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Juno First - Final Version (Atari 2600)


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#51 cosmosiss OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 2:25 PM

New record: 5990 :cool:

OK, let me start by saying you got a fine shooter going on already, but...

I've been playing the arcade on MAME a lot since yesterday. I don't know if you want to really capture the feel of the arcade, or make a game inspired by it. I assume the later sinse you are not naming this Juno Second ;) I don't know how far you can push the VCS, or how far away you are from the limit, but here's the things that I find are most different from the arcade.

Enemies seem to spawn (instead of coming down from the distance) much more often, in lager groups, and most importantly, right in the middle of the screen. That changes the way one will play the game. In the arcade, especially in the later waves (5 and up) you are forced to move foward and quickly. In this version, you have to constantly watch your speed because at any moment something will pop up right in front of you. They also seem to spawn lined up, making it a bit too easy to wipe them all (if you survive).

No seeking missiles (those are vicious!). Dunno if these are possible.

Wave 3 and (?) 6 all enemies spawn, and they appear in formation. If you are quick enough, you can wipe em in a snap. If you fail, they change to a very aggressive pattern. I look foward to these waves when playing the original.

All in all, the original lets you move around, and enemies are hard to hit. On this one, you better be careful when you move, enemies are easy to hit.

Again, you are doing an outstanding job. These are just observations from a gamer :dunce:

#52 Nathan Strum ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 2:36 PM

No seeking missiles (those are vicious!). Dunno if these are possible.

They're in the 2600 version.

They sort-of blink red and white, although I think that effect would work better if it could be sped up. Sometimes I don't see them blink red at all.

#53 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 9, 2008 1:03 AM

They sort-of blink red and white, although I think that effect would work better if it could be sped up. Sometimes I don't see them blink red at all.


This is purely a 2600 "feature" due to the fact that the player and missile sprites share the same colours. As a result, the homing bullets blink while passing next to alien sprites and are coloured white otherwise. The non-homing bullets share the same colour as the players ship, but you don't see the blinking effect so much, since it only happens at the bottom of the screen.

Chris

#54 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 9, 2008 1:18 AM

I've been playing the arcade on MAME a lot since yesterday. I don't know if you want to really capture the feel of the arcade, or make a game inspired by it. I assume the later sinse you are not naming this Juno Second ;) I don't know how far you can push the VCS, or how far away you are from the limit, but here's the things that I find are most different from the arcade.


I am trying to get as close to the arcade as possible in my version - most of the points that you have noted are due to limitations of the VCS. I am pushing the VCS to the limit - every byte of memory is used, and many parts of the game had to be unrolled and/or rewritten several times so that they would fit. I can't completely replicate the alien movements due to memory constraints, and I decided to design completely new waves as a result. The VCS version actually has 32 unique waves, while the arcade has just 16. I'm planning to release a new beta in the next week or so - this version will have the aliens pushed further back, and should change the alien movements a bit to make the feel closer to the arcade.

Thanks for your comments and for testing my game.

Chris

#55 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 9, 2008 1:29 AM

A couple of notes:

  • The non-guided enemy shots aren't very on-target. You can usually just sit in one place and they'll miss you. (This isn't so much a problem in the higher levels where they're just spewing out an endless stream of shots at you).
  • The enemies seem to mostly just bounce back and forth. I don't know if the kernel would allow it, but it would be nice to have some enemies actively pursue you.
  • Also related to that - they don't seem to have much vertical movement. They just drift towards you. Could they reverse direction periodically like some of the attack groups in the arcade version?
I realize you're already pushing the 2600 about as hard as it can go, but I thought I'd mention them anyway. :)


You have spotted a number of the limitations that I had to make to fit it into the memory of the 2600:
  • I don't have enough memory to do fractional positioning, so the bullets have just 3 directions (down left, down right, and down). It works quite well when the game speeds up, but they are easy to avoid on the early levels. I'm going to dodge this one by claiming that the aliens have inferior equipment :)
  • I didn't have enough memory to store a state for each alien. Therefore, the movement patterns are based purely on the type of alien, the current screen position, and the previous movement direction. Some of the aliens are supposed to change direction in the middle of the screen, but there seems to be a bug preventing this from happening - this should be fixed in the next version.
  • This is again related to the memory issue, since I don't have any space to identify groups of aliens. I am currently trying to make them run away in hyperspace like they do in the arcade, but I'm not sure if it will fit. I'm going to dodge this one by saying that the aliens are just automatons and are simply trying to overwhelm you with numbers :)
Thanks,
Chris

Edited by cd-w, Fri May 9, 2008 1:29 AM.


#56 Nathan Strum ONLINE  

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Posted Fri May 9, 2008 8:30 AM

Thanks for the explanations, Chris. I figured you were probably already pushing the limits of the 2600 - but I think it always helps to hear the reasons behind it. I'm always interested in hearing the whys and hows, even if I don't exactly understand all of the technical details. :)

And here's my current best:

13,095
juno_13095.gif

Another couple of notes:
  • It might be nice to sprinkle in one or two of the later aliens into the earlier waves. Just to spice things up. (In the arcade game they actually mutate from one alien type to another during a wave, if you don't kill them fast enough.)
  • Using rapid-fire, you can clear out aliens pretty quickly, and sometimes you have to wait a few seconds for the aliens to re-spawn. While on some levels it's nice to have the break, but on levels where timing is tight, it'd be nice if they came in faster.
  • Figured out the "not picking up the astronaut" bug from before. It definitely happens if you fly over the sphere's explosion before the astronaut appears. Not a problem - just something to be noted in the manual as part of the gameplay. ;)


#57 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 9, 2008 10:48 AM

[*]It might be nice to sprinkle in one or two of the later aliens into the earlier waves. Just to spice things up. (In the arcade game they actually mutate from one alien type to another during a wave, if you don't kill them fast enough.)

Good idea - at the moment you don't get to see the lethal pink UFOs until quite late in the game. I'll add a few earlier on to make things interesting.

[*]Using rapid-fire, you can clear out aliens pretty quickly, and sometimes you have to wait a few seconds for the aliens to re-spawn. While on some levels it's nice to have the break, but on levels where timing is tight, it'd be nice if they came in faster.

The aliens are linked directly to specific time points, and I can't easily change this. I have tried to space things out so that there aren't any huge gaps, and things don't get too busy. However, some of the waves could probably use some more tuning. Let me know of any waves where this often happens and I will tighten things up.

[*]Figured out the "not picking up the astronaut" bug from before. It definitely happens if you fly over the sphere's explosion before the astronaut appears. Not a problem - just something to be noted in the manual as part of the gameplay. ;)

Drat - I was hoping that was fixed! I will have another look at the code and see why that is happening - at the moment it is a complete mystery!

Many thanks,
Chris

#58 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 9, 2008 11:36 AM

Thanks to everyone that has been testing my game. I haven't finished making all the changes yet, but I though I would upload the latest version to see what people think. The main changes in this second beta release are:
  • Messages now appear underneath the score (so you can see your final score at the end of the game).
  • The ship has moved forward by 8 lines - this should make it harder for aliens to sneak up behind you.
  • The aliens have been moved backwards by 32 lines - this should make it harder to run into new aliens.
  • Fixed an alien movement bug - some aliens should now display slightly more complex movement patterns.
Let me know if these are improvements, or a step backwards?

Chris

Attached Files


Edited by cd-w, Fri May 9, 2008 11:41 AM.


#59 dwane413 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 9, 2008 12:08 PM

Is it possible to show what wave you made it to after you lose a game? I see that there is a place for this in the top scores for those with a Savekey, but I don't see it for the last game played. If it's too much trouble or if no one else cares about it, that's fine. I just thought I would mention it.

Thanks for making this game. I've been enjoying it.

#60 Nathan Strum ONLINE  

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Posted Sat May 10, 2008 9:39 PM

  • Messages now appear underneath the score (so you can see your final score at the end of the game).
  • The ship has moved forward by 8 lines - this should make it harder for aliens to sneak up behind you.
  • The aliens have been moved backwards by 32 lines - this should make it harder to run into new aliens.
  • Fixed an alien movement bug - some aliens should now display slightly more complex movement patterns.
Let me know if these are improvements, or a step backwards?

Definitely better. It feels more like the arcade game, since you spend more time shooting, and less time avoiding collisions. :)

A few notes:
  • Waves 2 and 4 need tweaking, since I'll usually kill all the aliens off before the astronaut pod appears.
  • A suggestion for the high score board - can it default to the last-entered initials as a starting point? (Some arcade games did that.) It's just handier than starting at AAA all the time if you're usually the only one playing.
  • The voices are cool. :D
  • Most important - the game is really fun to play!
As I get a chance to test more levels, I'll see how the timing on them is.

#61 Mayhem OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 8:41 AM

Agree on the first point, I spotted that as well. As for the high score table, does it only get filled up if you have the AtariVox attached to it? Perhaps I should try and get it sorted...

#62 supercat OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 12:20 PM

The Juno-106 (pictured in above link) was a great keyboard and one of the first two to implement the then-new MIDI standard.


I played with one of those once. It could do some nice sounds. I wonder whether there were six separate sets of sound-generating circuitry, or if there was some magic to share some of it? Even in the analog domain, it's possible to use switched-capacitor techniques for some interesting effects, and multiplexing the filters would ensure consistent behavior on all six voices.

#63 iwan-iwanowitsch-goratschin OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 1:37 PM

Wow, this is a really fun game! Hope we see a boxed release soon! :cool:

Edited by iwan-iwanowitsch-goratschin, Sun May 11, 2008 1:37 PM.


#64 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 2:51 PM

Agree on the first point, I spotted that as well. As for the high score table, does it only get filled up if you have the AtariVox attached to it? Perhaps I should try and get it sorted...


Yes, the high score table only gets filled if you have an AtariVox or Savekey attached. I should have a third beta released soon with some tweaks to the wave patterns.

Chris

#65 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 2:52 PM

Wow, this is a really fun game! Hope we see a boxed release soon! :cool:


Thanks - there will definitely be a cart release coming soon, but there won't be a box (unless you make your own :))

Chris

#66 stephena ONLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 3:24 PM

Agree on the first point, I spotted that as well. As for the high score table, does it only get filled up if you have the AtariVox attached to it? Perhaps I should try and get it sorted...


Yes, the high score table only gets filled if you have an AtariVox or Savekey attached. I should have a third beta released soon with some tweaks to the wave patterns.

Chris

Just wanted to add that the latest internal version of Stella is now working perfectly with this ROM, and loads/saves the highscores to the emulated SaveKey or AVox device :)

#67 Nathan Strum ONLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 5:17 PM

Just wanted to add that the latest internal version of Stella is now working perfectly with this ROM, and loads/saves the highscores to the emulated SaveKey or AVox device :)

Excellent! Any ETA on an external version? :)

#68 stephena ONLINE  

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Posted Sun May 11, 2008 6:36 PM

Just wanted to add that the latest internal version of Stella is now working perfectly with this ROM, and loads/saves the highscores to the emulated SaveKey or AVox device :)

Excellent! Any ETA on an external version? :)

There's one last problem to fix before I do the next release. From the AVox point of view, everything is fine. And the EEPROM part is working on every ROM I've tested using the original I2C routines as written by A. Herbert. However, using Thomas J's 'optimized' I2C routines is causing a problem. So we need to track down if it's an emulation problem or a problem in Thomas' code.

I expect/hope for a new release before the end of the month.

#69 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 12, 2008 1:32 AM

Just wanted to add that the latest internal version of Stella is now working perfectly with this ROM, and loads/saves the highscores to the emulated SaveKey or AVox device :)


That is great news - it will make testing the AtariVox/SaveKey stuff much easier (which is a real pain at the moment).

Chris

#70 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 12, 2008 1:45 AM

Thanks to everyone here for testing the game and for the suggestions. I have attached the third beta version of Juno First below. The changes this time are:
  • The aliens now move backwards in hyperspace, like in the arcade version.
  • The wave number is now shown for the BEST/LAST scores.
  • The previous initials are now the default for name entry.
  • The astronaut appears instantly to prevent the "astronaut bug".
  • Spheres appear earlier on waves 2 & 4.
I'm probably done adding new features now, unless there is anything that is still annoying/broken in the game? I still need to spend some more effort tuning the levels, so there will probably be another beta version before I get to the release candidates. As usual, let me know if you find any bugs or spot any screen-rolls.

Chris

Attached Files



#71 cosmosiss OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 12, 2008 3:20 AM

It's playing nicely, but there's still serious timing issues (I know you are tweaking the levels). Really sucks to sit and wait for the next enemies for 4 or 5 seconds, especially when the time limit is so tight on some levels.

I've been wondering how it's decided when to spawn a new group. Is it at set time intervals, or is it after the player has shot/there's remaining a certain number of enemies? I think it would be hard to figure out by hand how often to release the groups since players will get better with practice. In short, you should make it so it's not possible to empty the screen at any time.


Record so far: 9135

#72 tremoloman2006 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 12, 2008 3:51 AM

Chris,

This is an awesome game! I'll be 1st in line to purchase a copy when its complete!

Posted Image WAY TO GO!!! Posted Image

#73 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 12, 2008 6:37 AM

I've been wondering how it's decided when to spawn a new group. Is it at set time intervals, or is it after the player has shot/there's remaining a certain number of enemies? I think it would be hard to figure out by hand how often to release the groups since players will get better with practice. In short, you should make it so it's not possible to empty the screen at any time.


Thanks for the suggestion - I think you really hit the nail on the head. The aliens were previously linked to the fuel timer and always spawned at specific time points. I had been having a lot of trouble balancing the levels to make it easy enough for beginners, but exciting enough for more expert players. Your suggestion got me thinking that it would be better to have a separate timer for the aliens that could be advanced when nothing was happening, and frozen when there was too much on screen. I managed to find one extra byte of RAM to hold this timer and have now implemented a first pass at this approach. The downside is that it makes the game relentless with no gaps at all (except when you die), but this might not be a bad thing? Let me know how this version compares to the previous, and if it is an improvement?

Chris

Attached Files


Edited by cd-w, Mon May 12, 2008 6:42 AM.


#74 cosmosiss OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 12, 2008 9:38 AM

Thank you . You just saved me halh an hour of typing.

I also encountered a bug. Not sure how exactly when it happens, but I think it's got to do with running out of time, maybe hitting the last enemy just before dying. After that, There's no enemies but something still shoots at you. Also the score table messes up. Didn't think of taking a screenshot :[ Maybe it's fixed because I can't replicate it in this version. I also noticed that stray bullets stay when wave is cleared. Dunno if it was intentional, but I think it's a good thing. Also noticed that fuel is completely restored when dying. Thumbs up for that.

As to the waves, you got it, dude. This is exactly what the game needed. Play is much more fluid and frantic. NO FOOLING AROUND ANYMORE!

The only thing I would change is to not include the satellite in the equation. Like in the first wave, it feels weird to have to pick up the astronaut for the next group to appear. But maybe that's just me.

I'm playing some more in a bit, but I can see this is going to be one of the finest shooters for the VCS. I don't even feel like comparing it to the arcade. Awesome job here.

#75 stephena ONLINE  

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Posted Mon May 12, 2008 10:08 AM

Just wanted to add that the latest internal version of Stella is now working perfectly with this ROM, and loads/saves the highscores to the emulated SaveKey or AVox device :)

Excellent! Any ETA on an external version? :)

Try the following beta: Stella snapshot. Please don't spread the link beyond this thread, since it's on my personal system. You can select SaveKey or AtariVox from the list of controllers. Note that this version has some debugging info enabled, so it might be a bit slower than normal.

Oh, forgot to mention this snapshot is for Windows only; there are no Linux or OSX snapshots for now.

Edited by stephena, Mon May 12, 2008 10:09 AM.





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