Jump to content

Dragonwood - little game for the Atari 8 bitters


Recommended Posts

First off, thanks for the links. I love technical discussions about what's possible on a platform.. :)


But: demos and the effects you see in them are not games.

Sometimes a few of these are applicable in games, but most often they aren't, in my experience.


The examples you show, are mostly even supporting my view here.

Bubble Shooter just mixes up colors in a way that makes it look like its more colourful than it actually is. 

Rolltris is an interesting one. The screen is certainly standard 4 colors mixed, but the panel in the middle is doing something interesting with the colors.


I haven't found anything resembling that Barbarian demo image you posted, just those videos:



and that doesn't look anything like that image, imo.


That said, I think the A8 is a super interesting platform with the capability of very pretty games made along its strengths. 

It's just that I don't see good direct ports from mid to late 80ies arcade games on it.



Edited by Steril707
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Steril707  No worries  re links.


I always see demo effects as showing what is possible and these days can lead to game offshoots.  Swiety's Doom engine is a great example.



I really hope that a game comes out of the recent Alley dog demo as it is entirely possible. 

With the Barbarian game there was a 1993 official port,  which is the monochrome one you have linked to,  and then as mentioned a colourful demo version which AFAIK never made it as a new game.

See here for the demo so you can run it on real hardware:




With Bubbleshooter yes it tricks you into seeing more colours by Pal blending among other things but does that necessarily matter? Squeezing extra colours - however it is achieved - is the end goal the coders were going for visually in that instance. 


To answer your comment re ports,  I'd say check out Prince of Persia. The 2021 A8 port of it is widely considered one of the best versions of the game.  




From the splash screen,  intro screens and animation sequences, (which squeeze extra colours also BTW), to the actual in game graphics and astounding character animation,  it is stunning!! 


I think if coders aim for using 128k or at least 64k as a general base for games and also factor in the likes of 8-Mbit carts like Atarimax and SD based multicarts like SIDE3 or AVG and employ tricks like the game RGB and Albert use to pull in more colours,  etc,  we have a load of games where some version or another,  not a direct port,  is possible.  Also don't aim to load the entire game into the 128k or 64k limit.  Load levels or data into the ram as and when needed. Also use compression. We have the storage mediums these days to cope with this. 


For example I think a Sonic the hedgehog variation is entirely possible in the right hands for example,  running off an 8mbit cart. 


If you think about it looking at Atariblast! this is a game that I am sure 20-30 years ago wouldn't have been seen as possible to pull off. 


Pushing the A8 is always something that drives a lot of coders as far as I have seen over the decades. 






Edited by Beeblebrox
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Steril707 said:

Just do an extra thread if you want to have this kind of discussion, this thread is about Dragonwood. 

Ah OK,  fair enough. AA threads often go off on little tangents as forums members/Atarians are naturally enthusiastic in my experience.  No worries,  I'll start another thread. Best of luck with the game and thanks for your comments. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, rensoup said:

So what does your palette look like ? perhaps you could use that grey to spice up that purple enemy and/or the hero with software sprites ?

Definitely good ideas, but for my first little project (or at least the 5 screen demo I imagine) i will keep everything as simple as possible, I told myself... :D


Little video with the lighter grey shown. Also the little mage can turn left now... WOOHOOOO. :D


Will have to work on my Amiga game until the Amiga37 in mid October now, but after that I will resume work on this little demo. 

Or might add a few touches here and there when I get fed up with the Amiga. lol.





  • Like 8
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Steril707 Good luck with your Amiga game. 


Dragonwood is looking really good. As a personal preference/observation, (where again I know you mentioned earlier the character's slower paced movement is intentional as part of the gameplay dynamic) - I wonder if the speed might be better just a little faster. From a prospective gamer's poiunt of view the long time it takes the character to move across the entire first screen is quite noticable. Have you tried increasing the speed a little just out of interest?  I reckon between half again or even up to twice the speed may help? Just thought I'd mention it.


Worth notiing with PoP I always crank up the in game menu's frame limiter setting to 3 from the default 4 as it plays so much better with the character moving slightly faster. That animation looks so fluid with the faster setting.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

24 minutes ago, Beeblebrox said:

@Steril707 Good luck with your Amiga game. 


Dragonwood is looking really good. As a personal preference/observation, (where again I know you mentioned earlier the character's slower paced movement is intentional as part of the gameplay dynamic) - I wonder if the speed might be better just a little faster.

It might be faster when I evened out what the gameplay needs in that regard.

I think it's too early to tell at the moment. 


Most important thing is if it's fun, not how fast it plays. ;)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Steril707 said:


Most important thing is if it's fun, not how fast it plays. ;)

Sure, although you could equallty state if it is too slow it might affect how fun it is, all depending on the intended gameplay/game engine/dynamic of course. ;) 


To illustrate there are several A8 multi screen platformer games out there, especially from Poland in the 90's, where IMHO the character movement or in particular jumping action is so slow it is to the detriment of the game, introducing levels of frustration and prolonging travelling time between screens. A great many platformers generally have jumping action or travelling back and forth between multiple screens as an important gameplay dynamic for example.  (NOTE: I appreciate with Dragonwood I don't know the gameplay dynamic yet where I think it is more likely portal based rather than jumping(?);-)). 


So take as example the games Kasiarz (Youtube video),  Android (Youtube video) and Hawkmoon, (Youtube video)  - all of which IMHO have slow character movement, and also Technus (a Turrican close) - where as you can see in the Youtube video jumping is IMHO particularly very slow and frustrating. Equally travelling back and forth between multiple screens in Kasiarz in particular there is a lot of very slow corridor walking involved. The individual who made the video actually speeds it up part way through the video because there is so much of it.


Of course I totally realise depending on the intended gameplay dynamic platfomers can either be intentionally fast paced or alternatively slow. And level design and layout is an important factor also. I am certainly not advocating every platfomer has to be fast paced of course. For example slighly slower movement works well for many games including: Incydent (Youtube video), Magia Krysztalu (Youtube video) and KrucJata (Youtube video) (where speed for the latter game is actually about right for obvious reasons, (pixel perfect timing with barriers and enemies and collecting items, etc).


Interestingly I also came across some platformers where the speeds are ramped up quite a bit. Check these out heh heh: Uczen Czarnoksieznika (Youtube Video), and a recent game Druidarium, (Youtube video). These presumably have been ramped up to suit the intended frezied pace of the game and/or have just had very good optimised coding, better simulated gravity, collision detection, etc (:D). (Druidarium is a fast game to play - and ironically could be just as playable running a little slower).


It is just those games which are action based and/or involve a lot of travelling between screens where the character movement/jumping is disproportionately slower than perhaps it needs to be which can cause gameplay frustration, (IMHO). I guess sometime it is down to coding and perhaps CPU cycles/limitations, but thought it worth highlighting. 


I totally realise it is down to personal taste to a degree also. The platformer game Fred is much loved on the A8 scene - I enjoyed playing it to a degree but always wished the main character moved and jumped just a fraction faster. (Youtube video). Others will say it's just right. 


Anyways just popping constructive thoughts out here relating to your excellent WIP game. Very much looking forward to the end result.;-)

Edited by Beeblebrox
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As always, thanks for the examples. Interesting to see how other games do stuff.

I completely get your "pain" there. I hate it when games feel slow when they should not.


It's just that at the moment, it really doesn't make sense to even have a discussion about it since there is literally no gameplay existing yet.. :D


My basic idea for Dragon Wood is to be a fantasy version of Exolon (https://youtu.be/uAqoZQwTNh8?t=241)

So, since the dude running there is a bit faster than my mage, chances are good that in my game movement will be faster as well. 

We will see... :)


Anyway, it's much too early to have any discussion about it now...  :D

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Beeblebrox said:

So take as example the games

I didn't know any of those, interesting that all of them look similar with that 4/5 color background and a different palette for the main player... all of them are a little bland and unmistakably old gen Atari. DW already looks better in that respect.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@rensoup I agree.


If you want to see a load more you can download them all from here:




Scroll down and you can see games grouped by Polish and also German developers. 


I recall in the 90s there were many releases which as you allude to almost follow a template. It's unfortunate as a lot were pretty much the same premise more or less and only a few IMHO stand out from the rest.  A lot of them really didn't push the Atari the way it's being pushed in recent years. A pity as even in the 80s there were real gems that pushed the A8 that still look great today (Alley cat and Henry's House as examples). 


I agree Dragonwood is looking good so far. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Steril707 said:



I am at a retro home computer meetup currently, and could try this out on real hardware.. yay

Another nice A8 feature inherited by Amiga is overscan.


If I am not wrong your game isn't overscan but nevertheless, as seen in the picture above, borders are not so big on A8.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I totally agree about original games on the A8. I love a great port like some of the one's we have gotten over the past few years, but as you say @Steril707, games that are made to the system's strengths are always best. Make game like the hits on other platforms and arcade, but do an original playing to it's strength's like done with many other original A8 releases in recent years too.


I'd rather have a great shooter like The Last Squadron that we got on the A8 over a port of Xenon 2 that is cut down to fit the A8. From my personal experiences and the games I think are the A8's best, they are almost always originals programmed for the Atari and not ports. Just like ports to the C64 and other 8-bits from the Atari (Lucasfilm games for example) are not as good as the original Atari versions. This is a two-way street.


I'm also a fan of Jay Miner; I don't care what company made the Jay Miner machines, I'm just glad his works got to market, whether through Atari (2600/8-bit) or through Commodore (Amiga). I'd rather follow the engineers and the heritage of their work than just whatever computer or console is sold by a company, regardless of who designed it! C64 fans should really be fans of the Atari ST and A8 fans should be fans of the Amiga! (Or, like me, a fan of all four machines, but preferring the Jay Miner machines). Because the engineers behind the machines were the same in those scenarios. If not, one is just a brand fan-boy and those people, IMHO, are just posers.

Edited by Gunstar
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...