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Fenner Machine

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  1. There have been and are many retro/hobby/oldskool new 8/16-bit style systems in development. They all have pros and cons. I have been waiting for a new computer or games console as an alternative to the current ecosystem. I have a decent PC to play the newest games if I want, but to have a low powered simple easy to use system with new games would be nice. Something cheap, simple and powerful enough to have new fun games. I haven’t considered programming for many years, but the Commander X16 seems easy enough to at least try. The Commander X16 has a powerful enough CPU with a good GPU to make games that should surpass almost any 8-bit system and match 16-bit consoles. If I have read the specs correctly, the Mega65’s CPU is about 6 times faster, but the X16 has a significantly more capable GPU, 16 times more sprites. I know that’s not the whole story, but the X16 should be cheaper and better at games, win win. Also the X16 development team and community are good enough that it might sell many thousands of units, maybe even enough to make it viable for commercial development by pro studios. (Well, we can hope).
  2. OK, that makes sense. I did a search and found discussions of VRAM limitations, but not about why it can’t or won’t be increased. Work within the limits and use workarounds, gotcha.
  3. More VRAM would be nice. I know it’s possible to work around some limitations of 128KB VRAM, or it even inspiring creativity, and maybe that’s half the fun. But, more dedicated VRAM in VERA would make it easier to have larger bitmaps & tile maps, more animations & tiles, larger sprites, and take advantage of the native 640×480 resolution and 256 colour mode.
  4. Thinking of getting one of the X16 Deluxe keyboards, but trying to work out cost to the UK. Once delivery, duty and VAT are added it is likely going to be over £200.00. Blue switches seem a safe option, but green also appeal with the extra force required. However, blue are cheaper. Hmm...
  5. 6502 based games console? Maybe, if: Use the highest speed you can implement Highly capable 2D centric GPU As much RAM and VRAM as is feasible Good sound chip As simple as possible, so easy to develop for Easily accessible programming environment for DIY/Homebrew software Several bundled games including converted classics, plus a few new ones, even demos showing off it’s abilities Cheap enough to be worth buying just for the bundled games You might then have a marketable 6502 based games console. There are already several projects in development or already released that do the same or similar. Going on a bit of a tangent, but still on topic kind of: An alternative would be to make a console based partially on off-the-shelf hardware plus a new graphics accelerator based on old 2D centric hardware with geometry engine: 65C816S at 14MHz with 24 bit memory address (or a different 16/32 bit CPU easy to implement) As much RAM as economical and beneficial to install (16MB?) 32bit GPU with coprocessor and geometry engine (128MB RAM?) Something with capabilities like the 2 VDP’s in the Sega Saturn combined into one chip and faster Multiple layers of Bitmaps and/or tiles Massive sprite capabilities, thousands per frame (can be used for textures) Use layers for infinite planes and rotation fields Effects such as scaling & rotation Geometry engine Hardware lighting A single capable sound chip with a decent RAM buffer USB ports for easier compatibility with existing keyboards and mice SD card slot or similar for storage to use as a PC alternative If done right, it would have 3D capabilities equal to the Sega Dreamcast and 2D potentially matching any games console, but maybe easier to develop 2D games for. Plus make it easy to do Homebrew stuff. Something like that sold cheap might sell enough to attract games developers. Imagine new productivity software made for a new system based on older simpler hardware running at higher speeds with lower memory requirements and keeping it all simple and functional?
  6. That’s going to be difficult. Some games are easy picks, but some I liked at the time I probably wouldn’t play again now. I know as I’ve tried. So I’ll do a top 10 with variety, and not necessarily in order. 1. Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn) 2. Sonic The Hedgehog 1,2,3 (Mega Drive) 3. The Settlers 2 (DOS/Win95) 4. Batman: The Movie (C64) 5. Road Rash 2 (Mega Drive) 6. Thunder Force 4 (Mega Drive) 7. Daytona USA (Sega Saturn) 8. Nightbreed (C64) 9. Orion (1988, Hewson) (C64) 10. Outrun (Sega Saturn) Want to play a 2D remake of Panzer Dragoon Saga on Commander X16. Emphasis on amazing graphics, even if there are loading times. The Saturn had brief loading times for various transitions.
  7. Thanks DusanStrakl. I’ve read and reread several of your tutorials. They are excellent. A few things I was not quite sure of, but with the X16 docs, answers to specific questions and your guides I think I might be able to make a game.
  8. Thanks Guybrush and StephenHorn. Your answers have cleared up a few things. I now better understand the various trade-offs between tilemap size, number of tiles and layers, colour depth and the affect of scaling. Also how graphics data can be used and optimized. Planning shall now commence for my first game.
  9. I have several technical questions. 1). Sprites I understand a 128 sprite limit per screen: No more than 128 sprites per screen. Also limits per scan line depending on work load. What I don’t understand is how many frames of animation can be stored in memory. a). Is sprite data limited to 128 entries total? Example: b). If each object has 8 animations, 128/8 means you can only have 16 unique objects? Or can you store 40 unique object x 8 animations for 320 animations? Then display all 40 objects cycling through 8 animations? c). Can multiple sprites use the same data? Such as a tree in several places? 2). H-Scale and V-Scale a). Can H-Scale and V-Scale be independently set? b). How is performance affected by different settings? Is there a formula, such as simply how many pixels drawn? Fewer pixels = more performance, more pixels = less performance? Example resolutions: 320x200, 320x240, 360x200, 480x270 c). At what resolution does 256 colour become impossible/impractical? I think the answers to 1c and 2a are yes, but would like confirmation. 3). Graphics layers a). Is it possible to start a layer part way down the screen, and if so would this save processing power for either the CPU or VERA? b). At 640x480 resolution, is it possible to set a layer to 32 tiles by 8 pixels so just 256 pixels high? 4). For fun, speculation I’ve seen videos comparing Commander X16 to various 16 bit systems. The X16 seems their equal in a few areas, better in some, inferior in others. Would it be possible to make a game for the X16 that would be superior to what the Genesis or SNES could do? What genre would be the best candidate?
  10. I think I’ve found a game that looks similar to what I envision. Enduro for Atari 2600. Something like that but a 360 degree 3D environment/plane with road edges drawn with vectors. I’m thinking vectors as full polygonal 3D would be implausible. Add in better 2D graphics, such as nice backgrounds and good sprites.
  11. I have made a hilariously bad 3 stage image of what I have in mind. Many aspects of it, include aspect ratios ba dum tss, are way off, but gives an idea. Car heading toward a turn, turning, and coming out the other side.
  12. Some interesting and inventive suggestions and ideas of limits and capabilities. A pre rendered environment would not achieve what I envision. I am thinking of a 360 degree environment. The track, “representations” of cars and other interactive elements can be “simple” 3D for game engine purposes, such as screen placement and collision detection. The track would be calculated and displayed as vectors and curved shapes. Cars and other item positions would be calculated in 3D space but displayed as 2D sprites. I don’t know if it would make a difference to the maths, or if optimisations can be used, but no full 3D shapes or rotation would be required. “y” and “z” would be directly related to each other, as in how far from the screen/camera. Like a flat plane projected into the screen at an incline. So maybe only two coordinates such as "x" and "z" would need to be calculated in real time, or "y" could be more easily calculated? Imagine a weird mix between Starglider, Mario Kart and Sega Rally. I would like 640×480 resolution if possible for the increased imaged fidelity and 2D quality. Screen split top and bottom half. Bottom half track and playfield. Top half backgrounds and sky. Does this sound doable? If the game engine works, it could be modified for other games.
  13. I have an idea for a racing game, but not sure if it’s feasible? Car racing game like 90’s 3D arcade games, but obviously cut down to fit hardware capabilities. Keep as much of the look and gameplay as possible but with an 8 bit aesthetic and limits of hardware. Using a mix of 3D race track with 2D sprites. Race track simple but full 3D or wireframe. Cars, objects such as trees, overlays such as car info and mini map 2d sprites. Maybe something that the 16 bit computers and games consoles would have struggled with or wouldn’t have bothered with, but nowhere near 32 bit console abilities. Would the Commander X16 be capable of something like this? Is it worth trying?
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