The following is a Work-In-Progress log in descending date order, as I originally
posted each update on this site.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Hello all! Adventure II was released May 7, 2007. The Limited Edition sold out (250 of them)
almost immediately, to all of our surprise! I was in Europe on business during that week, I
checked AtariAge.com at the Vienna, Austria business lounge and saw it had gone on sale and
I was amazed at the fast sale of the "Limited Edition", which included all the goodies (maps,
gold skeleton key, box, manual and game). You can still purchase the game without box but
with some goodies at AtariAge.com.
I am currently porting the game to the Atari 8bit computer line. It will take a little while,
since the Atari 8bit computer line only accepts 16K of ROM,and the 5200 version is written
using 32K. (I am changing around some code using bank switching).
I was not aware I hadn't updated this page for such a long time! The programming for Adventure II is done;
a last-minute glitch seemed to come out of nowhere -- it didn't happen often, but when it did,
the game locked up in an "infinite loop". Thanks to Dan Boris' VSS Debug emulator, I blew
that bug outta-the-water! HAW!
AtariAge.com and I have been coordinating the manufacturing of the carts and printing of
manuals etc. It's been a long wild ride for me programming this game, who knew it would
take this long. Whether it was one of several glitches that wasted weeks and months of
effort trying to track it down, or when real-life
intruded on my precious hobby, or if I ran out of ROM (many times!) and had to re-think things, or if the legal issues with the corporate world just made
me fed up with the whole thing, time just keeps slipping, slipping, slipping, into the
future. Programming the Atari 5200 was a true challenge to me, frustrating at times.
Thanks to all for their support and I hope you enjoy the "Square Trio's" game, Adventure II, & the entire package when it
arrives in your mail!
Friday, September 8, 2006
Real-life stuff prevented much progress in the 2nd half of August, but I'm again back
at it -- the game is basically done, with only the last few tweaks and sounds being added by
me.The manufacturing work (creating the PCB boards/carts, printing manuals) will
start within the next few weeks I assume ...
I'm still not
satisfied with several things so I continue to tweak. I ran out of memory 100 times and
found more each time. I have enough left to do the last few tweaks and sounds.
I guess the last few things I did were concerning the sounds, the end-game
rankings, also made the dragons a bit faster, and added some logic for the power-up "Shield". Basically,
on Beginner you get this power for a while every time the minotaur grabs you and throws
you out of his maze. On the other difficulty settings, you get a 1 out of 4 chance of
getting this. You will earn it another way too. You usually don't see the the "SHIELD"
power very often,
but I like how it allows you to progress without fear for a while and exact a bit of
revenge against any creature you run into. I admit that this idea of becoming a SHIELD
was an after-thought which occurred to me when (1) another power-up idea didn't quite
work out, and (2) realizing I already had a nice Shield alternate icon, submitted from
last year's Ye Olde Adventure II contest.
Here are some snapshots of me working on the game. Using Videogame Wiz's A5200 cart,
which you can see in the 5200 under the TV set, is much easier than burning & erasing EPROMS.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I got all three Power Ups in tonight. The 3rd and final one is called SHIELD. As you'd
imagine, you can't be harmed when you get this temporary power-up. And you don't carry
a shield. Nope, you temporarily become the shield! Not as sexy as a yellow square of
course, but you can slap around dragons if you want to! You don't need power ups
to play & beat the game, but I think they spice up things nicely.
Monday, August 14, 2006
I got busy and didn't get much done for 2 weeks. But I'm back at it. Working on the new
sounds and making sure everything works when your square turns into *something else*, gaining
a power-up. I put power-ups into the game because many classic 80's games give some kind
of limited special power. For example,
in Donkey Kong, Jumpman gets a hammer. Pac-Man eats a power pellet, and so forth.
Since the mazes are longer than Atari2600 Adventure, the powerups should not only be
a little bit fun but help you cover ground a bit easier, once you know how best to
find & get them. The most common
one is SPEED. Your character flashes a bit and you go twice as fast. You get this every
time Troll steals from you, also as a reward when you kill dragons, and at a few other
times too. Another power-up is FLIGHT and is more rare. With this short-lived ability,
you can fly over the background graphics. But you can still be eaten! I'm making your
character flash a bit when the power is almost worn off, so you won't get stuck in a wall
or a hedge and have to hit REVIVE.
To give you the idea of some of the menial, but necessary, tasks I'm working on, here
is the final ranking screen before the game resets to the title screen. I need to
remove the title screen text "PRESS START", etc to make it look better/less confusing. There
are a bunch of these little kinds of tweaks I've been doing.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Not much of an update but I wanted to keep you all informed.
I just got done with a 3 hour little session of coding. I am down to my last 200-300
bytes or so, which isn't a lot of memory, but thankfully there's little left to add. I am
using about 100 bytes for little coding tweaks and some better text (minor stuff), and
about 200 bytes for new sounds.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Since the last update of this page, I have put in a bunch of alternate character icons
(play as a 3D cube, a knight, or others),
end-of-game rankings (such as "Duck Food", "Peasant", and several others), and I've tweaked
the game countless little ways. Mr. David Exton has the game's manual layout completed and
we are in the process of getting those printed out. Albert at AtariAge has been cleaning
old 5200 Pac-Man and other carts, getting them prepped to be Adventure II carts.
Probably the most significant recent change I made (in the assembly language code) was that I
fixed a game-crashing glitch. It didn't happen all the time, but it did happen. I was so
happy -- I'm talking firstborn-newborn-child-happy, or won-a-million-bucks-happy -- when I figured that
out, and fixed it. I've been experimenting with new sounds and doing various tweaks to improve
the experience too.
The magnet is in. I'm putting in a secret tonight. It has nothing to do with
the Department Of Transportation despite indications otherwise. Stay tuned, I am
close to finishing.
Argh. Remember Ye Olde Adventure II Contest? Rankings & Alternative Icons?
Well, memory is so tight that if I have rankings at all, there won't be more than 5 or so.
And I got some nice alternate icons entries, but these are causing problems with
the game too! You see, the knight alternate icon gets stuck because he is twice the size of the square; he enters
some screens and is so "tall" his feet get embedded in a plant or log sometimes. I have 2 ideas to
resolve this problem -- either a key press will temporarily change you to the default square,
most likely allowing you to get out of the plant, or I will just draw the square every
10 or 20 frames and slowly you should be able to work your way out. I'll experiment with
both in a day or two and see if either work. The knight still is functional even
without any extra logic, but you have to be a lot more careful and use some
memorization to prevent getting stuck (and thus hitting #5 to revive yourself more often).
I did widen a few screens' exit ports to faciliate the bigger icons.
I was going to post a demo this past week; however, I am going to wait until the game code
is finished and post a more robust "final demo" then, since it is so close.
The Ice Castle's maze has different floor-color section groupings to help you to
find your way through it. The beta testers have been really great, giving me feedback
and helping me button up the game. The last thing I did was alter the floor colors on
the medium and vast Ice Castle mazes, to help you find your way through. I also put in
most of the 'Special' rules. One of the things I've heard the most concerning
2600 Adventure is that once you kill the dragons, they stay dead and the game gets
quieter. That's the reason I put in the Special levels for Adventure II -- the dragons revive after some time on these levels, and
they slightly change their hue when they revive. They're nasty little things, chasing you and taking more
hits to kill. You can slay dragons all day long if you want, they keep coming back
for more! :)
Adventure II is wrapping up. Hopefully in a week, the code will be finished.
Okay, I've decided on 22 options now. Each of 1-21 -- 1-3 Beginner, 4-9 Intermediate,
10-15 Advanced, 16-21 Special -- pretty much have their own pre-set maze for
you to explore, with 10-21 having 2 hedge maze layouts which the Minotaur will
shift if he grabs you. Option 22 plays by Advanced rules but the mazes will
be totally random every time you play.
Some of the work over the past week has been to fix glitches involving sprite
clutter and screwed-up castle screens (I was overflowing into the Castle memory in
my draw/erase routines). Because the testers often killed a dragon near an exit,
then they'd re-enter that screen and get stuck inside the dragon carcass unless
they hit #5 to revive (reviving said dragon too), I changed it so you can now
slowly fight your way through dragon carcasses.
Beginner rules changed a bit too -- the Troll used to have no function, but
now he will simply make you "drop" a carried item if he touches you. It's more
fun that way but still a very minor "penalty" for touching the troll.
Title screen and option selection work was done most recently, as well as tweaks to troll and
minotaur logic. When you play any of the 3 beginner levels, the Troll just runs around and won't steal
from you, and Minotaur walks his route but ignores you. I still jump when I see either
though because I'm used to their normal nasty behavior! Scroll down for an earlier post
which describes all the 21 options.
I also had to go back and restore the horizontal and side bridge images to the
normal width since I abandoned the wider-bridge image. You'd think this would be
a little thing but I bet it took over 2 hours to do it right, and adjust the collision
a bit so you could walk on it without picking up it up. If it isn't synched correctly,
the game engine allows you to travel thru the background while carrying the bridge! Not good!
Unfortunately, I think I will need to totally abandon the idea for game rankings. I even had
a contest .. but there's just no room for such an addition. Work left on the game includes
more testing and necessary tweaks as I see them, and I am experimenting with new sound FX.
Egads! Memory continues to be a thorn in my side. There is ROM left, but it is
in sections, so every now & then I need to shift code around as I add code to
a certain routine. Since the last update, I have been working on the final to-do
list mentioned in the 3/3 update below. I'm gonna need some heavy duty beta
testers very shortly. It is very difficult for me to find time during the work
week to progress the game. Most of the work gets done over the weekend.
Thankfully, I have all the maps in the game and they are selectable from the
title screen. Now I need to fix a few bugs in the Troll AI, a few graphical tweaks,
get the minotaur to be a bit smarter, add some more sounds, and that should be it.
3/3/2006 -- End of February report!
Most unfortunately, I gave up on widening the bridge using the Missile -- I caused unending
Vertical Blank Interrupt problems that I was unable to correct. Adventure II's VBI logic
must *barely* fit inside the necessary time allowance. Since you have to draw and
erase sprites & missiles in VBI time, I could not shave the time spent down to an
acceptable level. It got to the point
that I couldn't bring myself to work on the game, I was so frustrated. So, I commented
out the code and moved on. Sometimes a solution comes after I've left a problem alone for
a little while. If I can't resolve it the next time I attack it, I'm scrapping that idea
so the game will actually get done.
And now for some good news! I successfully fixed a glitch that I've noticed for
some time now! The castle screens would get corrupted at what seemed like random times. Sometimes
it wouldn't happen at all. This really stressed me out. I worked in January on this bug,
and figured out *what* was happening -- memory in the $2800 block (castles' character set memory) was
getting zeroes overlaid in the beginning. Finally, a light bulb went off and I found the glitch, and it
was the Troll. He'd get very low on-screen, and hence in Player 3 memory which is in
the $2700 page (right before the charset that got corrupted). My draw and erase routine
would overflow into castle charset memory. Hard to find; not too hard to fix!
Other things that I finished since the last update: the castle's gates now look
open after you use the keys on them. I coded a little color debug and I've been testing
around, trying to optimize the colors for the TV screen. No changes yet though. The upper
fire button is now debounced. I put in several tweaks to the collision checking.
And, I've been finalizing the game options.
Speaking of game options, you can now select 9 options from the screen. It's looking
like there will be 21 final game variations very close to this list:
- 1-3 are beginner levels small/medium/vast mazes (no troll stealing and no maze shifting)
- 4-9 are intermediate levels 2 each of small/med/vast mazes -- troll is active
but still no hedge maze shifting.
- 10-15 are advanced levels 2 each of small/med/vast mazes. All game features are active here.
- 16-21 are special levels -- the same mazes as 10-15 but a wrinkle added
here or there such as stronger/regenerating dragons.
Left to do before game is finished: to be honest, a bunch of little
things. Finalize game options w/associated level maps. Make sure you
don't get stuck anywhere. Tweak colors & sound FX. Finalize a few secret things.
Put in the end-of-game rankings. The Troll and Minotaur need some work on their
behavior routines. And I want to revisit the wide-bridge thing too.
2/14/2006 -- Ahh, crap. Putting in code to draw and erase either Missile1/2/ or 3
for the bridge, I've exceeded time in the Vertical Blank Interrupt. The effect can
be seen on any screen with a color-changing DLI such as the castle. I need to
speed up some of this code. This is what happens when you get a nice idea late
in a project. Well, the bridge is much better with the wide missile being part
of its right edge now (both vertical and side bridges). As you can see from the picture however,
I need to tighten up the erase routine to prevent hanging bridge-edge images.
2/7/2006 -- We decided to widen the bridge. It used to be a Player (double width).
Now it is a Player and a Missile (both double width). I don't have the missile erasing
properly quite yet, this is what I'm working on today. Check out the 2 pictures that
follow and you'll see that when the square exits the screen, the missile part
currently stays on-screen (on all screens) but it is black. Hopefully I will fix this tonight.
October 9, 2005
and laugh along with David Vazquez's Adventure II comics!
June 6, 2005
Adventure II for the 5200! Previously named Quest for the Golden Chalice
to avoid legal issues with Atari Corporation, permission has been granted by Atari
us to keep the name and to publish it in cartridge form for the 5200 classic
gaming system/ Atari 8bit computer!
The History ...
Adventure II began in 2001, when Alan Davis emailed me to show some screens he had for
an unofficial Atari 5200 sequel to Adventure. It was called Son of Square
early on. As soon as I saw those screens,
I knew I wanted a part in making the game. I was busy starting Koffi and had hoped Alan would do the majority of
the coding, but as things turned out, everything kind of fell apart.
The first thing that happened was we showed off the screens without permission of
the original artist, whom we believed had disappeared off the face of the earth (or
at the very least, the net!). He was understandably upset when he saw his art, the
first screens of Adventure II, being shown without his permission. The artist
and I talked at length via email for a week, and it was apparent that his vision of
the game wasn't Alan's and my vision, so we parted. No artist!
Heh, I posted something at the Atari Age 5200 forum about the snafu, and soon
afterwards, Raccoon Lad joined the team. Things were looking good, we were all
kind of learning the limits and abilities of the 5200, and then Alan dropped off
the team -- he was too busy to do any more. At that point, in spring of 2002, I
had not even looked at the source code which he had started. The game was basically
just a compression routine, a screen loading and movement engine, and that's it!
Adventure II made its first official appearance at the CGE 2002 show. I had hurriedly
hacked in the dragon and a crude motion routine (the dragon went left to right on
one screen only!). But the game did allow you to travel North to South on about 4
screens, mostly the castles if I recall correctly.
My notes in the game's source code state that I began to seriously work on
Adventure II in August of 2002, but it really wasn't until
Spring of 2003
that I started to really add to the game. (I had finished Koffi in October 2002, and
had taken several months as a break).
CLICK HERE to see the very first rendition of the Kingdom 2. Don't
worry about spoiling things, the maze was totally revamped from this one.
Skipping forward to the Summer 2004, Raccoon Lad and I revamped the Hedge Mazes to
ones you see today. It involved changing color registers around, recompressing ALL
of them again, and changing the color registers collision detection. As much as I hate
doing things twice, it was worth the effort. For one, collision snafus were caused by the use
of the background color as the edges of objects that you weren't supposed to pass by. Since
you can't check the collision of the background color register, collision never worked quite right. After
our changes, collision worked much much better. NEVER USE COLBK AS THE BORDER OF AN OBJECT YOU NEED TO
CHECK COLLISION AGAINST!
In the fall of 2004, that's when Atari's legal folks put the hammer down on homebrewers. Although
the word "Adventure" isn't something I ever worried about concerning copyright issues, we were
clearly doing an homage to an intellectual property of the original Atari. So I temporarily changed
the title to "Quest for the Golden Chalice" until June of 2005,
when Kristen at Atari gave us the official
OK to use the name, in exchange for lending some of the design to the Flashback 2 2600 version of Adventure II.
However, I gotta say, the whole thing left such a bad taste in my mouth that I did very little from October 2004
to spring of 2005. My PC crashed .. twice ... and I lost some data around this time, too. All this made
me step away from the project until I felt like working on it some more.
Well, in Spring 2005, I ran out of memory, not for the first time either. So I decided to compress not
only the 50+ screens but also the 4 character sets, and also the sprite data. This freed up thousands of
bytes and allowed me to keep all our screens. I think that we've only lost 1 screen (to free up memory) since
November 2005 rolled around, and with my extra off-time, it looked like I'd get the game done by Dec 31, 2005.
So AtariAge included it as part of their December sale, as a pre-order. We did state, in BOLD on that page,
that the game could slip to January however, and for folks not to pre-order with other things if they didn't want
the whole package to miss December. But I still felt strongly that if it slipped, I'd get it done sometime in January 2006
at the latest.
Murphy's Law is again proven true ... anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong. I ran out of memory again. This is because
of a math error, and the fact the our compression routine doesn't always give great compression yields. So I spent almost all
of January figuring out the best way to free up space, and I freed up over 1K, which I'm currently still
happily filling up.