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[Coding competition 2012] DARC by Zipper
Post Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:22 am
Last edited by Maxim on Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:34 pm; edited 2 times in total
http://www.smspower.org/Homebrew/DARC-SMS

Zipper wrote
Hi, here is my entry for the coding competition.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to finish the game in the short time span. The planning was very tight and my personal life (read: work) took away too much of my free time.
I was able to finish the main game engine. But the level design is far from finished. I still hope you enjoy the game even if it is rather short.
After submission I will continue working on the game to complete the level design adding all planned features.

DARC
=======================
DARC is a jetpack shooter game inspired several games ("Air fortress"(NES), “H.E.R.O”. and "Hero Core"(PC)). The protagonist can fly and shoot in separate directions. Each of the gamepad keys represent a shooting direction. Your goal is to infiltrate the alien fortress. Destroy the cores to disable force fields and advance through the game. During the game your shooting level will increase. As your level increases you will be able to destroy the blue and red crates found in the levels.
During your exploration you can use the [PAUSE] button to show your current location in a map. Only the explored areas are visible.

Compatibility:
-----------------------
The game supports the FM unit for music playback. If no FM unit is found there will be no music.

The title screen is not supported by all emulators but it works on real hardware (although with some faulty pixels). Preferred emulators are 'Meka' and 'Kega Fusion364'.


Credits:
-----------------------
Code: Richard Cornelisse (Huey aka Zipper)
Music: John Hassink
Graphics: Richard Cornelisse

I used the following programs to make this game:
- CharacterMaker1999 (gfx)
- Bmp2Tile (gfx)
- AyEdit (sfx)
- Moonblaster 1.4 (music)
- BlitzBasic+ (level editor)
- sjasm (assembler)
- UltraEdit (coding)

Greetings to all people at SMSpower.org for your help and support!

DARC-01.png (1.92 KB)
DARC-01.png
DARC-03.png (2.36 KB)
DARC-03.png
DARC-SMS-1.00.zip (44.48 KB)

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:43 am
The most polished entry on the competition. Can't wait to see the finished product.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:53 am
I agree with Haroldoop, this entry is very polished and the music is sweet too :D
I do wish for scrolling but I guess this will require reworking the game...
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:00 am
It reminds me quite a bit of Battle Kid for the Nes, which is very much a compliment as its one of the best games for the nes, home brew or otherwise. Not that its overly similar, as the jet-pack game play and darker mood of the game set it apart, but the way the game flows from static screen to screen without feeling clunky and the overall polish of the game is very similar.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:14 am
Thanks for the battle kid (and other) compliments. Both are different in game-play but I understand what you mean.

I really like to work with the SMS VDP features and limitations. Although I do miss the ability to change vertical scroll on line interrupt; That would have been awesome.

As for scrolling; I simply forgot to think about it as my main inspirations (Hero Core and H.E.R.O.) are non-scrolling too.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:38 am
Awesome.
My favorite entry on the coding competition, mostly because it is the most polished one.

The graphics are pretty, the gameplay is fun, the music is really cool.


If this was released in 1987, i could see it becoming a huge hit and classic. :)
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:07 pm
By far the most polished homebrew game I've seen on a Sega 8-bit system. It is really very stylish, use the hardware just right and the exploration game design is executed very nicely. I think the screen-by-screen approach was the right choice both for making development easier and because it give a clearer sense of progression in the labyrinth.

I've reach the point where the level design isn't completed and died going from an empty room to inside a wall. :(

If I may suggest one thing for future version, the feedback on hitting enemies could be improved to feel more generous to the player. Some suggestion: more noticeable hit sound, slight push back on enemies, color flash on the hit enemy (maybe using a white color version of the sprite?), or even a small explosion (a single 8x8 sprite would do, taking the slot of your own bullet so it probably wouldn't add flickering). I guess you would know best what is faisable.

Anyway I am really impressed.
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:49 am
This game has been tweaked to perfection!. It's hard, but not excessively so, and when I get killed I know it's my fault and not the game being cruel. Great artwork too, it's sparse (in a good way, like NES games are that use a lot of black) but effective and it's easy to tell what things you should avoid and what things you should interact with. As soon as a new screen appears you know exactly what to do, and I like that.

I found the respawning was a little frustrating. It would be nice after clearing a room if less enemies would return when you go back. But that might make the game too easy.

Having dedicated buttons to shoot right/left was a great touch and was extremely intuitive. I wonder if having a bit of physics for momentum while moving would add some depth, but it could make accurate dodging of enemies challenging.

I'm not sure how I feel about those gray enemies being able to move through walls while other enemies and projectiles can't.

Also the music is simply brilliant, I hope there's a VGM pack made for it soon. What can I say, I loved this game. :) Terrific job, a lot of care went into this and it's extremely playable and fun. Definitely the kind of thing I'd put on my flashcart for repeated plays. :D
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:13 am
@Bock: Thanks for the feedback. I agree that shooting the enemies should be more rewarding. I already had a feature for a 'mini'-explosion on the to-do list. But I also like the feedback on the enemies too! I'll try to implement it. It shouldn't be much of a problem to add it.
As for the sound effects. These are not mine but from the Konami game 'Firebird' (Hinotori). They will be replaced with special made effects later on (something I am incapable of myself ;P).

@Charles: Thanks. But honestly this is game is far from tweaked. The levels were made the day before the deadline. That's also why it feels very minimalistic (lots of black). I hope to solve the blackness in the next versions. But still; I am used to only use 2 colours per 8 pixels to make gfx.
The re spawning of the enemies was already on the to-do list. Some enemies will re spawn others not. I just need to make sure that the levels do not feel empty when doing some backtracking.

I'm glad you like the music. It's not made for this game but some older work from John. He is working now on a dedicated soundtrack for the game. But I first need to fix the problems with the custom voices. They sound very different than expected.

As for the drones (grey enemies). You are right. They are not fair. I just did not have a good approach for a low CPU algorithm to hunt after the player yet.

P.S. The separate fire buttons idea is a shameless stolen idea from 'Hero Core' (the inspiration).
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:23 pm
Very impressive, loving it!
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:34 pm
Very impressive! The title screen seems to suggest the game is called D.A.R.C. What do the letters stand for? And it also says it's Part 2. Where is Part 1? :)
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:47 pm
tommy1983 wrote
Very impressive! The title screen seems to suggest the game is called D.A.R.C. What do the letters stand for? And it also says it's Part 2. Where is Part 1? :)


Defend,Attack,Retrieve and Control (Its a special unit).
Part I has subtitle 'Core Crisis'.

Here you can see a (work in progress) video of it :


Its not for SMS but for the MSX computer.
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Post Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:27 am
I'm liking this game - it's very well made and is fun to play.

My only problem is that, when exploring, I came across lots of empty screens (I assume the levels aren't yet 100% finished) and I managed to spawn inside some rocks on my way back, causing an instant game-over.

That's a minor complaint, though. :) This is a great entry.
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Post Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:45 pm
I love this game, amazing work! Congrats!
I hope someday you'll finish it and release/sell the full game.

Is this the last accessible room? I can't pass the two moving walls...

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Post Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:36 pm
gallos_11 wrote
I love this game, amazing work! Congrats!
I hope someday you'll finish it and release/sell the full game.

Is this the last accessible room? I can't pass the two moving walls...


There is more. Not much though.
Just shoot one of those red cores (not the eyes). Once you destroyed one, one or more of those white/blue barriers will disappear granting you access to other rooms.

If you have destroyed two of them. Not only your maximum energy will increase but also your bullet level. With the new level you can shoot the blue crates.

The first core is found after the room that will 'trap' you until you destroyed the two enemies. Good luck.
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:49 am
That's what I get for not reading the readme. :P
I played it on my SMS1 with the FM chip disabled and only got sound effects, no music. Then I read this forum topic and see people talking about the music in the game and I'm like "Wait, there's music?".
I'll have to play it again with the FM chip enabled before judging this. Even without music it's a nice little game though.
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:15 pm
Zipper wrote
There is more. Not much though.

Oh, there's a lot more! I think now it's completed. :)

Btw, the music is also great and matches perfectly with the game concept.

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Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:42 pm
gallos_11 wrote
Zipper wrote
There is more. Not much though.

Oh, there's a lot more! I think now it's completed. :)

Yes. But there is also some test levels on the left bottom ;) If you want to see everything.
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:51 pm
Awesome Man , Congratulations
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:13 pm
Alright, I've now played the game on my SMS1 with FM enabled, and I have to agree with the others that commented on the great music.

Some feedback:
* How about making it possible to move faster (e.g. if you're backtracking and just want to get from point A to point B) ? One way to do this could be a d-pad tap followed by a hold. I.e. tap right, then hold right to move right at a faster speed.

* I noticed that you can't shoot when underwater, including when being inside a waterfall. I guess this makes some of the rooms a bit more challenging, but it just feels strange to me, especially when bullets from both the player and from enemies can cross through water unhindered.

Btw, I've managed to crash the game 3 times so far. Just leave it running at the title screen, and sometimes it'll freeze after a while (like 5-10 minutes or so). First the screen stops updating but the music keeps playing, and eventually the music freezes as well.
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:37 pm
mic_ wrote
Alright, I've now played the game on my SMS1 with FM enabled, and I have to agree with the others that commented on the great music.

Some feedback:
* How about making it possible to move faster (e.g. if you're backtracking and just want to get from point A to point B) ?

No plans at the moment. Plan was to have short-cuts for backtracking.

mic_ wrote

* I noticed that you can't shoot when underwater, including when being inside a waterfall. I guess this makes some of the rooms a bit more challenging, but it just feels strange to me, especially when bullets from both the player and from enemies can cross through water unhindered.

Unfair isn't it? :D It's part of the game-play (makes certain areas inaccessible or really difficult at start).

mic_ wrote

Btw, I've managed to crash the game 3 times so far. Just leave it running at the title screen, and sometimes it'll freeze after a while (like 5-10 minutes or so). First the screen stops updating but the music keeps playing, and eventually the music freezes as well.

Ouch. I have been very busy making it all work on real HW without glitches (VRAM updates). I am going to investigate. Thanks for the feedback.

Question: How is the sound effect and music balance? I have no idea if sound balance differs in emulators and real HW.
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:03 pm
Here's a capture from my console: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGnOcJkRKoY#t=100

I think the FM chip / mixing is broken on my neoflash cart, though. I've heard from other people with that cart that the PSG channels are supposed to be much louder when mixed together with the FM channels than what I get from my cart.
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:21 am
If I had 512KB flash chip I would try on my machine, I tuned out PSG and FM balance to recordings from Space Harrier BIOS tune from JP machine.
I only can try up to 256KB, if you could make a quick "lite" test version or something I could give to a go, alternatively you could just add options to adjust volumes of SFX and/or music, its all logarithmic so you can get away with simple additions/subtractions.
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:15 am
Thanks TmEE.

I have implemented compression some time ago so all the rooms (even if they are empty) use less ROM. I attached the new 256kb ROM image (with SDSC header this time ;) ).
The ROM contains some slightly improved FM playback by eliminating a nasty bug in the custom voices.

I already have a function to lower the volumes of the FM music active. But I'd like to have the best setting as not everyone is going to go though the options every time ;)

I hope to get my hands on an FM-board in the near future to do some testing myself (nothing beats the real thing).
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:32 am
I'll give it a go and report back in about 7 hours when I am back home from work
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:51 am
Thanks,

I was unaware of the 256kb limit. I was under the impression that the Everdrive was the only available option. Else I would have made more effort to limit the ROM size in the first place.
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:44 pm
I use a gutted original cart which could use up to 512KB but I just have no 512KB flash chips, only a bunch of 128 and 256KB ones :P
I need to finish off my MD flashcart to SMS adaptor I started... 3 years ago... then I get 4MB of ROM space to muck around with :3
Roughtly 3...4 hours left before I can test

EDIT:
*I had to bypass the BIOS to get the game work, my SMS1 and 2 both gave me "Software Error".
*I would say PSG needs to be louder. Recording here : http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/4/21/1876835/DARCsoundsample.ogg
*I could not access Options on the title screen or Music selection, cursor wouldn't move
*I can press pause and view map on Game Over
*Player and bullets had some artifacts, red line in front of player, black box under bullets.
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:19 pm
OK. HW volumes are close to the emulator ones.

Thanks for the other feedback too.
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:24 pm
This is great, it feels like an early prototype of a large and epic game, it just needs finishing :)
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:07 pm
I know this is bad etiquette but I can't resist any longer. Is there any news on any more development of this game? I would really, really love to see this game finished and released on cart. :)
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Post Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:16 pm
Hot_Violet wrote
I know this is bad etiquette but I can't resist any longer. Is there any news on any more development of this game? I would really, really love to see this game finished and released on cart. :)


There is progress. A lot is done on the game engine since the competition. I didn't have much time to work on it in the last 6 months as I was working on another project which I wanted to finish first. I have the intention to finish the game this year.

Nice to hear that you liked the entry.
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:28 pm
Thanks for replying. That's great news that there are still plans for development. I have a feeling that this could be the best homebrew yet for the SMS.

By the way, have you ever considered porting over DARC part one from the MSX at all?
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:22 am
Hot_Violet wrote
By the way, have you ever considered porting over DARC part one from the MSX at all?


I once thought about it but it would be better to redo the whole game instead of porting it. No plans atm.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:44 am
I just tried this game on my Japanese SMS last night, coincidentally. The music is fantastic! Gameplay is lots of fun, too. Please finish it up!
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Post Posted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 11:43 pm
me and my friend Zazzone are having a great time with this game, and while playing he found a little glitch. Here's a little video (3m avi) to show the issue. Also, which mapper does this game use? Is it the common Sega mapper? http://www16.zippyshare.com/v/FecNDyRs/file.html
Is the game winnable / is it complete or complete enough to enjoy it to the end? And thanks for this great game, I hope some day its finished, because it really is a great game.

best regards,
- dink
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:49 am
Hi,

The competition entry is far from complete. It has no real end too. I was simply not able to complete it in time for the competition.

Good news is that i am still working finishing the game.

P.S. I was unable to see the video. :(
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:00 pm
Zipper wrote
Hi,

The competition entry is far from complete. It has no real end too. I was simply not able to complete it in time for the competition.

Good news is that i am still working finishing the game.

P.S. I was unable to see the video. :(


Great to hear!! I really love the atmosphere of the game, and how it plays, as well as the music. My friend Zazzone feels the same.
Re: the video, it has to be downloaded first and played with something like vlc player, but there really is no need, after reading this thread I realized we had just journeyd beyond where the level had ended.

thanks and best regards,
- dink
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:15 pm
Hey i have played about 15 mins ( and saved the state) and this game is really good! Congratulations!!!
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:23 am
we want to see a final version! :-P
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:47 am
Thanks guys,

I'm still working on the game in my scarce free-time.
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:46 pm
gosh , i havent tried this but i guess i'll wait till it's finished.
looks damn good! :o
hope this will have a hardware release!

plus music support for the SN chip would be great too! :D
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:30 pm
Physical release is primary goal.

There will both music for SN and SN+FM.
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:40 pm
Zipper wrote
Physical release is primary goal.

There will both music for SN and SN+FM.


wow awesome! looking forward to this ! :D

Thanks Zipper!

Is this a adventure/puzzle game?
By the pictures looks a bit metroid style! :D

PS - Maybe adding some animation when the characters turn side to side that would be nice too but maybe that's asking too much. Also a Master System II Cover style would be awesome for the finished product!

Edit : watched a video off YouTube of a demo of this game , looks pretty good indeed! Looks like it's a more modern mix of montezumas revenge mixing shoot em ups with adventure and puzzle elements. The room elements really remind me of metroid! Hope the game isn't limited on just shooting them guys! Hope it has puzzles and adding bosses would be great too! A nice storyline would add a lot to the atmosphere specially with all those nice dialogue boxes! :D Apart from that it looks really interesting I certainly would love to see this finished and maybe own this in the near future , not to mention it's a new master system game being made in 2017! Brilliant!
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:30 am
Also cybernoid came into my mind!
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:13 am
Hi Filipe,

Feel free to play the demo. The final version will be a lot different to the demo and the videos you can see on youtube.

The game will have a full script with plot, multiple themed areas with their own game play features (like puzzles and sectrets), multiple bosses etc.

The main issue with completing the final game is time. We are only a team of two. The main code is ready but a lot of time still has to be spend on the level, enemy design and coding bosses. The main focus now is the music engine. The FM part is almost done and full SN support is still early in development.

You can see some tests on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=john+hassink+FM

I'm not sure what you mean with Master System II cover style. Do you mean the cover of the cartridge/case?

I'm really keen on releasing this game on day as I really like the SMS and the scene around it.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:54 am
Zipper wrote
Hi Filipe,

Feel free to play the demo. The final version will be a lot different to the demo and the videos you can see on youtube.

The game will have a full script with plot, multiple themed areas with their own game play features (like puzzles and sectrets), multiple bosses etc.

The main issue with completing the final game is time. We are only a team of two. The main code is ready but a lot of time still has to be spend on the level, enemy design and coding bosses. The main focus now is the music engine. The FM part is almost done and full SN support is still early in development.

You can see some tests on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=john+hassink+FM

I'm not sure what you mean with Master System II cover style. Do you mean the cover of the cartridge/case?

I'm really keen on releasing this game on day as I really like the SMS and the scene around it.


Cheers Zipper.
Glad to hear you're really motivated to finish the game and that it's going to contain a lot of variety including puzzles and bosses !
I don't want to play the demo or anything because i really don't want to spoil it. I'd rather wait till it's completed and from what i've seen from the video it looks brilliant!

I understand that it's due to time issues that the game won't be finished as fast and i'm happy to wait until it's done even if it will take the whole year or so it will be worth the wait nevertheless :)) .

As for the covers here's a few examples :
This is a typical master system 1 , mostly made in the 80's , most covers were horrible :


and here's the master system 2 covers , mostly 90's which i prefer :
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