Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

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

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
NovaSquirrel
Posts: 374
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:35 pm
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact:

Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by NovaSquirrel » Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:15 pm

I really like WarioWare DIY but it's got a lot of limitations I don't like, such as a lack of integer variables and no buttons, and it'd be nice to have something that wasn't as limited. I also feel like the NES would be a cool target for playing microgames on (and it'd be awesome to have a big 512KB cart stuffed with tons of microgames as a community project).

I've been working on an experimental compiler specifically for making microgames with, where you define a map, define a list of actors, place the actors on the map in locations and describe the behavior of the actors, primarily through chaining together premade behaviors.

So far it's actually looking pretty feasible? I've got things to the point where this:

Code: Select all

        "player": {
            "graphic": "$01",
            "size": [16, 16],
            "run": [
                ["set", "speed", 2],
                ["8way-movement", 255]
            ]
        },
        "getme": {
            "graphic": "$e8",
            "size": [16, 16],
            "run": [
                ["set", "speed", 1],
                ["ball-movement"],
                {
                    "if": ["touching-type", "actor:player"],
                    "then": [
                        ["destroy"],
                        {
                            "if": ["not", "find-type", "actor:getme"],
                            "then": [
                                ["win-game"]
                            ]
                        }
                    ]
                }
            ]
        },
gets translated into this:

Code: Select all

.proc actor_run_player
lda #2
sta ActorSpeed,x
 
lda #255
jsr Actor8WayMovement
 
Exit:
rts
.endproc
 
.proc actor_run_getme
lda #1
sta ActorSpeed,x

jsr ActorBallMovement

lda #ActorTypes::player
jsr ActorTouchingType
jcc lbl_12
lda #0
sta ActorType,x

lda #ActorTypes::getme
jsr ActorFindType
jcs lbl_14
jsr WinGame

lbl_14:

lbl_12:

Exit:
rts
.endproc
and I've got a whole bunch of behavior primitives written, though the actual rest of the engine is far from done, as is any actual stuff to put the microgames together in a ROM, though I imagine that wouldn't be hard. The rest of the sample file I'm using is here with the output here. That shows off some math (including optimizations to use INC and DEC when possible), and conditionals using OR and AND, and other features.

I guess the question is, is this worth doing? Expressing it through JSON like this doesn't really seem that much easier than just writing the instructions yourself, though it could probably benefit from being able to accept a file that's in more convenient-to-write form, where you could add comments. I'm not really interested in making a GUI editor for this, but maybe an existing one could be tweaked to work with this?

na_th_an
Posts: 543
Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 9:40 am

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by na_th_an » Sun Jan 27, 2019 4:21 am

I like this idea. The Json like dialect may be good 'cause it can be produced easily by a GUI driven application (even visually) if somebody is willing to create one in the future. I find it cumbersome to write it myself, but it's easily understandable and parseable by machines, so why not?

Hangin10
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:07 am

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by Hangin10 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:50 pm

If you don't mind reinventing the wheel (writing your own parser) once you have the workings well defined, a VRML-style syntax would avoid quoting everything, comma separation between properties, and the need to put code in strings.

zzo38
Posts: 1050
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:46 pm

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by zzo38 » Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:57 am

Some alternatives for the syntax are YAML (which is a superset of JSON, so JSON code can still be used too), or RDF, or Lisp.

I also notice the 6502 code could be optimized in some ways, such as a tail call optimization to WinGame.
[url=gopher://zzo38computer.org/].[/url]

User avatar
NovaSquirrel
Posts: 374
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:35 pm
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by NovaSquirrel » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:10 am

So I actually went and wrote more of the stuff to actually make the compiled microgames runnable. Observe this test "game" that just lets you run away from enemies that mostly target you but sometimes go off in random directions. I don't have actor+actor collision in yet (or the concept of winning or losing a game at all) or I would also have them react with the player.

Code: Select all

		"player": {
			"graphic": "$01",
			"size": [16, 16],
			"run": [
				["set", "speed", 2],
				["8way-movement", 255]
			]
		},
		"avoidme": {
			"graphic": "$25",
			"size": [16, 16],
			"run": [
				["set", "speed", 7],
				["ball-movement"],
				{
					"if": ["every-32-frames"],
					"then": [
						{
							"if": ["random", 192],
							"then": [
								["set", "direction", 0, "random", 31]
							],
							"else": [
								["find-type", "actor:player"],
								["look-at-actor"]
							]
						}
					]
				}
			]
		}
Image
(using sprites from Chase and other things from http://wiki.nesdev.com/w/index.php/File ... et.chr.png for placeholders for now. I should draw some of my own simple premade graphics for this)

I actually wonder how hard it would be to make a simple clone of the Scratch UI in HTML5. I might try to do that later on.

User avatar
gauauu
Posts: 659
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:21 pm
Location: Central Illinois, USA
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by gauauu » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:04 am

zzo38 wrote:Some alternatives for the syntax are YAML (which is a superset of JSON, so JSON code can still be used too)
I've started using YAML in place of JSON for files that I want a human to be able to edit, and it's great from that perspective. It's just a lot easier to read/write manually. This might be a good idea.

User avatar
NovaSquirrel
Posts: 374
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:35 pm
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by NovaSquirrel » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:50 am

Honestly anything I can still get a Python dictionary out of can be easily swapped in where JSON was. A lack of comments in the input game sounds like it'd be a huge pain for more complex games which is another reason to move away from JSON.

User avatar
gauauu
Posts: 659
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:21 pm
Location: Central Illinois, USA
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by gauauu » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:20 pm

NovaSquirrel wrote:Honestly anything I can still get a Python dictionary out of can be easily swapped in where JSON was. A lack of comments in the input game sounds like it'd be a huge pain for more complex games which is another reason to move away from JSON.
That's what made it easy for me to slowly swap in my current game. Just replace a json parse with a yaml parse (of which there are python libraries for both) and be done with it. My one beef is that the default python yaml parser is fairly sensitive about whitespace details. I've had a few yaml files that validated with every yaml validator I tried other than python.

haroldo-ok
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:14 pm
Location: Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by haroldo-ok » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:34 pm

That's a very interesting experiment. :)
Its declarative format could easily be generated with a tool such as Blockly, owl-bt, Edgy, Waterbear or RPD.

User avatar
NovaSquirrel
Posts: 374
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:35 pm
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by NovaSquirrel » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:11 pm

haroldo-ok wrote:Its declarative format could easily be generated with a tool such as Blockly, owl-bt, Edgy, Waterbear or RPD.
I figured there was probably a tool out there that I could use! That would be a lot better than making my own, and I could focus on the actual engine and the compiler instead.

haroldo-ok
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:14 pm
Location: Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by haroldo-ok » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:19 pm

NovaSquirrel wrote:
haroldo-ok wrote:Its declarative format could easily be generated with a tool such as Blockly, owl-bt, Edgy, Waterbear or RPD.
I figured there was probably a tool out there that I could use! That would be a lot better than making my own, and I could focus on the actual engine and the compiler instead.
I'm glad to help. :)

I also just found something that could maybe be adapted for the task: Mobile Microgame Maker
Whether this one would require more or less work than the alternatives, it would be up to experimentation.

User avatar
NovaSquirrel
Posts: 374
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:35 pm
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by NovaSquirrel » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:26 pm

Image
Here's the above code but in Blockly. It took a long time to define all of the blocks but I should have all of them in so far and it probably won't take much longer to actually get the game defined here into the JSON format.

I think I'll probably have the actual art aspect and the actor placement in a separate part of the tool, instead of being inline with the code.

na_th_an
Posts: 543
Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 9:40 am

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by na_th_an » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:27 am

This is awesome. Congrats.

lidnariq
Posts: 8786
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:12 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by lidnariq » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:17 am

I find it really striking how similar that looks to ZZT's or Megazeux's built-in programming languages.

haroldo-ok
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:14 pm
Location: Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Contact:

Re: Microgame compiler experiment (early WIP)

Post by haroldo-ok » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:10 pm

NovaSquirrel wrote: Here's the above code but in Blockly. It took a long time to define all of the blocks but I should have all of them in so far and it probably won't take much longer to actually get the game defined here into the JSON format.

I think I'll probably have the actual art aspect and the actor placement in a separate part of the tool, instead of being inline with the code.
The tool seems to have great potential. Can't wait to see it working! :)

Post Reply