[stella] Archon board approaches

Subject: [stella] Archon board approaches
From: Glenn Saunders <mos6507@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2004 17:05:12 -0700

I thought about this a lot just now and I think you're going to have the most luck if you work with the 2600's strengths. Being able to adjust the palette on a scanline by scanline basis is what it does best, not in midscreen like this demo, otherwise you are sacrificing your sprite abilities enormously.

It looks like a given that if you want to independently place a piece on any location on an 8x8 board so you have to live with a variation of the Video Chess kernel. If the monster shapes are a little hard to make out in venetian blinks, then just print out a text caption above or below the board as you move your X cursor over it. And I would experiment with closed-venetian-blinds too.

In the end I would advise you go with the ability to have independent hues on each row. Then you can stick with a Video Chess kernel and just add in a playfield bitmap so you can independently turn on and off any of the squares and color each row with two unique colors. You'd be stuck with 8x8 but you'd otherwise gain so much in being able to have a dynamic board that you could come up with game rules that are even richer than Archon. If in addition do that you added an extra scanline between rows you could use that to underscore special squares for any reason and you could still selectively blink squares over frames for emphasis.

But on the actual rows with the pieces the worst you'd ever have to worry about, playfieldwise, would be an asymmetrical playfield. So if you limit yourself to just color changes between rows then that should be doable right now with a slight mod of the Video Chess kernel.

Of course, unless these changes were prescripted in ROM, you'd be pretty limited if you stuck to stock 2600 RAM.

Here is a really rough example of what you could definitely do. With hues you have to worry about colors clashing and you have to still maintain some contrasts. In this example both sides have light colors and the background is fixed to black and all the other colors "go with" the two player colors, but are no more than low-medium luminance. I stuck the menu display from Dragonstomper at the bottom. (You'd need something like this to provide menus for things like teleport and hold spells.) Imagine different piece shapes. You'd probably want to keep them oriented top bottom and use the color zones like walls of defense. These colors could shift around, fade to black, and-or you could move them around, like have blocks disappear or fill in the holes over time. *_b.gif illustrates how the board might be able to change over time either due to a time-cycle or activity by the players or both. It's pretty flexible, wouldn't you say?

Attachment: Archon2600.gif
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Attachment: Archon2600_b.gif
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