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Juno Playable!

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cd-w

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I have done some more work on my Juno First game recently. The game code has now grown rather large, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make changes without causing breakage or exceeding the scanline counts. Also, I'm now into the tedious last 5% of the implementation, which involves tying up all the loose ends and adding polish. However, I'm determined to finish the game this year without getting distracted by any other shinier projects!

 

blogentry-6563-1206115470_thumb.png

 

The main change in this version of the game is the addition of 8 levels to the game, this means that it is finally possible to play the game properly! The other main changes in this version are:

  1. A new colour scheme supplied by Nathan (colours change on alternate waves - see screenshot).
  2. A message display at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Lots of code reorganising.

Note: It is essential to play this game with Phosphor mode enabled (-f for Z26, or Alt-P in Stella) or the game becomes (more of) a flickery mess!

 

The main things left to do now are more levels (I think I can fit around 32 levels in the game), Savekey/AtariVox support, more sound effects, and an attract mode if there is space.

 

Anyway, let me know what you think of the levels - they are a bit rough at the moment and not properly tuned. I think the game is going to be very hard indeed as I haven't managed to finish these levels without cheating (but it could just be me)!

 

Have a Happy Easter,

Chris

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Wow - fan-flickery-tastic! :D

 

I'm amazed how much stuff you got on screen. It's really looking great. These seem to be the formation rounds (bonus rounds?), which should be the worst-case scenarios, correct? The other rounds don't have nearly as many aliens appearing all at once. I really like how the homing missiles blink red now. :lolblue:

 

A few quick notes: 1) the player's lasers probably shouldn't be able to kill a bunch of aliens with a single shot (although it does make it easier, the arcade game doesn't allow it), 2) can you increase the rate of fire any? 3) can you change the background color during the game, like the arcade version (green when freeing an astronaut, red when picking him up, blue when you die)? 4) can the aliens materialize a little higher up on screen at the beginning of a wave to give you some breathing room? and 5) I'm having a hard time noticing when the waves end. Can something be added to make this a little more obvious?

 

Awesome work, Chris! I'll have to try this out on real hardware and see how it looks.

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Just tried it on real hardware - it rocks!!

 

The flicker can get a bit extreme at times, but it's completely playable, and a lot of fun! The only noticeable bug I ran into was that sometimes I'll shoot a sphere, and will end up passing right over the astronaut without picking him up. Seems to happen when there's a lot of flicker in the area.

 

After some more playing, I kind of like the fact that you can wipe out an entire column with one shot. It makes up for all the times the little buggers materialize right on top of you. :D

 

On the Game Over screen, it'd be nice if it showed your score (before you returned to the title screen sequence). Just because right now it seems as if something is wrong with the game by it not being there. I do like the Today's Best though. Nice addition. Bring on the HSC! :D

juno_113450.jpg

 

I managed to almost get through wave 8. This is all that was left:

juno_last.jpg

 

Another suggestion - during hyperspace, a louder "countdown" sound effect would be nice. Something along the lines of the arcade game.

 

I'm really glad you've resumed work on this - it's going to be fantastic when finished.

 

Long live flicker! :lolblue:

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Hi Nathan,

 

Thanks for all your comments - I'm glad you are finding the game fun as that it the most important thing of all! Also, thanks for testing on real hardware as I wasn't sure the game actually worked outside the emulator. I was planning to make the aliens appear in waves on most levels, but I will add some more randomness and space them out a bit to try and reduce the flicker. To answer your points:

 

  1. I will see if I can change the firing to only wipe out one alien so you can compare, but it might be tricky to implement.
  2. The fire rate is dependent on the speed of the laser (only one can be on screen at a time) - I will try speeding it up a bit.
  3. It should be possible to change the background color when the astronaut is running.
  4. I will move the aliens further back so they don't appear on top of you so much!
  5. The grid color changes to show the end of a wave - would an extra sound effect help to make it clearer?
  6. I will display the score on a separate screen at the end of the game.
  7. I will make the hyperspace sound louder - I also want to add a sound effect when the astronaut is running.

 

One more thing: did you ever use the warp feature (triggered using select)? I'm thinking about removing it as it doesn't seem necessary, it is difficult to use, and it is currently a bit buggy (not enough spare bits to do a proper counter). On the arcade game it was useful to avoid the homing bullets, but I don't think this is such an issue in my version.

 

Thanks,

Chris

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One more thing: did you ever use the warp feature (triggered using select)? I'm thinking about removing it as it doesn't seem necessary, it is difficult to use, and it is currently a bit buggy (not enough spare bits to do a proper counter). On the arcade game it was useful to avoid the homing bullets, but I don't think this is such an issue in my version.

 

I didn't miss it at all. I also don't think the game is too hard right now, I already managed to roll it, scoring almost 200K in my best game :lolblue:

 

What I find is fascinating is that the flicker isn't a problem at all. I think that is because the player ship is solid and you're never directly focusing any of the enemy ships. Pure blasting fun! :D

 

I think the kill-em-all shots and firing frequency are fine, but I agree with Nathan that the enemies are often spawning scaringly close to your own ship. The spawning also sometimes seems to be too persistent in certain places, i.e. it will immediately fill the gap again from your last kill. Especially when this happens a few times in a row it feels a bit odd.

 

A small fanfare celebrating a new wave might indeed be a nice touch. The fuel bar seems a bit pointless, I just once let it run out on purpose to see what happens then :D

 

It's also been a while since I last played the Arcade, what does the "hyperspace" phase actually do again?

 

Other minor points:

 

- Maybe Nathan has an idea to make the Hiscore table look a bit better? The odd "1 - - A A A" lines look a bit confusing IMO.

 

- A midgame RESET shouldn't wipe out "Todays Best".

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Hi Manuel,

 

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you don't think the flickering is a problem as this is the main technical limitation in the game. I think the scoring is too generous at the moment - I should probably divide the score values by 10 at least! The game can show a maximum of 16 aliens on screen at once. New aliens are spawned at certain time points, but if the maximum of 16 is reached then the game will wait until there is a free slot before spawning. This can lead to the behaviour where new aliens immediately replace the ones that are shot. I can fix this simply by increasing the time gap between spawns. I'm going to move the aliens back a bit so that they don't appear so close to your ship, and also increase the vertical spacing between them. The fuel bar is quite pointless in the arcade game also, but I'm planning later waves with huge numbers of aliens, so it might become useful them. I will probably remove the useless warp feature in the next version. In "hyperspace", the aliens stop firing and you get an accumulated score for each alien that you shoot (watch the score area). In the arcade version, the aliens also attempt to run away, but I haven't managed to squeeze this into the game yet. Finally, I could use my 24-char text kernel to display the scores and initials on the same line, e.g. 1-AAA-000000, if you think this would look better?

 

Chris

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Wow! I was already impressed with the last demo, but this is freaking awesome! I love the effect as the enemies materialize. The graphics and colors are excellent! There's so much on screen - I feel surrounded while playing!

 

If I was to suggest anything, it would be more variation between the thrust and laser effects. I like what is there, but it is similar enough that it almost starts to sound like static. It's not really an issue though.

 

Holy wow! :D :lolblue:

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  1. It should be possible to change the background color when the astronaut is running.
  2. I will move the aliens further back so they don't appear on top of you so much!
  3. The grid color changes to show the end of a wave - would an extra sound effect help to make it clearer?
  4. I will display the score on a separate screen at the end of the game.
  5. I will make the hyperspace sound louder - I also want to add a sound effect when the astronaut is running.

  1. Excellent. I think also doing that during Hyperspace (like a dark red) would work better than flickering between the two color schemes. Or at least it would be more noticeable. Plus having it flash a couple of times before returning to normal gives the player a nice warning, too.
  2. Thanks!
  3. There's a very distinct pause and sound effect between waves in the arcade game, where bonus points are counted up (with the screen empty), then on the next wave it starts out with your ship materializing. Something like that would be very cool.
  4. Or even just alternating it with "Game Over" would do the trick.
  5. Also, the aliens make a different sound when exploding in hyperspace in the arcade game.

A couple of other observations:

  • In the arcade game, the action freezes when you die. That would also be a nice addition, if possible. It adds a nice emphasis to it.
  • The enemy homing missiles make a very distinct sound when launched in the arcade game, giving you a heads-up that you're in trouble.

One more thing: did you ever use the warp feature (triggered using select)? I'm thinking about removing it as it doesn't seem necessary, it is difficult to use, and it is currently a bit buggy (not enough spare bits to do a proper counter). On the arcade game it was useful to avoid the homing bullets, but I don't think this is such an issue in my version.

Never used it - my console is more than an arm's length away. It would really have to be implemented with a two-button joystick (Omega Race grip, or second joystick in a Spy Hunter adapter) to be useful. For that matter, I only used it in the really hard waves in the arcade game. It's nice to have for completeness, but as-is, not easy enough to access.

 

What we really need for homebrews, is a voice-activated module that plugs into the second joystick port, so you can just shout "Warp!!" when you need to. :lolblue:

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Finally, I could use my 24-char text kernel to display the scores and initials on the same line, e.g. 1-AAA-000000, if you think this would look better?

Well, let's see...

 

textkernelscore.gif

 

With some color:

 

juno2600score.gif

 

Yep! :lolblue:

 

You can even get the level number in there (like in the arcade).

 

Edit: revised the screenshot to show two-digit level numbers. It looks a little odd with a mix of one and two-digits in that column. Not sure the solution there. Either you have even spacing between columns with one or the other, but not both.

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Awesome! :lust:

Juno First is set to become for shooters what Lady Bug is for maze games on the 2600. :cool:

 

One observation on the Juno18 version: I noticed that at times enemy shots seem to follow the player's movements - don't know whether that's intentional or a bug? Feels a bit odd, but does not distract much, actually.

 

Just a couple of additional polish comments:

- you earlied had asked about the hummering sound. I find it rather cool, adding tension to the atmosphere - it could IMO however be a bit louder to optimize that effect.

- the alternating blue and red background colors (I've seen so far) provide some very welcome and enjoyable visual variation - any chance to introduce more background colors in later levels?

- just wondering if there is/will be opportunity to collect an additional life at some score? (must admit I havn't really played too far into the game..)

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One observation on the Juno18 version: I noticed that at times enemy shots seem to follow the player's movements - don't know whether that's intentional or a bug?

 

That's the homing missiles mentioned above and they're intentional, because they're in the Arcade as well. Providing a fine extra challenge in higher levels IMO :cool:

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Wow! I was already impressed with the last demo, but this is freaking awesome! I love the effect as the enemies materialize. The graphics and colors are excellent! There's so much on screen - I feel surrounded while playing!

If I was to suggest anything, it would be more variation between the thrust and laser effects. I like what is there, but it is similar enough that it almost starts to sound like static. It's not really an issue though.

Holy wow! :lust: :cool:

 

Thanks for your comments. I'm still tweaking the sound effects and I#ll try to come up with some more variety in the thrust effect.

 

Chris

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Awesome! :lust:

Juno First is set to become for shooters what Lady Bug is for maze games on the 2600. :cool:

 

One observation on the Juno18 version: I noticed that at times enemy shots seem to follow the player's movements - don't know whether that's intentional or a bug? Feels a bit odd, but does not distract much, actually.

 

Just a couple of additional polish comments:

- you earlied had asked about the hummering sound. I find it rather cool, adding tension to the atmosphere - it could IMO however be a bit louder to optimize that effect.

- the alternating blue and red background colors (I've seen so far) provide some very welcome and enjoyable visual variation - any chance to introduce more background colors in later levels?

- just wondering if there is/will be opportunity to collect an additional life at some score? (must admit I havn't really played too far into the game..)

 

Thanks for your comments - I'm glad you are enjoying the game. As Manuel said already, those are homing missiles - they look a bit odd in the early levels as they move quite slow, but they look better when the speed ramps up in later levels. To answer your points:

  1. I'm glad the humming isn't too annoying - I'll increase the volume in the next version.
  2. I'll see if there is any space for more colours later, but it is already getting tight for space (in 32K!)
  3. I will be adding this feature someting in the next few releases.

 

Thanks,

Chris

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