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Combat Redone

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FOLLOWING ON THE DISCUSSION in Manuel's blog, I thought I'd try to present and, possibly, collect some ideas for a possible re-written Combat game. Like Zach said, doing for Combat what Gunfight did for Outlaw.So, my initial list of desireable/possible features for a rewritten tank game:1- or 2-playersAsymmetrical terrain/mazeScrolling terrainMultiple projectilesMultiple vehicle types (beyond tanks & airplanes)PowerupsMultiple terrain types (walls, water, etc.)Any other thoughts or comments?EDIT: Add mines from Glenn's comment in Manuel's blog.EDIT II: Add more turning angles?

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Combat 2 did those things, but wasn't as much fun as the original. I don't know what it is about Combat, but it is the one cart from 1977 that simply "nailed it". In the 1980's it was considered a joke, but in 1977 it was great and even today it really holds up.

 

I would suggest that Biplane vs Bomber would be more interesting if NUSIZ1 (if that's the bomber) were changed to $35 or $25. That would make the bomber not quite so big, but would make his projectile larger. The net effect would be that the biplane's target area (measured from the left edge of the first missile) would be taller but slightly narrower than the bomber's. A value of $25 would allow some possibility of the bomber's missile flying between the biplanes; $35 would make this less likely.

 

An on-screen timer would be a nice touch. Atari probably could have added one pretty easily if they'd used the Ball. Just enable it for a couple scan lines below the score, and HMBL it a pixel every few frames. When it hits the right edge, game over.

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John is right that Atari really got it right with Combat. That's the main reason I only wanted to do Tank AI as a combat update for so long, but the fact that old Atari games can still be profitable (e.g FB2) means that we may have to look elsewhere. Then again, Atari Inc. is going through a lot of changes, and maybe they will be able to work better with homebrewers in the future.

 

For starters, some subtle momentum like Combat has is important. Look carefully, and you'll see that the tank takes some time to get to full speed and to stop. Also guided missiles make it easier if a computer is up against a human opponent.

 

Although not realistic, I think the way the tanks wrap adds to some of Combat's charm.

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John is right that Atari really got it right with Combat. That's the main reason I only wanted to do Tank AI as a combat update for so long, but the fact that old Atari games can still be profitable (e.g FB2) means that we may have to look elsewhere. Then again, Atari Inc. is going through a lot of changes, and maybe they will be able to work better with homebrewers in the future.

 

For starters, some subtle momentum like Combat has is important. Look carefully, and you'll see that the tank takes some time to get to full speed and to stop. Also guided missiles make it easier if a computer is up against a human opponent.

 

Although not realistic, I think the way the tanks wrap adds to some of Combat's charm.

New features would be interesting, but I think that any new version should at least have a "retro mode" that more or less faithfully replicates the original game. It would be relatively easy to make it nearly indistinguishable from the original, all except for the quirks (like the flying tank bug) but we could live without those. An enhanced version could still be done and selected via the console switches, but I would make sure I left in something that gave us the same flavor as the old one.

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It would be relatively easy to make it nearly indistinguishable from the original, all except for the quirks (like the flying tank bug) but we could live without those.

 

HERESY! The quirks in Combat are part of what make it such a classic. In many other games, bugs are bad, but in combat having a tank fly across the screen just helps make things interesting.

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It would be relatively easy to make it nearly indistinguishable from the original, all except for the quirks (like the flying tank bug) but we could live without those.

 

HERESY! The quirks in Combat are part of what make it such a classic. In many other games, bugs are bad, but in combat having a tank fly across the screen just helps make things interesting.

Sure, quirks are neat, but as you know they are unintentional artefacts of the code. Most likely, the only way to accurately replicate them would be to copy and/or reverse-engineer the original code. And this defeats the purpose of rewriting a game from scratch for the purpose of avoiding copyright infringement.

 

Then again, if someone here can honestly determine precisely why the quirks happen without resorting to picking apart the code, there shouldn't be a problem. All I know is that it's not obvious to me.

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Excellent project idea! :cool:

 

Well... the main difference inbetween Gunfight and Outlaw is that it is playable for solo players as well :)

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Then again, if someone here can honestly determine precisely why the quirks happen without resorting to picking apart the code, there shouldn't be a problem.  All I know is that it's not obvious to me.

I believe the flying tank bug comes from the way Combat handles player-playfield collisions. When a tank is hit it travels more than one pixel per frame and may end up on top of the PF. In that case it keeps moving until it escapes the PF. The tank flies when it moves in a direction that keeps it on top of the PF. Also, there is some mechanism to keep the tank from flying forever. My hypothesis comes from working on the Combat code for many years, on and off.

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I believe the flying tank bug comes from the way Combat handles player-playfield collisions. When a tank is hit it travels more than one pixel per frame and may end up on top of the PF. In that case it keeps moving until it escapes the PF.

 

That's correct. The tank goes flying just often enough to be interesting, but not so often as to be annoyingly predictable. Trying to strike the balance in a new game might be a little tricky, though probably not too bad.

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The flying tank is an "emergent behavior". It's a bug that actually adds an element of fun to the game, especially in combination with the wrapping of the sprites around the corners.

 

I think that going to 4-players would be a big improvement to the game (using Supercat's multiplexer idea). Atari employees used to play the 8-player coinop version in their game room. Obiviously, to do that you would need an intelligent flicker routine.

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