Have a look at http://www.atari2600...bd15JAN2005.mpg
(4.5MB). This is running on an actual Atari 2600, believe it or not -- captured with a cheap video capture card.
The MPG shows my current flexible game-engine in action as it would appear on a high-end TV. On lower-TVs, flicker will be much more evident (it's to do with phosphor persistance, refresh rates, etc). In any case, some flicker is the cost of being able to display graphics like this. The capture card software appears to have removed the interlacing, so the image looks solider here than in real life.
Now I've pretty much developed the engine, I'm at a crossroads and I'd like to your opinion. Obviously this engine was developed with Boulder Dash-like capabilities in mind. But it is not Boulder Dash -- that particular game is copyrighted to First Star Software, so I can't develop it (without their permission). This game currently has no BoulderDash logic in it, and the graphics shown have been in many other games (DigDug, for example). Even with permission from the copyright holders, I'm sure the terms of development would be prohibitive.
So I'm looking for suggestions/ideas as to what games would be ideally suited to this engine. It can't be "Boulder Dash with nuggets instead of diamonds"! Has to be a different game altogether, using the capabilities that this video is showing my engine using. The player character can be a sprite, by the way -- haven't finished developing that capability yet.
Each of the characters shown onscreen can animate and/or move -- but there is a limit to the amount of action going on -- you can see some slowdown when it has to scroll and redraw large portions of the screen. So things have to be kept reasonable. There can be many different shapes, but they all must be drawn in 4 pixels wide x 18 pixels deep. NOT easy -- try it!
Time for a game design competition, anyone? Best design gets credit and a free copy
Basically at this stage my choices are ...
a) Officially working with First Star and accepting any terms and conditions they throw at me. I can't really say what these might be -- let's just say they'll be very restrictive and I'll be very poor.
b) Creating a totally new game, using your brilliant design and my brilliant engine
c) Finding an existing game that I could safely copy -- ie: the copyright holder would not object to a 'tribute' and would not demand my first born for the right to make it.
I'm also interested to hear what people think is a reasonable way to make a game LIKE another but not tread on any copyright issues. For example, how like BoulderDash can one be, without crossing the line? And I'm serious about being legally and morally correct on this one.
PS: I still think it's freaking amazing that a '2600 can be made to do this sort of thing, even with a bit of flicker!