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Ryan Witmer

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About Ryan Witmer

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  • Birthday 03/08/1979

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  • Location
    Burien, WA
  • Interests
    Programming, board games, martial arts, baseball, cricket
  • Currently Playing
    Phantasy Star
  • Playing Next
    Shining Force

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  1. This could certainly be done with the twin-stick control mode that I plan to support. The problem is that I feel like control and fire accuracy are going to be awful on the 5200 sticks. I might try doing this just to see how bad it really is, and perhaps I'll offer it as an option for the brave. I just confirmed that you can do this, assuming we're talking about this same thing.
  2. I know, I just wanted to keep things simple for this video. In my mental model, the follow on guys are part of the same wave. That's really interesting. I'm not sure if I knew that. I'll need to spend a bunch of time with the Intv game to confirm this. Not complaining! Today I accomplished what I call the "contact jam," the jamming of doors by running into them. That was my goal for the day, and pretty much the weekend. No pictures or anything, because it doesn't really look like anything. Next week I plan to get started on the enemies. I have some plans for this, but there's a lot of groundwork to put down so I may not have any visible results for a while.
  3. It's simple mathematics. Start and Reset are used more often than Pause, and with roughly equal frequency. * and # are probably the next two most used keys, since many Atari releases use them to select player count and difficulty. Since all of these keys are on the left and right, the center column is, on average, the most important column. * and # are used more often then Start and Reset because when you configure your game you usually press them more than once, while Start and Reset are pressed at most once per game. This pulls the average key weight toward the bottom of the key pad, but 0 is rarely used, therefore 8. 5 is also rarely used, several games use the top and bottom rows of numbers, therefore the average shifts towards 2. Ergo, 2 and 8 are the most important keys. QED Actually, I was joking. I just wanted to post a strange answer.
  4. Today I got most of the door logic working. Disc collision with the doors and screen edge warping is now implemented. Here's a quick video I made showing off the early state of the game:
  5. Just wanted to do a little bit of "thinking out loud" about this game. When I do a game project, I always try to identify THE PROBLEM. What is THE PROBLEM? It's the one thing that I need to get right, or else there is no game. The best example of THE PROBLEM I can give was from RealSports Curling. It was possible, however unlikely, for sixteen rocks to be active at the same time in that game. So THE PROBLEM for that game was how to actually put sixteen rocks on the screen in a way that would work. The 5200 only offers eight sprites, and four of them are two-pixel wide missiles. Those wouldn't work at all. The solution was to build all the rocks out of the playfield. The player sprites actually make up the rings, and the missiles are used for various vertical lines. The rocks are, in effect, a really fancy moving background. I first got the idea for a Deadly Discs port way back before my first game, and I quickly identified THE PROBLEM even back then. In the Intellivision original, there are four enemy types and they're distinguished by color. Normal dudes are light blue, armored dudes are purplish, leader dudes are dark blue, and the orange dudes show up at 1,000,000 points. In addition to this, there are four types of enemy weapons. Normal discs are dark blue, double-damage discs are kind of a dark purple, seeking discs are white, and the orange dudes have white staff things. The 5200 provides eight sprites. Four of them are 8 pixel wide "players" and the others are 2 pixel wide "missiles." On the surface, this seems perfect! There are four people on the screen at once, each has a small weapon! THE PROBLEM lies in the colors. There are two ways to do color for the sprites. Normally, each player has an associated missile that shares its color. There's also something called "fifth player" mode which allows you set the four missiles to an independent color, but it's one color that all four missiles share. The 5200 doesn't have enough sprite colors to do this the way the Intellivision does. So, what are the possible solutions to THE PROBLEM? The first decision to make is whether or not to try to preserve the color-coded approach that the Intellivision used. It's worth mentioning that the final orange enemies don't throw their weapons, they're just decorative, so there's less of a need to make a solution work for those guys. If the is answer is yes, the color coding should be preserved, how can it be done? I have one solution and I don't like it. Flicker. I could flicker between the players and their weapons, changing the color every frame to simulate 8 sprite colors. Against the mostly black background of the game, this might not actually look that bad. It also has the advantage of being really easy to do. The disadvantage is that when flicker does look bad, it looks really bad. It also breaks hardware missile-to-player collision detection, since the players and missiles will never actually be on-screen at the same time. I'm not sure I'm willing to give that up. Any other approach that I can think of involves dropping the Intellivision's color coding, at least in part. This allows some other possibilities. It's clear that the enemies can be color-coded or the weapons can be color-coded, but not both. So how to differentiate the things that aren't color-coded? Make them look different. This leads to two approaches: The enemies all look the same, but are colored based on their type. The enemy weapons are shaped differently based on their type. The weapons all look the same, but the enemies are colored based on the type of their weapon. The enemies themselves look different to represent their type. Option 2 seems to be the best. The players are 8 pixels wide, so there's a lot more room to come up with different designs to make them distinguishable. There's only so much you can do with a 2 pixel wide weapon sprite. So what will I do? I haven't decided yet. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is a problem that's been on my mind for over six years. I was hoping that after a few 5200 games I would have come up with a good answer, but I'm pretty sure that answer isn't coming. Now that I'm committed to doing the game, I'll finally have to make a call. I'm leaning toward different enemy designs, colored based on their weapons. Time will tell, I guess. Sometimes the way these things turn out surprises me.
  6. I spent the morning playing around with doors. Here's a first shot at an open and closed door on the back wall. I have another playfield color to work with and I'm going to change the color of the open doors at some point. The doors themselves don't function, but I do have all of code in place to create any arbitrary door. The doors on the other walls are far less interesting. This is probably where I'm going to stop for this weekend. It's Sunday afternoon now and I feel like doing things that don't involve writing code. I still need to figure out what to do next. Possibilities are working on the actual door logic (responding to disc/player contact, warping to the other side of the screen) and looking into implementing the blocking mode. I have all week to decide!
  7. Ryan Witmer


    Screenshots and media for Intellidiscs for the Atari 5200.
  8. I'm trying to keep up with that Champeau guy, but it's not easy!
  9. I guess it's time to formally announce my next project. I've posted about this on the Discord server a couple of times, but this feels more official. I would put this in the 5200/8-bit programming forum, but that's not really a place where 5200 people hang out, it's just full of those weird computer people, so I'm putting it here so people that might care can see it. Intellidiscs This one has been on my to-do list since before my first game, Ratcatcher. Tron: Deadly Discs is one of my favorite Intellivision games and I really want to see it on the 5200, so I'm going to make it happen. Here's a very early screenshot: The plan (in part) I'm going to attempt to recreate the Intellivision game play as faithfully as possible. If you're familiar with the original game, you can see that I'm not trying to copy the look of the game. I want my version to more accurately reflect the aesthetic of the Tron movie. I'm planning to do some interesting things with the controls. I have three different control schemes in mind, and I plan to support all three. Keypad Style: This is a copy of how the Intellivision game works. The numeric keypad is used to throw your disc in eight directions, the 5 key activates block/duck mode. One interesting aspect of the Intellivision game was that you couldn't throw your disc while moving. To the best of my knowledge, this was a technical limitation of the controllers. They couldn't read disc and keypad input at the same time. The Intellivision version worked around this by allowing you to use the keypad on the second controller to throw your disc. The 5200 doesn't have this limitation, so you will be able to throw your disc on the move. The 5200 keypad has its own weird issues to deal with, so some small aspects of the Intellivision's control scheme will be changed. Berzerk Style: This is also how the 2600 version of the game functions. You throw your disc by pressing a direction and the lower trigger button. The upper button will be used for block/dodge. Twin Stick: Got a joystick coupler? Play the game Robotron style using one stick to move and the other to throw your disc. I'm not sure exactly how I'll handle the block/dodge functionality in this mode. I'm thinking that pressing any keypad key will do it. To be perfectly honest, I think this control mode will not be all that effective but it's so cool I'm going to do it anyway. What isn't in the plan I'm not going to make any additions or changes to the game. My goal is to port the original in a reasonably accurate fashion, not to enhance the game in any away. If you don't like the Intellivision game, this version won't change your mind. However, I do have a few secret plans that will be revealed when the time is right. What is this thread for? I plan to post to this thread once a week to discuss what's going on with the game. At some point there will probably be some videos, but that's quite a ways off. During the week, I work on the PC version of Magical Fairy Force. This game is my weekend project. It's something I can work on to get my mind off of my main project. Posting weekly updates here will encourage me to do more work on it. Still, this is my side project so progress may not be rapid. What does it do so far? Not much! My early efforts have been on the disc movement. Right now you can move your character and throw your disc using the keypad. The complete throw/return/catch cycle is implemented, although the details are still rather clumsy. I've already had to make one change to the Intellivision control scheme here. In the original game, you could press any of the throw buttons while your disc was in flight to cancel the throw and recall it. I've implemented this, but with one small catch: you can't use the button you pressed to throw the disc to recall it. This is because of how the 5200 keypad interrupts operate, precision keypad input is basically impossible and this is the only reasonable choice. It's not a particularly onerous change. The enemies pictured in the screenshot don't function yet in any way. I just put them there to look cool. I also haven't done any player animation. You can run around the arena, but you just slide around. That's really all I have to say for now. I'll do some more work tomorrow and hopefully I'll have something interesting to report. I'm really looking forward to making this happen and would appreciate some testing help when the time comes.
  10. This prototype makes me realize how much I still have to learn about the 5200, even after writing three games.
  11. Not entirely 5200 related, but certainly Magical Fairy Force related: This is the first of a series of preview videos for Magical Fairy Force: Champion Edition, the expanded PC version of the game. It will be the first game under my new label of Phaser Cat Games (website under construction) and will hopefully be available on major PC distribution platforms. Looking at Steam and GOG to start with, and we'll see where we go from there. The 5200 version of Magical Fairy Force will be the last game released under the Average Software name. My main focus is going to be PC software, because that's where the money is, but I'm not abandoning the 5200. I've already started a new 5200 game (it's my weekend project) and once it's far enough along to matter I'll post some information about it here. Some lucky people on the Discord chat have seen it already.
  12. I've seen that commercial come up so many times, and the sheer ballsiness of it never stops being funny.
  13. I'm convinced. Who wants to buy a 5200 with about 70 games? I need money for a Colecovision.
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