Download: Guardians (for Windows)

Guardians is a Morphic application, coded in Smalltalk (Squeak).
Code: Guardians 0.89, for Squeak 5.1
Status: beta - possible VM crashes - and game progression is still being tuned (this should not be noticeable for the first 10000 levels though...)


Guardians is a close 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

"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 reach and win the last level, the landscape 999,999. 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 world 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 a tower 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 the next 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. You create things in the same way - find an empty square, and press the appropriate key to create a Tree/Boulder/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. 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 A (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 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 are likely to end up at the same height or lower, but never on your original square. If you hyperescape with less than 3 units of energy, you die. This means a meany can kill you.

2.4 Completing a landscape

Once the Sentinel has been absorbed, you can no longer absorb energy. The amount of energy you have when hyperescaping from one landscape determines the number of the next landscape. If you have a tiny amount of energy left, you might only skip to the next stage. If you have a lot, the leap is substantially greater.

When you want to travel to a new 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 (in fact some levels are altogether impossible to complete). See the keyboard controls below.

Once a landscape is completed, the game updates its image file on disk. Even if the game crashes (this happens at times, it is a known bug in the 3D VM plugin) you will be able to resume from the new level.

3. Navigating the hyper-landscape

There are one million different levels in the whole game. It is clearly impossible to play even a small fraction of them. So how do you reach the last one?

First, 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. Moreover, once in a while, a special tree appears in a landscape: a Tree of Wisdom. Absorbing this tree makes you able to reach a level much further away (assuming you do succeed in absorbing the Sentinel though); it can also make you discover a hidden sector in the hyper-landscape with unique features. Look out for the Mordor levels for example...

When level 999,999 is completed, you will gain the ability to reach any landscape directly via its number, and also a few other superpowers... All hidden sectors will also be revealed.

4. A variety of landscapes

The worlds you will visit come in different flavors. There are many different types of landscapes, each with its own color theme. They have different physical features, and can be populated by little or no trees, to whole forests. They each have a specific way to increase the difficulty of getting to the Sentinel. And for each of these worlds, the initial amount of energy you get is different, as is the maximum energy you can carry.

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.

New objects that do not exist in the original The Sentinel game start appearing at higher levels: totems that when visible prevent you to transfer to a robot, and rock-like robot shells created and destroyed by guardians that can be used as a regular robot shell. 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.

5. Keyboards controls

While previewing a landscape:
O  -  see previous level
D  -  see previous level of a different type
M  -  see previous level of a similar type
N  -  see next available level
Z  -  see highest available level
S  -  mark/unmark level as favorite
F  -  see next favorite level
E  -  see previous favorite level
G  -  browse all available levels
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

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

ESCAPE  -  exit landscape

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