Subject: [stella] Qb: RELEASE CANDIDATE #1
From: "Andrew Davie" <adavie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 00:19:24 +1100
Well, here it is... the first version which has a (slight) chance of being a
releaseable finished-product.  I'm calling it 'release candidate #1'.  It's
very close, anyway.  Now is the time to really complain about things you
think are wrong - because in a few days I plan to 'lock-off' on Qb and start
my next project (which will remain, for now, a surprise ;)

Attached, as usual, the PAL, NTSC and STELLA versions.  These are numbered

There are a few additions and changes

* Creatures are now graduated in difficulty.  Mostly you won't see nasties
for the first few screens...  though one occasionally shows up just to keep
you on your toes.
* When your timer runs out and the screen pattern changes, your SCORE starts
decrementing.  I added this to encourage people to complete screens rather
than hanging around jumping on fruit forevermore.  It works OK, though it is
a bit of a surprise when it first happens :)   Also, this works very well in
higher levels (where the pattern changes more quickly), as you kind of reach
a plateaux (scorewise).
* Demo mode has been tidied up a bit, so that it does random screens, and
halts when user interaction happens (particularly, on title screen).
* Stella-compatibility fixed - the odd VSYNC code I wrote about yesterday
was the problem, causing Stella to roll the screen.
* Timing (lines/frame) mostly fixed.  There appears to be the occasional
line jump/glitch on some screens, so I guess I'll probably have to look
at/find/fix that, if possible.
* added a frame of animation for when creatures go away by themselves.
Simple, but best I could do.
* I've worked a bit on the creature AI.  Not perfect, but reasonable.

I have no memory left - but, I am now happy with the game.

So, over to you all.... if you play it now, it should be graduated well, be
bug-free (ha!) and hopefully fun to play.  I'm a tad worried about the
speed - but as I don't have an NTSC machine, I can't really tell how well it
plays.  So, feedback in that area would be great.

If you haven't already heard, I plan to officially release a
cartridge-version of this game at the PhillyClassic in April
(www.phillyclassic.com).  The release at that show will be a
special-show-only-version, only available for attendees of the show,
one-per-ticket, and modified in some way FOR the show.  So, if you want
one... attend the show.  After that (eventually) I plan to release 100
numbered/signed copies of the regular version.

I am ITCHING to have my 2nd game complete before then (April 20th), too....
we shall see :)

I've been thinking about a name under which I'd like to release my
title(s)... and have settled on "Retroactive".  So, that's the brand/company
you should expect to see me using from now on.  Hopefully that won't upset

Now, to the recent comments....

Eric Mooney wrote...

>FWIW, I rarely came near running out of either RAM (20+ bytes left even
>after Piero's additions) or ROM (3 pages free), so it's a bit odd to me to
>see ANdrew so cramped for space... But then again I never finished my game
>(and won't, I can't even understand the code anymore), so who am I to
>judge :)

My source code has been available for some time, and I'm sure some of you
have studied (in particular) my variable usage.  My playfield is 57 bytes,
so there's a big whack of available memory gone.  I have been very careful
to preserve RAM where I can - so although Eric finds it "a bit odd", I think
it can be put down to the complexity of the game, and that Qb is much more a
finished product.  I do believe I've been fairly efficient with my RAM
usage.  No matter how many resources you have, you nearly always end up
using all of them.

Secondly, the last bit (about not understanding the code) is a good reason
to document so thoroughly that even your grandmother could understand it.
Many times in my carreer I've had to pick up code more than a year old, and
understand it.  You might think code is straightforward... until you have to
come back to it.  Some may think I overcomment - or that I'm an unusual
exception in my commenting standard - but believe me, the commenting is for
ME, not for anyone else.  My memory is like a sieve, and its the only way I
can keep track of everything.

Furthermore, my memory is like a sieve, and its the only way I can keep
track of everything.

I appreciate (and am slightly embarassed by) Thomas's reference to my
commenting, in his recent post.  Many many years ago I had to pick up an
abandoned R&D project (6502) and make a game out of it... the comments were
basically like this...

    lda #1            ; load the accumulator with 1

But nothing about the functionality.  Needless to say, this influenced my
belief in the importance of commenting code well :)    As I said, I do my
comments for me, not to be better than anything else.  Just do what works
for you, I guess, and don't be embarassed about it.

Further to Thomas's changing of the comments in Thrust from German to
English - it is great that he's going to the effort to make the source code
more readable for all of us - but it seems to me that they would have been
satisfactory in German.  Maybe that's just me, but it seems kind of sad.

Ruffin has requested a post-mortem.  I understand his interest in this, and
I'll see what I can do.  The problem is, the time I want to spend on this
infernal computer, I want to spend on doing things I really want to do.  A
post-mortem isn't exactly one of them.... as I said, I'll see what I can do.
I do have a backup chain of versions and source code, so that could
definitely refresh my memory.

Well, that's about it, I guess.   I'll be looking to test this on actual
hardware, so I guess its about time to think about making one or two
'official' prototypes (which, of course, I'll auction off for mega-$$$ in a
year or so ;).  I'm hoping there won't be too many screen
glitches/shakes/bugs to cope with.

Fingers crossed :)   Over to you guys.


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