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Failsafe Editor for Atari 7800

Posted by jwierer, 25 November 2009 · 610 views

It's been a couple of months since I've posted to my blog. Part of the reason is I've been traveling a lot for work, but the bigger reason is the project I've been working on hasn't been public. I like to be trustworthy so I haven't said anything, but appears the cat's out of the bag on Pacman Plus's newest project for the Atari 7800 so I'm assuming I am free to discuss my contribution :) For those that haven't heard about Countermeasure 2 Failsafe for the Atari 7800 you can read about it here.

This project came together pretty fast considering Bob first approached me on Oct 1st, though he was pretty far along with the basic game mechanics by then already. I couldn't be happier beig able to help such a gifted programmer! Having worked on a few tile editing 7800 programs before I was able to reuse a ton of existing code and got a basic level viewer in a couple hours. (below).

A couple notes on my first attempt, this was basically a modified version on my failed attempt at an AppleSnaffle editor (I won't bother discussing that). So I couldn't change anything, just view it. I had no idea what sprites were going to be used, and all of them hadn't been created so I think this only viewed a portion of the level which is 256 tiles across and 11 tiles tall.

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Fast forward a couple weeks and we were viewing and modifying entire levels. A couple things that are interesting about this. The top menu tool strips contain all the level obstacles that you can place on the maze. At first I was using static images, but as Bob progressed he was updating the sprites and well it wasn't easy to create them so now when you change a sprite (more on that) a background thread reads the updated binary and changes the images in the level and the buttons.

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Of course to change the sprites you need a nice sprite editor and luckily about 90% of my code from my Pacman Editor worked and I dropped this in over a weekend. Now there is a quick way to add, delete, and modify the playfield, player, and enemy graphics! All that was next was enemy placements.

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It was only last weekend that the enemy placement code was in place and it took another 2 days to view and modify the enemy placements.

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With that you can change the graphics, modify the level layouts, and the enemy placements. You can even export a JPEG of the entire map, but as I don't want to be a spoiler so I'll wait until the game is finished :) For those interested in creating their own levels, With Bob's blessing, I'll make this available with the final release of the game.

-Jeff




Looks really cool. I'm not familiar with Countermeasure (the original) but will have to check it out! Keep up the great work.
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Hey Jeff:

Very Cool!

You can absolutely post the editor whenever you are ready. ;)

Thanks again for all your help -
Bob
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Nice work. I probably need to build an editor for my Atari 2600 Prince of Persia project, as it is a pain constructing the levels on graph paper. What are you using to construct your editors - is it raw C++, or are you using some sort of toolkit? I have previously looked at Mappy, but it isn't flexible enough for me.

Chris
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Nice work. I probably need to build an editor for my Atari 2600 Prince of Persia project, as it is a pain constructing the levels on graph paper. What are you using to construct your editors - is it raw C++, or are you using some sort of toolkit? I have previously looked at Mappy, but it isn't flexible enough for me.

Chris

It's written in VisualBasic.NET using the .Net FX 3.0. the graphic control is just the datagridviewcontrol. The cells in that control can take an image as the value so the only trick is extracting the image data from the binary and creating a image for each. I used the same technique for my pacman editor which was the base for this. Getting it working was only a couple hours work. For 2600 graphics it would be quite a bit easier.

-Jeff
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