RE: [stella] Reflex: Paddle woes

Subject: RE: [stella] Reflex: Paddle woes
From: KirkIsrael@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: 2 Apr 2004 14:59:49 -0000
Synopsis: just bouncing around some Reflex ideas (pun intended, 
but regretted), a few thoughts on id'ing time left in the vblank,
and feedback and the AA forums.

First off: very cool. I like how the paddles kinda sneak around the 
corners.  I won't get too deeply into hard core mechanics tweaking 
suggestions (speed, size of paddle, speed of paddle, etc) because 
I figure that's still coming thing though, I feel somehow 
cheated when the ball registers as "out" and it seems like I should
have a shot at still hitting it....

(Interesting, though, if I come bashing into the ball from the side,
it seems like it should send it flinging off in the direction I was
heading...which would make it hard to return, but in a cool way. 
You might end up having some fiddley code for the paddle hits to
get optimal results.)

> I hadn't mentioned this yet, but I'd like to implement two-player support.
> I think the benefit of two-player mode outweighs the benefit of paddles in
> this case.  Not to mention, the original game relied on the joystick and
> still managed to be highly addictive.

2 player has some interesting possibilities....especially if you 
take a hint from some of the old "Pong" variants, where players have
to TAKE TURNS hitting... 

Hmm, thinking that through a little more...I had envisioned 2 
seperately controlled paddles, and maybe the use of color to indicate
who had to hit next...I just realized that kind of color seperation
might be very difficult.  Seperate controls sounds better to me 
than just having the players take turns controlling both, but I don't
know what kind of optimizations you have based on paddles always being

(A note, would someone need leelib.h to compile your code?)
> > I it feasible to position paddle reading outside of the main
> > kernal?
> Heh, not in my case.  I haven't counted cycles to see what I have left over
> in my vblank and overscan, but I do use both.  Lord knows the code is far
> from tight in many areas, but optimization is ongoing.

I might be drastically underestimating the amount of looping you've got 
to do to get the collisions right, but the non-graphic, non-title screen
part of JoustPong has a LOC metric about twice yours, and I never have
to go into overscan.  (and my code is no beacon of optimization) One 
mistake I frequently made in my early days (which admittedly were 
getting a LOT less done than *your* early days) was thinking "oh gosh,
things are weird, I must be out of time in the vblank" when really it
was usually one of those stupid "forgot the # for my constant" mistakes.
I don't know if you might be underestimating your free cycles.

(I wish I could think of a really easy way of identifying that,
without counting cycles.
I guess I could learn where to set a breakpoint in PCAEwin, and then
what location to examine, with a usual 	
  lda  #43	
  sta  TIM64T	
code, any suggestions from the big brains here?)

> I've pretty much made up my mind about paddles.  I think the game is very
> playable with joysticks (even if it's not that stellar as a
> work-in-progress), just as it was back in the day, and adding paddle support
> would IMO degrade the overall look and feel of the game and create a lot of
> rework.

The other strong argument against paddle controllers is that if anything,
this is a driving controller game...i.e. a player might get frustrated
if they go round and keep hitting the edge of the control. But I'm not 
sure if driving controllers are sensitive enough, and they're rareish.
You're probably making the right choice re: paddles but I still wish a 
smart motivated guy like you was gonna be my paddle guinea pig :-)

> As always, thanks for your feedback, Kirk.

Glad to chip in, I know I feel much happier w/ feedback than w/o...
...I wonder if AtariAge forums might be a better place for a certain
kind of less techie feedback. Not that the homebrew/programming forums
are swarming w/ tons of people, but it is a larger audience, some of 
whom might have more time to take a glance at things.  (Of course,
non-techie's feedback is sometimes frustrating; some people have 
Big Ideas that they'll try to get you to do, which may or may not 
be feasible, or interesting to you for that matter.)

"It's the cracked ones who let all the light into the world."
        --writer from my Tufts writing class

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