Post details: Newsletter

11/11/03

Permalink 12:00:00 pm, Categories: Fury of the Furries, Progress, 806 words   English (UK)

Newsletter

Long time no speak.

Hello all,

a small series of disasters has befallen my web site, so I haven't posted any new builds for a while, but I have been making progress.

I recoded parts of the gameplay handling so that initialising and managing levels is more self contained. This is important because I have to maintain a game level while you are playing bonus levels that spawn from it. I now have a heirachical structure. I must remember however to release the textures of the parent level before starting the bonus level, and then rebuild the parent textures when the bonus level exits. The Dreamcast only has 8Mb of texture memory and a large part of this is taken up by the two sprite files for the furries, the level decor and the sprites for the bad dudes.

I added in the cut scenes between sections of the game: The map of the world, with the little animated furry that traces your path through the world, and the various other animations on that screen. I haven't added in the extra animations when the machine comes out of the sea. The data for the route traced on the map comes from a static table inside the original executable, so I have loaded the exe in memory to drag out such tables. Also added the pictures labelled as PRESENT1.LBM -> PRESENT9.LBM These are the 256 color pictures shown at the start of every 10th level and the scroll with the 'You are heading for the evil forest level 1' sort of message on it.

The main gameplay itself has not really progressed. Last time I wrote the game loaded the decor file and drew the background for the game. Now I have added a non-animated furry as a marker to show you where you are, and you can move around the map. There is no collision detection and no gravity yet.

I have also started on the sound engine. Under Win32 the game now loads two kinds of sound effect files. Inside intro.dat there are .snd files which are raw wave data, and the SND directory contains .iff files. It can load these and currently it plays the two .snd files during the Kalisto splash in the intro, and the noise when a furry appears in the game.

One of the starting points of this project was the fact that I could never get the game to run properly under 32-bit Windows. On my current machine, I cannot get the sound card recognised under DOS (or even in DOSboxes under windows). This is the sort of issue that's all too common these days. The sound chip on board the machine will be recognised under DOS if I turn on the 'Legacy Sound Support' in the BIOS. Which I would do if Compaq had had the decency to provide such an option in their customised BIOS. (It's not the only option that's missing). So I'm having to resort to other machines to do my sound testing. I have modified the intro.kmd music file so that it's completely silent, and this will help me establish which sounds play where during the intro.

The sound engine under the Dreamcast is my target for this week. The Dreamcast is fitted with a 4.5 MHz Yamaha AICA 64 channel sound chip which is controlled by a dedicated ARM microprocessor. This means that all the hard work for sound can be shunted off to a dedicated processor leaving more time for the graphics and gameplay, but it means that I have to cross-compile a custom built sound player for the ARM, get the main program to pump it into the sound memory, which is not directly connected to the primary processor anyway, so I have to negotiate the timings with an ASIC, and the kick the sound engine off, where hopefully I will be able to signal to it every so often that I want it to do something. It should be perfectly possible, but I always find new territory very daunting.

This week I might get round to trying to contact Frederic Motte to let him know what I'm up to.

Then my next target will be an xml-parser. I need someway to convert the game level data into a reasonably editable form. I got part way through in the past with a text-based format. I have decided that if I have to write a parser to convert it back again anyway, I may as well make it a generalised xml-parser that would be useful for other formats. There's a great deal of experimentation to be done to accurately measure the game physics, timing and so on.

As soon as my web-site is sorted out, one way or another, I'll post up some more screenshots and the latest builds.

Bye for now....

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