Jump to content

Starcat's Photo

Starcat

Member Since 1 Dec 2001
OFFLINE Last Active Jan 13 2019 5:47 AM

#4196532 Skunkboard serial EEPROM mod

Posted by Starcat on Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:32 AM

Hey folks,

for a recent project I needed a serial eeprom on my Skunkboard (for saves). Here are some pictures of what I did if you want to try it yourself. You should be skilled at soldering and do this at your own risk.

SkunkEepromModsm.jpg

It’s a very basic mod and only the first 128 byte slot of this eeprom is used like a single game would. But it works fine if that’s all you need.

http://www.starcat-d...ial-eeprom-mod/

 

Cheers

Lars




#4127028 New Starcat Devocean project?

Posted by Starcat on Thu Oct 4, 2018 8:41 AM

@sh3-rg: What I have in mind will probably be a cross between something text heavy like you posted and some location artwork, but in a simple pixel style.

Lost Dragon, Saturn, Clint Thompson, Diatoir3d, and Stephen Moss:  You have summed things up pretty well.

@agradeneu: I agree with what you said about storytelling games and them being available for all kinds of systems.
Except that I don't understand that last part about "rather than to project unrealistic expectations."

For now imagine it as an interactive story like sh3-rg posted, but with some location art to illustrate. That should be close enough without raising false expectations.




#4126196 HalMock FurBall - Sink or Swim gameplay video

Posted by Starcat on Wed Oct 3, 2018 2:55 AM

Hey folks,

just dropping by quickly today.

 

Have you seen our (Starcat Devocean) Atari Jaguar game "HalMock FurBall - Sink or Swim" yet?

 

It's a cartoony one-button highscore-hunting game, well suited for competitions on events.

You can download the game for FREE on our Website: http://www.starcat-dev.de
There you also find downloads of our other games. Enjoy!

 

Here is a gameplay video as was asked for in another thread:

https://www.youtube....h?v=hL6B70RgT-A




#4124916 New Starcat Devocean project?

Posted by Starcat on Mon Oct 1, 2018 7:16 AM

Hey everyone,
in this post I speak for the Starcat Devocean team. We’ve been toying with a new game idea for a while now. This post is about getting an idea whether or not there may be enough interest in a Jag version. And how such a version could be realized and distributed.

Who are we?
Starcat Devocean is a team of two from Germany (Starcat and Gavia + occasional helpers) developing homebrew video games in our spare time.  We’re not making games for a profit, but because we want to say something, share our vision, entertain and tell a story. The games are experimental, creative / artistic and sometimes raw. There is no padding around unpolished edges.
If you like games in 2D pixel style strong focus on storytelling and oldschool game mechanics maybe there is something here for you.

What making homebrew games is like...
This isn’t a business. It doesn’t pay any bills. (Maybe it does for pirate scum on Ebay, but not for us. We don’t even get a dollar donation if we don’t enforce it, but we don’t want to resort to that.)
We’re creatives, artists and programmers and we do what we do with what limited resources (time, energy, motivation, money) we have.
The best thing you can do to support us is enjoy what we make, spread the word, show a bit of appreciation and if you liked a game maybe consider a donation. Like help cover expenses, buy us a virtual beer or coffee as a token of love.

A look back...
The previous Starcat Devocean release »HalMock FurBall: Sink or Swim« was a bit of a shock to us. The download numbers were the lowest of any of our releases yet. From a technical and creative point of view it was pushing the Jag further than any of our releases before. So what went wrong? Not your kind of game? Not interesting because there is nothing for collectors? Not enough »promotion«? Not interesting because it’s just a demo to test the waters?
Our expectation was that at least people would be curious to play something new. There are definately worse releases out there...
Whatever it may be. To us it felt like we were wasting our time by bringing new games to the Jaguar. We have decided that »HalMock FurBall: Sink or Swim« will not be developed further for the Jag and maybe not at all.
We were considering a cart version of »JagMind: BombSquad«, but we got zero reaction to that. Again it feels like nobody cares.

To us it’s a simple question of priorities and time. Making a game for the Jag is a lot of extra work. Personally I still love the Jag and would like to keep doing something.
But my honest question and worry is: Is this still the right platform to put time into?
I’m willing to give it another try. But I’m really having a hard time understanding today’s community. I've been keeping an eye on the forums and social media for the past year. Prices for hardware and software go through the roof. Most people have the equipment to play homebrew games. There are less flame wars. People have grown up it seems. There are more releases than ever before. Great things are happending. More developers are around, but still the community doesn’t feel as active or more healthy than it was fifteen years ago.

Why this post?

I'm not asking what games you want to see on the Jag. That's not the point here.

We can only make our games and I wonder if the Jag is still a good fit for those.
What I’m trying to figure out is how this whole thing can work for me and my team.

And if our game idea is something you want to get for the Jag.

Do you still play Jaguar games or just collect them?

 

Do you care about a game if it’s only available as digital release and would you be willing to pay for it to support the developers?

 

Would you care about a game because it’s on the Jaguar, but not if it was on a different platform?

 

Is there a kind of game on the Jaguar you’re sick of? Something you do NOT care about?

 

What would be your perfect release scenario and medium for a new game? (CD, Cart, Download + homebrew-runnable-device...)

Our game idea...

ITCAN (working title) would be an interactive story in a noir-like setting with life-simulation-like and rpg-like elements. A bit coming-of-age, a bit dystopian, socio-critical thought-provoking. It’s based on a short story of mine, which I wanted to turn into an animated movie almost ten years ago, but that never happened.

The idea never went away. I feel like a game format would be perfect, because playing is stronger than watching something.
It will not a big game in one run, but replaying it will open a lot of possibilities.
It won't be a feel-good game and there is no action. It’s no graphics or hardware showcase. But there is nothing like this on the Jaguar and if you like indie storytelling games this one is for you.

A lot of the game concept is already written and I’m prototyping on PC. Now I’m trying to get an idea if this would be a title you want to get and play on the Jaguar.

Cheers
Lars




#4057148 Jaguar + OSSC + SCART = Really Nice Picture

Posted by Starcat on Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:48 PM

I use the same setup: OSSC + retrogamingcables Scart cable. It's awesome even on a modern 40" LED TV. I love crisp pixels.




#4057146 Skunkboard auction with proto - support homebrew!

Posted by Starcat on Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:41 PM

As the auction ended I got about $70 extra after fees etc over what I originally paid for a reproduced skunk (incl. shipping) earlier this year.
That is actually more than I expected and I'm very thankful for that. Of course I included a little thank you note to "ultrastorm" (the auction winner).

Yeah, I still have another skunk to test my code on.

As mentioned in the auction the full sum will be put towards Starcat Devocean support, like keeping the servers up and running.

@JagChris:
Has he?
That explains a lot. ;)

--
No seriously, it's true I haven't been doing much game development in recent years and I miss it.
I'm still tinkering on the Jag from time to time. "HalMock FurBall: Sink or Swim" being a late example. I'm also experimenting to build a version of "JagMind: Bomb Squad" that doesn't require a JagCD.
I love the Jaguar, always have and I do believe there are a lot of great people left in the community, but sure a lot has changed and I'm still figuring out what this means for making Jag games. It kind of feels like we wasted our time?

 

Sometimes I wonder what people think making homebrew games is like? This isn't a business. It doesn't pay any bills. (Maybe it does for sellers of pirated copies on Ebay, but not for us.)

Starcat Devocean is not a company, but a team. We're creatives and artists and we do what we do with what limited resources (time, energy, motivation, money) we have.

The best thing you can do to support us is enjoy what we make, spread the word, show a bit of appreciation and if you liked a game maybe consider a donation. Like buy us a virtual beer or coffee as a token of love.

 

Most of my time goes into earning a living as a programmer in my bread-and-butter-job and being a writer the rest of the time.
After getting out of commercial game dev it took a while until my passion in making games returned. I couldn't even stand playing games anymore.

Fortunately that's all coming back.

I never liked the commercial side of games and 'the industry'. I grew up with the homebrew spirit of the 80s and 90s. It was all about creating something awesome.
Over the years I've learned how hard it is to make time for creative work next to a busy workday earning a living. And to justify doing so in front of family, friends and even myself.
Somehow it's even more difficult to explain what it means to be a creative, even moreso a homebrew developer to somebody who is looking forward to a game and may not have the same background.
I had to realize that there is no way for me to earn a living being a creative. Not because I'm no good, people happily take my work, but because there is no way to get paid a decent wage. Or not be treated like dirt.

That only leaves my spare time for creative work. Which means things take long.
There are many people with awesome projects out there. Too many to really get noticed. But only Gavia and I can make OUR games. Just like nobody else can do my writing for me.

This isn't a race and for us it's all about making our games. They may not be perfect and they may not be what you expect. But if we feel something is a good idea maybe others enjoy it too.

So since earlier this year Gavia and I have been working on new ideas together as Starcat Devocean.
These are 2D or simple 3D retro style games. Kind of a reimagination of 1995 spirit with strong focus on gameplay and story.
They are different from what I did before.
They are not for the Jaguar at this point and I don't think I will create another exclusive game, simply because development is much more effective on modern platforms from a creative point of view.
Which means two things: Higher quality and lower development time. Something might actually get finished. Something might even find it's way back if it's in any way feasible, I don't know at this point. First comes the game.

As a fan I can somewhat relate that you may *want* to see new titles released for the Jaguar. I do, too.
But I can't relate anymore to only care for a game if it's on one specific platform. Not in the age of gaming platforms being literally everywhere.
If I care about a game the platform is only a question of access. I care about playing that game and I hope you do, too.

Maybe you think different. In that case our games are probably not for you and that's fine, too.
But those of you who are in it for the fun, not just for the collecting, they'll be able to play Starcat Devocean games on a platform they already own.

Even tough I worked in Unity on professional games before, I never really considered it to make retro-style games until then.
It's awesome. We can quickly try an idea without much hassle. Perfect for prototyping.




#4046994 Skunkboard auction with proto - support homebrew!

Posted by Starcat on Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:16 PM

Hello everybody,

 

I'm selling an original Atari Jaguar Skunkboard (with proto) to raise some funds for Starcat Devocean projects.

 

https://www.ebay.de/...ew/263749061973

 
It's an original Skunkboard I bought back in the day when the Rev. 2 was just released. It was used to develop and test some of the Starcat Devocean games (i.e. HalMock FurBall: Sink or Swim). The board has been upgraded to a Rev. 3 and has the latest firmware installed.
 
As a little gimmick for collectors I put two games on it: My latest release HalMock FurBall: Sink or Swim which is basically the version I offer as a download, but running from Rom. And an unreleased experimental version of JagMIND: BombSquad which previously was only available on CD. This one is fully playable, but does not include sound or support saving.
 
I am selling this Skunkboard to get some funds to put into future Starcat Devocean projects and cover operating costs of the website such as server fees.
 
Frankly, I've been offering my games and other Jag related downloads such as the dev manual for free for many years now and kind of wish to get back at least *something* as a token of appreciation. I will keep things as they are even if I don't but still. If you care to know: There were a few thousand downloads over the years, compared to three digit sales of Ocean Depths back in the day and two digit sales of later releases. The donationware approach never amounted to anything sadly.
I'm kind of dissapointed that even the downloads and thus play count of my latest release (HalMock) were lower than anything I was used to.
Maybe I should have done more to promote all that, but that I don't like overhyping something. It is what it is.
 
The winner of the auction does not only get an original Skunkboard (in it's original cardboard box) and with the mentioned games, the support is also highly appreciated.
Don't worry, this is not the only Skunkboard I have, but the only one for sale. ;-)
 
I'm doing this auction to offer the skunkboard I used for development over the years to a fan or developer to hopefully make good use of it.
The money is used as support for Starcat Devocean projects.
 
Who is Starcat Devocean?
We're a team from Germany developing homebrew video games in our spare time. Our passion lies in retro-style games like those of the 80s and 90s we grew up with.
The team consists of my girlfriend and myself with other developers helping out on occasion.
 

If you like games in 2D pixel style with humor, strong focus on storytelling and oldschool game mechanics maybe you enjoy our games.

We're making video games like it's 1995.

http://www.starcat-dev.de




#4006091 HalMock FurBall : Sink or Swim – UPDATED!

Posted by Starcat on Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:55 PM

At some point on real hardware the OP could crash resulting in a blank screen. Something only powering the system up again would fix ( as far as I know).

 

The issue was ultimately a OP and bandwidth problem. (Which was why Virtual Jaguar didn't have a problem with it.)

The game uses a lot of big overlaying objects with scaling, so the OP needs as much time as it can get on the bus.

So I had to reduce the CPU time that was spent on memory access and restructure the OP list a bit.




#4000467 HalMock FurBall : Sink or Swim – UPDATED!

Posted by Starcat on Wed Apr 4, 2018 1:29 AM

Hey folks,

some players had compatibility problems on actual hardware, especially Jaguar models of the early M series.
We worked hard to fix the issue and updated the download.
Thanks a lot to Nicolas Persijn who tested the game. It should now work on all retail units.
 

screen-300x266.png

 

HalMock FurBall: Sink or Swim is a cartoony one-button highscore-hunting game for the Jaguar.

The game is designed to run from RAM. Use a Skunkboard or similar dev kit or convert the game using Jiffi into a format you can use.

 

Enjoy the game!

 

http://www.starcat-d.../halmockSOS.php

 




#3921528 A little something for the holidays…

Posted by Starcat on Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:59 AM

I have seen the game can be picky on some Jaguars (usually before the first wave of levels though) and not get futher, but for me it was never reproducable when or why it happened.

Retrying always fixed things for me. What setup do you have? I assume it's NTSC, K or M? Standard console with skunkboard or modified in some way?

 

Yes, I figured people outside of the community might find the included VJ useful. ;)

 

I hope you still get to play and enjoy it. :)




#3918529 A little something for the holidays…

Posted by Starcat on Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:36 AM

Hey everybody,

Here is a little something from Starcat Devocean for you to enjoy.

I present: »HalMock FurBall – Sink or Swim« for the Atari Jaguar.
Featuring:
– Cartoony graphics
– Fun one-button space hamster action
– EEPROM highscore saving (if device supports it)

 

screen-300x266.png

 

The game is designed to run from RAM, so you need Virtual Jaguar (Alpine mode), a Skunkboard or similar dev kit or convert the game using Jiffi into a format you can use.
Enjoy! http://www.starcat-dev.de

 

 




#3898232 JagZombies

Posted by Starcat on Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:53 AM

 @Jeffrey: I can relate that you are excited about the project and you want to share your progress. But the community may not be ready for that. Better share with other developers who are closer to your project and better understand the stage it is in.

I would like share a few related lessons I learned in professional game development as well as homebrew game dev if I may:

 

1) People may like the sausage, but they don't like to see how it gets made.

If you are working on an original idea game development is rarely the organized process that players believe it is. Not in professional game dev, much less in homebrew games. For creative people, builders and hackers the creative chaos is awesome. Hacking together a prototype is part of the fun and making games has to be fun, otherwise what's the point? It's what made the wild spirit of early 80/90s games and the demo scene.

 

Today people are used to serious and planned franchises big companies produce year after year. Often with a marketing budget as big as development budget or bigger.

All of what the audience sees from these games is staged. They see staged demos and staged appearances on events.

They read carefully revised interviews with people who's whole job is actually PR and not development.

If a team is really wild, there may even be staged workspace pictures, but they look nothing like their real workspaces.

All that is not done to fool players. It's done not to alienate them and give the right impression.

 

This is of course a very polarized view of things. There is something in between "creatives at work" and "people in suits demanding you follow their milestone plans to the last detail no matter what" and having entertainers present the results to the public.

But the thing to keep in mind is: The whole staging was invented to make the right impression at the right time. And that is true for any project, no matter how big or small.

 

1b) There is a time to show a prototype to a selected group. That time is the beta stage. If you show too early, people will just get irritated and confused, because they are not involved in the development process and can't tell what already is done and what is still being worked on.

You end up with a lot of feedback that you already know and at the same time people get the wrong impression because they always see what does not work. It's human nature.

One very difficult truth I had to learn as a game designer: The work of a good game designer is invisible. It's a natural part of the game. You only see it when something does not work.

 

2) For a professional team, making a demo is never fun. They do it because they have to. It means stepping back from actual development and building something artificial that has to look and feel good, but all that work is later thrown away. It eats up development time that's all.

This is actually a mistake I always made in my early years. I put too much time into building tech demos.

 

Some of my projects in a nutshell:

Star Alliance: Learning programming and building tech demos.

- all games in between: tech demos -

Eerievale (on the Jag): Building technology, learning adventure game development, writing story and building tech demos.

 

The first real games I made even though small were during my game design study.

 

Funny enough this can also happen in commercial game development.

On the first big project I worked on, my approach would have been to build a gameplay prototype first.

The idea was scrapped as a waste of time. We ended up building a nice looking product, that was more a tech demo than a game with gameplay being slapped on in the last minute. I had to fight hard to get the resources to add any gameplay at all. ;-)

 

Ah well, now back to topic. ;-)




#3888744 JagZombies

Posted by Starcat on Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:42 PM

That's cool! My demo was created using Project Tempest as test environment back in the day and was quite picky on the real hardware. Sometimes it ran, sometimes not and back then I didn't have the time to figure out how to fix it.

I have sent you a PM. I'll see if I still have the original assets somewhere. Maybe you can tell me more about your idea and what you need. :)




#3888731 JagZombies

Posted by Starcat on Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:04 PM

Looks great!
Actually this is something I wanted to do back in the day to, but I got distracted during my study. Let me know if I can help in any way. :)




#3886032 Atari Jaguar in FPGA

Posted by Starcat on Tue Nov 7, 2017 11:43 PM

Hmm, with the recent hype of the Mini consoles such as Genesis Mini, C64 Mini, the enormous success of the Mini Nintendo consoles (NES, SNES) with the SNES selling over 2 million units and the very good Analogue devcies (Nt Mini and Super Nt coming soon) which actually use some kind of FPGA implementation in mind...

 

Has any progress been made on the Jag FPGA since? How compatible is it to the original Jag?

 

It's just a dream but I would love to have a Jaguar Mini with HDMI connector similar to the Analogue Nt devices that use original controllers and carts. ;-)

It could use a smaller version of the Jag case design too. I always loved that.