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Blog Entries posted by PacManPlus

  1. PacManPlus
    Finally completed!
    This idea started when I acquired a 5" LCD panel about a year ago, and I thought about making a mini arcade machine around it. I figured 1/4" scale, because originally they used 19" monitors, so 20" (I rounded up) divided by 5" = 4. I then decided to start with a mini upright pacman, and would like to do others as well (i.e. Asteroids, Defender, Galaga, etc.) Sort of like a 'mini arcade' for people like me who don't have the room for full size cabinets.
    First this I have to say, is that this would not have been possible without John from Boulder Arcade Factory. He was helpful, willing to try something new (he usually sells full size cabinet recreations... I made a Cabaret version with one of his cabinets here), and just a nice person all around.
    John made the scaled-down cabinet out of MDF, and I took it from there. The cabinet was perfect, and he paid attention to every detail.
    Unfortunately, the side art I had printed last year came up a little short (about 1/2 inch), so I painted the bottom. I must have mis-measured last year when I was trying to build it myself.
    Other than that, I tried to follow the exact way the full size cabinet is made. I ended up 3-D printing:
    - The marquee retainers
    - The red joystick ball
    - The Control Panel itself
    - The Coin Door
    - The speaker grill
    AA user 'spawnshop' desgined the coin door, and printed the first one... which I subsequently ruined since then, I purchased my own 3-D printer, and was able to print another two of them, using his design. Thanks spawnshop!
    I found a small joystick on the net and used that as you can see in the pictures.
    I pulled off the keycap, and printed the Red ball as noted above.
    I also used Orange magic marker for the ‘t-molding’, and black marker for the inside.

    Still need to figure out a 'non-permanent' way to attach the monitor bezel (which has the LCD panel attached to it), as well as the Control Panel.
    I used a Raspberry Pi for the innards, and made it boot directly into Pac-Man only.
    Thanks, guys!
  2. PacManPlus
    This only took me 35 years to do, but I'm finally going to have my own brand new Pac-Man cabinet (cabaret version, because that's all that will fit in my house):
    Over the past few months, I've been getting the parts needed:
    The arcade board, Pac2Jamma converter board, Jamma harness, RGB to VGA video converter, Jamma power supply, and a 15" LCD Monitor (the Cabaret cabs used a 13" CRT... this and the coin door are the only places I'm changing the original configuration):

    This pic shows the non-standard coin-door, the light, speaker grill and speaker (in the wrapping), and various switches. The coin door is one I already had, and the 'Boulder Arcade Factory' (link below) said they would modify the coin door opening to fit the one I have!

    This pic shows the Marquee, Monitor Bezel, and completed Control Panel, all new!

    I also have the woodgrain vinyl for the sides and front, that match the original cabinet very closely.
    Most of the things I acquired were from eBay (the vinyl, marquee, monitor bezel, jamma harness and power supply). Most of the other parts (i.e. clamps switches, etc.) were from www.mikesarcade.com
    The control panel and overlay was the last one from someone on one of the arcade message boards who made new ones. I added the wood underneath, joystick and buttons.
    Finally, all I need is the cabinet itself, and I'm getting it here:
    John at Boulder Arcade Factory is very pleasant to deal with, and very professional. I would recommend them to anyone looking to get an exact replica of an arcade cabinet built.
    They have me on a list, and will only be able to get to it in February, which gave me time to get the parts I needed.
    In case you are wondering, I've got the Popeye/Hangly-Man version of the rom board there. The reason for this, is the first time I saw a cabaret cabinet back in the day it had this version of the game in it.
    I also have Regular Pac-Man roms, and a Ms. Pac-Man board to swap out when I feel like it.
    So, this will be built with all new parts.
    EDIT - 04/29/2016
    Here are the pictures of the construction, after receiving the cabinet. You will see the six boards I put in the cabinet. They all have Pac -> Jamma converters on them and I am using a Jamma 6 switch to go between them. I've removed the 'wireless' part and am using a manual rotary switch.

    I like it.
  3. PacManPlus
    Here's a funny one:
    I just found this letter I had written to Imagic some 33 years ago. I was trying to give them an Idea for a game I had (unfortunately I don't have the picture or the instructions; I don't know what happened to them).
    I can't believe I wrote 'you can even steal it if you want - I won't tell any one'
    I do remember the gameplay rules... maybe it will make an appearance somewhere else

  4. PacManPlus
    My wife bought me this printer for Christmas: http://www.amazon.com/WER-Mostfun-Structure-Optimized-Platform/dp/B013WHD2OS/ref=cm_rdp_product

    The next day, I spent the entire day trying to get this thing to work. This is what I found:
    - Instructions are only in Chinese, although I was able to install the software from the pictures they gave
    - No 'step-by-step' or 'quick start' instructions on how to get something printing.
    - After leveling the 'bed' (I can't tell you how many times), when you start to print, the nozzle is far away from the bed
    - I consistently get two types of printing:
    1) Where the filament doesn't stick to the bed and the nozzle drags the plastic all around, and
    2) Where the filament does stick to the bed, but stretches the plastic to each new location the print head moves to. This causes the print head to leave a plastic line (that isn't supposed to be there), and when it dries the print head gets 'stuck' moving over it which throws off the entire print job.
    Either way, I was unsuccessful getting a complete print job.
    - Like mentioned above, I spent the whole day leveling the bed, trying new print jobs, even different filaments, and couldn't get one successful print.

    So, a few days ago I request a return and a refund. The seller, while being very nice and respectful, asked me to try things I already had numerous times. I told him that I already tried everything he asked, and I would like a refund (2nd time asking). He gets back to me asking to try a few more things. I reply that I have the unit back in the box, and I am not interested in wasting more time trying to get this to work. If the printer requires this much work to even get one (unsuccessful) print, it is unacceptable. Please give me an RMA to send this printer back. (3rd time asking). I get a reply asking to watch a video they will make. I have now gotten Amazon involved, and gave them the whole story.

    I have done more research, and while I have found another printer that I would like to get, I'm not so sure I will get another one.
    After looking at *many* reviews for other 3-D printers, the above scenario seems like the *norm*, and not the exception.

    I'm not interested in wasting days just trying to get a single print job to work. It looks to me like 3-D printing (for the home anyway) is not anywhere near close to being ready yet.

  5. PacManPlus
    Back in 2011, 8 months after I moved to Florida from Long Island, my best friend of 33 years (at the time) was diagnosed with throat cancer. He did smoke, but was not a heavy smoker (like someone who would go through packs a day).
    This cancer eventually spread to his lungs, and he tried many different (even experimental) procedures to shove the cancer into remission. Nothing seemed to work. I prayed just about every day since his diagnosis asking God to heal him. A week and a half ago, the doctors finally sent him home with Hospice telling him that there is nothing more they can do. They gave him two weeks.
    The weekend before this one, his wife (who is bi-polar) overdosed on prescription pain medication mixed with alcohol and passed away. She was having a difficult time dealing with Don not having long left, and couldn't deal with it any longer. She was also a friend to me and my wife. I had just texted with her hours earlier about what was going on with him (I can't bring myself to delete the text). This devastated all of us, especially my best friend who is already trying to get his affairs in order.
    I went up to Long Island in May for almost a week to visit him, but I'm going back up tomorrow for what will most likely be the last time I see him. I can only stay for three days total this time, so I'll be back Friday night.
    He and his wife leave a six-year old daughter to be raised by his sister; I can't even imagine what this poor child has to deal with at this young age. For myself, it was hard enought losing my mother and father at 18 and 25 respectively (both also to cancer).
    This is kind of part of the reason I haven't been on much.
    I don't know why I'm even writing this here.
  6. PacManPlus
    This may seem completely out of the blue, but I recently re-read my "Trying to figure out what I should do..." blog, and realized that I'm not any farther along than I was a year ago when I wrote that.
    A few people have mentioned 'Kickstarter' to me, especially when I was working on Bentley Bear, but I didn't care for that path for two reasons:
    1 - It seems very pompous (to me) to start a kick starter campain to do something you love doing.
    2 - How do you put a price on developing software?
    After seeing a few recent layoffs here and not 'getting' this field at all, I was thinking of actually attempting a kickstarter campain for me to fully develop (as a third party developer) Atari 7800 games for a 5-year period. This would do a few things:
    - It would finally allow me to do one of the two things I love to do.
    - I could work on it full-time and possibly get more games out the door in a year.
    - Gives the 7800 a shot in the arm of software titles that it really needs.
    The only problem, is to be able to support myself for at least 5 years and health care, normal bills, etc - plus the revenue to make the carts, I would have to ask for a rather large amount of money. This is where I start getting uncomfortable. I would have to ask between 300,000 and 400,000 to get this going (remember, this is for at least 5 years). I could split it down and have different backing amounts, some that include a cart of each game made, some higher ones that give a list of 5 games a person would like to see on the 7800 and I would choose one, etc.
    This would obviously take a *LOT* more thought and working out, but does this seem entirely crazy to you guys?
  7. PacManPlus
    Wow - I feel honored (and I mean that sincerely). Howard Scott Warshaw just 'endorsed' me on LinkedIn for 'Game Development'. I don't know if that really means anything with regards to LinkedIn, but just the fact that he - someone who wrote 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark', 'Yars Revenge', and 'E.T.' for the 2600 - did that is very cool to me.
    That actually makes me feel a little better about myself (at least for the moment).
  8. PacManPlus
    I'm not sure who will read this, but here goes...
    I had left AA in October due to Real Life circumstances and a few other reasons (that I won't get into). I wanted to concentrate on my current career (in the IT dept of the Healthcare field) because there are quite a few things I have to learn. But I'm finding that I am not picking up things any faster by removing the 'distractions' that I thought were attributing to the hinderance of me learning this stuff. So, I'm starting to see less and less of the point of me leaving, and removing a hobby that is so dear to me.
    Everyone has something in their life they were 'meant' to do; something that makes them feel like they are worth something. If you are lucky enough to be doing that for a 'living', your life is set. Most people, however, aren't able to do so.
    I am blessed in the respect that I have *two* things that fall into that category; creating music and creating games. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to transform either of those hobbies into a 'career'... The problem now is I am finding (and this may sound corny) that there is something major missing in my life now since I've stopped creating games on the 7800. (I gave up on my music a few years ago after 25+ years of sending into radio stations, entering contests, speding too much money on TAXI, and even visiting record companies themselves).
    The problem here is that if my current carer path ends up being too difficult for me, I am getting older now (43 ATM) to the point where it will only get *more* difficult to take on something new. I guess I'm babbling... anyway, just trying to think about things and how I will support myself for whatever is left of my life.
  9. PacManPlus
    Been working on Frenzy, and having a hell of a time with the maze, collision with the objects and maze, collision with the shots and maze, etc. It's unfortunately a lot of code, but I think I got past that part:

    This demo allows you to run around, shooting away parts of the walls and reflecting off of the solid ones.
    I think I may either work on Otto or the Robots next.
    Here's the demo bin:
  10. PacManPlus
    Started working on this game - inspired by 'AstroSmash' on the Intellivision.
    Once I get the basic gameplay down, I will work on differences that will make the gameplay somewhat unique.

    P.S. - I think I need help in drawing the background landscape - that looks horrible
  11. PacManPlus
    I've been having a hell of a time with Frenzy/Berzerk's maze collision detection for the past week. I'm actually stumped for the time being.
    This detection is different than the others I've worked on because it's not *just* the maze piece if it's there or not, but it also matters *where* the player hits the maze piece. To make matters worse, the zones are 8 scanlines high, and the sprites can be 16 scanlines high. This means that any sprite can occupy up to 3 zones at one time.
    To give you a better example, Here is the screen with a grid to show how I split it up (I tried to find the best way, and this was it):

    I had to reduce this by 2 zones, to get 23 zones high + 1 for the score zone. There are also 32 columns (the max). You will notice that the maze is on the left and bottom of each cell. I cannot center them as that will split the 'bubbles' in half, making for too many maze cell variations.
    This means that the player *can* occupy the top right of each maze cell without issue. Plus, I have the entire height of the sprite to worry about. I chose three points (for the three zones a sprite could potentially occupy) on the left side or right side of the sprite: top (0), bottom/2 and bottom. The 'bottom' varies, as all of the sprites are top justified, and the objects themselves are different heights (i.e. player, robot, skeleton, etc.) Plus I have to check the top or bottom (depending of which direction the player is moving).
    I'm just having a very difficult time coming up with an algorithm for this.
    I imagine in the arcade some type screen buffer is used, so that if the sprite hits any 'non-black' area, a collision is registered. Wish I could do that here...
    I'm open to ideas...
    These are how I have the maze peices in my character mode:

  12. PacManPlus
    Finally got to work on this a little this past week, and I made a little progress, and ran into some stumbling blocks. There are some screenshots below As of right now, my biggest issues with this are:
    1) How to do the shields, and have them 'break away' piece by piece. I am assuming they have to be sprites(like the ufo and player) instead of cells from a character set (like the invaders), but I haven't a clue how to start it.
    2) The left and right edges. Being that the screen is being manipulated to give the illusion of the invaders 'marching', I'm wondering how I'm going to know when a left-most or right-most column of invaders are completely cleared. I need to know this because any time an outermost column is cleared, the remaining invaders now march to that edge. So the edge boundaries need to be moved, in effect. hmmm.... Keep an 11 member array of the invaders, (think of the invaders on their side), and when the first or last members equal zero I'll know an entire column has been destroyed... maybe...



  13. PacManPlus
    ... Not that anyone cares
    I haven't been on that much lately, many things going on - including my girlfriend of 12 years being put into the hospital the end of January and coming out the end of February needing kidney dialysis for the rest of her life. She actually went back in the hospital over this past weekend due to an infection (with a 103 degree fever), but she's home again now. It is a very slow process of her getting better. She had lost quite a bit of weight in the hospital (she was only 128 lbs to begin with), and it's hard work trying to get her weight and her strength back. Her age kind of works against her as well (she is about 30 years older than me).
    During the time she was in the hospital, I also finally came to the conclusion (after 22 years) that I will not accomplish anything with music, as I am just not gifted in the 'composing' area. So, I packed up all of my music equipment, my instruments, and put them away. I also removed my album from CDBABY, and destroyed any recordings I have made.
    Also, to make matters worse, I have been serously doubting my ability to learn things lately. After the 'Pac Man Collection' game, I thought I was ready to take on the 7800. Boy was I wrong. I am working on a new project which has me completely stumped. Plus at work I am not picking things up as quickly as when I was younger... and this was starting long before January.
    Between all that going on, and the fact that my Uncle, and two brothers also are having medical issues, I just didn't feel much like coming on very often. I will still only be on once in a while (usually at work - just to check quickly while I'm waiting for a compile to finish or the like), until things start to clear up.
    Man, depression sucks.
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