Skool Daze

Want to talks about games you like, would like to see developed on the Oric, it's here.
Godzil
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Post by Godzil » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:19 pm

Symoon wrote:Tried to load the game but I keep having errors, because it's not my usual configuration and I didn't find the right settings I guess.
I should be able to load it with my reliable configuration in 8 days...
That's "fun" it was impossible for me to load the 4Kkong "demo" during the RGC, when it worked perfectly at home with the same cable/oric/pc.. I thought that my Atmos was shy ;)

Anyway the iPod trick works good for me too.

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Dbug
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Post by Dbug » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:28 am

Godzil wrote:
Symoon wrote:Tried to load the game but I keep having errors, because it's not my usual configuration and I didn't find the right settings I guess.
I should be able to load it with my reliable configuration in 8 days...
That's "fun" it was impossible for me to load the 4Kkong "demo" during the RGC, when it worked perfectly at home with the same cable/oric/pc.. I thought that my Atmos was shy ;)

Anyway the iPod trick works good for me too.
Well, you have to think of the electro magnetic noise around and in the power line as well.

I experienced that for the first time in 1997 at the Volcanic 4 demo party: When I tried the demo in my apartment it was loading perfectly all the time, absolutely zero problem.

When I tried at the party place, impossible.

A friend of mine (electronic specialist) who had a lot of equipment in his car came happened to have some spectrum frequency whatnots analyzer, and found out there was a very strong amount of electromagnetic radiations around the machine: We asked to the people in a 2 meter perimeter to turn off their (CRT back in the day) monitors to just do a quick check. The result is that the amount of radiation dropped a lot, and I was able to load without any problem.

The solution for me has always been to install a jack female connector in my Oric case, soldered to the DIN connector from the inside, and use a short shielded jack-jack cable between the Oric and the audio playing device.

Also if the device can work on batteries instead of grid power the better, and in the worse case make sure the Oric and the audio device are on the same power socket.

At least that's my experience :)

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:41 pm

Who knew Chema was such a ladies man? ;)

The exhibition is over, I spent yesterday travelling home so I'm only now catching up with things online again.

Several thousand people attended the show (not sure of the final figures yet, but current estimates are over 3500).

Jason Kelk (Retro Gamer magazine's homebrew journalist, operator of OldSchoolGaming.com and himself a coder of over 20 titles) kindly let us share his display space.

Located in the main entrance hall, I set up my Atmos to run Skool Daze with a laptop to its right running Oricutron. I rotated the other Defence Force games over the weekend, flipping Oricutron between 1337, Mission Impossible, Space 1999 and Stormlord (with a brief showing of Defence Force and Rat Splat among others following discussion with attendees).

To our left was an Atari console with a flash cart showing original homebrew games and Jason's laptop with his games. To our right extending down the hall were a variety of C64s, Atari 800, BBC etc, even one of the new C64 PCs.

Unfortunately (and I'm quite disappointed by this) I wasn't able to get the planned posters printed. Work got in the way of doing so before I travelled and we had printing issues on site that prevented it. One of our forum members and fellow Oric owners Coolman graciously took me out in his car to try and rectify this but sadly the only known printing place had a 24 hour turnaround, making it not really viable. This was a great shame as I thought they really sold the game and the forum here. At least I had this thread printed out for the coders to coo over the code and tech talk ;).
Coolman proved to be an interesting chap to talk to with an extensive Oric collection. Conscious that I had to get back to work at the venue I declined his kind offer of lunch at his house and a viewing of his collection, but if we're back in Blackpool next year I certainly plan to get in touch to arrange something beforehand - he was so kind and enthusiastic it would be rude not to. I'm hoping he's not too offended by my declining his initial offer.

On Saturday morning I had to rely on emulation for a couple of hours while I fought with loading Skool Daze on the Atmos. As mentioned earlier, I turned here for help before finally remembering I had a copy on my iPod that proved to be our saviour. From that point on, using the BASIC listing DOKE trick I was able to reload the game in 40 seconds if it crashed or was reset by attendees. This was very reliable once I discovered what to do, working every time.

The game itself ran very well. I did find it locked up a few times, but I suspect this was down to my hardware and people moving it around, jiggling the power connector slightly when doing so and corrupting things. More playtesting on real hardware might confirm this.

The game itself received an extremely warm reception. It seems many people have fond memories past and present of the game on Spectrum and C64, especially the ladies! More than once I heard a squeal of joy as someone saw it running. Children seemed very drawn to it, no doubt due to its subject and almost all took great delight in renaming the characters. Fortunately I didn't see any rude names used...

While most were familiar with the original, there was generally a surprised reaction when I pointed out this was a new conversion of the game, and that it was for the Oric. New games for old systems seemed a new concept to many, but more so was the fact that it was the Oric receiving them. This seemed to impress people as they had the common misconception that the Oric couldn't really do the 'good' games that other systems had.

I did explain that this was still in its final test stages and I wasn't the author, but that it had come from Spain. Credit where its due. When doing so I'd point them at the other games. Space 1999 was also very attractive for the crowd with its colourful intro and unusual isometric perspective for the platform. The fact its also Chema's work left them suitably impressed.

Saturday was a very busy day and I found myself almost constantly with jobs to do or attendees to talk to and help out.

On Sunday we'd sorted out most of the issues around the show which gave us more time to ourselves to actually see and play a few of the other games on show. I caught a Robotron cab briefly unattended so hopped on there for a bit, tried Tempest 3k on Jeff Minter's Nuon, played the Star Wars mini cab and was most impressed by Star Wars Episode 1 pinball (with a near unique display at the rear, where video projects down over the playfield so the ball passes through it! - you have to see it to fully comprehend it).

I'd say it was a great success with some lessons learned for me about exhibiting. Perhaps next year I'll be more organised and have some new wares to show?

I've not got many, but a few pics will follow shortly. There are lots to view on Facebook and one of the Retro Gamer forum members is compiling a list of albums and links for anyone who wants to see more.

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:21 pm

Myself on the left, the snappily dressed Coolman66 on the right, Skool Daze on my Atmos in the middle. I want one of those shirts!

Image

Stuck in D' 80s (aka SID 80s) played on Saturday evening. As always, their lineup changed so this time we had (from left to right):
Jon Hare, Ben Daglish, Fred Gray, Andreas Wallström and Jeremy Longley.

Image

The Atmos in action:

Image

Image

Opposing views along the length of our stand:

Image

Image

Skool Daze crossing generational boundaries as parent and child have fun:

Image

These pics make it look like a small event as we're in one small part of it. There was another corridor full of dozens of pinballs, a challenge room where competitions were being run with a dozen or so tables of systems and a huge hall with what must have been hundreds of game systems. Other people have some good pics of the main hall though none really give the sense of scale when you're there.

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Post by Chema » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:49 pm

:) Really nice story and photos, Antiriad!

I am sure you had an excellent time at Replay Expo.

Many many thanks for your support and for showing the world what our little Oric can do.

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Dbug
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Post by Dbug » Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:40 pm

Agreed with what Chema wrote, and I want such a tshirt too!

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Post by Godzil » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:45 pm

Dbug wrote:Well, you have to think of the electro magnetic noise around and in the power line as well.

I experienced that for the first time in 1997 at the Volcanic 4 demo party: When I tried the demo in my apartment it was loading perfectly all the time, absolutely zero problem.

When I tried at the party place, impossible.

A friend of mine (electronic specialist) who had a lot of equipment in his car came happened to have some spectrum frequency whatnots analyzer, and found out there was a very strong amount of electromagnetic radiations around the machine: We asked to the people in a 2 meter perimeter to turn off their (CRT back in the day) monitors to just do a quick check. The result is that the amount of radiation dropped a lot, and I was able to load without any problem.

The solution for me has always been to install a jack female connector in my Oric case, soldered to the DIN connector from the inside, and use a short shielded jack-jack cable between the Oric and the audio playing device.

Also if the device can work on batteries instead of grid power the better, and in the worse case make sure the Oric and the audio device are on the same power socket.

At least that's my experience :)
Sounds plausible for me, my atmos was on a battery, but not my computer, and the audio cable is not really well shielded. That can explain a lots of things :)

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Symoon
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Post by Symoon » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:02 am

Godzil wrote:
Dbug wrote:Well, you have to think of the electro magnetic noise around and in the power line as well.
Sounds plausible for me, my atmos was on a battery, but not my computer, and the audio cable is not really well shielded. That can explain a lots of things :)
We're going off-topic, but I'm dreaming of a reliable two-ways audio connection to a PC sound card. I have experienced too many ununderstandable problems, at least for an ignorant in electricity/electronics like me.
Maybe some wireless systems would be the solution? (I have no idea what could exist). But that probably means yet more PSUs...

Anyway, thanks for the report Antiriad, that seemed quite a cool meeting.

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Chema
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Post by Chema » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:08 pm

Though a bit out of topic, I think this discussion about reliably loading in our Orics is really interesting. Of course the solution would always be having something like Cumulus and forgetting about loading from wav files, but I am not sure if this will be possible.

I must check with a better cable and try to avoid interferences in my system (maybe even switching the TV off!).

And I also thought about writting a compact routine to calculate a dirty checksum. Something easy such as (for testing from $500 to $a000):

Code: Select all

      lda #0
      tay
      clc
 loop
      adc $0500,y  ; The high byte of address is incremented by SMC below
      iny
      bne loop
     
      ldx loop+2
      cpx #$a0
      beq end
      inc loop+2
      bne loop   ; This always branches
end
      cmp #CHKSUMVAL ; Taken from the value in Reg A with the debugger in an initial run
      bne load_error           
              
Written by memory just now, so maybe full of bugs and clumsy, but would serve to give an idea. Does it make sense?

EDIT: An 8-bit checksum is not the best thing to detect errors, but better than nothing

Anyway I don't have room for even that routine in Skool Daze now :(

And back to topic, I have killed the latest bugs in the game. I let it run for some time in demo mode (several hours) with no problems. I played a bit without noticing anything strange, though I would need to try to finish it again to see if I did not introduce anything nasty.

Indeed, Antiriad, the game had some bugs, one of them causing the Oric to hang after some time playing or in demo mode (showed something weird in the red box, such as Mr Creak/Playtime).

I am preparing a readme file to distribute along with the game, but I am basically waiting fror a new release of Oricutron to release this (even in a beta version).

Anything you'd like me to include in the distribution?

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Post by Dbug » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:30 pm

The checksum code can be reduced a bit.
Instead of reloading the adress, just start with X=0xA0-0x05, decrement X until nul :)

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Chema
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Post by Chema » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:17 am

Indeed... Something like:

Code: Select all

      lda #0 
      tay 
      ldx #NUMBER_OF_PAGES ; pages to check $a0-$05 in this example
      clc 
 loop 
      adc $0500,y  ; The high byte of address is incremented by SMC below 
      iny 
      bne loop 
      
      dex
      beq end 
      inc loop+2 
      bne loop   ; This always branches 
end 
      cmp #CHKSUMVAL ; Taken from the value in Reg A with the debugger in an initial run 
      bne load_error
 
Still too big for me :(

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Dbug
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Post by Dbug » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:23 pm

Was more thinking like that:

Code: Select all

	lda #0 
	tay 
	ldx #NUMBER_OF_PAGES ; pages to check $a0-$05 in this example 
	clc 
loop 
	adc $0500,y  ; The high byte of address is incremented by SMC below 
	iny 
	bne loop 
	
	inc loop+2 
	dex 
	bne loop
	
	cmp #CHKSUMVAL ; Taken from the value in Reg A with the debugger in an initial run 
	bne load_error
Have to admit I'm not quite sure if it can be made any smaller :)
About signaling the error, what I was thinking was just to do something like showing a red square at the end of the screen:

Code: Select all

	lda #16+1
	sta $bfdf

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:50 pm

There's a small mention of us at Replay and some pics on Jason Kelk's blog here:
http://jasonkelk.me.uk/2011/11/return-from-replay-2011/

I'd also forgotten to post this, the second of the posters I knocked up for display but didn't get the opportunity to print:

Image

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Chema
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Post by Chema » Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:03 pm


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Post by barnsey123 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:19 am

@antiriad
Love the poster! I'm deffo going to this event next year! I must get one of those oric T-shirts...

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