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Cart #12658 | 2015-08-15 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | No License

Got to thinking about Populous today; played the hell out of the game on my Amiga 500 when I was a kid.

This is a first crack at a terrain manipulation demo in that style. There's no game here yet, just a small map you can terraform and a little dude running around willy nilly on it and seeming rather distressed when he's in the water. I may try and build a little game out of it, though just sort of working out how to handle the isometric sprites in a basic way has been the rewarding bit I was aiming for.

A neat discovery in all this was that I could get all of the terrain drawn using 7 distinct sprite shapes, thanks to careful use of horizontal and vertical flipping and palette swaps (and if I wanted to trade a little more code I could get rid of one of those by compositing two others). Was a little bit of a note-taking headache to make that work, but really satisfying once I got it.

Right now the map is just fixed in size (I threw in a little camera movement to follow the cursor around), but an obvious next step tech-wise would be to dynamically scroll through a larger map only showing a chunk of it in the viewport.

Hat tip to YellowAfterlife for their slick isometric demo last week, which put me on to the idea of giving this a shot.

P#12659 2015-08-14 22:03 ( Edited 2015-08-15 13:53)

This is real slick, and surprisingly easy on the eyes! Would love to see a playable version (and now I'm inspired to recreate Utopia from Intellivision).

P#12660 2015-08-14 22:47 ( Edited 2015-08-15 02:47)

can some form of excite bike be fare behind?

you are the king

P#12661 2015-08-14 23:11 ( Edited 2015-08-15 03:11)

Can't wait to see future endeavors in the isometric sector! (some form of XCOM, mayhap?)

P#12665 2015-08-15 00:06 ( Edited 2015-08-15 04:06)

I was thinking of that Piranhas game I used to play on Miniclip.com.

P#12666 2015-08-15 00:20 ( Edited 2015-08-15 04:20)

I AM SO IMPRESSED! this looks so good!

P#12672 2015-08-15 01:55 ( Edited 2015-08-15 05:55)

Are the graphics ripped from the DOS port? Looks really nice.

P#12673 2015-08-15 02:01 ( Edited 2015-08-15 06:01)

Hot damn that's impressive.

@Shazang: Yes recreate Utopia!

P#12674 2015-08-15 02:54 ( Edited 2015-08-15 06:54)

Are the graphics ripped from the DOS port? Looks really nice.

No, just estimated roughly from screenshots. None of the existing versions would work directly even if I wanted to lift the art, since it needed to be scaled way down to fit a reasonable number of tiles on PICO 8's tiny screen. Each of my tile sprites fits in a 2*2 region of the sprite map, including a lot of wasted space due to the diagonal nature of a given tile -- a lot of wasted negative space there (though it could probably be reclaimed if necessary through some really aggressive sprite coloring hijinks and pal() and palt() calls to ignore non-target-tile content of a much more tightly packed sprite sheet).

My method was basically:

  1. Look at some screenshots.
  2. Try to estimate the major tile deformations the game used.
  3. Sketch those out.
  4. Come up with a relative coordinate system for classifying each allowable tile deformation.
  5. Figure out horizontal/vertical/rotational symmetry for different deformations that could use the same sprite, note those down.
  6. Build a lookup table for all of that.

The art itself turned out to be a pretty minor part of the process, and I'd like to look at going back for a second pass on it at some point to see if I can make it feel a little more organic and less straight up dithered, but with such small sprites there may not be a ton of room for expression there.

If anybody feels like having a whack at the art or at building something, you're totally welcome to dig in.

P#12676 2015-08-15 09:53 ( Edited 2015-08-15 13:54)

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