Discussion

Hello... Anyone?

3

Tinycloud778 2019-08-14 02:00

Every time I come to this community I barely see anyone other than Timo and Was8Bit, I think users are still using the original LowRes I’m just saying this cuz I’d like to see more people on this community


Timo 2019-08-14 06:01

Me too! But in the original LowRes Coder there aren‘t many people left neither. After the next NX update (soon) I will write a another post there to convince them to come over. But more important is to find new users elsewhere. Everyone can help by telling friends and posting in social media. I have some ideas...


was8bit 2019-08-14 13:51 (Edited)

There is about 9 to 12 “regular” visitors in original lowres... less than that add programs there...

Many could be busy staying outside and enjoying the sunny weather season and holidays...

I could pick one of my more popular games that I made in original and remake it here... that might help draw players over to NX.... strategy games never seemed to be as popular as the shootem-up games ...


was8bit 2019-08-14 14:04

Upon review, my game “Tank Patrol” got 10 LIKES and 95 DOWNLOADS, so as the one with the best results (as well as my personal favorite) seems to be a good candidate to redo in NX...


was8bit 2019-08-14 14:10

Upon reflection, I think what might really help this board gain or attention is to create a new TAB labelled “GAMES” ... as games are what seemed to get the most attention on the original lowres board... this is TOTALLY missing here...

If and once you add GAMES as a tab and category, I could easily go thru my stuff and tab the ones that are finished games ... :)

Wading thru non-games to find the games is most likely keeping passerby’s passing by this board...


was8bit 2019-08-14 14:13 (Edited)

Upon further reflection, your little gamepad controller icon at top should be used for the new GAME category... gamers will click this trying to find the games... after spending a few seconds trying to find the games, they probably leave and never come back...

All we have currently is mostly people from original lowres...


Timo 2019-08-14 14:35

People not logged in see at first the "Featured" category. It's already mostly games. Or do you mean a tab inside of the iOS app?


was8bit 2019-08-14 15:22

As, perhaps, when i release a program I have two options:

RELEASE: GAME
RELEASE: OTHER

OTHER would include things like, screen savers, toys, fun things, functioning but just bits of a game

GAME would be strictly for full fledged games that would be considered as a game by a visitor to the board...

By actually using the tag GAME, and having either full action or full strategy games to play, it would definitely catch a visitors eye...

... just a thought... also possibly, game categories (but that might be too much)... ACTION, STRATEGY, TEXT, MISC

ACTION: fast paced shoot-em-up games
STRATEGY: Board like Settlers or Puzzle like Connect
TEXT: Choice based with a story or text output



was8bit 2019-08-14 15:26

Your tabs would show ALL, FEATURED, GAMES, RELEASES,...

Where GAMES would be released games, and RELEASES would be released other


was8bit 2019-08-14 15:30 (Edited)

And “maybe” use the game controller icon for your programs icon... if a visitor only wanted to go directly to playing games they would choose that icon first...

In original lowres board it seems most downloaders only downloaded (presumably to play games) and only the core few posted anything....

... too bad we can’t get downloaded stats here... it’s a good way to see how many gamers are visiting :)


Timo 2019-08-14 16:38 (Edited)

I removed the old Games/Tools/Demos categories exactly because it was very often unclear if something is really a game or something else (strange toy experiment)...

Anyway, I don't think it's the reason why there are few people here.


was8bit 2019-08-14 16:44

Ah, true...


Timo 2019-08-14 18:18

I think almost nobody comes here only to play. They come because of interest in programming and as a side-effect they want to see what other users create. If they don't like the way of programming in NX, they will look for other platforms.

My plan is to find new people in communities for retro console developers. Maybe for beginners who want to start understanding retro hardware before programming in assembly the hard way. Or advanced programmers who want to test some retro effects. I wouldn't market LowRes NX as an all-purpose beginners game maker.


Tinycloud778 2019-08-14 19:00

I’ll try to convince my friends to come over


Timo 2019-08-14 19:22

Tell them it’s an all-purpose beginners game maker ;)


was8bit 2019-08-14 19:24

Hmm ... it COULD be a little more beginner friendly... not sure if these ideas are even possible, just thinking out loud...

- an easy to use HIT function for cells similar to sprites ...

- ability to apply a palette color to character editor so u can see how it actually looks...

- basic commands that access the voice volume and frequency for beginner friendly sound controlled animation (that’s fun to do)

For advanced users perhaps definable FUNCTIONS ... some here have already suggested this one...

... I have more ideas but they are abit fuzzy...

......
......
......
.... but I think there is a “market” for retro game playing... myself for example prefer older games ;)


moechofe 2019-08-14 21:57

I think there is an other reason: pico8

At the actual state, LRNX only target coders and not really artists. And the limitations are way harder that other fantasy console and make it intimidating.

I already talk about it in a previous topic, the colors of LRNX do not looks pleasent. At the contrary, pixel artists use the pico8 palette for their own art. Some colors are too close to each other, they did not cover correctly the colors wheel. A little bit of tunning here could do the trick.

The simulated hardware sprite of LRNX is a cool feature to play with and it feels like old hardware. Pico8 simulate software sprites, they allow to use all the 16 colors of the palette. It remind me the Amiga and AMOS that also have hardware and sofware sprites. The differents between the two was huge and hardware sprites was only used for mouse cursor.

The impossiblity to draw sprite, line, rectangle and text anywhere in a canvas, in my opinion, is a huge obstacle for new comers. Look at all the gif on twitter that shows impressive demo maker style effect using only pset.

The editors of LRNX was made with LRNX. It’s super cool, but they also looks limited. In fact it allow users to create there own editor. Pico8 can’t do that. But the built-in editors feels way better for an artist point of view. The sprite editor allow to create fullscreen image. The text editor use syntaxe highlight.

At this days, almost nobody start to learn basic. It makes the code hard to organize. At the contrary lua is widely used, also in the game industry as scripting language.

The monochrome code editor on iOS is hard to read, indentation is hard to make. Cursor navigation is hard to do.

The iOS game pad is horrible, sorry. You should definitly do something about that like a one that recenter it’s possition when you pressed the screen.
And maybe, why not, draw a real console case arround the simulated screen with nice little button that make sounds when clicked.

And finally, pico8 is way more mature, LRNX is too yough to compete with pico8. Like all other fantasy console in fact.

I don’t tell you should make a pico8 clone, that will no work. But I really think you should improve the look, the feel and the usability.

If you want to create a real NES game, do you also want to do it on a crapy old computer? No, you will use modern tools with a modern emulator with all the nice debuger tools. And recent NES games are made like this.

I think LNRX can be a modern tool to create retro game that run on a not so modern simulated hardware. Nobody will blame that.

I tried a lot of other fantasy console, they have all their cons, but not so many pros compare to pico8. If i’m using LRNX right now is because I want to work with my iPad, codea never makes good progress, and finally because pico8 still not exists on iOS.


Tinycloud778 2019-08-14 22:43

I think there must be a way to make the colors pleasant in NX, in the BGeditor you can change the palette, so there’s must be some nice combinations in the game


was8bit 2019-08-15 01:05

@moechofe, you make a lot of good points...

Original lowres has the exact same color choices, and editor, and gamepad, and sprite limitations, etc, but it had hundreds of players downloading the games...

LowresNX is based on original lowres, there are many simularities... but there are lots of extras with NX...

Pixel drawing IS possible:
Mandelbrot: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=248
TouchDraw: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=224
PixelAnimation: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=216

Full Screen pixel editing IS possible if you are clever with it, I do it...
PixelPacman: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=108
THUNDERATION: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=473

Being able to create your own tool is to allow you to create and edit your own game database, and isn’t restricted to the game’s format... I’ve made my own..
BulkDataStorageEditor: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=94

LowresNX is not limited to IOS... it also is available for windows systems ... and has limited abilities on a webpage (full abilities on a webpage would totally rock)

I’ve used many different languages, and LowresNX with its mix of basic and pseudo-assembly and pseudo-C is fun :) SUB is also a powerful addition..

I’ve tried other and some “better” game makers out there, and this one (once you learn it) is the right blend of ease to get a game up and running, and yet still not too weighty or complicated... I can make text graphic games in seconds ... I have no graphic skills, no music skills, etc. and I also enjoy the community of sharing ... so maybe that’s why I like lowresNX the best...




was8bit 2019-08-15 01:28 (Edited)

@pico8, I’ve noticed a few advantages lowresNX has over pico.. correct me if I’m wrong...

Pico: 8x8 sprites, LRNX: 8x8, 16x16, 24x24, 32x32 sprites... WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: font set=1, LRNX font set=4 + you can design up to 10 of your own font sets for your game, WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: data editors (other than code) built in only, LRNX: built in and can create your own editors.WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: colors=16, LRNX=64, WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: sound controls=7, LRNX=16 each with 16 settings, WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: game controls=6, LRNX=6 plus full screen touch for up to 320 buttons, WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: display=128x128, LRNX: wide screen 180x128 WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: map, one at 128x32 LRNX: up to 10+ maps at up to 256x64, WINNER: lowresNX

Pico: cost $15.00, LRNX: FREE, WINNER: lowresNx



was8bit 2019-08-15 02:07

@tinycloud colors....

You can also use code to set colors....this allows you to possibly change the colors as the game plays :)

PALETTE

PALETTE n,[c0],[c1],[c2],[c3]
Sets all four colors of palette n (0-7). Color 0 is only used for palette 0 and shown as the screen's backdrop color. The color parameters can be omitted to keep their current settings. Valid color values are 0-63 and can be calculated like this:

VALUE = RED * 16 + GREEN * 4 + BLUE
RED, GREEN and BLUE are values from 0 to 3.

By default all palettes are read from ROM entry 1.

So...

Palette 1,,16*2+4*1+1, 16*0+4*0+2,3*16+4*0+3
sets the 3 colors for palette 1

Sprite.A 3,(1) assigns palette 1 colors to sprite 3

ATTR(1)
CELL X,Y,N

ATTR sets palette 1 colors to all following CELL commands...




moechofe 2019-08-15 06:44 (Edited)

My point was not to decide which one is better, there are different product anyway. I tried to emphasize why pico8 is more attractive and where LRNX cannot compete with it.

Of course pixel drawing is possible (I already done it myself) but, Is it easy to do? Hell no, It require advanced understanding of the simulated hardward and commands to do it. And it is really slow.

@Tinycloud778 You cannot change the palette of 64 colors, you can only choose which one you want to use in you sprites/characters/map-tile/whatever-you-call-it. The pseudo palette editor from the BG designer is tricking you (and it looks good. It makes you feel you have the power).

I could'nt find my previous post on LRNX colors so I repost it: https://imgur.com/a/2lPtlAf

Look at all the white circles I drawn why my mouse. The contains duplicated colors. There is 3 green so close to each other. It's a waste of colors. At the contrary pico8 palette do a better job with 4 times less colors https://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=2101

If I found the time to do it, I will fork LRNX and try to include a more balanced palette.

About @was8bit list of winner points:

Pico8 can draw sprite with any size multiple of 8: 8x8, 16x8, 32x64... even 128x128. That why I was mention the fact that the artist can draw all the 128x128 pixels of the spritesheet using the editor and be able to display it with one command: spr 0 0 0 16 16

LRNX consume the spritesheet to store fonts, so I can't use them for GFX anymore. Pico8 as a builtin typo.

Pico8 can use 16 colors at the same times from a palette of 16. LRNX can use 4 colors per sprites, whit lot of effort you can use all the 64 colors from the palette in one screen, but again, it's not a easy task. Don't get me wrong, I like when features is only doable by a small number of people.

In pico8 you can have 6 controls for each 8 players.

And in your list of winner point you miss the one that is really important to me and for game in general: the synchronization between the music and the code.

And finaly, I'm not sure the cost of pico8 is an obstacle. I believe the fact than when people spent money to a product, they may be inclined to make efforts to use this product.

I think, LRNX miss some good quality games that will bring more people here. And for that, it need good quality artists and coders. The circle is closing.

Edit: @timo I just found you have to edit your own post to enable the markdown formatting.


was8bit 2019-08-15 06:55

@moechofe, again many good points, and thanks for the correction on the sprites... as I don’t use pico8 I relied on documentation on it, and what I read only mentioned sprites as 8x8...

And again you are correct, lowresNX offers precision control with code to the music and the animation, as demonstrated here:
MusicVideo: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=186


was8bit 2019-08-15 07:01 (Edited)

And here I use 5 different font sets in one program...
MultiFontDemo: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=428


Timo 2019-08-15 07:15

moechofe, thanks for your honest feedback, I really appreciate it. I have some thoughts about it already but not the time now to write them down. I'll do it this evening.
About markdown: You can also click on "Attach..." to get the full post editor.


moechofe 2019-08-15 07:26

Oh thank for the pro-tip about "Attach..." it's not clear though.


Roy___ 2019-08-15 09:11

I think LRNX definitely needs more complete games in its library to entice people over. Is a bit chicken and egg though, you can’t have the games without the coders and and you need the games to entice people over 🤔

Agree with nearly all the points in favour of Pico8, but I was drawn to LRNX due to the more hardware-esque features. I imagine that audience is limited though. I love the fact it has raster line and vblank, makes me feel like I am coding a C64, but way, way easier to manage! Could expanding the library of basic commands help? But obviously allowing people to still do things manually.

In regards to usability, i personally find it really hard to work on big projects using the phone editor. Larger projects get quite hard to manage (for me at least). Perhaps this is why there aren’t that many finished games? I know I could use a desktop / laptop, but I don’t use one for my day job and really like the fact I can just do stuff on my phone. Perhaps some enhancements to the editor could help? Basic syntax highlighting, PIco8 style code pages (so I could separate player, enemy, data etc etc). Code folding... (I’m not a programmer, so sure there might be other things as well).

I’m really going to try and finish up a simple game or two between now and the end of the year. I think having more complete ‘product’ will definitely help, rather than snippets. It will be my first ever game(s), but I’ll try my best!


moechofe 2019-08-15 09:47

I also try my best to bring quality games on LRNX, As you say, the iOS editor do not help at it’s current state. Let’s see what the futur will bring.


Tinycloud778 2019-08-15 18:40

@Moechofe I agree with you about the quality games, we need to make the games a little more inclined to make the art appealing and adding juice to it, as many Pico8 games add juice (FX, particles, etc.)


Tinycloud778 2019-08-15 18:40

In other words just to make it appealing to the eye and polish it


Tinycloud778 2019-08-15 18:43 (Edited)

I’ve tried inviting my friends but they feel frustrated cuz they jumped straight in with an ambitious idea and as always, failed terribly

They also know nothing about coding and I tried teaching them but it’s hard.

We need more coders and artists on this community, maybe I can get my friend who’s an artist to make some art


was8bit 2019-08-15 19:09

Well, we should start a thread for your friends where we can help then get started :)


was8bit 2019-08-15 19:14

.... there, i started a help thread... how does it look... ??

If your friends feel apprehensive about posting, maybe you could post some of their questions there as others may also have the same questions and also may hesitate to post and will appreciate being able to read the help :)


Tinycloud778 2019-08-15 20:56

Ok thanks


Tinycloud778 2019-08-15 20:56

Looks nice


Tinycloud778 2019-08-15 21:56

Pico8 has a bit more limitations than NX but it has a greater appeal, not sure why but we have to make NX more appealing


Timo 2019-08-16 08:48 (Edited)

Ok, I have some time now to answer.

The first thing I have to say is, that I worked now for almost 3 years on LowRes NX and soon I have to work on other projects, too, I cannot spend too much time on LRNX anymore. So major changes are not possible.

BASIC

The decision for BASIC was really just nostalgia and because I enjoyed writing my own interpreter. I'm aware that it has its flaws. A problem I didn't even really noticed at the beginning is that there are no generic tutorials, because the is no real standard version of BASIC.

Anyway, BASIC is now an integral part of LowRes NX and all the documentation is made for it, so I don't want to switch to Lua at this point. Also I don't want to support several languages to keep compatibility.

I still think the language is quite simple. Currently the most confusing commands are related to character attributes (ATTR, SPRITE.A), probably nobody really understands the unusual syntax with parentheses. But these commands are important for beginners to set colors, so I'm thinking about simplifying them.

What do you think are the weakest points in the language itself? (Not talking about actual features, just syntaxes etc.)

The Virtual Hardware

I think it's an important feature to be different from other fantasy consoles. Again for compatibility it's too late to make major changes. About the pixel canvas I discussed already here: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=397

The biggest problem, especially for beginners, is the palette system. I think 3/4 colors for a simple sprite or tile is okay, but managing the palettes can be very tricky and you need to understand well how everything works before you can get nice results. Here good tools are mandatory.

The old discussion about the colors is here: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=135

Tools

The Character and Background Designers are definitely the weakest points of LRNX. They are still based on my first prototypes and miss a lot of features which just don't fit in the current interfaces anymore. The palette editor should be in the Character Designer to draw in real colors. Ideally both tools should be merged in one, but probably I would hit the limitations. I have some ideas how version 2.0 of the tools could look like and I would like to work on them in the future, but currently I won't have time for it.

iOS App

The code editor is just the standard iOS component. It's not made for code obviously. It's almost impossible to change it, so it needs a replacement. Creating my own editor just for iOS is too much work, but I found some open source options I could check and probably adapt to my needs.

The on-screen gamepad is too small for sure. I designed it to fit two-player controls on an iPhone 5, but it doesn't make sense on sigle-player games and on bigger screens. A better solution is on my to-do list.

Some old iPhone emulators had very nice designs imitating the emulated device, but that was when only one screen size existed. Now there are so many screen formats, that it's impossible to find a good looking solution for all of them. Especially if you consider both screen orientations and two-player support.


was8bit 2019-08-16 15:22

Actual colors for the character editor would be really nice... I always have to bounce between it and background editor to see how the characters look like in their real colors...

A side note, when making multiple backgrounds, it’s possible to accidentally save your pallete over a secondary background, which is really depressing if you spent a lot of time on it..

I’ve actually gotten used to the current IOS editor, and actually would be sad to lose it... it’s no different than any other IOS text editor, I guess they all use the same IOS format or something as they all have the same issues...

Also, I’ve gotten used to the syntax OK, the documentation in the HELP section irons out any issues :)

... what you have is pretty solid as is... it just needs an interpreter for Android phones, would get a bigger audience... but that’s another issue...


was8bit 2019-08-16 15:26

An idea for controls... for windows compatibility, would it be possible to link UP(0) etc to user created controls... such as touch.up(0) so if I define the touch area for touch.up then I could also draw the UP button where i wanted it on the screen...

Perhaps that would just be too confusing... :/


Timo 2019-08-16 15:57

Was8bit, what I mean is: do you know the difference between them:
ATTR 4,1
ATTR (4),1
ATTR (4,1)
Yes, they are different and there is a logic, but I think I went crazy with it...


moechofe 2019-08-16 16:33

ATTR 4,1 set all attributes using a mask
ATTR (4),1 set palette only using a mask
ATTR (4,1) set palette and flip x
It's really confusing


was8bit 2019-08-16 17:15 (Edited)

Ah, well I’ve never used the mask option, only the ATTR() without the mask option... I have abit of difficulty with binary, sometimes I get it but if I’m sleepy i get confused by it... and I’m usually sleepy ;)


Roy___ 2019-08-16 20:26

Thanks for the update Timo. Nothing was meant as a criticism, just trying to add some constructive feedback.


Timo 2019-08-16 23:53

Nonono, don’t worry. This is a very good discussion.


Blockhead 2019-08-19 13:16

i'm not dead, i just taken a pause


moechofe 2019-08-19 16:28 (Edited)

@timo said What do you think are the weakest points in the language itself? (Not talking about actual features, just syntaxes etc.)

I understand one logic of the usage of rounded brackets:

  1. The second usage is when setting a bytes value that can be splitted by group of bits. ATTR, DISPLAY, SPRITE.A

  2. But not PALETTE or COLOR that don't have the bits version Neither LFO.A or POKE that don't have the bytes version

  3. The other side of this syntaxe is it don't exist for any getter: SPRITE.A(), CELL.A(), MCELL.A(). You can't get the value splitted by group of bits. In reallity, it's probably useless, But it feel not good for consistency.

  4. There is no CELL.A setter, you have to use two commands: ATTR then CELL and omit the third argument.

I know you do not ask about missing feature but I will post them anyway :)

  1. A CLAMP function

  2. A limit to the LOAD function to avoid erasing already present information in the memory $A000. For a game, it's not necessary, but when creating an editor: The user's data can be greater that is it expected. Also because the data can be edited manualy from the code editor.

  3. LSL, LSR because I'm tired of \2^(b) and *2^(b). Also, can be usefull for a replacement of the (,,,,) syntaxe.

  4. By writing this post, I was thinking of a proposal to the replacement of the (,,,,) syntaxe. This syntaxe is strongly linked to the function the preced it. The group of bits are hard coded in LowResNX, like an other syntaxe that already exists. There is my proposal:

ATTR [PAL p] [NO][FX] [NO][FY] [NO][PRI] [SIZE s]

It's also more clear because you don't have to memorise the order of the bit groups.

  1. I don't have an idea for the getter, but I don't see the usage anyway.

  2. An other weaked point is for me the mandatory definition of a variable before it's usage. Specially when create function.

I know, there is no function only procedure, but the fact that any variable are passed by reference allow to create SUB that will act like a getter.

X=0
Y=0
I=0
E=0
SUB BIG_SUB_GETTER(X,Y,I,E)
TRACE X,Y,I,E

I feel bad when I'm writing this kind of code, specialy when I can't really do an alternative using GOTO or GOSUB.


was8bit 2019-08-19 19:35

@moechofe, lots good ideas :)

On the variable definition I like it as without it I often had issues with typos where I mistype a variable and don’t realize I mistyped it... then the program don’t work right and I would waste a lot of time trying to figure out WHY the code don’t work right... and to rule out a typo I may have to go thru my code a dozen times to find a potential typo... have very mild dixlexia and often I will see a typo as correct a few times unless I read each variable VERY SLOWLY and then I can find my typo...

On usage with SUB I often use variables into the sub, along with numbers, as SUB can change these values... so

SUB MOVEIT(X,Y,DX,DY)
X=X+DX
IF X>19 THEN X=19
...

And I use
IF LEFT(0) THEN CALL MOVEIT(PLAYERX,PLAYERY,0,-1)

Or

IF RND(100)=0 THEN CALL MOVEIT(EX(I),EX(I),0,-1)

In these cases I’m using the SUB to alter different existing variables in my game...

So, I’m these cases the code NEEDS to verify I’m using a previously used variable and not a typo...

It does the same check inside the sub...

I wish that special variables inside a sub could maintained between calls, but that is a different discussion ...


Timo 2019-08-20 07:32

@moechofe: I'm currently rethinking this whole thing, some of your ideas sound interesting. But there is one problem about your ATTR proposal:

In BASIC every word which is used in the language is a keyword and cannot be used as a variable name anymore in a program. Words like "FX" or "FY" are good candidates for variable names, so I don't want to make them keywords. I always have this fight when I'm thinking about new commands or syntaxes :(

I'll write more later, have to work now...


moechofe 2019-08-20 07:52

Oh! right, I forgot about that... a good point.


Timo 2019-08-20 18:39

I made a proposal, let's continue the discussion about attributes here: https://lowresnx.inutilis.com/topic.php?id=620


Timo 2019-08-20 18:41

Thanks for the ideas for LOAD, CLAMP etc. I will consider them.


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