Why does everyone seem to want to develop for the craptastic VDP of the MSX1?

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By Hrothgar

Champion (479)

Hrothgar's picture

03-08-2009, 09:58

And no one said: 'All msx games MUST scroll horizontally'

That's indeed not a MUST for all sorts of games, but I really wonder why there were a number of games for MSX2 that should have been scrolling but weren't. E.g. Vampire Killer or Contra were scrolling on other platforms, and both use static screens and hardware sprites. That's a combination that simply leaves large part of the MSX2 graphics capabilities untouched and provided/provides MSX2 with a poor reputation.

In terms of fully utilizing the graphics capabilities of the MSX2 there are still whole genres that were barely touched in MSX2 game history, such as smooth-scrolling platformers or RPGs. There's still a lot of development challenge there.

By Leo

Paragon (1236)

Leo's picture

03-08-2009, 10:10

i see many rpg's on msx2 ...
Tongue

By PingPong

Prophet (3832)

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03-08-2009, 10:38

And no one said: 'All msx games MUST scroll horizontally'

That's indeed not a MUST for all sorts of games, but I really wonder why there were a number of games for MSX2 that should have been scrolling but weren't. E.g. Vampire Killer or Contra were scrolling on other platforms, and both use static screens and hardware sprites. That's a combination that simply leaves large part of the MSX2 graphics capabilities untouched and provided/provides MSX2 with a poor reputation.

In terms of fully utilizing the graphics capabilities of the MSX2 there are still whole genres that were barely touched in MSX2 game history, such as smooth-scrolling platformers or RPGs. There's still a lot of development challenge there.
The two examples above are effectively (IMHO) a good situation where scrolling maybe difficult. Pratically those games runs at full screen. the amount of data to scroll is huge-
Especially on VK i do not think that this is a very limiting factor.
Take into consideration that every game (in those days) had to change to accomodate with the underlying hw.
For example: look at pacmania. All version have a side right score bar, except the c64 one. Why?
Because the C64 'featured' hw horizontal scroll, and to take advantage of this the game featured a bottom score bar.

So, if VK is not scrolling on a MSX2 platform i can see: 'it's to take advantage of bitmapped gfx, otherwise we need to go on screen 4)

Some games, nemesis like, could have been done in screen5 with smooth scrolling.

By PingPong

Prophet (3832)

PingPong's picture

03-08-2009, 10:44

i see many rpg's on msx2 ...
Tongue

that's the point. RPG's and GFX adventures contributed to the poor reputation of MSX2 gfx modes.
None had investigated about doing somewhat better.. Pratically horizontal smooth scroolling in screen5 was considered almost impossible until someone (thx, ARTRAG) tryed it on an msx2 unfinished game (Total parody)

The same thing also applied on msx1 about smooth scrolling: 'because the hw lack support, this is not possible to achieve'.
Later proof of concept (GNG demo) and games (malaika) proved that under some circumstances it's possible.
But looking at the msx game library you can count less of 10 games featuring smooth scroll, if we exclude the speccy convertions.

By pitpan

Prophet (3145)

pitpan's picture

03-08-2009, 11:26

RyJuZo is totally right: I code for MSX1 'cause I was a MSX1 user. I know that MSX2 has superior graphics but it's not the computer of my childhood. Therefore, I enjoy coding games like the ones I played back then. Nostalgia? Sure!

By Hrothgar

Champion (479)

Hrothgar's picture

03-08-2009, 11:54

The two examples above are effectively (IMHO) a good situation where scrolling maybe difficult. Pratically those games runs at full screen. the amount of data to scroll is huge-
Especially on VK i do not think that this is a very limiting factor.
I believe 1 and 2 px scrolls (per frame, meaning 50 or 100 px horizontal scroll per second) are possible using the 'lazy' method (copying 15 bars of the screen, meaning very limited copy instructions during most frames), and possibly more using differential copying although that may have limitations in richness of backgrounds and game code. That's fast enough for most games.

You may call it non-limiting but there must be a reason why a majority of games on C64 and NES were smooth-scrolling whenever they could add that component in the game design, and users of other machines quite consistently mention MSX's lack of scrolling or blocky 8px scrolling as limiting. To date MSX2 didn't do much to show this limit can be overcome while preserving the quality of the game, some individual examples aside.

Seeing that status quo, where MSX2's graphical qualities are assumed to be reached when a game competition produces a static puzzle game as a winner (albeit in screen 8, and a fine game otherwise), I can understand why MSX1 is more the main developer's target.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9918)

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03-08-2009, 12:37

Uhm, I think Shift won because there were only two entries, of which Shift gained most of the points. Had there been a sc5 RPG of Xak proportions, a sc5 platformer of Usas proportions or a sc4 shooter of Space Manbow proportions, then the final results would've been different I think.

By PingPong

Prophet (3832)

PingPong's picture

03-08-2009, 12:52

The two examples above are effectively (IMHO) a good situation where scrolling maybe difficult. Pratically those games runs at full screen. the amount of data to scroll is huge-
Especially on VK i do not think that this is a very limiting factor.
I believe 1 and 2 px scrolls (per frame, meaning 50 or 100 px horizontal scroll per second) are possible using the 'lazy' method (copying 15 bars of the screen, meaning very limited copy instructions during most frames), and possibly more using differential copying although that may have limitations in richness of backgrounds and game code. That's fast enough for most games.

About the limited copy instruction on the frame i think it's not a matter of how the vdp is busy.
I've tested spmanbow2 first level with openMSX and a TCL script that show how the vdp is busy during a frame.
during the game we are under the 50% of utilization using the tecnique you mentioned.

The real problem, is, IMHO how interleave those operations with others needed, for example, to simulate an explosion.
this require very well designed code..

By Hrothgar

Champion (479)

Hrothgar's picture

03-08-2009, 13:13

I don't recall VK or Contra utilizing software sprites/copies for large explosions so I'm not sure how this would impact the game's design w.r.t. scrolling.
If you're making a Pleasure Hearts or a similar game, yes I agree that would pretty much rule out screen 5. But at such extreme speeds screen 5 graphical details are wasted anyway.

By PingPong

Prophet (3832)

PingPong's picture

03-08-2009, 14:00

I don't recall VK or Contra utilizing software sprites/copies for large explosions so I'm not sure how this would impact the game's design w.r.t. scrolling.
If you're making a Pleasure Hearts or a similar game, yes I agree that would pretty much rule out screen 5. But at such extreme speeds screen 5 graphical details are wasted anyway.

No, they haven't but nemesis series have, tiles that animate slowly .
There is also another game that scroll horizontally in screen5 using vdp copy in a blocky way, but i do not remember the name. Spaceship animations are done with hw sprites, bk with vdp copy.

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