Re: [stella] Starmaster disassembled

Subject: Re: [stella] Starmaster disassembled
From: "Glenn Saunders" <cybpunks@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2001 18:20:50 -0700
Hm... I'll have to try the trick within the MAME emulation again. I
think I played it all the the time without even changing the speed and
didn't really miss this feature. And I think droping the Joystick
mid-combat and heading for the right acceleration button might not
really add to the gameplay value :-)

When playing Star Raiders on the home computers, it only takes an instant to hit a number key. It's probably even easier on the 5200 version because the keypad is right there.

Changing speed is very important in dogfights. You can also tap the hyperspace button to exceed speed 9 and then abort out of hyperspace.

Also, docking is established by manually slowing down and stopping within a giving range of the SB, unlike Starmaster where you automatically stop.

More important for the real Star Fire feeling would be the Exidy
mothership I think and the target-lock-device (Which I fear will be hard
to realise - if possible at all)

A target lock device existed in 2600 SR, Solaris, Radar Lock, Star Voyager, etc.

Hm... I see... but this'd be a 'just candy' feature. The ability of
looking backward is of no real use, since an X-Wing can't fire backwards

In Star Raiders if you are being attacked by 2 ships, they usually assume a sandwich formation and you will get hit from behind (ala Battlezone). Even if you couldn't shoot behind you it would be nice to know there is a ship behind you. You'd at least need to see the ship as a blip on the targetting display.

But it's a cool idea really, I'll try to do that, if it's not too
resource consuming...

If you wanted to do a "first" for the VCS, I'd go for it.

And doing a left and right views wouldn't be too hard because it would just be horizontally moving stars.

Oh... that I possibly won't do. I'll trick around that and will actually
have _no_ 3D calculations at all. What I'm planing to do is sort of
scrolling a 2-dimensional map around the ship, nevertheless giving you
the illusion of real depth via the starscrolling and zooming enemies...

I don't see how you can avoid it. Ships have an X, Y, and Z (distance) attribute. How accurate the 3D calculations are is one thing (especially in regards to the Z axis), but it's still 3 coordinates.

The other thing most SR type games do is "fudged" collision detection. No matter how far or close the enemy ship is, a photon or phaser that appears to cross the path will be destroyed. The Z difference between the shot and the ship is never evaluated. A hardware collision detect is all it takes. I think the original SR does this also.

This is NOT the case with modern space sims, which is why dogfighting is a lot lengthier in games like Freespace 2 where you are mostly chasing the other ship to get in close enough so that your weapons connect.

Lastly, 8-bit SR type games never let the enemy ships get really big, because the sprites can only get so big. SR creates this invisible bubble that forces sprites to fly around you (aside from asteroids that hit at their maximum size). That's why you never see cap ships in these games.

And coming back to Starmaster, did you know that an 'Alan Miller' did a
C64 game called 'Law Of The West'? :-)

I think he did quite a few home computer games at Accolade.

I'll try to use a similar techinque for my Star Fire except that it'll
blow your brains out when you see the number of enemy shpis attacking
you _at once_! I won't tell you my idea for that right now, you'll have
to wait for my Tie-Fighters demo :-)

Sounds good. If ships fly in close formation you can reuse the sprites vertically.

Personally, I think that tying the two sprites together was unnecessary in Starmaster. I would rather have had 2 blockier ships than one smooth one.

Or if he's got two sprites to work with, he can use the width register and allow the ship to strafe by really close. At quad width that would take up a major chunk of the screen.

make the game as big as you want in ROM - But(!) you only have this
little number of overscan and vblank cycles to do actually something
useful. According to the experiences of Bob Colbert one might triple or
even quadruple these cycles by clever differing overscan and vblank
routines, but in the end this is your limit factor I'd say. (I'm at the
moment not aware if any of the classic games uses this technique, the
only one I'm sure of at all is the yet to be finished multisprite game
from Bob...)

That's why I think any realtime simulation game is a struggle on the 2600. That's why I think if you were to, let's say, create an 8K Adventure with twice the objects and twice the space, there might not be enough time to update their positions in realtime. Adventure is a good analogue to Star Raiders because it updates the positions of all objects in the game in real-time whether they are visible or not. This is in contrast to deterministic enemies like Pitfall II or River Raid.


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