Action Arcade Adventure Set

Title: Action Arcade Adventure Set
Author: Diana Gruber
Editor: Keith Weiskamp
Publisher: The Coriolis Group, Inc.
ISBN: 1-883577-06-04
Audience: All C programmers
Misc: 544 pages, soft cover, $39.95
Release Date: September 12, 1994


Action/arcade games, also called platform games or side-scrollers, are characterized by tile-based scrolling backgrounds inhabited by animated bitmapped figures called sprites. Such games are built using a "game engine", consisting of the tools used to process artwork and build levels, and a template of the game itself.

Processing artwork is done using a visual game editor, which includes a level editor, tile editor, tile ripper, sprite editor and file manager. A palette manager may be used to reduce/match/merge color palettes in multiple PCX files. The tools generate a set of data files which may be easily imported into a game.

The example game, Tommy's Adventures, is examined in detail. Fast four-way scrolling is achieved by resizing a Mode X video mode and blitting tiles in sequence with emphasis on optimizing for frame rate. Sprite animation is designed around data structures and action functions, which are executed in linked lists. Frames are generated by organizing objects and redrawing them in off-screen video memory using both video-to-video and RAM-to-video blits. Page flips are simulated by moving the screen origin. Other topics include collision detection, timing considerations, character fonts, special effects, debugging, finishing, and marketing games.

The programming techniques are discussed at the high level. The game engine is designed to use Fastgraph as the underlying graphics library, therefore a knowledge of assembly language programming, while helpful, is not required.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Adventure Starts Here!
Chapter 2. Let the Games Begin
Chapter 3. Using the Game Editor
Chapter 4. The Art of Creating Levels
Chapter 5. The Magic of Side Scrolling
Chapter 6. Inside the Level Editor
Chapter 7. Inside the Sprite Editor
Chapter 8. Color Considerations
Chapter 9. Wrapping Up the Game Editor
Chapter 10. Birth of a Computer Game
Chapter 11. Supporting Game Levels and Scrolling
Chapter 12. On the Road to Sprite Animation
Chapter 13. Unlocking the Mysteries of Sprite Animation
Chapter 14. It's Show Time
Chapter 15. Creating Special Effects
Chapter 16. Debugging Games
Chapter 17. Putting It All Together
Chapter 18. Tips for Marketing Games
Appendix A. The Games on the Companion Disk
Appendix B. Resources for the Game Developer

The Companion Disk

The Companion disk for the Action Arcade Adventure Set contains all the source code, artwork, and tools discussed in the text, as well as two other example games created with game editor, and the shareware version of the Fastgraph programmer's graphics library.

Contents of the Companion Disk

EXC.ARJ Example programs from the Fastgraph User's Guide
FADE.ARJ Palette fade program from Eric Lund
FGE.ARJ Fastgraph Game Editor program and data files
FGESRCE.ARJ Source code for Fastgraph Game Editor
FGLIGHT.ARJ Fastgraph/Light libraries, driver and utilities
FILELIST.TXT List of files
HEDGE.ARJ Game: Hedge Row with source code
INSTALL.EXE Installation program--run this first!
LEVEL.ARJ Level Editor and source code from Chapter 6
MAKEFONT.ARJ Utility to make a character font header file
MANUALS.ARJ Fastgraph User's Guide and Fastgraph Reference Manual
ORDER.FRM Order form for Fastgraph and special offers
PALETTE.ARJ Palette matching and reduction utility
PCX.ARJ Display any PCX file
QF.ARJ QuickFire demo
READ.ME Release notes
RIPPER.ARJ Tile Ripper program with source from Chapter 4
TOMMY.ARJ Game: Tommy's Adventures
TOMSRCE.ARJ Source code for Tommy's Adventures
UNARJ.EXE Unarchiving program
XTRA_ART.ARJ Additional artwork to play

Chapters Available Online

Chapters 5 and 13 of Action Arcade Adventure Set have been released on the Internet. You can download them from this web site.


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