Skip to main content

Enemy Spawning

Still working on Crop Insurance. The one nice thing about it is that I'm tracking my hours, which lets me see a better estimate of how much time I spend on my side projects. The answer is about 5-6 hours per week.

No wonder it took 3 years to finish Robo-Ninja.

That being said, I'm feeling a bit stuck on Atari Anguna. I haven't been doing much, because when I do, I've been working on my semi-random enemy spawning routines. And I haven't been happy with it.

The issue is that I don't want enemies spawning stuck in walls, which means:

1. I can go completely random on spawns, but then if it's a collision, try again.
1b. To check for a collision, I either have to do the math to figure out if I've collided with a wall (which on the Atari is non-trivial due to the crazy arrangement of the playfield registers) or
1c. Draw the enemy once, check the collision registers, and then move (which means each try eats up a frame, which could be slow and look really tacky)

2. Instead, I could designate "safe spawn" areas in each room layout.
2b. Depending on how I do this, it could eat up quite a few bytes per room. (I potentially need at least 3 safe spots per room. This could be 6 bytes per room, more than I want to spend)
2c. I could cut down on rom usage by having a lookup table of safe spawns, the question is how this would work, and doing the randomization and lookup in a way that's fast and compact.

I spent WAY too long thinking through these, testing ideas, etc, and not being happy with the results. Which made me less interested in working on the game, and thus slower progress.

Finally I have a solution that I think I'm happy with, and seems to be mostly working.  I build a lookup table of 8 potential spawn points (16 bytes for the lookup table). Then each room has a byte to tell which of these potential spawns are allowed for each room layout -- a 1 means it's safe to spawn in.  Then I pick a random number between 1 and 8, check that bit. If it's not safe, try the next. Once I get a safe bit, spawn an enemy at the position that the bit refers to. Then if there are more enemies to spawn, I just check the next consecutive bits (instead of picking more random numbers, and risking enemies spawning in the same position as each other) until I've spawned them all.

It seems to work, doesn't require much storage, and is relatively fast.

For any 6502 assembly nerds, here's the code I used. You can probably spot all the places that I'm doing things really badly (I end up wasting a lot of cycles saving and loading values -- it seems I just don't have enough registers to track everything I need and still use X and Y for indexed loads (Why oh why didn't the 6502 have TXY and TYX opcodes to move values between X and Y directly?))

    ;TempPF2 should be the number of enemies we want to spawn
    ;TempPF2 then holds the number of enemies we want to spawn - 1
    dec TempPF2

    ;load the room index
    ldy #0
    lda (RoomDef),Y
    ;x now has room index

    ;Store #1 in TempPF1 to bit against..
    lda #1
    sta TempPF1

    ;get random number between 0 and 7
    lda Rand
    and #%00000111

    ;a has safe spawns
    lda SafeSpawns,X

    ;rotate the safe spawn based on the random number
    sty Temp
    ldx Temp

    cmp #$80
    bne .keepRotating

    ldx Temp
    ;now work our way through seeing if it's safe

    ;if it's safe, go to useThisValue (of x)
    bit TempPF1
    bne .useThisValue

    ;if not, rotate again, increase X
    cmp #$80


    ; if X equals start, fail. What then?
    cpx Temp
    beq .useThisValue

    ; if X equals 8, set to 0
    cpx #8
    bne .checkSpawnLoop
    ldx #0
    jmp .checkSpawnLoop

    ldy TempPF2

    ; otherwise, look up X and Y in table
    lda SpawnsX,X
    sta Enemy0X,Y

    lda SpawnsY,X
    sta Enemy0Y,Y

    dec TempPF2
    bmi .allDone

    jmp .beforeRotation


Popular posts from this blog

Retrospex 32 Review

RetrospexInternational recently sent me a couple units of their new handheld device, the Retrospex 32, a new dedicated GameboyAdvance emulator handheld.  To make the unit playable out of the box, they pre-loaded a handful of homebrew games, including Anguna, which is why they were kind enough to send me 2 of the units to play with.  I was pretty excited to get my hands on the device and try it (I loved my old GBA micro with a good flash cart!), and see Anguna running on it. So here's my thoughts after playing with it.

Their website lists the Retrospex 32 for £59.99, which is around $100 USD. It seems like it's marketed toward people into retro-gaming (which makes sense for a dedicated GBA emulator device). At that price, with that target market, and such a limited set of functionality (why not make it a multi-machine emulator, and emulate all the old consoles?), it would hopefully do a really good job of it.

The short version of my review: it doesn't. It has one job (emula…

Making the game fun

The real trick for Spacey McRacey (as I'm calling it now) is going to be making it fun.  And that's what I'm rather unsure about at this point.

I have a game design that basically works. The technical issues are mostly sorted out, I just need to get a few more implemented before I can seriously play test it.

But fun? It's hard to know if it's actually going to be any fun to play.  With a 4-player party-style game, it's seems like it might be hard to hit that fine line where everyone is close and competing, where everything feels exciting and tense, as opposed to tedious and boring.  And despite envisioning my game as fun, it might just be boring to play.

Some of that comes down to tweaking it. Tweaking the speeds, difficulties, etc, will make a difference. (If it's too easy to shoot people from behind, then it will be nearly impossible to hold a lead for very long, which could ruin it and make it no fun. If it's too hard to kill the guy in front, it wil…

Killer Queen

So at PRGE, I played an arcade game that just left me amazed.  Killer Queen.

It's a 10-player game. You have 2 cabinets linked together, and 5 players huddled on each one. Each one is a team of 5 people, working together to play a simple one-screen 2d platformer.  But what made it work was the high quality game design.

First, the game is relatively simple, yet there is a lot going on at once.  One player plays the queen, the most important and powerful character on the team. The others start as workers, but can become warriors who can fly around and attack in a very joust-like flappy contest of height.  The real trick is that there are three completely different ways to win: either collect a bunch of berries and bring them back to your base, or ride a REALLY SLOW snail across the screen (while other people try to kill you, and you hope your team protects you), or kill the enemy queen 3 times.  There's some other things going on as well (using berries to upgrade, capturing upgr…