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Thread: Bio Force Ape Developer's Journal

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    Default Bio Force Ape Developer's Journal

    Well, i think most people have figured out that there is a Bio Force Ape homebrew in production. A demo was released a few weeks ago, you can find it in the link at the bottom of the post.

    We've gotten a lot of requests from people as to how the game is coming along and what is going to be included. We're not ready to discuss all that right now, but we thought it might be fun to show off a bit of what's going on behind the scenes.

    To give an idea of where the game is right now, 4 of the boss fights have been completed and are playable from start to finish, 5 of the cut scenes are in place, the "level engine" is complete, and 98% of the graphics are in place and final. The game is sitting at 8,765 lines of code right now, I estimate it will be over 10,000 by the time it's complete. We're not prepared to discuss the game's progress much beyond that, we want to leave some things a surprise.

    I thought it might be fun to post some of the notes from my notebook without any explanation as to what they mean.






    Link to the demo rom: http://programmingace.com/downloads/BioForceApeDemo.nes
    Last edited by ProgrammingAce; 04-05-2010 at 12:48 PM.

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    I bet you used ink laced with Dur Butter didn't you?

    I demand to see the min/max's for his fart attack! I must know how many apples one has to eat to shoot pixelation out of their butt!
    Because it makes no attempt to be great, it is therefore extremely great.
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    ProgrammingAce, are you paulB812?

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    I can assure you, he is not.
    RIP bargora, you will be greatly missed.That is how we do things on Giedion Prime.

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    I may have missed it, but is there going to be a "cart" release of this game?
    If so, I want to pre-signup for the pre-release signup list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MachineGex View Post
    I may have missed it, but is there going to be a "cart" release of this game?
    If so, I want to pre-signup for the pre-release signup list.
    Well I pre-signup for the pre-release special edition release

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    ProgrammingAce, are you paulB812?
    No, Garry Shandling is.
    #vbender

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    Quote Originally Posted by MachineGex View Post
    I may have missed it, but is there going to be a "cart" release of this game?
    If so, I want to pre-signup for the pre-release signup list.
    A cartridge release with color booklet and box is planned.

    As I admitted in an earlier thread, I'm PaulB812. I'm doing the graphics for this homebrew, so it must be authentic!

    The method we're using to draw characters on screen breaks down each sprite into 8x8 pixel tiles, in the demo it's not apparent if you look at the character data but in the final build there is some serious efficiency going on.



    The ape character is 4 tiles high by 2 tiles wide, but you can see that part of his head is 'recycled' in a running animation frame, making him occupy 30 tile slots between standing and running. However, if we reuse his legs, the lizard man enemy here ends up only occupying 14 tile slots, once again incorporating one frame that recycles the head of another.

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    Those graphics Bratwurst posted are actual size by the way, and those colors are how the NES stores it's sprite data. I have a tool that converts a bitmap from a 24 bit 4 color bitmap to an NES compatible CHR rom.

    Because we're not using a mapper for this project, all of the sprites need to fit in 128x128 pixels. Same for the background tiles. Which is pretty impressive when we managed to include something the size of the logo on the title screen.

    As was the case in many comercial NES games, Bio Force Ape uses both sprites and background tiles to draw some of the game's bosses.
    Last edited by ProgrammingAce; 05-05-2009 at 01:00 PM.

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    Heh, i first had this crazy idea while i was quite drunk at MGC earlier this year. Why hasn't someone homebrewed this game yet? Well, i'm a pretty decent programmer but i suck at artwork (see the stick figures above). I needed help. I knew Bratwurst was PaulB, and I had seen some of his artwork around, mainly on the genesis covers he made.

    I may be a good programmer, but i haven't worked in assembly in years and i've never even considered writing code for the NES. I had no idea where to start, and before i pull someone else into this project i needed something to prove, not only to Brat but to myself as well, that i could pull this project off.

    So i spent about a week learning how the NES works, how code interacts with the GPU, how the controllers are handled... etc. I admittedly didn't have a very good understanding of how everything worked, but i knew enough to start putting things together. I finally sent a quick PM to Brat telling him my plan. He came back pretty quick, he was up for the task. Kick ass, we're on our way.

    Brat sends me the original images he used for the hoax. At this point i'm probably one of the very few people with a clean source image for the butter monster (i'll let Brat discuss that whole thing). So i take the sprites he drew for the ape, and put them together into the quick and dirty engine i was making to learn the NES.

    This is the first time we actually got the ape into an NES game. I sent this back to Brat as a proof of concept, to show we really could pull this together and make a game out of it. After this, we really got started on making the game in full.

    Just a few notes on this rom, i'm not sure how much of this even Brat knew:
    - The green "ground" the ape is standing on was my attempt at making the girders that ended up in the final demo you all saw before. I was still trying to figure out how the NES' background palettes worked at this point.

    - The ape in this rom is about 50% bigger then what we ended up with. See, Brat was very careful to take the NES' color palette into consideration when he made the hoax images, what he didn't realize was the NES requirement of 8x8 pixel tiles. All the images in the hoax were made from 10x10 px tiles. In order to pull off this early test build, i stuck with the 10x10 tiles for the ape.

    - This was the final build of the test engine i was writing. Everything beyond this was officially work done on the Bio Force Ape engine. As such, i *still* haven't changed my build script to update the name on the final executable. Every time i hit compile, it produces a file called bg_sprite_demo.nes. It stands for Background and Sprite demo, from when i was trying to figure out how sprite and background tiles would come together to form the final screen image. This has created some problems in development where i've mistakenly emailed off the wrong build of the game...

    And so you can take a look at the *original* incarnation of Bio Force Ape, here's the rom: http://programmingace.com/downloads/...tial_test).nes

    It's funny, when i look back at that rom i realize how little i really understood about NES programming...

    Controls:
    D-Pad: Movement
    A: Jump
    Start: Turn off physics
    Select: Swap background and foreground images (more to the point, cram the ape behind the background tiles.)

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    I still dont believe in bio force ape. April fools was last month. Besides, isnt the joke like 4 years old already? I know classic gaming is all about realy old systems that have lost new releases on a mainstream level but that doesnt mean our sense of humor has to collect dust and focus only on the same old things. New fake proto destruction please.

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    I pretty sure they're serious about making some homebrew carts with this. You know there's now a playable ROM of the game right?

    If this is indeed some sort of asshattery, they seem to be putting a lot of time and detail into it just for the sake of being known as supreme smartasses.

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    Make sure you test on a real NES as you go. An emulator will let you get away with things that the real hardware won't.

    Good luck with the project.
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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    We're testing the game on a powerpak as we go, we'll be testing on final carts before we ship. We want to be absolutely sure that the powerpak itself isn't causing any issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuyukaze View Post
    I still dont believe in bio force ape. April fools was last month. Besides, isnt the joke like 4 years old already?
    This is not a joke, I get to do what I've wanted to do for a long ass time. I get to help make a Nintendo game!

    Here is a sketch I did some time back hashing out the idea of a mine cart level, the squares representing graphic tiles:



    And here's a preliminary box design, incomplete:


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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDomesticInstitution View Post
    If this is indeed some sort of asshattery, they seem to be putting a lot of time and detail into it just for the sake of being known as supreme smartasses.
    And, let's face it, if it is indeed the case, supreme smartasses they'll be.

    But, for now, I do believe it's a real homebrew - the first one I'll actually bring myself to deal with all the importing annoyances and buy.
    Blowing on cartridges since 1987

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    Guys, if this was April Fools, it would have run its course on April 1, not May 12th and beyond.

    It is real as real can be. Not to mention the fact that this stuff has come out away from the Bio Force Ape thread because that thread is seen as pure joke vs. this thread, which is pure serious.


    I can't wait to pre-order my copy.

    And Brat, seeing that cover in color does wonders for it. I wasn't sure about the line art alone. Now i'm sold.
    Because it makes no attempt to be great, it is therefore extremely great.
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    Intense.
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    Glad to see that someone decided an actual game was needed. My only complaint is the hit detection; you hit the air above the enemy and it dies.

    Of course, that's probably intentional, isn't it?

    That said, I can't wait.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tupin View Post
    Glad to see that someone decided an actual game was needed. My only complaint is the hit detection; you hit the air above the enemy and it dies.

    Of course, that's probably intentional, isn't it?

    That said, I can't wait.
    That's something of a technical limitation, let me see if i can explain.

    To the NES, a sprite is a 8x8 pixel tile. In order to make the characters in Bio Force Ape, they're made up of groups of tiles. The ape is 2 tiles wide by 4 tiles tall.

    The NES has a limitation of 8 sprites per horizontal scan line (each scan line on the TV). After the 8th sprite, the system just stops displaying them.

    So in order to fit more enemies on the screen, we decided to make a short enemy that's only 1 tile wide. The little squid thing is 1 tile wide and 2 tiles tall.

    So when all the enemies are on the screen at once and the ape is just standing there, the tiles go like this:

    2 tiles for the ape
    3 tiles for the Ant dude
    2 tiles for the lizard.
    ------
    7 tiles

    When the ape punches, he becomes 3 tiles wide, maxing out the number of tiles we can have on a scanline. Luckily the ant dude is only 3 tiles wide at the top and 2 tiles wide at his feet. So the end result is the squid thing that's only 2 tiles high.

    Now why can't we have a kicking animation? There are a couple of reasons. First, same as above, there's a good chance that unless we've killed something else on the screen first, we already have 8 tiles on the scanline. We don't have anything left to draw a kick. The second issue is that we're quite frankly almost out of tiles for our sprites. It would suck to have to cut one of the enemies just to add a kick attack just to handle a single enemy. Now the other issue is that we've already mapped Down + B (Attack) to the special attack. The only other button combination that makes any sense is Down + A (jump). But that needlessly complicates the controls and isn't very intuitive. You're just as likely to forget that a downward kick isn't Down + Attack and use up your special attack.

    We can't remap the special attack because "paulB" already said that's the button sequence to use the fart attack. We're trying to stick to the hoax description as much as possible unless it's detrimental to gameplay. Obviously we're going well beyond what's been referenced by that thread, but we're sticking to it when we can.

    So the end result is that you punch over the squid's head when you go to kill him. To make up for it, i extended the hit box for that enemy so he's easier to punch. One of the problems in early testing was that he could get too close and be really hard to hit. I'm going to tweak the hit boxes before the game ships though and review all of the enemies.

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    you better put dur butter somewhere in the game, even if its in the credits. IF dur butter iz not in the game I will not buy it

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    Soooo amazing, can't wait to buy one!

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    Quote Originally Posted by hellfire View Post
    you better put dur butter somewhere in the game, even if its in the credits. IF dur butter iz not in the game I will not buy it
    Ja he is dur butter and he is worth 2k monies.

    You can't honestly expect us to leave him out. Hell, he even has his own copyright notice.

    The... er... special attack... is also in the game as well. Actually, both features were in the game prior to the release of the demo and had to be cut from the code before we released it. We didn't want people poking around with a game genie and giving away all of our secrets.

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    Looks awesome so far. Be sure to test it with a Game genie and GenNEXT also.
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