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 Post subject: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:23 pm 
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Hello!
I'd like to announce a new NES homebrew project. It's a puzzle game called Lucky Penguin.

ImageImage

Lukasz Kur (from recent Oliver Twins NES releases) is the programmer and I'm doing the graphics.
My favorite thing about the visuals is that I'm using flickering on backgrounds (to create illusion of more shades/colors on screen). But you can turn off this effect in case you want a traditional NES look.

Flicker ON vs. Flicker OFF:
ImageImage

I think that all graphics and sounds are already finished. But there's still things to be tested/adjusted related to programming. All screenshots are still WIP - but I think they're already very close to their final version. Feel free to ask any questions about this project. Hope you like it!


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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:34 am 
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It looks very nice from your screenshots! I've wanted to experiment with flicker this way too but haven't found the right opportunity to do so yet.

Good luck with your project!

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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:14 am 
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I tried some of your flicker ROMs from your blog. That 60hz flicker really bothers me, I can see it perfectly. I'd also think it could be an epilepsy trigger.


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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:25 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:39 am 
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Using flicker to get more colors is a very risky thing to do IMO... A lot of TVs, current and old, may not blend the frames as intended. Every flicker demo I have tried on my different consoles and TVs has looked like total fail. At least you're offering the option to turn the effect off, so this may not be such a big deal.

Another thing you should keep an eye out for is how close to the edges of the screen some of the text is... You have text way outside the safe area indicated by Nintendo back in the day, so you may want to rethink some screen layouts or at least make sure that any parts that may be cut won't interfere with the gameplay.

Other than that, the game looks pretty good! I really like the overall aesthetics!


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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:34 am 
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Yeah, when it's a toggle option, i think anything goes - it's great for those who can display it.

But generally, i think subtler switching is the key, e.g. one, two or a few colours in a selected area and circumstance, like some edges or highlights. Changing hue is easier on the eye than changing brightness. In the latter case, if you can provide a material reason for the varyingly visible flicker (striplight or candle light), it's better.

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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:54 am 
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Years ago, I made a demo called RGB121 that uses flicker to coax more colors out of the NES to display dithered photorealistic images. Checkerboard dither interferes with the NTSC artifact pattern, and some alignments between color burst and pixel clock inside the PPU make this interference look awful.

Yes, you probably will need to rethink screen layouts to avoid having a TV cut off the sides. The article "Overscan" on NESdev Wiki explains. I've taken the liberty of illustrating what it looks like under worst-case ("Title safe") and typical-but-bad ("PocketNES safe") situations. Click to zoom.
Attachment:
lucky_penguin_safearea.png
lucky_penguin_safearea.png [ 14.45 KiB | Viewed 891 times ]


Also stop using Photobucket unless you can afford $399 per year for the third-party hosting upgrade that it recently started requiring. See "Photobucket Breaks Image Links Across the Internet" by Matthew Humphries.


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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:29 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
It looks very nice from your screenshots! I've wanted to experiment with flicker this way too but haven't found the right opportunity to do so yet.

Good luck with your project!

Thanks! =)


calima wrote:
I tried some of your flicker ROMs from your blog. That 60hz flicker really bothers me,

So make yourself a favor and avoid my blog - there are *much* more flickering stuff to come.


calima wrote:
I can see it perfectly.

Everybody sees it perfectly. I never said this not noticeable.
Majority of people said to me over the years that the visual improvement makes the screen blinking completely tolerable.
Others (especially people here at nesdev) really don't like and I respect it (that's why you can turn it off).


calima wrote:
I'd also think it could be an epilepsy trigger.

We'll have to wait and see. Let's find out if the cute penguin in fact is a murderer.


tokumaru wrote:
Using flicker to get more colors is a very risky thing to do IMO...

That's exactly why I'm doing this. I love experimental stuff.


tokumaru wrote:
A lot of TVs, current and old, may not blend the frames as intended. Every flicker demo I have tried on my different consoles and TVs has looked like total fail. At least you're offering the option to turn the effect off, so this may not be such a big deal.

There are a lot of "Dos" and "Don'ts" when messing with flickering (and I've learned it the hard way). Many stuff I used to do 6 years ago should simply be avoided - however when you know what you're doing I really don't think that end result will look like a total fail. But I know this is not for everyone.


tokumaru wrote:
Another thing you should keep an eye out for is how close to the edges of the screen some of the text is... You have text way outside the safe area indicated by Nintendo back in the day, so you may want to rethink some screen layouts or at least make sure that any parts that may be cut won't interfere with the gameplay.

Thanks, I'll take a look!


tokumaru wrote:
Other than that, the game looks pretty good! I really like the overall aesthetics!

Thank you!

tepples wrote:
Years ago, I made a demo called RGB121 that uses flicker to coax more colors out of the NES to display dithered photorealistic images. Checkerboard dither interferes with the NTSC artifact pattern, and some alignments between color burst and pixel clock inside the PPU make this interference look awful.

I'm not using checkerboard dithering. It doesn't work on NES/AV.


tepples wrote:
Yes, you probably will need to rethink screen layouts to avoid having a TV cut off the sides. The article "Overscan" on NESdev Wiki explains. I've taken the liberty of illustrating what it looks like under worst-case ("Title safe") and typical-but-bad ("PocketNES safe") situations. Click to zoom.
Attachment:
The attachment lucky_penguin_safearea.png is no longer available

Thanks!

------------------

EDIT: Credits screen was changed. Thanks to tokumaru and tepples for the overscan advice.
And to Nesrocks for testing and taking the picture on his old CRT TV! Much better now. :D
Attachment:
LP-NESDEV01.jpg
LP-NESDEV01.jpg [ 19.64 KiB | Viewed 652 times ]


Last edited by Macbee on Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:54 pm 
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I need to take some time to try and see how many levels I can beat.
To those wondering about the flicker: on my CRT it looks really subtle. Doesn't bother me at all (NTSC). Especially with the technique used with similar colors blended (it isn't flickering red+green pixels for example). I think my tv is super sharp for NES standards, but of course it could be sharper with component cables. Maybe then the flicker would be slightly more noticeable. On a blurrier tv 99% of players wouldn't even know it is flickering (it's hard to notice on my TV if you're not looking for it).
Anyway, in the end, I'm all for using techniques such as these on complete new games for the NES. I think they did an amazing work! What great novelty games could be made if only people opened their minds :D

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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:22 am 
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Title screen was also fixed (left-old and right-new).
Thanks again for the tips regarding overscan!
Attachment:
LP-NESDEV02.jpg
LP-NESDEV02.jpg [ 51.8 KiB | Viewed 652 times ]


Last edited by Macbee on Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:20 am 
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This is all I see:


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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:26 am 
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That image displays fine on my end; it doesn't seem to be suffering from a block on external websites... at least not in the way it was in a previous issue was where it replaced with a warning image? (Though, as has been mentioned before, this forum has its own image attachment feature.)


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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:12 pm 
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The new title screen looks good! :beer: :)

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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:10 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
The new title screen looks good! :beer: :)

Thanks!

Demo was just released. We still have to fix a couple of things (like in-game texts position to avoid overscan). These remaining problems won't exist in final game.

Have fun!

Attachment:
Lucky Penguin Demo.zip [32.05 KiB]
Downloaded 63 times


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 Post subject: Re: Lucky Penguin
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:22 pm 
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Played through! I liked it. Very polished. :)

Here's some thoughts, if you're interested in opinions:

Difficulty: I like that the difficulty shifts significantly with level style and music. This is the proper place to do so, IMO.

Score: The bonus for getting two clovers within a second(?) is a good way to differentiate scores between playthroughs (besides the time bonus). I kind of feel that the time bonus is a bit overshadowed by the massive amount of points you get for clovers, maybe 500 (and 750 when getting one fast) would balance better against time? But if you're fine with the current balance, that's good too.

Complexity: Will additional mechanics be introduced along the way? Depending on how many worlds the total game will be, new mechanics can help maintain interest, beside increasing challenge.

Sound: It's hard to judge this without a regular tv to plug into, but the pulse (and maybe also noise) channels felt a bit loud? I often find it more relaxing to the ears tone them down a bit relative to the tri wave, which is often used for bass duties - bass frequencies take more energy/pressure to be percieved as 'loud' than hi-mid frequencies, and conversely, the ear is more sensitive to mid-high tones and sounds. Wikipedia article on the subject.

Style: Everything looks adorable! The smooth animation of the character goes well in hand with the "extra" colours.

One thing stood out as slightly less polished than the rest and just perhaps a little bit outside the stylistic direction: the red cross sprite used for showing that flicker is off. Three things on top of my head you could do: a) A black, dark gray or dark blue/teal drop shadow could help a lot. b) and since you know the exact position of the sprite, you can also soften some jagged edges with another colour between the red and the main bg colour. c) To make it more consistent with the theme, you could swap red for pink (the one you use in the checkerboard) altogether.

Semantics: More a question than an opinion. Is flicker the best word to describe to a non-technical gamer what the feature is?

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