Re: [stella] Starmaster disassembled

Subject: Re: [stella] Starmaster disassembled
From: "Glenn Saunders" <cybpunks@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 11:37:28 -0700
With *original* you're refering to the arcade I assume?
I think comparing to this is a bit unfair.

No, the original Star Raiders is for the 400/800 home computers. Generally speaking Star Raiders had more features than Exidy's Star Fire arcade machine.

I think that's hard to achieve with the available VCS controlers.
Do you have an idea of realising this? I think it wouldn't work
to well, if one would mix a joystick and a paddle to do this.

You'd use the keypad. There were plenty of unused buttons in 2600 Star Raiders. You might not be able to have all 10 speeds ala the home computer version but you could have presets or an accelerate/decelerate button ala Wing Commander (+/-).

Do you mean switching the view completely or doing a permant
rearview mirror?

No rearview mirror, switching views back and forth so you'd need to maintain state to know which ships are where in the coordinate space and have a separate starfield kernel for converging stars (which I hear is trickier than the regular 3d star field).

This I've planned definitely for Star Fire. I think a way better
scanner than the one of 'Defender' is doable.
I think the one from Battlezone was quite acceptable...

The long range scanner in Star Raiders is a gyroscoping XYZ style display. You should take a look at that game before you make any design decisions. Star Fire is a great action shooter, but SR defined strategic space simulation.

Uhm... it's flickering, or?

I think it flickers a little. It's not too bad.

Why - Oh Why - is flicker accepted everywhere in the classic
games, but not in mine...

It depends on how busy the display is. The 2600 has to fill a lot of the screen with a space game. You've got the stars all over (which isn't easy given so few sprites on the system) and the enemies, enemy shots, and your shots, plus a crosshair. It's hard to do that without flicker. That's probably why Starmaster only has one enemy at a time and also why it uses lasers rather than photon torpedos. I haven't looked at the sourcecode but I'm sure Starmaster uses the 1-bit objects
as much as it possibly can.

Hm... I must admit, that I've never thought about doing such a big
project before. In fact, I'm not too certain about what a bigger ROM size
would gain for the gameplay. Wouldn't for example the
'main action display' have to run completely in 4K anyways?

I think it's possible to have a kernel that performs a bank switch in mid scanline, although that's probably not advisable.

All the game state is stored in RAM. You can output that game state in all sorts of ways through different banks. You could have your fore and aft view kernels and the galactic map in all different banks if you wanted.

RAM does become a limited factor, though, because we're talking about a lot of state information. You have position and type information for the enemy ships and the starbases, your position, then all the local positioning information and your ship systems state. I'm sure Phaser Patrol took full advantage of the Supercharger RAM for that. It's too bad they couldn't figure out how to do a 3D starfield in that game...

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