Sunday, November 4, 2007

Gauntlet is thrown... badly


I was in a GameStop the other day and saw this monstrosity. Well, fine. Time to start working on this with some intensity. I spent the first half of last week converting the smoke images to tile format (yes, I am dumb with that sort of thing). But now the gloves are off and I am going to make those bastards pay for using my game's name.

Master Chef. Iron Chef for the Master System. Consarnit!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Even Odds

The great thing about coding, particularly in assembly, is that if one is out of their element with a particular operation or concept, there are usually several other directions to take to get the desired outcome. This is a maxim that has given great comfort to me in my efforts.

Apparently my desire to use a subtract operation has caused me to hit that thick wall separating my comprehension from many, many Z80 assembly concepts. I guess these operations use signed bytes, so half the time the pseudo number generator spits out values that this operation considers negative. Well, that's what it looked like while debugging.

Anyway, that's no good. So instead I used an addition and used the carry flag for my conditional jump. This worked like a charm. I set it to less than 1-10 odds so things aren't insane, gameplay-wise.

Oh, and here are DMEnduro's smoke tiles. Time to get this party started!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Androids so do not dream of electric CP

Alright, last week I quashed a bug in my food display code, but was dismayed when I realized that I couldn't change the odds of food changing (down from 100% every single time). I kept debugging the code and it seemed like it should work... except... it didn't. I got my trusty pseudo random number generator (shout out, once again, to ) to generate a pseudo random number and then set up a CP operation with a value in the C register. Then I implemented a conditional jump depending on whether the sign flag was minus or plus. Everything except for that last bit seemed to work fine. You know the drill - I was crushed, was driven before my failed code, and audible were the lamentations of my women. Well, my wife did wonder why I was crying so much.

Skip ahead one week. I tried just using the zero flag instead. That worked fine (and obviously, with 1 in 256 odds, quite glacially). So my code worked fine. It was just me who was totally retarded. CP has no effect on the sign flag. Duh!

So I'll work on that. Clearly I need to go ahead and use a subtract operation.

Oh, and DMEnduro sent me some awesome smoke grafx. This was a week ago. Anyway, it looked so good in however many shades of gray that I decided to implement these as sprite animations. Pretty risky, what with that finicky, fussy VDP whining even more than I tend to, but life is about risk. I'll post the tiles later once I get this conditional jump all squared away.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Battle of Eggplant Forest

Here's that video I promised. Sorry Google took so long to vet it.

I did try to fix the problem. First off, I should apologize to - their code is flawless. Well, their code plus a nice little CPIR operation that checks for duplicates. Food identities are updated in RAM plausibly randomly; they just don't match up with what's displayed. Except the first time. So something weird is going on.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Fish à l'Orange

I've finally updated the project (yes, life got really busy). All food items are now tile-based, and once every 8 vblanks each item gets 50-50 odds of remaining. You'll notice from the video* that this would make the game virtually unplayable, but that'll be a simple tweak.

What won't be such a simple tweak is how in tarnation all of those fishes, oranges, and eggplants get chosen. Weird. Well, it could be my code, or else the pseudorandom number generator subroutine I stole from . I'll have to check that out.

*As soon as Google determines it is of sufficient quality to upload to their stupid video thingy. Jerks

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Let's do it, let's Burning Rangers

I just finished removing most of my conveyor belt code, except for the random number generator and associated morsels which will be necessary for the magic food table. Yes, I know that took longer than it should have; I was busy again at work. Plus, I needed to give some thought to how exactly I wanted to set the new code up.

There will be a table for each player. Foods will be selected randomly, again, and each will disappear independently- I will use my trusty 3-bit counter so every 8 IRQ counts the random number generator will determine whether each food remains or is replaced. I will tweak the random number generator to prevent every food from disappearing - I suspect something much less than a 50% chance of the food vanishing would be appropriate, though the rate could increase as the game progresses to increase difficulty. Then the raptured foods will be replaced with the smoke tile. Every spot with smoke will have to be synchronized, which is a shame, but otherwise I would be using up too many colors on the palette.

Okay, so the other thing that kept me busy this week was playing some games. But that's totally research for a game developer. And I will tell you what I learned, to prove the point.

I've been playing Phantasy Star Universe, mostly because nearly all the family I have in this hemisphere and some friends are all on it, and because it is a good game, for an MMORPG. But, being an old games connoisseur, a spot in my heart had always ached for the days of Phantasy Star Online (which I used to play with the same crew). So I booted up my Dreamcast and logged on to Schthack's server ( I was just playing on my own, which was boring enough - the game is really not optimized for offline play. But the other thing I noticed is some serious frustration with the controls. Though a very complex game with a formidable learning curve, PSU has quite intuitive controls. PSO version 2, on the other hand, really shows a great lack of control optimization, even though it was a huge step up from the original version 1!

So, lesson 1: spend the time to make controls intuitive. I did have a visceral dislike for the learning curve of PSU, but it is a complex game, so I can forgive it. But the controls are pretty decent. My plan for Master Chef is to have one button do everything. I like simple games - Crazy Taxi is one of my favorites. But it plagiarizes, in a way, a Saturn game called Courier Crisis. You go around on a bicycle, picking up packages and dropping them off. The difference between this game and Crazy Taxi is, whereas in the latter you brake, accelerate, go forwards and backwards, and steer, in the former, every single button on the Saturn pad is used. Eight buttons and the D-pad!! So two games, similar themes, but one is a favorite and the other a total mess.

Another thing I learned: I downloaded a quest because this was something I had never gotten around to doing in my PSO heyday, and I happened to have a nearly empty VMU sitting around. I ended up serendipitously downloading the Burning Rangers quest. I always liked Burning Rangers until I read someone call it very ugly. Then I remembered - it is probably Sonic Team's most hideous game. Just awful. But pretty soon after reading that statement, I booted it up and started playing again. Yes, it is a terrible-looking game, but it has so much going for it that that doesn't matter! Novel gameplay, including the vocal guides, set it apart as a worthwhile game. So, while I don't think that novelty alone is going to make a graphically unimpressive game (like nearly anything I could cook up on the SMS), I think that the game industry has always had a tendency to beat the same gameplay ideas into the ground, leaving a lot of possibilities unexplored. Nintendo DS developers are really venturing into this unchartered territory with their lovely, original games, but I think there's still a lot of room out there for SMS developers to come out with new ideas.