Home Computer Wars Alpha Mission

Description The first in a series of classic style shooter games in which you attempt to change history to make the Atari 800 the dominate computer system of the 80’s…by force.

Retro Blaster High Scores

I have finally had a chance to play my own game all the way through and beat IRATA without cheating. My top score is 973,441,870. I have also found that even though I have put optimization upon optimization into the animation sprite map caching, it still cannot compensate for the giant amount of logic needed for collision detection and bitMapData swapping when there are 100’s of animations (or very large ones) on the screen. In any case, I am satisfied with the game and will now move on to something else. I will continue to refine this engine and hopefully the next game will have even more performance improvements. The high score boards for 8bitrocket.com are not complete yet, so you cannot post your scores, but if you take a screen shot and send it to jeff@8bitrocket.com or info@8bitrocket.com, I’ll post the highest so you can reap all the fame and fortune that is bestowed on reaching such a plateau.

Also, I am just now posting the final release of the game. I had made a mistake in the last release and left in the code that resets the high score table every time you play. That is fixed now. Thanks to all those who sent in the error.

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Retro Blaster RC1 is complete!

Retro Blaster  release candidate 1.0 is ready to play. All of my changes in the last few hours have had to do with speed and playability. The game still slows a little (a lot on some older machines) on the levels with the most objects moving, but it’s a HUGE improvement over Pixel War. The player can now only fire one mega bomb at a time. This helps the speed on the boss levels where firing multiple mega bombs was an easy way to send the game into “bullet time” for lack of a more derogatory term.  It also makes the game a little more challenging. To even things out, the player now earns more bonus multiplier points for destroying a boss.

Try not to let the “system warps” screen wait time deter you from trying the game. I have heard that it is pretty slow on older PCs and MACs, but it runs in about 30 seconds on a newer PC. These routines allow me to cache all of the game animation loops in a set of relatively speedy bitmapData object arrays.  Also, I am creating some math look up tables during this time that help speed up some of the calculations.

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Retro Blaster Beta 1.0 is up!

Thanks to everyone who helped me beta test .90.

It has taken me a full year to get to this point. When you work full time and have a wife and young son, it is very difficult to find time to make a game.
Anyway again, thanks to Steve Fulton, Chris Cutler, Ian Legler, Marc Manalli, and Alan Donnelly, as well as a couple folks at Gamerdad.com for looking at the last version. I have incorporated as much of your feed back as possible in this version.

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Retro Blaster Beta Release!

Jeff sent me a beta release of Retro Blaster and I have posted it.   You can play it right now and start blasting everything in your path.  If only I would tell you what the link is…





Free Jigsaw Game Engine (2007)

Free License Game Engine

Wiicade Releases Wiimote/Flash API!

The fine people at wiicade have created an API for Flash that will allow programmers to test for ANY button press on the Wiimote!   The A,B,+,-,1,2, and the direction pad are all available, as well as the pointer from the Wiimote.   To test this API, I took one of my unposted Work In Progress games (code named “Base Shooter”) and retrofitted it to test for all buttons (except the direction pad) to shoot a bullet.   This is just a simple test, but it seems that it might be a very large step in the right direction for homebrew, indie, midnight, etc. developers who want to program simple games for Wii Consumption.  Base Shooter is really rough, but playable.   

The bad news about this is that, even though it uses the wiicade API, it can’t be played outside of Wiicade.com because their API has been specifically designed to work with their servers.   However, they patterned their API after information found here: http://www.quasimondo.com/archives/000638.php#000638 which means, with  little work, this could be used any where…

Atari Haiku: Asteroids 2600

Asteroids 2600

Looking for computers
I see you under the glass
Evil Asteroids

Your brown box taunts me
Sixty-Six variations
Well worth the money

Asteroids float up
Nothing like the arcade game
Asteroids float down

A wave of nausea
Thigh stings from the pain of a
Hole burnt in pocket

Yet, I still play it
Home is not like the arcade
But I can reset

The beat transcends all
Hypnotic flashing space rocks
I give into it


OK, so I was at Target on Friday looking for cheap games in the marked-down section (red price-tags!) and I found a copy of “Big Mutha Trickers 2” for $2.49. Since I have a weakness for trucking games, and $2.49 is my ‘buy it now’ price-point, I had to get it. I know it’s a bad game but so what? I wanted to try for myself. I also picked-up a copy of “Little Miss Sunshine” for my sister-in-law for her birthday.

When I went to check-out the cashier scanned “Little Miss sunshine” with no event, and then scanned “Big Mutha Truckers 2.’  Immediately an alarm went off on her register and she requested my I.D., which I gladly gave her. Since “Big Mutha a Truckers 2” is rated “M”, I figured this was their new way to stop selling “M” rated games to the under age kids.   I’m not against that.  There are tons of great games for kids to play that don’t contain mature content.

However, when I left the store, I checked my bag and noticed that “Little Miss Sunshine” is rated “R”…and then I got upset. So it is conceivable that a kid could go to Target and buy the entire “Saw” series, every “80’s” teen sex comedy, and any movie with content that borders just this-side of criminal, BUT, they would only be carded if they supplemented this purchase with an “M” rated game?

Look, I’m all-for ratings and keeping kids from mature content, but when kids can buy movies with some of the most gratuitous sex and torture scenes ever filmed, yet get stopped only when it happens to be a video game that contains : ‘Language, Mature Humor, Suggestive Themes (according the it’s ‘Big Mutha Truckers 2’ ESRB rating), something seems very  wrong to me.  R-Rated movies have gone places and contain content that would make the virtual participants in the “Hot Coffee” mini-game blush and turn away from the screen in horror, yet, seemingly, according to Target anyway, they are O.K. for kids.

Furthermore, The cashier could not simply look at my I.D. she had to physically swipe it through her register so the sale could be made. I don’t even think they do that for alcohol!   In the Target pharmacy, you merely have to request pseudofed from behind the counter.  So from that perspective (if I’m correct), a 13 year-old kid drinking a 6-pack of Miller beer, watching a ‘Porky’s II’/’Hostel’ double feature while mixing a batch of crystal meth in his basement, is actually less threatening to Target than the same kid getting a-hold of a bargain copy of “Big Mutha Truckers 2.”

The Asteroids Evolution to Retro Blaster

My first video game true love was Asteroids. I think the game must have satisfied some internal, mental need to keep things cleaned up. The Sisyphusian nature of this electronic task was enough to make me pour quarter after quarter into the machine in an attempt to just earn one extra ship at 10,000 points. I was never very good at the game, but I would always have a go at the machine if I found it in an arcade, laundromat, grocery store, or liquor store. It’s funny that as kids we thought nothing of spending copious amounts of time in a liquor store playing video games, buying packs of Star Wars cards, and guzzling Bubble Up and Root Beer. We would even tell our parents that we were going to the liquor store. Now-a-days we probably would have been put in a youth home for just stepping into a liquor store at age 11. Back then, the local liquor store was the hub of teen and pre-teen activity. We weren’t there for the alcohol (I guess some kids must have been, but we weren’t). It was our local carnival with games, candy, soda, adventure.

Anyway, after Asteroids, I poured quarters into Asteroids Deluxe, Space Duel, and to some extent Sinistar and Blasteroids. I remember going to a Savon Drug store and purchasing Asteroids for the 2600 and playing it non-stop for weeks on end. I also had a version for the Atari 800. It was similar to the 2600 version but with slightly better sounds, visuals and game play. Asteroids for the Atari 7800 was an absolutely awesome version that few have played. Probably my favorite classic version was a game called Megaroids. It a demo game that came with Megamax C for the Atari ST. A version was also created for the PC and Amiga. It was the a great version of the arcade game and a nearly perfect adaptation with more colors. When the PC arrived to prominence, I was one of the first on the block to buy Micorsoft Windows Arcade with Asteroids included, and of course I found a definitive version on Mame. The later Harbro Atari games for the PC and Consoles was decent, and I own a copy for both PC, and Playstation, but it never held my interest as much as the original incarnations.

I have wanted to make an Asteroids game of own every since I borrowed graph paper from my dad in 1979 and started to plot out the worlds of wonder in my 9 year old head. My first attempt was on the Atari 800 in Basic and it was a complete failure. The lack of suitable math skills for object rotation and vectors left me with a pretty putrid piece of pre-novice game programming. I left Asteroids type games behind and created puzzle and classic board games for years until STOS on the Atari ST enabled me to think about trying my hand at action games once again. I was in college at the time and besides producing yet another fully realized Yhatzee style game (Zambool Atari ST), I never found the time back then to delve deeply enough into the inter workings and create a good Asteroids clone.

After many false starts with a number of programming languages (Java, Dark basic, Game Creator, Game Maker, C++), I finally decided to throw the gauntlet at Flash and see with I could come up with. With help from books By Jobe Makar, and other game programming masters, the first game I came up with was a semi-polished version called Zeno Fighter. It is currently in the Work In Progress section of the site and I might go back some time and finish it off. properly. This one uses Steve’s Particle engine for explosions, and I copied the Asteroids “Jaws” music straight from the MAME version of the game. I was attempting to do CIRCLE math collision detection on the blobs (rocks), and if you try this WIP, you will see that sometimes the shots go through the edges.

I moved from this version to a more ambitious version called Pixel War. In this game I threw out all of the Asteroids vector graphics and decided to create pixel art for all of the game elements. I also wanted many more things on the screen to shoot at, weapon upgrades, and other enhancements. In creating this game I discovered the need for many new OOP building blocks for my games. These include objects to handle basic sprite properties, depth mangers and clean up routines, in game text display classes, and more. All of this code and animation started to slow the game down. Because of this, I dropped development of this game and started some basic animated sprite reel bitmap caching routines. The basic idea behind this was to cache every frame of animation for a sprite in a bitmap object and flip through them like cell animation in an interval. The interval is controlled by the game loop and this gives the programmer great control over the display of each individual frame of animation for an object.

Retro Blaster is the game that sprouted from this. It will be available on the site shortly.

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