MSXdev '08

by wolf_ on 04-06-2008, 17:45
Topic: MRC
Tags: Challenges
Languages:

For quite a number of years already, the MSXdev competitions are going on well. Individuals and teams from various places have created some stunning games over the years. This annual game contest has so far resulted in tens of new games, all of which work on MSX1, the target computer of the competition. Over the years, the game specifications have gone up allowing larger games to compete alongside with smaller games. The winner of MSXdev'06 was a MegaROM while last year's winner was a 32KB ROM, this shows that a larger game isn't always a ticket to success and that smaller games certainly have a chance to win this contest. Yet, in discussions that arise now and then, the specifications of MSXdev - for instance the ROM size and the amount of RAM - remain to be subject of debate. Added to this is another discussion regarding bonus points for sound chips and MSX2 graphics. The organization has judged all these debates in order to create a new set of rules for this year's edition.

In short, entries should be 100% compatible with the following configuration:

  • CPU: Zilog Z80 running at 3.58 Mhz
  • VDP: TMS9918/TMS9928 or compatible video processor
  • PSG: AY-3-8912 or compatible sound chip
  • Cassette interface: 1200/2400 baud
  • RAM: 64 KB (non memory-mapped)
  • VRAM: 16 KB

Games will be tested on newer MSX generations as well, penalty points will be given when entries won't work properly on such systems. The aim of this contest is to have entries work on all MSX models compatible with the minimum configuration.

Unlike earlier editions of MSXdev, support for extra hardware, such as videochips and soundchips, won't gain extra bonuspoints. If -for instance- a game requires FM-PAC to have any sound at all, the game will be judged with no sound, no matter how good the FM-PAC music may be.

Like all MSXdev editions, the game format is that of a ROM, and like the last two editions, the maximum ROM size is a MegaROM (128KB). It's of course allowed to make smaller games as well, like the 32KB/48KB format from MSXdev'05. Entries can be created using any programming languages, though assembly is preferred for obvious reasons. A valid entry is a complete game (no beta or unfinished versions), with hi-res sticker image and English manual. This sticker and manual won't be taken into account when judging the game however. In addition to that, the entries should contain original material or otherwise material for which permission has been granted, games containing ripped content run the risk of being disqualified.

This year's jury has yet to be announced but will without doubt be formed from various persons again, just like in the previous two editions. The main prize for the best game has yet to be announced. Returning this year is the open sponsorship in which third parties are invited to donate prizes or services. Like last year, such third parties may define their own objectives, such as best music, best graphics, etc.

If all goes well, the jury will be announced on the 1st of July. The -strict- deadline for entries has been set to January 31st 2009.

Without doubt, this edition of the MSXdev contest will be one of the highlights of the year, just as previous editions have been. MRC wishes all the contestants wisdom and good luck.

Relevant link: MSXdev'08

Comments (23)

By Huey

Prophet (2642)

Huey's picture

04-06-2008, 19:48

Hurray \o/

Best event of the year!

By PingPong

Prophet (3281)

PingPong's picture

04-06-2008, 19:57

Great step backwards: while there are msx members investigating about v9990 development msxdev is still targeted on the old crappy msx1..... Tongue

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9747)

wolf_'s picture

04-06-2008, 21:08

and not unsuccessfully, if you compare the amount of dev entries to the amount of g9k games/demos..

By Ivan

Ascended (9071)

Ivan's picture

04-06-2008, 22:15

A great step forward: MSX1 means more games submitted for the contest (playable on all MSX computers)!

By LeandroCorreia

Paladin (935)

LeandroCorreia's picture

04-06-2008, 22:45

What´s the problem? You can gladly design your MSXDev game and then release an MSX2 port of it. Wink

By DamageX

Master (214)

DamageX's picture

05-06-2008, 06:10

I don't think "playable on all MSX computers" is an accurate description... even if it's still MSX1 you may need 64KB RAM as well as a suitable 128KB cartridge

By pitpan

Prophet (3131)

pitpan's picture

05-06-2008, 10:37

I would like to point that:

(a) MSX1 development is easier than MSX2 or higher development. Ok, I would admit that MSX1 development is more limited, but that means that you can save a lot of development time.

(b) MSX1 is the base standard. Therefore, all MSX2, 2+, Turbo-R, Zemina, OCM would be able to run such games.

Therefore: MSXdev'08 rules allow for shorter development times as well as a broader target users. I think that it is a step forward in any case. And it would be easier to compare games if all of them are judged as raw MSX1 entries.

Just in case: how many GFX9000 boards were sold? how many games were coded for such a config?

Again, I should admit that perhaps my perspective is a bit biassed. Or even totally skewed LOL!

By viejo_archivero

Paragon (1372)

viejo_archivero's picture

05-06-2008, 11:14

The MSXdev contests focuse on MSX development, that is every generation of the system: so the games presented at the contest benefict every MSX user.

About the amount of RAM: that's something that has been discussed. We know there are lots of MSX computers with less than 64KB RAM, but this allowment is the result of the suggestions of several developers whose found 16KB RAM a little too much restrictive for allowing MegaROM. But that's just a maximum, not a requirement: although last year 64KB were allowed not too many developers used it, if there was any (can't remember it tho). And, going back to later editions, the maximum RAM amount was limited to 16KB, although there are some MSX computers out there with just 8KB RAM, and no one complained about that Wink

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9747)

wolf_'s picture

05-06-2008, 11:20

Drawing tiles is certainly faster because there's less to doubt about. At a certain point you can't get more detail on a line of 8 pixels so at some point you'll call it a day. On MSX2/+/g9k you'd spend more time with those 8 pixels because there are far more possibilities.

What's limiting on MSX1 are sprites. On MSX2 you have 4 decent sprites on a row (2+or), on msx you have 4 ugly sprites on a row or 2 decent ones or some odd combination, which requires planning. Also limiting on MSX1 are those tiles-sprites hybrid images viejo makes and I made for MJTT. Mainly because Photoshop sucks for pixel work. Tongue

By pitpan

Prophet (3131)

pitpan's picture

05-06-2008, 11:39

If Photoshop sucks, then you have one more reason for releasing the acclaimed second version of Polka! Wink

On the other hand, there is a nice program call mtPaint that I use now for MSX development on Linux (I cannot get used to the GIMP interface). Quite simple, easy to understand and yet powerfull for pixel handling.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9747)

wolf_'s picture

05-06-2008, 11:45

Edwin is making that version, but certain challenges and competitions are in the way 24/7 .. Tongue Perhaps we have some time after the megachallenge..

By PingPong

Prophet (3281)

PingPong's picture

05-06-2008, 19:43

@Wolf:
>> "and not unsuccessfully, if you compare the amount of dev entries to the amount of g9k games/demos.."

And the situation will never change, because no one is targetting v9990 or msx2. That's the point... If developers will continue to target msx1 machines....

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9747)

wolf_'s picture

05-06-2008, 20:04

Well, I don't think ppl are really like boycotting the G9k or something, however:
- in the last, say, 4 years MSXdev'xx got in the way
- on MSX1 is easier to develop gfx for ppl who aren't 100% pixel artists
- now and then MRC got in the way with another challenge
- I don't think the current scene has many people who can actually draw well enough to make the G9k look like something decent, instead of uplifted msx1/msx2 gfx.
- Usually, for a G9k, ppl target on large-scale games. I don't think everyone could just make a large-scale game with the snap of a finger. I mean, have you ever heard of someone making a tetris-clone for G9k, or a pacman, or whatever is simple? So far I recall 1 large-scale game by XL2s, which isn't ready, and it's been on their website for years already.

I've told this before, but I'll bring it on again: if tomorrow a new videocard/chip is brought on for MSX which is twice as good as a G9k, then you'll get even less activity. I just don't think the ppl we have around today are much into all these colors 'n specs. This is -I think- why MSXdev'xx remains to be popular.

If you want to know what's living inside current developers' heads regarding G9k gaming, we need a large investigation/inquiry.

Note that at some point I actually want to do a large-scale G9k game, esp. as both Edwin and I have one and we usually are rather quick/streamlined with game development tools 'n stuff. It's just that MSXdev'08 got in the way again, and we're about to come up with our second MRC MEGAchallenge entry this month.

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

06-06-2008, 11:10


- on MSX1 is easier to develop gfx for ppl who aren't 100% pixel artists

I disagree at this point. With MSX2 and higher video modes, such as G9k, you can draw what you want. Lots of possibilities. On MSX1, you are more limited, so you need more patience to draw anything. If you draw a brick, for sure it is easier on MSX1. Only one or two possible ways to draw it. On MSX2, you have many possibilities, and have to find the right texture and so. Sure. But if tou want to draw something more complex, MSX1 is more difficult, not to find the way it looks better, but simply to find the way it looks what you want.


- now and then MRC got in the way with another challenge

That's right. If MSXDev focuses on MSX1 and somebody prefers newer generations, there are other contests.

By Huey

Prophet (2642)

Huey's picture

06-06-2008, 11:20

@Pingpong: We are currently playing around with the gfx9000. But not because we want a better looking game (superb gfx, multi layer scrolling, hundred or more sprite on screen etc.). It would be because we want to implement gameplay that isn't very easy to do on MSX1. Think about needing diagonal walls for gameplay (Those are a real nightmare to draw in screen2). And also to make it much easier on ourselves (removing the 4 sprite-on-a-line limit for example).

So if we decide to use gfx9000 it would still look like MSX1 (but with a little better gfx). Why?
1) Well I just love the MSX graphics from the old games.
2) I cannot make good gfx without the screen2 limitations in a shot time span.
3) I simply don't have the time/motivation to make incredible looking graphics.
4) It's all about gameplay. I have more fun playing ugly fun games than boring eye candy games (and thats why I'm still using (emulated)MSX).

But I do think there should be more software for g9k. We probably need a pioneer to start something and trigger other to show they can do better. Perhaps a Gbasic compo would be a start.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9747)

wolf_'s picture

06-06-2008, 12:00

But I do think there should be more software for g9k. We probably need a pioneer to start something and trigger other to show they can do better. Perhaps a Gbasic compo would be a start.
I think those who are capable of creating a game in general, are mostly at home in assembly (or C) anyway. Regardless of speed comparisons between basic and asm, I simply don't think the language MSX Basic is very good for large games..

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9747)

wolf_'s picture

06-06-2008, 12:06

I disagree at this point. With MSX2 and higher video modes, such as G9k, you can draw what you want. Lots of possibilities. On MSX1, you are more limited, so you need more patience to draw anything. If you draw a brick, for sure it is easier on MSX1. Only one or two possible ways to draw it. On MSX2, you have many possibilities, and have to find the right texture and so. Sure. But if tou want to draw something more complex, MSX1 is more difficult, not to find the way it looks better, but simply to find the way it looks what you want.
The problem is that a lot of people can draw MSX1 graphics. But few ones can do good MSX2 graphics, and even less can do G9k graphics. Therefor MSXdev is more popular than MSX2/G9k: there are simply more people who can make a convincing MSX1 game than that there are people who can do an MSX2 game. The fact that more complex graphics for MSX1 are harder to make is partly true. Often MSX1 graphics are set-up in a typical 8x8 fashion, graphical objects are always a multiple of 8 in size. Anyway, there's a certain charm in it, to get the best out of this limited drawing mode. Besides: look at Space Manbow, that's tilemode alright, and their gfx weren't just rectangles. MSX1 wall tiles simple to draw? Suredo, and that's why I think a lot of people choose to make a game for MSXdev'xx.

By Huey

Prophet (2642)

Huey's picture

06-06-2008, 12:46

I think those who are capable of creating a game in general, are mostly at home in assembly (or C) anyway. Regardless of speed comparisons between basic and asm, I simply don't think the language MSX Basic is very good for large games..

I wasn't talking about large and high guality games. But it would certainly be a way to get people interested/accustomed to the g9k.
Just look at the MSXscene in the old days. Once someone discovered a nice trick everyone followed. Think about screensplits. After the first screensplit trick appeared there have been hundreds of variations. Each pushing the limit a but further. We just need simple examples of g9k software to start from. Now we only have a handfull of stuff that doesn't really do anything. There is no interaction. Not even a g9k pacman. There are numerous examples of basic listings around for a pacman clone.

At the moment g9k expectations are way too high. We need to get facts right. Playing around with it might be the best way. Even using basic.

As for the point a want to make.... I forgot.....Question

Wasn't this thread about MSXdev?Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

By PingPong

Prophet (3281)

PingPong's picture

06-06-2008, 20:25

I think my opinion was not correctly understood: i've compared msx1 with gfx9000 to push to extreme comparisons.
The real thing is that msxdev is a msx1 only competition. IMHO this is stupid. Period.
MSX is a system that spawned 4 generations of computers, msx is not only msx1 machines.

Instead recently the feel is that developing for msx is developing for msx1. If a developer makes a game for a little better hw like msx2 is the same as if he develop for another beast, like c64 or speccy or pc. That's the point.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9747)

wolf_'s picture

06-06-2008, 21:09

It's plain simple: MSXdev = MSXdev, and as far as I know viejo, it will remain MSX1 forever. If people are so anxious to make MSX2/+/G9k games, let them join the multi-specs MRC challenges. It's the same as saying that you want The Beatles to sound like Beethoven.. why not let The Beatles sound like The Beatles and Beethoven sound like Beethoven? Tongue

By pitpan

Prophet (3131)

pitpan's picture

06-06-2008, 21:36

I totally agree with Wolf.

No one is forced to join MSXdev. But MSXdev is MSXdev and has its own rules. If you think that there should be higher spec contests, please feel free to promote such an idea. MSXdev wanted to increase the MSX1 development and apparently this goal has been achived. It was created from scratch to aim such goal. Everyone can do so, of course.

When MSXdev was created, it intended to resurrect the MSX1 scene, that was literally forgotten by all the developers, strictly focused on MSX2 development. Everyone understood MSX development, MSX games = MSX2 development, MSX2 games.

Luckily, this has changed and the MSX1 scene has its own space ATM. But it shouldn't affect negatively the MSX2, MSX2+ and Turbo-R development. Moreover, if MSX1 is the entry point for new developers, it means that there are more programmers available and many of them will eventually switch to higher specs.

By Ivan

Ascended (9071)

Ivan's picture

06-06-2008, 23:10

In fact the success of MSXdev is certainly due to its minimum MSX1 configuration. Leave it as an MSX1 contest, there are other contests for MSX2 like the ones of the MRC.

And I'm very happy with the games that MSXdev has brought to us! Smile

By PingPong

Prophet (3281)

PingPong's picture

07-06-2008, 11:49

@PitPan:
".....Strictly focused on MSX2 development. Everyone understood MSX development, MSX games = MSX2 development, MSX2 games."

And This was an error, obviusly. As said more and more msx = (msx1,msx2,2+,tr) not a specific generation.

Now, the same error is repeating the only difference is the generation of msx..