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Work in Progress: Sky Scraper 2115


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An enterprising programmer named RevEng has just introduced a new programing tool called 7800Basic ... it basically allows us poor schmucks who don't know assembly language, a means to easily write and program 7800 games.


I've had a look at it, it looks simple and intuitive, so you know what ... I am going to go and rewrite one of my old Atari 8-bit BASIC games as an Atari 7800 game!


Introducing: Sky Scraper 2115.


The story so far: You are part of a construction crew on the Moon, in the year 2115. Your crew is in the midst of building a 40-level skyscraper (or however many levels end up being in the game). One day, on-site, something goes horribly wrong. The unfinished building's security systems and robotics go haywire! The maintenance robots and construction site defense systems turn hostile and start attacking the construction crew. A computer virus has infected the robotics and defense systems, and the construction crew is forced to abandon the project site ... except for you. Armed only with your wits, and a rocket jet pack, you must traverse each level, walking across each block of the structure to deactivate the rogue security systems and robotics, one level at a time, until you get to the very last level to throw the main kill switch and end this nightmare.


Many dangers await: Guided missiles which hone in on your position and constantly track your movements. Sweeperbots which pick up your man, dump him off ledges, and impede your progress. Trap systems built into the floor which are instantly fatal if walked, flown, or fallen into. Plus there is the ever present danger of falling off the structure itself. And more enemies which I will add to the game as I think of them.


Along the way, you get: Bonus Coins which can be collected towards the end of getting extra lives. Adrenaline pills which temporarily increase your strength and enable you to temporarily disable missiles and traps and other baddies. Teleporters which move you to random parts of the screen. Bonus mystery doors, which can give you secret items ... or kill you. You just don't know.


To get an idea, here is a link to the original Atari TurboBASIC game:




The original game had 39 levels, each loaded in from disk. The levels, of course, got ridiculously harder as the game progressed. It may be possible to store all of these levels using bankswitching, which is where I may be asking help from Pac-Man-Plus in this regard. :) There was also only one enemy (missile) and traps in the floor, as BASIC was too slow to allow for anything else. The game was also written only using character mode (no sprites).


As a first preview, here is an animation of the rocketman, designed for me by the talented PAC-MAN-RED ...




More information posted here, as the game progresses. I hope this becomes one of the best single-screen platform games for the 7800! It is also my first ever 7800 project, so wish me luck!



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Decision time:


to 160B, or not to 160B. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the limitations of 4 colors per character, or to expand the palette and narrow the screen char. resolution. Ay, there's the rub. :)


Ok, enough of my bad Shakespeare. :) I am considering 160A for the wider screen, if I can figure out how to get characters to display in other palettes besides the P0 palette. Altho, if I did 160B, the screen would be narrower by 40 chars ... but then there's all those yummy colors. :) I have been itching to design using a mode like this since I did Super IRG experiments on the Atari 8-bit.

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Very nice. I was considering going with 16-high sprites, but I think I may do the 24 high instead.


The other enemy is the missile, of course. I had in mind three different types, dumb, smart, and super


The dumb missile tracks your movement, but is impeded by blocks and other items.

The smart missile will track your movement, but will always find a way around blocks.

The super smart, will follow you around the left and right edges of the screen and wraparound, like your man can. This makes it more dangerous.


I had also in mind, three differently colored warheads for the missile ... silver for dumb, yellow for smart, red for super.


Also ... I may try to make a 2-player cooperative or competitive option (like Bubble Bobble or Mario Bros.) So, another differently colored set of rocketman sprites of a different palette, perhaps?

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OK, another decision time ...


I am considering changing the player and enemy's aspect ratio from 8:24 (how PacManPlus has designed them) to 8:16, that is 16 pixel high sprites. I may still try it with the 24 pixel high sprites, but having the players smaller leaves more room for playfield items like the blocks that you have to color.


I threw together a rough demo of the player's movement along a sample screen. The player used is still the default sprite from RevEng's ramcharmap demo, but I modified it to where holding the button down makes your man fly up the screen. Hitting a block from below, or releasing the button, makes your man fall, and you cannot control him again until he lands safely.


The screen:




You can also see some of the game items on this screen as well ... from left to right, top row:


unchanged block

changed block (darker)

bonus coin

adrenaline pill

trap in floor

mystery door



These are all done using the first 12-color palette of 160B mode. None of these items work yet, and I may see if PacManPlus can design these any better ... but here is how the items will work:


Changing blocks: Can be done by walking over, or flying into them. These are two characters wide, and I will be changing this engine where they change 2 at a time, unlike the current setup. Of course, flying into them from below will cause you to fall. You cannot move while falling, until you land safely again.


Bonus coin: Good for points, and perhaps collecting a set number (50 or 100?) gives you an extra life.


Adrenaline pill: Grabbing this makes you invincible and able to temporarily disable all enemies (missile, robot, floor traps) for a set time (maybe 5 seconds)


Floor traps: Nasty. Walking over or flying into these is instantly fatal. Fortunately they are destroyed after taking your life. The missile will also be able to disable the traps if you can trick it into flying through these.


Mystery doors: In the original Atari 8 game, flying into these could be a mixed bag ... you had a random chance of one of these happening: 1) Bonus Coin 2) Adrenaline Pill 3) Death 4) Double-death (lose TWO LIVES) 5) Warp to a random level 6) Nothing at all. Haven't decided whether to keep these behaviours or not, but if I do, 6 is the most likely, followed by an even chance of 1 through 4, with 5 being the very least likely to happen.


Teleport: Walking into these causes the game to teleport you to a random location on the screen. This can be hazardous, as it could land you atop a trap or close to the missile. It will never put you over open space though. The teleport won't work from flying into it from below, but only by standing on it. However, as equally dangerous, if the missile flies into it, it too will be randomly teleported! The original game has a VERY difficult level designed something like this:




=== === ===






=== === ===

t t t t t t


Where t=teleport, X=floor trap, and = is the structure. As you can see, there is no way to get to the blocks on the bottom, except by teleport, you just had to try it several times until it eventually landed you down there. Upon which, you would color the mini platforms, then fall onto the teleports again. Very challenging. Hopefully this feature will translate as well into this project. Also particularly nasty are the floor traps along the top, making hovering impossible, and therefore making it harder to evade the missile.


The game is in 160B mode, this means we only get to display 32 characters across. I have done this in double wide mode, using 2 characters for every game object. The space on the right will be used for a scoring area. If I do a 2-player style Bubble Bobble or Mario Bros. (competitive) variation, there will be enough room for scoring for both players.


Controls are simple: Move left and right only, the right button makes your man fly for as long as you hold it down. Releasing it or flying into the structure causes your man to fall. You cannot control your man again until you land safely. This is very hazardous, as it makes falls over open spaces (or floor traps) instantly fatal. You are, however, permitted to hover at the top of the screen, although harder levels will put various immutable objects (structure, floor traps, teleports) which will render hovering difficult, if not impossible. You can also warp around the edges of the screen. This will be a vital technique in outwitting enemies, who in general will not follow you off the screen.


I have included TIA sound effects for when your man flies, and when he is falling. These are based upon your man's vertical position.


Anyway, I am attaching the demo binary ... it is enough for you to at least try out some of the game mechanics. Still alot to do yet, such as, better collision checking for flying into blocks ... fixing the block changes so they happen 2 chars at a time . I may also try doing this with the 24 pixel high sprites PMP designed, to see how that plays out. I will also add the other crucial move to learn for surviving levels: Holding your rocket thrust and your stick to the right or left, when in narrow corridors with blocks just above your head. This will let you color both platforms at once (above and below) while moving to the left or right.



Edited by Synthpopalooza
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OK, another decision time ...


I am considering changing the player and enemy's aspect ratio from 8:24 (how PacManPlus has designed them) to 8:16, that is 16 pixel high sprites. I may still try it with the 24 pixel high sprites, but having the players smaller leaves more room for playfield items like the blocks that you have to color....


...I may also try doing this with the 24 pixel high sprites PMP designed, to see how that plays out....

Personally, I believe I would prefer a taller/larger sprite. Another 8 pixels would still leave the character pretty small, but not as tiny as the current 16 pixel high one.


Of course, whatever you prefer and works best for you is what counts. I wasn't 100% sure if you were asking for outside input on the size decision or sort of talking out loud about it, but just throwing my 2 cents out there in case you are looking for input and still have intensions of trying the 24 pixel high character. :)

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