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Welcome to GearHead. This is, as far as I know, the world's first roguelike mecha role playing game. I hope you enjoy playing it.

You may find the game a bit confusing at first. If you've played other roguelike games (Moria, Angband, ADOM) or other mecha games (MechFight, Titans of Steel, Power Dolls) before, you'll be less confused. If you're familiar with both types of game then you may even feel right at home. The file doc/introduction.txt has some information and hints for new players.

If you can't find the information you need, check the 'doc/' directory. If you're still lost you can check the homepage:


First, you need a copy of the source code. If you are reading this you probably already have it. Next, you need to install FreePascal and the SDL 1.2 libraries. Open a terminal in the folder with the source code and type:

fpc -dSDLMODE gharena

For the ASCII version, just type:

fpc gharena

Ignore the notes and warnings. If everything you need has already been installed, that should be it.

Windows Notes:

  • You need to download the 32 bit binaries for SDL 1.2, SDL_TTF for SDL 1.2, and SDL_IMAGE for SDL 1.2. Put the .dll files in the same folder as gharena.exe. You should download the 32 bit versions since it seems that FPC compiles to a 32 bit target on Windows by default, and these will run on a 64 bit system just fine. There's probably some way to get a 64 bit executable; if you figure it out, let me know.
  • To open a terminal in a Windows folder, press shift and right click in the folder window. The option to open a terminal should be there. Alternatively, install Git for Windows and open a Git Bash shell by right clicking without shift.

Linux Notes:

  • You need the packages libsdl1.2, libsdl1.2-dev, libsdl-image1.2, libsdl-image1.2dev, libsdl-ttf2.0-0, and libsdl-ttf2.0-0dev.



This is the big area with the cyan border.


This is the small area in the upper right corner of the screen.
Here you will find the vital stats for your character, or whatever
you happen to be looking at.

Below the name in the information window are some useful indicators.
Starting at the left is the position indicator; the white '+' shows
what direction you are facing, while the number in the center
indicates your elevation. If the number is blue, it indicates your
depth underwater.

Nest to the position indicator should be a damage indicator. For
characters, this will just show your health points. For mecha, the
damage indicator shows a schematic of all the mecha's parts
indicating which bits have taken the most punishment.


Beneath the information window is the menu window. This is where
the control menus will appear.


Beneath the menu window is the clock. This will show the current
game time. GearHead uses a clock-based game engine. Any action your
character can perform takes a certain amount of time. Once a
command is entered the clock advances until the action is completed
and control is returned to the player.

If you've played either MechForce or Titans of Steel you should be
familiar with this control type already. If you've played any of the
Final Fantasy games with the combat pause option on you should be
able to figure it out pretty quickly.


The message window is meant to provide the narration for GearHead,
though at the moment it's mostly sleeping on the job and spouting
cryptic acronyms. I will work on making this window more useful...


There are an awful lot of different movement and attack options in this game. Characters are controlled through a hopefully-familiar roguelike interface, while mecha are controlled using a menu interface similar to the one used in the old Amiga MechFight game (and more recently in Titans of Steel).


This is the top layer of the menus.

A mecha can travel at two speeds- CRUISE SPEED and FULL SPEED.
While traveling at FULL SPEED, the mecha moves faster than
normal, but it recieves a significant penalty to its attack

WALKING is, in general, a slow way to move around. However, it
does have several advantages. Turns can be made very quickly
in this move mode. Also, walking mecha are better able to deal
with rough terrain.

ROLLING mecha use wheels or treads to move about. This move
mode is faster than WALKING, but usually slower than SKIMMING.
Mechas using this mode are more strongly affected by terrain.
They have a harder time passing difficult terrain, but receive
a greater speed bonus when traveling on roads.

SKIMMING mecha hover several meters off the ground. They may pass
over low obstacles without slowing down, and may fly across the
surface of bodies of water.


From here you should see a list of all the weapons your mecha
is equipped with. You can select a weapon, then select a target
to fire at.

When a weapon is fired, it cannot be used again for a short
period of time. Most weapons will recharge in 30 clicks, though
some will be faster or slower.

CALLED SHOT: If this option is set to "ON", the player will be
able to select which part of the enemy mecha he wishes to
hit. It is more difficult to make a called shot than it is to
make a regular shot.

WAIT FOR RECHARGE: Sometimes there will not be any weapons
available to fire with. Select this option to wait until your
next weapon recharges.

OPTIONS: This will take you to the game options menu. You can
select either menu-based or roguelike control. Note that when
changing control type, it may be necessary to enter one last
action in the previously selected control mode before the change
will take effect.

to set the rapid fire settings for ballistic weapons, energy beam
weapons, and missile launchers. The value selected for MISSILE BV
indicates what fraction of the total missile payload will be
fired in each salvo. So, if a missile launcher contains 20
missiles and the BV is set to 1/4, five missiles will be launched
when it is fired.


GearHead: Arena is distributed under the terms of the LGPL. See "license.txt" for more details.


GearHead: Arena, the first game in this roguelike mecha RPG series.




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