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johnnywc

Zoo Keeper (2600, Champ Games)

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*** The latest demo ROMs can be downloaded in this post. ****

Hello all,

With Mappy released and Wizard of Wor Arcade nearing completion (expected to be released in Spring of 2019), Champ Games has started a proof of concept for their next game: a port of Taito's Zoo Keeper!

 

As some of you may know, Zoo Keeper was advertised back in the 80's in an issue of Atari Age magazine as 'coming soon'. Although rumored to be near complete, a prototype has yet to be found. However, a VHS tape was found that shows the animated sprites that were to be used, and the audio notes from the original Atari sound programmer Robert Vieira was also discovered and converted into a working ROM by Atari Age member Thomas Jentzsch. (apologies in advance if I got any of this story wrong!)

 

Thirteen years later, Champ Games has decided to bring Zoo Keeper to the 2600!

 

Development is still very early, but here is a screen shot showing the first screen, including the score, bricks, Zeke and the cage:

 

post-30-0-55000600-1543693610_thumb.png

 

NOTE: The bricks look solid with visible horizontal and vertical lines on a real CRT and in Stella using the S-video TV effect (giving it scan lines like a real CRT). Stella unfortunately does not capture an accurate blend of 2 frames, even with phosphor mode enabled (I believe this is a requested feature that may be in a future release).

 

EDIT: Thanks to TJ, he was able to configure Stella to take a more accurate screenshot:

 

post-30-0-21367400-1543697462_thumb.png

 

NOTE: On a real CRT, these is a little flicker when the PF is displayed.

 

Nathan Strum is busy working on the animal sprites and we're hoping to reach Robert to see if we can include his sounds as well.

 

Here is a link to a Youtube video that shows an early WIP with Zeke building the bricks on the first level.

 

More details will be posted here as they become available, or you can follow the progress on Champ Game's Facebook page.

 

Thanks,

John

Edited by johnnywc
Added link to latest demo ROMs
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Stella unfortunately does not capture an accurate blend of 2 frames, even with phosphor mode enabled (I believe this is a requested feature that may be in a future release).

I did not find such an issue in our list, maybe you want to add it?

 

Using a very high phosphor blend might be a workaround for now.

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I did not find such an issue in our list, maybe you want to add it?

 

Using a very high phosphor blend might be a workaround for now.

 

Thanks TJ, I know Nathan had mentioned adding an issue at some point. I think he said that the old versions of Stella were able to do this but something changed in 5.x where the capture isn't the same. I will try the very high phosphor effect and see if that helps.

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I think he said that the old versions of Stella were able to do this but something changed in 5.x where the capture isn't the same.

Yes, the older versions had some very simple phosphor emulation which was improved in 5.x.

 

Actually I am not quite sure, how the screenshot should look like. Should flickering odd and even lines look the same?

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Yes, the older versions had some very simple phosphor emulation which was improved in 5.x.

 

Actually I am not quite sure, how the screenshot should look like. Should flickering odd and even lines look the same?

 

Hmm, I will PM you the test ROM so you can see what it looks like on a real CRT and in Stella.

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Hmm, I will PM you the test ROM so you can see what it looks like on a real CRT and in Stella.

Cool. Will it be sufficient for my PAL setup?

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Those bricks look amazing, John!!!

 

How did you manage to get that fine gray line between the horizontal bricks? What kind of TIA-Voodoo is that?

 

Is the trick to draw the lines of the bricks in alternating style, and turn them on & off in sequential frames? So maybe this is a side-effect of how a CRT draws the lines with its phosphor-beam?

 

post-63708-0-46776900-1543703508.png

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Those bricks look amazing, John!!!

 

How did you manage to get that fine gray line between the horizontal bricks? What kind of TIA-Voodoo is that?

 

Is the trick to draw the lines of the bricks in alternating style, and turn them on & off in sequential frames? So maybe this is a side-effect of how a CRT draws the lines with its phosphor-beam?

 

attachicon.gifbricks.png

Yes, I believe that's exactly what is happening! You will not see this effect in Stella unless you set the TV Effects to S-video or Composite. I currently have an option to disable this effect using the right difficulty switch for those who prefer a more solid PF or if they're using an HD display that can't simulate this effect.

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Yes, I believe that's exactly what is happening! You will not see this effect in Stella unless you set the TV Effects to S-video or Composite. I currently have an option to disable this effect using the right difficulty switch for those who prefer a more solid PF or if they're using an HD display that can't simulate this effect.

Draconian's original logo used the same alternating scanlines technique, I pointed out the vertical line artifact in the blog entry about it. The comments contain some discussion about what causes them.

 

The vertical lines are very noticeable on my Mac with the current build of Stella while using the default settings. It's not as noticeable in a photo, but you can still see them (need to click image and view it unscaled as the scaling hides them). I point out a few of them, there's a total of 10 lines (there's actually 11, but one occurs between the N and I so isn't visible).

 

post-3056-0-24179600-1543708158_thumb.jpg

 

The following are the settings it was run with, if I turn on phosphor mode the lines disappear.

post-3056-0-44661500-1543708237_thumb.png post-3056-0-80653500-1543708242_thumb.png post-3056-0-37968100-1543708248_thumb.png

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This is one of my favorite arcade games. Absolutely in my top 5 personally. I'm so freaking excited for this.

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Wow....that's definitely one I'll be interested in. I've been hoping for a 2600 port of it for years.

 

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Keeping an eye on this. This is not a game I played in the arcade or in emulation really. I'll have to try out the original but this looks like a great port and a fun game.

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I just remembered the platform jumping levels and the "bonus keeper" levels... Normally, I wouldn't expect these to make it in, but after playing Mappy, I know better than to question what Champ can do.

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I will buy the Cart, with a Box if available...whether I have a working 2600 hooked up that can play it. Just to support this Holy Grail finally appearing!

I support this endeavor as strongly as possible, and thanks to the guys making this happen! Take your time, make it wonderful, we all know you can do it with your stellar track record. :D

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Yes, the older versions had some very simple phosphor emulation which was improved in 5.x.

 

The advantage that the older version had was that it allowed for 30 fps video capture of games that flickered heavily. This made doing AtariAge's YouTube videos, as well as getting frame grabs for manuals, much, much easier. With Stella 5.x, 30 fps looks terrible, so I have to capture at 60 fps and it has to be played back at 60 fps. While that's technically more accurate, it's not as practical to work with, and forces people to choose 60 fps on YouTube (which isn't always the default) or the games look bad. I've tried changing the phosphor settings to make 30 fps look better in 5.x, but it increases the artifacts (trails, ghosting, etc.), and makes the resulting videos blurrier and the graphics less distinct. The point of these particular videos is to showcase the games, not Stella's TV effects. I've tried compensating for the difference between the two versions by adjusting settings and even applying various filters in Premiere, but to no avail. All of the newer AtariAge videos have to be 60 fps, because we want the accuracy of 5.x's emulation. But I'd love to see the old phosphor mode return as an option to make 30 fps capture usable again.

 

Point of comparison (note particularly the progress bar at the top, and the way some ground level objects flicker):

 

Scramble, captured in Stella 4.7.2 at 30 fps:

 

 

Scramble, captured in Stella 5.1.3 at 30 fps:

 

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I get your point, but is 30 fps really still an issue? Anyway, please open an issue so that we can discuss how to continue here.

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