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Aardvark for Atari VCS/2600


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#1 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 4, 2016 8:29 PM

Hi guys.
 
Some months ago I was reading about the unreleased Anteater for Atari VCS/2600 and I decided to implement my own version called Aardvark, mostly as a way to at last learn playfield graphics, it was one of my weak points as Space Raid didn't have almost any PF graphics.
 
In that thread you can see three feature-testing ROM (first with the Aardvark, second with the playfield graphics, third with enemies)

8. No changes except modifying it for compatibility with the Atari Flashback Portable. I received this gift from Tarzilla, thanks! :) (technical note: all display code moved to a single bank, otherwise the AFP crashes)
7. Corrected lack of feet in aardvark. Aardvark exits level when all eggs eaten (but returns to same level). Remade code for collision of tongue. Corrected bug where eating right queen would delete left queen. Added music and sound effects ;)
6. Added enemy waves of ants and worms. Aardvark can eat enemies and queen ants. Restarts level when tongue touched.
5. Tongue can be taken back with joystick. Button only returns tongue while pressed. Fixed queen ants in the bottom. Now counts and displays score for eating eggs.
4. The tongue is moveable with joystick, press button to drop tongue, move with joystick (you cannot go back over your tongue) and press button again to take back tongue.
 
Now that most of the core is complete, following pieces should be more easy to code.
 
Enjoy it!
 
aard5.png

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#2 AtariBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 4, 2016 9:57 PM

So I would assume that someday hopefully soon I could buy a copy of this from the store here ?  It amazes me how you are able to finish ports and games so quick  :thumbsup:



#3 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 4, 2016 10:08 PM

So I would assume that someday hopefully soon I could buy a copy of this from the store here ?  It amazes me how you are able to finish ports and games so quick  :thumbsup:

 

Maybe :)

 

Sometimes I'm fast because I like the challenge and I'm able to break the problem into several smaller pieces easier to handle. ;)



#4 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 5, 2016 12:04 AM

Tbis is awesome. I bet it's 1000% better than the lost prototype. Keep it up! :thumbsup:

#5 GoldLeader OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 5, 2016 9:10 AM

Yeah!  Way to go Nanochess!    :-D



#6 Dr Manhattan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 5, 2016 7:16 PM

This is brilliant! Thanks very much for making this. I can't wait to try it. 



#7 TrekMD OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 5, 2016 9:12 PM

Just awesome!  Looking forward to more.



#8 sramirez2008 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 5, 2016 9:45 PM

Wow, can't wait for this to be completed and hit the store!  Put me down for a cart (if it becomes available in cart) please. :)



#9 Kiwi OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 5, 2016 10:38 PM

This is really cool and awesome!! 



#10 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 6, 2016 10:33 PM

Uploaded 5th revision: tongue is more manageable, fixed queen ants at bottom and added score counting.



#11 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 5:40 AM

This is coming along very well. :thumbsup:

 

Some comments:

  1. I like that you can really eat dots in the tunnels here (unlike that other 2600 conversion ;)).
    BTW: This makes the dots at the tunnel intersection superfluous. There should just gaps.
  2. If possible, please make the dots a bit thicker.
  3. The initial aardvark animation seems a bit to fast, those animals are moving pretty slow
  4. The mouth should be centered above the tunnel entry
  5. The tongue must be able to be retreated completely
  6. Maybe you can orientate your game more at the real originals and not the 2600 version. E.g. there are 8 tunnels, not only 6 (or 5 like in your current version, maybe remove PF0 to make the screen look less wide). Also e.g. the mazes, speeds and level progress could be copied from there. 
  7. To save vertical space (required for more tunnels), put the score at the top
  8. And maybe you can add some modifications from other unlicensed copies 

So instead of simply recreating a copy of the inferior original 2600 conversion, IMO you should aim for something better. I am sure, you and the Atari can do that. :)



#12 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 6:42 AM

In case it matters at all, both Ardy the Aardvark and the better known Oils Well on the C64 have 6 tunnels each. Of course it opens up for a better arcade conversion if the original has 8 levels but nearly no home version accomplished that before.



#13 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 7:02 AM

Yup, I have seen those. But there are others with 8 tunnels e.g. the ZX Spectrum version and Aardvark for C64/C16 has 6+1 tunnels. And some games like Oil's Well vary the number of tunnels between 6 and 8.

 

So IMO a flexible structure of the kernel is the best option. A game could start easy with e.g. 5 or 6 wider spaced tunnels and then ramp up in difficulty to 8 tunnels.



#14 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 9:08 AM

This is coming along very well. :thumbsup:


Thanks!

Some comments:

  • I like that you can really eat dots in the tunnels here (unlike that other 2600 conversion ;)).
    BTW: This makes the dots at the tunnel intersection superfluous. There should just gaps.


I was wondering about this, I thought that maybe the points were shown in alternate frames so the reference screenshots doesn't show these, but I think you're right and the gaps are really the points!

  • If possible, please make the dots a bit thicker.


Good idea!

  • The initial aardvark animation seems a bit to fast, those animals are moving pretty slow
  • The mouth should be centered above the tunnel entry


Just Yesterday I was thinking the same while watching the arcade.

  • The tongue must be able to be retreated completely


The arcade always leaves the tongue at that first step.

  • Maybe you can orientate your game more at the real originals and not the 2600 version. E.g. there are 8 tunnels, not only 6 (or 5 like in your current version, maybe remove PF0 to make the screen look less wide). Also e.g. the mazes, speeds and level progress could be copied from there. 
  • To save vertical space (required for more tunnels), put the score at the top
  • And maybe you can add some modifications from other unlicensed copies 
  • So instead of simply recreating a copy of the inferior original 2600 conversion, IMO you should aim for something better. I am sure, you and the Atari can do that. :)


The objective was to look like the unreleased ROM (UR), but now that I've played the arcade I've realized they missed a lot of things! in particular now I'm thinking they used a 4K ROM, the game was still in development, and I think there is free space in the ROM.

In particular I'm willing to redraw the aardvark and adding the sun at the top (instead there is a time counter in the UR)

Moving the score to top is a must to approach the arcade version, also in the bottom I want the stage counter and lives markers.

Not really sure about adding extra tunnels, but I'll think about it, each one requires 15 bytes (5 for drawing eggs, 5 for drawing tongue, 1 for hole and 4 for enemies running in the tunnel)

I pretty sure my version will start deviating soon from the UR screenshots and in a good way ;)

#15 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 9:13 AM

Maybe aim for 8 or 16k with 128 bytes of extra RAM. IMO that's better than restricting the gameplay too much.



#16 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 11:39 AM

I just played a few rounds in MAME and also watched some YouTube videos. Any idea how the difficulty increases?

 

I only found that the days become shorter, so the spider appears sooner and sooner. Eventually the spider will appear so soon, that the player has no chance to clear the screen before. That's pretty lame and IMO should be changed. Other versions don't seem to have that nasty spider. There the difficulty comes from the maze getting more complex and difficult to navigate. IMO that's better.

 

BTW: The anthills are constructed from (reused) pattern which form the rows between the tunnels. So there is very little variation in the maze. You can easily spot those pattern even in the first anthill.


Edited by Thomas Jentzsch, Wed Dec 7, 2016 11:39 AM.


#17 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 12:06 PM

I just played a few rounds in MAME and also watched some YouTube videos. Any idea how the difficulty increases?
 
I only found that the days become shorter, so the spider appears sooner and sooner. Eventually the spider will appear so soon, that the player has no chance to clear the screen before. That's pretty lame and IMO should be changed. Other versions don't seem to have that nasty spider. There the difficulty comes from the maze getting more complex and difficult to navigate. IMO that's better.
 
BTW: The anthills are constructed from (reused) pattern which form the rows between the tunnels. So there is very little variation in the maze. You can easily spot those pattern even in the first anthill.


I found very difficult to pass even to second level! Thanks for checking it.

My TODO list for this week is:

1. Make enemies to walk at different speeds.
2. Introduce enemies one by one into maze.
3. A pseudorandom number generator.
4. Eating enemies.

#18 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 12:08 PM

:idea: Use cheats in MAME. That way you can test every anthill directly.



#19 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 7, 2016 1:52 PM

3. A pseudorandom number generator.


step 10 - "Random Numbers"

#20 D Train OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:41 AM

Some months ago I was reading about the unreleased Anteater for Atari VCS/2600 and I decided to implement my own version called Aardvark, mostly as a way to at last learn playfield graphics, it was one of my weak points as Space Raid didn't have almost any PF graphics.

 

I am just really glad to see you programming for the VCS again.  I have a copy and will certainly get a copy of this once it's finished!



#21 StanJr OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:25 PM

This is a very exciting project!  Thomas has some really great feedback and I am eager to see this develop!  Keep up the great work!

 

:spidey:



#22 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:20 PM

Uploaded 6th revision, took more time than expected, but now the aardvark can eat the enemies and gets points for it. Also the enemies can stop aardvark and level restarts. Had to use 8K as the display kernel is pretty much unrolled.

#23 iesposta OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:48 PM

Impressive! Wow.

Seems so simple, I guess it was just too obscure and the crash came too soon for this arcade game to make it to the 2600?

 

I kind of like that the "double wide" pixel aardvark screams 2600, but I also like the reposition "sliding" they did as far back as "Stampede" and recent as "Space Rocks" where the players are repositioned in 1 pixel increments to make the double wide look more high resolution than it really is.

 

Maybe SpiceWare can mention what is involved with that? Something about only repositioning to the right... 



#24 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:10 PM

Impressive! Wow.
Seems so simple, I guess it was just too obscure and the crash came too soon for this arcade game to make it to the 2600?
 
I kind of like that the "double wide" pixel aardvark screams 2600, but I also like the reposition "sliding" they did as far back as "Stampede" and recent as "Space Rocks" where the players are repositioned in 1 pixel increments to make the double wide look more high resolution than it really is.
 
Maybe SpiceWare can mention what is involved with that? Something about only repositioning to the right...


Good idea! :) made me to think in reusing the 48-pixel score routine for displaying the aardvark :) Added to TODO list.

#25 eshu OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:56 AM

Good idea! :) made me to think in reusing the 48-pixel score routine for displaying the aardvark :) Added to TODO list.

How about using both P1 & P0 double size and different colours like SpiceWare does for the dragon in Medieval Mayhem?? - I'm sure theres a nice post about it somewhere but I can't find it....






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