Micro Mages

A place where you can keep others updated about your NES-related projects through screenshots, videos or information in general.

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Sumez
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Re: Micro Mages (on Kickstarter)

Post by Sumez » Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:56 am

At this point though, I think #1 counts for a lot with a kickstarter, too. People are sick of paying full price for a game that they may or may not get in 8 years.

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Re: Micro Mages (on Kickstarter)

Post by Bananmos » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:44 pm

There's loads of things that made me an instant backer of Micro Mages:

* I've been missing any good 4-player game for the NES. I know it's due to the risk of them being a flicker-fest, and the beautiful graphics work around that very cleverly
* Really well done trailer
* Previous track record with Super Bat Puncher demo, which is still one of the most fun NES homebrews I've played
* Knowing it's a finished game, as others have mentioned (though it's one of the minor points TBH)
* The game just looks like damn good fun to play... especially with friends

Things that made me only back Nebs 'n'Debs as a digital download:
* I did try the demo, and while it was a really high-quality competition entry it just was a bit too much of a "generic platformer" for me to really go back to. And the Kickstarter trailer didn't seem to advertise enough to change that overall feeling.
* The shipping to anywhere outside the US being so expensive. It really adds to the cost, and knowing that I'll also be punished by customs made me more reluctant to hit that backing button.
* While the graphics are really nice and well-done, all in all I couldn't help thinking it still feels like an NROM game with compromises, which maybe should have gone bigger and gotten more content - especially given how much the CIB+shipping adds up to for non-US residents. In contrast, Micro Mages felt a lot less minimalistic and more complete - despite its miniature sprites.

I usually back homebrews for the NES as CIB, so it was a close one with Nebs'n'Debs. Had the shipping been a bit more fair I probably would have gone for the CIB, just for the usual support-all-decent-NES-homebrews instinct :)

On a third note, a NES:ish kickstarter that seems to be struggling to reach it's basic goal is this one
Besides having a really awful trailer (no, your friends going on about how much they like your game is NOT good trailer material, no matter who gave you that idea)... the fact that it's just a NES version of a PC party game really gives me the feeling that I'm backing a cheapened-down HK demake of a game -and I'd much rather back a NES game where the author puts their heart and soul into making the NES game *the* definite version to play. :P

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Sumez
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Re: Micro Mages (on Kickstarter)

Post by Sumez » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:40 am

Bananmos wrote: Besides having a really awful trailer (no, your friends going on about how much they like your game is NOT good trailer material, no matter who gave you that idea)...
Seriously though. Who ever even watched through an entire Kickstarter trailer?
These are always super long, and completely fail the idea behind an elevator pitch (which is essentially what a Kickstarter is).
Of course, you can make them as long as you want them, but you gotta hook your audience within the first 15 seconds or you might as well not.
Don't start out with some geeky developer sitting in his mom's basement muttering to a handheld camera. Start out with gameplay right off the bat, as the very first thing. Then talk about how much you care about the game afterwards. And get a good camera and a good mic.

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Re: Micro Mages

Post by miau » Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:42 pm

Sorry, forgot to post a followup here.

M_Tee summed up the contributing factors pretty well, I think.


I'd like to expand on what happened with our video "How we fit an NES game into 40KB" in the hope it might be interesting to some of you.

There are a few channels uploading similar content that have been gaining popularity:
- GameHut
- Retro Game Mechanics Explained

Can't remember the others, but either way, people seem to love these kinds of tech videos. I certainly enjoy them a lot, so I approached Nicolas with the wish to create something in similar spirit for Micro Mages.

One week before the end of the campaign we were at a pace where we thought we may barely hit € 100k if we're lucky, the usual bump in pledges towards the end of a campaign was accounted for in our calculations. Then, apparently, the video got enough views for the Youtube algorithm to start recommending it to people on the homepage and that's when things exploded (250k views on the last day of the campaign).

Needless to say, now we're incredibly glad Nicolas suffered through all those hours of video editing and PC crashes. It paid off to go the extra mile and that's probably something you're absolutely required to do if you want to stand out on Kickstarter.

NROM means nothing to normal folks, we knew we needed to make clear why exactly it's a small big thing. Actually, it's more about communicating why developing a game on the NES is special in the first place. That's the thing other homebrew Kickstarters haven't been capitalizing on enough, I think. Everyone here knows it's completely unlike modern game development, but to our audience, the game may have just been yet another indie platformer without the extra insight.

Ironically, Micro Mages was conceived as a project to test crowdfunding waters, something that wouldn't cost us years of our life to make, where we wouldn't feel compelled to go all-out and instead could allow ourselves to relax, make mistakes and learn from them.

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miau
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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by miau » Wed May 01, 2019 12:57 am

We just released the ROM and PC versions at https://morphcatgames.itch.io/micromages

All Kickstarter/Indiegogo backers should have received a download link + Steam key via e-mail.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by rainwarrior » Wed May 01, 2019 1:31 am

PARTY! :mrgreen:

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by Pokun » Wed May 01, 2019 2:32 am

Hello I have a question about the 4-player mode in Micro Mages.

On the kickstarter page it is stated that it supports both the Four Score and the Hori 4-player adapter, but nothing about the standard 4-player solution on Famicom which is to use two external controllers (there are many kinds of adapters to hookup these) as well as the two built-in standard controllers. The Hori adapter isn't very common and uses a special protocol that isn't supported by many games, so it would make little sense to support it without supporting the standard solution as well.

Is it true that it only supports the Four Score and Hori adapter or is there some kind of misunderstanding here?

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by miau » Wed May 01, 2019 12:34 pm

Pokun wrote:Hello I have a question about the 4-player mode in Micro Mages.

On the kickstarter page it is stated that it supports both the Four Score and the Hori 4-player adapter, but nothing about the standard 4-player solution on Famicom which is to use two external controllers (there are many kinds of adapters to hookup these) as well as the two built-in standard controllers. The Hori adapter isn't very common and uses a special protocol that isn't supported by many games, so it would make little sense to support it without supporting the standard solution as well.

Is it true that it only supports the Four Score and Hori adapter or is there some kind of misunderstanding here?
I've never heard about a Famicom adapter for hooking up two external controllers. Do you have any information on it?

I can't imagine it working differently to the Hori adapter switch set to 2 players, which is supported by Micro Mages and allows you to play with 4 players in the same way you mentioned - connect 2 external controllers, use 2 standard controllers.

Micro Mages reads D1 of $4016/$4017 to get the 3rd/4th player input, which seems to be the intended way (by Nintendo, at least I seem to recall reading about it somewhere) to handle two extra controllers.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by rainwarrior » Wed May 01, 2019 12:54 pm

Yes, controllers on D1 on $4016/4017 is a standard thing for Famicom. There are other adapters that do this besides that hori one, and I've seen a pair of controllers that just plugs into the expansion port like this too.

It's also normal for Famicom games to OR D0 and D1 for games that aren't 4-player so people can use custom controllers instead of the hardwired ones.

So... it sounds like Micro Mages is doing the normal thing for 4-player on the Famicom, though it might be disappointing for 1/2 player mode if someone prefers using a custom controller?

Many western NES releases don't do this though, so it's probably not too unexpected from non-Japanese games. If you do a Famicom form cartridge release, you might consider ORing them for 1/2 player modes?

Edit: Micro Mages does OR D1 and D0 for 1/2 player modes, so it's completely correct, I believe.
Last edited by rainwarrior on Wed May 01, 2019 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by miau » Wed May 01, 2019 1:16 pm

IIRC, in 2-player mode, Micro Mages will actually do the D0/D1 OR-ing and allow to use external controllers as replacement for worn-out standard pads.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by Pokun » Wed May 01, 2019 1:19 pm

Ninjad, but I'll post anyway since I wrote up all this, and I have some other things to say.

I see, so it does support the standard way after all (reading D1 of $4016/$4017), that's good to hear. Stating that it supports the Hori adapter sounds like you support its special protocol that only a few game does (three known games are Wit's, US Championship V'Ball and Downtown Nekketsu Koshinkyoku) though. Do not trust Wikipedia in this matter because it's full of misconceptions.
miau wrote:I've never heard about a Famicom adapter for hooking up two external controllers. Do you have any information on it?
Some controllers has the adapter built-in, like the ASCII Stick 2 Turbo, so the second controller can be daisy chained in the first controller. Sometimes external controllers even have a switch so you can choose which controller it acts like (D1 of $4016 or $4017). There are also adapters like HAL's JoyPair and Hori's Twin Adapter. The Hori 4-player adapter can also be used like this like you already know, but that alone won't let you use the second pair of controller ports.

It can also be easily built by using two Neo-Geo controller extension cables or more popularly is to use two NES controller extension cables and one Neo-Geo cable so that any NES controllers (including some accessories like the Zapper) can be used in the expansion port. This is what I do since NES controllers and Zappers are relatively cheap and easy to find.


BTW I just got to see the manual, and correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like there is a mistake here. I don't have the Hori 4-player adapter myself, but from what other people testing it had to say it sounds like the 2P/4P switch do not matter when just using the first pair of ports. The switch is only used to enable the second pair of ports in games that supports them. In the manual however it says that the switch must be set to 4P in Micro Mages despite it not supporting the second pair of ports, which can't be right.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by rainwarrior » Wed May 01, 2019 1:22 pm

miau wrote:IIRC, in 2-player mode, Micro Mages will actually do the D0/D1 OR-ing and allow to use external controllers as replacement for worn-out standard pads.
Ah, yes it does seem to do that. (Somehow my test keys failed to set when I tried it a few minutes ago!) Well, then I think it's 100% doing the correct thing.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by miau » Wed May 01, 2019 1:39 pm

Pokun wrote:
miau wrote:I've never heard about a Famicom adapter for hooking up two external controllers. Do you have any information on it?
Some controllers has the adapter built-in, like the ASCII Stick 2 Turbo, so the second controller can be daisy chained in the first controller. Sometimes external controllers even have a switch so you can choose which controller it acts like (D1 of $4016 or $4017). There are also adapters like HAL's JoyPair and Hori's Twin Adapter. The Hori 4-player adapter can also be used like this like you already know, but that alone won't let you use the second pair of controller ports.

It can also be easily built by using two Neo-Geo controller extension cables or more popularly is to use two NES controller extension cables and one Neo-Geo cable so that any NES controllers (including some accessories like the Zapper) can be used in the expansion port. This is what I do since NES controllers and Zappers are relatively cheap and easy to find.
Ok, that is interesting info. Thanks!
Pokun wrote: BTW I just got to see the manual, and correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like there is a mistake here. I don't have the Hori 4-player adapter myself, but from what other people testing it had to say it sounds like the 2P/4P switch do not matter when just using the first pair of ports. The switch is only used to enable the second pair of ports in games that supports them. In the manual however it says that the switch must be set to 4P in Micro Mages despite it not supporting the second pair of ports, which can't be right.
That's right, it doesn't matter. However, you can use 4 external controllers in 4p mode on the Hori. The controllers in port 3 and 4 will replace worn-out standard pads in this case. I can't check for validity of this information right now, though. Either way, it was easier to just state "leave the switch set to 4 at all times" and not have to add any more text than that.

Iirc the 3/4 ports behave similarly to the FourScore in that you've got to read another byte from $4016/4017 respectively after the first controllers were read to get their data.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by Pokun » Wed May 01, 2019 2:07 pm

miau wrote:However, you can use 4 external controllers in 4p mode on the Hori. The controllers in port 3 and 4 will replace worn-out standard pads in this case. I can't check for validity of this information right now, though. Either way, it was easier to just state "leave the switch set to 4 at all times" and not have to add any more text than that.

Iirc the 3/4 ports behave similarly to the FourScore in that you've got to read another byte from $4016/4017 respectively after the first controllers were read to get their data.
So it does support the Hori adapter after all?

Wit's seems to use OR-ing with D0 and D1 to duplicate the first port pair with the built-in controllers and uses the second port pair for player 3 and 4, but you instead duplicates them in the second port pair? That sounds smarter because that way you can still support normal expansion controllers at the same time.

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Re: Micro Mages (ROM released!)

Post by miau » Fri May 17, 2019 1:44 am

Sorry for the very late response.
Pokun wrote:So it does support the Hori adapter after all?

Wit's seems to use OR-ing with D0 and D1 to duplicate the first port pair with the built-in controllers and uses the second port pair for player 3 and 4, but you instead duplicates them in the second port pair? That sounds smarter because that way you can still support normal expansion controllers at the same time.
Apparently :-)


I thought I'd post the 4-player controller reading code as it took me a while to figure out at the time. Hope this will make someone's life easier:

Code: Select all

;NES 4-player controller reading - written for the ca65 assembler
;- works with FourScore on NES (and AV Famicom afaik)
;- works with Hori adapter on Famicom (up to 4 players)
;- works with expansion port controllers on Famicom (3 players)
;- should work with dual expansion port controllers on Famicom (4 players)
;- has checks in place to allow worn out standard controllers to be replaced by
;  expansion controllers on Famicom (depending on state of playerActive array);
;  This is good behavior for Famicom, a lot of commercially released Famicom
;  games do the same!

;joypad button constants
JOY_RIGHT 	= $01
JOY_LEFT	= $02
JOY_DOWN 	= $04
JOY_UP	 	= $08
JOY_START	= $10
JOY_SELECT	= $20
JOY_B		= $40
JOY_A		= $80

.zeropage
;you'll need to initialize this when the user selects the number of players.
;zero for active players, non-zero for inactive players
playerActive: .res 4

;will hold state of joypads after call to updateInput (use bitwise ops with
;button constants above)
joy1: .res 1
joy2: .res 1
joy3: .res 1
joy4: .res 1

buf4016_0: .res 3
buf4016_1: .res 3
buf4017_0: .res 3
buf4017_1: .res 3
.code

;call this at the beginning of a frame
.proc updateInput ;a,x,y
	
	;not 100% sure anymore why I wrote these out
	;most likely had to do with some zeropage reuse/optimization thing in Micro Mages
	byte2_4016_0 = buf4016_0 + 0
	byte1_4016_0 = buf4016_0 + 1
	byte0_4016_0 = buf4016_0 + 2
	byte2_4017_0 = buf4017_0 + 0
	byte1_4017_0 = buf4017_0 + 1
	byte0_4017_0 = buf4017_0 + 2
	
	byte2_4016_1 = buf4016_1 + 0
	byte1_4016_1 = buf4016_1 + 1
	byte0_4016_1 = buf4016_1 + 2
	byte2_4017_1 = buf4017_1 + 0
	byte1_4017_1 = buf4017_1 + 1
	byte0_4017_1 = buf4017_1 + 2
	
	;reset strobe bit
	ldy #$01
	sty $4016
	dey
	sty $4016
	
	;read joypad and famicom expansion pads as well as multitap adapters
	ldx #3-1
	@byteLoop:
		ldy #8
		@readLoop:
			lda $4016
			lsr a      ; bit0 -> Carry
			rol buf4016_0,x
			lsr a      ; bit1 -> Carry
			rol buf4016_1,x
			lda $4017
			lsr a      ; bit0 -> Carry
			rol buf4017_0,x
			lsr a      ; bit1 -> Carry
			rol buf4017_1,x
			dey
			bne @readLoop
		dex
		bpl @byteLoop
		
	lda byte0_4016_1
	sta joy3
	lda byte0_4017_1
	sta joy4
	
	;on Famicom, it is expected that the expansion port controller
	;can be used to replace a worn-out standard controller #1
	;Let's do that unless a third player joins the party
	lda byte0_4016_0
	ldy playerActive+2 ;player 3
	beq :+
		ora joy3
	:
	sta joy1
	
	;also allow second expansion controller to replace standard controller #2
	lda byte0_4017_0
	ldy playerActive+3 ;player 4
	beq :+
		ora joy4
	:
	sta joy2
	
	@detectMultitap:
		;check 3rd bytes from bit0 reads
		lda byte2_4016_0
		cmp #%00010000 ;$10
		bne @skipFourScore
			lda byte2_4017_0 ;$20
			cmp #%00100000
			bne @skipFourScore
				;FourScore detected
				;2nd bytes hold controller #3/#4 data
				lda byte1_4016_0
				ora joy3
				sta joy3
				lda byte1_4017_0
				ora joy4
				sta joy4
				jmp @skipDetectMultitap
		@skipFourScore:
		
		;check 3rd bytes from bit1 reads
		lda byte2_4016_1
		cmp #%00100000 ;$20
		bne @skipHori
			lda byte2_4017_1
			cmp #%00010000 ;$10
			bne @skipHori
				;hori adapter detected
				;2nd bytes hold controller #3/#4 data
				;allow to replace worn out standard famicom controllers with these as well (4p mode)
				lda byte1_4016_1
				ora joy1
				sta joy1
				lda byte1_4017_1
				ora joy2
				sta joy2
		@skipHori:
		
	@skipDetectMultitap:
	
	rts
.endproc

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