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The Woebegone Trail: DevLog - Day 16 - Hitching the Wagon ...



Woebegone: An “The Oregon Trail” Homage - DevLog: Day 16 (07/03/24) - Hitching the Wagon ...


A little more progress ...


Thanks to @MrFish, I've added the very nice oxen and wagon graphics he created (which I very much appreciated!)!  You can see how this looks, statically, here, and I've attached the respective .XEX file if you want to see it actually run.


This completes 95% of the primary technical elements of the screen, albeit other parts still have to change (see below).




This also moves things forward to the point where there's only one thing I have left to test before pushing ahead with the "game" part of this*.  And that's combining bit-shifted character graphics with smooth scrolling of other characters on the same mode lines and synchronizing them with PMG overlays for additional colors/tinting.  On its own, I wouldn't even bother to test that - it's not that hard.  But in this case, I've had enough surprises, that were interesting to work through, between ANTIC/DMA stealing cycles, interrupts interrupting each other, and other timing and sequencing issues, that I won't be at all surprised if I run into timing, DMA or other issues.


We shall see ...


I've also completed the major refactoring, gone through the all the code to make it compliant with an updated set of coding standards/conventions and made comments and style consistent (as well as fixing things that had gotten stale/out-of-date during various iterations).  Also, some usage-driven tweaks/fixes to the "includes" files I built before doing this.


Back to Reality


Now ... as @www.atarimania.com pointed out in the Atari 8-bit "Oregon Trail" thread, this screen needs to be clean, simple and legible - at least for it's in-game usage where it will be the basis of the "Travel Screen".  As such, in that incarnation, expect the following changes:

  • No title caption ("The: Woebegone Trail").
  • The color-flow/scrolling colors will not be present.
  • The colors will be tweaked.
  • The text scroller at the bottom won't be there.
  • The entire bottom text area will be completely different; a status panel almost certainly in Mode 0, with a less stylized mixed-case font.
  • Proper graphics for the clouds, hills, shrubs etc. (not my "programmer graphics").


There is, however, a reason I built it this way initially.  Well, two reasons really.


First - I wanted to exercise all the fiddly technical stuff I expect to have to do up front, and in the most demanding scenario I can imagine (for this game).  I learned early on in life that I personally find little more discouraging/demoralizing/disappointing (and possibly other words starting with "d" and ending in "ing") than getting deep into a project and then finding that the vision I had of it/for it cannot be realized and/or that I can't get close enough to it to be happy with the result - and I lose interest.  This approach avoids that potential outcome.


Second - For the top half of the screen at least, this is what I envisioned in the dream I had that started all of this.  Or very close to.  The color transitions may have been smoother.  I may have recalled 4/5 color graphics modes being slightly less chunky (though that could also be working on a 40" screen with the emulator at 6x zoom ...).  And the graphics were much nicer (so clearly someone else had drawn them).  But, anyway, short of adding the ability to actually press the "start" button and have it immediately show a tombstone ... that part is done.




What's Next?

  • Animate the oxen/wagon.
  • Add scrolling landmark entry and bit-shifted (soft-sprite) elements (technical validation)
  • Finish up the "title screen" aspect of this, including the bottom-panel.



*No promises that I won't take a beat and drop a quick version that does enable the "start" button and throws up a "You have died of dysentery." tombstone, just for the completion of the "dream" aspect of this.



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