Jump to content

Photo

Star Castle Arcade - Beta Release

Star Castle Arcade Atari 2600

384 replies to this topic

#51 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • Topic Starter
  • 23,975 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:34 AM

Is it possible for somebody to post a picture , running of real hardware & CTR? :-o :love:

I have no equipment for recording this. Anyone who can help out?

#52 Zoyx OFFLINE  

Zoyx

    Stargunner

  • 1,583 posts
  • Prominent Internet User
  • Location:Honolulu, HI

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:45 AM

I have no equipment for recording this. Anyone who can help out?


I will try and do this tonight.... about 12 hours from now.

#53 Cafeman OFFLINE  

Cafeman

    Quadrunner

  • 6,877 posts
  • Location:PA

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:47 AM

After .. a lot of extra Hard WorkTM ..


:D

Hard WorkTM is not a privilege, it's a gift, to be used for the good of mankind!

#54 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • Topic Starter
  • 23,975 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:50 AM

HOWEVER, some builds flash badly (121 and 124) and other builds don't flash (122 & 123) in Stella with phosphor mode OFF!!/


I just tried all four revisions and the result for me is always them same. I don't exactly see a flash, but every ~0.5s (like in your video) one frame seems to be double scanned for a few frames. So the rings look brighter at the top, then the middle and then the bottom.

I am pretty sure my monitor, your monitor and TV display the game at 60Hz, while the CRT adjusts to the correct frequency of ~58Hz (we use the extra scan lines to make the vertical playfield area larger). The different effects we are facing are most likely coming from different modern picture "optimization" algorithms not well suited to antique technology. Maybe you can experiment with different settings of your TV?

So I can explain what you are seeing, but I can't verify and explain the differences between 121..124 you are facing. Please double check. Thanks.

#55 stephena OFFLINE  

stephena

    River Patroller

  • 3,362 posts
  • Stella maintainer
  • Location:Newfoundland, Canada

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:18 PM

It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway; you can't take the output from Stella at face value and say that there must be something wrong with the ROM. There are all kinds of factors that can influence how Stella will produce output, and any potential artifacts:
  • Software and OpenGL output will look slightly different; the former will always 'tear' (for lack of a better word), and the latter may tear if v'sync isn't turned on (and may tear even when turned on)
  • The scanline rate that the game runs at. If it's a solid 262/60Hz, then it'll probably synchronize with your display. But if it isn't, then there will be instability in the picture.
  • The OS you're using or what other programs you're running at the time can change the output from Stella.
And the worst part about the above, is it can happen randomly (ie, you can do everything exactly the same, and still give different output behaviour).

This is really something that needs to be tested on a real console/CRT. Stella is a wonderful development tool that can help in many ways, and perhaps you can do 99% development and testing with it. But there's always a need for testing on a real console. This is one of those times.

#56 iesposta OFFLINE  

iesposta

    River Patroller

  • 3,890 posts
  • Retro-gaming w/my VCS
  • Location:Pennsylvania

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:43 PM

This is really something that needs to be tested on a real console/CRT. Stella is a wonderful development tool that can help in many ways, and perhaps you can do 99% development and testing with it. But there's always a need for testing on a real console. This is one of those times.

I first noticed it in real hardware.
Of the 124 builds, only builds 121 and 124 blink. On real hardware with LCD TV.
Stella also shows this blinking ONLY in builds 121 and 124.

#57 Nathan Strum OFFLINE  

Nathan Strum

    Quadrunner

  • 8,360 posts
  • Enjoying a sandwich
  • Location:Newhall, CA

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:43 PM

So there are two versions of Star Castle for the 2600 now? What happened to the game written by the guy who made Toki for the Lynx?

This.

Secondly, and this is where I have the most problems, it's difficult to tell exactly where your ship is pointed. Is there any way to make it thinner and pointier? It'd make your direction more clear and the artwork more dynamic.

We wanted to keep a shape somewhat similar to the arcade game, but it had to be drawn with a 2-line kernel. That really limits the detail the ship can have (for comparison, the ship in Space Rocks which is 1LK). We had a larger ship early on, but the smaller one played better. It was more in proportion to the castle and better mimicked the arcade game. Once I got used to the smaller ship, I actually liked it better.

#58 iesposta OFFLINE  

iesposta

    River Patroller

  • 3,890 posts
  • Retro-gaming w/my VCS
  • Location:Pennsylvania

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:47 PM

Yes it looks fine on a CRT from Heavy Sixer RF.
It looks fine on a projector with S-Video and Composite from 2 different 7800's (although the usual deinterlace is undesirable).
It looks fine on Stella with Phosphor Mode On.
It looks terrible on Stella with Phosphor Mode Off.
It looks terrible on LCD TV with 2600 S-Video. All other builds looked great.

#59 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • Topic Starter
  • 23,975 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:53 PM

Can you send me the 4 builds you are testing, please (just to make 100% sure)?

121 and 124 are terrible w/o phosphor and your LCD TV, 122 and 123 look good. Right?

#60 iesposta OFFLINE  

iesposta

    River Patroller

  • 3,890 posts
  • Retro-gaming w/my VCS
  • Location:Pennsylvania

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:41 PM

I apologize. You were right all along.
It is the framerate of 58.22 fps that is causing the blinking/flashing.
When did it get changed from 60 fps to 58.22 fps?
Star Castle 94 was 60 fps. That had the bigger explosion and the spinning star mines.

#61 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • Topic Starter
  • 23,975 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:48 PM

Thanks for clearing the thing up. Now we know the reason for sure.

I changed that to get 8 extra lines on the screen, which gives the player more room for maneuvering. But if this causes so much trouble, I may have to revert that.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch, Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:51 PM.


#62 KevinMos3 OFFLINE  

KevinMos3

    Stargunner

  • 1,603 posts
  • Founder of the Timothy Dalton as Bond fan club
  • Location:Behind YOU!

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:22 PM

It takes some time getting used to the play style after having played Scott's version, but I like it. The in-game sounds are awesome. The only complaint I have so far is the player's ship. I really think it should be 1 pixel wider to allow for the two-pointed nose like the arcade. Everything else looks great when compared to the arcade, but the current ship really falls short with that fat, flat front end.

#63 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • Topic Starter
  • 23,975 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:26 PM

We had the ship like that. But it was too big, felt like out of proportion. And, most important, the smaller ship improves playability (see Nathan's post above too).

#64 Zoyx OFFLINE  

Zoyx

    Stargunner

  • 1,583 posts
  • Prominent Internet User
  • Location:Honolulu, HI

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:27 PM

I like the smaller ship.

#65 iesposta OFFLINE  

iesposta

    River Patroller

  • 3,890 posts
  • Retro-gaming w/my VCS
  • Location:Pennsylvania

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:27 PM

I would vote for 60 FPS.
Vertical height was added when you took over for CD-W, right?
I am impressed you could add even more.
My thing is that this game REALLY looks good widescreen. The title screen is circular and the Castle rings are round in 16:9. I still play it on a CRT at 4:3 and it is not my program so I can only suggest what I would like.

#66 gameofyou OFFLINE  

gameofyou

    Space Invader

  • 27 posts

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:02 PM

Are there plans to eventually make Star Castle available on a physical cartridge? I will buy one, if so!

#67 Albert OFFLINE  

Albert

    Quadrunner

  • 35,255 posts

Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:03 PM

Are there plans to eventually make Star Castle available on a physical cartridge? I will buy one, if so!


Oh yes. :)

..Al

#68 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • Topic Starter
  • 23,975 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:04 AM

I would vote for 60 FPS.

I am currently discussing this with Chris and Nathan. Personally I like to keep the 8 extra lines, but I still have a CRT. And those are getting scarce. Nathan doesn't see the problem on his LCD TV.

Probably we could cure your personal problem, but there is no guarantee for old hardware still working flawless on modern TVs. That's the key problem. And often calibrating the TV setting would help but is too complicated.

Vertical height was added when you took over for CD-W, right?

Yup, from 180 to 200. Which required a major rewrite of the off-screen processing. Which then allowed some more improvements.

#69 save2600 ONLINE  

save2600

    Quadrunner

  • 15,586 posts
  • Location:Wisconsin

Posted Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:37 AM

It takes some time getting used to the play style after having played Scott's version, but I like it. The in-game sounds are awesome. The only complaint I have so far is the player's ship. I really think it should be 1 pixel wider to allow for the two-pointed nose like the arcade. Everything else looks great when compared to the arcade, but the current ship really falls short with that fat, flat front end.


Finally had a chance to play this just now. Gotta say, I too like the smaller ship.

Say, since you mentioned the play style in comparison to Scott's version... this 'Arcade' version is definitely a lot more forgiving and dare I say "playable"? Scott's version is way too damned hard. Three drones constantly firing at you in rapid succession and/or always chasing your ass. Thought it might have been a Left/Right difficulty setting, but nope. :(

#70 Nathan Strum OFFLINE  

Nathan Strum

    Quadrunner

  • 8,360 posts
  • Enjoying a sandwich
  • Location:Newhall, CA

Posted Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:19 AM

A few points to consider when testing Star Castle Arcade, especially in regards to things like text legibility, brightness/visibility of objects, etc.
  • 2600s vary widely. I've been testing the game on a Vader, 7800 and Jr., and they all look markedly different.
  • TVs vary widely. I've tested on a 46" LCD HDTV, a 32-year-old 9" color TV, and a 13" broadcast monitor. They all have very different settings and picture quality, but I was able to make Star Castle Arcade look good on all three.
  • In order to get the game (or any Atari 2600 game) to look correct, you'll have to adjust your TV. This is especially problematic on Star Castle Arcade, since it uses small, flickering dots to draw nearly everything. If your TV isn't dialed in, or you have a particularly problematic 2600 (noisy, dark), you'll have problems seeing the game.
For example, my Vader had the brightest picture, but the TVs still needed to have their default brightness increased to properly display the game. The Vader's color was also way off, so the Tint control had to be tweaked. Even then, the blue text ended up being blurry, but it was readable.

My Jr. had a much darker picture, but the color was more accurate. So again, the TVs had to be adjusted. The Jr. had a much cleaner picture, so the blue text was completely legible. But wherever there are white objects, yellow bleeds into them (which is really annoying when looking at holiday-themed games that feature snow :roll: ). So each 2600 had its own display quirks.

My 7800 had the darkest picture, and the worst color accuracy. But it had a very clean picture. After the TV was adjusted, I was able to get a picture equivalent to the other two consoles, but without either of their quirks.

Here's a procedure I'd recommend if you're setting up a 2600 with any TV:
  • Calibrate your TV. There are DVDs available for this purpose (Avia, Disney WOW, Spears & Munsil, Digital Video Essentials, etc). That has to be the first step - to get your TV in the proper color space. Some TVs are so old or out-of-whack, they'll never get there. Aging CRTs are especially problematic. But get it as close as you can.
  • Adjust your TV to your Atari. The critical piece of this is going to be bringing the brightness up on your TV enough to clearly see the darkest colors. If you have a Harmony Cart, you can use VideoSoft's Color Bar Cart ROM, and use the grayscale steps.
    Color Bar Generator (1984) (VideoSoft).png
    When your TV's brightness is adjusted properly, you should clearly see the difference between the black bar at the far right, and the gray bar next to it. If they blend into each other, crank up the brightness.
The drawback with this is that if your TV doesn't allow you to have different settings for each input, you'll have to readjust your TV back to where it was for everything else when you're not playing your 2600.

But really, you should be playing it all the time anyway. ;)

#71 Philsan ONLINE  

Philsan

    River Patroller

  • 3,838 posts
  • New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLIV Champions
  • Location:Switzerland

Posted Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:40 AM

Adjust your TV to your Atari. The critical piece of this is going to be bringing the brightness up on your TV enough to clearly see the darkest colors. If you have a Harmony Cart, you can use VideoSoft's Color Bar Cart ROM, and use the grayscale steps.

It would be nice to have a PAL version.

#72 Nathan Strum OFFLINE  

Nathan Strum

    Quadrunner

  • 8,360 posts
  • Enjoying a sandwich
  • Location:Newhall, CA

Posted Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:49 AM

It would be nice to have a PAL version.


Maybe some enterprising programmer would be willing to make a PAL hack. Might be just as easy to program a simple grayscale ramp from scratch, for that matter.

#73 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash, THREE·S, Star Castle

  • Topic Starter
  • 23,975 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany, Europe, Earth

Posted Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:48 AM

They grayscale and all b/w patterns should work on PAL too. And the colors should be easy to hack

If PAL has a close enough color that is. I am not sure e.g. about the title screen colors.

#74 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

SpiceWare

    Draconian

  • 12,698 posts
  • Medieval Mayhem
  • Location:Planet Houston

Posted Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:32 AM

wherever there are white objects, yellow bleeds into them (which is really annoying when looking at holiday-themed games that feature snow :roll: )

You listening to Zappa again?

#75 Zoyx OFFLINE  

Zoyx

    Stargunner

  • 1,583 posts
  • Prominent Internet User
  • Location:Honolulu, HI

Posted Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:10 PM

I tried to run 124 on my hardware via Harmony cart. Doesn't work. I just get garbage on the screen. I tried it on both of my Harmony carts, with a light sixer, heavy sixer and a 7800. The game won't boot for me.

I try version 101, and it works fine. 124 works fine for me on Stella. Curious.

Edit: I'm an idiot... wasn't using the .cu version. Works now.

Edited by Zoyx, Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:16 PM.






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Star Castle, Arcade, Atari 2600

0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users