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Pietro Bros . Mario Bros clone for the Speccy


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Wow. I was about to post how I felt the capabilities of modified Spectrums didn't impress.  But nope, this is a bog standard speccy using the Nirvana engine.

 

Can't get my head around the fact that it took 30+ years to figure out you could do multi-coloured sprites on the platform. Incredible.

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1 hour ago, Venice Cull said:

Wow. I was about to post how I felt the capabilities of modified Spectrums didn't impress.  But nope, this is a bog standard speccy using the Nirvana engine.

 

Can't get my head around the fact that it took 30+ years to figure out you could do multi-coloured sprites on the platform. Incredible.

What he said. Does that engine only work with fairly simple games, or could some genius beautify something like Enduro Racer?

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I've attempted to read up on how this witchcraft works, but ended up in endless homebrew forums discussing code that didn't make much sense to me. I believe it's quite CPU intensive (and involves writing to the screen multiple times) so I don't know if it could handle any kind of game. 

 

http://irrlichtproject.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/bye-bye-8x8-color-grid-nirvana-engine.html

 

...and found this:

 

Quote

 

It has an Atari style kernel changing the colour attributes every 2 scanlines. The Spectrum doesn't have scanline interrupts so it's all cycle accurate code.



Supports 8 16x16 sprites at 50fps or 16 16x16 sprites at 25fps (and so forth), you can also draw some yourself but there isn't a lot of CPU power left (about as much as a 1MHz Z80 would have). It's all wrapped up in an easy to use library so I expect a lot of games to start using this.

It's some insanely optimised stuff, previous attempts could get more colours but couldn't cover more than half the screen.

Unfortunately scrolling games are pretty much out of the question with this, the spectrum has no support for scrolling of any kind, you have to redraw the entire screen.

 

Despite what's been said above though, there is an a scrolling game that utilises the engine(see below) , so who knows what can be done with more optimisation:

 

 

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I'm friends with Einar, the guy who wrote the engine, but I've never really asked him technically how it works mainly because it'd just go way over my head. I do know that you can't just produce any game though. There are various "flavours" of the engine each allowing various available screen sizes for you to put your game in with the rest of the screen used for score and lives and stuff for farting up your HUD.

 

There's a ZX Spectrum screen editor called ZX Paintbrush which has been updated to allow you to create Nirvana (and Bi*Frost) game graphics. It still requires a bit of skill to produce graphics but. It's not just a case where you don't have to worry about the attribute display. 

 

If if I remember correctly, there's something about timings as well. That's why Pietro Bros graphics can flicker. Some of the Spectrum clones can't handle Nirvana games properly in its original form though I believe there has been modified versions of Nirvana to handle this.

 

On a personal note, Einar's been asking me to produce some Nirvana graphics for various future games but I just haven't had the time to give it a go, sadly, which is why I just produce the odd loading screen for his games.

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I read a post where the author (Einar?) announces he's managed to optimize the engine's size by 3 bytes. Which sounds laughable, until you think about the speed of the CPU and that the engine is written in assembly language. Tiny optimizations can have a significant impact.

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This makes me so excited for he Spectrum Next. It's amazing what people can squeeze out of the Speccy, hopefully with a bigger audience from the Spectrum Next it will encourage these guys even more. Who knows, maybe we'll finally see @JPickford's Zub 2: Electric Zubaloo utilising his much vaunted WIMP environment, as previewed in the Feb 87 edition of Sinclair User (I'll dig out the PDF later).

 

 

Classic game...

 

 

 

 

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