Lets Make a Retro Game - Episode 1 - Getting Started

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hey YouTube electric adventures here

with the very first episode of my let's

make a retro game series in this series

I'm going to try in as as best as I can

to try and explain the process of

developing a retro game but I mean yes

it would probably be nice to do it

completely as you would have done it

back in the day but that's not going to

be very easy for a lot of the people

that they're a little curious but not

necessarily have the levels of skills so

what I'm going to do is show you how you

can use a modern PC and a few easy tools

to put together a game and that way we

can concentrate on the actual create the

process of creating the game itself

rather than you know worry about which

particular machine you have

environmental division up then it also

allows you to write a game and not even

actually have the system that it's

intended for because the idea of the

series is it's to folders to share some

of my love of retro game development

with the community out there and also as

an impetus for myself to learn some

other systems now as you notice in the

titles I've actually listed quite a

number of systems there that we're going

to create the same game across all those

systems and some of those systems I

haven't done a lot of programming on

myself so

I'll actually be learning myself written

preparing the episodes when we start

converting to the other platforms but

I've also chosen a lot of the platforms

for a particular reason in that they all

use very similar architecture and what I

mean by architectures they you know most

of the machines in the series use as the

z80 processor so the assemblers code is

going to be the same now there are going

a couple machines that don't use that

processor ie the Atari 8-bit and the

Commodore 64 they all be done last but

it'll be an interesting exercise in

translating what we've done up to that

stage over to those platforms I've also

chosen a game that I mean obviously I

like you know shoot-'em-up type games

and shoot about pipe games are actually

a good way to learn how to program

because as long as you don't get too

carried away but you can illustrate some

of the basic ideas of what you need to

do to actually make a game without it

getting too complicated and I've chosen

a game that will run on every single one

of the systems that I've listed without

too much effort but we also should be

able to rather than just write it for

one system than blatantly port it across

to the others we're going to try and

utilize as many of the native features

of each machine as possible but the

Machine we're going to start with and so

the probably the first part of this

series for a little while will be based

around the TI 99 xx chipset machines as

I call them now these particular chipset

machines actually go all the way back to

the original TI 99 computers the main

graphical processor in those is actually

quite a capable chip

see I basically made a slightly updated

version of that graphics processor and

was selling it to various chip

manufacturers so it actually ended up

appearing in quite a few different

computers and one of the very first

computers to use that chipset was the

original spectravideo machines which

were actually invented or you know the

design was invented by two Hong

kong-based Americans and their design I

mean and they didn't have a lot of money

they had to go around and raise money so

they've designed that original design

fairly early on and that design ended up

being and I needed a basic so they went

to Microsoft and being based in Hong

Kong they met up with a representative

over in Asia and basically their design

got shown around all the places as an

interesting idea and then eventually

evolved into the MSX standard later on

but in the meantime and this is

reasonably solid conjecture it's agreed

on by most of the people that

Coleco were also developing a you know

they wanted to create a video game

console they wanted to buy parts as many

as they could in America where they

could get away with so they also started

with the TI graphics chipset and as it

ad and we're putting together their

computer but I couldn't quite get it to

work so they actually bought the

original design of the two guys from


and they then use that money to go on

and later on produce their own

spectravideo computers which is why the

timeline can be a little bit hard to

understand also the design was shown by

as nish II was shown over in Japan to a

number of companies trying to promote

the idea of a standard of computers and

this is the early design that included

all of the chips from Ti other than the

zero DS here does it ad the TI graphics

processor and the TI sound chip which is

the one that ended up in the Coleco and

the one that ended up in the sigue

sg-1000 console and SC 3000 computers it

also ended up in some of the other you

know TI 99 variants that are around the

world but spectravideo in the end

decided to go for a sound chip from

general instruments which has a little

has more features it doesn't type the

cpu as much as that original TI one and

i believe may have actually been cheaper

and that because they'll trying you know

to cut down the cost of machine but they

wanted the machine to do particular


well I mean that's enough history so

basically there are whole bunch of

machines that have very similar chip

architectures what we should be able to

do as long as we don't overdo the type

of game we're looking to make we should

be able to easily convert that game

across those systems quite quickly

graphically pretty much we can get all

of the graphics done without with hardly

changing a thing between the machines

there are two different types of sound

chips so we will have to do two sets of

sound sound will be a few episodes down

the track will mainly concentrate on

graphics gameplay and and you know

general programming tips and things like

that to start with your game doesn't

have to have sound to start with let's

get the action going and get a bit of a

game together right now as to the game

that we'll be developing

I thought we'd go right back to the very

early roots of 8-bit consoles and go for

a game that adds is itself inspired by

asteroids and space invaders in a way

and but comes from another console from

back in the day that had a lot of

inspired game so we shall inspire a game

from it and it is a stress match now

let's turn around

so Astro smash on the Intellivision is

not a bad little game it's um it's not

that complicated which is what we want

it is perfectly achievable on all these

machines now I'm not saying it's going

to look exactly like the Intellivision

version because the Intellivision

Graphics resolution is not that high but

it could still make you know perfectly

acceptable playable games but the reason

why we're choosing this is that the main

player ship moves in a set plane down

the bottom of the screen okay so you

know we should be able to get that part

of the ship movement moving and then we

have bullets the fire up the screen and

then our next more complicated things is

we have rocks and and you know smart

bombs and things like that they come

down and not just straight down the

screen they come at various angles they

also can break apart and turn into

multiple objects and then you can you

know we can enhance the gameplay from

the basic idea of Astro smash with

certain ideas as we go now this series I

will be recording multiple episodes in

blocks doing a lot of editing and

putting them together because obviously

this is a tutorial series so I will try

and provide as much information as I can

and maybe some you know graphical desire

grams and things like that

hopefully my skills will improve at the

various Adobe products that I'm going to

use for the various diagrams and things

and I'll try and make it as clear as

possible also information about each

episode will be available on my website

which I'll link down below as long as as

well as additional links to various bits

and pieces as we go through each episode

so this is it first episode probably a

bit longer because we've got this intro

and I'd like to do something practical

in this episode rather than just

announce the title of the game I've

actually written a nice little sprite

editing tool

and I thought I'd go through the process

of downloading and installing that on

your computer now before we go too much

further I can't cover everything so in

this particular series I will be

assuming that we're working on a Windows

platform I mean yes there's a lot of

Mac's out there and most of the stuff

that I show you you can set up on a Mac

you do have to use some different tools

so none of the software that we'll be


needs a license it's all freeware and

things like that and there are

alternatives to some of the software

that all show obviously the sprite

editor I've written that one myself so

you know free tea for everybody in the

community to use and if you have any

suggestions at any time on the series or

any two pieces of software that I put

together they are most welcome you can

send them through and I hope that this

game will be interactive so we'll

develop it together and I'm sure we can

develop a game called and at the moment

it's tentative working title is

megablast which is given away when I

show the sprite editor because I've put

to give her a little set of sprites to

help show that tool so it was pretty

much going to come out of this episode

anyway so the moment the tentative

working title is megablast and we'll

work on that

and and see how we go alright so to

round up this episode let's go and see

how to download the Spyder deduct so you

can all gone have a nice play of that

before Christmas and after Christmas we

can get back into some of the more

slightly more technical things right so

here we go this is how you download and

install the sprite editor that I put

together for this series obviously you

go to the electric adventures and

website and view article and I'll put

this link in down below in the notes of

this episode when you I mean you can

also get here by going to the home page

and looking for this title here which is

ti 99 xx sprite editor so you can see a

picture the spider that there all you do

is you need to click here

and then you get up this loading page

now you do need to have installed micros

the framework first so

I'll also include a link to that in my

instructions in the video as well we

click on install it may ask you to

describe it

open it

run when it comes up with this

applicator application install though

there will be a security warning I'm not

returning any money from this a security

certificate costs about $200 a year it's

not really worth my while at the moment

so the publisher is electric adventures

which is me so for a couple seconds it

will install now let's get the web

browser out of the way somewhere on your

desktop you should see the icon so

that's how you relaunch the application

right so here we go the application

itself it's divided up into a couple of

areas basically you have edit grid here

which is 16 by 16 pixels wide and shows

the combination of 4 8 by 8 areas and

that's what little red marks are you can

turn those on off by

ticking and antiquing this box it's got

a few controls around the outside next

to it here is the color palette now this

is the standard TI 99 color pant the

spectrum has less colors it has eight

normal colors and some flashing versions

of those columns and the Amstrad has a

different color palette again but we're

not going to worry about that at the

moment so this is primarily going to be

for the toi chipset machines will design

the spy school first and will convert

them over later we have a command

section here above here the sprite will

show in two different sizes so you can

see what it's like when you're drawing

it down here you can name the particular

sprite and you can work in single color

or two color mode now the ti chipset

does not have multicolored sprites for

what is called MSX one level but you can

simulate more than one spike by putting

one sprite over the top of the other

now this editing tool allows you to do

that and I'll put it in two color mode


and we'll select a cut the colors set

that one to blue and we'll grab say that

dark yellow and set that let that's our

two color set down here is the output

mode it shows at the moment it's just

one big block of hex hexadecimal now I

mean I'm showing this and I haven't

explained and it'll be at number systems

I will actually do that in what one of

the next episodes but you can actually

output the sprite in different styles so

if we type test here that's a amazing

case by that it puts the name in the

text there for you so you can quite

literally grab this copy

and go and paste it into your text

editor so that's one way of getting the

the design that you've done out into

your game and you can also save it as a

complete set in so just there's a raw

format for this sprite editor but it can

also save it as as in pure assembly

format so I'm capturing this one window

so I can't show you pop-up windows and

locks in it so anyway what we can now do

also change the color is once you have a

color selected all you do is you hold

the mouse down and you can drawn a bit

and you can see the image forming in

natural size and double size just to

give you a bit an indication of what

you're making

so we down to a string of basic no

missile or spaceship shape

and at the moment you know concentrating

on using one color

it's quite interesting the effects you

can do and top I then go and put another

color in here

you can sort of see what would look like

if you are you know made it out of

multiple colors so there's a little

spaceship there and you can go on add

a new sprite cause one test too you can

see the first one appears in the list of

sprites we have up here so say we wanted

to make that red that's going to be some

sort of rock shape I'm only doing this

redrafted to show you how the controls

work and you know gradually I do not yet

there's couple little little in

this program that I'll fix up at some

stage the program will automatically

update if I publish your version so

currently what I'm doing this video is

version 1.00 5 but I may have fixed a

couple of these bugs all the time you've

downloaded this of course right I'll

load a sample file so we can have a look

at term

some of our things so this is what I at

the moment or I'm considering for the

characters to use in our game megablast

so I've designed a mainship and another

thing I do is I sent to them I set

position them on in the top left corner

this allows you for hit detection to

have an own size of your pieces rather

than having them centered and then

you've got an unknown amount of space

around them this makes it easier later

on we have a large asteroid and we've

got two different versions of that

hopefully alternating between those two

things or because the largest draw will

mainly drop straight down the screen

it'll look like it's rolling and then we

have a small asteroid that has a couple

of little animations that'll make it

look like it's animating a laser which

is just a really simple little graphic a

smart bomb which will which has four

shapes and will look like it's

spinning as it comes down the screen so

there are basic shapes

I'll make this file available for

download from my website in the first

article so you've got something to play

with you can also from your editing you

can paste information into this window

here so say you pasted this from your


2:55 there which is going to be a solid

block and you press import there's

so this is you've got one two one two

three four are your books so one two

three four I put that in the third one

and the fifth row down one two three

four five so there's and 255 means every

pixel is set okay I hope you enjoyed

that demonstration of the sprite editing

tool and see how you're going getting

sewing setting up and have a play with

it the link to that will be down below

and there'll also be a link to my

electric adventures page that covers

this very first episode and it'll have

the link to the tool again and it'll

have the spot where you can download the

the data file for the sprite editor for

the game mega blast that we're putting

together and I'll continue to do that in

format that we one article on my website

for each episode of this series and

hopefully that gives you something to

you know get into before Christmas

there'll be more episodes after

Christmas probably the next episodes

coming up we need to set up some more

tools we need to what we're going to be

developing in zjg to start with so we're

going to have to set up a set idea

assembler and have some form of text

editor to edit that so the next episode

will cover that

and also it will depend on length how

these episodes come together we also

need an emulator to be able to emulate

the various computers so we can see it

running on our PC without having to run

it on a physical machine at this stage

and then once we've got all the tools

out of those basic tools out of the way

we'll get straight into it

and we'll make something happen on

screen so won't be too many episodes and

we'll get into something that you can

sink your teeth into now once again

series I want it to be as interactive as

possible if anybody has any suggestions

about or even has you know wants to

suggest some graphics for the game or

anything like that or sound effects or

needs didn't quite understand something

I wants a little bit more explanation I

will try and make the series as

interactive as possible alright I hope

you've enjoyed the very first episode of

the series and please come join the

journey and enjoy this as we work our

way through you're most welcome part of

this series all right on electric

adventures thanks to all my subscribers

and I'll catch you next time