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 Post subject: Big Announcment! ALE / LAE
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 6:13 pm 
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Ok I've waited for someone to make a laserdisc engine long enough, so I've decided to take matters into my own hand.

I'm proud to announce the start of two new projects.....

ALE (American Lightgun Engine) and LAE (LaserDisc Action Engine)

The purpose of these two projects is to develop two forms of robust scripting language.... One for twitch response lasergames like Dragon's Lair and another for aiming/lightgun games like Cobra Command and Maddog. And as a nice side-effect, I will have to write a small, stand-alone graphics engine for both of them. I've already started work on ALE and I already have a simple engine that can display video, sound and graphics/text displayed overtop of the video. I will start work on LAE after this engine is further developed as it's engine/script will essentially be a dumbed down version of the ALE stuff.


Ok enough of the hype, Let's get to the Key issues:


The Good News

If any of you know me from my reputation at BYOAC you know that I don't start projects and leave them unfinished. So now that I've announced the start of these projects you can be assured that evenutally we will have some sort of workable engine and scripting language.

I'm also making a guied editor that's similar to a timeline style editor that you would use in movie editing. This should help development as you won't have ot have proramming skill to make a game, just some common sense about the structure.

I have the scripting system almost finished. It's extremely generic, but because of this you should be able to do things I never intended. The script uses a "on this frame do this" or "on hitting this box do this" style of doing things, with commands as simple as "jump to this frame" or "display this sprite". In total there are only about 3 commands with 3 sub-commands each. But using these in the rights combinations, you can do anything I've ever seen done in a laserdisc game and even a few things I havne't seen done.


The Bad News

I don't have a lot of time to dedicated to developing a fancy graphics system from scratch. Because of this I've decided to take the cheap way out and develop a quick and dirty engine in vb6. Yes, I said vb. Yes it does actually work, the engine already does everything graphically it needs to do. The only drawback to doing this is a vb6 engine takes more resources. It seems to work fine on your average modern pc though. Go ahead and insert your flames about this decision here. :D

Fortunately the scripting language is saved in an ascii file and since laser games only need to take input, and display sprites over video, a new engine could be made by someone else quite easily if the system proves itself. I could even see it easily being added as a plugin to daphne. In other words if it catches on, I'm almost expecting someone else to takeover and port it to daphne, so it can, in turn, be ported to other operating systems.


There is one other thing..... My recent tests have found that the wmp plugin (what i'm using to render the video) doesn't like the m2v/ogg combo very well. It is technically doable, but it would cause me a lot more work. Because I don't have a lot of time to work on this project... I've decided the best thing to do would be to only support regular mpegs and mp3s, preferably with the audio and video merged into a single file. It's just easier to deal with things that way. Again... if someone writes a new engine these issues would be removed.


The Test Project:



I've thought about this for a long time and I figured the best way to test the engine/scripts would be to make a fairly advanced and complete game. Unfortunately making a lasergame from scratch would take a loooong time. So long that this woudl become another dead project.

My solution: To take an existing game's graphics and use them to make an entirely new game.

What I came up with was Badlands: Advanced

Badlands is the perfect game. I will take the simple "press to shoot" twitch response gameplay and replace it with a full-fledged lightgun game. I've looked at the death and attack scenes and feel that they will translate very well for lightgun use. I'll probably even render a new intro and title sequence so that it feels like less of a hack.


I would appreciate help with the following:

I need advice on how to best convert m2v/ogg files back into more traditional file formats. Any reccomendations in regards to utilites and techniques would be much appreciated.


If possible I would also like to get ahold of either a good laserdisc of badlands or a better rip of the laserdisc. Before anyone starts offering illegal copys let me assure you that I want to aquire this legitimately. -If need be I will buy the disc outright. Of course I'm not made of money so if anyone wants to starts a collection so we can buy hardware/software for this project then it's fine with me. :wink:

I'm not begging for handouts though. I can still make a nice end-product with what I currently have and if need be, I'll bite the bullet and fork over some cash.




Now I realize that at this point many of you are thinking "another vaporware project that won't get anywhere." I assure you this isn't the case. I'll post pics and maybe some sample vids as I get farther along with the project. Right now I'm roughing out the graphics layout for the game. Hopefully I can get some screenshots up soon. One of the main things I'm doing is making sure sprites look like they belong on modern games and not games of the 80's. Nostalga is good and all, but I want to update soem things just a little.


Ok enough of my over-hyping. I'm just very excited about this and wanted you guys to know exactly what I am up to.

Questions, comments and suggestions are welcomed and would actually be appreciated.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 5:48 pm 
DAPHNE Creator
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This sounds cool. It sounds like you are proposing a simple interpreted scripting language, which sounds like a good idea to me. Have you given any thought to simple variables and conditional branching (so that you can keep track of score and lives?) Perhaps a simple random number generator too (so scenes could be randomized like in Badlands). Of course it shouldn't be too complicated, but it seems to me that you'd at least need those things to make a game.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:01 am 
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Yeah the engines will internally take care of about a dozen things that the scripting langauge just has to call to update/init/read/ect them.

I *think* the variables are:

GameOver (if the game is in play)
Lives/Energy
Score
Hi Score
Bullets Remaining (for lightgun games)
and a few misc others....

Randomness is also covered by the engine.... when you define scenes to jump to you can define multiple scenes. When you do this the engine automatically chooses a scene you haven't visited yet at random. If you define one scene then it moves linerally.

I'm also working on a generic "dipswitch" screen in which you can adjust things like the number of lives/energy to start out with, ect.... and weather or not you wish to enable random scenes.

So speaking all of this outloud.... I guess the engine isn't that simple, it just seemed like it to me. :wink:


Anyway... I think I've almost finished the scripting language. I'll post it here within the next few days. Before I start coding it in it would be nice to get some feedback.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 8:48 pm 
DAPHNE Creator
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HowardC wrote:
Anyway... I think I've almost finished the scripting language. I'll post it here within the next few days. Before I start coding it in it would be nice to get some feedback.


I would strongly urge you to require some kind of version identifier at the beginning of the script. Ie ...

VERSION=1.0

And make it so the script won't "compile" if that is missing.

The reason this is important is that it is pretty likely that you will want to make changes to the language shortly after its initial release and you will probably want an easy way to determine whether your current engine will support the current version of the script.

When I first made the .DAT file format (incredibly simple format hehe) I didn't put a version in the header and when I wanted to make changes later, I realized that having a version ID would've been really handy.

Also I don't know if you've messed around with flex/bison much... I used them to write a compiler in school. They are kind of a nightmare to learn, but once you get them working, they are pretty danged handy for writing a compiler (or an interpreter as the case may be hehe).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2004 2:20 am 
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Just a quick update.... I've been sick lately so it's going to be a while before I can get back to this. I haven't been ignoring you guys, it's just going to be a few days. Btw I found a program to convert the m2v files... so that's one problem solved. I'll get a working script posted sometime next week.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 10:06 pm 
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yet another update.... After re-encoding the badlands video I decided that the engine I was using wouldn't cut it. It's fast enough, I just can't detect the current frame accurately enough to change scenes properly. I will have to convert my current engine to a directx-based engine. As I have other projects that need finished, this will take some time, but I will get it done.

Be patient, I'm getting there. :wink:

HAC


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