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AuthorTopic: SkillGrid released  (Read 3218 times)

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Offline saimo

SkillGrid released
« on: April 27, 2019, 08:44:52 AM »
RETREAM and RGCD are delighted to announce the release of SkillGrid, a new shooter for AGA Amigas.

There are plenty of shooters around, but none like SkillGrid, an endless score-attack vertical shoot 'em up featuring frenetic, tactical gameplay and comprising of a variety of different sub-games, boss battles, and in-depth scoring mechanics.



SkillGrid is available for digital download, but it also received a couple of gorgeous physical editions.

BASIC EDITION: jewel-cased glass-mastered CD with 16 pages booklet, 2 floppy labels, RETREAM postcard, RGCD postcard, RGCD vinyl sticker.



DELUXE EDITION: clamshell box containing the BASIC EDITION plus 2 floppies, 4 badges pack, A3 poster (optionally rolled in a separate container).







Information and digital download: https://www.retream.com/SkillGrid
Physical editions: https://rgcd.bigcartel.com/product/skillgrid-amiga
RETREAM website: https://www.retream.com
RGCD website: https://www.rgcd.co.uk
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline trekiej

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 06:29:38 AM »
Looks awesome.
Amiga 2000 Forever :)
Welcome to the Planar System.
 
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Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 08:17:01 AM »
Thanks!
I should receive my box today, and I hope I'll have enough time to make an unboxing video that shows the awesomeness of the package ;)
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2019, 09:00:46 AM »
It took a while, but finally here's the unboxing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYWeZfIDPwg
Check it out to see what a great job RGCD did with the deluxe edition!

(And sorry for the poor video quality: I don't have adequate equipment and I also messed things up :-[)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 09:02:43 AM by saimo »
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2019, 09:02:56 AM »
One day I woke up with the song The Man with the Gun by Press Play On Tape playing in my mind. Somehow, a mental connection was born: how cool would it have been to have a piece of that song as the music for SkillGrid's Music Mode? So, I spent a little time to cut/mix excerpts from the song and to add them to the game. And then I didn't stop there: also all the other music pieces were replaced with parts I extracted and adapted from the same song. This video shows the result - and how good the audio engine of the game is ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD0BkmJvpeY

Important:
* this version of the game is not publicly available;
* the game has its own original soundtrack.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 09:36:29 AM by saimo »
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2019, 02:20:11 PM »
@all

Just a quick heads-up to let you know that, after some months, the deluxe edition is back in stock on the RGCD store!

RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2019, 02:27:21 PM »
Sorry, the link in the previous post is broken. This is the correct one: https://rgcd.bigcartel.com/product/skillgrid-amiga
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2021, 04:14:23 PM »
Apart from the new package artwork (which is being worked on), the only thing that is holding up the release of SkillGrid v1.1 is the new Amiga CD³² NVRAM custom routines: they work under WinUAE, but they don't on all the real machines out there. Or better, that was what used to happen in the past: now I have rewritten the routines once again, and I have no idea of what happens on real machines. Therefore, I have prepared a proper test suite to have the routines tested... by anyone who feels like giving it a go on a real Amiga CD³² ;) Not having one of those machines, the fact that they mount different EEPROMs and the lack of official documentation makes developing this stuff quite difficult. Any feedback will be much appreciated.

Click here to download the suite.
This short video shows what the suite does (the operations will be surely slower on real machines).

Code: [Select]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OVERVIEW

This is a test suite that purposes to verify whether my custom routines for
direct access to the Amiga CD³² NVRAM work.
Developing them is quite challenging because:
 · I do not have an Amiga CD³², so I have to rely on emulation, which is not
   100% exact;
 · different machines mount different EEPROM chips, which behave differently;
 · there is no official documentation (my references are the documentation that
   has been thankfully produced by who studied the behaviour of Akiko and the
   EEPROM datasheet from ATMEL, the maker of the EEPROM).
The routines work perfectly under emulation, but that is no guarantee that they
work also on real machines. Indeed, previous versions worked under emulation and
on a couple of machines, but failed on another machine.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHAT DOES THIS DO?

This suite will perform several read/write operations from/to the NVRAM, whose
DATA WILL THUS BE ALTERED (unless the routines fail to access the NVRAM
altogether). At the end, it will attempt to restore the NVRAM data exactly as it
was at the beginning.
Given that the routines are experimental, though, first it will check if a
backup of the NVRAM items exists and ask you whether to make a (new) backup, so
that the NVRAM items can be restored after the tests if the custom restore does
not succeed or execute at all (only OS-compliant NVRAM items will be backed up;
the backup and restore operations are done by means of the OS-legal, reliable,
third-party tools DumpNVRAM and RestoreNVRAM - check out NVRAM_Tools.doc).
You will be informed about the backup status and asked what to do and whether to
continue.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REQUIREMENTS

· An Amiga CD³² with a writable media drive (DO NOT TRY ON OTHER MACHINES)
· The AmigaDOS Copy, Delete and Execute commands in the commands path.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
INSTRUCTIONS

To perform the tests:
 1. copy the NVRAMRTS directory from the archive to anywhere on the drive;
 2. from shell, enter the NVRAMRTS directory;
 3. run the "test" script and follow the on-screen instructions.

At the end of the tests or if the tests hung:
 1. reboot the machine;
 2. if the NVRAM data is not restored correctly or you are not sure, and a
    backup exists:
     2.1. from shell, enter the NVRAMRTS directory;
     2.2. run the "restore" script;
 3. pack the NVRAMRTS directory into an archive;
 4. send your Amiga CD³²'s specifications(*), the archive and, if the tests
    hung, the color of the screen at that point to postmaster@retream.com.

(*)The marking on the EEPROM would be particularly helpful, but, since that
requires opening the machine, do not worry if you do not feel like going that
far.

Thank you!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE CORE TOOL

The tests are performed by means of a tool called WriteReadNVRAM. It is a shell
program that allows to access any arbitrary chunk of the Amiga CD³² NVRAM.
It works as follows:
 1. if requested, it writes some data from an input file to the NVRAM;
 2. if requested, it saves some data from NVRAM to an output file.

The shell arguments are:
 · INPUTFILE=IF/K     : input file (unspecified = do not write data to NVRAM)
 · WRITEADDRESS=WA/K/N: NVRAM address in [0, 1023] to start writing from
 · WRITESIZE=WS/K/N   : number of bytes in [1, 1024-WRITEADDRESS] to write
 · OUTPUTFILE=OF/K    : output file (unspecified = do not read data from NVRAM)
 · READADDRESS=RA/K/N : NVRAM address in [0, 1023] to start reading from
 · READSIZE=RS/K/N    : number of bytes in [1, 1024-READADDRESS] to read
 · QUIET/S            : do not print any information to the standard output

These values are used for unspecified arguments:
 · WRITEADDRESS: 0
 · WRITESIZE   : 1024
 · READADDRESS : 0
 · READSIZE    : 1024

These values are used for invalid arguments:
 · WRITEADDRESS: 0
 · WRITESIZE   : 1024-WRITEADDRESS
 · READADDRESS : 0
 · READSIZE    : 1024-READADDRESS

If QUIET is not specified, the following information gets printed:
 · startup code : <NVRAM startup code (see below)>
 · input file   : <input file path, if specified>
 · write address: <(corrected) NVRAM address for writing>
 · write size   : <(corrected) number of bytes for writing>
 · load code    : <load code (see below)>
 · output file  : <output file path, if specified>
 · read address : <(corrected) NVRAM address for reading>
 · read size    : <(corrected) number of bytes for reading>
 · save code    : <save code (see below)>
 · elapsed time : <elapsed time expressed in color clocks>

Operation code:
 :| = no operation
 :( = operation failed
 :) = operation succeeded

No data is written to the NVRAM if loading fails.
No data is read from the NVRAM and saved to file if the NVRAM startup fails.

During execution, AmigaOS is disabled entirely. Also, the screen gets blanked
and repainted dynamically as follows:
 · blue : writing;
 · cyan : preparing to read;
 · green: reading;
 · red  : starting an operation.

THIS TOOL IS BASED ON THE CUSTOM ROUTINES WHOSE VALIDITY IS TO BE VERIFIED WITH
THIS SUITE, SO IT IS BY NO MEANS RELIABLE.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2021, 08:46:41 PM by saimo »
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2021, 08:47:34 PM »
Want to have a look at SkillGrid v1.1? Here's a huge rollercoaster longplay for you to enjoy!
The video is quite long, but if, you go through it all, you'll get a perfect idea of how varied and dynamic the gameplay is. (By the way, I did catch on purpose some maluses in order to show their features, but I just couldn't force myself to catch all of them :P)
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 08:57:30 PM by saimo »
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2022, 09:54:59 PM »
Wanna see how the PRESS PLAY ON TAPE Edition of SkillGrid v1.2 looks and sounds like? Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-CSu78Vqe4
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 
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Offline F1Lupo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2022, 04:21:14 AM »
great becomes even greater! Thanks for another update Simone!
____________________________________________________________________
c64-dual sids, A1000, A1200-060@50, A4000-CSMKIII
Indivision AGA & Catweasel MK4+= Amazing
! My Master Miggies-Amiga 1000 & AmigaOne X1000 !
--- www.mancave-ramblings.blogspot.ca ---
  -AspireOS.com & Amikit- Amiga for your netbook-
***X1000- I BELIEVE *** :angel:
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2022, 12:48:23 PM »
Somebody on itch.io reported that SkillGrid hangs on his/her A4000 (with 68060), but provided no details. Luckily, one of my friends/testers has an A4000 equipped with a 68060 and managed to reproduce the problem (if not exactly the same, I hope a strictly related one).
What he found out is that if he had Roadshow running, the game would hang in the title screen shortly after starting up. Given that SkillGrid takes over the system entirely, the first thing that came to mind was that his network board (an X-Surf-100), after being activated/used by RoadShow before the startup of the game, was triggering an INT2 interrupt and keeping on doing so continuously as it was not getting an ack due to the fact that my level 2 interrupt handler, which only cares about the keyboard, simply cleared the INTREQ.PORTS bit and returned. I searched for information about the X-Surf-100 on the net and I got confirmation that it uses the INT2 line (and seemingly also the INT6 one, but that is not relevant to SkillGrid as it has the level 6 interrupt disabled). I provided him with a version of the game with the level 2 interrupt disabled and it turned out to work just fine, even with RoadShow running at startup.
Therefore, I have now prepared a new version (1.3) which handles the keyboard through the level 3 interrupt and which is thus immune to any expansion hardware (except for hardware that continuously triggers NMIs, that is).

Doing this work got me started once again, and so I also made some other improvements - you can find the details in the changelog at the bottom of this post, but here's the most important one:



For who is not familiar with the game: the addition is the BEAM/ULTRA cell, which makes the spaceship weapon exceptionally powerful (getting rid of the bosses with it is extra easy).

I seized the occasion to also add this little paragraph to the manual which clarifies how beams work (it has been so since day 1, but it had never been explained):



The new version is practically ready, but before releasing it I'd really really really like to get the Amiga CD32 NVRAM issue fixed! In fact, hiscore loading/saving is still disabled for the version that boots on Amiga CD32 directly from CD. Unfortunately, having no such machine, I can't test my code, so I need help. More precisely, I need someone with an Amiga CD32 equipped with an HD/CF/SD to run this test suite and report the result (it's all very simple - basically: download the archive, unpack it on the drive, run the script from shell, follow the on-screen instructions and report the result).
Thanks in advance to the good souls who will help!

Changelog

v1.3 (unreleased)
 1. Added the BEAM/ULTRA cell (shoots a big beam that is equivalent to 5 beams).
 2. Moved lateral beams of the triple beam one pixel down (to match the shape of the ultra beam).
 3. Reduced by 16.7% the occurrences of the DAMAGE cell.
 4. Worked on the music playback: optimized the decoding; optimized the handling of the state; removed the pairing of channels on the same side (which caused the title and game over screens music to play louder than the in-game music - an originally intended effect which I have changed my mind about - and did not really work for channel 3 as that channel cannot sustain 28836.5 Hz).
 5. Changed the keyboard handling so that it executes from a level 3 interrupt handler instead of a level 2 interrupt handler, in order to work around issues/lockups caused by expansion hardware sending INT2 interrupt requests.
 6. Replaced [SPACE] with [LEFT ALT] and [RIGHT ALT] keys as [FIRE] button.
 7. Made the startup procedure more robust (especially against audio playback performed with direct hardware access by other programs concurrently).
 8. Made various little optimizations.
 9. Worked on cells graphics: fixed colors of beams on BEAM/DOUBLE and BEAM/TRIPLE cells; fixed a pixel on the border of the ASTEROIDS, BEAM/DOUBLE and BEAM/TRIPLE cells.
10. Worked on manual and stragegy guide: renamed DOUBLE BEAM and TRIPLE BEAM as BEAMS/DOUBLE and BEAMS/TRIPLE, respectively; added the information for the BEAMS/ULTRA cell; adapted the information for the other BEAMS/* cells; added the BEAMS paragraph; updated the ASTEROIDS, BEAM/DOUBLE and BEAM/TRIPLE cells images; updated the controls table; fixed the outer antialiasing of the BEAM/TRIPLE, BOOST and BRAKE cells images; fixed the kerning of the last character of the italic strings.
11. Set default tool of manual and strategy guide icons to "Apdf".
12. Updated artwork to reflect the new beams graphics.
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC
 
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Offline F1Lupo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2022, 05:05:27 PM »
congrats on fixing that bug Simone and I hope some CD32 owners can help you out soon
____________________________________________________________________
c64-dual sids, A1000, A1200-060@50, A4000-CSMKIII
Indivision AGA & Catweasel MK4+= Amazing
! My Master Miggies-Amiga 1000 & AmigaOne X1000 !
--- www.mancave-ramblings.blogspot.ca ---
  -AspireOS.com & Amikit- Amiga for your netbook-
***X1000- I BELIEVE *** :angel:
 

Offline saimo

Re: SkillGrid released
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2022, 12:44:07 PM »
SkillGrid v1.3 is out!
This short video shows the new weapon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umw_pzdYJkk
Moreover, in addition to the other various improvements, I have given Amiga CD³² users the possibility to enable the hiscore loading/saving from/to NVRAM (I haven't received any feedback relatively to that, so the feature is completely experimental - see readme.txt on the CD).

https://retream.itch.io/SkillGrid

Changelog

v1.3 (21.05.2022)
1. Added the BEAM/ULTRA cell (shoots a big beam that is equivalent to 5 beams).
2. Moved the lateral beams of the triple beam one pixel down (to match the shape of the ultra beam).
3. Reduced by 16.7% the occurrences of the DAMAGE cell.
4. Worked on the music playback:
· optimized the decoding;
· optimized the handling of the state;
· removed the pairing of channels on the same side (which caused the title and game over screens music to play louder than the in-game music - an originally intended effect which I have changed my mind about - and did not really work for channel 3 as that channel cannot sustain 28836.5 Hz).
5. Slightly improved the standard music quality by re-downsampling the data after improving the amplification.
6. Changed the keyboard handling so that it executes from a level 3 interrupt handler instead of a level 2 interrupt handler, in order to work around issues/lockups caused by expansion hardware sending INT2 interrupt requests.
7. Replaced [SPACE] with [LEFT ALT] and [RIGHT ALT] as [FIRE] button.
8. Made the startup procedure more robust (especially against audio playback performed with direct hardware access by other programs concurrently).
9. Made various little optimizations.
10. Added the possibility of enabling the loading/saving of the hiscore from/to the NVRAM in the Amiga CD³² bootable version - EXPERIMENTAL FEATURE: CHECK OUT THE README ON THE CD FIRST!
11. Worked on cells graphics:
· fixed colors of beams on BEAM/DOUBLE and BEAM/TRIPLE cells;
· fixed a pixel on the border of the ASTEROIDS, BEAM/DOUBLE and BEAM/TRIPLE cells.
12. Worked on manual and stragegy guide:
· renamed DOUBLE BEAM and TRIPLE BEAM as BEAMS/DOUBLE and BEAMS/TRIPLE, respectively;
· added the information for the BEAMS/ULTRA cell;
· adapted the information for the other BEAMS/* cells;
· added the BEAMS paragraph;
· updated the ASTEROIDS, BEAM/DOUBLE and BEAM/TRIPLE cells images;
· updated the CONTROLS table;
· fixed the outer antialiasing of the BEAM/TRIPLE, BOOST and BRAKE cells images;
· fixed the kerning of the last character of the italic strings.
13. Set the default tool of the manual and strategy guide icons to "Apdf".
14. Updated the artwork to reflect the new beams graphics.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 12:55:57 PM by saimo »
RETREAM - retro dreams for Amiga, Commodore 64 and PC