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Game Xexxagon

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Life Quest®


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Welcome to deep space. What better place than the pristine reaches of the galaxy to escape and practice the ancient alchemy of pure logic, changing the very state of matter? HEXXAGON deigns to take you there...


To play HEXXAGON, you need:

  • system with a 286 or better processor.

  • VGA compatible display card.

  • At least 640k RAM, with about 475k free from the DOS prompt.

We recommend:

  • Microsoft(TM) compatible mouse.

  • SoundBlaster(TM) or compatible sound card.


HEXXAGON is an animated game of strategy, loaded with options, in which it is your task to take over as much of the vorld, ah, board as your opponent will allow, whether your opponent is another mere human or our resident noid of unflinching logic, the dauntless CRANIAC.

CRANIAC, represented by a single light bulb, will happily defeat you in any one of three modes. Choose your poison, and don't be taken in by the apparent simplicity of CRANIAC'S lightbulb facade, his glasses or his bow tie; he'll lure you in and hit you with the "kill"owatts of brain power that reside in that little icon.

Cower not -- one of your available options is to actually "see" how the little twerp thinks. On the two higher detail levels, CRANIAC displays his moves before he makes them, showing his options with flashing neon green and yellow paths.

On the low detail level, he will counter immediately after you move -- instantaneous annihilation. Again, don't be alarmed, the three modes, "CRANIAC EASY, MEDIUM & HARD," allow you to choose the level of difficulty you take on.

Revenge is sweet; you'll have every opportunity for payback, because when you enter the space next to any of your opponent's pieces, they are transformed into yours. From solid to liquid or liquid to solid, transforming a solid red jewel into a liquid chrome drop requires heat, and heat you'll get in the form of lightning. When a liquid is alchemized into a solid, you'll see a frozen stream of ice particles.


There are two ways to complete your mission in HEXXAGON. You may move one space, represented by a green neon outline, and your game piece is duplicated into that space. When you move two spaces, represented by a yellow neon glow, your gamepiece "jumps" to that space, but is not duplicated.

First click the red or blue arrow that appears each time it is your turn on the piece you want to move. HEXXAGON will show you all of your potential moves for that piece, or any of your pieces you click on. The only possible moves are to free spaces, one or two spaces from your current position. You may then move the arrow to one of the allowable spaces indicated by the green and yellow neon glows and click again to move there. Any time you move next to one of your opponent's pieces, enjoy the fireworks!

If you decide that a move you've made isn't quite what you want, press the 'U' key to undo the move. If you've used undo to back up, and haven't made any moves yet, you can press the 'R' key to redo the moves.


HEXXAGON has been called a "game of edges," in which an overall strategy might be to try and fill all the edges of the board, while keeping a solid front flank. Remember that you will have to venture into the middle, as your goal here is to control as much of the field as you can.

You never want to leave a hole in territory you already dominate -- CRANIAC will leap at the chance to gain lost ground. He's relentless!

Never jump with a piece if you can replicate to fill the same opening. Why give HIM extra chances?

Beware of false gains -- often there are moves that look more advantageous than they really are. It's important to weigh the number of pieces you'll gain on a given move against the number CRANIAC can gain by countering.


As in every challenge, victory is all in the way you control the game. HEXXAGON offers several different options to give you all the control you need.

To get to the menu, press the "ENTER" key from the demonstration cycle, or (if you're in a game), press the "ESCAPE" key or click on the "MENU" button.

In the "Player 1" and "Player 2" boxes you are able to select whether you are the red jewel piece or the liquid chrome by clicking on the button labeled "HUMAN." If you are playing a friend, instead of the terrible CRANIAC, you select "HUMAN" in both boxes and simply pick who will be what.

You may play CRANIAC at any of three levels, "CRANIAC EASY," "CRANIAC MEDIUM" or "CRANIAC HARD." Logically, each level is increasingly more challenging. When you play the EASY level, CRANIAC is indicated by a lightbulb alone. On MEDIUM, he dons a pair of intellectual spectacles, and on HARD, he adds his professorial bow tie.

Understandably, as the diffulty level rises, so does the time it takes CRANIAC to determine his move.

In the "SOUND" box, you can set the game's sound output to "OFF," "PC SPEAKER," or (if you have a SoundBlaster or compatible) you can hear the full digital sound effects by selecting "SOUNDBLASTER."

You can also control the detail level of your match. On "HIGH," you'll get the full HEXXAGON treatment, complete with awesome animation. On "MEDIUM," the stars disappear from the screen, CRANIAC moves more quickly, and a few animations don't show up. On "LOW," CRANIAC moves in turbo mode and there is no animation during the game at all. You will not see the pieces being transformed, it will happen instantaneously.

If you are not currently playing a game, you will also find "START GAME," "RETURN TO DEMO," "CONFIGURE BOARD," and "QUIT TO DOS" buttons on the screen.

If you are in the midst of a game, your options are "STOP GAME," "RETURN TO GAME," and "QUIT TO DOS."

"START GAME" begins your match with CRANIAC; "RETURN TO DEMO" allows you to view sample animated games and the title and credit pages; "QUIT TO DOS" takes you out of HEXXAGON and back into DOS; "RETURN TO GAME" allows you to go back to a game in progress and "STOP GAME" lets you end a current match, but will not take you out of the program completely.

The "CONFIGURE BOARD" option allows you to experiment with varying game board set-ups. See the next section for a description.

Power-user note: Most menu items have a single red letter. Pressing that letter on your keyboard has the same effect as clicking on the item.


Selecting the "CONFIGURE BOARD" button from within the menu will take you to the game board you will be playing on, with a few menu items added to the screen to assist you in setting the board up.

In the upper-left hand corner are icons representing a hexagon, a red jewel, and a blue chrome drop. By clicking on these icons, you can choose how you're going to modify the board.

If you have the hexagon selected, the cursor will be the standard pointing hand. By clicking on the hexagons on the board, you can open a new hole on the board, or fill existing holes in.

When you select the jewel or chrome drop, the cursor will change to a red or blue arrow, respectively. Clicking on the hexagons on the board will place or remove a jewel or chrome drop.

As a shortcut, you may use the right mouse button to cycle through the cursors.

In the upper-right hand corner there are two items. The first is a bar with the numbers '1' through '5' on it. The second is a button labeled "RESTORE."

By clicking on the individual numbers, you can select one of the five boards available for customization. Each of the boards can be completely different - different family members can each have their own custom board configuration, or you can keep a group of your own favorites. The bar indicates which board is currently active.

If you'd like to reset the current board to the way it was when you got HEXXAGON, click on the "RESTORE" button, or press the "ENTER" key. Clicking on the "RESTORE" button again before you make any changes to the board brings the board back to the way it was before you clicked on "RESTORE" the first time.

To return to the menu, click on the "MENU" button in the lower-left hand corner, or hit the "ESCAPE" key. When you are ready to play using your new setup, just click on "START GAME." Your custom boards will be saved when you choose "QUIT TO DOS."

Tools used: Electronic Arts' Deluxe Paint II Enhanced (DP IIe) and Deluxe Paint Animator (DA), Borland C++ v3.1 (BC), and some of my own custom tools (DIFR, DIFRC, VGRAB, and SSED).

DA was used to do the title page animation, the credits page animation, the win/lose animations, and the sample move/takeover animations. DIFR and DIFRC (a delta-frame generator and compiler, respectively) were used for all of the fixed location animations (the title & credits pages, win/lose, etc.).

DP IIe was used for the still art, and for stripping the cels from the sample move/takeover animations.

DP IIe & DA are powerful tools - I recommend them. They're not the simplest programs to use, but they more than make up for that in the power they provide.

VGRAB (a scripted grabber) was used to pull the chunks of graphics from the files generated in DP IIe, and compile them where appropriate. VGRAB was also used to pull together (and compress) all of the other files (PC & digital sound, for example) used in the project.

VGRAB and DIFRC use (different) optimizing compilers. VGRAB uses value ordering to minimize register loads, and string stores to decrease object size and draw time. There are some other optimizations, but those are the more useful ones. DIFRC uses string stores for single color runs in the delta data, and uses a vaguely LZSS-like method to avoid repeatedly storing similar data into the data segment for a particular frame. As with VGRAB, there are other optimizations made, but those seem to be the most useful.

I wrote the custom utilities mentioned, the core libraries for the game, the interface stuff, and some higher level structural code. Abe wrote the brain, and handled the bulk of the grab scripting, animation definition, and sound synchronization.

The game and libraries are written in a mix of C++ (not object-oriented, just "better C") and assembly. Most of the assembly is in the Drawing Manager, but there are bits and pieces elsewhere, as appropriate.

Well, enough rambling from me - enjoy the game!

Distributive size: 600.237 Windows-95,98,ME,2000,XP,NT

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