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Another Galaga thread

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I think this is great. Part of the "retro" vibe for me is remembering the way it was in the day.

 

Back in the day, part of the excitement was to be thankful for each detail that was able to be reproduced. Limitations were the expectation. Everything that was overcome, in order to bring an arcade hit home, was a gift. We just knew that our systems had single-color sprites, limited sprites, memory limitations, and lower resolution. In fact, since there are so many great homebrews now, I sometimes notice that those who were not around in 82-84 do not realize the systems have these limitations. Any "tricks" to get around these limitations were/are a gift. I personally looked forward to seeing what "miracles" the programmers would squeeze out of the system. Of course some of these modern-day tricks might have been limited by the cartridge size cost restrictions, dev environments, and development time deadlines.

 

For a long time, I was perplexed at how the A8/5200 Galaxian had multi-colored stars in the background. (I get it now, but still some cool trickery to figure out back in the day!) The stars scrolled so smoothly, and they didn't disrupt the on-screen enemies. (Another reason I hated the 7800 Galaga and it's huge white periods for a starfield. lol.) Just for the record, I know that the 7800 is much more capable than the Galaga port would indicate. It probably falls short more due to being a release title, memory limitations, and deadlines, but it's crazy to see the previous generation hardware run smoother and have more accurate mathematical pattern formations, while rendering software sprites. It truly demonstrates the raw power the A8s had to spare.  (Hopefully somebody will remake the 7800 for the XM, utilizing the FM sound chip and cleaning up the graphics, and enemy patterns!)

 

As this is now, I would have been blown away to see this in 82-84. I realize there is a long way to go. The swelling and contracting of the aliens in formation does add to the challenge. However, if that ends up being a system limitation, for example, I would personally say this is already beyond what my expectations would have been.

 

 

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On 11/12/2019 at 10:24 AM, playsoft said:

I have been playing around with a Galaga clone. It's on hold for now but when I come back to it next year I will look at the expanding formation. That will be the make or break point for me, if I can do something acceptable I will go ahead with it otherwise I will move onto something else. My aim is to try and do something along the lines of the NES version since I think that is also using playfield for the formation (although it has lots of hardware sprites, too many in a row will flicker). The NES has the advantage that it has more characters available and it isn't spending huge amounts of CPU time drawing software sprites, so I won't be able to match it but hopefully I can do something in a similar vein. Attached is where I'm currently at, pressing 1 or 2 switches between single and double ship.

test5200.bin 32 kB · 24 downloads

Amazing! 

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17 hours ago, Stephen said:

WOW!  So I will have to eat crow and take back everything I said about Galaga not being possible (or worth converting) to the 8-bits.  This is one fine piece of soft-sprite code!

Thanks, I think you are right about the expanding formation though. I wasn't particularly bothered about it when I started but now it has to be present in some shape or form. 

13 hours ago, AverageSoftware said:

Wow.  This is one of those things where I just have to try to figure out what's going on.

 

I'm guessing the starfield is done with two missiles.  The enemies appear to all be playfield, and the player ships might be all four player objects.  I reckon the player's shots are also using the players, and the enemy shots use the other missiles.  Is that about right?

Pretty much. The player shots are two players and the explosions are two players. The enemy shots are a single missile, the remaining missile is used for the bonus points (left side one frame, right side the next). The character software sprites are expensive in every respect (other than erasing them) so I've tried to use P/Ms for everything else.

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10 hours ago, adam242 said:

This is AMAZING. Would love to see it completed and (yeah, I'm gonna be that guy) converted to the A8 computers.

 

I build for both systems simultaneously since all you need is some conditional code to handle the differences between them. I even did this on AtariBlast! where there are some major differences given its use of the Atarimax Ultimate SD cart.

 

It is PAL that causes me an issue. I live in a PAL country and my original A8 was PAL but I've been bitten by NTSC and PAL looks fat and slow to me now. I code for NTSC because there are less CPU cycles available per frame and consider PAL afterwards. If a game seems playable enough in PAL with a few tweaks that is fine but I'm less inclined to do more than that as it's repeating things I've already done. That would be my reason not to release, if I was not happy with how it plays in PAL. However, as I found with Scramble it just gets pirated to the A8 anyway so I might as well just release it.

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7 hours ago, playsoft said:

 

I build for both systems simultaneously since all you need is some conditional code to handle the differences between them. I even did this on AtariBlast! where there are some major differences given its use of the Atarimax Ultimate SD cart.

 

It is PAL that causes me an issue. I live in a PAL country and my original A8 was PAL but I've been bitten by NTSC and PAL looks fat and slow to me now. I code for NTSC because there are less CPU cycles available per frame and consider PAL afterwards. If a game seems playable enough in PAL with a few tweaks that is fine but I'm less inclined to do more than that as it's repeating things I've already done. That would be my reason not to release, if I was not happy with how it plays in PAL. However, as I found with Scramble it just gets pirated to the A8 anyway so I might as well just release it.

 

Just to be clear, when I said "I'm gonna be that guy", I was not offering or threatening to convert your game myself. I meant it jokingly, as "someone always begs for an 8-bit conversion of new 5200 software, I'll be the guy to bring up the subject".  I'd never disrespect someone's work like that, and besides, I simply don't have the skills!

 

This is a truly incredible WIP.. something many thought impossible. Thank you for sharing it with us, and I hope to see more!

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8 hours ago, adam242 said:

 

Just to be clear, when I said "I'm gonna be that guy", I was not offering or threatening to convert your game myself. I meant it jokingly, as "someone always begs for an 8-bit conversion of new 5200 software, I'll be the guy to bring up the subject".  I'd never disrespect someone's work like that, and besides, I simply don't have the skills!

 

This is a truly incredible WIP.. something many thought impossible. Thank you for sharing it with us, and I hope to see more!

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest you were going to pirate it yourself!

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Thanks to Harvey for pointing this thread out, I should check out what's happening with the 5200 more often. I didn't realise that anyone had started looking into Galaga. I have been considering this again lately and running some ideas through my mind for how to pull it off as accurately as we'd all like it to be. Galaga is a very dear game to me, the first time I saw it in the early eighties on holiday in Belgium I spent my entire holiday allowance playing it for a fortnight and have loved it ever since. It's easily up there with my favorite arcade games of all time. Great work Paul as ever, I've studied the arcade ROM disassemblies that are available online a while back so would like to put some more thought into it too myself now that I have some time.

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Tezz, I have no real attachment to Galaga myself, the first time I was really aware of it was from Harvey when working on AtariBlast!

 

Last year I had a dabble with XOR bitmap mode:

 

 

This year I spent some time trying out character mode as well as plotting the paths myself. I ran the arcade game on MAME (using a cheat) to try and work out the paths.

 

From some of the comments that followed in that topic it is clear that Galaga is held in reverence above any other game that's ever been (or not been) ported to the A8. Because of that, and because I don't have that personal attachment, I can't shake the feeling that it's the wrong game for me. Hence I only planned to spend a limited amount of time next year to see if I could do anything acceptable for the expanding formation and then reconsider my options.

 

I have no doubt you would do a better version than me. If you want to go forward with it, I am more than happy to call it a day (which I might be doing anyway, if I fail with the expanding formation) and you are welcome to everything I've done in case it's of use. I am currently working on a small game for the New Year Disk and I have another game in mind to start after that (which I do have a personal attachment to of sorts).

 

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On 11/22/2019 at 6:24 PM, playsoft said:

Tezz, I have no real attachment to Galaga myself, the first time I was really aware of it was from Harvey when working on AtariBlast!

 

Last year I had a dabble with XOR bitmap mode:

 

This year I spent some time trying out character mode as well as plotting the paths myself. I ran the arcade game on MAME (using a cheat) to try and work out the paths.

 

From some of the comments that followed in that topic it is clear that Galaga is held in reverence above any other game that's ever been (or not been) ported to the A8. Because of that, and because I don't have that personal attachment, I can't shake the feeling that it's the wrong game for me. Hence I only planned to spend a limited amount of time next year to see if I could do anything acceptable for the expanding formation and then reconsider my options.

 

I have no doubt you would do a better version than me. If you want to go forward with it, I am more than happy to call it a day (which I might be doing anyway, if I fail with the expanding formation) and you are welcome to everything I've done in case it's of use. I am currently working on a small game for the New Year Disk and I have another game in mind to start after that (which I do have a personal attachment to of sorts).

Hi Paul, I've continued to put some thought into Galaga this week. The disassembly of the arcade ROMS online is only partial so I intend to put some work into identifying everything in the original and decide on a plan of action for pulling it off in the best way possible on the A8. Perhaps some collaboration would be good going forward with it?

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On 11/26/2019 at 12:46 PM, Tezz said:

Hi Paul, I've continued to put some thought into Galaga this week. The disassembly of the arcade ROMS online is only partial so I intend to put some work into identifying everything in the original and decide on a plan of action for pulling it off in the best way possible on the A8. Perhaps some collaboration would be good going forward with it?

Hi Tezz, I am full steam on my New Year Disk submission at the moment and will be until the end of the year. After that I'll PM you with details of everything that I've done and we can see if there is any overlap in what we are doing.

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17 minutes ago, playsoft said:

Hi Tezz, I am full steam on my New Year Disk submission at the moment and will be until the end of the year. After that I'll PM you with details of everything that I've done and we can see if there is any overlap in what we are doing.

Sounds good Paul, I'll continue on with the complete disassembly and also resume work on Barbarian.

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Played this demo on my Atarimax cart and it is amazing what has been done. I really hope someone takes this and runs with it. I would buy two copies. 

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On 9/18/2019 at 9:52 AM, Stephen said:

I knew that comment would come up - I even thought that to myself 🤣  Sorry for being such a stickler about this.  Galaga is by far my favourite arcade game, even beating out Tempest and for me, if the port isn't 100% accurate with regards to speed and enemy movement, it is not worth playing.

 

The Champ Games port for the 2600 is simply stunning, and it obviously makes good use of the extra computing power provided by the Arm processor.  I'd love to see a VBXE version for our machine.

 

And I think some people in here aren't accounting for the fact that the ARM processor in the Champ Games' Galagon cartridge is doing all of the heavy lifting for the "2600" version. Getting something like that working in a 5200 cartridge supposedly would be far more difficult.

 

As for your wish for VBXE to be supported more, I'd like to see a decent easy RAM upgrade available for the 5200. It wouldn't have to be something like the Ultimate 1MB Upgrade on A8, but maybe something more along the lines of a plug-in board like the XBoard for the 7800 that adds like 128K or 256K to the 5200. That way more A8 conversions could be made without having to resort to intense bankswitching. And I'd venture to estimate there's far more 5200s with socketed chips than there are 7800s with socketed MARIAs for such a scheme to [easily] work...

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Doing a 100% authentic conversion of Galaga - would require the input from a competent programmer who is also a fan of the coin-op - who is willing to put in the work required to deliver such a quality conversion.  If it can be done using the standard hardware - but on the 5200 within a 32K cartridge.

 

I am not against a Galaga inspired game project to be done - which departs from Galaga to deliver an alternate game - that will do what it's hardware can do best?

So just maybe - 2 projects may eventuate?  Which will be quite fitting - for a game that has been MIA for so long.

It will be a bit of irony if a 5200 Galaga ends up bettering the 7800 conversion?  In which the credit goes more to the programmer, than to the hardware?

 

As to modifying/upgrading a 5200 with lots more memory, etc.  It makes better sense to simply purchase a 64K or 128K Atari 8-bit computer to run all the various titles not intended for 5200 hardware.

 

Harvey

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On 11/13/2019 at 3:19 PM, adam242 said:

 

Just to be clear, when I said "I'm gonna be that guy", I was not offering or threatening to convert your game myself. I meant it jokingly, as "someone always begs for an 8-bit conversion of new 5200 software, I'll be the guy to bring up the subject".  I'd never disrespect someone's work like that, and besides, I simply don't have the skills!

 

This is a truly incredible WIP.. something many thought impossible. Thank you for sharing it with us, and I hope to see more!

I beg for Atari 8bit conversions of all 5200 games too 😃
 

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4 hours ago, jefffulton said:

I beg for Atari 8bit conversions of all 5200 games too 😃
 

Just out of curiosity, which 5200 games haven't been ported yet?  It seems like all the games that weren't 8-bit ports already should have been done by now.

 

The homebrew stuff might be trickier.  I know my two games were ported by some talented person, but I release my code so that process should be relatively easy.

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52 minutes ago, AverageSoftware said:

Just out of curiosity, which 5200 games haven't been ported yet?  It seems like all the games that weren't 8-bit ports already should have been done by now.

 

The homebrew stuff might be trickier.  I know my two games were ported by some talented person, but I release my code so that process should be relatively easy.

5200 is still missing a good bowling game and pinball game.

 

 

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On 11/12/2019 at 5:24 AM, playsoft said:

I have been playing around with a Galaga clone. It's on hold for now but when I come back to it next year I will look at the expanding formation. That will be the make or break point for me, if I can do something acceptable I will go ahead with it otherwise I will move onto something else. My aim is to try and do something along the lines of the NES version since I think that is also using playfield for the formation (although it has lots of hardware sprites, too many in a row will flicker). The NES has the advantage that it has more characters available and it isn't spending huge amounts of CPU time drawing software sprites, so I won't be able to match it but hopefully I can do something in a similar vein. Attached is where I'm currently at, pressing 1 or 2 switches between single and double ship.

test5200.bin 32 kB · 65 downloads

This is absolutely amazing! Even without the Pulsating, this would as good or better than the C64 version! 

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4 hours ago, AverageSoftware said:

Just out of curiosity, which 5200 games haven't been ported yet?  It seems like all the games that weren't 8-bit ports already should have been done by now.

 

The homebrew stuff might be trickier.  I know my two games were ported by some talented person, but I release my code so that process should be relatively easy.

 

Only one I can think of is Tempest. Not sure how the input would be handled, this might be a stumbling block.

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11 hours ago, AverageSoftware said:

Just out of curiosity, which 5200 games haven't been ported yet?  It seems like all the games that weren't 8-bit ports already should have been done by now.

 

The homebrew stuff might be trickier.  I know my two games were ported by some talented person, but I release my code so that process should be relatively easy.

I'm pretty sure Tempest from Video 61 is on the way soon. 

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