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Coding competition 2006
Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:46 am
What would you think of a coding competition for March 27, 2006 ?
Do you think that having restrictive rules or directives would help in getting people focused and more motivated, hopefully leading in more entries submitted?
What would you think if it would be a game-only competition? (no non-playable demo thingie) ?
32 kb game?
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:54 am
Remember that I got into this whole SMS coding malarkey thanks to a couple of non-interactive non-changing single-screen demos. Making an actual game is a whole step harder than making a demo, since it takes the ability to do most stuff as a "given" and you're battling with the ability to make a game engine that works and does something "fun". Thus a gameplay requirement is a barrier to entry by many.

Then again, we have off-the-shelf graphics conversion and music these days, so it's not the hardest thing to make a quick and dirty demo, so we ought to at least exclude "generated" content (while still allowing the use of those tools).

32KB is restrictive on graphics, but maybe it'd stop me putting in a million unskippable intro screens on my (hypothetical) entry.

Anyway, there's no way I can enter, there's too much other stuff I need to catch up with...
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:30 pm
Interesting.

I think a game would not be that much of a burden.

But the 32K is restrictive. Could be an interesting challenge to work within that limit.

I mean, look at what Sega did with those card based games.
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 1:27 pm
32K is not overly restrictive. You'd have a hard time filling 16KB with code, and a typical game would be unlikely to use more than 16KB of data unless it was totally uncompressed, assuming it didn't totally change all the graphics several times. For example, my Bock's Birthday 2004 game would probably fit into 16KB if I cut out the intro graphics. Nevertheless, a size limit wouldn't be likely to actually improve the quality of the submissions.
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 2:12 pm
The size limit idea was kind of a way to help people to "focus" on creative gameplay content, but I agree it may be too restrictive and frustrating.
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:24 pm
Are we actually judging the entries this time?

I'd say let's not have any restrictions. If we did these contests all the time, it would be good to mix it up and put in changing rules, but we haven't had an officially announced coding contest in four years, and most of us only release about one demo a year, if that. Honestly, we're all pretty busy these days. If we require entries to be playable games, we might conceivably get zero entries, or just some unfinished snake game or, god help us, yet another tetris. Even Bock's Birthday 2004 took Maxim months longer than he had originally planned to get it in a shape he thought was presentable to the public.

I could see how it might be disappointing if someone codes an awesome game or demo that makes good use of the hardware, and is beaten by someone who submits a collection of funny photoshops as an SMS slideshow, but I think the judging populace (if these are judged) will be sophisticated enough to see the real value in of the entries.

Maybe as a bare minimum, require some sort of animated display instead of a static screen so we don't get a bunch of Only Words hacks.
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:41 pm
I agree with Heliophobe. Given the amount of time it takes to actually complete any SMS project, let alone a game, I'd think we'd get the most amount of people interested by having less restrictions.

It should be open to games, demos, even applications. With the SF-7000 emulation in Meka, it would be possible to make a word processor, paint program, or something actually useful. Also 32K is too limiting. Real games go up to 512K or 1MB, so let's allow that.

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Maybe as a bare minimum, require some sort of animated display instead of a static screen so we don't get a bunch of Only Words hacks.


Yeah, but those hacks may be the starting point for some SMS newbies and if they suck anyway, they will be judged appropriately.
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 8:22 pm
If the goal is to give people an idea to focus on to hopefully generate more and better entries, perhaps we could introduce a theme for the coding contest. The theme should be open ended enough that it could be a demo or a game. For example:

Alex Kidd spinoffs that should have been
SMS vs. NES
The secret life of SMS characters

I would still think that it should be okay to enter anything, but perhaps adherence to the theme might be one of the judging criteria.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 12:47 am
Has anyone thought of spliting it into categories.

E.G. SMS Newbie (only starting out on programming, like myself)
Moderate Coder (able to create something cool)
Expert Coder (is actually able to make a game)

The reason why I make categories is so people who aren't very good at SMS programming would at least have a chance of doing well in a competition. It is hard for a first time programmer to do something like this and if they produce something and submit it and they get no positive feedback it makes them feel really bad, trust me its happened to me and they would loose so much courage to program that they would usually just give up.

So what I am trying to say, you need to give the new coders a fair go and pay credit to them where it is due. Hey your demos might be simple and we all have to start somewhere.

Just like Maxim's not only words demo I still look up to that and think I wish I could do that.

And also don't forget we are also running the music competition as well which would definately take up all of my time and with uni starting soon and work starting tomorrow I ain't going to have time to even do any SMS stuff. I know its sad but true we all have to live.

Anyways Thanks,

Jacko
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:18 am
Maybe a better suggestion would be to have 3 categories...

1) Game
2) Demo
3) Utility

I have had a great idea for a game that will easily fit into 32K.

With the game, we should have a rule of no Tetris clones. Dont want people to slave over something that players are bored of before the first opcode is typed.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 3:26 am
Yes Mike that was what I ment, I couldn't think of that this morning, stupid me.

I like your thinking, and yes NO TETRIS CLONES.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 6:08 am
Jacko wrote
Yes Mike that was what I ment, I couldn't think of that this morning, stupid me.

I like your thinking, and yes NO TETRIS CLONES.


Tetris clones could be boring, but if somebody happens to whip up a good one (fancy graphics, music, 2-player competitive mode, high-score saving, etc.) that would be a worthy entry, wouldn't it? :D
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:20 am
Yes Charles that would be worth it but would we seriously have time to tackle such a large project in such a short time.??

I reakon a project of mine this year would be to make a PONG game for the SMS. I know it sounds dumb but I seriously do not think it has been done (needs confirmation).

I could see by doing a PONG clone the hardest part would be implementing the CPU to play against you.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 8:04 am
Jacko wrote
Yes Charles that would be worth it but would we seriously have time to tackle such a large project in such a short time.??


Excellent point. If the deadline is in March, we should be grateful to get any entries we can.

Quote
I reakon a project of mine this year would be to make a PONG game for the SMS. I know it sounds dumb but I seriously do not think it has been done (needs confirmation).


AFAIK it hasn't. Closest thing I can think of is the Breakout game in terms of the paddle movment / ball collision stuff. (using the SMS paddle controller would be *very* cool for a SMS Pong)

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I could see by doing a PONG clone the hardest part would be implementing the CPU to play against you.


You can cheat for a game like Pong, when the direction of the ball is towards the opponent, you calculate which position the paddle needs to move to in order to hit it. If the paddle can't move that far in the given amount of time (say 80 pixels in 5 frames given the current speed) then the computer will lose.

Or maybe it would be better to have the paddle simply try to track the ball exactly as it moves, though you'd want the ball moving faster so the CPU couldn't play 'perfectly' and never miss.

Hmm, this has got me thinking. ;)
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 12:33 pm
As a theme I'd strongly suggest "never been done". That was my motivation for Bock's Birthday 2004 (DDR clone), and 2003 was somewhat different too (Minesweeper). Ports are OK, since we're not expecting too much, but generic shmups, pure Tetrises (there are only actually two of them on the SMS), etc are not much good. SMS Lumines or Mono would be cool though, and I'm still waiting for an SMS Bomberman game.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 1:07 pm
I'm up for it, but seeing as I have an awful amount of work on my plate (and a lot of other Z80-related projects on the go) I don't know if I'd be able to make the deadline.
I've participated in a couple of TI-83(+) Z80 coding competitions before, (one was 'pong', the other was 'graphics demo') and the entries were judged on a number of categories (funnest, smallest size (not really judgable when ROMs are power-of-two sizes), graphics etc). The pong one came up with some interesting variations (IIRC the winner was a circular pong game)... I reckon specifying a theme is good in that it gives the clueless people a bit of a hint towards what they should write, and also that the entries are comparable for judging.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 3:15 pm
Heliophobe wrote
Even Bock's Birthday 2004 took Maxim months longer than he had originally planned to get it in a shape he thought was presentable to the public.

I feel like responding to this one...

It's hard to quantify exactly how much time I spent on BB2K4, but apart from a lot of time messing around trying to get the arrow overlay to fit into 64 sprites (before I went with the double-sized sprites) and a huge amount of time creating content (not coding), it was probably about 5 full-time days, or if you prefer, three weekends. The problem I find with Z80 coding, much more so that in higher-level languages (although it is still true), is that the first hour or two of any programming session is essentially wasted on re-learning the things I forgot from last time and building a mental map of the program I'm working on. Thus it becomes important to code in long sessions, and anyone with Real Life Stuff can tell you, that's the hardest part. I can't easily devote entire weekends to coding, and certainly up until mid-March I have heavy study commitments 7 days a week. Maybe I'll get worked up on an idea and do something anyway - I'm still planning on hacking together a PSX controller driver for the SMS, for example, and this damn mono idea is getting to me, due to the challenge of doing it without bitmaps and with a severe sprite limit - but I digress: my point is, if you're someone who can afford to spend entire days on this stuff, you should be able to make something seriously impressive by March, just so long as you know how to code and can organise it all in your head.

Oh yeah, and my other point: BB2K4 was not even remotely playable until about 5 hours before it was finished. Up until that point, it was totally unplayable, non-interactive, and looked like something I could have thrown together in a couple of hours. Maybe rapid prototyping would be a more motivating way to go - get something playable with placeholder graphics (and audio in this case, as it's needed) so it's at least playable while it's being tweaked - but when time's tight, you can try to save time by avoiding spending time on anything that won't be in the end product.

There are 9 weekends between today and March 27th, by the way. No Bank Holidays though.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 8:12 pm
Considering how few entries we're likely to receive, I don't think we necessarily need to break up the contest into categories or skill levels.

The first time we did a "rush" coding competition, we didn't have rules, we didn't judge the entries, nobody won or lost, and hell, I submitted mine late. The spirit of the competition wasn't really competitive, I think it just an excuse for everyone to stop talking about sms programming and just go make something, to the best of their abilities.

We have a judging script now so I guess we will judge them, but I don't anyone should feel their entry is worthless if it doesn't rate high. The real point here is to get more people to write SMS stuff, both newcomers and oldtimers. And for that reason, the more I think about it, the less I like the idea of having rules. Let's all just do something so we'll have something to share on March 27th, for either the coding or music competition - or post some SMS art if coding and music isn't your thing.

We might, however, think of rating on multiple criteria - such as technical merit (clever use of the hardware to create unique effects) and presentation (graphic design, music, theme). There can be multiple awards based on those criteria and others, such as "best newcomer" or "best entry under 32k".

I also don't mean to sound snooty when I suggest that there's anything wrong with one-screen static demos. Probably everyone who's gotten anywhere writing for the SMS has started with some text on a screen, which we all know is a lot more complicated than "Hello World" in C or Basic. I was just thinking that nowadays, one can get to that point just following Maxim's guide, or even download Only Word's source code and just modify that. Maybe a little something extra just to mix it up would be a good thing to shoot for, even if it's just a color cycling display or a 'typewriter' effect on the text. Make the most of what you can do, even if it isn't a technical marvel, clever presentation can count for a lot.
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:02 pm
benryves wrote
I'm up for it, but seeing as I have an awful amount of work on my plate (and a lot of other Z80-related projects on the go) I don't know if I'd be able to make the deadline.


You've probably got a pretty good basis for a quick entry from your Firetrack sources. Come on, you can do something, even if it isn't a game....

Maxim wrote

There are 9 weekends between today and March 27th, by the way. No Bank Holidays though.


There is in the US. Ol' Honest Abe took a bullet so that we could have a three day weekend. Advantage: Heliophobe.
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Post Posted: Sat Jan 28, 2006 7:37 am
Heliophobe I like your comments very much, you have came up with some good points. I myself am a new comer to SMS programming so I wouldnt submit anything this year. I have work starting this week, uni inductions, uni enrolments, various bands pluss on top of that I have to find time to work, practice piano for exams, practice sax for uni and practice sax for City of Adelaide band. My schedule is going to come very messy in a few weeks time. I would love to submit an enty but I will be so excited over uni and stuff I won't even think of my SMS which is sad but true. Eventhough I would thoroughly enjoy programming the SMS.

What would people say if I gave a PONG game a go?? (not for the compo but as a project which I would gradually do over the year).

Oh yeah I also have to do my music competition entry. How to manage my time???
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Post Posted: Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:29 am
A decent Pong would be good. A few suggestions:

- You need variable paddle angles and "spin" - ie. not lke the TecToy "20 em 1" Pongs
- Most important is carefully-tuned CPU AI - it has to be able to gradually get harder (more than just increasing the speed) without quickly becoming impossible to beat
- Beyond that, doing some neat graphical stuff in the background might liven things up a bit

Don't expect people to play it much, though... hardly anyone plays my games, even the one that is playable. Don't get into SMS coding expecting to get fans, just do it for the fun and challenge.
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Post Posted: Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:53 am
Yes of course your notes are well pointed, oh yeah and a very british good morning to you. its 9:15pm here and after 8 hours of rather booring work induction I just need some cool SMS chill out time.

I am not sure what you mean by "spin" could you clear this up for me??

And also I wouldn't be expectig heaps of people to play it, I do just want to do it both as a learning experience for me and also to be a challenge to me.

It would be a project that I would work on in small chunks at a time. Are there any good documents that cover the use of using the paddle controller?? I think it would be cool to use that as a way and means to move the bat up and down the screen. I have a couple of paddle thingys from my Commodore 64 and they use a 9 pin connector as the SMS does but they may not suffice as a paddle controller.
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Post Posted: Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:10 am
The paddle controller is tricky to program for and very few people will be able to play as intended - I'd suggest avoiding it, since joypads and keyboards are more similar than paddles and mice.
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:56 pm
So, are we doing this?

For the first time ever I may actually participate in a coding competition. I've got an idea for a game demo. (I'd like it to be full-fledged game at some point, but not by March).

Is this competition going to be announced on SMS Power somewhere with the final rules and deadline?

--
Eric R. Quinn
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Coding competition 2006, and New Zealand
Post Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:46 pm
Echoing Eric's question, has a decision been made about a coding comp?

I'm going to be overseas in New Zealand for about 6 weeks for work starting next week and I can see some time spent progamming in a Hotel Room while all my other projects, SMS and non-SMS, go on hold. That and I've got an idea for a SMS game.

Regarding the discussion about rules, as far as I'm concerned I'd love to see a 512kB game if someone could fill 512kB.

Did I mention I was going to be in New Zealand? NZ SMS party in Wellington anyone?
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 5:14 pm
I think rules are unnecessary, apart from "please don't make some crappy hacked-together junk" - the "S8-dev pros" will want to do something cool anyway, and should be free to make what they want. Everyone knows that playable, fun games are better than slideshows/scrollers/etc, but anyone who's tried it knows that gameplay is the hardest part to write. Even if we get a bunch of text scrollers it'd be better than another year of no homebrew game releases.

Given the number of times people have worked on stuff and not released it (*cough* Heliophobe *cough* Charles *cough*) I think we ought to make it official to get people to polish off old projects, and/or dive into new ones. Even if I can't join in, I'd like to see some activity from everyone else for the prestigious SMS Power 9th anniversary :)
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 6:29 pm
Considering how slowly I work, I should probably start on my 10th anniversary project about now.
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:10 pm
Any word on the prize fundraising effort? Even if we didn't raise enough to buy the winner a Tototek cart, some kitschy prize package like a CafePress "I won a Coding Competition and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt and Coffee Mug" t-shirt and coffee mug set would be better that nothing, I think.


So, who's working on something? I've had a few ideas kicking around but I only just got around to putting down a few lines of code. Of course, I've still got the corpse of an unfinished project from last year to pick through.
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:32 am
Raised $39. That is indeed not enough. I add $20. Guys if you missed it, donations are welcome: http://www.smspower.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=37074#37074
I'm all for the CafePress thing if we can't go higher.
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Coding competition 2006
Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:34 pm
Last edited by asynchronous on Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:22 am; edited 1 time in total
I've got something started...just.

As for a prize, I'd be happy winning a pair of 3D glasses Bock may have lying around. If I was to win. I probably won't win.
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:27 pm
Don't wanna put presure on myself, but I SHOULD be able to get something happening for this.

I we must go the crappy prize route...LOL...then we could do something along the line of this guys keychains (maybe even engraved / stickered with "SMSPower 2006 Coding Comp Winner" or something)

http://stores.ebay.com.au/Ages-Three-And-Up_Video-Games_W0QQcolZ4QQdirZ1QQftidZ2...
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:37 pm
One month to go. If you've had some ideas but haven't gotten around to writing anything yet, now is the time to start.

I would recommend, incidentally, that if you get your entry into a presentable state, that you make a copy of the sources before you attempt to add any new features that require you to tear down your code and leave it in an uncompilable/unrunnable state for a while, in case your new feature turns out to be more involved than you have time for.

I speak from experience.

Since there will conceivably be prizes involved I guess we should formalize the details like the actual deadline (11:59p.m. March 27, or maybe March 26? If so, which time zone, etc), and how to submit.
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 5:40 am
Async: Yeah, maybe I could hold the NZ SMS party. Lol, jk.

Better get started. Unfortunately my attempt at coding from scratch ended up with the game being played in SG-1000 mode. Dah!
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:07 pm
Heliophobe wrote
I would recommend, incidentally, that if you get your entry into a presentable state, that you make a copy of the sources before you attempt to add any new features that require you to tear down your code and leave it in an uncompilable/unrunnable state for a while, in case your new feature turns out to be more involved than you have time for.


Isn't source control great?

Damn, I wish I had the time to write something for this...
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:47 pm
Paul Baker wrote
Isn't source control great?

And isn't it great how, once you have a project on SourceForge, you can start randomly using the CVS account for other projects... (beats running my own server, and is more hard-disk-death-proof). Still, zipping up a directory isn't exactly hard.
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 1:54 pm
I had a thought on this...maybe we should have a gentlemanly agreement NOT to post any screenshots, etc until the 20th . That way, we would get more entries as in avoids someone showing off something brillient and intimidating beginners into not having a go.
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 7:59 pm
thematrixeatsyou wrote
Async: Yeah, maybe I could hold the NZ SMS party. Lol, jk.

Better get started. Unfortunately my attempt at coding from scratch ended up with the game being played in SG-1000 mode. Dah!


When dealing with VDP registers, my recommendation is that if you're not sure what a bit does or if seems to be unused, leave it set.


Mike: I wasn't planning on posting anything until the release anyhow. I don't think anyone needs to feel intimidated, though. Yeah, people who've been doing this sort of thing for years are usually going to turn in the best submissions but I think there's an understanding that we all started simply and moved our way up.

Maybe there should be an unjudged division for the noobs who want to break the ice with SMS coding but don't want to see their entry at the bottom of a ranking list. This is all just for fun, after all.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 8:40 am
Well I know what the registers do, but I think it's what I don't do that causes it to stuff up.

I like the idea of the n00b section, though. Probably just have a note next to each n00b entry saying that it's a n00b entry, and just chuck it in with the rest of the entries.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:42 pm
OK, so this is not exactly coding a real sms game, but I used coding and stuff in Flash to recreate Snail Maze in all it's glory - in online form. Custom mazes can be easily added and I have a template if anyone is interested in creating their own maze. If you get to the end of the game you will see an example of a custom maze I created.
Hope you like,
Ian.
http://www.tru-imperial.co.uk/sms/snail.htm
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:22 am
Sorry I don't have much time to write a long post, but I'm furrtek from An!mal, a recently founded demogroup "specialised" in SMS and I'm planning to submit a 32k multipart demo, will you accepts this?
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:21 am
Last edited by Wiseduck on Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
I don't think 32kb is small at all. Sure, it is nothing compared to comercial games, but for a competition that has less than a month it is sure more than enough. Just to exemplify, give a look at a competition that happened for MSX1 system, the MSXdev'05. The limit was 48kb and people got a entire year to do things. The results were amasing, seriously. Look after the games The Cure, Universe, Graal and Saimazoon. Were they released at comercial era, they would be sure hits. Specially the The Cure, that's for me the most amazing MSX1 game now.

at my opinion, the only rule that should really change is the working time limit. It should be at least 3 months. The prize is great (if it actually gets one :P).
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:51 am
furrtek wrote
Sorry I don't have much time to write a long post, but I'm furrtek from An!mal, a recently founded demogroup "specialised" in SMS and I'm planning to submit a 32k multipart demo, will you accepts this?

Yes, of course. A demo might have to work harder to be extra cool to avoid losing out to a playable game, though.
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:49 pm
Coding Competition 2006 webpage posted:
http://www.smspower.org/dev/competition/
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Dwelves? *nt*
Post Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 6:04 pm
Ah, the good old days, when we'd post *nt* replies...
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:16 pm
Wiseduck wrote
I don't think 32kb is small at all. Sure, it is nothing compared to comercial games, but for a competition that has less than a month it is sure more than enough. Just to exemplify, give a look at a competition that happened for MSX1 system, the MSXdev'05. The limit was 48kb and people got a entire year to do things. The results were amasing, seriously. Look after the games The Cure, Universe, Graal and Saimazoon. Were they released at comercial era, they would be sure hits. Specially the The Cure, that's for me the most amazing MSX1 game now.

at my opinion, the only rule that should really change is the working time limit. It should be at least 3 months. The prize is great (if it actually gets one :P).

See all the "Cancelled" projects -- that would be our fate if we left this thing open for a year. The SMS dev scene is pretty small compared to the MSX's, and the chances of any one of us staying focused enough to enter a game awesome enough to justify a year of dev time is pretty small, let alone several of us. The nice thing about these short timelines is that if we have to squeeze something out in a month or so, we'll plan something within our means and most of us will probably finish, or at least have something presentable, by the deadline.
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Dwelves Dredge? Help me *NT*
Post Posted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:50 am
Good old days of me using wrong words.
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MesaDX Homepage
Post Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:24 am
The MesaDX Home Page is now:

http://home.comcast.net/~mesadx/

--
Eric R. Quinn
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Delve
Post Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:24 pm
Eric, did you mean to make that announcement in a new post?
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Post Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:14 pm
I'm guessing it was a correction to the competition web page.
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Post Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:33 pm
Oh, right, that makes sense.
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