• Goog Blog

  • by Goog

Hi, I'm Goog. Creator and founder of CommodoreServer.com, the Comet64 Internet Modem and the Portland Commodore Users Group in Portland, Oregon USA (PDXCUG.org). I am excited about all things Commodore, but my passion lies with the Commodore 64.


Head On Game

I made this BASIC game to submit to Compute!'s Gazette in 1984. Sadly, I never sent it in. But now, ~30 years later, you can play this 2-player action game against an online opponent on CommodoreServer.

Head On

Head On Game for the Commodore 64

Back in the early 1980s, I learned that I could submit programs to Compute!'s Gazette to get published in their magazine.  I also enjoyed games like Snafu on the Intellivision and Surround on the Atari 2600.  And I wanted that game for my C64 so I decided to write my own in BASIC.  I started working on one to submit to the publication but never did.  Maybe it's because I didn't think it was fancy enough.  Maybe because I saw a similar looking game called "Cut-Off" in the March 1984 issue.  For whatever reason, I never submitted it to them and it sat on my disk (disk #004) for nearly 3 decades!

Head On is a game similar in concept to Tron Light Cycles where opponents attempt to trap each other by surrounding each other with walls.

It was originally written in BASIC, so in early 2012 I decided to detokenize it with C64List into a readable text file and convert it into an Internet-based game for CommodoreServer.

Once I got it working over the Internet, I ran into a strange problem where the game would slow down considerably after the first round.  I spent several months trying to figure this out (while also shelving the project for long periods of time).  I was never able to figure out what was causing it so I decided to re-write the main game code in Assembly.  Well, that fixed the problem, but added some complexity.

Nearly two years later, I am happy to report that I have the first version working nicely.  I tried to keep the look, feel and pace of the original game, so it plays about the same as its 1984 counterpart.

Although this is not a fancy, highly polished game, I think you will find it has a great amount of playability and provides plenty of laughs as you compete with your friends on CommodoreServer.

Character and Screen Maps

I found the original papers where I laid out the screen and character graphics.  On one of the sheets you can see my "character-maker" sheet, which I made and copied for the purpose of creating custom characters for my programs.  In the paper of the screen that shows "Head On", you can see a "bowling ball" which is just bleed-through of a marker from the other side of the graph paper.  I guess I was making a bowling game, too.  You can view them here:

Head On Original Scans.PDF

Future Enhancements

I have some ideas to further expand the game.  I'll use this space as a keeper of the ideas - if you have any suggestions, please add a comment below.

  • Better graphics - I'm using the original graphics because that is how I designed it in 1984.  I wanted it to be the same, but a future upgrade could enhance them.
  • Different screens - predesigned screens with obstacles
  • Remove the side borders to allow players to wrap around to the other side
  • Introduce obstacles at random to make the players change course
  • Make the players speed up over time
  • Add desirable items to "get", like apples or coins
  • Allow a virtual space, rather than limit it to the 40x25 screen - play area would scroll with the player as it moves.
  • Player's trail removes/grows/shrinks over time (like the tail in a snake game)
  • Power-ups / weapons: speed up, slow down, destroy walls, prevent opponent from laying wall, lob bombs, place obstacles
  • Portals to alternate dimensions.  What? Oh, I dunno.
  • Taunts - send messages in between rounds


You can LOAD the file directly with your Internet device or you can download the Head On D64 in the Public Games folder on CommodoreServer. BONUS: I added the original 1984 program to the disk as well - it is a 2-player, 2-joystick game.


Leave a Comment

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core 12/3/2013

Fun game.

It would be nifty to see a history of last N matches and maybe a time stamp. Could display that either before your game connects (while waiting) and/or after the match.

Maybe allow >2 players at a time. If the game grid was larger that might be important to allow >2 players. At that point online players can always be in the grid either going in a straight line or an a square pattern (with tail in 'snake mode')

Oh yea... vote [+1] for portals feature