Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Starting the next game

Now that Spacey McRacey is done, it's time to move on to the next game: a large adventure game for the NES.

I've had two ideas in mind for awhile, either my Blaster Master-style metroidvania game that I've talked about before, or another Anguna sequel.  After asking around to see if I could find any artists interested in working with me, I found someone that's interested in doing the Blaster Masteresque game.  So that's where we're starting.

First steps involve picking some technology.  On the Atari, unless you were going for some crazy advanced cartridge with a co-processor on board (which was really rare back in the day -- I think Pitfall 2 was the only commercial game that did this), all the cartridges boards are pretty similar, other than ROM size and the exact method of bankswitching to map all that ROM to the limited address space of the Atari.  (Ok, some also had some RAM on board. But still, there wasn't all that much that was different).

NES cartridges are a different story. The NES was designed for the cartridges to have a bit more control, so there's a lot more variance depending on what cartridge hardware you're going to pick.  And certain types of cartridge hardware are more expensive to produce on actual cartridges than others.  So I need to pick a cartridge mapper type.  I've been doing some experimentation -- there's a new one out called the Cheapocabra that's both cheap and powerful.  The only downsides are the fact that not all the emulators support it yet, and it has no expansion RAM.   So I'm still trying to decide for sure.

The other question is whether I stick with pure 6502 assembly, or do a mix of assembly and C.  I've been doing some experiments with writing the core game logic in C, and dropping to assembly for the bits that need to have better performance, and it seems to be working reasonably well, so I think I'm going to start with that.

Next steps are to start thinking about a scrolling engine and internal level data representations.


Bryan R said...

Excellent, it's new game time!

Have you written before about what motivates you to create retro games? I can imagine several reasons, including nostalgia, and the technical challenge of making use of every extra byte of memory and shred of computing power. And sometimes constraints can be beneficial for the creative process.

There's also something cool about working closely with your hardware and understanding the details of how each component works.

But are you ever tempted to use modern computing power and just go nuts with the megabytes?

Nathan Tolbert said...

Great question, Bryan. I think I'll post the answer to that as a new blog post in the next few days.

Atari QuadGames

Well, the first prototype adapter is finished, Quad-Joust is undergoing testing (ie making my kids come down to the basement and play it wit...