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Flickering Player Faux Pas?


three2em
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Hey,

 

I'm developing a kernel, and currently it's designed so that if there are four horizontally overlapping characters, the kernel alternates each frame between showing one set of two characters, and another set of the other two characters. Unfortunately, if one of those characters happens to be the player, the player is then being flickered. However, if there are only three characters that overlap, the player's character won't flicker. Anyway, it shouldn't be until higher levels when there's that many enemies on the screen at once, but I figured I'd ask you guys if any flicker of the player's character is acceptable, and if so, are there any games you can think of (that don't suck) that do that? Thanks.

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I was playing a Pac-Homebrew the other day and it was flickering the player every now and again, and it didn't put me off. It doesn't bother me, but it does bother some people, it's subjective I guess.

 

I have my player character flickering between two sprites to give more colours, but I don't feel it's bad on a CRT TV. And it is the only thing that is flickering in the kernel so that may give it a pass by some people.

 

If it's not a flickering mess, I'd say most people wouldn't have a problem. :)

Edited by Jinroh
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Flicker is fine, especially 30Hz flicker. So many games use it, including official releases from back in the day, that Atari 2600 players are used to it and most are grateful for the bump in game-play quality and freedom that it allows.

 

Ms. Pac-Man flickers the title character when she's in the same row as the fruit. Berzerk flickers the player when Evil Otto is present. Mario Bros. flickers both Mario and Luigi in two-player games. Joust flickers all the characters all the time. The list goes on.

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Hmmm... thanks for the food for thought. FujiSkunk, I'll definitely have to check out Ms. Pac-Man, and probably Jr. Pac-Man too, as I've heard that's the best of Atari PacMans. I've been studying the Joust kernel too, as that's probably closest to what my kernel will be. I thought they were just alternating scanlines, so I'll have to check it out more closesly. Thanks!

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They... sort of alter scanlines?

 

Actually, the short answer is no, in each of the games I mentioned, one character is displayed in its entirety one frame, the "partner" character is displayed in its entirety the next frame, and then the cycle repeats. No alternating of scanlines.

 

But depending on how your TV is displaying the Atari 2600's picture, it might appear like they are alternating scanlines. Old consoles, that is to say pretty much everything before the first PlayStation, generate video signals that aren't quite what the spec calls for. So instead of an interlaced picture that effectively gives 30 frames a second -- what we now call 480i, in other words -- the 2600 and other consoles generate a picture that is effectively 60 frames a second, but with half the vertical resolution. Call it 240p if you will. Many modern TV's, in their quest to be "smart" TV's, will present an old console's picture as if it were 480i anyway, effectively meshing pairs of frames into a single, higher resolution frame. So, 30Hz flicker is just about eliminated, and replaced with what looks like alternating scanlines. Some people like this effect more than others, but either way it's not anything the game itself is intentionally doing.

 

Hopefully I explained that clearly. :)

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I flicker the player's character when needed in Space Rocks, Draconian, Frantic and Timmy. One thing that does help is to LumaBoost flickering objects - basically increase the color values by 2 for any object that is flickering. Thomas suggested that on Dec 1, 2012 during the development of Stay Frosty 2.

 

In reply 13 of this topic I posted about the scanline effect on flickered players that's caused by some HDTVs trying to deinterlace the Atari's 240p signal.

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I don't know if anyone else mentioned it yet, but in some cases it might come down to collision detection. Try not to flicker two objects such that they're only ever displayed on alternate frames/fields if you need to be able to detect collisions between them, otherwise you'll need to compare their positions to see if they might be colliding.

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