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rje

Things I Want to Write for the X16

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Here are the sorts of programs I've wanted, and in some cases started to write, for the X16.

Mostly, they are games, and utilities in support of games.

  1. Libraries and utilities.  Things like file editors (hex editors?), sound libraries or utilities, graphic utilities.  My "PETSCII Font" is one simple and limited example.  I'd love sound and sprite helpers.
  2. Arcade-style games.  Direct competition against other players, including the computer, within a small arena (e.g. the screen).  In fact, an "Arena" game could be cool. 
  3. Sandbox-like simulations.  Object and environmental interactions require you to plan and experiment.
  4. Driving/flight simulations.  You're behind the controls of a thing going somewhere and doing something.  I think we have at least one of these already...
  5. Strategy games.  Larger scale, perhaps emphasizing production and supply lines, sometimes directing many units.  Doesn't have to be war... one silly example I'd been thinking of since 1990 is one where you're nurturing a localized civilization.  Kind of a cross between Dwarven Fortress and Seven Cities of Gold.
  6. Exploration/adventure games.  Known goals (more or less) in an unknown space (more or less), where you have to take calculated risks and find what you need to accomplish those goals.  Like Ultima III, or Adventure itself.  Greek mythological stories provide lots of fodder here (Argonautica, Odyssey...)

Each of them probably has sensorimotor parts to them at varying levels.

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Just looking at my /git folder, I see these projects started.

x16-bankmaster - a banked-data hex editor
x16-cluster - a "multitasking" (green) script "cluster" framework proof-of-concept.
x16-help - a banked "help menu" program for BASIC commands.
x16-lox - a (failed) attempt to implement a Lox interpreter with cc65 for the X16.  (https://craftinginterpreters.com/the-lox-language.html)
x16-sheep - my biochem/AI simulation game.
x16-trader - my Traveller Space Trader game.
x16-vm1 - my VM proof-of-concept with ideas stolen from http://c-jump.com/CIS77/CPU/IsaDesign/lecture.html

And these are actually done:

x16-banner - my "PETSCII large font" printer
x16-furball-space-program - currently just a Lunar Lander, but with delusions of grandeur.
x16-hex - assembly that converts one digit to hexadecimal (with thanks to Woz).
x16-memorymap - a program that calculates and spits out a simple memory map.
x16-panel - a program that manages drawn PETSCII "panels" on the screen.
x16-rogue-forest - my rogue-lite that uses VERA layers for Fog of War effects.

A couple of these might form a syzygy, such as building the script language on the VM as a kind of p-code.

Edited by rje
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Wow, I have just been working on my one game, that is all. Now it feels like I have to make another. One reason is that I can use my first as a template. Much of the code can be reused. I am just hoping that there really will be a real computer relatively soon. Games that take advantage of VERA’s capabilities and the relatively high CPU frequency can not easily be ported to another 8-bit system.

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Don't feel that you need to change the way you work/play.  That's comparing... and it doesn't work that way.

  • I jump from project to project.
  • I don't finish half (or more) of what I start.
  • I write mostly in BASIC, for now.
  • I've shied away from sound and sprites, so far.

Code reuse is super valuable.  But, so is doing something well.

Much of my BASIC is not very reusable, mainly because BASIC isn't very reusable. 

 

Edited by rje
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Quote

 a cross between Dwarven Fortress and Seven Cities of Gold.

This is the game I keep thinking about.  Think 7 Cities, but where you inhabit a region, and thrive while you can, as best you can.  Remember Dwarven Fortress, or even Hammurabi.

You interact with your neighbors.   Nature helps and harms (think random events in MULE).  And if you don’t like where you are, you pick up and move... rebuild elsewhere, leaving behind ruins which slowly decay.  In fact, this is the way I see the game working: you develop an area, then a confluence of events drive you to leave some or all of it behind.  Civil wars, defections, famines, drought, floods, freezes... 

I want to set it up so that it’s easy to bootstrap your culture, but also not difficult to lose it... without completely frustrating players.  I think that means I’m aiming for Exploration, networking, conquest, where it’s easy to get something started, but where Empire is impossible to hold together.

 It predates the Age of Sail.  It might max out at the Bronze Age. 

It’s not about micromanagement.  In fact I’d like the citizens to build the cities themselves.  So cities are resources, not fortresses or factories.  I think this means that units are FAR less differentiated than in Empire games.

So it’s not 7 Cities, and it’s not Anno 1602, SimCity, Civilization, or Age of Empires.  I don’t know what it is, but I’ve wanted it for a long time.

 

I think the way I approach it is to start with 7 Cities and change it.

* instead of one unit type (warrior), there are four types.

* instead of one building representing an entire settlement and its nature (fort, mission, complex city, city, nomadic camp etc), there could be multiple buildings which could together help define that settlement in a more granular fashion.  I think.

* instead of arriving from across the ocean, your people have always been here.

* Your supply lines extend from your settlement, rather than your transoceanic ships.

* your technology has to be nurtured and developed, rather than being given by fiat.

 

Edited by rje
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On 11/9/2020 at 5:33 PM, rje said:

Code reuse is super valuable.  But, so is doing something well.

Spoken like an old COBOL coder.

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On 12/27/2020 at 1:29 AM, rje said:

* your technology has to be nurtured and developed, rather than being given by fiat.

If you engage in trade, your economy grows faster and technology develops faster, but you are also more prone to epidemics.

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@Falken you can play the text only version of the travel-and-trade mechanic from Elite: 

 

It's fun for a while if you set a goal for yourself I guess, but gets old quick.

Maybe I should at least add a graphical star-map to it....

Edited by desertfish

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So I sat down and played Civilization #1 a few times last weekend, for the first time in 20 years or more.  And, I found out this:

1. I got bored once I had to manage more than a dozen active units -- including cities.
2. I liked Exploration, and initial city-settling (early Expansion). 
3. Exploitation became little more than a checklist.  Jumping through hoops.
4. And conquest is ... tiresome.  Period.

Frankly, Seven Cities of Gold appealed more to me in these areas:

1. The map is just enormous in comparison to Civ.  And that's the way I like it.  Because it's not about conquering the world.  Not Risk.  It's about NOT conquering the world...
2. Conquest is a LOT more fun with Seven Cities of Gold.  You buy ships, hire an army, and swarm the natives -- nicely or brutally.  Grab the gold.  Maybe pay the price later.

So I started to develop a theory.  

It sounds like I want to write a more plunder-based game.  You gain more by pillaging than development and conquest... your depredations could even potentially benefit some, at the expense of others (the Robin Hood argument).

In other words, like Dwarven Fortress turned on its head.  You are an agent of chaos.  Not order, not entropy, but somewhere in between.  You're one of the forces attacking the Fortress, Village, or What Have You.  Chipping away at it.  As other Fortresses spring up.

Your roving hordes.  Your wild tribe.   Your exiled army.  Your pirate crew.

Can it be compelling?  Apparently my hindbrain finds it attractive.  I'll see what I can do.  I started gathering sprite images of ancient sailing ships.  And started thinking about using sprites as map tiles.

And how to scroll.  I've never done scrolling maps before.

Edited by rje

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If I tiled a map with sprites, how much of the screen could I cover?

A sprite tile could cover up to 64 x 64, and the screen is 640 x 480.   So, a grid of 80 sprites ( 10 x 8 ) could cover the screen.

Scale that back to leave room for information and player control.  Call it 7 x 7, like 7 Cities did but with smaller tiles.  That's a 448 x 448 map view.

 

With as few as three images at 4 bpp , I could represent the outline of islands or continents.

Add a batch of 16 x 16 and 32 x 32 sprite sheets for land features.

 

OK, it's very doable.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by rje

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Your game should be centered around Vikings.  Crops failing at home due to cold weather several years in a row, the only way to survive is by viking along the coastlines and up rivers.  Then over time you find England, and France, and Iceland and Greenland and Vinland, maybe go all the way to Minnesota or the Middle East.  You have lots of source material from history and TV and movies.

Edited by Ed Minchau
Vikings went all the way through the Mediterranean too; about 5-10% of Arabs today have red hair and freckles
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Nice one, Ed.  I think that's a good place for me to start.

 

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