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Showing posts from August, 2014

Levels, levels, and more levels

The past couple weeks I've been focusing on making new maps.  At this point, I'm done with the temple zone, and almost done with the industry zone. 
I think I mentioned that I've added a couple of new items -- the "wall slip" and the laser that Robo-Ninja can shoot out of his eye-holes. I thought that might give me a fun programming break from designing maps. But fortunately, it turns out that I actually designed properly for these things, so they were really easy to add. The wall slip, in particular, only took about 15 minutes, by reusing what I had from the wall cling. The laser took a little while longer -- not because the laser itself was difficult, but I had to add functionality to the enemies that lets them die when hit. Either way, it was all straightforward based on the code design.
So back to editing maps. Robo-Ninja's world is starting to grow out a bit, although there's still a good way to go.  I think it's time to stop for awhile, so I don…

Atari kernel vs Android

So tonight I split some time between writing code for a couple of new items in Robo-Ninja (the laser gun, and the "wall slip", where you can cling to and slowly slide down a wall), and working on trying to jam pack everything into my Atari "kernel" (the name they call the core display loop on atari games).

The contrast between the two was hilarious. I'm going slightly over my cycle count on my Atari kernel -- once I added code for displaying missiles and background, I'm taking too much time per scanline.  But I don't really want to cut any functionality out, so I've been tweaking and optimizing, trying to pare down an instruction here, an instruction there. My brain is now tired. I managed to squeeze it down to ALMOST small enough. Squeezing the rest is going to be pretty difficult.

Then back to Robo-Ninja. Writing in Java (instead of 6502 assembly!), not really worrying about performance unless I do something stupid. I can waste lines like crazy, a…

Atari craziness

So between making more maps for Robo-Ninja (I finished the rest of the Temple zone yesterday!), I'm still playing with my side-SIDE project of learning Atari programming.

Let me just tell you, that machine is insane.
On most modern hardware, drawing game graphics is a matter of setting up a scene in openGL, (or  often, some framework that abstracts away the openGL and lets you tell it what stuff to draw where).
On the GBA, it was a little harder. You had magical memory registers for video ram, which you'd fill up with appropriate graphics, you'd poke palette data into a different register, then you'd have other  registers that told it how to build and display sprites or background tiles based on all that. You could, for example, fill in a register to say "put a 16x16 sprite, flipped horizontally, at position X,Y, based on graphic data at video ram location FOO" You still had to do a good bit of work figuring out how to swap data in and out of the limited vide…

2600 and the teleporter

The thing that most causes me to give up and stop working on a hobby project is my tendency to decide on a new "ooh, shiny" programming project. I can't tell you how many times I've started something, but gotten distracted by something else along the way.

As I was working on Anguna, there were numerous times where I had to promise myself that I'd work on that "new shiny" project just as soon as I finished Anguna -- that was the only way I could keep myself motivated to finish instead of just giving up and starting the next project. Once I finished, I forgot what all of those other distracting projects were, so it no longer really mattered.

Well, suddenly I've discovered a new shiny. It's not really that new -- ever since about 2005 or so, I've had it in the back of my brain that eventually I wanted to try making an atari 2600 homebrew game. But somehow recently I got interested enough to spend some time reading up on how it worked. AND NOW I…

Android keyboard for Civilization 1

So I've recently purchased DosBox Turbo, the best (as far as I can find) implementation of DosBox for Android, and have been playing through old DOS games on my phone. It's been pretty awesome -- I've been currently playing Civilization 1, which is one of the best games ever, in my opinion.

The only problem is that for Civ, you need a keyboard with arrows and diagonals, as well as a number of regular keyboard commands. I've used the awesome Hacker's Keyboard for other games, but for Civ, I end up having to toggle back and forth between the "normal" and "alternate characters" modes repeatedly. And I'm using PgUp, PgDn, Home, and End keys for the diagonals, which aren't arranged intuitively on that keyboard. So it's a bit of a hassle.

So the other day, I thought, "how hard can it be to write a new keyboard layout to make this game easier to play?" Turns out the answer is "not very hard."  The android sdk distributio…