Chapter 13 - Scrap the Music
A busy week on Gunstar with the finalization of one part and cancellation of another.
First, the good news...
Armed and Dangerous
I have been working on finalizing the GunStar armoury and have contacted Stevie Strow to get his philosophy on firing styles. His preference is fire-fast-and-many and I have come up with a firing format which should satisfy most trigger happy players while still requiring a level of skill.
I have 3 firing styles available for the GunStar.
Single shot x 2
This is the base firing format and has 2 shots on screen at a time.
Triple shot x 2
Fires 2 sets of 3 shots which spread outward to give a wider hit area.
6 shot Multi-fire
Single shots but 6 projectiles on screen at a time which allow for a good spray of shots.
More sound optimizations
In an effort to save CPU cycles, I have been looking at my sound
routine for optimizations. My sound routine was compact and efficient
but if I could save even one cycle, this saving would be multiplied by
6500 because this is how many times it is triggered per second.
I enlisted L. Curtis Boyle to use his powers of cycle optimization
to find savings in my routine and he has managed to
speed up my routine by a few cycles. This now buys me more CPU time for the
upcoming sprite routines for the Alien characters.
This increases the number of sprites I can display per frame or allow
larger sprites to be had. It could also make a conversion to 6809 code
more viable by reducing how much of the game would need to be
sacrificed to allow it to run at a satisfactory rate.
This is a major milestone!
And now the bad news
I spent a lot of time trying to improve the music playback routine for the Title Page intro screen.
Although it worked well as a music system that generates 4 voice music
with envelope control of each channel, it still sounded like a software
synthesized system using square waves mixed as one to drive a single
6-bit DAC. The fidelity wasn't quite there when compared to dedicated hardware such as a sound chip.
The other more important issue was simply that I am tone deaf when it comes to music composition.
Most modern games have a separate person or team to create the music.
Even back in the 80's, many of the games which had high quality music
employed the services of a composer or musician.
I am no composer!
Since GunStar is a commercial level product, I wanted an original tune and not copy someone else's music.
After days of agonising, I simply wasn't happy with the results and didn't feel anything I created was worthy as a main theme.
I therefore made an executive decision to
pull the code and music out of the game. I was never a fan of music in
a game unless it was high quality like many of the games I see on my
Amiga or even the Commodore 64.
My conclusion... even with a good sound system, an unprofessional music
composition can ruin the presentation. Just as in real life, if someone
with a great voice sings a bad song, it will fail.
I don't feel the game has suffered by the omission and I can now move on with a clear head.
I can now resume my work in designing the background graphics level design.
Click on the image below to see a YouTube video of my progress so far.
Video Blog #3