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Everything posted by MaicoD

  1. Man, those were the days... once you discovered that plotting pixels in any DOS graphics mode was as easy as setting a pointer address to 0xA000:0000 in EGA/VGA memory, then incrementing the pointer to fill the screen pixel array with the colour palette index of your choice... you entered the magical realm of PC graphics where life would never be the same... The next step of the journey would be displaying PCX images and sprites to screen, then Bresenham's line algorithm and eventually polygon rasterization... add a bit of logic and you had your very own DOS game. And if it's possible to feel more nostalgic for a development environment than the actual game you designed with it, then... Borland Turbo C, you were simply the best!
  2. Just adding my thoughts to the discussion about why the Commander X16 is worth the wait. I've spent all year so far working on a DirectX 12 project, with the goal of designing a 3D game for Windows desktop that's neither an FPS nor a flight sim. It's all being developed in Visual Studio/C++/HLSL, ie. not in Unity or any other game studio. My game framework so far successfully implements many features expected of a modern 3D game environment, including bump mapping, dynamic reflections, real-time shadows, a first-person camera, ability to pick geometry by mouse, and collision detection. It also supports post-processing effects such as HDR tonemapping, bloom and depth of field. However, after a recent month-long battle to get skeletal mesh animation working (which was finally solved), the burnout finally set in. What got me through each day of DirectX pain was turning to my favorite YouTube channels, namely 8-Bit Guy, LGR, RMC Cave, and Retro Recipes to name a few (see the pattern here?) Yes, despite being up to my neck fussing with modern PC graphics, I can't wait to wind down on YT with a classic DOS, C64 or Amiga game review, or a show-and-tell with a classic piece of computing hardware from days gone by. So naturally I did see all of David's episodes about the announcement and subsequent progress of the X16, but after sighing wistfully, it was mentally filed away and I thought if only I wasn't committed to modern-day 64-bit game programming for Windows... So there was a lot of internal conflict going on between what I really wanted to do deep down, and what I 'ought' to be doing. My justification for continuing with the current project was along the lines of, well, imagine if kids and developers had access to today's graphics hardware in the 80s? Wouldn't it be a dream come true? It's a reality today, so why not revel in it and take advantage of the latest technology instead of limiting ourselves to 8-bit era computing power? Well take it from me... I've found out the hard way that the latest and greatest GPUs and 3D APIs may be a boon for gamers and AAA game studios, but for the indie developer or hobby programmer it can be an absolute nightmare. Firstly, if you aren't able to cope with matrix math or pixel shader lighting equations then 3D programming isn't for you. Assuming you do grasp the math and physics of lighting, then there are the 3D APIs to wrangle. You absolutely MUST have experience with previous versions of Direct3D or OpenGL if you want to program with the latest generation APIs (DX12/Vulkan). Ok, assuming you have previous 3D experience. Sure, with a few tutorials you'll be able to render a few spinning cubes and even maybe a textured 3D model imported from a tool like Blender. But to populate a reasonably decent game world will take hundreds of hours at the very minimum. Building an animated 3D character and its associated textures and armature rigging alone may take weeks... and of course you'll want more than one game character. Then what about the game world itself, and physics, and AI? The crunch for me came when I realized my 'game' would never progress beyond the engine phase. There are just too many literal moving parts for an individual game designer/programmer to create and manage on one's own. And of course, when developing for Windows there will be change. We're on the cusp of Windows 11 right now, and that likely means an update to DirectX isn't far behind. In other words, be prepared to push that boulder all the way up to the top of the hill again. And then I remembered the X16 project and looked at Matt Heffernan's 65C02 assembly tutorials. Luckily I've got some x86 assembly behind me, so I dived right in and I haven't looked back! It's helped me break out of an unending loop and I'm certain I'll have something to show for it at the end. Programming for the X16/VERA graphics chip emulator has brought back the fun and anticipation that had been drained by trying to go it alone with a Windows game. That's why waiting a little longer for the final product (even in kit form) doesn't bother me. So that's why I'm a convert and I'm sure I'm not alone. As far as I'm concerned the X16 has already achieved its goal to make coding fun again. A bit long but... thanks for reading!
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