Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #5710: DrD2k9's DOS Space Quest: Chapter I - The Sarien Encounter in 01:12.24

Console: DOS
Game name: Space Quest: Chapter I - The Sarien Encounter
Game version: EGA version 2.2
ROM filename: SQ.COM
Emulator: JPC-rr 11.7
Movie length: 01:12.24
FrameCount: 4334
Re-record count: 1292
Author's real name: Mike D
Author's nickname: DrD2k9
Submitter: DrD2k9
Submitted at: 2017-11-14 23:28:11
Text last edited at: 2017-11-18 22:16:32
Text last edited by: DrD2k9
Download: Download (23326 bytes)
Status: decision: cancelled
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Author's comments and explanations:

Space Quest: Chapter 1 - The Sarien Encounter

EDIT: Cancelled due to VGABIOS issues (a solution has been found) and anticipated RNG improvements.

This is the original EGA version of Space Quest 1.


Space janitor extraordinaire, Roger Wilco (aka TAS), survives a Sarien attack on his ship, the Arcada, by hiding in his janitor's closet. The Sariens, who have a grudge against Roger's people, steal the Star Generator--a device to create a new sun out of a lifeless planet--from the Arcada intending to use it's power to destroy Roger's home planet of Xenon (think Death Star). Now Roger (TAS), as the only survivor, has three tasks he must achieve to save his people:
  • Escape the Arcada, as the self-destruct mechanism has been activated.
  • Find out where the Sariens have gone.
  • Find a way to prevent the Sariens from destroying his home planet.

All in a day's work for a space janitor.

Temporary Encode

  • There is no sound in this encode. I could not get dumpconvert to produce both audio and video of the dumped JPC-rr movie file wherewith to merge. At this speed, there isnt' much sound to the run anyway beyond a few beeps and buzz type sounds.
  • I'm hoping whoever encodes this for publication (assuming it's accepted) will have better luck than I did.

(Link to video)

Game objectives

  • Aims for fastest time.
  • Speed/Entertainment trade-offs: The speed eliminates all possibility of reading the humorous text that would theoretically add entertainment value. Well....assuming there wasn't a graphics glitch (more on that later).

Emulator used: JPC-rr 11.7

Game Version 2.2

Challenges and Opportunities

Text Entry The game doesn't display typed text every frame. However, multiple keystrokes can be buffered into emulator memory on a single frame and will all be displayed when the game polls for this input. This rarely hinders progress as text input can usually be accomplished during periods of movement unlike games like Quest for Glory or Space Quest 3 where the text input box can pause movements.

Desyncs As c-square has mentioned before, JPC-rr is horrible for being able to splice in changes after the fact. Making a change causes many desyncs down the line. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure every screen is fully optimized before moving on to the next. Unfortunately, I was not using his modified version of JPC-rr and thus limited to the default 12 save-slots in making this run.

Area Specific Comments

Arcada: It is possible to complete the game without obtaining certain bits of information normally needed to progress in the game. This run skips learning about the data cartridge from the dying scientist. It skips obtaining and later reading said cartridge to get the self destruct code for the Star Generator. (Side Note-these actions were made necessary in the VGA remake via copy protection/RNG means.) Thankfully, Roger only obtains the keycard necessary to access the lower levels of the ship and escape.

Escape Pod: Auto Navigation can be activated prior to engaging the throttle. This seems surprisingly little known in the documents I read during my research for this run.

Kerona Desert: It is not necessary to be instructed by the underground alien to kill Orat before you do so. Thus, this run heads directly to him after gathering items from the crash site. His remains are then taken to the underground caverns ignoring the spider droid. (Side Note - The spider droid can also be used to kill Orat, eliminating the need to get the survival kit and open it; but it still takes longer.)

Underground Caverns: Nothing special here, just normal run through the passages.

Skimmer Arcade Sequence: Unskipable in this version (can be skipped in the remake). I got lucky with the RNG of the stone locations and was able to coast directly straight for about the first half of this sequence. Only minor movements were necessary through the rest of the sequence. More motion may have been feasible to attempt to add more entertainment value, but the whole sequence only lasts about 4.5 seconds anyway.

Ulence Flats: The skimmer is sold ASAP to get the jetpack and money for the slot machine. I skip buying/drinking beer necessary to get the information of the Deltaur being in Sector HH.

  • Slots (RNG dependent)
    • This was the most frustrating part of making this TAS.
    • At roughly 45 seconds, it is by far the longest single portion of the TAS.
    • There is some degree of RNG involved in the sequence of symbols, but it is not affected by when the spin is made. Thus luck manipulation by waiting frames was not an option. I unfortunately was unable to determine the exact mechanism of RNG.
    • The results of spins follows a specific sequence that can only be manipulated slightly by exiting and re-entering the slot machine or saving/restoring a game. Even with these manipulations, only the first few rolls seem to change much and then the sequence can/will often revert to what it would have been without the manipulations.
    • This sequence is the only time I use the game's internal save/restore mechanism. I kept running into a 3 Skull result and decided to save prior to and restore after this event to continue earning the necessary funds.
After obtaining the necessary funds to buy a ship (and droid to pilot the ship), I do so and leave Ulence Flats.

Deltaur: Pretty straightforward run from here on. Once Roger loses his helmet, appearance of Sarien enemies is RNG dependent. This is the reason for re-entering/exiting the Star Generator room after enabling self-destruct. If this wasn't done, a Sarien would be waiting outside the elevator and kill Roger before Roger could shoot (at any game speed).

  • Star Generator Keypad
    • At 'Fastest' game speed, the cursor moves too fast to click the appropriate numbers, thus the speed is reduced to just 'Fast' for the inputs.
    • There are at least two layers of timing in this game. One for internal clock times (Star Generator self-destruct countdown, Arcada Self-Destruct countdown), and another for movement speeds. Unfortunately if the game in left in 'Fastest' mode after inputting the destruction code, the Deltaur will explode before the game leaves the keypad screen. Therefore, I slow the game speed to 'Fast' so that I can regain control of Roger and get him off the ship.
    • This is the second longest single portion of the game as it takes 12 seconds of waiting after the code is entered to regain control.
After initiating the self-destruct on the Star Generator, Roger escapes the Deltaur and (somehow) returns home.

The End: Roger is awarded the Golden Mop for his deeds (once a janitor, always a janitor). This run does not, however, yield the best ending. Because Roger fails to retrieve the cartridge with the Star Generator plans from the Arcada, his people are unable to build a new one and save their solar system...meaning they all die eventually anyway. In a run that obtains this cartridge, the ending text is slightly different indicating the better achievement. At least it would be different if there weren't a graphics glitch with the games text.

Oh yea! About that glitch...

It is unnecessary to read anything to beat this game...if you know what to do.

As can easily be seen though, the text for much of the game is glitched and completely unreadable. It is not (yet) known why this happened with JPC-rr. Using the exact same game files in DosBox, the text is normal. This site may explain to some degree. See this discussion also. I sent a PM to Ilari for his perspective since JPC-rr is his thing.

Potential Improvements

  • If there is a way to exit the Detonator Keypad screen quicker, I haven't found it. But finding a way could potentially shave quite a bit of time.
  • Moving at the 'Fastest' pace used in this run is extremely difficult to end up where you want to go. There may be better movement patterns which I have not found.
  • Perhaps someone can figure out a better method for manipulating the slot machine. This is the most likely method of seeing improvement.
  • On the topic of the slot machine. In this version of the game (v2.2) an in-game cheat was added to help players with the slots (The developers realized it was insanely hard/time consuming otherwise). Typing "holy shit" while using the slot machine allows the player to select the next sequence of slot symbols, drastically reducing the number of spins necessary to reach 250 buckazoids. If this would be deemed acceptable, it would drastically shorten the run by (mostly) eliminating a rather boring sequence and negating the need for RNG manipulation at this portion of the game. However, I expected that using this cheat would be deemed against the site rules. If the consensus among judges is that it would be acceptable, I'll redo a run using that time-saver.

Other Comments

  • As this game foregoes many point gathering opportunities, it's definitely not a 100% run and one of those could theoretically be done as well.
  • If a solution to the glitched font situation can be found, I may redo this run so that the text could be read. That, of course, assumes someone can read lightning fast.
  • I anticipate doing runs of both SQ2 and SQ3 for future TASes. The text glitch will likely be present in SQ2 also (and potentially any early KQ runs that get done) because it also uses the AGI system.

Suggested Screenshot



Timestamp MD5 Size Filename
19900101000000 f7c2ddf728794a176c9c741ea6fd7825 39424 AGI
19900101000000 d83459a8643dfc67b4629ec4afe64e13 8192 AGIDATA.OVL
19900101000000 e34849e963efdcc942b67ee9bf5c1533 1024 CGA_GRAF.OVL
19900101000000 714c88fa15b8327c585b86f3e619b068 1024 EGA_GRAF.OVL
19900101000000 f3d4c66e195491aa759b7c5ef996488b 3072 HGC_FONT
19900101000000 8eb68e541e8ea93da96c7fc4cfde7f3f 1536 HGC_GRAF.OVL
19900101000000 a8f5aabf72ed3d4165038275faf8b527 1024 HGC_OBJS.OVL
19900101000000 119949f12a5fc14a082794350c19118b 512 IBM_OBJS.OVL
19900101000000 4488067df5a7201e34ee3b01252e9860 512 JR_GRAF.OVL
19900101000000 5d67630aba008ec5f7f9a6d0a00582f4 372 LOGDIR
19900101000000 b1a713b5061db3f536971e234f261c47 331 OBJECT
19900101000000 64680cd14e572be7f46636e819895fdf 315 PICDIR
19900101000000 ab684bd2f6c0e87a80fc4cd06e544b1a 198 SNDDIR
19900101000000 402c4f46dc3bda7768ef4bf1822be262 3121 SQ.COM
19900101000000 df5f5263d61e250495c249002c6210a1 512 VG_GRAF.OVL
19900101000000 1868e1ce06e6c3816ec7364085e13f73 762 VIEWDIR
19900101000000 e3c443117a755102173db7b0fb8b423c 40622 VOL.0
19900101000000 0e575ee31e7ad04f7d6f07cea41cca39 222807 VOL.1
19900101000000 57790c69c23fddc56840d8b0255c232f 264177 VOL.2
19900101000000 42b35795b6b489cd6e8d326e679f6a25 4793 WORDS.TOK
19900101000000 afd389988179e8db7359e1622f8f0770 486 _INSTALL.BAT

Fog: Judging.

Fog: Delaying this submission until the BIOS issues have been sorted out.

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