Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Discussion, Reviews & High-scores

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
Vic 2000
Vic 20 Afficionado
Posts: 334
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:17 am

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby Vic 2000 » Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:36 pm

As a hardcore Atari 8bit user i have played a lot of different versions of pac-man on Atari. I have also played most of the pac-man games on Vic-20. This version moves smooth, have great sound and the right touch when playing. In fact, i was surprised to see such good version of this classic game on Vic-20.

Pssst, colour clashing don't ruin anything in this great game. The alternative would be to do it the ZX Spectrum way...monochrome. We don't want that, right? ;)

WELL DONE :)

bills442
Vic 20 Amateur
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:12 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby bills442 » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:00 pm

@Vic-2000

Thankyou Sir. I love the Atari, the A800 was my second computer right after the Vic. My dream for the A800 was an Elevator Action game! I remember when the GTIA chip came out I was all excited drawing screen levels for that game.

User avatar
Vic 2000
Vic 20 Afficionado
Posts: 334
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:17 am

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby Vic 2000 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:30 am

bills442 wrote:@Vic-2000

Thankyou Sir. I love the Atari, the A800 was my second computer right after the Vic.


Same thing for me, i bought an Atari 800 XL after being a Vic-20 owner for some years and still love both computers. I'm sure of there's a fan made version of Elevator Action out there somewhere for Atari 8bit. Check the "other systems" part of the forum later this day, i will post a couple of links to different sites to download Atari 8bit stuff. ;)

At last, i real good pac-man version for Vic 20 too. :)

User avatar
beamrider
Vic 20 Nerd
Posts: 853
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby beamrider » Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:37 am

Hi, I managed to get a small video of the graphical glitch that occurs on real hardware.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BypVxYomFCZfVmZ6QUkwMkJndkE/edit?usp=sharing

bills442
Vic 20 Amateur
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:12 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby bills442 » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:44 pm

beamrider wrote:Hi, I managed to get a small video of the graphical glitch that occurs on real hardware.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BypVxYomFCZfVmZ6QUkwMkJndkE/edit?usp=sharing


wow, that one has me stumped. the pacman sprite tiles are screen codes 0 and 1 , I can't imagine how they got into that part of a maze wall. I also noticed there was a part of the maze near the tunnel that was colored white. Is there any way to sorta reproduce this that you may have noticed? Does it happen right at level start? I need to put some time in with the 8k version on PAL and see if I can spot this

User avatar
Boray
Musical Smurf
Posts: 4032
Joined: Mon May 03, 2004 10:47 am

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby Boray » Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:10 am

I tried the 8k version on a real PAL machine and didn't notice anything strange. I cleared the maze once. I feel the game could need a bit more of speed but that's all. Very nicely done.
PRG Starter - a VICE helper / Vic Software (Boray Gammon, SD2IEC music player, Vic Disk Menu, Tribbles, Mega Omega, How Many 8K etc.)

bills442
Vic 20 Amateur
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:12 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby bills442 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:20 pm

Boray wrote:I tried the 8k version on a real PAL machine and didn't notice anything strange. I cleared the maze once. I feel the game could need a bit more of speed but that's all. Very nicely done.


I agree, it needs to be faster to resemble the arcade. It's frame rate locked right now to 30 on NTSC and 25 PAL. I'll see if I can get it up to full speed if I can shave enough cycles off. I might be able to pre-render some of the sprite animation frames on an 8k version; and that could speed it up enough to get a maximum frame rate.

I did try removing wait for vertical blank 'frame lock'. This of course caused a little flicker here and there since things might get drawn out of vertical blank .. but it did speed up a lot. It definitely had more of the 'arcade' speed to it. It might be worth uploading a 'fast' version to have the extra speed if the tiny bit of flicker isn't too annoying.

User avatar
rhurst
Omega Star Commander
Posts: 1304
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:12 pm
Website: https://robert.hurst-ri.us
Location: Providence, RI
Occupation: Office of the CIO

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby rhurst » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:25 am

I downloaded from the original link assuming this is the latest copy? If not, apologies in advance.

If you're in a playful mood to tinker with this gem, here's my playing opinions:
  • Game play
    • The thinner wall look is nice, and you did a fine job in allowing for a player's input buffer -- IMO, the wider lanes (to the player) should allow that buffering to last an iteration (or two) longer.
    • A little easy if you make clearing mazes your only objective. (See fruit complaint below)
    • It's a bit unfair that there are two really quick flashes and the powerpill effect is off -- make that sequencing longer please, you evil programmer! :P
    • It's not a complete arcade game without a high score indicator.
  • AI
    • Too often the ghosts get overlayed, reducing game difficulty because it makes for only 3 (or less!) moving enemies to avoid and makes eating them easier. That's why personalizing a "speed" for each becomes necessary.
    • There are some "blind" spots (panic rooms?) where the ghosts won't go, and you are rewarded with an endless siren. Yes, it is still whining as I type all of this, going to set an endurance record. ;)
    • Is the 'all ghosts go reverse' timer-based? I'm not a fan of that if it is; it makes their intelligence cheapened by a dirty trick.
  • Graphics (more!)
    • I get the impression from your ghosts that they are more adorable (and more appropriate for this kind of game); mine are kind of evil looking, and makes me think I missed a finer point you achieved.
    • I got to the 5th cherry level before I gave into the siren headache. Panicman don't like other fruit? :?
    • The maze has two wider south points, which is your choice, but a deviation from everything else you tried to replicate. Just a personal touch, or is there a story behind that? jw
    • Panicman should actually consume the last dot; I had the same lingering glitch myself, but you got to make it disappear from the playfield.
  • Sound 8)
    • Best feature, great tune and sounds! I would not mind a 'm'ute option for the siren though, or could it be managed any better with volume control? Personally, I put it in my version, once(!), and just had to get rid of it.

I'll bet my list here have things you already thought of, given the apparent care you've put into this superb arcade-style game.
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced. See also magic.

User avatar
Jeff-20
Denial Founder
Posts: 5452
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 6:00 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby Jeff-20 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:43 pm

I got the same graphic glitch stated above, and one of the ghosts somehow ended up roaming around the outside of the maze! It was fun watching it go over the score and get trapped in a little corner trying to chase me. Still, this is a great game!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
High Scores, Links, and Jeff's Basic Games page.

bills442
Vic 20 Amateur
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:12 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby bills442 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:27 pm

Thanks for all the feedback Robert and Jeff!

Darn, I'm really depressed that there are bad bugs showing up in the field, This thing ran at a party on a NTSC machine with a fair amount of strangers playing for over 4 hours and nothing bad happened, so I 'thought' it was safe to let out. If anyone has any info on these please send them to me and I will try to find them. I have a feeling I'll have to clean the source up and get it out in case better minds are willing to take a look if there is enough interest. I can't seem to reproduce them. Where did the 'ghosts' escape the maze Jeff? Is this the same thing BeamRider sent a video of?

Let me see if I can make an action item list from some of Robert's feedback, as well as ramble with a few answers:

I shamelessly tried to borrow as much as I could from the amazing Pacman Dossier by Jamey Pittman. Maybe we need to change some of the interpretations for better gameplay. Here is a link to the Dossier:

https://home.comcast.net/~jpittman2/pacman/pacmandossier.html

In Panicman:
the red ghost is Blinky
cyan is Inky
green is Pinky
and purple is Clyde.

I tried to copy 100% the AI description in the dossier. This included the scatter/chase/scatter timer that the game has. Note that scatter is not the same as frightened mode. For example: the ghosts start in scatter mode for 7 seconds, then chase you for 20, then scatter for 5 , then chase for 20, then scatter for 7. Then they enter a huge chase period of over 17 minutes. Whenever the ghosts switch between scatter/chase modes they reverse directions. They also switch when frightened. This does answer the question of if the 'crazy Ivan' reverse directions is timer based -- however it is like the arcade I think. Maybe I need to play the arcade again and make sure they really do all switch at once.

I tried to implement the algorithms that the Dossier states for each ghost. I calculate euclidian distance to the ghost's 'target tile' from pacman and then make turn choices based on that. Inky is complicated, as noted in the Dossier, as he uses a moving vector between both Blinky and Pacman to generate his target tile.

There is a 'panic room' zone in the real pacman. It's on the right hand side of the first T below the ghost box. When I first started playing Panicman I noticed these somewhat bizarre patterns the ghosts would do, then I would play Pacman on MAME and sort of notice the same behavior. At first I was going to try to code up the AI accurately enough that the same patterns would work on this game that the arcade has; however, I became convinced that was a little more scope that I should be trying to take on at my current level. Many of the same play 'techniques' do work though. For example: Pinky tracks Pacman by looking to navigate to a 'target tile' that is four character cells in front of Pacman. If you are playing a game of chicken with him down a hallway, you can headfake him, and he will turn in the direction of your headfake ( if he can ) just like in the arcade. I do think I ( unintentionally ) changed the order of turn preferences -- that is, that order in which available compass moves ( N,S,E,W ) are considered at an intersection where the AI 'score' of the best move is the same. I wonder if this created more than the 1 known 'panic room' that the arcade has. There are probably some bugs in the implementation of the ghost AI compared to the Dossier and I should try to go over them with a fine tooth comb as time permits.

I agree the ghosts would benefit from some/any kind of effort to reduce the 'bunching up'. I will play with this. The ghosts do have the ability to each have a different speed; however, they are all set to the same speed right now. They run at 90% of Pacman's speed until the first difficulty increase at which point they run the same speed as Pacman, and then at the next difficulty increase they go to 100% speed while Pacman always stays at 95%.

Blinky is the exception of course, as noted in the Dossier. There are two points during the maze where he gets an increase in speed ( up to 100% ) and they are based on dot consumed count and also correspond with the increase in the noted annoying siren sound pitch.

I too thought the game might be a bit easy -- my playtester/audio engineer Jeff convinced me to tone it down a bit for the retro game party that was its first major playtesting. The game basically gets harder by:
a) reducing power pill 'frightened' time
b) reducing the amount of time ghosts are in 'scatter' mode such that they are chasing you most of the time ( see the Dossier ) and
c) making all the ghosts faster.

I believe the skill level increases happen every three levels right now. We nicknamed this event the 'Agonizer' in the code, after the Star Trek original series episode "Mirror Mirror" where people were sent to the 'Agonizer' booth. Thus, since the 'Agonizer' only runs every three cleared mazes you would have to be on the sixth cherry to even have the ghosts be faster than pacman.

I also took out the code that 'decreases' the scatter time. I think maybe I should move the 'Agonizer' to increase the difficulty every 2 cleared mazes and re-implement the decrease in scatter time? That would have the effect that after the 4th level there would only be 3 seconds of 'scatter' time at the start of a level instead of 7 seconds, and by the sixth level the ghosts would pretty much be in 'attack' mode all the time. Just a note again ( since the terms are similar ), scatter is not 'frightened' time, it's simply a period of time that ghost aren't running their attack AI ( see the Dossier ).

What is interesting to me is that if I play the game for points, and try reasonably hard, I seem to get about the same score as in the arcade. I top out around 35,000, although the arcade seems a lot harder to me. A big part of that is the speed of the arcade which gives you less time to plan your moves. I DID work on that, and I have good news in that I have the game running at a full 60 FPS ( 50 PAL ) now, but I'll have to slow it down a bit from that as it's almost too fast at that frame rate imho. The speed increase alone should make the game harder.

I would like to add the other fruit graphics and the only reason I didn't was I ran out of memory :(. I've since managed to shrink the executable a bit so I will try to add them.

The weird maze shape: Hmm, well, that was an interesting story. If one really tried to capture the dimensions of the Pacman maze onto the 23x22 screen, then the whole maze should be narrower by 3 characters based on my calculations. I started making a version of the game with this narrower maze but it was requiring more work than I expected at the time, and I felt bad that the ghost box would have all the ghosts bunched right next to one another since it would only be three character cells wide. Here's the maze representation that my perl script reads in to generate the compressed byte sequence for the maze in the executable -- there is the current version and the 'narrower' version I was working on.

current:

Code: Select all

 /=========T=========\
 |.........|.........|
 |*/\./==\.|./==\./\*|
 |.LR.L==R.v.L==R.LR.|
 |...................|
 |.[].^.[=T=T=].^.[].|
 |....|...| |...|....|
 L==\.}=] L=R [={./==R
    |.|         |.|   
 ===R.v /=]=[=\ v.L===
     .  |     |  .   
 ===\.^ L=====R ^./===
    |.|         |.|   
 /==R.v [==T==] v.L==\
 |.........|.........|
 |.[\.[==].v.[==]./].|
 |*.|...... ......|.*|
 }].v.^.[=T=T=].^.v.[{
 |....|...| |...|....|
 |.[==-=].L=R.[=-==].|
 |...................|
 L===================R

narrower:

 /========T========\ 
 |........|........| 
 |*/\./=\.|./=\./\*| 
 |.LR.L=R.v.L=R.LR.| 
 |.................| 
 |.[].^.[=T=].^.[].| 
 |....|...|...|....| 
 L==\.}=] v [={./==R 
    |.|       |.|     
 ===R.v /]=[\ v.L=== 
     .  |   |  .     
 ===\.^ L===R ^./=== 
    |.|       |.|     
 /==R.v [=T=] v.L==\ 
 |........|........| 
 |.[\.[=].v.[=]./].| 
 |*.|..... .....|.*| 
 }].v.^.[=T=].^.v.[{ 
 |....|...|...|....| 
 |.[==-=].v.[=-==].| 
 |.................| 
 L=================R 


The weird maze piece was my concession to the fact that I felt the hallway down at the bottom was too long. If you are running down the hallway there was no 'escape' route if the ghosts were chasing you. I felt that shortening the hallway helped make it a bit easier to escape capture. It's interesting to note according to the dossier there are some zones in the maze that ghosts are forbidden from going "up". I didn't implement this, and I would like to. One area is above the ghost box, they can't turn up in the Arcade. It definitely makes it easier to clear dots from there if you have just eaten a ghost, they can't so easily make a beeline for you.

Ha, yes, the last dot bug! ... it's uh, in my bug database, I just haven't fixed it yet. I don't suppose I could try to pass that off as a feature? lol.

The ghost flashing: Yes, they need to flash more. I was out of memory at the time I coded that, and I am ashamed to admit I just tested bit 2 of the power pill countdown byte to make the flash. Not very nice :( I will come up with a better implementation that makes more flashes. They are actually documented how many times they are supposed to flash in the dossier, so for maximum accuracy I should try that.

I wasn't sure what you meant by the input buffer and additional iterations. Did you mean that the sprites should be able to move closer to the walls? I guess I can't fix that since the sprite engine can't cross into that character cell. I did try to implement the cornering advantage that Pacman has per the Dossier .. he can start turning 1 pixel before the ghosts can. It does seem to help evade the ghosts like Blinky, especially when he's in his 'Cruise Elroy' mode as the Dossier refers to it.

Now that we are finally leaving the deep freeze here in the Northeast, I won't have quite as much time, as the VIC is a sort of 'winter' hobby for me .... but

Conclusions:

1. bugs. I will try to fix, but I am not able to reproduce yet, any help or hints on how to cause are appreciated.
2. speed up the game. I have a version that can run at the full frame rate I am working on!
3. add an option to turn off the siren
4. add more fruit icons
5. try to reduce ghost clumping ( or at least mitigate the appearance )
6. double check ghost AI matches the Arcade implementation as defined by the Pacman Dossier ( why are there so many 'safe spots'?? )
7. ghosts should flash more
8. make the last dot dissappear
9. high score indicator

Thanks so much. I am blown away by this community, I wish I could have known a place like this in the 80s.
Last edited by bills442 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rhurst
Omega Star Commander
Posts: 1304
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:12 pm
Website: https://robert.hurst-ri.us
Location: Providence, RI
Occupation: Office of the CIO

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby rhurst » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:49 pm

Nice! You really went for an all-out clone of the game, impressive.

You might consider dispensing with a +3K version and just go 8K for the headroom needed then, eh? I mean, all this quality work needs at least a full complement of fruit. :wink:

The input buffering I speaketh is tapping the joystick (or key) just before/on taking the corner; if the joystick 'stutters' any, or you release a bit early, the hero still honors the last player's request -- when he is eligible to (maintaining the 8x8 cell optimization, for certain). With such short resolution and frenetic play, it makes the human interface to the game more fair to play and releases the tension build-up on the joystick. It may go against your goal of a true re-make of the real thing; the arcade only points the Pac in the new direction, but does not move in the direction if you release 'early'.

50/60 FPS is a bit too fast to handle; 40/45 FPS is a really good speed to top out.

P.S., and leave #3 as your last option, lol, but thanks for listing it to alongside my whining. :P
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced. See also magic.

User avatar
Jeff-20
Denial Founder
Posts: 5452
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 6:00 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby Jeff-20 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:56 pm

It was exactly as the pic above. Could it have something to do with the megacart being connected?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
High Scores, Links, and Jeff's Basic Games page.

User avatar
beamrider
Vic 20 Nerd
Posts: 853
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby beamrider » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:29 am

Yes I was running megacart and PAL. Will try without the mega cart at the weekend

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

bills442
Vic 20 Amateur
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:12 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby bills442 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:02 am

Jeff-20 wrote:It was exactly as the pic above. Could it have something to do with the megacart being connected?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Hmm, this gives me a clue. Usually bugs that show up in different environmental conditions ( e.g. the MegaCart ) means the program didn't initialize all of its variables properly at startup and is inheriting random state from RAM ... and I see a spot in the code where this could be the problem. I should be able to make a new executable to test tonight after work.

bills442
Vic 20 Amateur
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:12 pm

Re: Panicman for 3k and 8k vic

Postby bills442 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:32 pm

Ok, I may have fixed an uninitialized variable bug that seems to show itself on the MegaCart most often. I wasn't able to reproduce this bug on any of my hardware and thus can't say for sure it's fixed. I did see in the code that there was a problem that could have caused the three pacman characters embedded in the maze.

the original links have been updated with the new executable.


Return to “Games”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest