TANGLEWOOD Tech Demo 0.1.04 Released

A fresh demo of Tanglewood has been released, showing off some big changes, brought to you by our newly formed, Kickstarter funded team!

Click to reserve your Tanglewood cartridge for SEGA Mega Drive

Tech Demo 0.1.04 marks a significant milestone in Tanglewood’s development. We’ve now completed considerable work upgrading the engine, editor and toolchain which will boost our productivity and enable us to realise some big features on our wishlist. We’ve used the updated tools to re-implement most of the existing work to a far higher standard than the original demo, and we hope it shows!

The demo is still only a small slice of what’s to come. It shows off one of the nine environments in Tanglewood, and only one of the six enemy types we have planned. We have a big bag of mechanics and tricks and puzzles ready to roll out for the other levels, and hopefully we’ll be able to show some of those off soon!

Download the demo ROM here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/as5beiw709o141f/TANGLEWD.BIN

The ROM has been tested with all major emulators, but naturally, we recommend you play on a genuine SEGA console 😉

Megafounder Continued Funding

We’ll be using our new demo release to drive a promotional campaign to see the end of the Megafounder funding stage off with a bang, and hopefully reach that last stretch goal for the SEGA Dreamcast HD conversion!

We’ll be running the continued crowdfunding for around 4 weeks following this release, before we close it down and start counting the materials needed for manufacture.

As usual, please lend us a hand spreading details of our continued campaign, by sharing this link around: https://www.megafounder.com/tanglewood

Matt

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Tanglewood Tech Demo 0.0.11

I’m pleased to announce the very first tech demo release of Tanglewood!

The demo represents the first milestone in Tanglwood’s development. It is a proof of the engine, editor, toolchain and content pipeline, the basic mechanics of the game, controls and platforming behaviour, the art and animation styles, and some early puzzles.

These two levels have been a sandbox for mechanics and puzzle testing since development of the game began, and with a little work they’ve been turned into functional showcases for Tanglewood’s early progress.

tech_demo_titles

tech_demo_screen1

This is a prototype of a game in its very early stages of development. Some assets are placeholder, and all tech is a work in progress. The look, feel, quality and feature set may not be representative of the final product.

The tech demo contains tests of the following features:

– Nymn: basic movement and platforming, sleep/wake up behaviour, running, walking, jumping, pushing (animation missing), rolling, gliding, death
– Fuzzls: all alert states, physics, and rolling behaviour
– Djakk monsters: initial encounter logic, A.I. behaviour tree, tracking, attacking, search patterns
– Colour abilities: yellow (glide) and green (time slow/cloak)
– Flues: varying output velocities and hold durations, multiple occupants, linked flues
– Boulders: physics, rolling behaviour, cracking and respawning
– Director Cam cutscenes
– Time of day system
– Static blockades

tech_demo_screen2

tech_demo_screen3

It’s an early tech demo/prototype, so expect to see these problems and more:

– Missing fall animation
– Missing push animation
– Framerate drop during Djakk monster encounter in Level 1
– It’s possible to get Fuzzls stuck against walls if they’re rolling fast enough to jump over flues
– It’s possible to get the Fuzzls in Level 2 stuck by rolling them back to the flue at the start
– The Djakk in Level 2 can reach the flue on the right-hand side if left alone in search state for a long time
– It’s possible to get Nymn to sleep in mid-air by jumping at the end of a level
– It’s possible to push the boulder in Level 2 whilst using time-slow ability (boulder won’t animate)
– Footstep sound effects take priority over others, which may result in some SFX cutting out whilst running (ambience, Fuzzl SFX)
– Many known sprite/background draw priority glitches, and tile flipping errors
– Dead Djakks use the older placeholder palette (yellow feet/teeth)
– Occasionally the wrong instruments are chosen for an SFX (emulator only)
– Double-tapping C with the cloak ability will choose the wrong palette

tech_demo_screen4

tech_demo_screen5

Download link over at the Tanglewood forum

Tanglewood: Colour Switching

Colour is everything in Tanglewood. It is a life force that can be given, shared, stolen, or used as currency.

Every animal and plant in Tanglewood has a distinct colour, and that colour may play an advantage or disadvantage to the player. The organic world may respond in a positive manner if Nymn is a matching colour. For example, a length of twisted vines blocking your way may open up for Nymn if you find a way to switch to the same colour, or even move or entice a matching coloured creature to sit next to it.

Monsters may behave differently depending if you are a matching or opposing colour, and will either give chase or hang back on the assumption that you are a member of their pack.

In Nymn’s case, his colour is his power. Born a red fellow, he can’t do many things by default, but when transformed into a blue, green or yellow creature his world is opened up to bigger and better possibilities.

In the previous article I mentioned that the humble little Fuzzls will reward Nymn for helping them back to their nests. A Fuzzl will allow Nymn to take its colour for himself, transforming Nymn to match, and allowing him to use the special ability provided by that colour.

colour_switch

This week we’ve been implementing Nymn’s first power colour – yellow. This particular colour gives Nymn the ability to glide over long distances to previously unreachable areas.

Here’s a clip:

Matt

Tanglewood: Introducing Fuzzls

Introducing Fuzzls

Tanglewood’s world is alive with the strangest of creatures, from little to large, good to evil. The Fuzzl is a neutral, furry, confused, and easily startled member of the club.

fuzzl_64_blueFuzzls began life in a tech demo for a physics game written back in my University days, and since then they’ve been crammed into almost every game design I’ve been a part of, but until now have never made it past the concept stage and to fruition. They’ve finally found their permanent home in Tanglewood, or not, seeing as they too are lost from home, and need Nymn’s help to get back to their nests.

Fuzzls sleep at night, come back during the day!

Fuzzls sleep at night, come back during the day!

Nymn can roll these little ones (if they’re awake…) back to their nests. The Fuzzls dish out handsome rewards for your efforts, but those details will come in a later post. They can also use Flues; if you drop a terrified and unsuspecting Fuzzl into one, they’ll fling sky high up into a tree branch!

Fuzzls aren’t the smartest of creatures, but they play a large role in Tanglewood, and have quite a history. They were once domestic pets of various races, including the Djun. Some of the more advanced – but now extinct – species used Fuzzls to power contraptions, as counterweights for lifts and hoists, and even to hug for stress relief, but now they’re left alone to live out their lives sleeping, or getting startled by their own shadows.

Nobody knows what they do, what they eat, how they mate, what goes on in their little minds, if they can communicate, or how they still exist as a species without being able to perform basic functions of their own. They just… are.

I’ve captured a short video showing a Fuzzl’s basic behaviour. It’s in its early prototype stages so there are a few quirks to sort out, but the basics are all working. Enjoy!

Matt

Tanglewood: Introducing Nymn

Introducing Nymn

Nymn is Tanglewood’s protagonist, a shy creature from a family-oriented species called the Djun race, who survive in packs, live underground, and only emerge during daylight. Night time is dangerous for Nymn and his fellow Djun, since many of Tanglewood’s less desirable characters emerge after dark to chase, intimidate, hunt and eat any strays who should have retreated underground.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the situation Nymn has found himself in. Lost, alone and missing his family, Nymn is desperate to find a way to get back to his underground pack before nightfall sets in and he becomes the victim of a sadistic hunting game, which will almost certainly end in his demise.

Controlling Nymn

NymnThe small teaser video from last week showed Nymn walking through the world for a small glimpse of the environment, but the gameplay itself will be faster paced; Nymn is a quick and nimble creature who can walk on two legs, and scurry along quickly on all four. The platforming experience of Tanglewood is one that I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting – it’s important to me that Nymn’s controls and physical behaviours are accessible and familiar to fans of both legacy Mega Drive titles and the modern platforming games by which Tanglewood was inspired. Since my initial platform code demos in January I’ve added a whole suite of movement features, and spent many hours tweaking and perfecting movement behaviour and response.

There are a lot of variables at play here – walk acceleration, run acceleration, max walk velocity, max run velocity, floor drag, in-air drag, gravity, critical mass, walk-to-run transition speed, forced deceleration, jump impulse, step heights, multiple jump ground heights… you get the idea. There’s a few bits left to do, too, such as a separate acceleration value for controlling Nymn’s left/right movement whilst in air; a practice that has dwindled in favour of physical realism, but was synonymous with platforming games at the time and would be sorely missed.

nym_run

Nymn’s animations are something that we are very proud of. The character design has been through several iterations, and endured many tiny tweaks in order for it to appear as smooth as the hardware allows, and we hope it shows. There’s still a lot of work left to do to iron out some of the creases, but we’re getting there.

I’ll leave you with a small sample of Nymn’s basic movements:

Matt

 

Follow Tanglewood on Twitter: @tanglewoodgame

Introducing Tanglewood – an Original Title for the SEGA Mega Drive

UPDATE 2: Play the Tanglewood Tech Demo! Go here:

https://bigevilcorporation.co.uk/2016/08/21/tanglewood-tech-demo-0-0-11/

 

UPDATE 1: Looking for gameplay? More info here:

https://bigevilcorporation.co.uk/2015/11/18/tanglewood-introducing-nymn/

https://bigevilcorporation.co.uk/2015/11/26/tanglewood-introducing-fuzzls/

https://bigevilcorporation.co.uk/2016/01/12/tanglewood-colour-switching/

https://bigevilcorporation.co.uk/2016/05/28/tanglewood-introducing-djakk-monsters/

Introducing Tanglewood

Tanglewood is a new and original platforming title for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, which lends inspiration from games like Limbo, Abe’s Oddysee, Flashback and Another World. It’s a dark and moody tale that follows the life of a creature who has gotten lost after dark – a dangerous thing to do in Tanglewood’s world – and a struggle to get back home to safety.

The game features a familiar 2D platforming experience to Mega Drive veterans, a world full of interesting characters, creatures and enemies, puzzles and traps, a day/night time cycle, and a charming story.

IMG_20151111_180414

Tanglewood is being developed in pure 68000 assembly language, using a Cross Products development kit (1993 model) and custom tools.

I’ll be revealing characters, mechanics and lore gradually, but here’s a brisk walk though the basic environment which shows off day/dusk/night cycles, falling leaves, fireflies, and the game’s protagonist, Nymn:

Follow @tanglewoodgame on Twitter for updates!

Sega Megadrive – 10: Sound Part I – The PSG Chip

Okay, despite my promises of regular updates I’ve fallen a little behind, and you can thank a short holiday, music festivals, my Real Job™, and many many videogames for that.

Welcome to the first article in the Sound series! Being a full-time audio engine programmer, game audio is a subject very close to me, so this should get quite tasty. One of the most nostalgic and fondly remembered parts of my childhood were the soundtracks accompanying my favourite games, many of which I still find technically impressive, especially considering the machine’s audio capabilities didn’t really weigh up to those of its competing consoles, requiring the sound designers to squeeze so much out of so little.

There are three chips which can create, or are involved in the creation of sound in the Megadrive:

The PSG chip

The Programmable Sound Generator, the same Texas Instruments SN76489 chip used in the Sega Master System. It’s a simple device, comprising 4 mono channels – 3 channels generate a square wave at varying frequencies, and the 4th is a white noise generator. Each channel can have its attenuation modified, and the frequency of the wave or density of the white noise.

It’s got a good trick up its sleeve – you can set the wave generators to stick at +ve, then switch the attenuation registers high and low very quickly to make it behave like a 1-bit DAC, meaning it’s capable of playing PCM data. It won’t win any sound quality awards, and with the available memory I doubt it could stream entire soundtracks, but it can pull of some short voice overs and sound effects which can’t be synthesised.

The FM chip

The Yamaha YM2612 – a stereo, 6 channel sound chip with lots to brag about. 6 FM voices with 4 operators each, Yamaha synthesizer patch compatibility, envelopes, a distortion oscillator, two built-in timers, and a DAC for playing 8-bit PCM data.

Each ‘operator’ of a channel has an input and output (from and to other operators, or the final output), a frequency and an envelope. These operators can be routed in various formations to create algorithms suited for different instrument types (harp, strings, flute, brass, xylophone, piano, organ, guitar and various percussion). It’s quite a complex beast and requires some serious effort to get anything other than basic beeps out of it, but I’ve found plenty of documentation and examples so hopefully I can get it singing.

The Z80 chip

The 8-bit Zilog Z80, which was the Sega Master System’s main CPU, made its way to the Genesis both for backwards compatibility and as a slave CPU to the 68000. Neither of the sound chips can be programmed and left to get on with it, they need their hands holding for the whole session, having data fed to them constantly. This would be quite a pain to manage on the 68k, and it would be impossible to keep up a feed of PCM data whilst trying to process an entire game at the same time, so the Z80 can be used as a secondary CPU for managing the audio. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any knowledge of the sound chips or how to operate them by default – we need to write our own sound driver (a sequencer, and a program to feed PCM data) in Z80 assembler, generate a binary and load it on startup. This means learning another assembly language, but I’m certainly up for the challenge.

Programming the PSG

I won’t jump straight in the deep end and write a Z80 audio driver just yet, I need to get a handle on the basics. This article covers the simplest case – operating the PSG from the 68000.

The PSG has 4 channels3 square wave generators and 1 white noise generator. I’ll concentrate on just the wave generators to begin with. Each channel is controlled by 2 registers: one for the attenuation, and one for the wave generator’s counter reset. The attenuation registers are 4 bits in size, allowing 16 possible volume values, from 0x0 (no attenuation; full volume) to 0xF (full attenuation; no volume). The counter reset registers are 10 bits in size, and store the square wave’s time until the polarity of the output is flipped in clock ticks / 16 (essentially the “wave width / 2”).

So, assuming an NTSC setup with a clock frequency of 3579545 Hz, a register value of 0xFE would generate a square wave at a  frequency of 440.4 Hz (3579545  ÷ (2 x 16 x reg value)).

To program the PSG, we write to its control port at 0x00C00011, one byte at a time. The most significant bit is the latch, telling the chip that this is the first or only byte it’s expected to receive. Bits 6-5 mark the channel ID (0 – 3) that we’re about to modify. Bit 4 indicates that we’re writing either the attenuation value or wave/noise settings. That leaves 4 bits for the data, which may or may not be enough. If there wasn’t enough space, we send a second byte with the latch bit OFF, indicating it contains the remaining data and is not a new command, with the upper 6 bits of data in bits 5-0.

So, a quick recap:

First byte:
Bit 7    : Latch. ON indicates this is the first (or only) byte being written
Bits 6-5 : Channel ID (0-3)
Bit 4    : Data type. ON if data bits contain attenuation value, OFF if they contain the square wave counter reset
Bits 3-0 : The data. Either all 4 bits of the attenuation value, or the lower 4 bits of counter reset value

Second byte:
Bit 7    : Latch. OFF indicates this is the second byte, and will only contain the remainder of data
Bit 6    : Unused
Bits 5-0 : Upper 6 bits of data

So, let’s make channel 0 produce 440.4hz. The first byte needs the latch ON (to indicate it’s the first byte), the channel ID, the data type bit OFF (to indicate we’re writing a counter reset value), and the lower 4 bits of the value 254. The second byte needs the latch OFF (it’s the second byte), and the upper 6 bits of the value 254.

They’re written to the PSG control port at address 0x00C00011:

move.b #%10001110, 0x00C00011 ; Latch ON, channel 0, counter data type, lower 4 bits of data
move.b #%00001111, 0x00C00011 ; Latch OFF, upper 6 bits of data

The channel will have been initialised fully attenuated, so we need to turn the volume up to hear anything. The attenuation is specified in 4 bits, where 0 is fully attenuated and 16 is full volume, so we can fit the command and data in a single byte. Latch needs to be ON, channel ID is 0, data type bit ON to indicate attenuation data, followed by the 4-bit value:

move.b #%10010000, 0x00C00011 ; Latch OFF, channel 0, attenuation data type, 4 bits of data

Immediately after writing, the PSG will emit a constant tone of 440.4hz, at full volume.

A poor man’s sequencer

Even with just one feature of the PSG covered, it’s enough to make a basic tune. By defining an array of counter reset values, with sustain times, we can iterate over them and play the notes. Here’s some example data – it’s one crudely written line from Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. Each “note” is 32 bits in size, the first word is the sustain time in vsync frames, and the second word is the counter reset value:

 chan0_notes:
   dc.w 0x0010, 0x02f8, 0x0010, 0x02cd, 0x0010, 0x02a5, 0x0010, 0x01aa, 0x0008, 0x0000 ; D3 D#3 E3 C4 .
   dc.w 0x0010, 0x02a5, 0x0010, 0x01aa, 0x0008, 0x0000 ; E3 C4 .
   dc.w 0x0010, 0x02a5, 0x0010, 0x01aa, 0x0010, 0x0000 ; E3 C4 .
   dc.w 0x0010, 0x01aa, 0x0010, 0x0193, 0x0010, 0x017c, 0x0010, 0x0152, 0x0010, 0x01aa, 0x0010, 0x017c, 0x0010, 0x0152, 0x0008, 0x0000 ; C4 C#4 D4 E4 C4 D4 E4 .
   dc.w 0x0010, 0x01c4, 0x0010, 0x017c, 0x0008, 0x0000 ; B3 D4 .
   dc.w 0x0010, 0x01aa ; C4
 chan0_notes_end
 chan0_notes_len equ chan0_notes_end-chan0_notes
 chan0_notes_count equ chan0_notes_len/4

In order to play it, we loop over the notes, apply the counter reset value to channel 0, and wait for the defined amount of frames. It’s pretty simple:

 move.b #%10010000, psg_control ; Channel 0 full volume

 lea chan0_notes, a0            ; Notes to a0
 move.l #chan0_notes_count, d1  ; Number of notes to d1
 subi.l #0x1, d1                ; -1 for counter

 @NextNote:

 move.w (a0)+, d0       ; Delay to d0 and inc. pointer
 move.w (a0)+, d2       ; Counter reset to d2 and inc. pointer
 move.b d2, d3          ; Lower byte of counter reset to d3
 and.b #%00001111, d3   ; Clear top nybble (leave lower 4 bits)
 or.b #%10000000, d3    ; Latch bit (7) on, chan 0 (6-5), tone data bit (4) off
 move.b d3, psg_control ; Write to PSG port

 move.w d2, d3          ; Counter reset to d3 again
 ror.w #0x4, d3         ; Shift right 4 bits
 and.b #%00111111, d3   ; Only need bits 5-0 (upper 6 bits of the 10 bit value)
 move.b d3, psg_control ; Write to PSG port

 move.l d1, -(sp)       ; Backup d1
 jsr WaitFrames         ; Delay frames is in d0
 move.l (sp)+, d1       ; Restore d1

 dbra d1, @NextNote     ; Branch back up to play the next note

 move.b #%10011111, psg_control ; Finished - silence channel 0

It’s a good start, but it will need many improvements. At the very least, it should support all three square wave channels, and a higher frequency timer. Also, each note should come with a “note on” time, so we don’t need to create “empty” notes for silence, and instead have arbitrary start times. To make it more advanced, we could implement software ADSR envelopes to bring some life to each note with a softer attack and a fade out.

I’ll be building on my sequencer with each new sound feature I learn, and I have plans to write an authoring tool to compose music on a PC, instead of looking up the frequency of each note, converting it to a counter reset value and manually typing it into a text editor! The sequencer will eventually need translating to Z80 assembly language, too.

Well, this was quite a short article, I’ll try and pick up the pace again soon. I’ve missed out the white noise generator, but to really show it off I need to add some finely tuned support to my sequencer for it, so perhaps it deserves – along with many sequencer improvements – a post of its own.

Matt.

Source

Assemble with:

asm68k.exe /p soundtest.asm,soundtest.bin

References

Sega Megadrive – 9: Maps and scrolling planes

Okay! Things are going smoothly, I’ve been managing to write up a article once every three weeks so I’ll try to keep that pace going. Here’s the next couple of things I’ve been dabbling in: loading plane data from maps, then scrolling them vertically and horizontally.

First, some corrections: I made a few errors in the source of the last post, mainly to do with the number of bytes copied when updating a sprite animation frame (basic maths, typical me), so the source at the bottom should clear up the mess.

The VDP’s plane A and B memory space can fit in more tile descriptors than there are cells – the surplus is hidden offscreen ready for scrolling. Typically, the data describing the entire scrolling field would come from a map of sorts, which would contain the tile IDs, palette IDs and flipping info for every cell in the entire level. This data would usually be generated from some map designing program to make it easier. I found several tools to do the job, alas they were very much DOS based and I had difficulties getting them to run under Windows 7, even using DOSbox. I settled on MMM, a very basic (but good enough for my needs) Genesis map editor which is able to import tilesets from BMP2Tile, my tool of choice for converting BMP images, which is perfect.

First, I need some test data. I spent an evening hand crafting a basic tileset which could be used for a simple platform game – four rounded corners, green grassy top, with various soil tiles and even two plants. Not bad for the world’s worst artist, I think:

The idea is to forward plan the re-use of each tile. Ignoring the flower for a minute: the 4 border tiles either side can only be used at the sides of one platform island, but the two centre columns of soil/grass can be placed many times in the middle to make the island longer or shorter. The one odd soil tile (two from the bottom, two from the right) can be dotted around the island to make large areas of soil less repetitive. Well, that’s the idea, if it was executed better and perhaps with a bigger tileset, but I’m keeping it simple for the learning process. The flower can either be very tall, as presented in the tileset itself, or just the top two tiles could be used to make a short flower. The two stem tiles themselves could be used alone to make a small headless plant, too. The possibilities are… not exactly endless… but with only 20 tiles we can now make something which would pass as a platformer. Notice the very first tile has been left empty, this is to ensure the whole screen doesn’t get filled with some data when the tileset is copied to VRAM, as well as defining the “blank” tile for MMM.

It could have been optimised further; I didn’t realise MMM supported flipping until after I’d finished my test map. This would have allowed to me to do the same thing with just a 4×4 tileset, since I could get away with flipping the first column to create the last column.

Making sure to convert the image to indexed colour, save as a BMP, and then open it up in BMP2Tile, the process goes something like this:

  • Press the * key to select the whole region
  • File -> Save Palette -> In ASM
  • File -> Save Tiles -> In ASM
  • File -> Export TLE -> New

The palette and tile data can be tidied up and included as assets in code, but for now we’re just interested in the TLE file. This is the format MMM is able to import for designing maps. BMP2Tile has another option – Save Map – but I can’t figure out how it works or where it gets the map data from. I might have another shot at this later, since MMM exports its final map in binary format, and up until now I’ve been trying to keep everything in text format so I can add metrics to it. It wouldn’t be that difficult to convert it back to a block of dc.b text, it’s just a load of bytes after all.

Next, open up MMM, and select File -> New. I plan to make a horizontally scrolling platform map, so I set the metrics to 64×16, and imported the TLE file dumped out by BMP2Tile:

In the bottom-left hand corner is the tileset, and above it a preview for whichever tile is currently selected. On the right-hand side is the play field. It works pretty simply – select the tile to be placed, then the draw icon, and then click in the playfield to place it. After some messing around, here’s what I came up with:

There. Some islands of varying dimentions, and some plants of varying heights. Then File -> Export Binary to get it out of there.

Copying to VRAM

The dumped BIN file should now contain ready-prepared plane data which can be copied to VRAM in one blast; each word in the file contains the tile ID, palette ID and flipping bits for each cell in a 128×16 field, in a VDP friendly format. However, the tile IDs begin at zero, and it assumes the first palette, so if we were to upload the tileset to any location other than 0x0000 or use an alternative palette slot, we would see incorrect results. Also, I didn’t plan for my map to begin at the top of the screen, it represents a platform for the player to walk on so it needs to be moved further down. So, whilst copying the data we need to modify each word to suit our environment:

LoadMapPlaneA:
 ; a0 (l) - Map address (ROM)
 ; d0 (b) - Size in words
 ; d1 (b) - Y offset
 ; d2 (w) - First tile ID
 ; d3 (b) - Palette ID

 mulu.w  #0x0040, d1            ; Multiply Y offset by line width (in words)
 swap    d1                     ; Shift to upper word
 add.l   #vdp_write_plane_a, d1 ; Add PlaneA write cmd + address
 move.l  d1, vdp_control        ; Move dest address to VDP control port

 rol.l   #0x08, d3              ; Shift palette ID to bits 14-15
 rol.l   #0x05, d3              ; Can only rol 8 bits at a time

 subq.b  #0x01, d0              ; Num words in d0, minus 1 for counter

 @Copy:
 move.w  (a0)+, d4              ; Move tile ID from map data to lower d4
 and.l   #%0011111111111111, d4 ; Mask out original palette ID
 or.l    d3, d4                 ; Replace with our own
 add.w   d2, d4                 ; Add first tile offset to d4
 move.w  d4, vdp_data           ; Move to VRAM
 dbra    d0, @Copy              ; Loop

 rts

If the map’s width doesn’t match the VDP’s setup, I’ll need to modify this to copy the data line by line and offset the address after each one, but it’ll do for now.

We have the tile data and palette in ASM files already, the metrics just need adding to it as per previous articles. The map data itself is in a BIN file, so in order to add some sizes it’ll need wrapping up:

Level1Map:

; Include data from .bin file
incbin    "assets\maps\level1_map.bin"

Level1MapEnd
Level1MapSizeB: equ (Level1MapEnd-Level1Map) ; Map size in bytes
Level1MapSizeW: equ (Level1MapSizeB/2)       ; Map size in words
Level1MapSizeL: equ (Level1MapSizeB/4)       ; Map size in longs

Level1MapDimentions: equ 0x4010              ; Dimentions (W/H)

We also need to tell the VDP the dimentions of our map. VDP register 16 controls the scrolling field size, and is set up using the following bit pattern:

00VV00HH

where:

  • 00 = 32 cells
  • 01 = 64 cells
  • 11 = 128 cells

so for a 128×64 playfield (the smallest we can go to support my 128×16 map), register 16 needs initialising to 0x01.

After setting up the size and adding the three assets to the asset map, it’s ready for testing:

; ************************************
; Load palette
; ************************************
lea Level1Palette, a0 ; Palette source address (ROM) to a0
move.l #0x0, d0       ; Palette slot ID to d0
jsr LoadPalette       ; Jump to subroutine

; ************************************
; Load map tiles
; ************************************
lea      Level1Tiles, a0       ; Tileset source address (ROM) to a0
move.l   #Level1TilesVRAM, d0  ; VRAM dest address to d0
move.l   #Level1TilesSizeT, d1 ; Number of tiles in tileset to d1
jsr      LoadTiles             ; Jump to subroutine

; ************************************
; Load map
; ************************************
lea      Level1Map, a0           ; Map data to a0
move.w   #Level1MapSizeW, d0     ; Size (words) to d0
move.l   #0x18, d1               ; Y offset to d1
move.w   #Level1TilesTileID, d2  ; First tile ID to d2
move.l   #0x0, d3                ; Palette ID to d3
jsr      LoadMapPlaneA           ; Jump to subroutine

Since I’ve now separated palettes into their own asset files, I knocked up a quick LoadPalette routine. It’s not much to look at, see the source if interested.

Anyway, here’s the result:

Somewhere along the way I’ve lost all the black pixels, most likely it’s using colour 0 in the palette (transparency), and my flower doesn’t look how I designed it. I’ll go back and correct it at some point, perhaps the palette can be manually messed with in GIMP before saving.

Scrolling horizontally

The rest of the map is in VRAM ready to scroll to the right to see it. For horizontal scrolling there are three scrolling modespixel, cell and screen. The first mode allows us to scroll each line of pixels individually, the second allows us to scroll each line of cells individually, and the latter allows us to scroll the entire plane in one go. For vertical scrolling, there are just two modes – 2-cell and screen, which either scrolls sets of two cells or the entire plane. For both scroll directions, the scrolling can be nudged in pixel steps.

For horizontal scrolling, the data to describe each line or tile scroll value is stored in VRAM, at the address space defined in VDP register 13 (currently set to 0xD000), but for vertical scrolling the VDP has an entirely separate area of memory called VSRAM. I’m not quite sure why the two are separated, perhaps this chip model didn’t originally have support for vertical scrolling, and it was tacked on at a later date, requiring a new area of memory for the job. Of course, that’s complete guesswork, but I think it’s good guesswork.

I’ll go ahead and assume (perhaps dangerously?) that scrolling vertically is done in the same way as scrolling horizontally, so I’ll just concentrate on horizontal for now. I’m also not too worried about scrolling individual lines of pixels or tiles yet, until I get round to doing wavy water effects, so for simplicity I’ll just scroll the entire screen. First, the scrolling mode needs to be set. This is defined – for both scroll directions – in VDP register 11:

  • Bits 0-1: Horizontal scroll mode (0=screen, 1=pixel, 2=cell)
  • Bit 2: Vertical scroll mode (0=screen, 1=two-cell)

In pixel mode every word in the scroll memory area of VRAM describes the scroll value (in pixels) for a row of pixels. In cell mode every 8th word describes the scroll value (in pixels) for a row of cells. In screen mode, the very first word describes the scroll value (in pixels) for the entire plane.

So, after a lengthy introduction, we simply need to ensure horizontal scrolling is set to mode 0 (0x00 in VDP register 11) and move the scroll value to 0xD000 in VRAM:

move.l  #0x50000003, vdp_control
move.w  #0x0010, vdp_data

This should shift the whole of plane A 16 pixels to the left. To make it a little more useful, let’s scroll it using the joypad:

 move.l #0x0, d6              ; HScroll value

; ************************************
; Main game loop
; ************************************
GameLoop:

; ************************************
; Read gamepad input
; ************************************
 jsr ReadPad1 ; Read pad 1 state, result in d0

 btst   #pad_button_right, d0 ; Check right button
 bne    @NoRight              ; Branch if button off
 subi   #0x1, d6              ; Update H scroll value
 @NoRight:

 btst   #pad_button_left, d0  ; Check left button
 bne    @NoLeft               ; Branch if button off
 addi   #0x1, d6              ; Update H scroll value
 @NoLeft:

; ************************************
; Update scrolling during vblank
; ************************************

 jsr WaitVBlankStart   ; Wait for start of vblank

 move.l  #vdp_write_hscroll, vdp_control ; Update H scrolling (scroll value in d6)
 move.w  d6, vdp_data

 jsr     WaitVBlankEnd ; Wait for end of vblank
 jmp     GameLoop      ; Back to the top

This is all very primitive, though. It’s a relatively tiny map when compared to most scrolling Megadrive games, and since 128 tiles is the widest we can go then we’d need some method of streaming in new map data offscreen whilst scrolling. I’d also like to mess with per-pixel line scrolling and create a water effect at some point, but this will do for now.

Matt.

Source

Assemble with:

asm68k.exe /p scrolltest.asm,scrolltest.bin
References

Sega Megadrive – 8: Animated Sprites

This didn’t take nearly as long as I expected, I managed to knock it out in one afternoon all without looking at an instruction set. This stuff is finally beginning to sink in!

There are several options for animating a sprite, each with its own advantages, quirks and setbacks. The obvious one is to load all tiles for all frames into VRAM, and modify the tile ID in the sprite attribute table each frame. This is the fastest method (in terms of clock cycles) but when you consider a 32×32 sprite, that’s 16 tiles per frame, and with just 8 frames of animation that’s 4kb of VRAM for a very short animation (and I’m pretty sure the majority will end up having more than 8 frames each). The other method is to reserve space for just one frame in VRAM, and upload a new frame during vblanking as required. Straight from ROM, I’d imagine this to be a little slow, which leads us to the third method; caching it to RAM first.

Without any facts and figures to back up my claims of ROM access being slower than RAM (perhaps I’ll write a test later and see for sure), I’ll opt for uploading a new frame to VRAM during vblanking, straight from ROM. If it turns out to be slow later I’ll rethink the method, but for now I’d like to keep the code as simple as I can, without forking out the VRAM cost (since I know for sure that will be an issue later down the line).

I’ve created a small test sprite – 4 frames of 32×32 (16 tiles), each containing one letter of the word SEGA – exported one at a time in exactly the same way as in the previous articles (convert to Indexed Colour Mode in GIMP, saved as BMP, opened in BMP2Tile, set Sprite Output Mode, press * key to select whole bitmap, Save Tiles in ASM):

Let’s go!

Organising Sprite Tile Data

Again, I’m keen to use the preprocessor to make this as painless as possible. This time round, I need a bit more info than the sprite’s size – I’ll need to know eachframe’s size in bytes and tiles, too:

SegaLogo:

dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000001
dc.l    $00000001
dc.l    $00000011

; Rest of frame 1...

SegaLogoTile2:

dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000000
dc.l    $00000001
dc.l    $00000001
dc.l    $00000011

; etc...

SegaLogoEnd                                           ; Sprite end address
SegaLogoSizeB:      equ (SegaLogoEnd-SegaLogo)        ; Animated sprite size in bytes
SegaLogoSizeT:      equ (SegaLogoSizeB/32)            ; Animated sprite size in tiles
SegaLogoSizeF:      equ (SegaLogoSizeT/16)            ; Animated sprite size in frames
SegaLogoOneFrameT:  equ (SegaLogoSizeT/SegaLogoSizeF) ; Size of one frame in tiles
SegaLogoOneFrameB:  equ (SegaLogoSizeB/SegaLogoSizeF) ; Size of one frame in bytes
SegaLogoTileID:     equ (SegaLogoVRAM/32)             ; ID of first tile
SegaLogoDimentions: equ (%1111)                       ; Sprite dimentions (4x4)

I’ve also added the sprite dimentions in a binary nybble, ready for use in the sprite attribute table, since it’s very much a static value and belongs here.

As for its assetmap entry:

SegaLogoVRAM:   equ Sprite2VRAM+Sprite2SizeB
                ; Remember, what comes next needs to be at (SegaLogoVRAM+SegaLogoSizeF),
                ; we only keep one anim frame in VRAM at a time

Sprite Animation Data

I need to define the order in which the frames appear, and for how long they appear. I’ve chosen a very simple (if a little crude) method of an array of bytes, each representing the frame ID to show for each game frame:

SegaLogoAnimData:    ; Animation data (which sprite frame gets displayed for each game frame)

dc.b    0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3

SegaLogoAnimDataEnd  ; End of animation data
SegaLogoAnimNumFrames: equ (SegaLogoAnimDataEnd-SegaLogoAnimData) ; Number of frames in animation data

At the very least, this would compress down well if/when I choose to implement some compression for the art assets. Grabbing the number of frames using the preprocessor is easy too – it’s just the number of bytes it takes up. This allows for up to 256 frames in the image, which I’m pretty sure won’t be a restriction.

Advancing a Sprite Frame

First, I’ll need a counter to keep track of the current frame. This means some organisation of the memory map – I’ve based it on the VRAM asset map method, and added a few defines for various type sizes to make it easier, since it looks like I’m in this for the long run:

; **********************************************
; Various size-ofs to make this easier/foolproof
; **********************************************
SizeByte:    equ 1
SizeWord:    equ 2
SizeLong:    equ 4
SizeTile:    equ 64
SizePalette: equ 64

; ************************************
; System stuff
; ************************************
hblank_counter        equ 0x00FF0000                ; Start of RAM
vblank_counter        equ (hblank_counter+SizeLong)

; ************************************
; Game globals
; ************************************
segalogo_anim_frame   equ (vblank_counter+SizeByte)

To advance the animation by one frame, we need to perform the following steps:

  • Get the current and next frame IDs from the anim data array
  • Increment the frame counter (and wrap round to zero if at end of anim)
  • If the current and next are the same, do nothing, otherwise…
  • Multiply the frame ID with the size of one frame, then add to the address of sprite tile data to get the ROM address of the new frame
  • Move the new sprite frame to VRAM (LoadTiles will do the job)

Here’s the resulting code in one dump, but hopefully the comments should explain each step well enough:

AnimateSpriteFwd:
  ; Advance sprite to next frame
  ; d0 (w) Sprite address (VRAM)
  ; d1 (w) Size of one sprite frame (in bytes)
  ; d2 (w) Number of anim frames
  ; a0 --- Address of sprite data (ROM)
  ; a1 --- Address of animation data (ROM)
  ; a2 --- Address of animation frame counter (RAM, writeable)

  clr.l  d3              ; Clear d3
  move.b (a2), d3        ; Read current anim frame number (d3)
  addi.b #0x1, (a2)      ; Advance frame number
  cmp.b  d3, d2          ; Check new frame count with num anim frames
  bne    @NotAtEnd       ; Branch if we haven't reached the end of anim
  move.b #0x0, (a2)      ; At end of anim, wrap frame counter back to zero
  @NotAtEnd:

  move.b (a1,d3.w), d4   ; Get original frame index (d4) from anim data array
  move.b (a2), d2        ; Read next anim frame number (d2)
  move.b (a1,d3.w), d5   ; Get next frame index (d5) from anim data array

  cmp.b  d3, d4          ; Has anim frame index changed?
  beq    @NoChange       ; If not, there's nothing more to do

  ; spriteDataAddr = spriteDataAddr + (sizeOfFrame * newTileID)
  move.l a0, d2          ; Move sprite data ROM address to d2 (can't do maths on address registers)
  move.w d1, d4          ; Move size of one sprite frame to d4 (can't trash d1, it's needed later)
  mulu.w d5, d4          ; Multiply with new frame index to get new ROM offset (result in d4)
  add.w  d4, d2          ; Add to sprite data address
  move.l d2, a0          ; Back to address register

  jsr LoadTiles          ; New tile address is in a0, VRAM address already in d0, num tiles already in d1 - jump straight to load tiles

  @NoChange:
  rts

No new trickery, it uses all of the familiar opcodes. It does require a large amount of parameters, though. If any routines require any more than this, then perhaps it’s time to start passing them in via the stack.

Putting it to Use

First, we need to load in the first frame ready:

lea      SegaLogo, a0           ; Move animated sprite address to a0
move.l   #SegaLogoVRAM, d0      ; Move VRAM dest address to d0
move.l   #SegaLogoOneFrameT, d1 ; Move number of tiles (in one anim frame only) to d1
jsr      LoadTiles              ; Jump to subroutine

…and not forgetting the sprite attribute entry, with its own palette (just contains transparency and blue):

dc.w 0x0000             ; Y coord (+ 128)
dc.b SegaLogoDimentions ; Width (bits 0-1) and height (bits 2-3) in tiles
dc.b 0x00               ; Index of next sprite (linked list)
dc.b 0x40               ; H/V flipping (bits 3/4), palette index (bits 5-6), priority (bit 7)
dc.b SegaLogoTileID     ; Index of first tile
dc.w 0x0000             ; X coord (+ 128)

Then all that’s needed is to advance the sprite animation during vblanking:

move.l  #SegaLogoVRAM, d0          ; Move sprite VRAM address to d0
move.l  #SegaLogoOneFrameB, d1     ; Move sprite size (num tiles in one anim frame) to d1
move.l  #SegaLogoAnimNumFrames, d2 ; Move number of anim frames to (size of anim data in bytes)  d2
lea     SegaLogo, a0               ; Move address of sprite data (ROM) to a0
lea     SegaLogoAnimData, a1       ; Move address of anim data (ROM) to a1
lea     segalogo_anim_frame, a2    ; Move address of current anim frame (RAM) to a2
jsr     AnimateSpriteFwd           ; Advance sprite animation

To slow down the game loop to see that each frame is displayed correctly (just for debugging purposes), I can actually make use of the delay function I wrote and abandoned in the previous article:

move.l #0x18, d0
jsr WaitFrames

That’s all I got. There’s plenty of improvements that could be made over time, such as writing the equivalent AnimateSpriteRev, and passing an animation speed param to slow it down or speed it up (which I’ll implement sooner rather than later). Here’s a dodgy GIF showing the obvious:

Matt.

Source Code

Assemble with:

asm68k.exe /p spritetest.asm,spritetest.bin