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Dragon's Cache - Vs. Puzzle Drop Game [WIP] - First Beta Released!

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Dragon's Cache - Match wits and treasures against friends and rivals!

 

Beta Now Released!

 

DragonsCache_8_4_2020a.bas.a78 - Latest build, working out glitches with high score screens and multiple matches

DragonsCache_8_4_2020a.bas.bin - Binary file

 

DragonsCacheNewTitle.thumb.png.695f82dc2e1780165bf01fda8cb73255.png

 

Dragons greedily try to raid a legendary lost hoard of jewels in this puzzle-drop/match game!
Play for score, race to reach a given score, or play in a battle mode!  Play solo or challenge an opponent!

 

Older versions:

 

DragonsCache_7_26_2020.bas.a78 - Fixes some bugs that come up after multiple matches

DragonsCache_7_26_2020.bas.bin - Binary file

 

DragonsCache_6_7_2020.bas.a78 - Some menu bug fixes that occurred after a game over in various modes - hopefully the fixes stick!

DragonsCache_6_7_2020.bas.bin - Binary Version

 

DragonsCache_5_24_2020.bas.a78 - Updated title screen, cycling with the leaderboard in "attract mode"

DragonsCache_5_24_2020.bas.bin - Binary Version

 

DragonsCache_3_26_2020.bas.a78 - Battle mode changed, attacks temporatily "Speed up" opponent's side.

DragonsCache_3_26_2020.bas.bin - Binary Version

 

DragonsCache_3_06_2020.bas.a78 - Level and Scoring bugs fixed, colors brightened as a test, and Battle Mode Instruction screen added

DragonsCache_3_06_2020.bas.bin - Binary Version

 

DragonsCache_3_05_2020.bas.a78 - High Score shows up in Scoring modes (didn't make sense in other modes)

DragonsCache_3_05_2020.bas.bin - Binary version

 

DragonsCache_3_03b_2020.bas.a78 - High Score system added, initial test

DragonsCache_3_03b_2020.bas.bin - Binary version

 

DragonsCache_2_25_2020.bas.a78 - Audio bug fixed

DragonsCache_2_25_2020.bas.bin - Binary version

 

Earlier builds:

DragonsCache_2_19_2020.bas.a78 - Win counter added for 2-player modes.  Resets when you return to title screen.

DragonsCache_2_19_2020.bas.bin - Binary version of above build

 

DragonsCache_2_14_2020.bas.a78 - Minor bug fixes

DragonsCache_2_14_2020.bas.bin - Binary version

DragonsCache_2_9_2020.bas.a78 - Music track selection added.

DragonsCache_2_8_2020.bas.a78 - Initial Beta 

 

The Battle Mode rules are as such:
-A matched set up gems adds to your power meter, but will stay on your board.
-Press both buttons to activate the powered gems - they will vanish, and so will your opponent's falling gemstones!
-Activating the powered gems depletes your meter, unless the falling gems create another match.
-If you activate the powered gems with a full meter, you also add an unbreakable layer of blocks on your opponent's board!
-The goal is, as usual, to have your opponent's board fill up with gems before your own.

 

DragonsCacheBattle10.gif.f3e4315ca1bccf8c86f1d4e8f5ccd81f.gif

 

Please keep in mind there's still a lot I still need to do, but I want to see how well it plays outside my own PC.  I'll likely still refine things, and I'm sure (positive) there are bugs, but the best way to find them is to have others take a look.  

 

Some anticipated bugs I'm currently hunting down:

-"Garbage" glitched gem shows up sometimes

-Sometimes blocks don't appear on the opponent's side in battle mode, even if you use a fulled charged power meter

-Under certain circumstances, battle-blocks turn into solid unbreakable blocks (which should normally just appear on the bottom rows after a fully charged attack by your opponent).

-The Title menu glitches after playing several games and returning, and then trying to adjust the number of gems.  

 

[Edit: Original post below]

(And excuse the temporary graphics and colors for the moment...)

1082929178_DragonsCache_1.thumb.png.87e5be725b335b595a615f70ee6ea958.png

 

I'm been thinking about game genres that are absent/underrepresented on the 7800, and by coincidence found myself with friends playing a few rounds of head-to-head Tetris, Columns, Puyo Puyo, etc.  I decided to try implementing a head-to-head Columns-style game for this Atari console.  Right now it's just finished its "proof of concept" phase, to see if I could implement it in 7800Basic:

 

DragonLithic_8.gif.5fada78ac7889514a454b3936ca73651.gif

 

I had to do some double buffering and semi-cellular automata to get it functioning, but I'm pretty sure it runs decently in 12-color glory! (the "cache" in the title might be considered a bad programming pun).  The layout seems to fit within the 7800's display system, although I have to be very strategic about where I place text and blocks.  From what I can tell, it should handle 2-Player simultaneous play, chaining matching combos, score matches of 3+ blocks in a given direction, have a "next block" properly displayed, as well as having the random queue of "next blocks" always be the same for each player for fairness.

 

In other words, I have most of the major technical challenges figured out, now I need to switch my brain to art and design mode.  Working out rules for a good head-to-head mode, balance scoring, make proper menus, make actual non-temp graphics, implement a nice unifying graphical theme, you know, the fun stuff :)  

 

I'm still working on Dragon's Descent, but I still need to work out a viable way to test stuff on hardware and bug-check in general, and wanted to try a few other ideas while I was at it.

 

I intend to post something playable soon - the current build has too much odd debug stuff currently (the "score" is currently a frame counter, for instance), and I want to do at first -actual- pass on graphics before posting a build for folks to play.  

 

DragonsCache_2_7_2020_TitleScreen_MAME.png

DragonsCache_7_25_2020.bas.a78 DragonsCache_7_25_2020.bas.bin

Edited by Revontuli
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😍This would be awesome on the 7800!! Also looking forward to the day we can get a finished copy of Dragon's Decent on cart for the 7800. 

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58 minutes ago, AtariBrian said:

Also looking forward to the day we can get a finished copy of Dragon's Decent on cart for the 7800. 

Me, too!!

 

 ..Al

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Just posting to let folks know I'm still working on the game, now that my schedule has evened out a bit after the holidays.  I'm iterating on the sprites, trying different shapes/designs, figuring out better color palettes, and building a proper title screen menu to select 1/2 player modes.  Still a lot to do, but once I get some tentative sound effects, a proper title, and a "GAME OVER" state in, I plan on posting something playable for people to try:

 

DragonsCache_1_20_2020.thumb.png.e5823c2991c66ff836e9945a1f156dd6.png

 

The text colors are still off because they need to share their 4-color palette with the more complicated 12-color gem palette, and matching odd color indices will likely be a frustrating time.  The colors need a lot of checking since they vary wildly between emulators, and when you're dealing with color-coded gems that's kind of important!

 

The "versus" mode will likely involve a stacking unbreakable blocks under your opponent as you get more combos, but I also have the "race to a score" idea (that would frankly be a lot easier to implement, programming-wise).  

 

Thanks to everyone for their interest!  I'm still seeing what I can get done on my own in terms of coding, graphics, sfx/music etc. etc.  but I'll be interested in some feedback (and possibly help) once I post what I have for people to play.

 

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First off... wow.

 

Second, I know the graphics are still being worked on, but I think the background grey could benefit from being a bit darker. The repeating pattern is a bit distracting, and competes with your beautiful gems.

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Latest screenshot:

 

DragonsCache_1_22_2020_MAME.thumb.png.a0836ff83e8c1ebb000130f7941708a4.png

 

This screenshot is from MAME, while the previous ones are mainly from ProSystem, which, as an emulator, is easier to just double-click and run as I iterate, but I've found MAME a little more accurate in general in terms of code behavior (and color?).  For reference, here's the ProSystem Emulator screen:

 

DragonsCache_1_22_2020_ProSystem.thumb.png.593e1ec754b5d08849af2489f5f38d8a.png

 

I finally buckled down and made the color palettes consistent across gems and text (even if I'm still tweaking the colors themselves).  Debugging is hard enough without forcing yourself to ignore bad palette clash!

 

Scoring threw me for a loop, but I think I found an approach that works.  Cascading score combos are tough to manage when you need to switch between binary and decimal modes, with one capping out at 255, and the other at 99, but I think I have something that works.  The 2700+ score is me throwing a large chunk of matching blocks to start, to see if the score system (and performance) can handle it!

 

I put in hooks for sfx and music - I have my strategies for working with the TIA sound, and the 7800Basic system makes working with it a bit easier.

 

I still want to get the start of a menu system in before posting something playable - I do mean to get folks something to try soon!  

Edited by Revontuli
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MAME overall is more accurate than ProSystem - including the default color palette.  A blue-green transitioning does occur though as the system warms up for much of the $Bx range particularly, and a portion of the $Ax values.

 

Guaranteed consistent 'greens' = $Cx

Guaranteed consistent 'blues' = $9x

 

Hopefully, the attached *.gif works to demonstrate the color transformations as an NTSC console 'warms up'. 

 

The majority of the palette remains consistently the same, or near the same, with the exception of $Ex and runner up $Fx having some of the most drastic color changes. 

 

Running a distant third, after that, is the $Bx and then $Ax range.  Everything else is not worth even mentioning, but can be seen below:

 

AtariWarmUpColorChanges.thumb.gif.1cc9dbc42813d64edc16f4c5edd0c6a6.gif

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Another screenshot update, with a developing title screen:

DragonsCache_1_24_2020_TitleScreen_MAME.thumb.png.4d565de300c8f72c23b636251248e34b.png

 

And added single player mode(s):

DragonsCache_1_24_2020_SinglePlayer_MAME.thumb.png.c358cbb2b97699088fcbd3dbf030cbb2.png

 

Current modes are mostly implemented are head-to-head scoring, "racing" to a certain amount of points (counting down). 

 

I've a few ideas for a "battle" mode-now that I have a match-3 block game foundation, I want to try a few things, and maybe set this a little apart from a straightforward Columns clone.  Programming a game with well-established mechanics has been a fun meditation and challenge, although as a designer I normally want to try and make new stuff!  That, and as I mentioned in the original post, the 7800 is in desperate need of a Versus Puzzle game. 

Edited by Revontuli
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Love the new dragon columns, background for the jewels, and the shade transitioning/lighting 'effect' on the jewels.  Excellent hue values selected and jewel designing, with a great eye and mind for creativity.  Definitely can see and understand why you try to make new stuff, but this effort is very much appreciated.  It looks stunning!  Another day one purchase along with Dragon's Descent, once they are completed and for sale.

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Ya know what would be cool? Make a 2 in 1 cart with both of your dragon titles with a flashy menu screen to select which game.  

Your graphics are great!! :)

 

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So good, Revontuli! I'm looking forward to this one, and you're absolutely right that the 7800 could use a title like it.

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Some more screenshots.  It's at the frustrating state where stuff isn't obviously temp art, but not quite ready for public scrutiny.  I don't want folks to fixate on stuff I'm planning to, uh, fix.  I'll see if I can post a version this weekend:

 

DragonsCache_1_31_2020_a_small_MAME.png.39098be61d80b222f8625b72b2b4d0b2.png

Current iteration of the title, but I'm still chiseling away at pixels.

 

DragonsCache_1_31_2020_b_small_MAME.png.a80b1f4746c0a43c96df988a95922740.png

Score and Race modes almost ready for testing, Battle still needs some more mechanics implemented.

 

DragonsCache_1_31_2020_c_small_MAME.png.348d9ebd4f665f13958dbbb671536a38.png

Current state of Battle Mode-You accumulate matched triplets of gems to use later against the other player, stacking blocks underneath them.

 

DragonsCache_1_31_2020_d_small_MAME.png.1227d390d5342a881ca316f7cec1d68b.png

The Dragon of Storms (master of Wind and Sea) at odds with the Dragon of Embers (master of Stone and Fire).

 

 

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Whew!  It might be another few days - I spend most of yesterday hunting down a nasty bug in the random/gem queue system, and today was getting the last of the basic battle dynamics in.  Now they're in, I just don't know how well they work.  

 

For Battle Mode, when you match 3+ gems they don't disappear, but change to an attack block that helps fill a meter.  You can use these attack blocks at any time, and they'll remove the other player's current falling gems.  If the meter is totally full, a layer of indestructible blocks are added at the bottom of the other player's pit.  Attacking will use up your meter, but if you "combo" into a new set of attack blocks, the meter is preserved, so some planning/strategy is involved, and trying to fill a meter without relying on combos is tricky (and risky).  This part of the game is not direct remake (at least I don't think so - admittedly it has some elements of Puzzle Fighter and some of the Columns PvP modes), so this will require play-testing as well as bug testing.

 

Besides all of that, I need to add at least a few more sfx/graphical flourishes in the battle mode.  Sound and color effects are especially crucial for an abstract game like this. What might be cosmetic polish on another game acts as crucial feedback here.

 

The music needs work - it's not quite passing the "can I test the game while listening to the music on loop without getting annoyed?" test, and I have a few tunes I still want to try.  I feel like I lucked out with how well the TIA-based music worked in Dragon's Descent, but that was a lot of trial and error, and TIA melodies should always be graded on a curve.  So it is here...At the very least, like Dragon's Descent, you'll always have the option to turn the music off :) 

 

The 2-Player modes seem to be working, but I need to a lot of testing with actual players - most of this has been done with me on both sides of a keyboard :P  I'm sure folks will find plenty of bugs once I post an initial build, I just need to make sure I find a few more first :)

 

TL;DR I plan of working on the game for few more days before a posting - but it should be soon!

 

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Looking better by the week. By the way, I wonder if you have considered using an exotic music scale or two for the music?

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Looks really nice, good work so far. :thumbsup: I like puzzle-games alot. If CPU-opponents could be included, it would be a great additional bonus.

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Very close...

DragonsCache_2_5_2020_MAME.thumb.png.fad4a3b54d44cda12cefdc7c5a010987.png

 

Finished my first pass with sound effects.  Still messing with the music, but I'll be doing that anyway.  

 

Beyond any bugs I find in the next few days, I just want to make sure the flow of "Title"->"Start New Game"->"Play"->"Game Over/Win/Lose"->"Title" has a slightly better tempo. I'll probably still want to work on that even after I post this first draft - it's one of those things where pressing the wrong button too quickly can either introduce a bug or just be awkward.  I'm doing what I can for this initial version, but it's also the sort of thing where other people can find the problems much more quickly and easily than the programmer, without even trying :P

 

I think I have most of the big things in - we're now at the "thousand little things" stage.  Cycling the title screen between a credit screen, perhaps.  Maybe get a couple of sub-menus (like a retry/quit after a game) in and working, maybe a short instruction screen for battle mode, little things like that.

 

Regardless, once I'm *pretty* sure this version won't explode on the runway, I think I'll post what I have...

 

On 2/3/2020 at 6:02 PM, SlidellMan said:

Looking better by the week. By the way, I wonder if you have considered using an exotic music scale or two for the music?

The TIA sound chip makes the scale exotic by default, I think :) 

I'm actually not much of a composer or musician generally.  If the TIA were more sophisticated I'd actually be more intimidated to use it.  For composition

 I often look to old folk tunes like reels.  Reels, for instance, tend to be within a single octave, are relatively short, simple, yet are designed to be played an indefinite amount of time - All things that make them great to arrange for the TIA.  Once a musical piece is in, though, my strategy is to minimize auditory discord, rather than be faithful to the original tune, so I often get something eerily different than source material once I fit to the TIA's quirks.    

 

 

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9 hours ago, Revontuli said:

The TIA sound chip makes the scale exotic by default, I think :) 

I'd be lying if I didn't say that while I'm very excited, I'm also a bit intimidated by the idea of the YM chip in the XM. No excuses to avoid chord progression, etc. It's a couple steps up for this amateur composer.

 

I just wanted to make sure that The Perceptual Tuning Primer for TIA was on your awareness radar. Coming up with that was a game-changer for me, in terms of ease of composition and results. I didn't worry one bit about the Salvo music being in tune, so I spent time more productively, working on the music itself.

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On 2/6/2020 at 5:05 AM, RevEng said:

I just wanted to make sure that The Perceptual Tuning Primer for TIA was on your awareness radar. Coming up with that was a game-changer for me, in terms of ease of composition and results. I didn't worry one bit about the Salvo music being in tune, so I spent time more productively, working on the music itself.

I'm using the built-in music tracker in 7800Basic - it's served me pretty well, and tunes to A3 by default.  The TIA is an odd material to sculpt music from, but it has potential if you work on its terms!

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...aaaand here's the first release!

DragonsCache_2_8_2020.bas.a78

 

I edited the original post to include a link as well, and I'll include some of my initial thoughts both here and there.

 

We have a lot of modes - You can play for score, "race" (that it, play to a specific score, racing a clock or other player), and or "battle."

 

The Battle Mode rules are as such:

DragonsCacheBattle10.gif.dc459770a213686f63c533bcfba86064.gif


-A matched set up gems adds to your power meter, but will stay on your board.
-Press both buttons to activate the powered gems - they will vanish, and so will your opponent's falling gemstones!
-Activating the powered gems depletes your meter, unless the falling gems create another match.
-If you activate the powered gems with a full meter, you also add an unbreakable layer of blocks on your opponent's board!
-The goal is, as usual, to have your opponent's board fill up with gems before your own.

 

Please keep in mind there's still a lot I still need to do, but I want to see how well it plays outside my own PC.  I'll likely still refine things, and I'm sure (I'm positive) there are bugs, but the best way to find them is to have others take a look.  I haven't actually played anyone head-to-head yet (just testing with two sets of keys!)

 

Some anticipated bugs I'm currently hunting down:

-"Garbage" glitched gem shows up sometimes

-Sometimes blocks don't appear on the opponent's side in battle mode, even if you use a fulled charged power meter

 

Thanks everyone!

 

Edited by Revontuli
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Played to level 6, with a score of 1560, in one-player mode on a7800 emulator. No glitches encountered yet, just a lot of fun! :thumbsup:

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Just now, RevEng said:

Played to level 6, with a score of 1560, in one-player mode on a7800 emulator. No glitches encountered yet, just a lot of fun! :thumbsup:

How many gem types? :) I still struggle with the full 6!

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Oh, just the default complement of 4 for me. I'm not really all that experienced with gem games, but I'll get there. :)

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