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Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

Annoying non-orthoganal SC bankswitching

One of the weird characteristics of the SuperCharger is the bankswitching. On one hand it does have some flexibility in mapping the three 2K RAM banks to either the low ($1000-$17FF) or high ($1800-$1FFF) banks, with or without the ROM BIOS (always $1800-$1FFF). But on the other hand, there are a limitted number of possibilities: D4-D2 bank config 000 3 ROM 001 1 ROM 010 3 1 011 1 3 100 3 ROM 101 2 ROM 110 3 2 111 2 3 The big limitation (IMHO), is there are no options for bank 1 &

EricBall

EricBall

 

AMD to buy ATI

So the rumors were true. Although I'm not convinced this marriage was a good idea for anyone.   According to the press releases, AMD is going to use ATI to improve it's chipsets, especially wrt integrated graphics, with the idea to integrate the graphics core and onto the CPU in the future.   First problem - AMD has significant financial issues. They are deep in debt, their stock ain't doing hot, their current mass-market CPUs aren't doing so well against Intel's, and Intel can price-cut m

EricBall

EricBall

 

GCN Mario Party 4

Mario Party 4 continues the tried-and-true formula from the N64 board game + minigame series. As usual, there are enough changes to make it unique without straying so far that you will need to read the manual.   One significant change is item spaces have been changed to mushroom spaces. You only buy most items from stores. The mushroom squares randomly give either a mega or a mini mushroom (no traditional mushrooms). Mega mushrooms make you big, you roll two dice, squash opponents (for ten co

EricBall

EricBall

 

GCN - Pikmin

Another rental, this one I picked out. I completed a little over a third of the game so far.   Pikmin is best described as a lite RTS (that's Real Time Strategy) game. You need to divide your time between creating Pikmin (by harvesting pills, plants and defeated animal enemies) and gathering your ship parts (by removing objects and enemies from your path). You have 30 game days (each lasting ~15 minutes) to collect the 30 ship parts (although I'm not sure all are necessary). Each day you p

EricBall

EricBall

 

GCN - Mario Golf

My five-year-old son picked this one out from the local video store ($5/7 days each or three for $10), I think mostly based on Mario (and Chomp) being on the cover.   I have mixed feelings about this title. When I first read through the manual, I realized that MG is more of a golf simulation with Nintendo characters than a Mario Cart or Mario Party style golf game. I was really worried that my son (and wife) would have real difficulty playing with the complicated control scheme. Fortunate

EricBall

EricBall

 

GCN - Luigi's Mansion

This was one of the CGN launch titles, and I'm agreeing with some of the comments I recall reading at that time.   My biggest complaint is the linearity of the game. As opposed to SM64 where you had the opportunity to open multiple worlds very quickly, with very few roadblocks other than the Bowser battles, LM plods along - forcing you to visit rooms in a preset order (often requiring you to traverse the same hallways and stairways over and over). An in spite of this, I occasionally found I

EricBall

EricBall

 

GameCube

For my birthday my wife and son gave me a GameCube. It may not be the newest console but that just keeps the cost down.   I bought an N64 when it first came out. Super Mario 64 sold me on the system and, at that time, I had the disposible income which meant I didn't flinch at the price. It's a good system, and my five-year-old son has great time playing Mario Party (1, 2 or 3).   But when the GCN came out I wasn't as ready to spend the hundreds of dollars for the system, controllers, memor

EricBall

EricBall

 

re-learning past mistakes

Experience is what tells us that we've f*cked up ... again!   It was a case of one thing leading to another.... Adding the scoring routine (which still isn't complete) meant I needed to rework the banking and layout to free up some more usable space. Which lead to a minor kernel rewrite, then some tweaks to the movement logic, and a complete rewrite of the movement routine to use fractional positioning with difficulty levels, and a cleanup of the initialization routine.   Too many changes a

EricBall

EricBall

 

preparing to re-install Windows XP

June 1st I'm going to visit my grandmother (5+ hour drive and across the border), coming back June 4th. While I'm there, the plan is to upgrade her from dial-up to the high speed connection offered by her complex. And I'm planning on doing a complete Windows XP re-install as well. (This will also be a dry run for my own reinstall.)   Over lunch I picked up a cheap NAT router/firewall (a must have IMHO), a 320GB drive and an external case for it. The drive is for me, but I'll bring it to ma

EricBall

EricBall

 

7800 sprite to display list idea

One of the frustrating aspects of 7800 coding is constructing the display lists. On paper it sounds like a great plan - a list of pointers to sprites with width and horizontal positioning info. Very powerful and flexible, but damn difficult to use in practice.   My balldemo code has, what I thought, to be as efficient way of doing this as possible. The pseudo code goes something like this: For each sprite determine which display list based on the vertical position. Add sprite pointer etc

EricBall

EricBall

 

PS3, Xbox 360 HD-DVD, Wii

Okay, Sony has announced that the Blu-Ray based PS3 will be available November 11th for US$600 for the full featured model and US$500 for one with a 20GB hard drive (instead of 60GB), no WiFi, and no HDMI outputs. No HDMI means no HDCP, which means downsampled outputs for movies that have that setting enabled. But is this as big a deal as the value Xbox 360 lacking a hard drive? It is if A: you think that Blu-Ray will make HD-DVD a technological footnote and B: you have (or plan to buy) an HD

EricBall

EricBall

 

Skyland - watch it!

I shoulda posted here earlier (since the first episode was shown this past weekend) but it's never too late to get started.   Anyway, if anyone is into anime / cartoons / animation then you really should watch Skyland (Weekends @ 7:30 on Teletoon in Canada, also on one of the Nick stations, and probably also some over in Europe). The quality of the animation (particularly the backgrounds) is equivalent to the big screen anime of Studio Ghibli (Howls Moving Castle; Spirited Away) or Akira. No

EricBall

EricBall

 

iPod Linux lust

Today the iPod I bought off eBay Tuesday night showed up at the door. It's only a 20G photo, but since my target model was a mono 4G model and I was able to get the color practically NIB for minimal additional cost, I'm not complaining. It's main use will be in the car alternating between my wife's playlist and my son's.   Anyway, I've also learned about iPodLinux. Now, normally I wouldn't be interested, but they've ported DOOM! There's also a GameBoy emulator, and some other ports of othe

EricBall

EricBall

 

Fractional movement

My current challenge is rewriting the movement routine to use fractional positioning for both the player and enemies. (Well, the enemies already used fractional positioning, but now I'm giving them two speeds.) There are actually four different speeds: falling speed - 20 pixels per second fast player - 13.3 pixels per second slow player / fast enemy - 10 pixels per second slow enemy - 8 pixels per second   Weird numbers, but those are the integer movements which match up with the round-r

EricBall

EricBall

 

Fractional positioning

I just had an interesting thought. Typically with fractional positioning the fractional byte is treated as an unsigned value/256. So $10.10 = 16+16/256.   For Leprechaun I see that causing two problems. First when the sprite moves left, it will move one pixel left on the first frame (3+n/256), but it will take multiple frame to move right one pixel. Second, my collision detection only checks the integer bounding boxes, which is okay from a sprite perspective, but is a little sloppy numeri

EricBall

EricBall

 

movie studio stupidity

For those of you who aren't techo-geeks let me give you a quick summary:The big electronics manufacturers have created the successors(!) to DVDs : HD DVD (arriving March 23rd) and Blu-Ray (arriving May 23rd). Both are CD-sized optical discs like DVDs and are capable of HDTV resolution. But, because the two camps couldn't work out their differences we're stuck at the moment with two incompatible formats. Which one is VHS and which one is Beta remains to be seen.Unfortunately, most studios have de

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun scoring idea

Leprechaun has gotten stalled unfortunately, but I came up with an idea which I'd like some comments on.One suggestion was to speed up the game. In the current WIP the player moves 1 pixel every 6 frames, while the enemies use fractional positioning to move at a slower rate. My initial idea was to change the player to use fractional positioning to move faster, but then change the enemies to 1 pixel every 6 frames (i.e. same as the current player).Anyway, it occurred to me that an interesting o

Guest

Guest

 

TIA AGN part 3

Okay, I've figured out how the clock for the 4 stage shifter is done and gone back through and reworked all of the equations now that I'm a little more used to keeping track of whether I'm changing a NOR to an OR or an AND (depending on whether I want the output or the inputs inverted). This isn't to say I couldn't get it wrong, just less chance.Q1-5 is the 5 stage shift registerQ6-9 is the 4 stage shift register AUDC Q1in0000 1xx00 (Q5 XOR Q9) + !Q1*!Q2*!Q3*!Q4*!Q5*!Q6*!Q7*!Q8*!Q9yyxx (Q5 XOR

Guest

Guest

 

TIA Audio Noise Generator part 2

Continuing my adventure puzzling out the TIA schematic, I turn my attention to the AUDF section as a prelude to figuring out how the clock signal for the 4 stage shifter is generated.The Audio Frequency Divider takes two clock signals (A01 and A02)* and generates two clock signals (T01 and T02)* using AUDF[0..4]. So to start with we need to look back at page 1 of the schematic and Andrew Tower's TIA Hardware Notes to learn more about where A01 and A02 come from.A01 and A02 are based on the main

Guest

Guest

 

TIA Schematic - Audio Noise Generator

I have been looking at the TIA schematics to better understand how the "Audio Noise Generator" works. (The noise generator is on page 4, although there are details of the register blocks on page 1.) Really the ANG is three separate chunks. 1. AUDF - which divides down the 2 * HSYNC clock signal and creates the T01 and T02 clock signals. I haven't looked at this section in detail yet, although there may be some interesting bits around the timing of changing AUDF. I'm also going to assume that T

Guest

Guest

 

Apple ][ hi-res graphics

The Apple ][ was capable of "280x192 6 color hi-res graphics", but how it accomplished those graphics is bizzare to anyone familiar with modern memory mapped graphics (i.e. 256 color VGA). Even more amazing was the quality of games which were written for the Apple ][ series in spite of what the programmers must have gone through.In conventional memory mapped graphics there are two basic assumptions: 1. Each pixel is represented by a set number of bits, e.g. 1 for monochrome, 2 for 4 color, 4 f

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun CVS

Nothing new* to see here unless you're looking at the source. Hopefully this is the final kernel rewrite.1. reflected playfield2. (zp),y player sprites3. REFP = no separate left+right sprites4. blank sprite instead of repositioning to far leftWhat's interesting is even with this rewrite I effectively have no free cycles in the majority of the kernel. Or rather, there are free cycles, but they don't happen during the inactive portion of the display. There's even a minor color glitch on the far

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun to-do list

Now that Christmas is over and I'm not trying to turn 700 slides into a DVD, I need to get back to working on Leprechaun.One item which is working (although I'm not going to post it since it doesn't affect gameplay) is the change to a reflected kernel. I wanted to get that working before the level editor sees the light of day. Kirk Israel has been working on the level editor, but the next challenge is implementing the save & load capability.My next update should include the corresponding l

Guest

Guest

 

Leprechaun scoring idea

It's not a game unless you can keep score.The base idea I have is to have a count down timer for the level which would start each level at 999.9s or 16 min 39.9 sec. You would have unlimitted men (restarts) but limitted time. Bonus time would be given for picking up gold. Once you completed the level, your time remaining would be added to your total score.There will probably be the ability to practice levels, but that wouldn't be scored.How does that sound to everyone?

Guest

Guest

 

WIP, gameplay complete

The basic gameplay is now complete. Press the button and push the joystick right or left to dig. Comments, opinions & suggestions welcome.I also managed to trip myself up quite nicely as I was adding the new sprites. Basically I forgot that any access to $1FF8 aka $FFF8 on a SuperCharger will trigger a bankswitch. And I stuck the sprite data after the playfield bitmaps, which just happened to be on page $1F00. So the game would work quite nicely until it did the right blit and accessed

Guest

Guest

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