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Karl's Blog

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Extreme RAM Saving Techniques

It has been a while since I have written one of my blog entries about the technical challenges of making my RPG "Penult" for the Atari 2600. By far my biggest challenge has been making the game with the extreme memory constraints of the console, so this entry will discuss how I dealt with those issues.   RPGs tend to be very memory-hungry. You need to keep track of a character's name, stats, inventory, experience, location, current state, etc. If there are multiple party members, these

Karl G

Karl G in Penult Technical Notes

Penult Conversations and Transactions

There are not a lot of Atari 2600 games that make use of a large amount of text. There are various reasons for this, including ROM size, as well as the fact that many implementations of a text display on the Atari use up a good deal of the limited RAM on the system. Penult has a large ROM size (128K), and makes use of a text display that builds the text lines on the fly to save on RAM (props to @RevEng for help with the initial design from which the Penult implementation had evolved).  

The Problem of 2048 Treasure Chests

I've been writing a few blog entries with semi-technical notes about the innards of my WIP Ultima-style game. In this one, I talk about keeping track of state in dungeons with extremely limited RAM.   I've been working on implementing dungeons in Penult, starting with original data from Ultima 3 for testing purposes. Dungeons in Ultima 3 consist of 8 levels each, and each level is a 16x16 square of tiles. Since there are less than 16 unique tiles, two tiles can be stored in 1 byte of R

Karl G

Karl G in Penult Technical Notes

Penult Timing

I've been writing a few blog entries with semi-technical notes about the innards of my WIP Ultima-style game. In this one, I describe how I handle all of the game's tasks without running out of CPU time.   With many Atari games, especially ones that do not make use of a coprocessor like the ARM, limited CPU time for game logic can be a challenge. Since Penult is a turn-based game, timing isn't as critical for many of the game's tasks.   I have divided all of the game's tasks

Karl G

Karl G in Penult Technical Notes

Penult Maps

I have enjoyed @SpiceWare's blog entries about the making of his games, so I thought I'd try my hand at it for my upcoming game Penult.   My first demo was pretty much just a map viewer for the Ultima 3 world map. I chose Ultima 3 because it actually has the smallest world map: only 64x64 tiles. Converting the Ultima 3 map to data I could use in my initial demo wasn't difficult, but the first problem was that it was still too big: 64x64 bytes equals 4096 bytes, or exactly the size of o

Karl G

Karl G in Penult Technical Notes

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