Welcome to my blog! I'll warn you that the purpose of this blog is self-indulgent: it's really mostly for airing thoughts (mostly half-baked) out into the ether in the hopes that this process will aid in their development. Secondly, the presence of an audience (likely imaginary) is a way to trick myself into feeling some sort of accountability for my SMS projects.
That's okay. As far as I can tell, most blogs are self-indulgent anyway. I would hate to pollute the development forum at SMSpower with my dribble, so here I am. Incidentally, if you really are interested in developing for the SMS, you should check out smspower.org/forums/development, as well as the whole smspower.org website.
Right. You've cleared those first two paragraphs, yet miraculously, your interest is unabated. I might as well talk about the main project I am working on: Master Chef.
In the autumn of 2002, after my evil grad school (rhymes with Wail) was so evil I could take no more and quit, I spent, oh, six hours a day playing Puyo Puyo 2 on my Game Gear. I started thinking, why are all puzzle games pretty much a variant of Tetris? No disrespect towards PP2, which obviously I love, but can't there be more variations? This was five years before I discovered Twinkle Star Sprites, so forgive my ignorance.
Anyway, at the same time I became obsessed with Iron Chef. So I thought, why not a Master System game with the same idea: a cooking competition? Thus, Master Chef was born.
Two players enter (I may someday add AI for solo playing); two players leave with steaming hot plates of food. Two conveyor belts convey pseudo-randomly selected raw food items (though nothing will stop one player from taking the other player's foods). Additionally, a table with a limited number of the "secret ingredient" will be available - every dish requires this ingredient. Players take raw food items to appliances or a sous-chef for frying, baking, roasting, chopping, etc. Every raw food has stats - sweetness, sourness, savoriness, texture, etc. - and the various cooking processes alter these stats. Mixing food items will also alter the stats. This should result in an infinite variety of final dish possibilities.
So, where am I right now? Well, I have two fully animated characters controlled by two players. I have one procession of foodstuffs (the conveyor belt will be palette cycled background tiles - an idea contributed by my brilliant graphic artist collaborator, DMEnduro).
What I am working on right now is decreasing the number of writes to VRAM to avoid graphical glitches. As you probably know, the SMS VDP is pretty sensitive to VRAM writes - I learned this in a really brutal manner when I spent six months working on a game that updates the entire screen every frame before I realized the VDP is not up to the task. Anyway, I have eliminated all glitches except when one player makes tight little turns (and probably a second as well - I've been testing on a Game Gear).
I decreased the number of foods per conveyor belt and am now including a check for whether y coordinates need updating and a separate one for x coordinates. This should help.
But a bug came to light - basically, there are some diagonal directions that are impossible with both players. It's all very complicated, and I am going to have to sit down and tabulate which ones don't work. I'll get that in my next post. I will also try to grab a video using emuKon (which I think can make videos) and try to post it using youtube, which seems to be what all the kids are using these days.