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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the keys you need to play the game?
A: They are (by default): Down, Left, Right, Up (or 2, 4, 6, 8 on the numeric keypad) to move Digger, F1 to fire, Space to pause, F7 to toggle background music and F9 to toggle all sound. On the title screen press Esc or N to toggle one or two player mode, or F8 to save the last game if you forgot to give a name on the command line. To exit from the game to the title screen or from the title screen to the operating system press F10. To increase the game speed during play, press +. To decrease it press - . Each press of these keys corresponds to an increase or decrease in the command line speed parameter of 5. The default keys for the second player in two player simultaneous mode are W, A, S, Z and Tab to fire. All these keys except Esc, N and F8 can be redefined with the /K option.

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...

Q: What's the music that plays in the background?
A: The background music for the main part of the game is called "Popcorn", and was a hit for the group "Hot Butter" in the 70s. There's more info 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 executable, you can 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.

You can't collect more than 4 spare lives unless you use the /U option.

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: Help me! It runs too fast (or too slow)
A: This version of Digger now uses your computer's internal timing chip for all its timing, so it should run at exactly the same speed on all machines (for a given speed setting), no matter what how much action is happening on the screen. The only exception is that if there is more action on screen than your computer can handle, it will run too slowly (as happened with the original game on a 4.77MHz machine). You won't notice this effect unless you have a very slow computer or are running Digger at an extremely high speed. Using the CGA graphics rather than the VGA ones will speed things up in this case.

You can speed up or slow down the game depending on your personal preference. To do this, simply specify the speed on the command line. The default is 40, higher numbers give slower speeds, lower numbers (1 being the lowest) give faster speeds. You can also adjust the speed whilst the game is in progress using the + and - keys.

If you're good at the game you might like to try playing it at a faster speed.

If you use a really slow speed like 500, you may have to hold the keys down for longer to get it to do anything.

Note that the music and sound effects are independent of this speed setting.

If you are used to playing Digger on a slower computer, you might notice an apparent increase in speed as more monsters appear on screen. This is a psychological illusion! If you notice this, it means that your subconscious has been counting the number of monsters on the screen and adjusting the apparent speed to compensate! This effect will disappear after playing the new version for a while. However, if there is demand I could put in a feature to actually slow down the game more when there is more action on the screen.

Q: Can you send me this other game I used to play called...?
A: No, try Gangsters or Altavista . 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: No! Please, whatever you do, DON'T send me games over email - half the time I have to download my email over a very slow modem and an expensive telephone line, and the other half of the time I have very limited mailbox space. Sending large binaries over email is known as mail-bombing and is extremely rude. If you want to send something, email me first describing exactly what 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 from the download page 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 system 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.

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, see the next question. 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: My Apple Mac won't run Digger. What do I do?
A: Go and buy a real computer, Macs are horrible! :-) Or you could, if you are so inclined, try to run it on a PC emulator. Some people have reported limited success in doing so. You could also try the Java version. Hopefully sometime soon a Mac programmer will write a native version.

Q: I like Apple Macs and want to write a nasty message to you about that last comment. Where should I send it?
A: To the wastebasket.

Q: How do I specify command line arguments?
A: This depends on how you load the game. If you load it from a DOS prompt by typing the command "DIGGER" and pressing enter, then it is as simple as typing the options after the word "DIGGER", i.e. "DIGGER /C 20" to play in CGA at double speed.

If you're running it by double-clicking on an icon in Windows 95 or above, right-click the icon, select properties and there will be a command-line box which you can change in the same way (although instead of saying just "DIGGER" it may say something like "C:\Games\Digger\Digger.exe" but it's the same principle. In Windows 3.x press Alt-Enter whilst the icon is highlighted to get a box with the command line.

Hopefully in the future there will be user friendly menus which will mean you never need to use the command line.

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).

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.

Q: Is this legal?
A: Strictly speaking, no. 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 re-releasing the game, and I feel you should have no moral objections to playing it (unless you're doing it 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 Digger for a long time, and if they insist I will relinquish all rights to Digger to them to do with as they wish. Having Digger restored and working on modern computers, they would be in a much better position to make money from it than they would if I hadn't remastered it.

In conclusion, therefore, I think that Digger Remastered follows 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 Digger fan must concur.)

For more information about abandonwarez and the associated legal problems, have a look at this essay.

Q: Why doesn't the unlimited lives option work?
A: It does, it just doesn't do what you think it does. Unlimited lives does not mean infinite lives. Unlimited lives means you can collect as many extra lives (you get one every 20,000 points by default) as you like, not that you can die as much as you like without the game being over. If you don't enable the unlimited lives option, you can only collect 4 "spare" lives, as you could in the original Digger.

If you want to live forever, try using the option /G:3599, which will give you an hour's play with as many lives as you like, after which time you will probably be bored anyway.

Q: Has Jo-Anne Kempe of Windmill Software replied to your email yet?
A: No. As soon as she does I'll let you know via the website or the Digger Chat mailing list.