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Karl G

This is not Ultima (Atari 2600)

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New information 9/10/2019:

 

Many improvements have been made since my last public release, but I have not released newer versions to avoid early game spoilers. There will be a demo shown on ZeroPage Homebrew on 9/18/2019, and a demo at Portland Retro gaming Expo in October.

 

Preliminary Manual in Progress

 

Spoiler

Penult Manual

 

I hope this letter finds you well. I do not yet know your identity; only that you are the champion chosen by the Fey Realm to help in our time of need. There is much I wish to impart.

 

As you no doubt know, our fair land has been beset by fell creatures from the Shadow Realm. While such incursions have occurred throughout the Kingdom's history, they have been of late greatly increasing in frequency and numbers. My sages have not been able to determine the cause, and it is all my forces can do to keep our settlements safe. The roadways are overrun, and travel only happens when the need is great, and in large numbers for safety.

 

The dire situation gave me little choice: I sent Rufus back to the Fey Realm to ask for their assistance, in hopes that one of their number can find a suitable champion in the same way that Rufus picked me long ago.

 

If this letter reaches you, then my messenger has identified you as the chosen champion. Arm yourself, and explore the world. Seek out the cause of our troubles. Build up your strength of arms, and magical abilities imparted by your fey companion. In the pages that follow, I will give you some information about the land, and the dangers you will likely face.

 

Good luck! The fate of our land is in your hands.

 

Avalina Godfrey, Queen of Faradur

 

 

Fey Companion

 

Most of my subjects do not understand Rufus's true nature, assuming that he is just an ordinary cat that serves as my familiar. In reality, the relationship is more complicated than that. He is the source of my power, and I of his. Your own fey companion will likely assume a different form, but the form does not determine its power. It will grow in power with you as your own skills and experience increase.

 

Since your fey companion exists between both realms, it cannot be easily killed in ours, but merely banished for a short time if defeated in combat.

 

 

Training

 

You will need to practice your skill at arms and magic as you explore the land, and seek out trainers to help hone specific skills. I can help with some of the basics, but at a certain point you will need to seek out specialists to further train your skill at arms, your spellcasting abilities, and other skills.

 

Strength: This represents not only your physical might, but also your skill in hand-to-hand combat, and your ability to withstand the blows of your enemies. As your strength increases, your fey companion's melee abilities will similarly increase.

 

Dexterity: This represents your hand-eye coordination, as well as your ability to navigate dangerous terrain as safely as possible. Dexterity is important for accuracy when using ranged weapons. As your dexterity increases, your fey companion's accuracy with their magical attacks will also increase.

 

Intelligence: This represents your memory and mental discipline, and affects your connection to the Fey Realm, which, in turn, is needed for casting spells. As your intelligence increases, the power of your fey companions magical abilities will increase as well.

 

 

Cities and Towns

 

Due to the incursions from the Shadow Realm, many items are in short supply.  Weapons and armor are used by those defending the cities. Those that can be found will have a high cost. The disruption of trade routes means that you may have to travel to several settlements to find the supplies that you need. While you are there, take the time to speak with the townsfolk. Many will have information that could be useful to you.

 

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

 

Note that this is a 64K binary (without ARM assistance), so it will require a Harmony Encore or an UnoCart to try on real hardware, and I believe it is also too big for the AFP. I'm only using a fraction of that space right now, but I will easily fill that space eventually.

 

"Penult" world demo 4/5/2019 adds New city map, expanded castle map, and line-of-sight improvements.

 

penult.bin (Out of date)

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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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