This is a clone of the famous game by Rick
Raddatz, written in QuickBASIC.
One of the best games I've ever
played, Andy (brother-in-law) and I would sometimes stay up till 4 AM playing
"Galcon" in my basement. The actual name is
GALCON24.EXE, written by Rick Raddatz. It's a game of
domination, similar to "Risk" but without borders, and
without being able to see what your opponent is doing.
When you realize what he is up to, it is too late. Hundreds
of your ships are decimated and your planet is lost. Or
perhaps it is too late for your opponent as the wrecked
hulls of his ships pile up. They die yet still they come,
unable to be recalled, to meet with certain death. Certain
death because of the strategy you used, anticipating where
an attack may hit.
The speakers from the stereo in the
living room were placed on the table in the
basement, with the computer and monitor between them.
With a case (or more) of beer next to us and most of the
light bulbs in the ceiling unscrewed, we'd listen to "The
Planets" by Gustav Holst as we carefully selected the
"universe" in which we were about to battle each other. The music
would then change to Genesis - every album ever made while
Peter Gabriel was in the band (with the exception of "From
Genesis to Revelation," which I didn't own). Sometimes Andy would
bring a new CD with something different, and THEN the
Genesis music would start.
There was just one problem. Occasionally a planet would
revolt. We didn't like this aspect of the game. How would
you like to be playing chess when suddenly a pawn changed to
your opponent's color? We had a work around. We played on a
Tandy TL-2 which booted to MS DOS in ROM. In other words, it
didn't boot from
the hard drive, so it would come to life almost instantly.
At the end of every turn we'd save the game, and if there
was a revolt we'd hit <CTRL> <ALT> <DELETE>,
load the saved game back in.
There was much talk about the author, Rick Raddatz, while we
were booting. He seemed to have disappeared. A letter to the
address displayed at the end of the game went unanswered. We
just wanted him to disable the revolts. We wondered what
became of him. Was he even still alive?
Then one cold wintery night while setting up the game, one
of us hit a wrong key.
On the screen were the words, "
We stared at the screen. We leaned closer. We looked at each
other, then back at the screen. That phrase had meaning. We both rather
simultaneously exclaimed, "Holy shit! Rick wrote this in
With that eye opening message came the idea that perhaps the game
could be cloned in QuickBASIC, without revolts.
The "Redo from start" message in
For demonstration purposes, "Mike" and "Andy" are
playing a five turn game. You can always add more turns.
Our names were never Mike and Andy during a real game.
Andy is attacking Planet N
Andy invades Planet V
The situation at the end of the game
This doesn't look like much of a game in the
This needle with Heroin doesn't look like much in the picture either.
See what I'm sayin'?
I have not been able to derive how Rick Raddatz calculated the
score but the way I did it gives a very realistic one.
In a real game you'd go after the entire
universe and play about 40 turns or more. At some point you'd begin
to attack each other, then the real battle starts. You'll each have
thousands of ships. Taking your opponent's home planet will
Click to hear to your opponent as his
home planet is taken.
At the end of the game is the splash screen from
Andy's bulletin board. The Internet killed off the bulletin boards.
Right-click and "save as" to download the
QuickBASIC source code.
Right-click and "save as" to download the
text version (same as the .BAS version).
Right-click and "save as" to download
the stand-alone executable version.
extension to .EXE).
NOTE: This is "GalCon VER 10.8" dated January
2018. I will post newer versions when they become available.
One more thing, you DO NOT see your moves when
you enter them. Otherwise, so would your opponent!
Right-click and "save as" to download GALCON24.EXE by Rick Raddatz.
Get DOSBox to play the EXE files. Click on the
picture for the link.
Listen to Gustav Holst while you read the rest.
Click on the picture. I've been listening while typing this!
A little about the QuickBASIC code and the game:
I started this in 1996. I'm not a programmer but I had written a few
simple programs in GWBASIC and made some additions to the ROCKET
program on the previous screen.
The code is written in
such simple terms that someone with no knowledge of QuickBASIC can
tell at least half of what is going on in the game by reading it. The only caveat
is that if you're looking at it in Notepad or a web browser you'll see
that QuickBASIC lists all the subroutines alphabetically.
For instance, the first subroutine
listed is "SUB AddTurns," however, "AddTurns" wasn't the first subroutine written and it isn't used till near the end of the game.
Just look for SUB <some name> and see if it makes sense. You'll
encounter END SUB, then the next SUB will be listed, etc. etc.
The game wasn't written in any structured way; it was done
piecemeal. The first version is just a rectangle with dots in it.
This would become "the universe." The next version took 40 "planets"
and arranged them randomly on the dots. The next version assigned a
production and kill ratio to each planet. The next version had you
enter your moves. This went on and on till there
was what appeared to be a working Galcon screen. Except it didn't
An early version. The "planets" are
randomly drawn on top of the dots and each one is checked to
no two planets are in the same spot. Notice some of the
planets are in lower case, and one is planet "up arrow."
The first major roadblock was how to move the
"ships." Now don't get the idea that I was glued to the computer,
pounding out code while guzzling Coca-Cola. I was glued to the
computer, but I was pounding Yuengling Lager. It was more like,
"It's Saturday night, I've dialed up all my favorite Bulletin
Boards, and now I'm bored. I think
I'll work on THE GAME."
I couldn't figure out how to move the ships, but I don't think the
beer had anything to do with it. Or did it. At any rate, I stopped
working on it for awhile.
In 1998 I found Rick Raddatz! The Internet was exploding and Rick
had a website. There was no contact info on it. I sent an email to
rick at raddatz dot com, just guessing that would be an obvious
email address, and he wrote back!! I asked him to turn off the
revolts and email me a new version of Galcon. He told me he wrote
the game in 1988 while in college and the source code for
the game was lost. He said that as DOS faded away he just deleted it
to close a chapter in his life.
What??!! "Oh no you didn't!"
According to Rick, The idea for Galcon came from a game named
"Stellar Invasion," released in 1986 by Bearbyte Software, so he
couldn't take credit for it.
Stellar Invasion circa 1986. More screen
shots can be seen
At this time Rick worked for Microsoft. Go figure. Since the source
code was gone, I asked him how
to move the ships in the game. He wrote back, "It's quite easy. Here
is the pseudocode:
mTransports(mNumTransports).DistanceToGo = SQRT((X1-X2)^2
I didn't have the slightest idea
what he was talking about.
Then I came up with an ingenious way to move them myself.
I would have them zigzag from the attacking planet to the attacked
planet. The ships would move like this:
It worked! The subroutine TravelThroughSpace was
written. It was two pages long and full of bugs! The ships would travel two "light
years" per turn till they arrived at their destination. Another part
of the program "remembered" the number of ships and what their kill
Then the second roadblock
was encountered. How do you make the ships fight each other? I made
an AttackPlanet subroutine, but the ships with the higher kill ratio
would just wipe out the ships with the lower kill ratio. That was
not how the real game worked.
Now it was the year 2000. Microsoft killed off DOS, and a hundred
thousand DOS programs would not run in Windows anymore. The program
languished on my hard drive. I couldn't even run QuickBASIC to work
In 2002, unbeknown to me, DOSBox was released. Here I was trying to
make some text based game work and a REAL programmer wrote a DOS
emulator that runs in Windows! The funny thing is that Bill Gates
and Paul Allen, two of the richest men in the world, made their
fortunes writing BASIC and MS-DOS, while DOSBox is free of charge.
In 2016, TWENTY YEARS after I started on the program I determined to
figure out how to make the ships "fight" each other. After all, I
had a working game, even if I no longer remembered how it worked.
It was kind of weird how the idea came. I was in work taking
a break, staring out the 2nd floor loading dock door into the darkness while
smoking a cigarette. Suddenly the solution seemed to be trying to
come into my consciousness, already formulated, with no effort on my
part to "figure" it out. It
popped in and then out, like a dream you can't remember. I tried to think of what the idea was, then BAM!
- it came back. I ran
back to my desk and wrote it down.
That night, I edited the AttackPlanet subroutine.
The game was complete. We could now play our clone of Galcon and not
worry about revolts.
Obviously this was not how Rick Raddatz wrote the original version.
That's why Rick worked for Microsoft and I didn't.
Well, after 20 years had passed we didn't
play Galcon anymore. We keep saying we will but never do. With a working program that nobody would ever
use, I went back to it in 2017 as a mental diversion. I
re-read Rick's emails from 1998. That equation he sent me looked
very familiar. It turned out that his equation was actually this:
Rick used the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate
the distance between two planets. He didn't have them zigzag to each
other like I did in my TravelThroughSpace subroutine. I had
to modify the calculation to get it to work, but it works very well.
DistanceToGo = SQR((X2 - X1) ^ 2 + ((Y2 / 2) -
(Y1 / 2)) ^ 2). Now the game "knows" how far apart the planets are as soon as you
enter the moves. TravelThroughSpace was re-written and the ships
"move" with just a single statement,
DistanceToGo = DistanceToGo -2. Thanks Rick!
Mr. and Mrs. Rick Raddatz
Rick worked for Microsoft as a product developer from 1988 till
He then founded four multi-million dollar companies.
I found four dollars in a coat pocket.
This broadcast is now concluded. Tune in again tomorrow; same time, same