[50/50] Computer Game #4: “Full Metal Planet”

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Computer Game #4: Full Metal Planet (1990)

fullmetalplanetThanks to a confluence of unfortunate events and an epic clash of personalities, Full Metal Planet has become the holy grail for many game collectors, myself included. Originally released in 1988 as an elaborate boardgame, “Full Métal Planète,” as it is known in France, quickly went out of print. Due to the cost of producing quality metal playing pieces (among other things), it also drove its publisher out of business — but not before they cut a deal with a software company to do a version of the game for the Atari, PC, and Mac. Shortly thereafter, a major falling out among the three people who created the original — and whom shared equally in the rights — ensured that the game would never be released again.

Normally this would spell the end of a title, but FMP is such a great game it developed a fervent cult following that is still, 25 years later, trying to bring it back. The original European boardgame now goes for hundreds of dollars — if you can find a copy for sale — and the computer game is a popular download on abandonware sites.

AA5I only played it once on the computer with friends, but it was such an absolute blast I spent years tracking down a copy for the Mac. The game is a perfect balance of strategy and tactics, careful planning and gambling. Turns are under a strict 3-minute timer, ensuring decisions are made quickly and under pressure. Four players are dropped on a mineral rich planet and have a limited amount of time to grab as much metal as they can, either collecting it themselves or stealing it from the others. Sudden shifts in tides can complicate the best laid plans. Playing it safe won’t win it for you, but neither will being too aggressive. Like I said, a perfect balance.

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6 comments on “[50/50] Computer Game #4: “Full Metal Planet”

  1. Bob Arning says:

    Are you still active? Still interested in Full Metal Planet? I enjoyed the game on the Mac way back when. Later I developed a version in Squeak (Smalltalk) to test some AI improvements. I got it working than let it languish. Recently I have dusted it off and have been talking with some French guys about merging my AI with their multi-player web game. If any of this is appealing, I’m Bob arning315@comcast.net or bobarning@gmail.com

    • jape77 says:

      Hi Bob — my countdown is on an indefinite hiatus, but past entries continue to get hits and comments, so the blog abides.

      Even though it has been years since I played it, I keep an old Mac G3 around solely to run my copy of Full Metal Planet. I recall seeing something about that French web game years ago, and would love to hear more about your project.

      The FMP backstory is almost as fascinating as the game itself (and the fact it was a boardgame first — now an OOP Grail-level of rarity boardgame — makes it all the more curious.) There is also a notorious knock-off, TF22, that caused a stir a few years back over on BoardGameGeek. There is clearly enough of a fan base to keep the idea alive, even if the original designers can’t see it.

  2. Bob Arning says:

    I was wondering if there was a way to see the rules as implemented in the Mac version. I have memories of a few things that differ from what rules I can find on the web. Are they online somewhere?

    • jape77 says:

      If there are, I haven’t seen them. That said, a quick search brought up the following sites:

      http://www.fullmetalplanete.com/FMP_Rules.html
      http://www.gamecabinet.com/rules/FullMetalPlanete.html

      The first refers to the PC game, the second seems to be from the boardgame. Maybe compare and contrast? (Also, don’t forget BoardGameGeek — they have some translations of the rules as well.) Good luck!

      • Bob Arning says:

        Well, I found what I was looking for
        http://www.myabandonware.com/media/files/manuals/f/full-metal-planete_mac_03gs.pdf

        And my memory has not gone completely. 🙂 Most of the rules I’ve found say that two tanks may not end the turn on adjacent mountains. But the Mac version rules state that there is a penalty if tanks end the turn in this position. Perhaps the Mac programmer realized it was actually a trickier rule to implement than one might think.

        The other difference I’ve been wondering about is when fire zones actually start to affect an enemy unit. I’ve seen an implementation online where there are two enemy tanks adjacent to each other. Two friendly tanks move into range of one of the enemy tanks. The enemy tank is then neutralized and the friendly tanks can approach and capture. My recollection was that the enemy tanks were not neutralized until the next turn and the way I read the Mac rules *seems* to agree with this.

        Either of these seem familiar to anyone?

  3. Bob Arning says:

    I’ve seen those. I just have faint memories of a few different things on the Mac. Not real important.

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