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Karl G

Penult RPG (Atari 2600)

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"Penult" is my RPG for the Atari 2600, heavily inspired by the early games in the Ultima series, especially Ultima III Exodus.  A working manual can be found below:

 

Penult Manual.pdf

 

New demo 5/31/2020:

 

I uploaded a new public demo of the game. I've been reluctant to release a public demo of the game with my custom maps, as I did not want too much of the game spoiled prior to release. This demo contains a reduced world map with just the starting city of Arcadia, Queen Avaline's castle, and surrounding lands, as well as one dungeon. You can go up in level to level 6, and earn gold to upgrade equipment.

 

This version includes the ability to save your game if you have an AtariVox or SaveKey attached to your second controller port (or that option enabled in Stella). The game saves when you save at  your  home in Arcadia, and automatically when the following game events occur: character creation, going up a level, dying (sorry), buying equipment other than food, and learning a new spell (if you figure out how!).

 

This demo also has two display modes, selectable with the Color/B&W switch: Color includes an "accent color" in certain parts of the game, and B&W does not, but shows a more "solid" display. On CRT displays, I've found that the B&W display mode has much less visible flicker. On modern TVs, it can go either way as to which looks better.

 

Hopefully this limited demo will give people a good idea as to the look and feel of gameplay, as well as allowing them to determine how well it works on their own consoles.

 

The attached ROM is 128K (DFSC format), and may be played via Stella, or on hardware via a Harmony Encore or an Unocart with the latest firmware for each. It will not work with Javatari, or the Atari Flashback Portable. It probably will work on the Retron 77 with the latest community software update, but this is untested.

 

Feedback will be greatly appreciated!  🙂

 

Penult limited demo 5/31/2020:

 

 

penult-demo-12-NTSC.bin

 

penult-demo-12-PAL60.bin

 

 

Previous demo 4/24/2020:

 

penult-demo-11-NTSC.bin

 

penult-demo-11-PAL60.bin

 

 

 

 

 

Older information (out of date)

 

I'm working on an Ultima-inspired RPG, and wanted to get some early feedback on the look and feel of the tiled kernel. My inspiration is the early Ultima games, Ultima 3 in particular. In fact, right now I am using the Ultima 3 world map for development, but will eventually switch to one of my own creation.

 

Right now, you can wander the world by land or in a ship, and explore the castle and nearby city. Gameplay elements will come next, with one text line for status (hit points. magic points, etc), and another for messages.

 

Anyway, if anyone would like to take an early look at the engine and provide early feedback, I would appreciate it.

 

One thing in particular I am wondering is if having the hero not be quite centered horizontally is going to bother people. It is 12 tiles wide, so there's no way to center him without reducing that to 11. I can certainly do that, but I wasn't sure if it would be better to have him centered, or have a bigger window.

 

post-48311-0-35202600-1554482288.png

 

post-48311-0-94273300-1554048985.png

 

 

post-48311-0-11425600-1554482303.png

 

penult_69.thumb.png.cb2d721da118d8f0d61b04e853aaaa95.png

 

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My next task is to find a cycle/memory efficient way to implement vision fields. Specifically, only tiles that should be visible to the hero are shown. Things like mountains, heavy forest, walls, etc. block vision. Here's a comparison of my current engine vs. Ultima 3 (DOS with EGA upgrade):

 

post-48311-0-48712400-1552657980_thumb.png

 

post-48311-0-65786400-1552658009_thumb.png

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Nice! You’ve certainly nailed the look of Ultima III (a personal favorite RPG of mine from back in the day). Excited to see this progress.

 

As for the character not being centered.. it would look better that way, but it’s not a game killer as is. I assume you aren’t planning a right side info/panel - which would shrink the play field and center the character?

 

 

 

 

Sent from my Keyboard Component using Jack's Conversational Intelli-talk cassette

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Putting anything to the right of the map isn't really possible, so status info will be on a line below the map, and text messages will be on a line below that.

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One thing in particular I am wondering is if having the hero not be quite centered horizontally is going to bother people. It is 12 tiles wide, so there's no way to center him without reducing that to 11. I can certainly do that, but I wasn't sure if it would be better to have him centered, or have a bigger window.

 

If you switch to 11 while still drawing 12 you could then do smooth scrolling of the world. To accomplish that give the playfield priority and hide the extra pixels behind it.

 

Check this video at 37:00 to see BOOM! which does this in the left-right direction. You'd implement smooth scrolling up/down by adjusting how you enter your kernel.

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If you switch to 11 while still drawing 12 you could then do smooth scrolling of the world. To accomplish that give the playfield priority and hide the extra pixels behind it.

 

Check this video at 37:00 to see BOOM! which does this in the left-right direction. You'd implement smooth scrolling up/down by adjusting how you enter your kernel.

 

Cool idea, but I don't think that would work for my kernel. I am using a blue asymmetric playfield to add a splash of color by making the water tiles (and boat background) blue. The tile-based movement is at least no worse than the older Ultimas in that regard, though. :)

 

Edit: Perhaps I could do the color change right before the last tile, but it seems unlikely that I could do both a color change and a playfield priority change in time and not too soon for one of those.

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Ah, true :dunce:

 

BOOM! used BUS to color the players themselves, so didn't need the playfield to add color. Playfield couldn't be smoothly scrolled either, so the water would look very odd while moving left/right.

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It's something for me to keep in mind in case I were to decide to give up on using the playfield like this, though. Anyway, I appreciate the feedback. :)

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Was able to walk around, then take the ship and move around some more. Unable to get into tunnels or Castles yet.

 

Really cool. Played on Stella (Mac)

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Yeah; right now it is just the world map; I haven't added any cities/castles/dungeons yet.

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I think it looks great with 12 tiles. No need to be perfectly centered in my opinion. :-)

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This is looking fantastic! I am looking forward to see how it progresses!

 

BTW, Didn't even notice that the hero was not centered.

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That's pretty darned awesome!

 

One question, though -- when I run it in Stella, holding the joystick in a direction doesn't make your character keep moving in that direction. You have to keep nudging the stick in the direction you want to go. Is that what you intended?

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Love it! Off to a promising start. Totally not worried about not being centered. Can't wait to see it progress

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Wow, this plays so well. I LOVED the Ultima series and played them extensively on my C64 so you can imagine how happy I was to see this posted. I've been waiting for an Ultima-like tile based 2600 RPG for so long, especially after seeing the now-abandoned Homestar Runner WIP game.

Looking forward to showing this off on an upcoming ZeroPage Homebrew episode!

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That's pretty darned awesome!

 

One question, though -- when I run it in Stella, holding the joystick in a direction doesn't make your character keep moving in that direction. You have to keep nudging the stick in the direction you want to go. Is that what you intended?

 

Well, yes, it is intentional for the moment at least. I will eventually have it auto-repeat if it is held in the same direction.

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Looks great! I assume "penult" is short for Penultima which is an awesome name!

 

Thanks! Actually, it's short for "I haven't figured out a name yet". :) It is a real word, though, and ends in "ult".

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I don't mind the hero being not in the center, because I just think of this as an awesome concept! This is I guess BUS stuffing, really cool to see! :)
You will add some text under the map I guess? :)

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I don't mind the hero being not in the center, because I just think of this as an awesome concept! This is I guess BUS stuffing, really cool to see! :)

You will add some text under the map I guess? :)

Thanks. I'm not using bus stuffing or any other ARM assistance. It's a 96-pixel display (similar to RoboMechanik), but also adding in the playfield for a bit of color for the water tiles. There will be two lines of text: one for status information, and the other for messages.

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I've updated the ROM in the first post. Still no gameplay, but it now supports dynamic field of vision. Specifically, the mountain and heavy forest tiles block vision, so things can be obscured on the map that are behind these tiles.

 

Screenshots don't really capture the effect well, but to see it in action, try circling around the patch of mountains to the west of the starting area and find the town within, or find the dungeon entrance to the northeast of the starting area.

 

If you find any bugs with the vision field support, please take a screenshot and post it! You will need to turn on phosphor in Stella (Alt-P or Command-P on a Mac) to get the whole screen.

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I don't mind the hero being not in the center, because I just think of this as an awesome concept! This is I guess BUS stuffing, really cool to see! :)

You will add some text under the map I guess? :)

 

 

Nope, not BUS. It's a variation of the technique used in BASIC Programming

post-3056-0-99926200-1552852337.png

 

with the addition of the playfield as an accent color, like seen in Homestar Runner RPG

post-3056-0-12438200-1552852494.png post-3056-0-58418000-1552852498.png

 

Using BUS lets you colorize each tile, as seen in my RPG demo.

post-3056-0-17005200-1552852646.png post-3056-0-37963600-1552852651.png

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Nope, not BUS. It's a variation of the technique used in BASIC Programming

attachicon.gifBasic Programming (1979) (Atari).png

 

with the addition of the playfield as an accent color, like seen in Homestar Runner RPG

attachicon.gifHomestar Runner Demo #2 (2004-03-29).png attachicon.gifHomestar Runner Demo #2 (2004-03-29)_1.png

 

Using BUS lets you colorize each tile, as seen in my RPG demo.

attachicon.gifrpg_20170616_NTSC_1.png attachicon.gifrpg_20170616_NTSC_2.png

Thank you for the info!

 

Both p0 and p1 is used in basic programming and homestar runner for the tiles?

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