23
Dec
12

Snooker and 8 Ball for DOS

8 Ball introduction screen

8 Ball introduction screen

Shareware in the early to mid 90’s was often written by single people as a way of getting their software out there and sold. Stephen Haigh wrote two such bits of software, an 8 Ball simulation (most often played in pubs) and a snooker simulation. As children we got the software through the shareware magazines that were much more popular and that my older brother bought. This was how we came across these two shareware games.

The start of a game of 8 ball

The start of a game of 8 ball

8 ball is a simple simulation of the common  pool game played in many pubs around Australia. It was created in 1991 and was a testing ground for the author to see how well the shareware concept would work for him. There are 3 basic modes of play. Practise mode allows you to simply shoot balls around the table and experiment to learn how the game works. 1 player mode pits you against the computer and 2 player mode allows you to play with a friend.

The computer winning

The computer winning

The graphics supported are CGA, EGA and VGA although there doesn’t seem to be much difference between EGA and VGA graphics. The graphics are pretty simple, but get the job done. There aren’t any fancy 3d graphics or anything else to distract from playing the game. Sound comes in the form of PC speaker sound, and surprisingly also has digitised speech that works quite well through the PC speaker. The time you will hear speech the most is when a player makes a foul shot or wins the game. I found that dosbox doesn’t really work very well with the form of digitised sound this game uses. It sounds much better on real hardware. The AI in game is quite good and will win quite often, it isn’t as good at situations that require a bit more thought so there are some ways to trick it, and it sometimes takes a shot that isn’t obvious when an easy shot presents itself.

Information screen for snooker

Information screen for snooker

Snooker was written in 1992 as the author got a good response to the first game. It simulates the much more complicated game of snooker, and has the same 3 basic modes of play. The biggest differences apart from the rules of the game is that the graphics have been upgraded to hi resolution VGA graphics.

The intial set up for snooker.

The intial set up for snooker.

The support for other graphics modes has been removed, understandably because EGA and CGA were no longer really in use. The higher resolution graphics are indeed much better than those from 8 ball, and help to make it easier to make more accurate shots. Sound is through the PC speaker again, also still including the digitised sound with the same problem under dosbox. The AI is pretty similar in behaviour to the one in 8 ball, but because the game of snooker is a bit more complicated it is easier to get a score better or on par with the computer. The only annoying thing is the snooker game has a shareware nag screen, which is a pain if you can’t register the game any more.

Got a high score

Got a high score

My parents have a full sized billiards table, so me and my brothers learned to play snooker on that, and thus these two games had limited appeal to us when we got them. That doesn’t mean they are bad games, just that playing the real thing is more fun. For what they are 8 ball and snooker are well crafted and will give you the experience of playing 8 ball pool or snooker on DOS with out requiring a powerful machine for all the extra bells and whistles many other pool and snooker simulations have. I looked on the internet to find out if there are any free-ware versions of the games, or if there was any contact for the author, but there doesn’t seem to be any information available.

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