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Sdw

Spaceman Splorf - new game coming soon!

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A while ago I programmed a game for C64 called Spaceman Splorf, with graphics and music by Vanja Utne.

Just for fun, we're now working on creating a version for the Atari 2600. we have tried to recreate gameplay and graphics experience as close to the original as you can come on the 2600.

It's kind of a neat project, I guess this is what VCS coders way back had to deal with in many instances, trying to recreate something from a more advanced system within the constraints of the VCS/2600 hardware. :)

Here's a preview video:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCsrAk-R2LE

 

You can read more on (and view videos) from the C64 original here:

 

http://pondsoft.uk/splorf.html

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Top notch presentation, visuals and sounds are very good! icon_thumbsup.gif Just the score font looks a bit generic and much unlike the C64 version.

 

The gameplay looks quite like my own Cave1K minigame. Nothing wrong with that, but from looking at the video, for a full fledged game, I am missing some options and variations. E.g. the difficulty doesn't seem to ramp up (or very slow), the obstacles are never changing and behave all the same. Also the ground doesn't seem to change. Is there more than one life?

 

Some ideas:

  1. Split the game into stages, to give the player some intermediate goals to reach, add a bonus for reaching the end of a stage
  2. Indicate the stages by different ground animations, color schemes
  3. Narrow the playfield area by increasing the ground area after some time/stage
  4. Add personality to the obstacles, e.g. give them different behaviors (e.g. varying speeds, move back and forth, up and down), use different colors schemes to visualize that
  5. Introduce the obstacles over some time, don't present them to the player at the very beginning, let him discover them by practicing.
  6. How about some powerups? Temporary invincibility or shields, extra speed, double scoring, fuel (you need to move your player), extra lives...
  7. A reversed mode/bounds round, where you have to collect the obstacles (or a mixed mode, some have to be collected and some evaded)
  8. Support high score saving (either on cart or SaveKey/AtariVox)
  9. An option to select starting at higher difficulty levels and/or the original vs. the bells and whistles version
  10. ...

Just my 0.02 cents. icon_smile.gif

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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Glad you like the visuals and sound!

I gave your 1k minigame a try, it doesn't play quite like Splorf, with the huge walls and the heavy helicopter it felt different to me.

The version in the video is a preview, so the difficulty hasn't been tweaked yet. The C64 original works great as it is, and this is intended to be a 2600 port of that game. Adding levels, powerups, lives, etc. would make it a completely different game.

Edited by Mermaid

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Completely understood. If you plan to recreate the C64 version 1:1, then most of my suggestions are irrelevant of course.

 

Now I am looking forward to the final game.

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Oooh, very nice. icon_smile.gif I really like the original, and I'm looking forward to see how well it can be converted to the VCS!

 

Will this be a 4k game? Or more, porting the original intro as well?

 

[...] the music was a bigger challenge, even with Kylearan's great TIATracker v1.1.

If Shadow or you need any (custom) modification or feature in the player or tracker, just contact me and I'd be happy to help!

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The gameplay looks so smooth and awesome graphics!

 

I can't wait for the final product.

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After playing the C64 version, one more small suggestion: If you support high score saving and entering initials/name, please remember the last entered initials/name.

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How about an oxygen bar at the bottom of the screen, and then have oxygen canisters that the user has to pick up before running out of air? They could fly across different parts of the screen at random, as long as you can miss one or two at the early stages, and it gets harder as the game progresses.

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Thank you all for your comments.

 

As for the suggestions for additions to the game, I understand that the game concept might seem a bit simple as it is, and it might not be for everyone, but the idea is to have a really, really easy to pick up "party" style game, where you get the controller and instantly know what to do!

Press the button to go up, release to go down, avoid stuff, try to survive as long as possible to get a high score, and that's it!

We had the C64 version up at a local gathering a while ago, and many seemed to enjoy it.

As for the difficulty ramp-up, there was a bug in that in the version shown in the video, so it didn't quite work as expected.

The game gets progressively harder, the asteroids spawn more often and move faster and faster the further you make it.

 

Thanks Kylearan for the offer - I'll let Mermaid speak about the tracker itself, but the replayer is really good, light on both CPU time and memory usage, excellent!

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Oh, forgot to comment on the 4kb question! The game will not be including the graphical intro from the C64, for space reasons.

The game will still be an 8kb game though!

It might be me that's not a very experienced coder, but writing the display kernel that allowed a player with single-line resolution move freely up and down a screen, and then have horizontal repositioning of the other objects (for asteroids and stars) while maintaining single-line resolution I ended up with quite a lot of duplicating code and large tables, so there's lots of ROM "wasted" on this. For me it was worth it though, to have the best graphical quality.

Edited by Sdw

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It might be me that's not a very experienced coder, but writing the display kernel that allowed a player with single-line resolution move freely up and down a screen, and then have horizontal repositioning of the other objects (for asteroids and stars) while maintaining single-line resolution I ended up with quite a lot of duplicating code and large tables, so there's lots of ROM "wasted" on this. For me it was worth it though, to have the best graphical quality.

If you are interested, you should share the code of the kernel, so that we can discuss potential improvement.

 

BTW: Any plans to use your new knowledge and create more games (or demos) for the 2600?

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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Press the button to go up, release to go down, avoid stuff, try to survive as long as possible to get a high score, and that's it!

So there will by high score saving in the 2600 version too?

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So there will by high score saving in the 2600 version too?

 

Only in RAM. So you will need to have the 2600 powered on until everyone has had their go, or write it down on paper! :)

 

 

If you are interested, you should share the code of the kernel, so that we can discuss potential improvement.

 

Unfortunately it is hundreds of lines of seriously ugly code that is not fit for the publics eye! :)

 

However, one of my main space-eating solutions is that I draw the player like this:

 

lda (PLAYER_GRAPHICS_ZP),y

sta GRP0

lda (PLAYER_COLOR_ZP),y

sta COLUP0

 

Y-is the line counter in the kernel. Then I move the player up and down by modifying the ZP-vars. Works great and is very CPU-time efficient, but it means that I must have a buffer that is as high as my player, for both graphics and colors, and then duplicate this if I want more frames of animation!

 

 

BTW: Any plans to use your new knowledge and create more games (or demos) for the 2600?

I've actually written quite a few demos for the 2600 before, but this will be my first game.

I will probably do more demos, and perhaps there will be more games, but I probably prefer democoding, where the challenge is to create the best looking visuals and any shortcuts can be taken, because you know *exactly* what is going to happen. With games, you have less freedom in the coding.

Edited by Sdw

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Only in RAM. So you will need to have the 2600 powered on until everyone has had their go, or write it down on paper! icon_smile.gif

Maybe this can change your mind?

 

Works great and is very CPU-time efficient, but it means that I must have a buffer that is as high as my player, for both graphics and colors, and then duplicate this if I want more frames of animation!

I see. That explains the ROM requirements.

 

I've actually written quite a few demos for the 2600 before, but this will be my first game.

Have you released them? Under which name? I cannot find any 2600 demos which go by your AA alias at pouet.net.

 

I will probably do more demos, and perhaps there will be more games, but I probably prefer democoding, where the challenge is to create the best looking visuals and any shortcuts can be taken, because you know *exactly* what is going to happen. With games, you have less freedom in the coding.

Yes, the demands are a quite different. In demo coding, the approach is coming from the visuals you want to create. For a game, you are looking for a way to present the gameplay as good as possible. But other restrictions, even if self-imposed remain the same. I still prefer game coding, because to me the result seems more rewarding and lasting.

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Thanks! Great stuff!

 

Seaching pouet.net seems somewhat limited. Or I am too stupid... icon_ponder.gif

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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Yes, enthusi's link will lead to to all the stuff I have done on different platforms. :)

 

As far as VCS demos, I've done a number of them, but the two "major" ones are:

 

 

and

 

Edited by Sdw
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