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melbourne tatty -- An adventure with a maze WIP


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Okay, here's a little thing I've been cooking up that I like to call melbourne tatty.


It's a game that takes place in a maze where the walls are constantly shifting. The object of the game is to avoid the giant wolf head that's pursuing you and to collect the golden goblets that are placed randomly on the board. If you get ten goblets, you can go on to the next level. Levels are distinguished by the behavior of the walls and to a lesser degree by the starting speed. You get three lives.


mt1.bin mt1.bas


It's a work in progress. There's currently ten different levels, but I can make a lot more. Background music is in place, but I think I could stand to change it. I want to put in a quick animation when the wolf eats you and some sort of sound effect when you nab a goblet. But this is the general shape of the gameplay.


I think it's difficult -- I've only gotten to level 5 legitimately -- but I think it's possible to get better as you get a feel for how each maze moves and how to manipulate how the wolf moves.

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Cool little game! It takes more strategy then I gave it credit for at first. I was only able to make it to level 2 in my first try. I like the music that you have in place. It is a nice game as it is and if you incorporate the changes you mentioned then that is just icing on the cake.




And here is an in game screenshot for the game.



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Very nice. One thing that bugs me is you don't have any idea when the wolf will try to attack you. IMHO, maybe you could have some kind of a warning system or something. Also, maybe change the background music and make the song longer. Interesting title, though. How'd you come up with it?

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Heh, thanks for posting the screenshots! I should probably start doing that when I post these messages. Give people a little more of a taste of what they're getting into. Yeah, I'm pretty happy with how the strategic aspects worked out. A lot of it was a happy accident. :) Right now, it's possible to trick the wolf into thinking you're in a different part of the screen by leaning against one of the walls. I'm wondering if this is something that should be fixed, or if I should leave it in -- it could be a valuable lifesaving technique in the later levels. It's also possible in some cells on the board to occupy the same cell as the wolf by pressing against one of the lower corners.


I think I'll try and put in an ominous sound effect when the wolf starts to move. And yeah, the song could stand to have a little more variety to it. I'll see what I can do with it.


As far as the title goes... Well, when I told the guy who inspired my first 2600 game, Jym, that I was starting a new game, he asked me, "Is it going to be melbourne tatty?" So I was like, pff, sure. I asked him where he got it from, he said it was just a random thing that came to him one day. He also suggested a cup as the item to be collected and a wolf as the creature to be avoided. This isn't the first time he's inspired me, and it's not likely to be the last. :)

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Refined melbourne tatty a bit!




New to this version:

  • Extended and rewrote the background music. I'm much happier with it now, much less repetitive. Also discovered that I've been using the wrong frequency chart when I've been writing my music. D'oh. So now it's a bit more in tune.
  • Tested a lot of the later levels and decided to reorder them to better reflect the difficulty curve. Also fixed a bug from the first version -- looks like I never actually got around to putting the tenth level in. Oops. It's in now, and I'll consider putting some more in. My goal right now is to have twenty levels, but I've got enough room on the ROM for a lot more. Guess it all depends on what kind of actual potential this setup has.
  • Awesome sound effects and animation! Now there's two glorious frames of jaw movement when the wolf chomps you, a celebratory noise when you get a goblet, and an audio cue thirty frames before the wolf starts to move.
  • Game Over looks a bit more like the game is over rather than hung up at the beginning of your next life.

And some screenshots. The later levels get progressively less symmetrical and synchronized in their behavior:




And here's our wolf enjoying a tasty player. >:)




I'm tempted to say that the "look and feel" polishing is over. Unless I come up with some extra-nifty ideas, this is the game's basic presentation.


Next item on the list is experimenting with level configurations and the variables that affect the difficulty. It occurs to me that the difficulty is determined more by the speed that the walls move relative to how long the wolf pauses between moves than it is by the configuration of the walls themselves. Furthermore, it seems like the longer you take to finish a level, the easier it becomes because the increased speed of the walls makes the gaps come your way much more rapidly. I need to address these issues somehow. Ideally, I'd like a level to become more difficult as you take longer to finish it, then pull the difficulty back again as you start the next level (but the starting difficulty should be slightly greater than the starting difficulty of the previous level).


And as this project starts to look and feel more like a real video game... Well, I'm tempted to start thinking about making cartridges. I suspect that most folks around here are used to homebrew games with fancier graphics. (The square hero thing was cute when Warren Robinett did it, but...) Might be worth holding out on that until I master using one of these newer Basic kernels, eh?


But besides better graphics, what would this need to be a viable commercial product? There's a couple ideas I'm toying with right now. Level select at the title screen is one. Some sort of two-player mode (where the second player controls the wolf or possibly the maze) is another. And since I'm not using the fire button for anything, I was thinking of making it a pause button. A quick intermission animation might be fun. Maybe make the wolf a little more animate during gameplay. Maybe stick some different treasures in there so you're not just collecting cups all the time. Yeah, I've got plenty of ideas, maybe I'm not as done with the presentation as I thought.


So that's the state of things right now. Hope you like the new version. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, a new version.




The biggest change for this version is that you can select your level from the title screen. You can press Select to cycle through the twenty different levels; the level you'll start at is displayed on the score line.


I also tweaked the core of the program so that the walls of the maze don't have to shift in sync all the time. Level 8 and beyond now has asynchronous wall movement.


I got rid of a couple of the levels I had in before because they seemed too redundant and I wanted to make it easier for the player to reach some of the more interesting levels. There's also a total of 20 levels now.


At this point, the game could stand to have a lot of playtesting. I'd like it to be challenging, but I don't want to accidentally make it impossible to finish. So I'm still working on the difficulty.


And... I'm curious how well it works on real 2600 hardware. If anyone has the means to try it, I'd like to hear about it. I seem to get a solid 260 lines when I run it on my z26 emulator. I know the ideal is 262, but it seems like a lot of the Atari Basic games I play are just a little off on the scanline count. Is 260 good enough? I'm really not sure if I can make the game logic any faster.

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Glad you like it. :) That's actually an interesting idea, I've been thinking about ways to slack off the difficulty a bit, I might play around with that and see what kind of an effect it has on the game. Perhaps you could spend a certain number of points to drop a decoy that the wolf will pursue instead of the player until he encounters it.


Hmmmmmm. :) Yeah, I really like that idea. I think I could even do it without introducing any new variables.


I'll have a new version sometime this week, I think. I've changed the way the maze moves -- instead of steadily increasing the pace of the moving walls, I've just decreased the wolf's "wait time" as the levels increase. I've also fixed a bug that would send you back to the beginning after playing any level beyond, I believe, level 10. Probably did some other stuff with it too.

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More tatty!



  • Slightly better AI!
  • Four poorly-drawn treasures to find!
  • All 20 levels actually work now!
  • Difficulty adjusted again!

Also, I took Piggles up on his idea. You can now press the fire button to drop a treasure sack. It costs thirty points to drop a treasure sack, and only one can be on the board at a time. The wolf will try to recover the treasure before nabbing the player.


Feedback is appreciated, as always. :)

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Dude, this is a cool game! How did it escape my notice all this time? :D


Also, I took Piggles up on his idea. You can now press the fire button to drop a treasure sack. It costs thirty points to drop a treasure sack, and only one can be on the board at a time. The wolf will try to recover the treasure before nabbing the player.


I really like the addition of the bait. However, have you considered giving the player three items of bait per level rather than using the score? I know it's slightly more complex, but I think it would add more to the strategy. The only difficulty I see is in representing the number of bait traps left. Since you're already using the missiles, it could be rather difficult to represent three items on the ball alone. Perhaps you could set the ball height to be a vertical meter? i.e. You'd start with a meter like this:




After you use a bait, the meter will drop like this:




The meter will disappear (or perhaps be represented by only a single pixel that changes to red to represent emtpy) when you run out of bait. Since bBASIC doesn't make use of the entire screen, you can setup the meter to the far left or far right so that it doesn't interfere with gameplay.


What do you think? It's an idea, anyway. :P

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I actually had about the same idea when I first looked at the suggestion, but I thought it would be more interesting from a gameplay perspective if the player had to "buy" decoys. For one thing, the scoring in the original version is a little too straightforward -- it's basically just a measure of how many levels you've completed. For another thing, a good game should always tempt you to take some risks and reward you if you succeed -- a player who learns to play without the decoys should get a higher score than a player who uses them very often.


BUT! Now that you mention it, it occurs to me that I could have it both ways if I gave the player a point bonus for every unused decoy when a level's complete. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of a 50 point bonus for each. That would make for quite a temptation, I think -- a player who completes two levels without decoys would have the same score as a player who uses them all up and completes five levels.


From a technical standpoint, it should be feasible. I like the idea of using the ball as a "decoy meter". I'm going to have to optimize my RAM usage a bit more, but I think I can squeeze a couple more bytes out of it. Yeah, I think that version'll be coming up.


And thanks to both of you guys for the suggestions! :) I'd hit sort of a brick wall with the project recently, this really helped me get interested in it again.

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BUT! Now that you mention it, it occurs to me that I could have it both ways if I gave the player a point bonus for every unused decoy when a level's complete. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of a 50 point bonus for each. That would make for quite a temptation, I think -- a player who completes two levels without decoys would have the same score as a player who uses them all up and completes five levels.

Good idea! If you can find the space, can you do one of those fun "countdown" sequences at the end of the level? You know, the one where each remaining item disappears from the meter with a "BLOOP!" sound, and the bonus points for that item show up on the score? It's much cooler that way. :D

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Hey, got some more tatty!




As per jbanes's suggestion, there is now a meter on the left side of the screen to represent how many decoys the player is allowed to lay. You get three of them on every level, and there's a fifty point bonus for every unused decoy at the end of the level. I think this may just be the last element that melbourne tatty really needed -- it's a lot more interesting to play now that I'm getting a feel for how the decoys can be used to my advantage. I made it all the way to level 6 and got a high score of 1150 tonight. ;)


Found a lot of interesting bugs in the wolf's behavior, but I believe I've squashed the majority of them. I'd still like to give it some more playtesting before I call it a final version. Think I could stand to redraw my treasures too -- I like the goblet and the ring, but the crown and the ingot are ugly.


I'm running out of ROM space now, but comments and suggestions are still appreciated. Hope you guys like it. :)

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Here's a minor touch-up job for melbourne tatty:




Redrew all of the treasure graphics. As you can see, the gold ingot is much prettier:




It's gotten to the point where I'm ready to see what the Homebrew board thinks of the game, and I just wanted to give it one last facelift. Updates are still possible, of course. :)

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  • 1 year later...
It's been more than a year since someone has posted in this thread, but apparently neotokeo2001 is going to release this game on cart. I saw the thread in the Atari 2600 game forum and thought "I remember this game in the bB forums!"


The new version has been polished up a bit. And you're old question about getting trapped in the walls, It has been fixed.

There are now no safe spots to avoid the wolf in the same room.

Decoy and life counters at bottom of screen.

Improved music.

Scrolling Title screen

No more lines in walls.

And a few other tweaks.


Here are some new screenshots:



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