Jump to content
Leeroy ST

Does Druid do the best job of pushing the 800/XE graphics to be comparable to other 8-bit machines?

Recommended Posts

I'm a pretty big fan of the Atari 8-bit line, but one thing that always seemed odd to me compared to other 8-bit computers (or even consoles like NES) is that despite being capable (arguably more capable than the C64), it always seems like games are not programmed to push for sprites to be beyond what you would find in an early 5200 game.

 

For example if we look at a game like Rush N' Attack/Green Beret:

 

green_beret_5.gif

 

The background, although a bit pixelated and jagged, looks like what you would expect to find on an 8-bit machine, but the foreground and the sprites are basically single-colored piles of pixels. This pattern is seen throughout numerous games.

 

However with Druid, it seems too look like something you would see in later 8-bit adventure games, maybe even Zelda-like. What's interesting is that similar games like Gauntlet and others still have the same issue where the sprites and animated objects/foreground is simplified but the backgrounds would look find on other 8-bit systems.

 

Here's Druid:

 

VAnXMv.gif

 

Druid seems to offer detailed sprites with vibrant objects and relatively fluid water effects. it looks like an NES game.

 

I know that the 8-bit line is old as dirt and that for many earlier games they would still have some 2600 style choices in their games, but post 1985 it always seemed strange to me how very few games took advantage of the power the 8-bit line possessed, especially after the upgraded, where you still had very 2600 aspects to games where some 5200 exclusives looked better despite the upgraded introduced by Atari Corp making the 8-bits more powerful than the 5200. A pattern that would be common all the way until it's discontinuation in 1992. Only a handful of games are like this and I don't know why,e specially given the competitive nature of Home computers and the Tramiels. 

 

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a combination of many things: lazy ports, not so great programmers, lack of competition or no incentive to push the machine, feeble market share, not enough time to produce something better or master the system, mentality...

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are always the various factors present when you're comparing games on different systems by different people.

 

One - is that you have professional teams working for the big companies and the resources they have available.

At the other end - you have so-called amateurs working on their home computer, wanting to get into the industry.  And some of these efforts do stand clearly out - for their ingenuity of design and execution.

Then you have some work that is not done in the best way possible.  That it is like a Master craftsman versus that of an amateur craftsman.  And there are those inbetween - plus you might have someone who is gaining experience, and you'll see gradual improvements with their next project they work on.

 

Back in the day - you could have a time period of say 3 to 6 months to complete a project from start to finish.  And if you look at a project that took something like 2 to 3 years of development - that it should show an attention to detail in that particular game.  A 2 to 3 year time frame would not be that of a commercial project - for 8-bit development - but later PC projects would start getting into time frames like this?

 

Add to this that 8-bit hardware have a relatively short life (say around 5 years or so?) - that when 16-bit hardware became the norm.  There would be less and less support for the 8-bit systems.

 

Harvey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You cannot compare Druid and Green Beret.

Green Beret is a scrolling game that uses standard height.

 

Druid uses a lot blank lines that save a lot CPU for the small screen range.

In fact, I like it too, how the game is build, as it uses a lot tricks to get there.

There are different types of moving objects. some of them were real software sprites that can cross character borders. Some of them walk in character ranges, and some of them are simple PMg . The mix is great.

Particular the adaption with high res and PMg in a status line looks very professional.

 

Green Beret , as a standard scroller, has also to handle the larger PMg . There is not much left to use.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Computers are a bit like cameras.  While admittedly there are some things that it's technically near-impossible to achieve with a cheap camera, as a general rule a good photographer will produce great images with any old camera and a bad photographer will struggle to produce great images even with the best camera in the world.

 

Similarly, although there are always technical restraints relating to hardware, the quality of program design and programming is always going to be more important than the capabilities of the hardware.

 

Generally, the best quality commercial programming will be done for the most popular hardware systems, since that's where the profits lie but also where the competition is greatest.

 

Single-colour sprites are a quick-and-easy programming solution on Atari 8-bits because, as on the 2600, that's what the hardware natively encourages. Going beyond that requires greater effort, expertise and CPU time optimisations, but of course can be done.

Edited by drpeter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Green Beret wasn't as easy as hoped, with the Commodore you have multi colour sprites but not so lucky on the Atari, I know the guys who did the conversion and John had problems trying to do the camo part of the uniform to the point where its hardly noticeable. The graphics for the background are not too bad, they look like the arcade game (remember I said 'like') but the game itself is rather poor (sorry John). Most people remember the C64 version and that's mostly for the music..

 

Also its not really fair to do machine comparisons, remember that the Atari was one of the first home computers to have custom chips iirc so later machines saw what was going on and had the chance / choice to update based on what was in the market.

 

Personally I prefer the C64 Druid but for many other games I prefer the Atari version........Game ports often suck...Sad fact..

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was lucky enough to interview the A8 coder of Druid some time ago, thanks to the kindness of a fellow Atari Age poster and whilst the online version of the interview sadly no longer exists, it did make it into a physical magazine, Pro Atari Magazine,  so you might try picking a copy of that up if your interested.

 

 

Story with Green Beret on A8 was that Imagine knew the A8 would struggle to replicate the game due to the PMG limitations and thus farmed the conversion out to an external developer, rather than do in house.

 

Never had that confirmed and A8 Green Beret being done for 48K Machines didn't help.

 

I had both games on both systems.

 

C64 version of Green Beret is night and day to the A8 version, but as poor as the A8 version is, it's still better than the C16 version.

 

A8 Druid is a very impressive late commercial era title, but the C64 version has the edge for myself also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are even better examples of well programmed and polished games for the A8 other than Druid. One game that is close to Druid in design that I think is even better is Tagalon. At least as far as backgrounds go and colorful sprites. The game window is similar to Druid. Tagalon is horizontally smaller, though this game has two-player split screen as well. I don't recall if it scrolls like Druid or not though. My point is prettier graphics and sprites than even Druid.

tagalon_2.gif

tagalon_3.gif

tagalon_4.gif

Edited by Gunstar
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tagalon close to Druid ?

32 Byte width , no scrolling and 2 moving objects ?

In Druid you see scrolling and about 5 moving objects on the screen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

btw: About Green Beret.

 

Pushing all false information aside, the coder did a very great job on the Atari. The game is fully "arcade-ish" . And he managed to give the "Sprites" 2 colors.

There are versions on other 8 bits that look really bad.

People who like to do conversions, again could have a look at the Speccy version.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone ought to do a 'Let's us Compare....' video that properly shows good and worse examples - as regards C-64 vs Atari 8-bit comparisons - that can set the record straight.  I always found the "Let's compare...' videos interesting, that do show the various conversions done for various system, that focus on one game at a time.  Though these have not been updated to include the latest Atari 8-bit conversions that have been done - of late. (4? games).

 

Harvey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, emkay said:

Tagalon close to Druid ?

32 Byte width , no scrolling and 2 moving objects ?

In Druid you see scrolling and about 5 moving objects on the screen. 

And thus you completely ignore that I pointed out there are differences, and I was strictly talking about the "looks." Thanks Captain obvious! You obviously don't know what "similar" and "close" mean at all. We can all count, and we all don't need to know the byte width nor care when making comparisons on graphic looks. Technicalities are for programming discussions not for people asking why some games look good and others don't and when comparing "looks" which  is all the person who started the thread asked about, not byte widths or number of on-screen sprites or scrolling.

Edited by Gunstar
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Lost Dragon said:

I was lucky enough to interview the A8 coder of Druid some time ago, thanks to the kindness of a fellow Atari Age poster and whilst the online version of the interview sadly no longer exists, it did make it into a physical magazine, Pro Atari Magazine,  so you might try picking a copy of that up if your interested.

 

 

Story with Green Beret on A8 was that Imagine knew the A8 would struggle to replicate the game due to the PMG limitations and thus farmed the conversion out to an external developer, rather than do in house.

 

Never had that confirmed and A8 Green Beret being done for 48K Machines didn't help.

 

I had both games on both systems.

 

C64 version of Green Beret is night and day to the A8 version, but as poor as the A8 version is, it's still better than the C16 version.

 

A8 Druid is a very impressive late commercial era title, but the C64 version has the edge for myself also.

 

The Atari version was done by DE RE who was John Kavanagh and Pat McCormack (not 100% on Pat as he had worked with John on their first game, Quest for the Maltese Chicken but I'm not 100% if Pat tagged along when they started doing ports)

 

Not sure what happened to Pat, maybe he went back to Ireland, last time I saw him was in the back of my car going down to see the Sidewinder people. John on the other hand went from strength to strength..B'stard never got me in to Domark...

 

Green Beret wasn't awful but it wasn't good...I always look at a game from how well it plays, obviously I want any coders to use the machine as much as possible but as long as the control is tight and its fun to play then I'll be happy, I always quote Jumpman as an epic example.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

I always look at a game from how well it plays

This is a point often overlooked, I feel.  Without enjoyable and ideally addictive gameplay, a game is just a demo.

 

I guess we could all submit a long list of 'looks & sounds great- never wanted to play it more than once' vs 'doesn't look much, but couldn't put it down'...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, drpeter said:

This is a point often overlooked, I feel.  Without enjoyable and ideally addictive gameplay, a game is just a demo.

 

I guess we could all submit a long list of 'looks & sounds great- never wanted to play it more than once' vs 'doesn't look much, but couldn't put it down'...

Exactly.....If it does not play well then its going to get one play and left to digitally rot :)

 

For a game that looks great and plays great, RGB, just lovely and great fun, AtariBlast is another one, a shooters shooter...

 

It all can be done but base requirement is that it plays well..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

Exactly.....If it does not play well then its going to get one play and left to digitally rot :)

 

For a game that looks great and plays great, RGB, just lovely and great fun, AtariBlast is another one, a shooters shooter...

 

It all can be done but base requirement is that it plays well..

Perhaps more interesting, can you think of good examples that are great A8 games but nothing to look at??

 

One that immediately springs to mind is Action Quest...

Edited by drpeter
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

 

The Atari version was done by DE RE who was John Kavanagh and Pat McCormack (not 100% on Pat as he had worked with John on their first game, Quest for the Maltese Chicken but I'm not 100% if Pat tagged along when they started doing ports)

 

Not sure what happened to Pat, maybe he went back to Ireland, last time I saw him was in the back of my car going down to see the Sidewinder people. John on the other hand went from strength to strength..B'stard never got me in to Domark...

 

Green Beret wasn't awful but it wasn't good...I always look at a game from how well it plays, obviously I want any coders to use the machine as much as possible but as long as the control is tight and its fun to play then I'll be happy, I always quote Jumpman as an epic example.

I remember back along attempts were made to contact the Green Beret coders and get a little more back story and chat about how they approached the conversion,  commercial deadlines,  what could of been done differently etc, but nobody could reach them.

 

Shame, as it would of made for a great discussion 😢

 

 

Green Beret for myself joins likes of Feud,  Arkanoid,  Spellbound etc 

 

It's not really a version i could recommend. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Gunstar said:

And thus you completely ignore that I pointed out there are differences, and I was strictly talking about the "looks." Thanks Captain obvious! You obviously don't know what "similar" and "close" mean at all. We can all count, and we all don't need to know the byte width nor care when making comparisons on graphic looks. Technicalities are for programming discussions not for people asking why some games look good and others don't and when comparing "looks" which  is all the person who started the thread asked about, not byte widths or number of on-screen sprites or scrolling.

 

And you seem to ignore the different technical way to have both games running.

And, as it seems, at least I understood his concerns right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, drpeter said:

Perhaps more interesting, can you think of good examples that are great A8 games but nothing to look at??

 

One that immediately springs to mind is Action Quest...

 

My first choice is always Jumpman......stick man, basic graphics but how fun is the game...I still play it all the time, no where near as fun on the C64 BUT they do have a lovely game totally in the same vein called Wizards, a bit hard but fun...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lost Dragon said:

I remember back along attempts were made to contact the Green Beret coders and get a little more back story and chat about how they approached the conversion,  commercial deadlines,  what could of been done differently etc, but nobody could reach them.

 

Shame, as it would of made for a great discussion 😢

 

I think at the time of Living Daylights and Green Beret they were about to join Domark, John later headed up The Kremlin part and went on to work with John Romero, last I spoke to him he was running some entertainment company in LA I think. Odd to think his start was such a low key game published by another low key set of coders. John initially came in to Malpin and was chatting with me re his game and I had just reviewed Sidewinder and met their team in Dagenham Essex. Took Jon and Pat down to them and later another guy with an 8 bit game and they all got published. Maplin was a godsend for meeting folk in the scene..

 

Edit: I would Imagine were not really that pleased with the game and probably thought it best to coral the coders away any interviews, I don't know how much time they were given but John was a "I can do that" type of guy, probably promised to hit a deadline with some flannel, that was how he was..Very self assured but a little arrogant..

Edited by Mclaneinc
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, emkay said:

 

And you seem to ignore the different technical way to have both games running.

And, as it seems, at least I understood his concerns right.

Yes, technicalities are not taken into consideration or a factor, that's my point. Because I didn't read any specific concerns about technicalities in programming and hardware in his initial post, only how good the graphics looked and fluid animation. Nothing directly about scrolling or how many sprites are on-screen at once, only the lack of detail/color and good animation in some games and not in others. His examples of Green Beret and Druid are a hell of a lot farther apart than Tagalon and Druid! I don't see anyone else responding to him with posts addressing what you think you read into as his concerns.

Edited by Gunstar
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't help but think that a lot of the middle 8-bit ports forgot a central lesson learned during the early days of video game development: your eye follows your player, therefore it makes sense to expend every effort to make the player look as detailed as possible, because you're only peripherally looking at the playfield.

 

-Thom

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

I think at the time of Living Daylights and Green Beret they were about to join Domark, John later headed up The Kremlin part and went on to work with John Romero, last I spoke to him he was running some entertainment company in LA I think. Odd to think his start was such a low key game published by another low key set of coders. John initially came in to Malpin and was chatting with me re his game and I had just reviewed Sidewinder and met their team in Dagenham Essex. Took Jon and Pat down to them and later another guy with an 8 bit game and they all got published. Maplin was a godsend for meeting folk in the scene..

 

Edit: I would Imagine were not really that pleased with the game and probably thought it best to coral the coders away any interviews, I don't know how much time they were given but John was a "I can do that" type of guy, probably promised to hit a deadline with some flannel, that was how he was..Very self assured but a little arrogant..

Living Daylights was the other game i wanted to ask them about.

 

The infamous Atari User Magazine claim the review copy they were sent had a proper title screen and extra level not found in the retail version.

 

Ahhh for an Atari 8 Bit GTW like Frank Gasking does with the C64.

 

 

Spoken with some of the Kremin guys regarding their Sega work, nothing but helpful and a pleasure to speak with.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...