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Rastaconverter - Practical Usage


snicklin
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Other than loading screens and for looking at nice pictures, has anyone put Rastaconverter to a practical usage?

 

By this, I mean has anyone used it to create part of a screen for a game?

 

Using the features to switch off specific PM usage on specific lines, you could run a game on the screen with some really nice background graphics.

 

Has anyone done this? Or has anyone thought of other good uses for it?

 

Imagine Space Invaders with a nice background, like in Galaga '88 or something similar to this.

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At the risk of sounding like Emkay here: :)

 

Would things improve if we used Graphics 7 here, with double-line res on the PMG's? Could this be used to cut down on the cycles? Also, do this in 128 pixel-wide mode as well.

 

Or, use an Antic 5 screen, with about 4k for char memory down the screen perhaps, which would give you an extra color register to play with. Maybe switch every second scan line into GTIA 10, which would give you 9 colors (with limitations - 7 colors per char cell, can't have PM2 or PF2 in the same cell as PM3 or PF3) ... there would some dithering and striping on the screen, but you would still maintain the basic 128 pixel resolution across, maybe?

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Gr. 7 with RC would just confuse things a whole lot.

Register changes need to happen on both scanlines and they're often time critical. Having big DMA one line and small DMA the next throws that timing requirement out so the same code couldn't be used on each scanline which would negate most of the memory saving by using lower resolution - in fact the overall memory usage would probably be more for less pleasing result and no CPU savings.

 

The CPU consumption really isn't an enormous hurdle. There's plenty of demos and a few games that use intensive screen DLIs/kernals and still leave sufficient time for the relevant processing to still take place.

Project M Wolf3D lookalike - uses Timer IRQs instead of DLIs which frees up some time but it's still a good example of a game engine which devotes significant CPU to creating a better screen layout but can still function as a game.

 

Possible hurdles I see mostly - PM graphics, we need some/most of these to be free, not letting RC use PMs would probably impact on the quality of image it can create.

- reserved playfield colours. I don't know if it's possible but having RC leave a particular PF colour alone so that it could be used for game objects would be desirable.

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Perhaps if only a 1/4 of the screen is used, this could be practical cpu-wise.

 

As for not letting RC use PMs, we might allow it to use PMs in some cases and in some cases perhaps only allowing certain PMs to be used.

 

An example may be that an unreachable part of the screen has some beautiful background graphics. You may even allow PMs to be used by RC in this case as long as no other PMs were needed in that area.

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A good practical example where free usage would be feasile is an adventure with graphics window.

 

e.g. recent release "The Adventure" as seen http://atarionline.pl/v01/index.php?ct=nowinki&ucat=1&subaction=showfull&id=1447718577

 

Though I suspect with that game that the graphics might be procedurally generated, doing so that way saves lots of storage but wouldn't lend well to RC. Nice use of DLI colour changes though.

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Here is a quick conversion of a picture from the other thread without use of PM. Not as good as the one with PM layer but still not bad for an adventure game - text based/point & click: king's quest or goblins style.

attachicon.gifoutput.png

attachicon.gifoutput.xex

i also had the idea to reduce the use of PMs inside of the pics, so we could use one or two PMs as mouse pointer or actor for a point n click adventure like monkey island, maniac mansion or indy. (just dreaming) :sleep:

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Ahh yes, I remember this now. Did you have any luck with this studio in the end? I seem to remember that you didn't get much interest. It look(ed/s) like a good project.

 

Was it easy enough to place the RastaConverter display routine into your normal code? How did you cater for other graphics over-laid onto the main screen (I see that you have a creature standing up which is laid over the top).

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Indeed there was not much interest at the time. The reason could have been that the framework itself was not "point and click" but required knowledge of C language. I thought that C is popular enough but Atari users may prefer to have BASIC-like scripting language...

The graphic modifications were much easier in case of Quantizator that just did DLI changes of colors. For replacement of graphics you needed to guarantee that the palette in the lines is the same. For RastaConverter pics it wouldn't be possible. The only options are to have PMG overlay, reserve one color for making some changes on the picture or replace the pics with a modified ones. The way how pics are generated disallows modifications of the parts of the pics making them very static.

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Imagine a game that displayed RastaConverter pictures and uses PMG for a lightgun target crosshair. A single line of text displaying time and accuracy percentage.

 

Lots of possibilities.

 

My game would be called "Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies". The object would be to shoot the fly that landed on Obama's face. :)

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I thought that C is popular enough but Atari users may prefer to have BASIC-like scripting language...

 

I remember that with "Adventure Creator" (I think it was called) that it was based not on scripts but having big massive lists of data. I think that there were variables lists and so forth (this is remembering back over 20 years though). It was easy to use though very tedious to put together. Could yours use something like this, but with some added lists for graphics which the original creator didn't have?

 

I really think that you have a top quality product here and I was quite shocked at the lack of interest shown, even if it was in 'C'. I think that there a few more people now using CC65.

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I don't know if this is of use or not ...

 

... but there was a game that Itay Chamiel wrote in 1994 called "The Wall", it was a Tetris clone, and I hacked and remixed it to use an ICE mode called CIN lo-res. A kernal which constantly changed the scanlines between GTIA normal and GTIA 11 on top of an Antic 4 screen to get 60 colors, formed most of the program, and the actual game code itself ran in a DLI. I wonder if some similar technique could be used with Rastaconverter.

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  • 5 years later...
On 11/20/2015 at 8:09 AM, ilmenit said:

Here is a quick conversion of a picture from the other thread without use of PM. Not as good as the one with PM layer but still not bad for an adventure game - text based/point & click: king's quest or goblins style.

post-22831-0-89396800-1448006915_thumb.png

output.xex 22.08 kB · 183 downloads

@ilmenit Given we've just been chatting as it were in another thread about adventure games, your adventure creator platform, graphics and in particular Rastaconverter, I thought I'd "Necrobump" (I think it's termed(?)) this dedicated thread on the subject.

 

For the benefit of others I am not a coder so forgive me for any misunderstandings, etc.:-D

 

So in terms of creating Rastaconverted images for use in mainly graphical text or point and click games - to my mind and from what I've read in many topic posts on AA, there is still great untapped potential.

 

Given it hasn't really happened as yet (since Rastaconverter is near 10 years old)... that tells me something. I guess there are many factors involved in these things I realise - some technical limitations/barriers for our 40 year old hardware - and some practical (a coder's available time and motivation to undertake these things - 99% of the time for zero financial gain given this is not a viable market anymore ;)).

 

My answer to that would be just look at the amazing work I see on AA in the areas of music, sampling, graphics, animation and of course hardware, (in particular storage and interface).

As an obvious example Rensoup's talent and dedication, (and others involved in the project), in bringing Prince of Persia to the A8 - whilst honouring the trademark animation and gameplay that made POP groundbreaking - being testament to this. IMHO it's the best character animation in any A8 game I've ever seen.

 

More and more is being discovered about the A8's mysterious and often quirky graphics modes and exploited all the time.

 

The storage and interface hardware projects like Side3 are amazing. Got me one of these and love it. Sooo much better than my Sdrive Max, (which of course itself is still pretty cool - but once you can load stuff within a second and use such an great interface as FJC's firmware - the Sdrive Max doesn't really get a look in anymore). :D

 

I digress - So with my limited understanding it seems to me you can use Rastaconverted images in their entirety, (incl use of PMGs), when it comes to graphical text adventures.

Correct me if I am wrong but given you can mix graphics modes vertically on screen with little or no processing effort, a Rastaconverter image could occupy the top 2/3rd of a screen in all of it's defintion/colour, and then the text/interface could be displayed below it, or visa versa.

 

For point and click games  - this is where my lack of tech knowledge might trip me up - I am assuming if you free up some or all of the PMGs (as Ilmentit you have done in the image above), you can use them to create perhaps a mouse cursor or possibly more?  I re-read some of the posts above and I undertand there are some serious limitations/considerations regarding overlaying of a Rastaconverted image because of the way they are employing PMGs, DLIs, VBI's(?) and using cycles/lots of processing power to simply display. (Again please excuse my tech ignorance here).

 

I realise using these images in any other genres of game where you have to overlay characters, etc (as eluded to in earlier posts in the thread), that this is understandably not really feasible. 

 

My desire to see a gloriously colourful Lemmings will have to rest methinks.:_(

 

image.thumb.png.5d28e7307574e17d6a6b855d9bb14c54.png

 

(And yes I do realise we have several Lemmings clones incl The Brundles and Tommingi. (Latter a fav of mine owing to the faithful replication of the classic lemmings animations - just a pity it was only every released in monochrome grey).

 

In terms of the data size issues and memory constraints, I appreciate the average Rastaconverted image is 23k. However the fact that our modern fast loading storage mediums, coupled with software compression techniques, allows us to overcome the original barriers of storage capacity and load times to a great extent. This presumably lends itself well to graphical adventures where you can quickly load the images into memory? (Once again forgive my lack of technical knowhow).

 

I guess what I'd love to see is the full graphical potential of the A8 realised whilst there is still innovation, talent and momentum in the Atari community.

It would be a crime IMHO if we didn't see the A8 at least try to output some of the amazing Rastaconverted graphics it is capable of in some games, other than just in splash screen and as pictures for looking at, (wonderful though the latter are).

 

I popped this image (MistsofSagorious) by Gunstar in the other thread I mentioned above, and will post it here and say the same thing - wouldn't it be amazing to see this incorporated into a Graphical text adventure game?

 

image.thumb.png.b6daff50572e011b450a952f8b1fe16d.png

 

You could even create some Rastaconverted images which statically "illustrate" puzzles as an integral part of the gameplay for a graphical text adventure where you type the answer or possibly even a point and click interface for selecting say, a sequence illustrated in a static image.) 

 

In some circumstances you can even have LZSS compressed music playing over the top of Rastaconverted images. Imagine having some ambient sound effects using the technique running in the background as an image was being displyed whilst you are playing the graphical text adventure/point and click game.

 

BTW I am familair with Graph2font, although IMHO it is different tool - which has it's place - and doesn't really give the same output in terms of definition/colour as Rastaconverter does.

 

Anyhoo - just putting it out there. I know I am not the first and probably won't be the last to get all worked up and enthusiatic about this heh heh. Thanks for reading.:grin:

 

ps I often post the images I am constantly cooking in Rastaconverter on the dedicated thread.  As most are ware it's been running for years and there are some stunning images on there that do the A8 proud. (Realise I am lilely preaching to the converted (no pun intended!) :P

 

 

 

 

 

MistsOfSagorious.xex Lemmingbeach1.xex

Edited by Beeblebrox
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On 11/19/2015 at 9:57 PM, Rybags said:

Possible hurdles I see mostly - PM graphics, we need some/most of these to be free, not letting RC use PMs would probably impact on the quality of image it can create.

- reserved playfield colours. I don't know if it's possible but having RC leave a particular PF colour alone so that it could be used for game objects would be desirable.

As I'm learning to program, and an avid Rastaconverter user, I've thought about this quite a bit, in vague layman's terms, for use programs. Being an artist, but much preferring to use my Atari 8-bits for most of my digital art, I want to create an art program using techniques like Rastaconverter but at least one missile would be need for a cursor/brush. I also know that it would be impossible to create WYSIWYG art on the screen with all the processor intensive calculations that Rasta uses, and I would rather not lose a missile to the cursor and degrade the imaging abilities. So thought of "place holders" for where P/M's would go when "saving" a file (making a displayable .XEX) and that's when all the Rasta screen work would actually begin and what you did within the graphic art program then gets "converted."

 

In the actual art program an image could still be made using DLI's and 128 color pallette, and maybe some "temporary" use of PM's for added colors per scan-line, so the actual art being created could start to approach the finished .xex image, but all P/M's and any other way color changes beyond 4 are made per scan-line by Rastaconverter would all still be just place-holders and the conversion process at the end would actually do all the calculations and make it an actual Rastaconverter .xex file in the end. Or maybe there is a happy medium where the art program could do more of what Rasta does in some of the critical timing or whatever and then the conversion process would just be adding in any needed P/M's via whatever calculations are done to insert and use them the way it does.

 

Sorry that my ideas are still very much in ignorant layman's terms above, but I think those who already know how to program can decipher what I mean in programming terms.:dunce:

Edited by Gunstar
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AFAIK Rastaconverter doesn't use the fifth player/missiles, so that could be used as a crosshair.

 

About a game, one could have say 200 "rasta" lines, some stats on top, and bottom in character mode. Convert the image without using the players, so they are free to play pong on top of the image ;)

 

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6 minutes ago, ivop said:

AFAIK Rastaconverter doesn't use the fifth player/missiles, so that could be used as a crosshair.

 

About a game, one could have say 200 "rasta" lines, some stats on top, and bottom in character mode. Convert the image without using the players, so they are free to play pong on top of the image ;)

 

@ivop Sounds great. :grin:

 

Most likely it's asking a lot (especially from a non coder like myself), but wonder if anyone is up for a proof of concept challenge?  I'd be happy to provide a suitable 320x200 Rastaconverted image if someone thinks they'd be interested?

:P

Edited by Beeblebrox
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