click on the square that you'd like the spell to be cast in. Most spells have restrictions on which squares they can be cast in - attack spells need an enemy creature, summoning spells need a square adjacent to your wizard. If the square you try to cast a spell on is not valid, this will be shown in the message bar and you will be able to select another target square.
Movement and CombatEdit
Movement and combat also use the battle screen and occur in the same phase. In it you may move any or all of your creatures and they can attack enemy creatures by moving into them. To move a creature, select it by clicking on it and then click on a square you'd like to move it to. Walking creatures can only be moved one square at a time and may be held up by other creatures or barriers such as walls. Flyers move in one jump a distance up to their movement value and are not blocked by barriers. If flyers are moved to a square containing an enemy they swoop attack it and then return to their original position. Once a creature has finished moving, either by using up its movement allowance or if the selection is canceled, it cannot be moved until the next movement phase. When attacking an enemy creature, the attack's success depends on the attacker's combat rating compared to the defenders defense rating with a random factor involved. If the cursor turns to a cross hair after you have moved a creature then it can make a ranged attack. Click on a square that the creature can see and it will launch a ranged attack if the square is in range. When you have moved all of your creatures, or don't want to move any more, click on the done button to end the phase.
These hints were written about Chaos, but they apply equally to Law.
Early players (the 1st or 2nd in a large game) have the attacking and spell casting initiative, but later ones can cast an illusion with less chance of following players disbelieving it. Illusions are no good towards the end of the game, since wizards cast Disbelief often, when they have few other spells. Protect your wizard with armour and a castle, since they are very weak at the start. Also, try to get a magic weapon so you can attack undead creatures. Magic woods allow you to get some new and powerful spells but remember they are not anybody's property and any wizard can use one. Fire and Gooey Blob can win (or at least save) the game if they are used properly. Walls can be used to build fortresses to hide in, but can be flown over. A good way to start is to magic bolt another wizard, or to cast something next to him. Players 2 and 7 can have an attack on five players by casting a shadow wood tree next to them. - Anthony Bailey, Carshalton,Surrey
Creating very strong creatures raises suspicion. Since the best creatures are the hardest to get, the belief that the creature is an illusion increases with its strength. Also, the opportunity to destroy a dangerous creature with a free spell such as Disbelief is very tempting. Dragons have chances of 10-20% of being successful, and whenever one is created it usually attracts a Disbelief in the same or next round.When a wizard dies, all his creations - creatures, forests, blobs, the lot - are destroyed too. That can mean a lot if your poor wizard is stuck in a corner, surrounded by fire or whatsit. As I've noted several times, undead can only be attacked by other undead. As a consequence, even the tiniest of undead creatures - such as, say, a raised bat - can bar the way for an ogre or dragon. - Staren Ett
- Jim Purbrick - Design, Programming and Graphics
With thanks to:
- Chris Pederick - Testing
- Dan Page - Graphics
- Rich Field - Programming
- Geoff Weller - Graphics