Chapter 07 - Title and Hi-Score screens

I live in Australia also known as 'The Land Down Under' for its position in the southern hemisphere. Some people in the northern hemisphere refer to us as "the place where toilets flush backwards".

My programming follows that reference in that I develop my games in reverse to what most programmers follow.

Most game programmers start the game coding first and leave things like Titles, Hi-Score and Sound till later.

I have always started with the Title, Hi-Score and Sound and then move to the game itself.

I like to develop linearly from beginning to end. This is useful because it allows me to create and test many routines which may get used later in the game. It also means I get something up and running quickly before bogging down into the core game logic. This gives me the incentive and motivation needed to tackle the rest of the project.

Getting back on track

I've spent a lot of my free time developing the music routines. This was a new area for me and I wanted to understand it and develop some routines which I could use in future games. It's not perfect and my music composition skills still need work but it's at a level which I am happy with for this project. In time, I will improve on it but I felt it was time to get back on track with the actual game development.

For this chapter, I have created the Title Screen that displays the credit and copyright date, and the Hi-Score Screen displaying  the top 7 players. Currently, it loops back to the Title Screen with credits but will eventually go to a game demonstration mode before returning to the Title.

Pressing the Fire button exits this loops and prepares to start the game but at the moment, it merely clears the Title Screen with a short fade-to-black and a vocal sound effect.

The video mode I've used for the Title Screens is a 16 color 320x200resolution screen. The graphics of the GunStar title text is modelled on the text at the top of this web page and the background graphics are sourced from the internet and converted to the CoCo3's color palette.

The background and Gunstar title text was rendered to CoCo3 spec using Roger Taylor's Projector 3 program then transferred to my a Amiga 4000 for final editing in the Amiga 2D graphics program, Brilliance II. The final CoCo3 compatible image is transferred to my PC where it gets moved into a DSK file using the point-and-click program, EMUDISK. Finally the image is transferred to the CoCo3 via Drivewire.

The whole process is rather quick, easy and reliable.

Adding voice

I also, decided to allocate 16K (2 x 8K MMU blocks) to a voice sample announcing "Prepare for Battle". The sample was created on my PC using Audacity, sampling my voice then applying a few filters such as lowering of the pitch and adding reverb. This was enough to conceal my Aussie accent and give it a grander sound.

The image was imported as a WAV file into the CoCo3 via Drivewire again and using a BASIC program I wrote to interpret the WAV data.

Finally, I adjusting the timing of each event and effect to get the desire flow and I had myself the beginning of the GunStar intro or attract screen.

Now I'm ready for game code.


The Title music is still incomplete but for now but I have included a short demo track I was testing. It's a 3 voice rendition of the theme from the movie, Battlestar Galactica. It sounds ok except for some off-tune notes which are caused by the mixing of the voice channels. When that voice is played on its own, it sounds clean but mixed with a second track, there is a clash that creates some aliasing. I'll pursue this later but for now it is fine as a demo.

The screen cycles between Title Screen credits and the Hi-Score screen. The glowing PRESS FIRE BUTTON TO START message continues glowing during this screen transition and music accompaniment.

After the Hi-Score Screen, I press the Fire button and you hear the sampled voice announcing to "PREPARE FOR BATTLE" then stops there until I code the game section.

Click on image to see a demo video via YouTube

Coming up next...

Next task is to revisit my experiments in Chapter 2 with the Graphics Engine and incorporate it into Gunstar.

Copyright 2017 by Nickolas Marentes