Sunday, November 18, 2018

Finishing School Rush ...

Bon, après une série de pépins sur la voiture, c'est visiblement à la maison d'y aller avec ses revendications d'entretiens. Le lave-vaisselle, l'aspirateur, même le porte-manteaux. On se croirait dans l'intro d'une video de la développeuse du dimanche!
Avec tout ça, j'ai un peu du mal à me souvenir en fin de journée si j'ai des choses en attente pour finir school Rush ou non. Donc, retour de la todo-list.

  • [done] provide a TypeName widget that do not require users training
  • [done] only let the players enter their name when they beat some high score.
  • [unneeded, but done anyway] sleepy eraser
  • [done] preload "forever heroes" with SD card file
  • [done] do something useful with the pointing hand.
  • [done] Save new scores [on demand].
These are the things that are still pending to get the final build of School Rush, iirc. I've started converting some 'todo' items into 'newfeatures' (to be addressed out of the 'finish that game' track) because the 'todo' tag was starting to be quite unhelpful.
on the other hand, maybe it isn't that wise to think about starting to edit code on evenings where I feel too tired to remember what are the things that still need my attention before the final School Rush release...

Saturday, November 17, 2018

They won't show up in School Rush (?)

a few post-mortem sketches of ideas for the good-ending of Bilou: School Rush that didn't make it to the game.

since early in the redesign of the game on NDS, I tried to work with the idea that most foes we encounter while playing a Bilou game are not really evil, although they can be quite dangerous.
I hope I made it clear enough with the ink.jets who are trying to defend their realm against a pendats invasion but may occasionally help Bilou.

The comic shows the bopping erasers speechless quick to anger when disturbed during nap time. The theory in School Rush was that the sudden ink rise made them very nervous. The secret ending should have shown them relaxed again, being taught that pendats are dangerous, but that they should behave friendly with Bilou.
Unlike bladors, erasers aren't speechless, although I'm not sure I've ever published any of my sketches about the "erasers bridge", and you'll have to dig deep into this blog to see some evidence that they can speak (or trust the picture shown just nearby).

All my attemps so fan to draw those erasers as pixel art were unsatisfying once I reached the "animate them" step. But I was trying to just reuse the sprites from "normal" erasers, with some overlaid sleepy eyes or snoring mouth. I was about to just write "I'll just use regular eraser instead" burl had my DS in my pocket, so I tried another approach.

First I used a draft 32x32 blocks page to draw a few keyframes for a sleeping eraser. I used SEDS limited animation features to check it was fun and only then I split them into 16x16 blocks for AnimEDS. This way i keep only 2 sprites for the animation, but I can do squashes, stretches and wobbles to make the animation look smoother.

Friday, November 16, 2018

rez x-factor 2

Let this be my official "I love (idea I have of) the demoscene" post. (better late than sorry)

back in '96, demoscener REZ wrote a stunning .mod track featuring about 1'30" of chiptune within 3x64 lines of 5
-track (amiga-compatible?) patterns ... He did so by pushing the use of loop commands to an extreme. I love that spirit of taking something that was meant to work within some constraints and pushing it far out of its limits.

He also used very pleasing waveforms (reminding me of Namco's wavetables), of 16 to 64 bytes plus a few larger (300 and 700 bytes) drums. The result is a stunning 8.8K chiptune. Of course, by now, we have 4K compos with songs twice the lenght, but REZ did it without requiring a custom player. Chapeau.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

B-trees

i was thinking a bit more about my handscript recognition system for the NDS this week-end, and i figured out that the sorting techique might not need to be as complex as I initially thought.

The plan is to support the 128 characters of the ASCII charset. There should be a way to define multiple models for the same character — e.g. you might have the ‘d’ character done in either 1 or 2 strokes — but I doubt I would ever need much more than 4 model of each one. That means at most 1K models to sort.

In my technique they can all be indexed with a 16-bit code, but even then storing 64 K pointers would be overkill. I had plans for techniques that find the most discriminating bit(s) for a subset of the models an make an optimal radix tree, but then I realised that with only 1K entries, it might even not be required: a simple B-tree structure would index all the keys with just 64 index blocks of 16 pointers each, plus 4 super_index blocks and one top-level index. This is a perfectly sustainable amount of overhead. Plus I already have a B-tree implementation from my Clicker32 operating system project. . .

Friday, November 09, 2018

InteRLude

eh oui. La VTJ se la joue parfois VDM. Et quand ton lave-vaisselle a décidé de ne plus se mettre en route quand tu pousse sur le bouton power, tu te dis qu'il va de nouveau y avoir un creux dans les progrès du homebrew. Comme en plus tout ça se produit pendant la phase de post-release blues typique depuis la disparition de dev-fr et de la communauté nds :-/

Espérons que j'arriverai quand-même à boucler School Rush cette année ... je viens de me rendre compte que c'était le 25eme anniversaire de Bilou.

edit: le remplaçant est arrivé le 7/12. Evidemment, j'ai encore craqué pour la garantie étendue à 5 ans ... 

Friday, November 02, 2018

School Rush : Post your score

it has been almost one year since the last release of Bilou : School Rush. Through unpractical ideas, oversophistication and deep engine refactories, I finally get something to share with you. Here is maybe the penultimate release bringing 1-UPs and hi-score tables to School Rush.

Download

Voici enfin une nouvelle release de School Rush. Je laisse donc tomber les options trop complexes pour me concentrer sur ce qui compte vraiment pour le jeu: les 1-UPs, le calcul du score (distance parcourue si on ne finit pas le jeu ou temps écoulé si on le termine).

So, compared to the previous builds,

  • you can get 1-UPs by collecting letters. Everytime you get one, the next one will be more "expensive", though.
  • every loading screen show how long it took you to get there and how far was that "there".
  • there is a "congratulations" level at the end of the 'secret, good ending'
  • there is a "game over" screen
  • in both case, a hiscore table will show up. You'll compete for the shortest time if you found the good exist, and for going as far as possible (in pixels) if you're game over.
  • no new levels this time. Core gameplay unchanged.
I do not have yet the code to let you enter your own name at the end of it though (that will likely be for the latest release). The purpose of this one is to ensure that the arbitrary scores mentioned as "special thanks" can be beaten. So you'll always be "Player One" and the pointing hand will not yet help you to see where you are.

J'ai un début de table des scores, aussi, mais pas encore la possibilité d'y enregistrer son nom. ça, ce sera pour la dernière release.

The times are shown as MINUTES:SECONDS:FRAMES, btw. I managed to get to the end in about 10'50", while losing 2 lives (which took me about 2 minutes). So beating KirbyKid will ask you at least deathless play through and beating Wintermute will almost certainly require to pull off some emergent gameplay and speedrunner skills... which isn't necessarily bad.

gameplay

You're controlling Bilou, a blue, ball-shaped explorer. You make him JUMP with the (A) button and grab things (or throw them) with (B). Your goal is to reach the right of each level before you're caught by the ever-raising ink.
You'll need to be quick, too. Use (R) or double-tap in left/right directions as if you were a pink, living vacuum cleaner.

You can stomp some monsters, you can throw sharpeners at others. Remember: the pencil soldats are the only real threat here, and they must be stopped from pouring even more ink for their autoritarist plans. Everything else that looks dangerous is mostly acting on fear and may prove very useful if you keep your head cold. Think about how useful a bobbing sponge could be if you could ride it (B). or how high an inkwell could shoot you ...

There are rumours of magical artifacts that could help you. The Fist of Justice, that noone can stand against (double-B) and the Floating Twister (hold A), that let you reach far away places. It's unlikely the pendats will let you recover them without a fight, though.

Story

At the far east of this school-like country, there is a gauge that will stop the ink. Rush for it! The books city is close to be destroyed once for all, and the elders' knowledge will be lost. This must be another plot from Square Root, who decided that mathematics are the only thing worth of being written down.
Everyone here seems to believe that Bilou is a sort of legendary hero...


How to play

Get the NDS image and play it on your homebrew-ready console or in an emulator, such as DeSmuME. See this page if you need extra explanation/instructions for running homebrews.

NB: download links have been updated to point towards "aftermath" version, and finally 'jln' version (gameplay fix). The "Gameover" version they were initialiiy pointing to is still downloadable, if you really want to.