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Draconian Δ Quadrant Sector Design Contest

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Voting has begun, see reply # 53.



I'm planning to release my latest project, Draconian, at PRGE next month. Draconian is my take on the classic arcade game Bosconian (arcade screenshots from here).

post-3056-0-28432400-1505663861.gif post-3056-0-93926900-1505662092.gif


Draconian screenshots:

post-3056-0-01302900-1505661934.png post-3056-0-67630100-1505663485.png post-3056-0-87816300-1505663488.png



Gameplay Video (note this has the old title graphic which was removed to free up space):


Bosconian was developed by Namco and released by Midway in the United States. Midway decided to make their own arrangement of levels, we wanted to have both so Draconian's been set up with Quadrants A, B, Γ, Δ, (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) where Alpha Quadrant is the Midway levels, Beta Quadrant is the Namco levels.


Gamma Quadrant is used as tribute to people involved with creating the game - check the radar (at the bottom between the score and lives remaining) in these screenshots.


Albert's level:



Nathan's level:




That leaves Delta Quadrant, which has been set aside for 16 user submitted sectors. Some key bits of info about the contest, after which I'll go into how to create your sectors.

  • each contestant can submit a single build of Draconian submit as many as you like
  • each build can contain up to 4 sectors (and all 4 could end up in the finished game)
  • submissions must be in by September 30th October 5th at midnight CST (sorry for the short deadline, Harvey put me behind schedule)
  • if a sector causes the screen to jitter/roll then it will be disqualified (in other words, don't make it so all 8 stations appear onscreen at the same time)
  • voting will take place the first week of October, ending on the 7th at midnight CST
  • voting details to be worked out, will most likely include the stipulation that you cannot vote for your own sectors
  • there will be prizes, details still being worked out
To design your sectors you'll need to create a text file, such as sectors.txt. The format for the text file is a line specifying the initial X and Y location of the Star Fighter (player's ship), followed by 1-8 lines for the stations. Each station line starts out with the orientation followed by its X and Y location. Repeat this up to 3 more times to define the 4 sectors. Here's an example:


* sector 1
-4 -8 * player position
v -1 -1
v -2 -2
v -3 -3
v -4 -4
v -5 -5
v -6 -6
v -7 -7
v -8 -8
* sector 2
-4 -8 * player position
v -3 -8
v -5 -8
v -4 -7
v -4 -9
* sector 3
-4 -8 * player position
h -3 -8
h -5 -8
h -4 -7
h -4 -9
* sector 4
110 118 * player position
h 9 0
v 40 17
h 233 240
v 200 225
h 9 240
v 40 225
h 233 0
v 200 17


Allowable X and Y values are 0 to 255 to denote a position within the sector.


Additionally you can use -1 to -8 for the X value and -1 to -16 for the Y value. These values refer to the radar pixel locations and will be converted to the appropriate 0-255 value to light up a specific radar pixel. In radar pixels -1 -1 denotes the top-left corner while -8 -16 is the bottom right.


For the stations the Orientation is H for Horizontal and V for Vertical. The orientation denotes which direction the E-Type missiles will be launched from the station.


Blank lines and anything following an * will be ignored.


Once you've created your text file you'll use the program dracsec to patch the Draconian ROM with your sectors. Download the appropriate version for your system. 64 bit builds:





32 bit builds:




current ROM for draconian - USE THIS ONE FOR YOUR ENTRY:



prior ROMs:






put them all in the same directory as your text file. You'll need to open up a terminal window or command prompt then run dracsec to patch draconian.


For Linux & Mac:


./dracsec draconian.bin sectors.txt

For Windows:

dracsec draconian.bin sectors.txt

Do note that dracsec will only work with builds of Draconian dated 20170913 through 20170930, and that your submission will need to be created using a later version of draconian (I'll specify the build to use later, for now use 20170913 to playtest your sectors yourself - don't forget to change QUADRANT to Δ!). When you post your submissions append your username to the file so we know who created it and which version of the game was used. If I were to submit one I'd submit it as draconian_20170913_SpiceWare.bin












  • Like 16

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I was wondering which type of level editor you were going to use ... good choice :-)

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added more info about game to initial post.



I was wondering which type of level editor you were going to use ... good choice :-)



I'd originally planned to try my hand at writing a web application and host it on my site, but Harvey put me a bit behind schedule so I decided command line would be faster since I already knew how to do that :)

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I needed to create a new level for the Gamma Quadrant. Since I now have this handy tool I thought I'd put it to use. Stations are denoted by V and H in the grid, and F is the player's Star Fighter:


* -12345678
*  ........ -1
*  ........ -2
*  ........ -3
*  ........ -4
*  ........ -5
*  ...VHV.. -6
*  ....H... -7
*  ....H... -8
*  ..HFH... -9
*  ...V.... -10
*  ........ -11
*  ........ -12
*  ........ -13
*  ........ -14
*  ........ -15
*  ........ -16
* sector 1
-4 -9 * player position
v -4 -6
h -5 -6
v -6 -6
h -5 -7
h -5 -8
h -3 -9
h -5 -9
v -4 -10



What you may not know is if you leave off the sectors.txt file when you run dracsec it will output the level data in the format I need for the source code:

Darrells-Mac-Pro:dracsec darrellspice$ ./dracsec draconian.bin
Delta Sector Table at 45d4
Sector 0 at 4740
Sector 1 at 472c
Sector 2 at 4718
Sector 3 at 4704

const unsigned char delta_1[] =
   110,  134, // Star Fighter X, Y location
     8,       // Station Count
              //    STATION ORIENTATION
              //  8  7  6  5    4  3  2  1
  0x85,       // VS HS HS HS   HS VS HS VS 
   104,   81, // VS Station 1 X, Y location
   137,   80, // HS Station 2 X, Y location
   168,   81, // VS Station 3 X, Y location
   137,   96, // HS Station 4 X, Y location
   137,  112, // HS Station 5 X, Y location
    73,  128, // HS Station 6 X, Y location
   137,  128, // HS Station 7 X, Y location
   104,  145  // VS Station 8 X, Y location




Sure beats having to manually calculate all those coordinates :)

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I'm on it! Already done two out of the four sectors. :-)


I'm loving this game Darrell, amazing job! I used to put a lot of quarters into the Bosconian arcade machine back in the day and I can't wait to see the creative levels that come out of this contest.


EDIT: Done all four sectors, build attached!!


Sector 1: Atari!

Sector 2: Inside The Circled Wagons

Sector 3: Grouping + Snipers

Sector 4: Bases + Outposts




Edited by cimmerian
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Nicely done :thumbsup:



The radar for Sector 2 kind of reminds me of a station with the 6 pods around the outside:



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I've been working with Darrell on Draconian, and adapted the Namco and Midway sectors, and designed some of the Gamma quadrant ones.


Since I'm not a programmer (at all), and thought others might want a way to visually lay out their level designs the way I did, I'm posting the Photoshop files I used to design the sectors for Draconian.


An entire sector is pretty huge - 512x1024. After I created a file in Photoshop, I added guidelines every 64 pixels - which corresponds with the radar grid.




I also created an 8x16 file (which you have to zoom way in on), to help me visualize what the radar display would look like.




You'll notice everything looks squished - that's because the 2600's pixels aren't square. They're roughly twice as wide as they are tall. Photoshop has a nice way to compensate for this though. In its View menu, there's an option for setting Aspect Ratio Correction. I created a custom value of 2, which stretches the window out to preview the way it would appear in Stella. It doesn't change the number of pixels though, which is important.






The player's ship and stations are on their own layers, so you can grab them with the marquee tool, copy and paste them, and move them around.


There's also a layer with a rectangle (152x158 pixels) with a ship in the center, showing the gameplay area as you would see it on screen at any given time. This helps to visualize what you would see in-game, so you can plan out where stations should be, and how crowded the screen would become.




Once you have the stations laid out, you'll have to convert these to the coordinates needed for the level creator. The easiest way to do that is just resize the document to 256x256 (turning aspect ratio correction back off).




Now you can move your cursor around, and use the Info panel in Photoshop to tell you where the coordinates of your space stations are.




The two Photoshop files are available here: Draconian sector grids.zip


For those without Photoshop (or an application that can open its files), I've attached a transparent PNG file, which most any graphics application should be able to work with.




Finally - a few things to think about regarding level design:

  • Where do you want the player to start? Right in the middle of the action? Far away? The stations don't fire at you immediately - so even if the player is surrounded by stations, there are a few seconds to take out a station or two, or get clear, before the mayhem kicks in. If the player has to fly for awhile to get to the first target, enemy ships will become more of a factor, especially in the higher levels.
  • How do you intend the player to progress through the sector? Some of the stations in Bosconian are laid out so the player can fly in a straight line, mowing down station after station by taking out their cores. While this is fun once in awhile, it would make for a pretty boring game if all sectors were like that. If you do have stations in a line, consider how they're oriented. Mix up the direction they're facing, so if a player takes out one core, he has to fly around to the side of the next station to get a clear shot. Give the player a path to follow, but decide if it will be easy for them, or hard.
  • Bunching up a few stations together makes it tougher to take any one of them out. They'll all start firing at you, and it will look like a virtual hailstorm of enemy fire.
    This is nasty:
  • How the stations are oriented is important too, since the E-type missiles they fire out of their cores can take you out if two or three come at you at once.
    Even just two stations aligned, right next to each other is deceptively nasty, because both stations can fire E-type missiles at different times, catching you off-guard:
  • As the sectors repeat, just surviving flying from one station to another becomes challenging. So you may want to put one or two stations well away from the rest, just to make the player have to go and get them.
  • The edges of the sector wrap-around. So if you put stations along the edge, you can take shortcuts by going off the edge of the radar screen. In the current build of Draconian, sector 3 of the Delta quadrant has the stations at the corners. It takes awhile to get to them, and it's a bit disorienting hopping from corner to corner to take them out, but it's a fun level to play.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. Have fun!

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This will be available on cart at PRGE??


Yes, hence the short deadline for the contest - and I hope you're entering it ;)


I also need people to do extra testing over the next couple of weeks, on real hardware via a Harmony Cart if at all possible, to make sure we find and fix any bugs. If you find any please post them in the Homebrew Topic.

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This game really looks amazing. Can't wait to see the box & manual.



They're amazing too - I'm current staring at the 4K desktop version (and I believe Al has the 5K version on his system). I'm sure we'll make them available in the near future.

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Any problem?

Seems like a lot of people don't go out of their way to look at the Contests forum and some who do look will pop in just to peek at what others are doing because they know their entry wouldn't be good enough. Some people who have a slight interest won't want to download special software and read instructions when all they want to do is stare at TV or go to bed after working all day at the scratch and sniff factory.

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any problem ?


68 downloads of the tool (30 here, 38 in the blog) and only 1 entry.


I just realized yesterday about this contest, and I didn't have time to create anything at all.

Main issue is we're planning to release at PRGE, which means I need to have the release candidate ready next weekend. I'll extend the contest to Thursday at midnight, leaving Friday & Saturday for people to test the submitted levels out.

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