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New Game: Assembloids 2600

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#1 enthusi OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 3:17 AM

Hi everyone,

I want to announce a new game in development.
Almost done basically (just some dozens of hours of work left ;-).
It is a fast paced reaction puzzler in 4k for the wonderful Atari 2600.
Restricting myself to 4k was very important to me, since I consider it
the original spirit of the machine and indeed, I am now increasingly nervous about
the ROM size limit and fight for concepts and bytes already. Some space is left,
but sound fx and a few other things are still missing as well.
I am very confident, however, that it will see the light soonish.

Your screen shows 5 windows. One central and one in each of the four neighboring sides.
A quarter of a face in a particular color is given in the central window and
you can place it via joystick up, right, down, left if the corresponding tile is still
empty - otherwise you're losing one of your precious lives. During all that the timer bar
decreases faster and faster...

Once a full face is complete, the window is cleared again and you score points.
The amount of points depends on the colors as you probably have guessed by now.
A full face of the same color gains you 300 points.
Having 3 face parts in the same color, still results in 100 points.
Only 2 parts of equal color give 40 points and a fully mixed face a mere 10 points.
In case you were able to clear ALL windows, a whopping extra 500 points and an extra
life are added as well!

I started this project as a true one-man show, as for Atari 2600 you have to CODE
all the sounds and graphics anyway. Ptoing, a blessed graphician and a friend of mine,
immediately had great ideas on how to improve the by then rather simplistic screen design.
He is quite a technical guy so once familiar with the basic limitations of the 2600, he
came up with several mockups. Most of them found their way into the game for the better!

So he did the graphical design of the game (including Title logo and skull :).

Logo and face gfx are not final though.

See below a couple of screenshots. The final game will most likely be available via Atariage
which makes me super happy already ;-) The colors and some graphics are subject to change ;-)

This is my first finished game for the 2600, though I did quite some coding on the C64 before and the
even more basic cycle counting on the atari really excited me. My only published contribution to the 2600 scene so far

was the endscroller in the ATARSi demo :)

Assembloids 2600 is based on Assembloids 2013 which I coded for the C64 and was
published by RGCD http://www.rgcd.co.u...2013.html which
was a new version of the Flash game "Quartet" by Photon Storm.

In between we were asked and granted permission to port that concept to the Atari XL/XE
as well and it was recently released as 'Assembloids XE'.

What better thing to do than to put forward an ASSEMBLOIDS 2600?!
The game was so suitable for porting from flash, since it could utilize
the colorful bitmap graphics (due lack of scrolling and such) of the c64 and later on the
Atari XE. Ironically, the Atari 2600 version uses its sprites for the faces :)

I hope to be able to provide some video footage soon ;-)

Martin /enthusi
 

Attached Thumbnails

  • assembloids2600_3.png
  • assembloids2600_9.png
  • assembloids2600_10.png
  • assembloids2600_11.png

Edited by enthusi, Fri Sep 6, 2013 3:29 AM.


#2 Fratzengeballer OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 5:33 AM

nice work Martin,

the concept works pretty well on the 2600 I figured.

 

A real addicting game, after 10 seconds I was already "hooked" to it again. Looking forward to play the "complete" version some day soon. 



#3 SvOlli OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 11:21 AM

A very nice game. Not only true to the spirit of the 2600 for the developer, but for the player as well.

 

One thing that popped up in my mind: 2 colors with 2 blocks each only scores 40, but shouldn't that score a bit more?

 

[Edit:] And you should go from the title screen to "game over" not "game start".


Edited by SvOlli, Fri Sep 6, 2013 11:33 AM.


#4 Brian R. OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 11:41 AM

Why restrict yourself to 4K? I have the same question about the Pacman 4K game that recently came out.

 

Rather than observing some 30-year-old "spirit," wouldn't it be better to make the best game you possibly can?

 

If that takes more than 4K, so be it, I say.


Edited by Brian R., Fri Sep 6, 2013 11:41 AM.


#5 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 12:30 PM

The developer gets to walk in the steps of giants by constraining himself as they were.  It forces you to come up with novel solutions.



#6 maiki OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 2:19 PM

Yes, a 2600 game should really be coded within 4k to get the maximum impression. Well done.



#7 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 2:30 PM

It is a matter of pride. While others cannot see the difference, a programmer knows if his code is elegant, effective and compact or the opposite. And for a programmer there is a huge difference if the same game is done in e.g. 4k or 8k.



#8 roland p OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 2:40 PM

4K cartridges are cheaper to make too :D

#9 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 2:44 PM

I actually feel a little bad when my games end up being 16k due you my own sloppy coding and expectations of musical scores and hi res title screens.  I respect the screenshots here even more knowing that they're all packed in to 4k.



#10 enthusi OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 2:53 PM

There are quite many aspects of this.
Of course I could go for a 32 KB cart with DPC+, ARM and extra RAM.
Maybe even something fancier after all.
Then again, if I want more RAM, graphics, speed, CPU-capabilities I could as well code for a different plattform.
Like visual basic, Java, or something.
The point (for me) is to code for the 2600 not despite its specialyties/shortcomings and restrictions but exactly because of that...
Having size limits really renders the whole experience iterative. What can I include? Is it worth it? What's the trade off? Should I go for more gfx? Or a title-pic, or some more text?
Maybe if I rewrite it from scratch, another approach saves more bytes?
You start to experience how early pioneers must have felt, like when Grand Prix was crammed into 4k as well. By sheer genius rather than sloppiness in this particular case of Crane.
When the very same coder started to use that special DPC chip, he did not do that to make life easy and get the same things done as before, just simpler but rather to push the limits even further and then max them out AGAIN, at their new spot, etc.
Know, love, hate, learn you code rather than expanding it at any new idea.
One of the games I play most with my wife or non-gaming friends is your 1k cave or Jammed! btw, Thomas ;-)
Thanks for that. And both are perfect examples of ideal simplicity possible due to beautyful code.
Of course limits can also cripple your game concept and ruin the game fatally.
So far I'm still confident that the essence of Assembloids survives being trimmed to 4k :)
Once its done, I'd love to illustrate code/design decisions, since this is also what fascinates me about other people's projects :)
Cheers,
Martin

#11 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 2:56 PM

:thumbsup:

 

(and not only because you like my games ;))



#12 TrekMD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 6:27 PM

Very nice and I can certainly appreciate your choice to stay within the 4K limit.  Looking forward to seeing more of the game!  :)



#13 sqoon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 6:41 PM

I respect the screenshots here even more knowing that they're all packed in to 4k.

I respect a good game no matter the size. Assembloids look nice btw. Not my preference for skulls, but still looks nicely programmed anyway.



#14 zimmerfan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013 9:00 PM

Looks great Martin!  A++



#15 SvOlli OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013 1:33 AM

Why restrict yourself to 4K? I have the same question about the Pacman 4K game that recently came out.

 

Rather than observing some 30-year-old "spirit," wouldn't it be better to make the best game you possibly can?

 

If that takes more than 4K, so be it, I say.

 

I'm "only" coding demos, and not games, but it ends up the same way: to me writing code for the 2600 is almost like playing a "tower-defense" like game: you've got 76 cycles to go for one line, make the most of it. If you go for the pushing the boundries, you put very much thinking in where to push the limits: 4k, Fx-Bankswitching, using SuperChip RAM, 3E, DPC+, bus-stuffing.

 

For the demo ahead of me, I chose to use SuperChip RAM, because it was a common used configuration when the console was on sale... and I really needed the additional RAM to put up some really cool effects. I didn't go for 3E, because that was "invented" after the VCS got out of production. Another reason is that I want to enter an "old-school" competition, and I can argue that this demo could be done on 80's hardware. If I'd go for DPC+ this entry would end up in a "wild" competition, which means "everything not fitting in any other category", competing with demos done on hardware like ARM controllers, and not the C64 or 16bit Amiga machines, because that argumentation would not fit anymore. But for the demo coming after that, I also want to go back for 4K, especially for the challenge.

 

Well going back to the "coding is like a game": how much fun is a game, when you cheat in every way you can? Cheating "a bit" might be worth the effort, because you can get by a very annoying problem, but a shoot-em-up game where the enemies die when they get on screen is no fun at all.

 

Always keep in mind that the people here code on the 2600, because coding on that very limited machine is fun to them. That the result is a fun game to others is just a by-product. icon_winking.gif

 

Hope this helps to a better understanding,

SvOlli



#16 enthusi OFFLINE  

enthusi

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Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013 1:59 PM

Thanks for all this nice feedback :)
Of course anyone can decide if or how she/he is going to code (or not) a game.
Just like I would never use flickering display routines, I wont go to 8k as long as I think it can be done in 4k.
Not saying that this has to be the gold standard in any way of course.
I will upload or link a game play video once I have managed to record one :)
Martin /enthusi

#17 +Adam+ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013 6:27 PM

The game was so suitable for porting from flash, since it could utilize
the colorful bitmap graphics (due lack of scrolling and such) of the c64 and later on the
Atari XE. Ironically, the Atari 2600 version uses its sprites for the faces :)


Well, to be precise, in 'Assembloids XE' we have also used sprites for the faces (to gain colours)... :)

Good luck with your 4K version!

Adam

#18 enthusi OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 5:02 AM

Hi again,
I managed to record a short video of gameplay in Stella
(just a quick hack that dumps one snapshot per frame + ffmpeg):
youtube video of Assembloids 2600
No audio in this video. Also, you will have to trust me, that it _feels_
better when you actually control the directions via joytick.
Visuals only might be a bit hard to follow.
The colors (and title logo as such) are not final yet.
In between gameplay I pause to demonstrate the timer bar.
It gains speed with every tile you set, but after each lost life
it slows down a bit again to gice you a chance to breathe.
At the end I cleared the full board and gained an extra life + 500 extra points.
For those not too happy with the skull: there will be more than 1 face type during
the game :)


Edited by enthusi, Mon Sep 9, 2013 5:02 AM.


#19 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 5:23 AM

I just watched the video and I think I mostly got the game play (do the colors have a meaning?)

 

More than just graphic is good. IMO this game should have some more variation on the game play (e.g. some special items like joker, eraser, color changer, time bonus...)


Edited by Thomas Jentzsch, Mon Sep 9, 2013 5:24 AM.


#20 enthusi OFFLINE  

enthusi

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 5:43 AM

I wrote about the colors in the 1st post. The goal is to have complete faces of single colors.

This short video doesnt really give the impression of speed. It will become fast. I think too fast for a more complex rule-set. At least that's what became evident in the C64 version.

But I will consider your good ideas :)

Btw, found an early shot as well:

olda2600.png



#21 BigO OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 5:44 AM

Though I'm not a fan of the skull motif, the gameplay does look interesting and fun.

(The attached title screen above, to me, looks like it says "Asselbloids" rather than "Assembloids".)



#22 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 6:58 AM

I This short video doesnt really give the impression of speed. It will become fast. I think too fast for a more complex rule-set. 

I understand. The game is more about quick reaction than about solving puzzles.

 

BTW: I think the timer bar should change its colors while decreasing (green, yellow, orange, red, maybe flashing). I think that's easier to recognize from the corner of one's eye while concentrating on the faces in a speedy game.


Edited by Thomas Jentzsch, Mon Sep 9, 2013 7:02 AM.


#23 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 7:35 AM

Once you have more than one face graphic you could do something really nasty. Like a game where the colors should match, but the faces don't. And vice versa. This could become quite irritating.  :evil:



#24 Godzilla OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 8:09 AM

great work! hope this makes it to cart one day :-)



#25 +Adam+ OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013 12:50 PM

BTW: I think the timer bar should change its colors while decreasing (green, yellow, orange, red, maybe flashing). I think that's easier to recognize from the corner of one's eye while concentrating on the faces in a speedy game.


That's why - I think - in the original version the timer bar was placed at the center of the panel, around the central window.





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