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SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Whoops, it looks like I had totally forgotten to post about this here! Let me fix that...

SkillGrid is a mini-game, of the score-attack, vertical shooter kind. It's for stock A1200.
I've started working on it towards the end of 2017. Development was interrupted by work on other projects, but lately it resumed.
Here's a fresh video preview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jApqi3DVgls&vq=hd1080

The game features:
* mixed gameplay based on shooting and catching of bonus/malus cells;
* 3 parallax layers scrolling at a variable speed;
* 1 fixed layer for the HUD and laser beams;
* real transparencies (each color can have any 8 bit degree of transparency);
* 1 4-plane sprite for the spaceship + 1 2-plane sprite for the afterburner flame;
* 6 2-plane sprites for the enemies;
* pixel-perfect collision detection;
* 3 audio channels allocated dynamically for one-shot sounds;
* 1 audio channel allocated for the afterburner looping sound;
* variable afterburner sound frequency, depending on the ship vertical speed (calculated taking into account also the scrolling);
* music in the form of a 14 bit lossless-packed mono PCM sample, played at ~28.9 kHz (when it kicks in, it allocates one of the channels used for sounds);
* music playback looping support;
* single load from either HD or floppy disks.

Notes:
* the afterburner sound is off while music plays to allow enjoying the music better and leaving a channel free for the more important events-related sounds;
* the afterburner sound volume is kept low so that it does not become annoying;
* the music in the video is a temporary placeholder; it is a mix from the Italian theme of the Japanese anime Kotetsu Jeeg from the 70s;
* despite the video was uploaded in lossless quality, the compression applied by YouTube degraded it a lot.


Edited by saimo on 2018/7/4 20:41:55
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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2007/2/27 10:47
From Gravity well
Posts: 603
@saimo

The descriptions I came across of the 14-bit native playback made at least me think that it was an exclusive mode: I didn't expect the usual 4 channel layout to apply. But this suggests something else, and does make more sense, since Amiga volume control is per hardware channel.

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
@Thematic

Paula doesn't have a "14 mode", so basically the usage of the channels is up to the programmer.

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/7/7 3:34
From Toronto, Canada
Posts: 2262
@saimo

sooo happy you took a break from making your excellent C64 games to come back to Amiga

_________________
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c64-dual sids, A1000, A1200-060@50, A4000-CSMKIII
Indivision AGA & Catweasel MK4+= Amazing
! My Master Miggies-Amiga1000 & AmigaONE X1000 !
mancave-ramblings

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Video preview #4

Finally SkillGrid has some music of its own! It this video you can see - or better, hear - the title screen and game over screen music, which puts together crunchy guitars and C64 sounds.
The music has been encoded in a compression method that has been designed to save more memory and thus make room for more features.
Gameplay-wise, the game hasn't changed much since last time, but still a little change shows up in the video: the horizontal/vertical controls swap cells are now in 2 colors - since they toggle the controls, they are either a bonus or a malus depending on how many times they are caught.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QX9BLVNH3U

Note: for more information, check out the other previews in the same playlist.

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Finally also the in-game music is ready!

The gameplay idea is that when the Notes Cell is caught, music starts playing and all the cells become bonuses (maluses have no effect anymore and award points, and the Controls Swap Cells always fix controls); then, when music ends, the game returns to normal.

This video shows how it works (although, as usual, YouTube just can't cope with the scrolling layers and thus totally destroyed it):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sDg0zni9ac

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Regarding the music, I've been asked if, besides the guitars, I have played also the drums and the bass. Well, the answer is no: I made the music, quite fittingly, the Amiga way, i.e. I used a tracker, namely MilkyTracker (although the game itself doesn't use the tracker module, but uses the alternative solution illustrated in this article on LinkedIn).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESdTO2-xGkk

This is the procedure followed for the Music Mode music:
1. on guitar, I composed the two chords progressions the music is built on;
2. on guitar, I adapted those progressions for the crunchy rhythm guitar and the clean rhythm guitar;
3. in the tracker, I composed a minimal drum loop;
4. while the tracker was playing the drum loop, I played and recorded the crunchy rhythm guitar;
5. in the tracker, I added to the music the guitar track just recorded;
6. in the tracker, I gave the drums some more structure;
7. while the tracker was playing the music, I played and recorded the clean rhythm guitar;
8. in the tracker, I added to the music the guitar track just recorded;
9. in the tracker, I refined the drums further, until they were about 80% done;
10. while the tracker was playing the music, I played and recorded the various solo guitars;
11. in the tracker, I progressively added to the music the solo guitar tracks as I was recording them;
12. in the tracker, I (almost) finished the drums;
13. while the tracker was playing the music, I composed the bassline on the guitar;
14. in the tracker, I programmed the bassline according to what I had just found;
15. while the tracker was playing the music, I composed the C64 sounds fills/melody on the guitar;
16. in the tracker, I programmed the C64 sounds fills/melody according to what I had just found;
17. I recorded my voice counting down from 3 to 1;
18. I added lots of reverb to the voice samples;
19. in the tracker, I added the voice samples at the end of the music;
20. in the tracker, I did the final polish work: I refined the drums, fixed the timings, improved the panning of the instruments, composed the coda, etc.

As the video shows, the music uses 10 tracks, allocated this way:
* tracks 1-3: drumkit;
* track 4: crunchy rhythm guitar;
* track 5: (almost) clean rhythm guitar;
* track 6: solo guitar A (neck single-coil pickup);
* track 7: solo guitar B (brigde humbucker pickup);
* track 8: bass;
* track 9-10: C64 sound and voice samples.

Fun facts:
* I decided to add the spoken countdown because, besides adding a little extra dimension to the music, it warns the player that the Music Mode is about to end;
* making the coda was a pain: the rest of the music had already reached almost 30 seconds, and that was a limit I couldn't go much beyond due to memory constraints (see the article on LinkedIn); eventually I came up with something decent that keeps the music slightly below 31 seconds.

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Development was suspended for a few weeks due to another project (a book not related to computers), but then it resumed with these changes:
* added spaceship tilting when it moves sideways;
* improved music;
* saved some RAM by replacing general-purpose routines with game-specific ones;
* drawn boss;
* made the game run from (2) floppies;
* written manual;
* written installer;
* drawn icons.

There is enough RAM left to add bossfights, more UFO types, and dynamic generation of the scrolling middle layer (and possibly improving the quality of some sound samples). The biggest issue will be stuffing everything into the 2 floppies (at the moment there are less than 110 kB free).
By the way, of all the icons shown in the picture, only the ones surrounded by squares, which are in the old 4-color format, will be used, precisely to use as little floppy disk space as possible.

Resized Image

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/7/7 3:34
From Toronto, Canada
Posts: 2262
@saimo

awesome & boss fights too

_________________
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c64-dual sids, A1000, A1200-060@50, A4000-CSMKIII
Indivision AGA & Catweasel MK4+= Amazing
! My Master Miggies-Amiga1000 & AmigaONE X1000 !
mancave-ramblings

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
@328gts

Bossfights are next in the TODO list. For some reason, implementing them doesn't inspire me much :/


@all

The dynamic tile-based generation of the middle layer is done. Besides looking cool, it saved about 30 kB of floppy disk space at little CPU cost.
The picture shows various experiments and the final choice (the blue-purple gases/clouds).

Resized Image

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Video preview #6

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNmP6qFXMvc

This video demonstrates these new features:
* procedural generation of bottom and middle layers;
* new bottom and middle layers graphics;
* spaceship tilting;
* touched up music.

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Just can't stay away
Joined:
2006/11/24 17:54
From Sanremo
Posts: 1764
Good Work Saimo!

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Thanks!

Here are some experiments with alternative tiles and color schemes:

Resized Image

Currently I'm leaning towards the saturated red or purple clouds, as that's less confusing to the eye and produces a smoother effect.

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/7/7 3:34
From Toronto, Canada
Posts: 2262
@saimo

nice looking background effects

_________________
_______________________________
c64-dual sids, A1000, A1200-060@50, A4000-CSMKIII
Indivision AGA & Catweasel MK4+= Amazing
! My Master Miggies-Amiga1000 & AmigaONE X1000 !
mancave-ramblings

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
@328gts

Quote:
nice looking background effects


Thank you :)


@all

Development slowed down a bit in the past couple of months, but still a number of (important) changes have been made:
* added bossfights;
* added CHASE cell (the UFOs chase the spaceship for 5 seconds);
* moved HUD icons column to the left side;
* touched up graphics;
* made various improvements/fixes;
* extended/improved manual.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbdfSSvK8lk

Future:
* the final boss graphics will be totally different;
* the background graphics might change as well;
* there are 47 kB of floppy disk space and 140 kB of RAM left: they will be used to make improvements and/or to add new features.

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Not too shy to talk
Joined:
2007/1/5 10:14
Posts: 262
Awesome!

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/7/7 3:34
From Toronto, Canada
Posts: 2262
@saimo

more polished & Boss Fights= LOVE IT

_________________
_______________________________
c64-dual sids, A1000, A1200-060@50, A4000-CSMKIII
Indivision AGA & Catweasel MK4+= Amazing
! My Master Miggies-Amiga1000 & AmigaONE X1000 !
mancave-ramblings

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Thanks, buds!
Glad you like it :)

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
Third totally different version of background graphics. This is just a proof-of-concept, and the final graphics will mosy likely look different. As a bonus, this video also gives a glimpse of the reworked boss graphics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9l2G43KtDw

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Re: SkillGrid - new AGA game in the works
Quite a regular
Joined:
2006/12/6 0:11
From Italy
Posts: 549
The game is getting closer and closer to completion (in fact, there is almost no floppy disk space left)!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5USEUxpV0XA

This juicy eighth preview demonstrates these new features:
* UFOs escapes feature (if 30 UFOs escape in a row, it's game over - see double-UFO bar in the HUD);
* DAMAGE cell (broken shield; halves the shield level);
* HALT cell (halts the spaceship for 2 seconds; see hand bar in the HUD);
* NUKE cell (destroys all the UFOs on screen);
* TURN cell (changes randomly the direction of all the UFOs on screen);
* UFOs/FAST (makes the incoming UFOs move on average at fast speed);
* UFOs/SLOW cells (makes the incoming UFOs move on average at slow speed);
* two new UFO types;
* reworked boss graphics and sound;
* reworked backgrounds graphics (still temporary);
* adapted/updated HUD;
* better explosion sound;
* better boss AI;
* more points awarded by boss;
* a resurfaced glitch that causes sprites to be occasionally rendered in the wrong (and hardware-wise theoretically impossible) colors :p

https://www.retream.com/SkillGrid

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