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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the controls?
A: The keys you can use during the game are (by default):
  • The cursor keys Up, Down, Left and Right (or 2, 4, 6, 8 on the numeric keypad if Num-lock is off) to move Digger.
  • F1 to fire.
  • Space to pause.
  • F7 to toggle background music.
  • F9 to toggle all sound.
  • F10 to return to the title screen.
  • + to increase the game speed by 5.
  • - to decrease the game speed by 5.
  • Ctrl-T (cheat) to take over whilst playing back a recorded game.

In two player mode the default keys for the second player are:

  • W, A, S and Z to move Digger around.
  • Tab to fire.

(Apologies to users of non-QWERTY keyboards - I know this is a terrible choice for you - you'll just have to redefine the keys. Double apologies for users of WinDig - we haven't implemented keyboard redefinition in that version yet.)

On the title screen press:

  • Esc or N to toggle one or two player mode.
  • F8 to save the last game if you didn't put a name on the command line.
  • F10 to exit the program.

Q: How does the scoring system work?
A: As follows:

  • Emerald (): 25 points.
  • Eight consecutive emeralds (octave): Extra 250 points.
  • Gold (): 500 points.
  • Killing a Nobbin (Nobbin) or a Hobbin (Hobbin) by shooting (Fireball) or hitting with a bag (Bag): 250 points.
  • Bonus (): 1,000 points.
  • (In bonus mode) Eating a Nobbin (Nobbin) or a Hobbin (Hobbin): 200 points for first, 400 for 2nd, etc. (doubling each time) - still 250 for other methods of killing, though.
  • At every multiple of 20,000 points you get an extra life.

Q: What's the most you can score?
A: The maximum possible score on completion of level 1 is 8,650 plus 3,900 for every life used. I can repeatably obtain 8,650. The maximum possible score you can have by the end of level 2 is 19,925 if you don't die, so it is not possible to start level 3 with more than 2 lives in reserve. I have got maximum score on the first two levels a few times.

I haven't bothered to calculate similar statistics for the other levels, but I can if anyone's interested...

If you meant "What's the most you've ever scored", the answer is 75,975.

Q: Can you give me some tips to improve my game?
A: The best I can do is suggest that you play back the recorded games in the hall of fame - who better to get tips from than the world's best Digger players?!

Q: What's the music that plays in the background?
A: The background music for the main part of the game is called "Popcorn". It was written by Gershon Kingsley in 1969 and was made popular by the group "Hot Butter" in 1972. It has since been covered by many other artists. There is a site about the song here.

The background music for the bonus is the William Tell Overture by Rossini.

The music which plays when you die is "Funeral March" by F. Chopin.

Q: What other interesting things do you know about Digger?
A: In my explorations of the code of the game, I have discovered lots of things which might be of interest to someone.

On each new level up to level 10:

  • The monsters arrive more frequently.
  • There are more monsters in total.
  • The number of monsters on screen at once increases.
  • The number of times nobbins have to cross to become hobbins decreases.
  • The monsters move slightly faster on average (their speed is actually random).
  • The monsters less frequently stop chasing you (they always chase you on level 6 and above).
  • Hobbins stay hobbins for longer.
  • Gold hangs around for less long.
  • Fire takes longer to recharge.
  • Bonus mode lasts for less long.

Levels above 10 use the same variables as level 10 but different layouts.

The level plan is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-6-7-8 followed by the sequence 5-6-7-8 repeated 247 times. If you complete level 8 249 times, all the subsequent levels use the layout from level 5.

Gold (as in a broken bag) disappears very quickly if you dig underneath it.

Monsters going up change direction when there is a bag falling on them, but they do the same thing even if the bag is below them in the same column.

Player 2 (in two player mode, obviously) doesn't get the extra life until after multiples of 20,000. Player 1 (in either mode) gets it *at* multiples of 20,000.

The noise made when you complete a level is polyphonic if no background music has been played since the game was started.

The program allocates enough resources for 6 monsters, but only 5 are on screen at any given time. By changing a single byte in the original executable, you could make all 6 appear at the same time.

When you get a game over and no high score, the screen used to flash between its two colour schemes for a while, but the original didn't do this on my 8086. Apparently it did on some other people's computers, though, so it must have been a hardware oddity. It was taking ages to get back to the title screen, so I removed it.

In the original, you couldn't collect more than 4 spare lives. If you got 60,000 points without dying, you wouldn't get an extra life at that point. Some people thought this was unfair, so in Digger Remastered I added an option to allow you to collect as many lives as you like. However, care should be exercised using this option if you intend to record a game for the hall of fame, since your score will be calculated as if you played by the original rules. So you might not have as many lives as you thought you did, and your game might finish sooner. A few people have been caught out by this.

There are no more extra lives to be had at or after the 1 million point mark. Although this was a bug in the original Digger (a kludge really - Windmill software never counted on anyone getting that far) I've kept it on in Digger Remastered to give an extra little bit of difficulty to anyone that good.

Q: What language was Digger originally written in?
A: Digger was written in C and compiled with the Lattice C v1.x compiler. The low-level portions of the code were written in assembly language and assembled with the IBM assemblier.

Q: Can you send me this other game I used to play called...?
A: No, try the links page - I haven't got time to go searching the web for you if you can't be bothered to work out how to do it yourself.

Q: Can I send you this other game I used to play called...?
A: Please don't send me games over email unless I ask you to - it makes my email take forever to download, and chances are I have it already (or could easily find it on the web). If you really want to send something, email me first describing exactly what it is and how big it is, and ask me if I want it. If I do, I'll tell you the best way for you to get it to me.

Q: I have found a bug in Digger. Can you fix it?
A: First download the latest version and see if your bug still happens with that. If it doesn't, I already fixed it. If it does, please send me details of the bug, the operating and version of Digger you are using, the command line parameters you gave to Digger and a .DRF file if you can make one which reproduces the bug.

If you're having problems with the Windows version not going at constant speed, I'm investigating and hope to have a fix soon.

The most recent version of WinDig has quite a few bugs. If you are having any problems with it, try the older version. I hope eventually to a have a single version which replaces both of these.

Q: My computer does not know how to run .ZIP files. What do I do?
A: If you're using Windows, download WinZip and learn how to use it. If you're using a Mac, download the Mac version instead (it's a .sit file, not a .zip file). If you use some other sort of computer, you really ought to know how to unzip files. I won't send you an unzipped version. Unzipping files is a skill you really need to learn if you're going to be downloading programs from the internet: it is an industry standard format. Give a man a fish and he will eat today, teach him to fish and he can eat forever.

Q: I can't download the game.
A: For some reason I get an email asking this about once a week, but I never have any problems downloading the .ZIP files when I check them. I hate getting emails like this, because I can't help these poor souls if I don't know what the problem is! I suspect most of them don't know how to unzip .ZIP files (see previous question), as pointing them at this page seems to make them go away. If you are having a real problem with the download, I would like you to tell me but please be specific about what the problem is - I need error messages, I need you to tell me exactly what you are doing and why you think what's happening shouldn't be. As far as I'm concerned, you should be able to get all the information you need to install and run the game from this website - if you still can't after reading everything here, there's a problem. Now, I don't want any more emails just saying "I can't download it".

Q: Is there a Pocket PC version? Any plans to port to Pocket PC?
A: There are a couple of commercial companies offering Pocket PC versions (unendorsed by me). You can find them on the links page.

It is also possible to run Digger Remastered on a Pocket PC using an emulator, although it may not be the best gaming experience. Please let me know if you have any luck doing that.

I would like to port Digger to the Pocket PC when I find some time, especially since I work on Pocket PC development tools.

Q: What about Smartphones, Nokia mobiles, Palm pilots, Zodiac Tapwaves and other small devices?
A: Digger could be ported to just about any platform in principle, it's just a question of somebody with sufficient knowledge taking the time and trouble to do it.

Unfortunately I don't have the time and even if I did I don't have all these devices to actually test it on.

Having said that, some developers have expressed interest in porting the game to these devices, so watch this space.

Q: Where can I get the original version of Digger?
A: I don't know. It is impossible to download it from the internet because it is hardware, not software (a copy protected floppy disk, as opposed to the program on it). If you had that disk you'd still need an XT with genuine CGA graphics and a 5.25" floppy disk drive to run it.

However, many people played the old Digger without the original disk. It is possible to extract the program from its disk, a process known as "ripping". If you do this, it still doesn't work because because the game is copy protected. It is possible to remove the copy protection (a process called "cracking"). After these steps, the game will run but it will run too fast unless you have an XT, and you won't be able to see it unless you have CGA. Also, if you were to get a high score, it would try to save it on the disk in drive A, possibly wiping out some of the information on any such disk.

The ripped copies of Digger, Styx, Moonbugs, Conquest, Rollo, The Exterminator and Floppy Frenzy which you can download at the download page have been cracked and modified not to save their scores. Nothing else has been done to them, however, so you they run too fast and the graphics are broken in some of them.

A more original (although less useful) downloadable version of one of these games would be an "image" of the original disk (not a picture but a file containing all the data from the disk: boot sector, file allocation tables and all.) I don't have any disk images of Windmill games, however (nor do I want any - I have no use for them, except to put on this website, and I won't do that unless there is sufficient demand for it). However, I intend to soon put modified disk images of the Windmill games on the website for use with emulators such as MESS.

If you actually want to play Digger, I suggest you download Digger Remastered. It plays and sounds exactly the same as the original did, looks the same if you use the /C option, and works on all the same computers as well as more modern ones. In fact, if you play them both on a computer or emulator on which the original Digger works properly, you would be hard pushed to tell them apart (except for slight timing differences).

Q: Is this legal?
A: Yes! Recently the original author of Digger, Rob Sleath, contacted me. He no longer owns the copyright to Digger (or the other games) but he did retain the right to use the code for development of other products. He considers Digger Remastered to be another product, and has granted me copyright to Digger Remastered, which I have chosen to license under the GNU GPL.

My distributing of the original games is, strictly speaking, not legal. According to intellectual property law, a work copyrighted by a company continues to be copyrighted for 75 years.

I have no moral objections to violating Windmill software's copyright by distributing these games, and I feel you should have no moral objections to playing them (unless you're doing so when you should be doing something else). Copyright exists to protect intellectual rights, not to prevent people from having access to software. I can think of two reasons why Windmill software would want to protect their intellectual rights:

  • To ensure that they are recognized as the true authors of Digger.
  • To ensure that they make as much money as possible.

I have retained the original copyright messages in the game and I take pains to ensure that Windmill are credited properly whereever possible so the first of these concerns is taken care of. As for the second - Windmill hasn't made any money from these games for a long time.

In conclusion, therefore, I think that I am following the spirit of the law, if not the letter. And since laws, being so rigid, can never be perfect, the world works much better this way (as any fan of these games must concur.)

For more information about abandonwarez and the associated legal problems, have a look at this essay. Having said all that, I now know that Windmill does know about this site, and since they not asked me to stop distributing any of their software, I can assume they don't mind.