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Showing content with the highest reputation since 11/19/2020 in Blog Entries

  1. 2 points
    *Background: Hi everyone! I wanted to start a blog about my long term game dev project, because sometimes I have a lot to say, but most of the usual social media is not very well suited for that. I've been working on a flick screen platformer 8-bit project for a while, it's going to be called Baron Lovejoy Travels in Time. My interest in old 8-bit computers (and consoles) has grown exponentially lately and I'm hoping to port the game to more and more old systems. I got this megalomanic idea when I saw a developer called "Misfit" (also from Finland) releasing his game Rodmän for eight old home computers. It's too much fun getting to know some of the classic systems better and trying to learn how to create games for them. The unique "personality" of the graphics is one thing I really like about the old 8-bit computers (and consoles), you can tell right away if a screenshot is from an Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, NES or Commodore 64 game. 16-bit era games were already harder to tell apart between machines. I haven't decided which versions to take beyond pixel mock-ups, but at the moment I have a small working start on the C64, Plus/4 and Vic-20. There's still a lot to do to finish even one of them. The rest are purely pixel mock ups at the moment. For the Atari Lynx version I have the most graphics done so far. (The graphics on the Lynx was the first original version). Atari 8-bit and MSX mock ups planned next in line. For many of the mockups it took longer to find info and understand the different color modes and limitations of the systems than to draw the pixel graphic itself Many thanks to all the wonderful people on the different machine specific forums that have been more than kind and helpful! I have this idea that every other version can have different main character and variations on the graphics if I want, just like it often was back in the day. That's much more fun than having completely identical ports like games nowadays. 😊 *Some thoughts behind the design and the game: Preliminary story synopsis: The main character is a plump rascal, Klaus "Lovejoy" von Kleinschnabel, the world renown painter, astrophysicist, musician and poet extraordinaire. He's built a time machine driven by steam which he and Countess Mimi uses to help people in time and space. The notorious time thieves are after him because his groove of freedom and love threaten those in power. To proclaim himself Baron (free man) was the last drop for the time thieves, who means to own and control every man, they try to hunt him down through space and time. I want the game to have an unapologetically cartoony style that is clear and easy to read. Even when that might be a bit against "convention" on a specific machine. From what I've seen, using a lot of dithering and detail is extremely common in 8-bit graphics, like for example on the c64 and CPC, to the point that it's become THE style of those computers. Breaking style will probably put a few people off (I know I don't always like unconventional graphic styles on the old machines either) but I want to try and do something graphically "clear" and high contrast, like in (old school) cartoons. I don't think my graphics are that far of convention either. I want to keep the gameplay super simple, kind of like in an archetype platformer style. I've been reading about game design lately, and some complain about "generic platformers" now a days, but I grew up with really basic platformers on the C64, so I love simple platformers. That's why I'm going to create the game I would want to play myself. I'm keeping the scope down with a really simple game. It's more about the fun of exploring different platforms than doing some huge epic game. I can't, and I'm not trying to compete with the recent "AAA" titles released on many retro systems that push the systems to their limits. I'm an artsy fartsy type, so I want to focus on the concepts of feeling(s), fun colorful graphics and a "nice end product as a whole" (for example fun cover art and cover design), that are sometimes forgotten in the technical details. I really do admire it when someone is pushing the old systems to their limits and it's fantastic to see what's been achieved, but I think there's room for simpler games too. Hoping to release the game on physical media when it's done, somewhere in the far future. Preliminary thoughts is at least C-cassette version for some of the systems and cartridge for the Atari Lynx. Another thought I have is to release a slightly simpler and/or shorter game for the low end machines like the Vic-20 and ZX81. They could be called "Baron Lovejoy - Tropical Trouble" or something like that, and the slightly beefier versions for some of the more high-end machines (high-end in 8-bit measurements that is) could be the "Baron Lovejoy Travels in Time" version with more levels/level graphics. Let's see what the future holds. Level themes that I was thinking of in "Baron Lovejoy Travels in Time" are: * the Caribbean 1688 * London 1888 * Miami or California 1988 *Disclaimer, the whole thing can and will still take a long, long time to finish. I'm very busy as I have a family and a day job. I was thinking having this as a constant "side" project, so that whenever I'm not working on a game with my friends I can work on this. Also I was thinking that I could release one version at a time when they're done, and not try the (at the moment) impossible task of releasing many or all versions at the same time. *Screenshots and Mockups: ZX81 (1981) mockup Commodore VIC-20 (1980/1981) mockup ZX Spectrum (1982) mockup Commodore 64 (1982) screenshot Commodore Plus/4 (1984) screenshot Atari 7800 (1984) screenshot Amstrad CPC (1984) mockup Nintendo Gameboy (1989) mockup Atari Lynx (1989) mockup
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  3. 1 point
    Slot car racing sets have always fascinated me, and I have owned a few over the years. Unfortunately, it was always difficult to find opponents to race against beyond just a few runs. I have dabbled many times with the idea of a computer controlled opponent over the years, and finally decided to tackle it as a demo project for the 2016 Chicago International TI Faire in October 2016. I have a lot of experience under my belt interfacing the TI computer to the real world, using the PIO, joystick and cassette port as interfaces, and therefore it was only natural for me to attempt doing this using my good old TI 99/4A computer. The first idea I came up with was outfitting one of the slot cars with a centrifugal force sensor that could send a wireless signal to the TI equipped with a compatible wireless receiver, and thus allow the computer to adjust the speed of the car in order to keep the centrifugal force under a certain limit that would keep the car on the track. The obvious advantage here is that this would be track independent regardless of how tough and twisted the track was. I may still do that at some point, but it required a fairly large scale car and track in order to be able to accommodate the needed electronics and power supply, and I did not want to invest in a large slot car race track at this time. The alternative idea required a different approach, with 2 problems to solve: How to sense the location of the car on the track How to control the speed of the car The sensing part was solved by strategically positioning photoresistors on the track which will sense when the car is over them and thus report back a location to the computer. One only needs to know where a particular type of track starts, whether a curve or a straight, and adjust the speed of the car accordingly. These track sections will be labeled as sectors with a fixed car speed for each optimized by trial and error. Here's the basic circuit diagram: When the photoresistor is fully lit, i.e. there is no overlying car, then its resistance is very low and the PIO line is connected to the positive pole of the battery, and so is in a high state or 1. When the car is on top of the photoresistor, then the latter's resistance becomes very high, therefore the PIO line goes to ground or 0. From there, it's just a matter of masking in software the appropriate bit in the PIO data lines (there are 8 of them) to find out whether it is high or low and thus figure out which photoresistor got triggered. Since there are 8 available PIO lines, it's possible to detect up to 8 sectors on the track. As for speed control, I decided to use the cassette port motor control plug for the purpose. Earlier on, I had experimented with that method to ignite a rocket motor igniter at the request of a fellow TIer (Omega) as seen in the video below: https://youtu.be/4FHgEjmP8C4 Here, I replace the igniter with the connection to the track hand controller which is nothing but a variable resistor. The problem here is that when the relay is activated, then the slot car will get full power and will very likely fly off the track in an instant. One way I came up with to mitigate that problem was to use what I call Pulse Frequency Modulation, where full power is applied for a very brief amount of time, but then repeated frequently. The frequency of the on/off cycles will then determine the speed of the car. The frequency can be easily controlled in software and again I relied on a previous project where I control a robotic arm with the TI as detailed below (skip to 14:11 for the relevant part): https://youtu.be/HrDUJUfcD2k And here's the basic control circuit. I will be using a solid state relay instead of a mechanical one for durability, speed of actuation and lack of bounce. So now we have solved both problems, and it's just a matter of experimentation and putting it all together. I created a small PCB which incorporates both the sensing and motor components as discussed above. The slot car racing set I'm using is a cheap small one which only requires 5 photoresistors. The PCB layout was designed using Circuit Wizard and the PCB was produced using a homebrew process. And the finished product. It won't win any design awards, but hey it's functional Here's the source code for the control program: Below is the video of the experimentation and the completed project: https://youtu.be/TNhTnfGklIg That was a fun one SLOTCAR.dsk
  4. 1 point
    So after giving up on Flies, I went back to work on Hamburgers. One of the things I wanted to do was put in a level select feature. Good thing I did because after playing level 4 and the game went to level 5, I found a bug. The snow was standing still for about a couple seconds and then started falling. I fiddled with the code and eventually got that fixed, although I don't know how. It was super late, about 1 a.m., when I tried to go to sleep. My clock read 12:59. Every ten minutes or so, I'd check the clock to know how long it took me to go to sleep. The last time I did that was after 2 a.m. I woke up with a horrible stomach pain. I looked at my clock. It read 9 a.m. "Good," I thought to myself, "Perhaps I can finally go to the post office and mail those games." So after one horrible bathroom trip later, I went to the post office. Then I came home and had a few slices of pizza and I was still sleepy. So I went back to sleep. I woke up. It was then after 2 p.m. Right now it's 4:15 p.m. Pretty soon I will begin work on level 7 of Hamburgers. I will try to make it a jungle. Like how I tried (and failed) to make level 6 in the clouds. The sky was too bright. I couldn't get a good enough cloud picture. It was horrible. I was going to make the next level in outer space anyway. So I said to myself that I might as well give up on the cloud graphics and move straight to the outer space scene. So anyway, I will make the level select code be in the final version...but as a code.
  5. 1 point
    I don't know if I posted anything about this, but I was finally able to buy a bag of walnuts. Problem is, I had to buy the whole bag. I thought I liked walnuts, so I began to open them and eat them after taking a picture of one. After about eating 5 or so walnuts, I quickly began realizing I hated walnuts. Too bad there's nowhere you can buy just one walnut. I decided to split my giant "A Walnut" song into parts after it became clear that one 159-minute long song was too long to listen to all in one sitting. I mean, nobody's gonna do that, right? So part 1 is 27 minutes long. It is here. It is in MIDI form. I converted the MIDI to MP3 using this site. (It tells you to tell your friends about it, so that's what I'm doing.) I began working on it December 31 and finished it on February 27, so it took about 2 months of on and off (mostly off) time of composing it. Basically what I'm trying to do is make a song longer than Klaus Schulze's "Picasso Geht Spazieren" which takes up 2 CDs. It's about 154 minutes of almost 160 minutes allotted. I want to beat that time for a song, although there are a few songs a lot longer (like that 24-hour long song). So I took a picture of a walnut. I composed part 1. I couldn't go to sleep, so I began work on part 2, even though it wasn't March 1 yet. I have an extra day to work on it because of Leap Day and because I want to finish it by December 31. My plan is to make a part about 26-27 minutes long every couple of months. That way 26x6=156. It takes about 45 minutes to compose 2 minutes' worth. And I couldn't go to sleep last night so I fiddled with my record player. I listened to UFO's "Flying" song, which is groovy. I wanted to make it an MP3, but I could only get mono to work. I guess either it's a mono record or I'm too stupid to figure out stereo. But enough about that. I haven't been in a very good mood lately. I hope to change that with BACON. But in order to eat the bacon, I have to go to my sister's house. I haven't decided yet whether I'll attempt to put the bacon on a burger or not because my last 10-hour-long choking fit back in November was because I tried to eat a left over hamburger of hers. But I've been taking this lovely drug that had worked wonders...until it was pulled off the market because some idiot discovered if you heat it up it causes cancer. So I had to switch to Pepcid AC.
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