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pixelmischief

Donkey Kong and the Barrel Animation

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I was playing Donkey Kong recently.  I have always loved the 8-Bit version of Donkey Kong; even better than the arcade original.  One thing that I have always wondered, however, is why the developers chose to animate the falling barrels the way they did.  When the barrels fall between levels, the outline of the girder is left superimposed on the barrel.  They must have known that it would look much better if the barrel was drawn over the girder and so I assume there was a particularly tough technical challenge that required them to leave it as we still see it.  Does anyone know what that technical challenge might be and is there any appetite for taking a crack at fixing it?  I would support a bounty for this.

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Short answer: not enough space on the 16K cart.

 

Here's the man himself talking about it: 

 

I think he talks about it elsewhere on the forums, that he'd used every byte on the 16K cart.

 

Edited by MrFish
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Thank you!  I read in the article...

 

Quote

Barrels and other creatures are XOR’d onto the screen (I had some mask-and-repaint code at one point, but it was way too slow).  The XOR graphics are pretty annoying to me, but most other people didn’t seem to mind and some people even thought it was cool.

 

Now I know.

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25 minutes ago, MrFish said:

Short answer: not enough space on the 16K cart.

Thanks for weighing in Mr. Fish!

 

Tell me.  Why do people still adhere to such a, now, unnecessary limitation.  I get that it was necessary "back in the day"; to maximize adoption.  But there's no need to live with ANY improvable aspect given that there are no commercial concerns and people are doing this for the love of it.  I wonder noone has done a disk version that fixes everything.  Or a 32K cart.  Or something that requires 64K.  I can understand loyalty to the original 400/800, but not to the extent that something both excellent and beloved could be made moreso.

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2 minutes ago, pixelmischief said:

I can understand loyalty to the original 400/800, but not to the extent that something both excellent and beloved could be made moreso.

Do you have a 7800? If so, you need a copy of DONKEY KONG PK.

 

 

I mean, I had the A8 version as a kid and loved it, but this modern homebrew for the 7800 is by far the most arcade-perfect home port that has ever been created. :)

 

 

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4 minutes ago, DrVenkman said:

I mean, I had the A8 version as a kid and loved it, but this modern homebrew for the 7800 is by far the most arcade-perfect home port that has ever been created. :)

 

Wow!  Beautiful!  That said, however, it is the arcade "imperfection" of the A8 version that makes me like it better than the arcade.  In particular, it feels like the sprites move more smoothly and quickly.  This may have been an unattended benefit of finding a middle-ground between PAL and NTSC timings.  I don't know.  But wow, that 7800 version looks amazing!

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11 minutes ago, pixelmischief said:

Thanks for weighing in Mr. Fish!

 

Tell me.  Why do people still adhere to such a, now, unnecessary limitation.  I get that it was necessary "back in the day"; to maximize adoption.  But there's no need to live with ANY improvable aspect given that there are no commercial concerns and people are doing this for the love of it.  I wonder noone has done a disk version that fixes everything.  Or a 32K cart.  Or something that requires 64K.  I can understand loyalty to the original 400/800, but not to the extent that something both excellent and beloved could be made moreso.

Keep talking, and maybe Playsoft will get interested enough to revisit the hack...

 

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37 minutes ago, DrVenkman said:

Do you have a 7800? If so, you need a copy of DONKEY KONG PK.

 

I mean, I had the A8 version as a kid and loved it, but this modern homebrew for the 7800 is by far the most arcade-perfect home port that has ever been created. :)

Great version; although I don't really like the oversized score font; It takes away some of the authenticity of an otherwise faithful rendition.

 

Edited by MrFish

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8 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

By "developers" you mean basically one guy, Landon Dyer.  Here's his story:

 

http://www.dadhacker.com/blog/?p=987/

I haven't come across these details before - so - very interesting reading.

It's more or less what I expected - this kind of story about so-called inhouse development within Atari Corp.

I would imagine that inside Nintendo development - it's a whole different kind of story, with a more professional approach present?

 

Harvey

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9 hours ago, pixelmischief said:

Thanks for weighing in Mr. Fish!

 

Tell me.  Why do people still adhere to such a, now, unnecessary limitation.  I get that it was necessary "back in the day"; to maximize adoption.  But there's no need to live with ANY improvable aspect given that there are no commercial concerns and people are doing this for the love of it.  I wonder noone has done a disk version that fixes everything.  Or a 32K cart.  Or something that requires 64K.  I can understand loyalty to the original 400/800, but not to the extent that something both excellent and beloved could be made moreso.

 

8 hours ago, MrFish said:

Keep talking, and maybe Playsoft will get interested enough to revisit the hack...

 

The hacked version is no longer bound by the 16K ROM/16K RAM limit but hacking the game from single buffer xor sprites to double buffer fully masked sprites is a bit much for me. It could probably be done by the original author though.

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2 hours ago, kiwilove said:

It's more or less what I expected - this kind of story about so-called inhouse development within Atari Corp.

This was pre-July 1984 so Atari, Inc. while it was owned and under the control of Warner Communication. Atari Corp. was the name of the entity formed by Tramiel’s holding company after it bought most of the assets of Atari, Inc. including the A8 computer line. So Atari, Inc. from 1972-ish through July 1984. Atari Corp. post-July 1984 through the reverser merger into JTT in the 90’s. 

 

And honestly, I’m about 100% sure game development was just about identical in every company during this time frame. Systems were simpler and it was entirely possible to have one person do substantially all the programming, with maybe the help of a pixel artist for the animation frames and maybe someone to assist with music. That was it. 

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I'll admit I don't have a good memory when it comes to remembering information that I have read - but I get the general impression that it was the arcade division and those who worked on the original games - have put the time and effort into their creations.  (Original authors have to be duly credited for using their imagination and knowledge of the hardware they are making use of - for doing something not done before?  I'm always amazed by various titles that have first appeared on the 400/800 machines that show such ingenuity at work - whose authors ended up migrating to other systems or perhaps away from games development entirely?)

I forget the website which has many of their stories from the original programmers.  But there were the games licensed by Atari - typically Namco games - that perhaps the American audience failed to recognise - it was developed in Japan, and Atari brought them State side.

It would be wonderful to hear stories about your favourite games/carts about how the Atari 400/800 conversions came about.  John Harris' Frogger was one story that became public - to me - it demonstrated how the Atari 8-bit hardware could be pushed to make the home version looking better than it's arcade parent by a keen young programmer.  Donkey Kong was another that stood out - for it's accuracy that became an early 'Let's Compare' title across different computer and console conversions.  There was such a hoo-ha about the Coleco conversion - and I was sure that the Atari 8-bit hardware could deliver something better?

Of course - all of the various coin-op to home conversions were sometimes asking for the impossible to happen.  How could a home computer deliver a somewhat faithful conversion that was developed for a dedicated arcade cabinet where the cost and computer/graphics power difference was so great?  One can understand how a console like the SNES ought to cope well enough with it's powerful graphic and sound capabilities - but computer hardware designed back around 1978? (When was the actual date that Jay Miner started on the design specifications for the 400/800 computers?) to then have it ready for it's 1979? release date - but I'll guess it must be around 1980? that they were available on store shelves to buy?  And when were they in good numbers available locally in the US?).  It's nearest competitor - the C-64 was 3? years later on.

 

Harvey

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XOR isn't really due to space issues - though with more space you can do unrolled and further optimised softsprite routines.  The general reason for XOR softsprites is performance, you don't need to do the save/restore process to preserve the background.

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Also note that we are currently playing Donkey Kong in the A8 HSC, just two clicks away. The current round ends this Sunday so you'd still have a few hours to post a score if you like, even if you don't have the time to participate throughout rest of the season.

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30 minutes ago, Rybags said:

XOR isn't really due to space issues - though with more space you can do unrolled and further optimised softsprite routines.  The general reason for XOR softsprites is performance, you don't need to do the save/restore process to preserve the background.

Ultimately it is due to lack of space, because without more space you can't use methods (other than XOR) that will achieve acceptable performance.

 

Edited by MrFish

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Space/performance are usually directly proportional (to a point).

Zone Ranger, as Heaven revealed some years ago, uses the novel method of code ran from Ram with the exit point overwritten.

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