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About Kurt_Woloch

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  1. Here are my times for this past week (February 17th through 23rd) on modern systems: Browser based: Adios, Amoebas - 36 min. ASCII Patrol - 13 min. I continued playing the JAVA game Adios, Amoebas which I told you about last week. Apart from that, I tried the online version of ASCII Patrol, an ASCII adaptation of Moon Patrol. In my opinion, it cheats a bit by having an unusually high resolution of 46 lines with 126 characters each, which actually is not so bad graphics-wise. It plays pretty well actually and is also pretty accurate to the arcade... at least it's nearer to it than the Atari 2600 version.
  2. Here are my times for this past week (February 17th through 23rd)... Atari 7800: Baby Pac-Man - 10 min. Commodore 64: Wizball - 242 min. in 5 sessions This week I mainly played Wizball on the Commodore 64. I got farther in the game than I hoped for (about 70% complete, estimated), but it went downhill from there. I also played a bit of Baby Pac-Man on the 7800, mostly because I told my team leader at work that I had participated in programming the game, and he mentioned it again when we had lunch with some colleagues, one of which wants to show old IT things to pupils at school to show them how IT used to look like in earlier decades. So she's looking for examples like 5 1/4" floppy disks, and she also plans to show them this game on an emulator after I've helped her install it on her laptop.
  3. Here are my times for this week (February 10th through 16th) on modern systems... Browser based: Adios Amoebas! - 40 min. Funny Pizza - 109 min. in 4 sessions Rail Shuffle - 6 min. This week I finished playing Funny Pizza because I've now seen nearly every game element there is, except one for which I'd have to bake another 100 items. Then I played two Java games by Karl Hornell which you can find on his page Javaonthebrain.com, but you have to add his site to the exception list because his Java applets are detected as being unsafe though they are in fact completely harmless. Rail Shuffle is a variation on the arcade game Loco-Motion and the Intellivision game Happy Trails where you have to re-shuffle train tracks to have the train pick up all the bags. But it's pretty hard in that the board is more sparsely populated with tracks so you have to shift quite some pieces around to get something that makes sense. And in Level 2, you're already dealing with two trains at once! Adios Amoebas is a bit similar to Pengo. You are on a 9x9 playfield, and Amoebas get swapped in which you have to either shoot or crush by moving weights. For shooting you have to regularly pick up ammunition, and in later levels the Amoebas start to fire back at you. I haven't played this in a long time, but it still works, at least on lower Java versions. I think this would actually be a good candidate for a de-make to 8-bit systems and consoles since it looks like it could perfectly work on many of them, at least as long as they are tile-based or have a hi-res bitmap screen.
  4. Here are my times for this week (February 10th through 16th) on classic systems... Atari 2600: Seaquest - 26 min. Commodore 64: Wizball - 60 min. in 3 sessions I basically played two classic games this week. In Seaquest on the Atari 2600 I strived for a 100,000 point score which I didn't quite reach. I also didn't reach it in Wizball on the Commodore 64, but managed to get a few color pots complete.
  5. Here are my missing times for yesterday, Sunday March 10th, 2020... I played Funny Pizza (Browser based) for an additional 147 minutes.
  6. Here are my times for this past week (February 3rd through 9th) on modern systems... Browser based: Funny Pizza: 787 min. in 12 sessions I heavily continued to play Funny Pizza, basically doing nearly everything you can do on one day, which unfortunately takes several hours. The tally is still missing the times of today in the afternoon, I'll add those tomorrow as I did for last week.
  7. Here are my times for this past week (February 3rd through 9th) on classic systems... Arcade: Elevator Action - 81 min. in 4 sessions Tetris (Atari Games) - 10 min. Handhelds: Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory (New Wide Screen) - 60 min. I continued playing Elevatoir Action and finally managed to beat the 3rd level. The 4th level, unsurprisingly, is even harder... Then I also played one game of Atari Game's Tetris machine. Last, but not least, I learned that quite a few handheld games are now emulated in MAME. This has been trickling in over the last 2-3 years. I selected one of my favorite games, Mario Bros. Unfortunately, the MAME version required for this doesn't run on my normal PC anymore which is still on Windows XP, so I ran it on my notebook which has Windows 10 64-bit, but it's rather slow... without tweaking, it runs at about 20% of its normal speed, but with frameskips you get full speed. The question is what in the emulation of such a primitive game takes so much CPU time? Anyway, I also took a peek at the code of this game (since it runs on the same MCU as Mickey & Donald, which I disassembled before), and there are more differences between the two games code-wise than I expected. I expected some common subroutines doing the same thing and being in the same place, but this doesn't seem to be the case... at least not in the places I looked at.
  8. So here are my still missing times for yesterday, Sunday, February 2nd... Browser based: Funny Pizza - 249 min. Yes, that's right, I played the game for another more than 4 hours! But this is going down already... we'll see how many hours will come together this week.
  9. Here are my times for this past week (January 27th through February 2th) on modern systems... Browser based: Funny Pizza - 120 min. This week, on modern systems I rediscovered a game I played back in 2011 if I remember right, Funny Pizza, where you get to open your own pizzeria, buy recipes and make pizzas. This is a classic browser game in that not the whole game runs in one canvas embedded in a page which always stay the same, but you basically press buttons to submit your moves and get presented with different HTML pages depending on what you do in the game. It's actually much like we build our web apps at work. I don't know if this style of game is actually considered a different "system" from games which run on Javascript or other languages embedded in a HTML page. Sadly, the 120 minutes don't include today's times because I didn't get to tally them up yet... I hope I'll make it tomorrow. Today's times aren't complete anyway since, like a Tamagotchi, there are certain things that can happen any time in the game so that you are supposed to return to it and do something about it. You might say it runs in real time, so some more minutes may be added even after I post this.
  10. Here are my times for this past week (January 27th through February 2nd) on classic systems... Arcade: Elevator Action - 128 min. in 7 sessions Channel F: Golf - 3 min. I continued to play Elevator Action, but I can't for the life of me beat the 3rd level. The enemies get pretty tough by the end of it. I also tried Golf for the Channel F which is a homebrew game by Atari2600land and eFrog5. It's not as flexible as other Golf games though... the ball only ever moves in one of 8 directions, for instance. I also thought of developing a game of my own - an adventure game possibly for the TI-99. It would be something for geeks though... I'd incllude several rooms where you meet various Atariage forum regulars who talk the way they do here in the forum and give you appropriate hints and things. Some of the things you have to do might be helping out with their projects by bringing some contributions from one member to another.
  11. I just noticed that I forgot something which still belongs to last week (the week ending yesterday)... Atari 7800: Baby Pac-Man - 22 min. To make up for this, the time on Elevator Action I gave in my previous post has to be reduced from 262 minutes in 13 sessions to 240 minutes in 12 sessions because I accidentally misattributed the last 22-minute session to Elevator Action instead of Baby Pac-Man, but I realized that error when I went through my logs again today. I actually played Baby Pac-Man because I read the still ongoing thread about that Atari 7800 port and read that some people found the game to be hard, so I went to give them some tips, but to do that properly, I had to replay the game to see if my tips actually work.
  12. Here are my times for this past week (January 20th through 26th, 2019): Arcade: Elevator Action - 262 min. in 13 sessions Lock'n'Chase - 14 min. Loco-Motion - 10 min. Turtles - 8 min. This week I played 4 arcade games, and my main game was Elevator Action, in which I often reach the 3rd building, but never managed to clear it. I also played a bit of Lock'n'Chase inspired by a Youtube video where a new board game called Rubik's Chase was presented, which actually could be adapted well to nearly all 8-bit systems since the main display consists of an 5x5 grid where each cell should be able to hold one of 6 colors, and by basically doing a sliding puzzle you should assemble the middle 3x3 tiles in the given order. I didn't quite manage to beat Turtles this time, and Lock'n'Chase is similar to Pac-Man in a way, but still a bit different. Like Loco-Motion, it was one of the arcade games that were ported to the Intellivision system.
  13. Since a few people complained about the game being hard, here are a few tips and tricks how to achieve higher scores... - As in most pinball games, the angle the ball takes depends on where it is on the flipper at the moment you push it - and I actually took care to replicate this behavior. That is, for instance, if you hit the left flipper when the ball is on its tip, the ball will go roughly in a diagonal, while if you hit it while the ball is in the middle of the bat, it will go more straight up. It's not always accurate and also depends on the speed of the ball, but you can somewhat steer where the ball is going by timing your pushes. - Sometimes it's better not to shoot the ball straight up, but rather to let it bounce towards the upper part of the flipper by holding up the flipper as the ball hits it, so it will only be deflected and bounce off. This gives you a bit of control in preparation for the real shot. - You should try to get good at hitting the green holes because they are very beneficial for the player. Each time you hit one of them, either the fruits or tunnel lights will advance, and for 6 advances you get an extra arrow, with 6 arrows giving you an extra baby. When I played Baby Pac-Man on Virtual PinMAME, I actually had a technique down where, after coming back from a hole, I would hit the ball just as it hit the flipper, and it would go straight to the other hole! This technique doesn't work on the 7800 port though because the ball doesn't always come out of the holes in the exact same direction, but I put in a bit of randomness in there. - Another advantage of the green holes is that if you have power pellets earned, hitting the green hole will give you a turn at the maze, giving you some extra points before you return to the pinball field. But if there's a chute open, you should take care of returning to the pinball field before the ghosts can eat you! This works especially well if there are still lots of dots to eat in the lower part because then you just get a few of them and then head down again, and next time you return, the monsters will start out from their pen again, so you have some more seconds for collecting dots before they catch up to you again. - If you've earned some power pellets, and you have some practice in hitting the green holes, it might be good not to use all the power pellets immediately, but to retain at least one of them as you go down the chute (if one is still open) so that each hit in a green hole will send you to the maze again. In addition to that, left-over power pellets can be multiplied by means of the "even up" rollover when the yellow lights above them are lit. - In the maze part itself, it's always a good idea (like, in fact, it is in many similar maze games) to lead around the ghosts in circles. That is, keep to the edge of the maze or some fast tracks and go in a direction where none of the ghosts can get you. They will try to find you where you are, so then you try to find an opening to another part of the maze and then lead them there. With a bit of strategy, this way you can reach left-over stretches of dots without ghosts getting in your way. - If a ghost is on your heels, take a winding path around many corners (without hitting any other ghosts of course!) because you can corner faster than the ghosts can, so with each corner taken, the distance between you and the following ghost will increase by a few pixels. - Another general Pac-Man tip is to use the tunnels if the ghosts crowd together on the left or right and head towards you. Some of the ghosts won't follow you through the tunnels, and those who do slow down, so basically you appear on the other side with some air to breathe. - If you use the tunnels and have gained a higher tunnel speed, it may be good to hold the controller up or down as soon as you've entered the tunnel so that Baby will continue in this direction after you reach the exit. - If you've reached the maze with some power pellets in it by means of the green holes, it might be better not to clear the maze just yet, but rather return to the pinball part to get some more points (and possibly power pellets) there. If you lose the ball there, you'll still end up in the maze one more time before you lose that life, and then you've got another chance of finishing the level and starting a new one with the chutes open again!
  14. Here are my times for this past week (January 13th through 19th)... Arcade: Devil Fish - 92 min. in 2 sessions Elevator Action - 39 min. in 2 sessions Gal's panic - 17 min. Journey - 51 min. Commodore 64: Transylvania - 8 min. (non-eligible) Graphics Magician - 29 min. This week I played an assortment of arcade games. I replayed Devil Fish and made it through all four mazes which then repeat, but with changed palettes. In Elevator Action I cleared the first two buildings. Gal's Panic was a bit frustrating because I couldn't quite figure out how exactly you are supposed to move for a good score. In Journey, I managed to clear the 1st round after some attempts. This is a game about the band Journey, which still has one of the most requested older songs in the "listener charts" of our biggest radio station Ö3 with "Don't stop believing" currently coming in at #28 although, strangely, this song didn't even chart around here back in 1982. Finally, I played the C-64 version of "Transylvania" mainly to test it somewhat. After that I run Graphics Magician (which is a drawing program rather than a game, thus ineligible for the tracker) which is able to load and dissect the drawing files from Transylvania. Both programs originated on the Apple II before being ported to the C-64 and store their pictures in a vector format (as a series of line and fill commands) rather than as a bitmap. Dithering / mixing multiple colors in one area is also supported. I did all that because in another thread there was a question about porting Transylvania to the TI-99, which in principle is possible, but with some graphics limitations which are particularly evident if a line divides two differently colored area, which is only possible in some distinct locations with the TI's video chip. I also took a look at the inner workings of both the TI Adventure cartridge and the adventures by Penguin Software, the original maker of Transylvania.
  15. Another thing about this game... as I already mentioned, at least the originally released versions don't load the graphics from disk as bitmaps, but as a series of line, fill and other draw commands which get executed to form the picture on screen. The way the pictures are drawn, this is a big memory saver. I did a bit more research and found out that the pictures have been drawn with "Graphics Magician" by Penguin Software (the same company which also originally released Transylvania), which also had the property that you could port graphics you drew on the Apple II to other machines (Atari 800, C-64) very easily. Graphics Magician also could use the special capabilities of each computer like setting interrupts on the Atari machines to set 4 different colors for every 2 lines and using the color RAM on the C-64, though this hasn't been done for Transylvania as it seems. The graphics still do look different on each system the game was ported to, for instance, the stump scene has a reddish road on the Amiga and Atari ST, but it's brown on the Apple II, yellow-ish on the Atari 8-bit and light green on the C-64, which tells me that the colors don't really have to look exactly like any other version because they look a bit differently in each version anyway. What's more, Graphics Magician saves the pictures as SPC files which then can be loaded by the main game, and at least the C-64 disk of Transsylvania actually contains the SPC files for each individual room which indeed can be loaded and dissected with Graphics Magician. I'm pretty sure that a variant of this was also used on the other versions even on machines Graphics Magician wasn't released for. The manual of Graphics Magician also mentions an "interpret" command which would save the binary SPC files in a readable format, but I couldn't find that command in the C-64 version. Now I thought how this could be used on the TI-99... the TI graphics chip has no "multicolor mode" where each pixel is defined by multiple pixels, but rather that strange bitmap mode with its 8x1 zones. So the pictures would have to be adapted a bit because any vertical or diagonal lines separating differently colored areas create a "clash" if they don't fall on a boundary of an 8x1 pixel field. So I think one could adapt to this by converting most of the dithered areas to solid colors and then drawing them in a way that works on the TMS9918A. To explain this, the "fills" are done by starting at a specific point and extending that color (or pattern) to the left and right until an "edge" gets reached. The way this could be done on the TI-99 is by implementing that logic as follows: We're filling the bitmap as stated above, line-by-line, and in steps of our 8x1 pixel blocks. If a pixel block is empty (the color to be filled), it's turned to the new color in its entirety. However, if it's only partially empty, there are multiple cases: 1. If the block contains all pixels of a different color, it won't be changed at all, and the fill will stop before reaching it. 2. If the block has one or multiple pictures in a different color and then pixels of the background color to be filled, from the direction the fill is coming from, first the background pixels and then the pixels in the different color turn to the new color, and the pixels in the background color beyond that don't change. 3. If the block, seen from the direction the fill is coming from, has the background color and then one or more pixels in a different color, but nothing beyond that, the background pixels will become the new color, but the different color pixels will remain the same color. There are also other commands like boxes and lines, and those will probably turn the foreground color of each block they touch into the current foreground color. Since in the SPC files, usually first all lines get drawn, and then the gaps between them get filled, this should work fairly well.
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