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My First Good Game - P-61 Black Widow (Europe)


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Alright, after a lot of interruptions and work, I have a decently working version of my first good game (I have done others but they were small very limited games). This is a single player or cooperative, top down, WWII fighter game where Player 1 is the pilot of a P-61 Black Widow and Player 2 (if playing) is the Radar Operator. The player(s) must pilot their night fighter through dog-fights while targets are found and illuminated by the radar. There is a challenge for both players in two-player mode, while the work of the radar operator is done automatically in one-player mode. Two-player mode is really difficult unless you are playing on an actual console using a Harmony Cart.


I eventually plan on fixing some minor bugs and adding a good title screen to the game, but I thought I would put this version out there for people to try and gather some feedback.



There are three types of enemies: He-111 Bomber – Slow but tough. Bv-141 Scout – Light, fast, but easy to damage. And the Ho-229 Flying Wing Fighter – Fast, shoots back… stealth.


Your weapons:

The .50 cal. Machine guns are default for both modes. The 20mm Cannon is activated when both Player 1 and Player 2’s fire buttons are depressed in two-player mode. The 20mm Cannon is activated in one-player mode when attacking bombers if the left difficulty switch is set to “A”.


One final warning… Watch out for parachutes!


Edited by joelm
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The graphics arent real great, but they are enough to get the point acrossed. To the left is the pilot's view, to the right is the radar. Player 2 can move the square radar beam around to detect the enemy airplanes which are not visable to the pilot unless they are illuminated on the radar screen. That way both players have to work together closely in two-player mode. In one-player mode the radar beam is automatic but still subject to defective tracking.



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This is a fun game. I think you can go places with this. If you have any missiles left, perhaps the bomber might exchange fire with you. I like how that fast plane comes from behind. Perhaps a boss enemy or objective at the end of each level? Bomb a ship, blow a super plane out of the sky? A secret German UFO as a final boss? I just saw the trailer for Iron Sky so it's on my mind.


I get points for shooting the parashootist. It might be fun to splatter him and get bonus points.


I did encounter what appears to be a bug. I started the game and the first enemy was a bomber. It did not die. I have only screenshots, not video I'm afraid.


P-61 Bobmer won't die part 1.

Here it is at 361 points of shooting.


P61 Bomber Won't die

At 551 points I decided I should call for reinforcements because that bomber did not want to die.

Edited by Piggles
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I had the same bug as Pigglets happen at my first try.


First off, big kudos! My favorite part of this? The sound effects. The humming of the plane and the way it shifts as you accelerate/decelerate and the rumble of the guns is enormously satisfying and pleasant to hear, which is surprising for a system that can be infamous for its annoying bleepy-bloopyness.


It took me a little bit to realize that the thing on the right was a radar screen, but it was a neat idea, though I'm not sure if I see how it was implemented here. Now, the bomber would flicker around and come in and out of view, but that seemed more like a bug (and one that got me killed a number of times when it disappeared and then dropped into me without my realizing), so it would be nice to have that fixed. Note: I played this on z26.


Also, depending on whether you anticipate it to be played primarily on emulators or mostly on real 2600s, I'd suggest adding in a restart when the player fires on the KIA screen. You probably have it tied to the reset switch or something, though, so maybe it's just me who wants that.


Overall very neat! Just a bug or two that can really mess one up, but fun and, as I said, fantastic sound effects. Flying and gunning is oh-so rewarding. I'd like to see more types of enemies and planes and maybe, as Piggles suggested, some kind of boss?


While I like the idea of the radar screen, assuming that the bomber flickering in and out is a bug and not intentional, it's not really utilized in the gameplay at all, since it only displays what I can already see. Unless it gets used for a particular gameplay reason that really relies on it, I'd suggest going multisprite so that there are (at least at later stages) more enemies to dogfight with and more room to move around. Just my two cents.

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Did you use playercolors for the enemy sprite? I noticed that the plane that comes from behind is green with orange flame coming from the engines. The shots it fires are orange. The other enemy sprites are single color. This is not a complaint or suggestion either way, just a question.

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First off, thank you for the feedback and positive comments. As for the issues:


The invincible enemy bomber - I have no idea why this happens, but it can show up at any point in the game. I must have missed a step in the bomber sub-routine but I don't know where. The player points are added in the same line that deducts health from the enemy plane, so it must be coming from the line where I establish the health of the enemy (when it is generated). I will keep hunting that down.


Enemy flicker - The radar only really works well on 2 player mode, 1 player mode was an after thought and I haven't sorted out how I want the radar to function. The enemy disappearing from view is the result of the radar losing track of the target, this is intentional (for the most part) as I thought it would make 1 player mode a challenge. However, when the enemy hits the left or right wall edge of the left-hand field, the radar flips outs... needs work. In actuallity you can only see the enemy because the radar paints the target... the enemy becoming visible is the result of a collision between the player1 missile (the enemy radar blip) and the ball (the guideable radar beam). That is what makes 2 player mode more interesting, because someone has to be a pretty decent radar operator to keep both players in the fight.


The enemy fighter - Is the result of flickering the sprite, one in every three frames is the exhaust flame. It just so happens that the majority of the "missiles" are fired while the red is flickered. I could flicker the other sprites but I find it annoying, I only used it on the fighter because I thought it was a good trade off for effect. Because I wrote this in Visual Batari Basic (and I am still pretty under-skilled) I would lose the missiles needed to shoot and run the radar if I used playercolors.


A Boss - This is an interesting idea... I might be able to accomplish that with the space I have left.


This game was written to be played on real 2600 equipment and that actually adds another bug I am working on (although it doesn't affect game play). It was also originally written to be 2 player only so my buddies and I could play it during our retro game nights, I added 1 player mode so I could play it in my free time. At any rate, thank you for the feedback, I am working several of the issues now, so hopefully I will have another release soon. Please keep the comments and suggestions coming. Thanks for playing!

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Not complaining. I keep going to the "KIA" Swedish Furniture Warehouse randomly it seems. I keep killing the big plane and yet I'll get a "KIA" screen after a certain duration. The parachutes seem to be indestructible unlike the big arse planes they came from. Can I assume that the soldier is Bruce WIllis?


"KIA" = Killed In Action, but that is an odd glitch I have never seen. There should only be 3 ways to die; getting shot down by the fighter, colliding with another plane (which may not be obvious if they aren't painted by the radar), and colliding with a parachute. I have never had anyone be randomly sent to the KIA screen before, is it possible that you are hitting a blacked out enemy plane? What emulator are you running? An earlier version of the game allowed you to kill the parachutists but that kinda seemed morbid and I didn't have any animation done to show the chute collapsing, they simply disappeared. I guess I could add that back in, but I thought it would be a good way to add points, since the targets are random it would be difficult to have team tournaments without a dirty way to even out the points.


Great start! How about using the NUSIZ command to create squadrons of enemies? Also, I think it would be better if the enemy planes flew down at you with the occasional plane sneaking up behind you.


First off, thank you. As for using NUSIZ, I have considered that but I think that groups of enemies that are tied together aren't challenging opponents (I might randomize that with the fighter though, so thank you for the thought). For the enemy bombers and scout planes I think going over to a multi-sprite kernel might be a better option, and it would make two player more challenging for the radar operator. As I said earlier in the thread, I am just getting started and I haven't really figured out how to do some of the more advanced things, like integrating multi-sprites, etc. Essentially all of my games, so far, have been based on the 2-sprites, 2-missiles, 1-ball concept that the 2600 was designed around.


As for right now, I am still piddling around with the AI in an attempt to make it more "intelligent". I may end up broadening the play area so that enemy planes aren't trapped by the edge of the screen, that seems like a good way to solve some of the radar glitching too.

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You can fake alot of intelligence by leaning on counters. I have a global counter variable I call "counter" than counts up each main game loop. You can use various bits in counter to trigger animation and enemy movement.


For instance, in this bit of code I have a comet that is streaking forward occasionally adjust its trajectory downward toward a player:

if counter{4} && missile0y > player0y then player0y = player0y + 1
goto move_object0_end

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You can fake alot of intelligence by leaning on counters.

That's how I get by. I keep a d20 in my pocket and when no one is looking, I roll to see if I should ask a semi-relevant question, smile and nod knowingly, or stand on my head and fart the national anthem. Thankfully, the latter has only been rolled a couple of times.

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