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I don't always make serious resolutions for new years. Probably for good reason, since they don't usually last. Although admittedly my "stop eating ice cream all the time" resolution worked out pretty good... if you don't count the slushies. <_<

I think this year I'm going to try to do a two pronged attempt. For starters, I'm going to try to make a serious attempt at fixing up my diet. I eat too much crap I don't need, and not enough of the stuff I do need. Sometimes it's not really avoidable - if you're short on change you're going to buy cheap stuff to fill you up and keep you going to payday. But I think what I have to do is actually organize a bit of a meal plan. The main point here is that I have to cut back on the intake. ^_^ (Harder than it sounds, as my willpower is weak in this area compared to my ability to boycott companies that piss me off!)

The other thing I need to work on would be with my game projects and other such things. I've been more or less sticking to Atari 7800 Basic for making Graze, but it's been getting longer between updates so I'll need to refocus my efforts on that. I also want to try to play a lot of 7800 Games and try my hand at reviewing them - which of course will just be me giving my thoughts about them. It'll be a bit more complicated overall as I'm not going to be releasing most of the reviews as I make them. If all goes well then next December I'll have a big ass update/release to make. :D

I want to try to have Graze done by mid-spring. Or at least have it "feature-complete" with just bug crushing left to do. I've got like another 3-4 game ideas I want to do with 7800Basic including RPGs (that the Atari 7800 desperately DESPERATELY needs ^_^), platformers, and something that will probably play like some mutant hybrid between an RPG and that ancient BBS game Legend of the Red Dragon. That is, it'll be a RPG type game that will primarily be menu driven. Primarily. I plan on getting creative with that one but until Graze is complete I'm just going to be writing down ideas for it. I had considered porting and updating Johnathan's OWSF that he wrote for MS-DOS, but that'll depend on whether or not a bankswitching format can be done that will let me page in tile/sprite sets as needed - otherwise there will simply be no way to fit all the needed graphics into the game.
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Today is the first day in over a week that my place has been a hospitable temperature. Normally wind won't blow in through the windows during the summer which causes the place to heat up significantly. And after one of my fans died last week it was worse than normal. Going to try to get a replacement tomorrow.

Boring Atari 7800 Game Development ramblings )

So yeah, hopefully with the heat temporarily at bay I'll be able to get a little bit of work done. :)

Also, Vocallective released another digital album (Free) on bandcamp recently - "Drum & Bass & Vocaloid 3". They release songs from a lot of aspiring musicans/song writers that use vocaloids and utaloids.
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For anyone who's interested, you can see the details of the development of my first Atari 7800 game right over here!

I've mentioned it before a few times recently, although it's progressing nicely and currently playable.

You will need either MESS/MAME or Prosystem in order to play it. MESS is included in MAME at this point it seems, and the latest version of Prosystem is linked on the atari age forum.

Prosystem is less accurate (particularly for the colors!) but I find it easier to run. MAME actually crashes/bluescreens my computers.

Anyway, the goal of the game is basically to graze against the enemies that fly on the screen without letting them score a direct hit. Essentially the white dot in the center of the character is what you can't let enemies touch. Your suit charges as you graze, and when it's strong enough it'll let you destroy the next enemy you hit instead of the other way around!

The next thing up will probably be adding powersups. I've got a bunch of ideas for them already, although I've been letting it drag out because I wasn't entirely sure how I wanted the powerups to work (how to obtain them.) Pretty much going to go with the idea that you'll have to destroy the enemy it's attached to at this point, which means you'll need to have some grazing done in advance!
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I -was- going to rant about how the latest Batman game on PC was apparently so poorly put together and released to the point where the devs have actually stopped selling the game on PC until it's been finished. This is apparently their second PR damage control action. I don't know what their first response to PC gamers being pissed off at them, but apparently it just added fuel to the fire - much like how people are now up in arms over the Destiny DLC bullshit and the dev's interview that basically told long term players who had spent 100 dollars on the game that they'd have to buy the 80 dollar collectors edition if they wanted the couple of exclusive DLC items added to it - even though they already owned 75% of the collectors edition. (So it'd be like spending 80 dollars to get "40" dollars of DLC after spending 100 dollars on the game.)

Oh I shouldn't get started on a rant about that. Especially since I have no interest of ever picking up the online only game.

Yeah, I was actually going to talk about Anime conventions and how I'm going to go to one this weekend, but now I don't feel like typing it up after the mini-rant above. (I could say lots more about what I think of it.) Anyway, yeah, I'll be offline for a few days this weekend as I go to one. I'll probably talk about it on here on Sunday or Monday. Only downside of it is probably going to be me not being able to work on my Atari 7800 game over the weekend. It's starting to take shape! Links to the current beta/alpha/whatever of the game are in the first post of the thread. You'll need an emulator to play it. Either Prosystem or MESS will work. MESS will be more accurate with colors/etc. I'm not going to be optimizing the colors for real hardware until I can sit down and play it on real hardware myself.
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Ok, I've been out of the loop of doing most anything related to my game/art/music/whatever projects since probably 2010. At first minecraft was eating up a lot of time, and lately it is again admittedly as I work on The Industrial Complex on Pseudo World. (Formally known as the Guardian Farm)

But after noticing half of January has already slipped by, I'm going to try to step up my game for my projects.

I've tried coding on the 2600, and that's been... a mixed success. Certainly Maze Realms functions, but it's a far cry from what I wanted it to become, and the code has gotten to the point where if I attempt to change anything I just create bugs rather than fix any. So that's on the shelf still.

On the Atari 7800, I attempted working on some display building routines to help code out the confusing aspects of the MARIA chip (The gpu of the system so to speak) but I didn't really get as far as I wanted. I got it to the point of displaying a sprite on the screen, but whether a part of my code or an emulator bug distorted the graphic a bit - until I moved it around some. Attempts to fix that were like the 2600, resulted in more bugs. So I gave up on it again.

Now, lately there's been someone that's written "7800basic". Essentially a basic-like compiler for making 7800 games. It lets you code in a syntax close to Basic while including some 7800 specific things naturally and some helper routines. This has the benefit of also coding out all the confusing Display List and Display List List garbage of the gpu.

Sooo... I've decided to try to learn this 7800basic. I've browsed over the system commands and it looks like it'll mostly be easy to understand. And as a bonus I can do my sprite sets in paint programs like Paintshop Pro that I own - just have to save the files as pngs with a few conditions on palette size and x/y dimensions. And it'll encode them for the game's screen modes on it's own!

It even has a sound/music driver I can use, I just have to make the actual sound data to add to the game and do some organization to it. Overall this looks like it should free me up to concentrate more on the game itself than wrestling with the underlying hardware.

The 7800 is comparable to the NES in terms of power for those who don't know. It has different strengths and weaknesses however. There are games you can do on the 7800 that look like shit on the NES, or are simply not possible on the NES (without insane horrible flicker)

My goal is to try to make a simple old-school JRPG for the 7800, since it pretty much as none of those in it's library to date. It'll probably be comparable to some degree Dragon Warrior in complexity although I'm not going to be using it as a standard to design by. Basically I mean it'll probably end up as a one-hero adventure. No party members, etc. Possibly.

The first step and deadline I'm setting for myself is February 1st - iron out the basic game play. IE: How the battles will work, main stats, how the player will level up, maybe even the general story of it.

At this point it'll all be wish-list kind of stuff, but so long as the XM Module gets released this spring as promised, I'll probably aim the game to run on that. All the XM module does is add ram, sound chips, and high score saving to the 7800 - things that have been always possible to add to it's cartridges (It's not like a 32X adapter on the Sega Genesis that adds new CPUs etc) The module has been delayed and delayed for the last... 4 years. >_> But the latest delivery promise is spring 2015.

I'll also need to get a ram cart at some point so I can run my test builds on actual hardware. Maybe a better 7800 as well while I'm at it. Mine is kinda beat up, and I question the state of it's RF adapter at times.

Long story short (Too late!) I'm going to try to stay on track with this. Devote an hour or two a day at the very least working on it in some capacity. I'm tucking away some money out of every paycheck as well so I can invest in some new hardware and a ram cart. I've already paid for the XM back in 2010 so that's not an issue beyond it actually being completed.

Wish me luck, I'm likely going to need it. ^_^

Atari 7800

Dec. 2nd, 2008 08:15 am
owsf2000: (Default)
I've started looking at the 7800 again for coding purposes. I've hacked together the start of a shell program as well, although it's not done enough to test. To test it I'll have to add a couple actual graphics and then hack in a single display list..list. Essentially it would be a static picture or tiled background. the 7800 is looking like it might be easier to code than the 2600, but given how mindnumbingly hard the 2600 can be, that's not saying much. ^^;

If I do seriously attempt a game on the 7800, it'll likely be a tiled platformer type game. Mostly because that's one of the harder things to do on the 7800 since it's not built for those types of games the same way the NES is specially rigged for it. The advantage of the 7800 is that while it can't do certain types of games easily, it's far more generic and geared to be molded into anything you want it to be. Need a tile engine? You just have to write it. It might not do the job as well as something geared specifically for it, but if the game is designed properly, it can still make one hell of a game.

I have several ideas for games in mind, and I might even attempt making Action RPG on the 7800 instead of the 2600. (Although I'll up the graphics standards to be more in line with the 7800 of course! ;)

Ah well, time will tell. I'll attempt to compile the static-screen rom on the weekend.
owsf2000: (Default)
In less OH MY GOD THE WORLD IS ENDING news, I've been helping taking screenshots of old Atari 7800 games for the Atari Age database. Some of the games are far more interesting than you'd think at first glance, or at least show off some of the 7800's power.

They still should have made use of the pokey chip in cartridges mandatory however. Pokey chips were basically chips that were used in the old atari computers that did various things but also included sound support with 4 channels. So with adding one of those to the cartridge, you'd have a total of 6 channels of sound available to a 7800 game. The 4 channels that are in the pokey, and the 2 channels that are in the 7800 itself. The 2 channels in the 7800 are identical to the sound capabilities of the 2600. Mainly because it's actually using the same hardware. All but 2 7800 games simply used the 2 channels in the console so they rarely sounded much better than a standard 2600 game.

The 7800 still wouldn't have beaten out the NES if it had tho. Atari made way too many other mistakes along the way. But it would have definitely helped the games sound better. X_X


Also, listening to some of the free downloads from Null Device's website. Currently listening through the Footfalls EP, and I find it rocks. Take a listen. Found this by reading Dark Clan's info on CDBaby where it mentions the main guy of Dark Clan was lead guitarist for Null Device up until 2007.

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