Monday, September 24, 2012

Petit Computer Journal #8

Petit Computer Journal #8

The Apple Picker Game? We're going to finish it up proper! Actually, we're not going to really make it professional quality. But we'll put on some fancy dressing on it to make it really enjoyable!

Adding color:
It was later in the development cycle (fancy words for repeatedly finding and fixing numerous bugs) that I find myself squinting at the screen looking for that last apple among the many snakes. Adding colors solves this problem. I colored the apples pink because I find red is too strong among the snake green.

Adding music:
It makes a great game. Looking at the help menu, I see a list of ready made music. Use BGMPLAY N, where N is a number. BGMSTOP to stop the music. Remember that N is a number. If you do this: BGMPLAY FANCY. That means you're playing music as defined by variable FANCY, which would be zero if you haven't set it to anything.

I purposely did not add music for level playing. I found it to be too noisy. But if you want it, add this to @NEWLEVEL
This will launch a new background music with every new level, with ADJ as offset.

Adding Sound Effect:
Oh, this is a good one! I added scream, hit, and coin sounds immediately. Easy sound effects! It took me awhile to add steps sound, but once I did, I never want to go back! This is how you know what you did is good!

Adding walls:
This was a doozy! The program kept hanging up (a polite way to say unintended infinite loop) and I didn't know why! Obviously, I needed to work out the math on paper, and then do exhaustive analysis upon it. I did neither. I did hack-and-slash programming, so even now, I'm not sure the solution is correct.

I did test out this form:
FOR I=0 TO 0:T=RND(5)+5):I=ABS(MY-T)-1:NEXT:WX[0]=T
You probably wonder why I bothered to put the FOR loop in there. I use it as REPEAT loop, just so you know. Notice that I set the value of I everytime. When MY==T, the loop will repeat. That is, T of any value EXCEPT WY.

The walls will erase snakes. That's fine. I also have to make sure that the walls will never form an enclosed space where the player cannot enter/exit. The easy way is to create some levels with array or DATA statements. I decided to create it dynamically, which isn't the easiest in the world, but I hate putting in DATA too much and results in repeat levels, making them boring.

Adding Lives:
I added this as I realize that the later levels may feature apples surrounded by snakes. I don't want the game to end immediately. Like any good design decision, once I put it in, I don't want to take it out.

Adding Time:
This comes in last. After a while, I started to add challenges. Can I finish 10 levels in 5 minutes? 20 levels in 10 minutes? Yes, I can! You can, too. Look at the levels and time completed. Major bragging rights, there!

Adding Alternative control:
It's not hard to do button controls. I simply extended the button readouts, and that's it! Noteworthy to mention is that I didn't put fast button where pushing L or R button results in faster movement. It's not hard to do, but I can pull the feature out after I put it in. Not a good design decision.

Adding moving snake:
I decided not to. It's not that kind of game. The game evolves from taking apples (Path Finding/Travelling Salesman) problem, to maze game, to Least Cost finding. Along the way, you have to be able to control the person very well to avoid running into snakes.

Adding customized graphic:
I decided not to. The game benefits from seeing the whole level all at once. If I use same size sprites, the size of the game would have expanded radically, for little returns. If I use double size sprites, the game will look great, but play suffers. If I use smaller playfield, the game becomes boring really quickly. If I use big sprite on top screen, and normal size for bottom screen as map, then the player will constantly look at the bottom screen. In which case, why bother?

How to CHEAT:
Yes, you can cheat! You have the source code in front of you! Whenever you feel like you want some extra lives, hit BREAK, then type this:
You'll continue no problem. Your live is now 20! You have to be careful to do it so the screen does not scroll, and no apple is overwritten. I recommend waiting until the last apple is on upper right corner.

You can also add more apples, by typing this:
Since the level advances every 10 points, this will cause new apples to appear at the next apple taken.

Level select is no problem either. Can you guess how?
Yup. It's that easy!

Finally, you may want a puzzle game, instead of an action game. Not a problem! Do this at @GAMELOOP

From this: VSYNC 15:GOSUB @SETB2

And you got yourself a puzzle game!

Professional Quality?

This game is a good Hobbyist effort, but I wouldn't call it a professional quality. There are different things that I can do as a professional, but choose not to. I already mentioned the exhaustive testing of walls. Here are some other things that I need to do in order to be professionals:

1. Limit the number of lives to 30, as to not mess up the display.
2. Add option to set background music to the levels
3. Add faster speed button
4. Save/Load High scores
5. Refresh whole screen to prevent display corruption
6. Add variety of enemies. Maybe some will add apples, others fling you randomly to another part of the screen.
7. Add time limit, allowing for levels of difficulty.
8. Also adjust player speed according to level of difficulty.
9. Add Puzzle mode from Option
10. Add replay option, play as demo on splash screen.
11. Tune up the presentation, not necessarily fancy graphics, but I would experiment with different placements of elements.
12. Make sure adding apples, snakes will not hang the game.

If I want to put this out for sale, I will add these:
13. Multiplayer option. 2 players. One is using Dpad. The other, buttons. Photo Dojo style
14. Computer player, single, double. With good path finding algorithm.
15. Selectable number of player
16. Sound/Music selection. Volume adjustable individually.
17. Optional level editor. It's not that hard.
18. Optional sprite editor. It's not that hard.
19. Optional music editor. It's not that hard.
20. Optional 3D graphic. This one is hard, and not at all useful. It's great marketing tool, though.

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