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Here we go... the Eyeballin' dev log


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Here's some early, early work on my next ColecoVision game, Eyeballin'. There is no gameplay; simply a maze with flashing blips, but it's alive with activity, just like the Eyes arcade game. (Uh, by the way, epileptics be warned... there's a lot of crazy pulsing objects on the screen, which might not be good for your condition.)

 

For those who missed it, Eyes from Digitrex Techstar is one of the more obscure titles from the golden age of arcades. Your laser-armed eye wanders through a maze, blasting blips to clear them from the playfield. Other eyes patrol the maze at varying speeds, and although they can't harm you directly, they will fire at you if they catch you in their sight. Clear the maze of blips and you move onto a new one, with faster, more alert enemies.

 

It's a semi-successful Pac-Man clone, but I've got some new ideas to make it more interesting. Chief among them is "blink," which acts as a limited use parry. Tap the button and your eye closes briefly, sending shots back at whoever sent them your way. More blinks (and points) are awarded for catching a carrot that appears somewhere in the maze. It's not going to be a perfect arcade port (the horizontal aspect ratio of the ColecoVision meant the maze had to be shrunken down slightly) , but it's going to be more fleshed out.

 

Thoughts? Ideas?

eyemaze.rom

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My work in progress so far. Press 1-8 on the keypad to cycle through the whirligigs... there are eight in total. (The fourth one which I call "Christmas Kookie" is a little intense. I'm thinking of changing the colors.) Whirligigs don't align perfectly with the arcade game, sometimes out of necessity but also because I just didn't care for the designs. 9 and 0 can also be pressed, but do nothing.

 

Yes, I know, I should compress this. I'm not doing that right now; it'll have to wait while I figure out how to make everything just work. WESEB didn't start out compressed, and neither will this, but it could get there with time. (Frankly, I'm not super concerned unless I creep up to 32K.)

eyemaze.rom

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Thinking about a name change to "Eye Brawls." The working logo is below. Also, here's a demo screen, similar to the one in Pac-Man. It'll be an animation introducing all the characters, and some of the play mechanics.

eyebrawls anim.gif

eyebrawls demo.png

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Here's some progress on Eye Brawls. 20/20 floats through the maze when you press any direction on the joystick, and continues his forward movement until he hits an edge. He can only turn when he reaches an intersection; be sure to hold the joystick as he floats by to make those turns!

 

Collision detection with walls has not yet been implemented, so 20/20 will pass right through a few of them (the intersection programming prevents him from doing this with most walls).

eyebrawl_sprites.rom

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(How the heck did you get the scrolling so smooth...?)

 

Thanks for the offer, but I don't want this project to get so complicated that even I can't understand what I'm doing. You're clearly a better programmer than myself- the smooth scrolling on a ColecoVision is proof enough of that- and I don't want to get in over my head. I will be looking at your BASIC code to see if I can make use of your techniques, though.

 

Your suggestion about centering the maze pieces holds weight, and I've been thinking about doing it, if for no other reason than to keep the characters properly aligned. It's extra work, but it's probably worth the bother.

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Also, here's the latest build of the alpha for those interested. Most walls work as intended, but some are semi-permeable, allowing you to push through them if you hold down a direction on the controller. Pathfinding by reading tiles in front of the player didn't work so well for me- they don't match up perfectly with the sprite, although switching to four pixel wide maze partitions might help with this.

 

When little things like pathfinding through a maze vex and confound me, I don't want to take on Herculean feats like smooth scrolling on a system that technically can't handle it. That instantly complicates the design... how do I manage sprites that have moved off-screen? I don't have to worry about that when the screen is static, but now that it has off-screen edges, that's an added burden I'm not sure I can shoulder.

eyebrawl_sprites.rom

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Still workin' on the railroad, all the live long day! Here's part of the intro/attract mode for Eye Brawls. There are some minor issues... I'm not crazy about the smoke animation, and the laser blast is weirdly flickery. Geez, I thought I turned off the other two sprites!

eye_attract.rom

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Here's the current version of the attract mode, which should give you some idea of what I want to do with this game. (Let the title screen roll for a little while and a Namco-like demonstration should start.) The player is given a limited supply of "winks" to bat back enemy shots, triggered with the right button. Carrots are likely to be included to let you boost your wink supply, like the food items in Burgertime.

 

The attract mode is... rather large! I'll probably need graphics compression to squash the game down into 32K, once it's finished.

eye_attract.rom

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More work on the game. Now you can fire bullets, but they don't interact with anything... yet. I'm going to try ArtRag and Nanochess's bit-shifting technique to read the bullet's surroundings. The current plan is to first have the bullet interact with the whirligigs, deleting them and subtracting from a counter. After that, the bullet will get absorbed by walls rather than passing through them. After THAT, the four enemies will make their appearance, and will be programmed to pursue the player at varying speeds. The AI in Eyes doesn't seem to be as... robust? as it was in Pac-Man, but I may vary Pete's movements to match that of Clyde's from Pac-Man, with an average speed but a nasty habit of taking wrong turns.

 

Right now 20/20 fires only one bullet at a time, while the eyeball in Eyes can fire two or three at a time. I'm reluctant to add more bullets, knowing that it will turn the game into a flicker fest, but not having those extra bullets will affect the game's difficulty. Making arcade ports for the ColecoVision is like Sophie's Choice... there's always SOME compromise you need to make to make the game work on that format. It's why Eye Brawls isn't a 1 to 1 port of the arcade game, but rather heavily inspired by it.

 

 

eyebrawl_game.rom

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Still plugging away at the game. The bullet is now interactive, deleting whirligigs and getting absorbed by walls. Bullets can't be fired on the second to last row, likely because the bullet is reading the surrounding walls.

 

The next step is to make a level transition similar to the one from the arcade game, with each quadrant of the screen consumed by growing squares of dots. This is gonna take some doing, so hang tight!

eyebrawl_game.rom

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Eyebrawls is playable from start to finish now! (Albeit without enemies.) Blast all the whirligigs in a level and you'll be taken to the next one, with a new maze color and new thingies to blast. The shot's been made smaller and more arcade-like, and maze walls will now absorb it. The level transition has been included, and levels count up to eight like they do in the arcade game.

 

Here's the TO-DO list as it currently stands, in the order I intend to tackle each task:

 

* Add corners to the top-left and top-right of the screen, since they're not there and their absence annoys me

* Add a score made from one 16-bit number and one 8-bit number. When the 16-bit number goes beyond 10,000, the 8-bit number counts up one and the 16-bit number decreases by 10,000.

* Award points based on the whirligigs shot and the current level

* Add enemies to their starting posts in the corners of the screen

* Add game logic for the enemies to pursue the player

* Add game logic for when the enemies fire (based on how long the player stays within eyeshot)

* Add game logic for removing the enemies after shooting them and returning them to their starting positions

* Award points for enemies shot

* Add sound and music (gulp)

* Add title screen and attract mode, both already finished

* Add JessCREATIONS logo screen that appears on boot

* PLETTER any graphics that can be PLETTER-ed to shrink down the file size (the color strobing may make this difficult)

* Convert game to MSX, SG-1000, and possibly Spectravision

* Wrap things up, take a breather, and hope someone actually plays the damn thing

eyebrawl_game.rom

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3 hours ago, Jess Ragan said:

Thanks! I appreciate that. I marked three things off the to-do list... now I've got to put in the enemies and get them patrolling the playfield. That should take me, uh... two weeks? Generous estimate there. Maybe it'll be less, depending on how motivated and industrious I am.

It looks pretty good, and the transition between levels is nice.

 

I found a small bug, if the player starts movement horizontally in the top center and bottom center, it can go through the walls while moving.

 

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Eyebrawls keeps on rollin' along. There are four onscreen eyes now, that follow the player's every move. The problem is that the eyes don't move at different speeds like they do in the arcade game. Maybe I'll have to add a variable to make the characters move once every two frames, once every three frames, and the like. Still, it's an encouraging start!

eyebrawl_game.rom

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Yeah, like I was telling Nano, it's a bug I'm aware of and still working to squash. The characters in the Eyes arcade game aren't terribly smart... they tend to make a beeline straight for the player. I'm thinking of making Pete (brown) work differently from the rest of the eyes; making occasional wrong turns and whatnot.

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8 hours ago, Jess Ragan said:

Eyebrawls keeps on rollin' along. There are four onscreen eyes now, that follow the player's every move. The problem is that the eyes don't move at different speeds like they do in the arcade game. Maybe I'll have to add a variable to make the characters move once every two frames, once every three frames, and the like. Still, it's an encouraging start!

eyebrawl_game.rom 14.58 kB · 2 downloads

I would suggest to do fractional speeds like in Game of Ball, but in this case an array to keep separate "speeds"

 

For example, if you have four enemies:

 

DIM eye_speed(4)

DIM eye_current(4)

 

FOR c = 0 TO 3

    eye_current(c) = eye_current(c) + eye_speed(c)       ' eye_speed(c) can be any value from $01 to $40

    IF eye_current(c) >= $40 THEN

        eye_current(c) = eye_current(c) - $40

        '... move eye...

    END IF

NEXT c

 

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