Download: Guardians

Guardians is a Morphic application, coded in Smalltalk (Squeak).

The above download link provides all that is needed to play on a Windows system.
For other platforms, you will need the appropriate 32-bit virtual machine to run the 'Guardians.image' file

Source code (open, MIT license):
Guardians 0.94 builder, for Squeak 5.2 .

Status: beta - the game overall progression and balance is still being tuned.


Guardians is a remake of The Sentinel, a cult game created by Geoff Crammond in 1986.

The following manual is adapted from another manual itself adapted from the original one by Gordon Houghton. Behold:

"Beyond your wildest dreams, in a world where the only force is pure energy, stand the Guardians.
Battle against them through 1,000,000 lands, in one of the most original, compelling and addictive computer game ever devised..."

1. Getting started

The aim of the game is to progress through its 1,000,000 levels.

The object of each level is to absorb the Sentinel, the topmost guardian, the ruler of the landscape. Once this has been achieved, you can hyperescape to a new landscape several levels away and begin a new struggle.

When the program starts, you are shown an aerial view of the landscape you're about to attempt, detailing the position of the Sentinel -- the figure standing on the highest point -- and his accompanying sentries, if any. Press SPACE and you're taken into the game itself.

2. Playing the game

You find yourself in a 3D world sparsely populated with trees. Your goal is to climb to the highest point, absorb the Sentinel, then hyperescape to a further level. You climb by creating a robot on a square higher than your current location, and then transferring to it.

But first, take a moment to look around, using the arrow keys or the mouse. The Sentinel and his sentries remain inactive until you absorb or create an object.

Once activated, the Sentinel/sentries slowly rotate, scanning the landscape for squares containing more than 1 unit of energy. This actually means you, and any boulders you have created. If they can clearly see such a square, the Sentinel/sentry will reduce the energy to 1 unit, absorbing 1 unit at a time and creating a tree randomly on the landscape. Robots are worth 3 units of energy, boulders 2, and trees 1 - therefore, a robot becomes a boulder, and a boulder becomes a tree.

2.1 Absorbing and creating objects

You absorb objects, such as trees and boulders, by pointing the cursor to the square on which the object stands and pressing A. You create things in the same way - find an empty square, and press the appropriate key to create a Tree, Boulder or Robot.

Boulders are particularly useful, since they act as an extension of the square surface, and can be stacked on top of each other. If you canít see the top of a boulder, aim your cursor at its side to create your object. This feature can be a life-saver: if you want to climb high in a hurry, stack several boulders on top of each other, aim your cursor at the middle of the topmost boulder, create a robot, and transfer to it.

After you have transferred, the first thing you see is your old robot shell. Unless youíre being scanned by the Sentinel/sentries, absorb it immediately to gain 3 quick energy points.

2.2 Energy and movement

The amount of energy you have is shown at the top left of the screen.

If the Sentinel or a sentry spots you, a scan warning indicator appears: the energy bar outline becomes red. You have two seconds to move before your energy is drained 1 unit at a time. To move quickly, find an empty square, create a robot on the square, and press the transfer key Q (while still pointing to the robot).

The total amount of energy in a landscape remains constant, so when a unit of your energy is absorbed, a tree is placed on the landscape. Once all of your energy has been drained, you are absorbed and the game ends. Donít forget that you always need at least 3 units of energy in order to create a robot.

If the scan warning indicator appears filled in yellow, it means that the Sentinel/sentry can see you, but cannot see the square or block on which you are standing: so it cannot absorb your energy. In this situation it looks for a tree near to you and transforms it into a meanie.

2.3 Meanies and hyperspace

The meanieís job is to flush you out, which it does by forcing you into hyperspace, something you would normally trigger yourself by pressing H, in order to escape a critical situation, and in case of emergency only. The meanie rotates quickly, making a high-pitched sound, until it can see you. When it does, it hyperescapes you involuntarily to a new location.

Hyperescaping uses 3 units of energy, because it creates a new robot in a random position and automatically transfers you to it, leaving your old robot behind. You will end up at the same height or lower, but never higher than your original square. If you hyperescape with less than 3 units of energy, you die. This means a meany can kill you.

Once a meany has performed a full round of scanning, it get transformed back into a tree. That tree will never become a meany again.

2.4 Completing a landscape

Absorbing the Sentinel also makes you take its place. At this point you can no longer absorb energy, and the amount of energy you have determines how far ahead the next landscape will be. If you have a tiny amount of energy left, you will make a short leap. If you have a lot, the leap is substantially greater.

When you want to travel to the next landscape, press the H key. You will be shown an aerial view of the new landscape, which you can then enter as we saw above. But you can also see the landscapes you skipped and choose one of them instead, if you find the new challenge too difficult. See the keyboard controls below.

Once a landscape is completed, the game updates its image file on disk. Even if the game is abruptly interrupted (it is known to crash once in a while), you will be able to resume from the new level.

Completing a level can take less than 30 seconds or, well... much longer, and also several attempts (you will always start at the exact same spot). Some levels are altogether impossible to complete because the starting position is a dead-end considering your initial energy. No problem though, the aim of the game is not to clear all landscapes.

3. Navigating the hyper-landscape

There are one million different levels in the whole game. You will play only a very small fraction of them.

As stated above, you progress from a level to another one by leaps. At first a few levels are jumped over, but as the level number (and the difficulty) increases, so does the number of skipped landscapes.

The worlds you will visit come in different flavors. The various types of landscapes have different physical features, and can be populated by little or no trees, to whole forests. They provide their own initial amount of energy to start with, and also set a limit to the energy you can carry. They each have a specific way to incrementally increase the difficulty of getting to the Sentinel.

New objects that do not feature in the original game start appearing at higher ranks: totems that when visible prevent you to transfer to a robot, and rock-like shells continously displaced by the guardians that can be used as a regular robot for a free ride. Both have zero energy. You will also meet shrooms, zero-energy down-looking sentries which survey a specific patch of the landscape, teleport elsewhere when absorbed, and can also be intoxicating.

Once in a while you will see a yellow floating tree: absorbing this tree can let you reach a level much further away, if you do succeed in absorbing the Sentinel afterwards. But it can also open a hidden sector in the hyper-landscape with its own otherwise unreachable specific levels, unique physical features and possibly even different gameplay. There are several such hidden sectors, and two of them are accessible right from the start: Kindergarden, a set of twenty landscapes where you can safely make your first moves and The Sentinel, a remake of the original game faithful to its unique atmosphere, with 10,000 landscapes of its own.

You can mark a landscape as 'favorite' by hitting S, either because it was fun to play or because it is a real challenge, or for any other reason. The keys P and F let you cycle through your favorite landscapes.

You can also access any unlocked landscape by directly typing its number and hitting RETURN.

4. Keyboards controls

While previewing a landscape:
	O (or right arrow)  -  see previous level
	N (or left arrow)   -  see next available level
	D  -  see previous level of a different type
	M  -  see previous level of a similar type
	Z  -  see highest available level
	S  -  mark/unmark level as favorite
	F  -  see next favorite level
	E  -  see previous favorite level
	Y  -  access the discovered hidden sectors
	+  -  augment sounds volume
	-  -  decrease sounds volume
	L  -  read/write a progression file
	H  -  get contextual help
	P  -  take a screenshot
	$  -  remap the keys
	0-9     -  directly input a landscape number (end with a RETURN)
	SPACE   -  enter the landscape (also done by clicking)

	ESCAPE  -  quit game
Within a landscape:
	Arrow keys  -  pan left, right, up and down
	Mouse wheel -  pan up and right

	A  -  absorb (also done by clicking)
	B  -  create boulder
	T  -  create tree
	R  -  create robot
	Q  -  transfer to robot
	U  -  u-turn
	H  -  hyperescape (reach next level if the sentinel is defeated)

	ESCAPE  -  exit landscape
In some hidden sectors (for example The Sentinel), shift-clicking the sky displays a map of the landscape. This does not pause the game though.

5. Hmm.

No, you do not need these cheat codes, do you?

...see also Saucers!

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