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Spire of the Ancients (WIP)


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29 minutes ago, SmittyB said:

I've tested with the colourburst setting off for the HUD and it seems my CRT doesn't care and assumes it's colour unless the full image is black and white, while my main LCD has the most issues and seems as if it's having trouble stabilising the image as it wobbles slightly and the HUD rainbow effect is in overdrive.


@Jinks Would you mind testing my current work build to see if you get the same rainbow effect with the colourburst turned off in the HUD?


I'm certainly not going to change the HUD and text to 160A at this point so I guess it's a case of "If it looks bad, try holding pause (if I implement that), or try a different TV, or get your 7800 S-Video modded or something". 

SotA NTSC.bin 144 kB · 2 downloads

I will give this a try soon. I could always play it on another tv or mod one 7800 for this game. 

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13 minutes ago, KevinMos3 said:

I would suggest tweaking the color of the debris particles though, as they are very hard to see with MAME's more accurate color palette.  Maybe a lighter color would make them stand out a bit more.

The debris that falls when you go down a pit is actually taken from the floor colour of the room you fall down from, I could maybe take that colour and increase the brightness of it but it depends if it would have too much of an impact on the speed.

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@gambler172 / @ZeroPage Homebrew / @KevinMos3 You'll be please to know I've increased the brightness of the highlights on dark walls and the debris particles when falling down pits by 2 steps on the 7800's palette which should help make things a bit more visible.

I'm also looking at the code for the locked doors to get them working how I want and maybe identify the cause of that crash. Locked doors should take 2 steps to go through, first to unlock it and another to actually go through it.


Also if anyone wants it, the password I have for the second save spot with a key, potion, and a hammer I was using for testing (doesn't do damage at the moment) is as follows:





Edit: And now the doors behave properly, but I couldn't see any reason for a potential crash.

Edited by SmittyB
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I will link a youtube vid. I recorded on my 7800.  As soon as I figure out how again.. 

Update my 12 year old daughter got me to use the app where you can upload. Should have it uploaded in a couple hours. 

Game plays without bugs. Get to the blue slime and it kills me every time. 

There is rain and particles?? I noticed a crack on the bricks and red light behind them. I need a weapon!! If there was a weapon would I walk into it or press a button to grab it? 

The lighting effects are cool. The graphics are amazing. 



Listen from 520-540 for a train in the background.. sounds cool with the music.. this was my worst playing of this game ever... none of my kids would hold the camera so I could play... 

Edited by Jinks
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Thanks Jinks, being able to see that is a huge help. The HUD looks crystal clear in your screenshot whereas I can see you do get a static rainbow effect in the video. Either way it actually looks a lot better than what I get on either build.

What settings did you tweak? I might have to try and see if it helps for me.

Before the adjustment to the settings do you think the HUD looked better compared to before?

From the video it looks like you're getting a smeary colour in the background under the HUD which is something my LCD does but my CRT doesn't. Was that something you were getting before, and are you getting it now after the settings change?

It also looks like I should adjust the colours of the ground on the titlescreen. Through an oversight on my part I'm using colours in the E range which is more brown than I intended because of the 7800's colour-shifting. I'll amend it to use D which should stay green enough.


As for the story, while I've got a good amount of room for text I have enough graphics space left in the right area for 1 8*16 tile and I don't think I'll get much out of that :D Maybe when I get around to the manual I'll see if I can get some nice illustrations done.


The cracks are where a wall can be destroyed with a hammer, but the hammer isn't available yet and I'm not sure it still works. It's on my To-Do list.


I want to keep the starting enemies a threat because you will get the knife fairly early in the game to give you a small advantage and of course that should be rewarding, but as several people are having difficulties I'll drop their HP very slightly. As I said before I've not done any balancing yet.

Remember you can just run past everything and they might only get a couple of hits in, but if you want to fight them you can hit them once or twice, step forward or backward while they attack, then either move back or wait for them to come to you and repeat. A bit like how in Dungeon Master it was always advantageous to out-manoeuvre your opponent.

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What I did with my Crt is a colour setting and I cranked that way down like on 3 out of 60. I wanted to turn the brightness up a bit but lost the remote(I will find it) and the up arrow button on my tv is screwed.. The crt has cool, normal, warm for colour settings and I selected normal. It was a good Crt back in the early 2000s Ultravision power! 

Compared to a very early build I think the HUD looks better as far as Rainbow effect. During the video the color was cranked up so thats why the text is challenging to read. Do not change the Hud. It looks amazing. 

Btw I tried the hammer, key, potion code it worked. I like the effect when you SMASH!! I see the particles now too now I know what to look for. Is this build the increased brightness of the walls/particles? 

Thanks for working on this. I can tell it was programmed well as the old janky Concerto picks up any bugs immediately. I have to warm up the 7800 as in leave it on for 10 minutes then load 7800 games with the Concerto. 

Update only the pause button works bottom left on the video controller. I could not change the hammer etc pressing other button on the video controller but the console would change the items in your hands. The video controller is great to use. I hope you keep running with that idea. I feel like super Atari nerd with it sitting there. 

Edited by Jinks
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@Jinks I could kiss you.

I always thought the video signal of my 7800 was just particularly crap, but it turns out cranking the sharpness to maximum and dropping the colour down a bit on my CRT has made a huge difference! I was so excited I had to bust out Rikki & Vikki which also looked especially bad because of the 320 mode and I just had to let my eyes bask in the mildly radioactive glowing goodness that was the best picture quality I've ever seen from an RF signal. Of course all my other consoles will look awful with those settings, but who cares it takes 2 minutes to change.


 I don't think that is the build with the brighter walls and particles but I'm losing track at this point as I've made so many small adjustments since I've been getting feedback. I'm currently fixing a couple of bugs to do with saving that I hadn't noticed before.

I haven't really touched the keypad code for a long time so it's likely been broken over the past couple of years, ha. I'll likely be changing it to 7800BASIC's new keypad handler anyway at some point.

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Definitely, that's why I'm so glad to have the feedback. I've been able to make a number of improvements and fixed based on what I've seen. I wasn't even aware saving was broken until yesterday, and now it isn't thanks to some playtesting.


Also from investigating the save system I think I might have just freed up an extra 20 bytes of RAM that I might be able to do some fun things with.

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I am happy to hear that worked for you. 

If you put out another build I will give it a try.(the particle one)(or a colour change to green ground etc) maybe make the ground with very little color differences when riding the horse(give it a more detailed look??)  Also hopefully have some better playing skills for the next video. Rf on a crt is the best.

Sometimes you get a bit of noise when the screen changes colour etc. But why would you not want that? That is nostalgia right there people. As long as you do not have snow from a crappy cable or connection it works great. 

I am happy to be able to test anyones games. 

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I'm currently working on putting some unfinished maps in and making small tweaks to the ones in place, then I should be happy to release a newer build.


I have a tool for editing the ground on the titlescreen as it's actually 3D, but it's pretty tough getting anything that looks good and shows off the 3D effect. I could spend forever tweaking it and have already spent a long time so while I may update it it's not a priority.

The below is the data for the titlescreen map, and below that is a render that the tool spits out to give a vague idea of the shape of the map, but it has no scale as everything is relative.

double initialData[][3]=
        //X steps to get Y height with Z colour







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8 minutes ago, SlidellMan said:

Of course, you still have a ways to go before you implement some sort of status effects.

Au contraire, status effects are implemented but it will be when I rewrite the AI to tidy up my many bodge fixes that enemies will be able to inflict them. Icons will show on the HUD under the compass to show which statuses are in effect.


There's poison which does damage over time (naturally). Dizziness which can randomly change a step forward to a turn left or right, blindness which effectively lowers the brightness, and deafness which makes sounds quieter so that it can be harder to tell how close things are in relation to you.


All effects can stack, and wear off over time. In practical terms this means if you get 3 points of poison you'll take 3 damage, then 2, then 1 at about a second per hit. If you had 3 points of poisoned, took damage from it then took another 3 it would be 3, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. I'll adjust things as needed but as you can imagine it's not a good idea to get poisoned.

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17 hours ago, SmittyB said:

...as you can imagine it's not a good idea to get poisoned.

More awesome SmittyB wisdom... ?  I love it! (That’s not sarcasm)


Who was the king who was so afraid of assassination by poison that he used to take small doses to build up an immunity, then when he lost everything and tried to commit suicide by poisoning himself, he wasn’t able?

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New build. Still a lot to do and a lot to fix. I think the maps that are there are fun to play and will be better when it's all polished and the problems worked out.

A lot of areas are unfinished as I wanted to post a new build this weekend and I expect I won't be able to work on this as much as I have in the past couple of weeks. What's there is completable by finding the way to what would be the next area.

Something important that is in the hypothetical, imaginary manual is that when your focus stat reaches 10 points you gain a new ability (selectable from your inventory). There will eventually be a sound and/or speech with the AtariVox to signify it. The new ability doesn't do damage properly yet but can be used in other ways.


The major changes from the previous build are:

Slightly weakened some enemies. Most don't have proper stats so are weak anyway or their AI is otherwise broken.


Adjusted the ground colour on the title screen to not use colours in the $E# range.


Increased the minimum brightness of wall highlights to make it easier to see in dark areas.


Increased the brightness of the particles when falling down a pit so they stand out more.


Locked doors behave properly so that unlocking them and walking through them takes 2 steps.


Fixed a bug where the password didn't save properly if a savekey or high score cartridge wasn't present.


Fixed the password verification to not allow an all zeroes password (which would kill the player and boot them back to the title screen immediately anyway).


The colour signal is now disabled for the HUD and text screens which may improve how it displays on some TVs. I intend to add a toggle by holding pause when starting the 7800 for best results with as many TVs as possible. I'm not set on which method should be the default yet so I would love to know from as many as possible if it looks better or worse on hardware compared to before.


Fixed a bug causing objects in the 'OldGuardhouseInterior' map to not behave properly.


Added a whole bunch of additional areas and simplified a couple of spots on existing maps.


Added scrolls that can be read by walking up to them for clues and other background information.

SotA NTSC.a78 SotA NTSC.bin

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37 minutes ago, SmittyB said:

Increased the minimum brightness of wall highlights to make it easier to see in dark areas.

That made a huge difference for me.  Thank you! Now making some real progress.

I just need to find a weapon before my blue and yellow blob buddies munch me to death...LOL!


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20200613_165402.thumb.jpg.d0756b228383c635425953e186e38bcf.jpgLots of cool details.. I wonder if maybe will be able to interact with some of these objects. I jumped down a hole after awhile and gave up in the bottom of the well.. can you get out of there?


It freaked me out when the yellow wizard came out and shot me. I like the lightning effects and rain. 


Here is a pic on js7800. 





Edited by Jinks
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@Jinks glad you seem to be enjoying it.

I want the game to have a semi-open world feel so there will be a couple of spots throughout the game that you can go back to with new items and abilities to get further than before. That section of 'The climb to the plateau' is one such area. The fan would normally be spinning but I added it to the map before completing the code and since haven't gone back to make it push the player back into the area with the ladders as intended. There are a few fans later on that work properly.


There shouldn't be any areas where it's possible to get stuck. The bottom of the well is more complicated on previous versions so make sure you're playing the latest ROM. If people still have trouble with it I can simplify it further as obviously being the one who made the maps I know where to go so I don't know how others would play it.



In other news, with the help of BupSystem I've been tracking down some timing issues with the mid-screen colour changes that aren't present in A7800 and have managed to resolve all but one that will have to stay.

Before the changes the background would flicker under a number of circumstances on hardware and occasionally in A7800 when bad enough, and when standing under a pit and particles were drawn in the same zone the HUD's white would leak into the main area of the screen. Now the only issue is with pit / particles being drawn in the same zones causing what I assume to be MARIA stealing too many cycles so the main background drops by a line briefly. The only way I can see to remove the issue would be to either drop the particle effect when going down pits, or by shrinking the size of the pit that's drawn (which I've tested and it doesn't look good), but given that on a CRT a single line's difference is barely visible anyway I'm going to leave it as it is.

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That was a latest build. I spent about 10 minutes trying to get out of the well and gave up. Also if I go in previously opened doors and go back you have to find the key all over again to go back thru the door.  The powerup rings are nice to have keeps me from dying. Run and hit method makes  bad guys easier to kill. Never try to just face one and duke it out unless you like death.. 


The golden teddy bear is weak but does lots of damage. Beware!! Lol

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