A HyperHomage to a classic
One of the first things I ever saw running on a Macintosh was StuntCopter by Duane Blehm. A very silly game where you have to drop a stunt person out of a helicopter to land perfectly in a horse-drawn wagon below. The higher you’re up and the faster you’re going, the more points you score when you make a successful landing. One false move though, and your stunt person is squished, with quite the gruesome sound effect. And the game’s over.
Alongside the frenetic Shufflepuck Cafe, the sci-fi Oids (gameplay video is of Atari ST original), and the Macintosh interface in general, the minimal yet not stark black and white graphics made a huge impact on me. Before meeting the Macintosh I had only used BBC Micros (with their blocky graphics) at my primary school and my mum’s Apricot 8086-based PC with its green on black command line.
Enough with the reminiscing!
The story of my introduction to the Mac is for another post and another day. Let’s get back to the subject – just why am I going on about StuntCopter?
Well, I got the itch back in Summer 2016 to dip back into HyperCard, and to enjoy that and learn something I needed to build something with it! I had never fully mastered HyperTalk (HyperCard’s programming language) since building a bunch of ‘stacks’ when I was about 12-14 years old and I was keen to see how far I could push it. I decided I wanted to not only revisit those fun times, but also to learn more about what HyperTalk is capable of.
I couldn’t think of any clever original ideas of what to make, so I decided I would rebuild a simple game, one that I thought I would be able to recreate fairly easily. And that game was StuntCopter. I figured it was a good choice – something with a simple premise that shouldn’t be hard to rebuild in HyperCard and learn something along the way. I was both right and wrong!
Drawing my own version of the graphics was fairly straightforward (and probably the bit I enjoyed the most), as was figuring out all the different bits of programming I would need to bring together my own StuntCopter adaptation named ‘HyperStunt’. What I wasn’t ready for was how much help I’d need with the physics around things like the movement of the helicopter and simulating the effects of gravity and drift on the stunt person when they jump. So thank you Ben and Jono! Otherwise it was good fun to get it working, even if it took me the best part of a year.
Mostly I learnt that HyperTalk is totally unsuited to this kind of game as it’s just too slow. This is because it’s what’s called an ‘interpreted’ language. Fast languages like C are ‘compiled’ down to code that runs close to the processor, meaning that it runs fairly fast. Interpreted code is quite high level, and has to be translated into code the computer’s processor understand on the fly, so that’s what slows everything down. Unfortunately that results in a game that despite looking very simple, has quite silly CPU requirements. So sorry about that! Maybe one day I’ll figure out what to do to improve performance (contact me if you can help!). It will run on slower Macs, but probably won’t be much fun.
Try it out!
Anyway, here it is for your downloading pleasure. Please let me know if you enjoy it. It should run fine inside an emulator like SheepShaver (although ironically maybe too fast to control). I’m not sure it’ll run too well inside Mini vMac. And of course it’ll run on real hardware too – I coded it on my trusty old Quadra 700.
Download HyperStunt-1.0.1.sit (July 2017).
- HyperCard/HyperCard Player 2.0 or above
- 25mhz 68040 or better processor
- at least 640 x 400 resolution display
Even if you don’t have a retro Mac you can play Stunt Copter and all the other late eighties Macintosh games by Duane Blehm IN YOUR BROWSER(!) in this collection at the Internet Archive. The files were kindly uploaded by Stephen over at VintageAppleMac.com – make sure to check out his excellent site too – it’s good for all sorts of fun info from digging in the Mac archives.