Re: [stella] Joust Pong expansion

Subject: Re: [stella] Joust Pong expansion
From: KirkIsrael@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: 4 Sep 2003 13:19:28 -0000
> At 07:13 PM 9/2/2003, you wrote:
> >So the first question is, will this be worthwhile?
> There is no reason to do a fancy static background that doesn't interact 
> with the ball at all, I don't think.

No, I meant for the title a medium-small centered 48 pixel 
"high rez" logo better than the big blocky PF logo that takes up more of 
the screen.
> What would be worthwhile would be to mix in some breakout/warlords type 
> game elements in there if possible.
> I also think it's important to have more than one goal at the same 
> time.  This is a key factor in most classic games, Eugene Jarvis' in 
> particular.

Yeah, I've been a long time advocate of indirection in gameplay.
I'm not sure if JoustPong is the place for it or not though...
(and some typical doubts about my 6507 cajones...)

> As long as it's only a single ball going back and forth, it's hard to 
> increase the tension.  When the ball is heading back to the other player, 
> there is little left for the player to do other than to anticipate the 
> return trajectory.

Well, sort of.  JoustPong has appealed to me all of these years
because of the control scheme. Because the control in traditional
Pong is so direct, it is as simple as you say here (unless you're 
talking Mondo ;-)  But I've always found that having to judge the 
timing of the flaps and doing that kind of manuevering adds at least
some of what you're talking about in terms of indirection.

> That to me is the reason why Pong, to me, is too limiting a game concept by 
> itself to sustain lasting interest vs. things like Super Breakout with the 
> multiball or Warlords with the defend and attack aspect.

Though one thing after playing Mondo Pong, I am thinking about the 
possibility of a second ball.

> For instance, you could have a Pterry come in that interacts in some way 
> with the ball and/or the players.
> The Pterry could be drawn with one or both missiles in such a way that it's 
> still somewhat recognizeable.

Hrrm. I have to go back and check out the Pterry behavior in the original.
It might be better to make the pong bats missiles (either with a little 
wing like hump, or not)

If Pterry was vertical instead of horizontal it woulda been more 
obviously cooler,or maybe not. I see Pterry, if anything, acting as
a bumper in the middle, adding complexity just by being there to 
bump the ball...
Though one thing about Pterry is do I start getting into the realm
of copyright infringement???  If pressed, I could argue "Joust" is 
a relatively generic name, and flap has shown up in a couple of games.
But direct characters?

> Or let's say you take a page out of the Rampart/Warlords playbook and you 
> have some sort of playfield bitmap.  After each round, your joust players 
> could rebuild their castles.  You could use the up or down on the joystick 
> to plot a block.

Hrm.  Not a terrible idea, but I wonder if the linear nature of the 
Pong board limits it's coolness.  Points would come less often
(would one point = one round?)  Between not really being able to
direct the ball location ala warlords, and not having a good system
to determine how many bricks you can replace ala rampart....
it might be fun because it makes the player more frenetic to 
guard a certain part of his wall, and adds to the overall perceived
quality/fullness of the game, but I'm not sure it would work with
all the goodness you suggest.

> At the very least, you could start off by allowing your joust players to 
> catch the ball by pulling down or up on the stick.  Then they might be able 
> to direct the "throw" like a pitcher by pushing the stick in the chosen 
> direction.  Or maybe there could be a way to apply "english" to the throw 
> so the ball exhibits some curve to it.

Oy, you're really getting away from Pong now...

(though I have a backup name "FLAP: the joustpong experience" in 
case JoustPong name doesn't seem full first I thought 
of the name because it would be much easier to draw on screen, 
one half of the playfleid even :-)
> Since the basic controls only require a fire button, you aren't even 
> limited to a joystick.  You could decide to switch the controller to the 
> driving controller or paddles (although the fire buttons on them don't lend 
> themselves well to the rapid fire necessary to do Joust flapping).

Not driving controller, I wouldn't be using them well enough to 
justify how hard they are to get.  Same to a much lesser w/

> There are a lot of things you could explore.
> Maybe it could be possible to have more than one joust player vertically 
> separated.  If you went with paddle control it would make for an 
> interesting 4 player option with the two players bouncing off eachother on 
> each side.  If you didn't need the pot lines you wouldn't have to worry 
> about the fact that it's paddles since you'd just be reading the triggers 
> which is the same as joystick left and right.

Cool thought, but it might be kind of crowded...
I could to typical "video hockey" style 2 on 2 play, 
(using both players and missiels for bats), it's hard to get that many people together anyway.

> I'd have to say I don't see much merit in allowing the joust players to 
> move horizontally.  Not without enforcing a limit, and the joystick control 
> signals might be able to be put to better uses than that.  Having the joust 
> player railed like that is THE key game element here, IMHO.

Huh, I dunno.  I like Joust like control, I like "soccer"
like games (like the 2 player soccer variation of the N64 buck 
bumble).  I don't think the rail is the end all and be all...
(in fact I find "not having a warlords like catch feature"
to be a more defining element)

> One of the weirder aspects, though, is that gravity effects are on the 
> joust players but the ball is unaffected so it's like two different 
> perspectives, overhead and side view, at once.
> You might want to experiment with adding some mild gravity so that the ball 
> has some arc to it as it's pulled downward, but that it bounces back 
> without losing any momentum so that it doesn't stall in the middle of the 
> screen.  That might make the perspective of the game more consistent.  It 
> might make a good game option at least.

I did try that on earlier ports of the game, and it really didn't work
out well. It's theoretically inconsistent, but I don't think the players
see it as such. Call it homage to the 2600 port of Joust, where the egg
doesn't fall either :-)

> With a static playfield and gravity on the ball you might be able to get 
> some kind of basketball-like elements in there if you could lob the ball 
> into a U-shaped basket.

Heh.  Frankly, there seems to be enough challenge hitting the damn 
ball for most folks...baskeball would probably be mostly luck or 
very esoteric skill.

Thanks for all the brainstorms! One question I have is, is 
it better to just find the best few elements and make a game 
based on that, or to try to stuff it in as variations? I
just worry that too many variations might make interesting
ideas get lost in the shuffle...

Another problem I have is it's gonna take a while to get any 
variation in a testable form....I wonder if I should do prototyping
in like java?

"The time has come," the walrus said, / "To speak of manic things,
 Of shots and shouts, and sealing dooms / Of commoners and kings."--Thurber  

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