Outrun Mode 5

suggest games that you’ve always wanted to see on acorn platforms
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Beebson
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Outrun Mode 5

Post by Beebson »

Could it be possible to cram Outrun into stock BBC B with tape recorder, running in mode 5, by using the same idea what 64 programmers had? At least on the tape version you had to load different routes separately, Route A, Route B, etc... You couldn´t get a full game in a one load, there weren´t junctions like in the arcade. If you wanted to drive another route, you had to switch off and load the whole game again and fast-forward the tape to load another Route. When the main program is loaded on the BBC, it will wait until you will press the space, to load the first Route or to fast-forward the tape to the wanted Route and then press space. After the wanted Route is loaded you are then asked what tune you want to hear and either tune will be loaded. If you want to change the tune after game over, rewind the tape or just press space to load from the current tape position, depending on the tune. After the loading is finished, the driving part is the most important part in the code, fancy title and high-score screens can be left out. Just a simple static mode 7 title screen and as static mode 7 high score screen, no animation or teletext graphics there or whatever.

Is it possible with this idea?

Black + 3 colours is a bit limiting, but you could get nice graphics by using dithering. There is no actual road on 64 and Spectrum, it´s like the road is being projected on the ground, especially on 64. I think the Amstrad didn´t have the road either. You can use ground colour as an extra colour by using dithering. Top of the sky could be empty, saving memory.

My mock-ups are made from a 64 screenshot, given a bit BBC-arcade treatment. I thought to make a solid ground with just projected lines to present the road, but changed my mind and made another picture to keep the colour bars. It´s garish, but you´ll get an idea what could be done with different colour choices. Of course the looks of the cars will change if you change the ground or sky colours, but that´s obvious on BBC anyway. :) According to this screenshot, Volkswagens and the other cars weren´t hardware sprites. See the pillar on the left side of the left Beetle. It´s colourclashed by the (originally red) Beetle. There are lots of things that could be simplified for a stock model B version and still get a really good game, graphically too. :) I think most of the furthest away roadside objects could be showed just as solid "blocks", like in the cloud sky mock-up, the furthest away "tunnel" could be solid black or blue "upside-down U-shaped thing", with no other colour and with no actual detail, if such thing helps to save any memory. Perhaps "tunnels" could be always just solid "U-shaped things", with no detail. I haven´t touched the scoring numbers, as I think there should be just one font for numbers, and keeping them in 8x8 pixels, to save the memory.

I have used a same screenshot as a base, to show how differences in colours and other little touches will affect the mock-ups. Blue car mock-up has an example of a cloudy sky, it looks nice even there´s not much thought put to it. Just to show, that a simple thing can bring a lot. On a cloudy set, you could randomly throw two different kinds of diagonal lines, blue or cyan, OR´ed at random places and erase them on the next frame or so. This way you could imitate rain. No matter if there was actual raining in the arcade, BBC Outrun will just benefit of any very small extras what can be crammed in. Sure, rain etc. small effects will eat memory, so you can leave them out. I think in Outrun you could have three main colours, black + ground + sky and you could change the fourth colour during any stage if there are something what needs more than four colours, especially if the cars´colouring doesn´t use dithering. Say, you are happy with those small yellow buildings on the roadside, but suddenly there will be rocks on the same stage and you will need the fifth colour. Just change that yellow to white or blue. :) If all the cars has the same colour as the sky, you won´t notice anything. Perhaps it´s not a problem, if you have to change car colours to get another roadside scenery colour, at least after passing a checkpoint, it´s BBC B and mode 5, anyway. :) If you choose the sky colour for the cars, then you can easily have different weather effects or sunset effect. Blue sky means the sky is filled with dark blue storm clouds, so everything is blue then, including cars.

These mock-ups are not to meant to show how it should be done, it´s just for experimenting how model B Outrun could look like and to give you ideas what could be done for Outrun in mode 5. These are not perfect, I have just added some colour for experimenting. :) After all, I just wanted to read some discussion about this, how it could be done with the stock model B and a tape recorder.
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tricky
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Re: Outrun Mode 5

Post by tricky »

There are a few games that look like that on other platforms, but wasn't one of the big points about OutRun that it had up and down?
The CPC is a good guide to what could be achieved in most games although a lot of games from bitd are lazy spectrum ports.

Tape doesn't really gain you much, apart from possibly streaming data but I have no idea of the cost of that Vs streaming from disc.

I did a demo of the track from pole position in mode 1 with full strips at the sides and it ran at 50fps. The single pixel lines would be much much cheaper.

The track took up very little memory, but keeping multiple sizes of sprites for scaling would cost. If you only moved the larger ones in bytes it would 1/4 their memory.

You could probably play some tricks like not spawning trackside objects when there are too many cars near the player that are likely to need to be drawn.

For larger sprites, you could draw the edges of the sprites masked and the rest as a straight copy (lda sta).

If I was going to do it though, I would go with disc and a couple of SWRAM banks and load each track completely, leaving the cassette to play the tune ;)

I would also think about double buffering to avoid the terrible flicker that could otherwise be a problem but that could be left to later to decide. It can make erasing trickier as you need to erase from two frames ago.

PS I have no intention of doing it :O
Beebson
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Re: Outrun Mode 5

Post by Beebson »

I am just wanting to discuss about this, if/how it could be crammed to stock BBC B with a tape recorder, not asking anybody to do it. :) And I didn´t choose the tape for gaining something, except for tape nostalgy and how it could be done for a tape. With a disc, you could load next stage after playing one or two stages. I think ST loaded the next stage during playing. :) But I am not thinking that for the BBC, not even for a tape version. ;)

Yes, hills were one of great things in Outrun. Rising/lowering the horizon could be easy, but then the road will be affected, too. And the player´s car. Bringing "hill animation" to other cars would be too much.

I checked E-type youtube video, it looks fantastic! Missing the speed of 64 Outrun, though. I tried to look for a video for your animation, but there wasn´t any.

The software sprite cars of the 64 have a "box" around them, clearly erasing any part of the background objects under them, but it´s not visible due to the high speed.

Those are good ideas, Tricky. Big trucks might be left out.
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