Jump to content

Photo

"The Minstrel’s Legend” An Intellivision RPG?


115 replies to this topic

#101 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

DZ-Jay

    Quadrunner

  • 11,265 posts
  • The P-Machinery AGE is almost here!
  • Location:NC, USA

Posted Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:51 AM

 

C64 is no comparison - the C64 just has so insanely much more memory to make the Inty essentially a pocket calculator in comparison. (Literally, I have a late '70s pocket calculator that has more RAM than the base Intellivision. HP 41C with memory expansion - gives it about the same amount of memory as an Intellivision plus ECS.) That was the biggest problem with the Intellivision - while the CPU was "decent" (2 MHz, 16-bit CPU,) that should have been almost on par with the CPU in the original IBM PC. But it was severely hobbled in RAM. The graphics unit was also very limited, being much lower resolution than the Coleco and C64, as well as having fewer available colors. 159x96 resolution with 16 colors. That's it.

In theory, the Intellivision can address 64 KB, though (combined RAM+ROM.) If someone were to make a game that *NEEDED* more memory, they could put RAM on the cartridge. (UCSF Chess did this! Adding 2 KB of RAM to add enough RAM for the 'vs. computer' mode to be possible.) So if you were to program a game that fit in a tiny amount of ROM (8 KB, say,) but needed a large amount of RAM, you could add ~48 KB of RAM to the cartridge, That would allow for games nearly as complex as a C64 - as long as your code+resources fit in a small area (or you implement bank-switching to allow more code to be loaded.)

 

But you can't get around the resolution and color issue. You can "hack" the color by changing between two colors very fast to "emulate" another color (flash between red and blue really fast to make it look purple,) and there are games that have done this (Tower of Doom, for one.) But it is CPU intensive, so to my knowledge, has only been used on fairly static "intro" or "transition" scenes, not in-game to add more colors. And the resolution is a hard limit. ColecoVision had higher 256×192 resolution, but fewer sprites, and while it could display the same number of colors, the way it could apply them was more limited. In the end, programmers for Coleco were able to make use of the much higher resolution to better effect, in spite of its other limits.

 

Some of the points in your comparison are not really fair, and some of the limitations you described apply only to the original Mattel games, and were mostly due to cost constraints of cartridge production of the time.

 

I believe the Intellivision CPU by itself can address up to 1Mb of memory.  The Intellivision hardware puts some constraints on this, tough.  Current home-brews have an available ROM address space of 42K (that's Kilo-Words, not Kilo-Bytes -- for the CPU addresses 16-bit words), strewn about 5 non-contiguous segments -- and that's before adding the ability to bank-switch, which gives you ~15 overlaid banks per segment.

 

Modern cartridge PCBs include just about 8K of additional RAM (again, that's 16-bit Kilo-Words, not Kilo-Bytes, since the CPU addresses 16-bit memory), which is plenty for long, complex, and highly intricate games.  These are features that could have been used back in the day, but hardware costs (specifically for memory chips) were prohibitive at the time.

 

None of this is to say that it could compete successfully against the C=64, but keep in mind that the Intellivision was designed as a dedicated gaming machine (to be expanded into a micro-computer later on), back in the late 70s, to compete specifically with the Atari VCS.  The Intellivision was lightyears ahead of the VCS, starting with its built-in operating system with a sophisticated (if perhaps a bit limited) game engine and re-usable framework, followed by its eight built-in sprites and buffered card-oriented video display (no more chasing the beam!), all the way through its increased RAM and its three-voice polyphonic sound processor.  Specifically, the buffered video was a significant step forward in capabilities.

 

Of course, there were things that the VCS could do that the Intellivision couldn't (those 16 colors were really limited and weird), but the Intellivision was far more capable than the VCS in almost every other practical way.

 

The ColecoVision was released almost 3 whole years later (the Intellivision was released on 1980, but it was test-marketed in 1979, which is proof of it being already fully developed and market-ready at that time), and took advantage of changes in the industry and hardware availability, not to mention business pressures which forced it to build upon the capabilities of the Intellivision.  It is superior in some significant ways (most importantly, screen resolution), but sorely lacking in others (e.g., limits on the number of sprites that can exist on a horizontal scan-line, etc.).

 

It is fair to put the Atari VCS, Intellivision, and ColecoVision on the same scale inasmuch as it is recognized that they were part of an advancing continuum; and that, although they were contemporaries in the sense that they were sold during the same time period, they were products of a constantly changing industry and increasingly accessible hardware advancements.  Depending on your view, you could include the Commodore 64 at the leading edge of that continuum; but by that point, the VCS is much too far behind to reasonably compare in any meaningful way.

 

Anyway, all that to say that the Intellivision is better than the VCS (in some important and practical aspects), somewhat favorably comparable to the ColecoVision (although at about half the screen resolution), and very much less so to the Commodore 64.   ;)

 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program:  The Minstrel's Legend is brought to you by...

 

    -dZ.


Edited by DZ-Jay, Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:59 AM.


#102 JohnPCAE OFFLINE  

JohnPCAE

    Moonsweeper

  • 461 posts

Posted Sat Aug 25, 2018 5:50 AM

For what it's worth, the Intellivision did have one ace up it's sleeve, though an unused one: an overlay video pin that is independent of its internal hardware limitations. That said, working on my video overlay project has definitely shown me why the Keyboard Component might have been prohibitively expensive: it takes an awful lot of 74xx IC's just for the video portion, and I'm cheating with modern IDT SRAM and FIFOs, not to mention AVR microcontroller (Arduino for the moment, though performance demands might require me to change to something faster). That said, in today's world of FPGA's it might be possible to finally realize that vision from so long ago.



#103 CharonPDX OFFLINE  

CharonPDX

    Chopper Commander

  • 102 posts
  • Location:Portland (the left one.)

Posted Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:01 PM

 

Ever thought about upgrading from the 41C to the more advanced 48SX calculator?  There is even a 41CV Emulator Card available for the 48SX.  ;)

 

attachicon.gifs-l1600.jpg

 

 

Yup, have a 48SX, too. Wish I had the 41CV Emulator card!



#104 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    River Patroller

  • 3,342 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:27 AM

 
C64 is no comparison - the C64 just has so insanely much more memory to make the Inty essentially a pocket calculator in comparison. (Literally, I have a late '70s pocket calculator that has more RAM than the base Intellivision. HP 41C with memory expansion - gives it about the same amount of memory as an Intellivision plus ECS.) That was the biggest problem with the Intellivision - while the CPU was "decent" (2 MHz, 16-bit CPU,) that should have been almost on par with the CPU in the original IBM PC. But it was severely hobbled in RAM. The graphics unit was also very limited, being much lower resolution than the Coleco and C64, as well as having fewer available colors. 159x96 resolution with 16 colors. That's it.

In theory, the Intellivision can address 64 KB, though (combined RAM+ROM.) If someone were to make a game that *NEEDED* more memory, they could put RAM on the cartridge. (UCSF Chess did this! Adding 2 KB of RAM to add enough RAM for the 'vs. computer' mode to be possible.) So if you were to program a game that fit in a tiny amount of ROM (8 KB, say,) but needed a large amount of RAM, you could add ~48 KB of RAM to the cartridge, That would allow for games nearly as complex as a C64 - as long as your code+resources fit in a small area (or you implement bank-switching to allow more code to be loaded.)

 
But you can't get around the resolution and color issue. You can "hack" the color by changing between two colors very fast to "emulate" another color (flash between red and blue really fast to make it look purple,) and there are games that have done this (Tower of Doom, for one.) But it is CPU intensive, so to my knowledge, has only been used on fairly static "intro" or "transition" scenes, not in-game to add more colors. And the resolution is a hard limit. ColecoVision had higher 256×192 resolution, but fewer sprites, and while it could display the same number of colors, the way it could apply them was more limited. In the end, programmers for Coleco were able to make use of the much higher resolution to better effect, in spite of its other limits.

What's the intellivision colour hack you're talking about in tower of doom? I've never heard of it before.

The Intellivision can adress 64k x 16 bit memory since it has a 16 bit data bus, double that of the c64. Computers needed more installed ram than consoles because they were expected to load program from disk/tape into ram, where consoles were expected to run directly from cartridge rom.

More importantly, the c64 graphics chip, vic2, is far more capable than the intellivision stic. In the three years since 1979, commodore engineers were able to borrow ideas from intellivision, texas instruments, atari, and leverage falling ram prices. The vic2 can make use of 16kB ram compared to under 1kB the stic uses, and has double the vertical background resolution. They both have a 16 colour palette but vic2 can have three colours per tile/sprite. Like the stic, the vic2 is limited to eight sprites per scan line but vic2 sprites have 50% more pixels per line, and can be reused on different scan lines for a total of 256 sprites. They both have hardware background scrolling but it's more capable on the vic2. The c64 cpu is likely more powerfull as well. Intellivision has a capable sound chip but again the c64 is better. Although the atari 5200 and coleco vision came out at about the same time in 1982, they were also based on 1979 technology. The c64 was also triple the price but quickly came down within a year to compete.

Edited by mr_me, Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:38 AM.


#105 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

DZ-Jay

    Quadrunner

  • 11,265 posts
  • The P-Machinery AGE is almost here!
  • Location:NC, USA

Posted Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:40 AM

What's the intellivision colour hack you're talking about in tower of doom? I've never heard of it before.

 

I think he means dithering two colours by rapidly switching between them at 30Hz.  It does help "blend" the colours, but at the cost of severe reduction in brightness.  Plus, depending on the quality of the TV, it may still retain some perceivable flicker.

 

   -dZ.



#106 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    River Patroller

  • 3,342 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:48 AM

Yes, I see in tower of doom it's used to get different shades for each step in the start animation. It works fairly well, a little flicker. I wonder if it's used anywhere else or any other cartridge.

Edited by mr_me, Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:49 AM.


#107 First Spear OFFLINE  

First Spear

    Stargunner

  • 1,305 posts
  • Location:Somewhere in Uptown

Posted Wed Sep 5, 2018 10:09 AM

There is a "fight mode" that resembles the Ultima III/IV/V series. You can see some early screen snips on the Intv Prime home page http://intvprime.com/, it shows overland (party has horses so the main icon shows the Minstrel as "mounted"), walking in the Towne, and the tactical/battle mode with all 4 characters and the wizard has just hit a bandit with a spell.

 

Still super excited to play this. Ultima 4 was my favorite computer game of all times, and this has a strong Ultima vibe. Is there an attack or fight mode, like Ultima? It seems like that would work really well within the hardware restrictions for the Inty. Nice job!



#108 Sir Jay OFFLINE  

Sir Jay

    Chopper Commander

  • 181 posts
  • Location:Northern Michigan

Posted Sat Sep 8, 2018 6:19 PM

There is a "fight mode" that resembles the Ultima III/IV/V series. You can see some early screen snips on the Intv Prime home page http://intvprime.com/, it shows overland (party has horses so the main icon shows the Minstrel as "mounted"), walking in the Towne, and the tactical/battle mode with all 4 characters and the wizard has just hit a bandit with a spell.


Coolio. I saw those pictures, but didn’t realize how they fit with the game play. This is looking great. This is my most anticipated game right now. I look forward to seeing some live game play at some point. The C64 has nothing on the Inty!

#109 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

DZ-Jay

    Quadrunner

  • 11,265 posts
  • The P-Machinery AGE is almost here!
  • Location:NC, USA

Posted Sun Sep 9, 2018 5:14 AM

The C64 has nothing on the Inty!

 

As someone who grew up with both, I wouldn't go that far.  Them's fight'n werds! :o



#110 First Spear OFFLINE  

First Spear

    Stargunner

  • 1,305 posts
  • Location:Somewhere in Uptown

Posted Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:24 PM

Tweaking the art and reducing program size, scripting:

open("@PaintShopPro");
while ( looksGreat($pixelart_image) == false )
do
changeOnePixel($pixelart_image);
enddo
workAnother($pixelart_image);

#111 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

DZ-Jay

    Quadrunner

  • 11,265 posts
  • The P-Machinery AGE is almost here!
  • Location:NC, USA

Posted Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:21 AM

Tweaking the art and reducing program size, scripting:

open("@PaintShopPro");
while ( looksGreat($pixelart_image) == false )
do
changeOnePixel($pixelart_image);
enddo
workAnother($pixelart_image);

 

Haha!  That's funny!  But seriously, that's how I do my artwork too, pixel by pixel.

https://player.vimeo.../video/54165189



#112 First Spear OFFLINE  

First Spear

    Stargunner

  • 1,305 posts
  • Location:Somewhere in Uptown

Posted Mon Oct 1, 2018 7:29 AM

https://twitter.com/...751707785560064



#113 fdr4prez OFFLINE  

fdr4prez

    Stargunner

  • 1,733 posts

Posted Mon Oct 1, 2018 11:53 AM

Can we see the demo ROM during PRGE?

 



#114 First Spear OFFLINE  

First Spear

    Stargunner

  • 1,305 posts
  • Location:Somewhere in Uptown

Posted Mon Oct 1, 2018 12:31 PM

Doubtful, the "ROM is full" issue is still being worked-on. I hear the swamis at Intv Prime are working on it semi-feverishly.

 

 

Can we see the demo ROM during PRGE?

 



#115 BBWW OFFLINE  

BBWW

    River Patroller

  • 3,063 posts
  • If it is not fun move away slowly.
  • Location:On the Northern Coast of San Mateo County, CA

Posted Sun Oct 7, 2018 9:26 AM

Keeping Intellivision great one less pixel at a time.



#116 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

DZ-Jay

    Quadrunner

  • 11,265 posts
  • The P-Machinery AGE is almost here!
  • Location:NC, USA

Posted Sun Oct 7, 2018 9:28 AM

Doubtful, the "ROM is full" issue is still being worked-on. I hear the swamis at Intv Prime are working on it semi-feverishly.

 

 

 

Send me a PM.  I'll see if I can help. :)

 

   -dZ.






0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users