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Star Castle Developments

Posted by cd-w, 19 May 2012 · 2,946 views

There has been a lot of buzz recently about Scotts Star Castle kickstarter (just a few days remaining to grab a copy). It has prompted some people to speculate about this effort, so I thought I would post an update of where things are.

This project is still very much alive, and the plan is to eventually release it through the AtariAge store. The main development is that Thomas Jentzsch (Thrust+, Boulderdash) is now involved, and the coding will now be a joint effort between him and myself. As I stated elsewhere, this is very much a team effort, and the following people have all been involved in the process so far:
  • Nathan Strum produced the awesome sprites and artwork and spent a lot of time play testing the code.
  • David Dries (and Nathan) are working on the label and manual for the game.
  • Ivan Machado produced the awesome arcade style sound effects.
  • Richard 'Kulor' Armijo produced the cool title tune.
  • Fred Quimby helped with the ARM code to make the game work on the Harmony cart.
  • Stephen Anthony extended Stella to support the Star Castle bank switching scheme.
The RC1 version that I posted had more-or-less reached the limits of the Atari 2600 frame timings. This meant that certain compromises had to be made, such as a reduced screen height. Thomas is now rewriting the core game logic to use time-slicing, instead of trying to do everything on every frame. Time-slicing was previously used to good effect in Boulderdash. The basic idea is that you have a queue of tasks that need to be done, and on each frame you do as many tasks as can be accomplished within the available time. When the game is very busy, some tasks may be deferred until the following frames, but this is unlikely to be noticeable (at 60 frames per second). Essentially it will free up more time to more time to allow us to improve the game, and make it even closer to the arcade version.

Moving to time-slicing requires a major rewrite of the game logic, and so it is likely to be some time until the RC2 version is released. I have also started a new job recently, and so my spare time is very constrained at the moment. However, Thomas is making excellent progress and has come up with an improved version of time-slicing from the one in Boulderdash.

I don't know exactly when the game will be released in the AA store, but it should hopefully be later this year or early next year.

As always, let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for improvements.

Chris

tl;dr - project still alive and undergoing major changes




Essentially it will free up more time to more time to allow us to improve the game, and make it even closer to the arcade version.


I've heard that stuttering is a sign of genius. :D
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I've heard that stuttering is a sign of genius. :D

Wha, wha, ... what?
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I've had that "stutter" happen a lot. I'll highlight a section of text, hit DELETE, then type replacement text (possibly including some of the original words) only to later see that the section I thought I'd deleted was still there.
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Great to hear. This sounds like it will be great, and looking forward to RC2.
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Great news. Who even knew it wasn't already perfect? ;-)

I really like how the game "feels"--I think it is better than arcade perfect, as certain allowances need to be made to accomodate the VCS/Stella control scheme and rendering technologies.

The modern additions like the soundtrack and intro screen really are above and beyond.
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I have a question, this optimizations will gain some rom bytes?
For more frames in the cannon explosion animation or more time for the explosion sound. :)
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I've had that "stutter" happen a lot. I'll highlight a section of text, hit DELETE, then type replacement text (possibly including some of the original words) only to later see that the section I thought I'd deleted was still there.


This happens in Safari in OS X Lion. A lot. It's like the auto-correct is assuming you don't actually mean to replace the original text. It's incredibly irritating.
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Nice to see Ivan Machado involved in this project. He did one of the best 2600 games of all times...
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Hmm - might be time to try another browser then.
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Nice to see Ivan Machado involved in this project. He did one of the best 2600 games of all times...


Bee•Ball is a little 4kb game, I think best of all times is too much... But thanks your kind words. :)

I'm not a sound expert anyway I like to create sound effects, it's a good chalenge like everything related to the Atari 2600.
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I will wait however long it takes to support this version.
I love how it is a team effort and not about cashing in.

This version is a better game which is an added bonus ;)
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I will wait however long it takes to support this version.
I love how it is a team effort and not about cashing in.


What? Wait... we're not getting wheelbarrows of money for doing this? I was promised money. Money and women.

I'm going to have to have a little talk with someone about this...
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Yeah baby!!! Projects like this are what its all about. Thanks for making this for us :) It will be worth the wait!
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Fred helped with ARM code? Does this mean Star Castle is able to sneak in a few instructions off onto the ARM or just support for a funky bank-switching/cart type?
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Fred helped with ARM code? Does this mean Star Castle is able to sneak in a few instructions off onto the ARM or just support for a funky bank-switching/cart type?


The ARM code is just for the bank-switching and high score loading and saving. The game is pure 6502.

Chris
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theloon, on , said:

Fred helped with ARM code? Does this mean Star Castle is able to sneak in a few instructions off onto the ARM or just support for a funky bank-switching/cart type?

The ARM code is just for the bank-switching and high score loading and saving. The game is pure 6502.

Chris


And the next version of Stella (to be released this Friday) includes emulation of the high score loading/saving (the bankswitching itself was already added in the last few releases).
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