SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP

Open-source port of PoP that runs natively on Windows, Linux, etc.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Sance » December 31st, 2015, 9:04 am

Wow, it's been a looong time since I've checked on the progress of this remake so it was great to see that it's up to snuff now. I have some questions however and I'm sorry if some of these were already answered but I don't have the time to read through all 24 pages. Here goes:

- The aspect ratio is wrong. Why is that? Sure, the original game ran in a resolution that would be considered 16:10 nowadays but it was played on 4:3 monitors back in the day so it should be displayed as such. More on this here: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/FelipePe ... _ratio.php

- Just how advanced this remake is? I'm asking this because honestly ever since I've played the Mac version of PoP and the DOS version of PoP2 I hate how DOS PoP1 looks. It's simply inconsistent with the sequel while the Mac version is perfect when it comes to visuals: the prince looks like as he should and the graphics are in a higher resolution with a lot of extra graphical detail, it's goddamn beautiful. With that said when it comes to gameplay the DOS version is far superior because of the higher FPS it runs on so gameplay becomes faster with more fluid animations and that's how the game really sticks in my opinion. I'm sure you know where I'm going with this: would it be possible to implement the Mac graphics into SDLPoP? It'd be wonderful.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Norbert » December 31st, 2015, 10:14 am

Sance wrote:- The aspect ratio is wrong.
Yes, SDLPoP displays the game like this (mirror), while on 4:3 monitors it looked like this (mirror).
(As the page you linked to says it can be replicated with "nearest up to 640x1200 and then bilinear down to 640x480". In GIMP, "nearest" is "None" and "bilinear" is "Linear".)
The SDLPoP window is scalable, but it keeps the non-4:3 aspect ratio.
I don't think this would be an easy 'problem' to tackle.
Sance wrote:the Mac version is perfect when it comes to visuals [...] would it be possible to implement the Mac graphics into SDLPoP?
The images that SDLPoP uses are in its data/ directory. PoP1 for MAC sprites are available here. In theory someone could modify the images in that data/ directory to resemble the MAC sprites. It would probably require all kinds of scaling though and properly aligning everything might be a pain.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by David » December 31st, 2015, 1:23 pm

Falcury wrote: I found a bug: when you run into a spike trap, the "spiked" sound (#48) does not play and a warning is issued: "Warning: Ambiguous wave version."
I do not understand exactly what is going on, but it seems to occur because "digi->sample_size" and "digi_new->sample_size" are both 8 for this sound.
SDLPoP tries to autodetect the wave format.
I think the result of the detection should be stored after the first success.
Update: Fixed this.
Falcury wrote: Also, the "spiked" sound cannot interrupt the normal spikes sound (but this is also the case in the original game).
This was changed in 1.3.

Code: Select all

sound_interruptible[49] 0->1 (spikes)
sound_prio_table[48] 19h->15h 25->21 (spiked) (moved above spikes)
Falcury wrote: However, I found another bug when using the 1.3/1.4 sounds: the "guard hurt" does not play when you strike a guard directly after parrying. I think this must be because the parrying sound has a slightly longer duration than in 1.0 and the "guard hurt" sound does not interrupt it.
This was also changed in 1.3.

Code: Select all

sound_prio_table[10] 0Ah->0Dh 10->13 (sword vs sword) (moved below hit_user/hit_guard)
Norbert wrote: In theory someone could modify the images in that data/ directory to resemble the MAC sprites. It would probably require all kinds of scaling though and properly aligning everything might be a pain.
It would be better if SDLPoP had an option to multiply all image coordinates by 2.
Sance wrote:The aspect ratio is wrong.
I might try to fix this.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Falcury » December 31st, 2015, 2:18 pm

David wrote:
Sance wrote:The aspect ratio is wrong.
I might try to fix this.
This seems to work:

Code: Select all

SDL_RenderSetLogicalSize(renderer_, 1600, 1200); 
(1600 by 1200 instead of 320 by 200)
But I would recommend to only use this in fullscreen mode or with a sufficiently large window size... when using 640 by 480 the text looks quite wrong and 320 by 240 is just horrible!

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by David » December 31st, 2015, 2:49 pm

Falcury wrote:But I would recommend to only use this in fullscreen mode or with a sufficiently large window size... when using 640 by 480 the text looks quite wrong and 320 by 240 is just horrible!
Does it look better with different scaling methods?

Should this and the sound priority fixes be configurable, or should they be enabled always?

Furthermore, should I also add the various other differences as options?

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Falcury » December 31st, 2015, 3:54 pm

David wrote:
Falcury wrote:But I would recommend to only use this in fullscreen mode or with a sufficiently large window size... when using 640 by 480 the text looks quite wrong and 320 by 240 is just horrible!
Does it look better with different scaling methods?
This is how it looks:
640x480, "nearest"
Spoiler: show
Image
640x480, "linear"
Spoiler: show
Image
1440x900, "nearest"
Spoiler: show
Image
1440x900, "linear"
Spoiler: show
Image
I did not see any difference between the "linear" and "best" scaling options.
Personally I do not like the blurring...
David wrote:Should this and the sound priority fixes be configurable, or should they be enabled always?
I think the original aspect ratio should probably be disabled by default, because the nearest pixel sampling looks horrible in windowed mode. But it can get a prominent spot in the [General] section of the INI file?
David wrote:Furthermore, should I also add the various other differences as options?
That would be very nice to have! There could maybe be a "master" option (perhaps called "pop_version" or something along those lines, with possible values "1.0", "1.1", etc.) that changes the "defaults" for all of the individual differences at once. Then the individual options could override that (if desired).

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Sance » January 1st, 2016, 2:32 am

Norbert wrote:The images that SDLPoP uses are in its data/ directory. PoP1 for MAC sprites are available here. In theory someone could modify the images in that data/ directory to resemble the MAC sprites. It would probably require all kinds of scaling though and properly aligning everything might be a pain.
Yes, just by looking at the game / the extracted sprites it seems like problematic stuff but honestly I think that supporting this stuff is where the goal should be in a modern remake / port like this. I mean having PoP1 running natively on modern systems is a great thing to have and it was wonderful to finally see it but apart from the technical achievement it's not something that benefits the regular user much: DOSBox handles PoP1 quite well, even PoP2 runs moderately well (though there are some graphical glitches in the 1.1 version I like to play: mainly some messed up colours here and there and a buggy "exit level" animantion where the prince is misalingned when using the staircases so he just runs into the wall basically) and that's perfectly fine for a playthrough or two.

Personally I'm not into the modding scene of PoP1 because the mods and level packs usually rely on "tricks" and I consider those bugs so I don't want to play the game like that. Because of this I'd mainly just want to see a modern, feature rich version of the game and I really don't like how Ubisoft is treating the classic games - mainly as archaic things that needs mechanical remaking instead of being absolutely faithful to the original version - so I only see the possibility of that happening if the fans do that. From the little I could gather from SDLPoP's file structure - and that's very little, I know absolutely nothing about programming - it seems like that this version wants to be more mod friendly and I think that an important aspect of that approach is to let people create better graphics for the game. Having the graphics from the Mac version would be grand but I'd go even a step further because when I look at the games that received high quality source ports - or even the android version of PoP Classic which has a hand drawn feel to it - I can't help but imagine what wonders an artist could do with the original game.

But again I consider even that only to be the tip of the iceberg when I look at all the ports the original game had received. For example even though it's not an accurate port one of personal favourites is the FM-TOWNS version: it has awesome in-game music that adds so much to the atmosphere even though it has a somewhat incoherent, Japanese, "Castlevania vibe" to it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRm65857dmI). Adding stuff like that should be supported by SDLPoP.

I also find it a crying shame that if you want to play the Mac version as it's supposed to play you basically need an old Mac (which I don't have) because Ubi didn't do a modern port even though the thing exists - even in a somewhat remastered fashion when it comes the music - as an unlockable extra in the Wii version of Forgotten Sands (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwqyXVtBGBA) Now this version is accurate to the point where it shouldn't be: the DOS version is a few frames faster so it's just a better experience to play overall.

Sorry, this is going to be a huge wall of text so I'll just add a somewhat shorter list of what I'd like to see in a new port. Consider this the pipedream of a hardcore PoP fan who is sure to reaplay PoP1 in some form at least every 6 months so he appreciates a lot of features the different ports have. :)

- And added main menu with gameplay options (disabling the time limit - or even adding an optional easy mode with non-lethal traps - to let newbies or SoT fans just pick up the game play, shorter time limits for those who've replayed the game multiple times and want a bigger challenge)

- An in-game menu to save and load the game and to have something I always adored in the FM TOWNS version: adjustable game speeds for the platforming and the combat separately.

- Controller support: this already exists of course and I've seen that even DPad support is happening but the ability to re-map buttons from the options menu with be superb.

- A high level of customization: support for Mac graphics and stuff even beyond that, changing other values from a simple ini file that is accessible for everyone. The ability to add custom music and sound able to even expand on what's already existing (for example in-game background music)

That's kinda it, sorry I took so long. :D Btw. I hope that someday PoP2 will receive the some treatment because THAT game has a few legitimite problems when it comes to emulation.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Norbert » January 1st, 2016, 6:15 am

Sance wrote:That's kinda it, sorry I took so long. :D
That's okay, here's a long reaction. :P

I'm not really an SDLPoP developer, but...

It's not difficult to come up with new features that could be added to SDLPoP, things that could be improved and ways it could be expanded. These ideas can range from realistic to unrealistic, easy to hard, likely to appeal to coders (of this forum or elsewhere) or unlikely, and so on. In my opinion, throughout your last post, your ideas/suggestions are all over the place on these spectrums; perhaps because - as you wrote - you're not a programmer. ;)

I think the people in this community that have created or modified software did this primarily because they enjoy the technical challenges. It's not because they are hardcore PoP fans, but because PoP is a very suitable candidate to take apart and learn about its inner workings. Modding is one way to learn about and unravel its 'secrets'. For most there's probably also an element of nostalgia involved.

The original goal of SDLPoP was for it to be an "open-source port of PoP". For various reasons, not in the least that we're a modding community, it makes sense that modders and coders have been using and modifying SDLPoP to accomplish things that the original game didn't do. I'm sure David was aware of these modding possibilities from the start, and it's part of what makes SDLPoP interesting.

You write you are "not into the modding scene" and point to mods that rely on tricks. I think maybe you are into modding, you just don't like mods that rely on tricks. :) A lot of your ideas/suggestions are essentially descriptions of modifications to achieve things that were not originally intended by the developer. Allowing people to play the original levels but as a princess or mirrored, such things are also modding. The excessive use of tricks in mods is something that started roughly 4-5 years ago, which perhaps still makes it a fairly recent phenomenon. The majority of mods are not trick-fests.

The Mac version of Prince of Persia doesn't appeal to me. Perhaps the nostalgia factor plays an important role in why it appeals to you the way it does. By the way, you should be able to use the disk images with an emulator like Basilisk II; it's not too complicated. Personally, I can think of a lot of things I'd much rather like SDLPoP to support than Mac graphics.

One related problem SDLPoP has though, is that a lot of its images are fragments that need to be combined to create full sprites. For instance for the gates, chompers and spikes. Just to name a few. This would be a (very) difficult thing to change, a lot of work. In 2014 David wrote about this:
"And this also means that it does not fulfill all criteria posted by Norbert. For example, tile graphics are stored in multiple parts like the in original, not as two images per tile. And levels are not in XML. -- Of course these can be changed. But I would like to keep this close-to-original version, too."
On the plus side, unlike the original game's images, SDLPoP uses RGB images instead of indexed palettes.

The pixelated graphics are part of what makes the game Prince of Persia. It is possible to allow artists to create modern, high quality graphics for the game, but when is it still PoP and when does it become something else that just happens to live alongside the PoP code. For example, look at the trailers of my two mods, the Prince of Wateria trailer and the Micro Palace trailer. The modified potions (shape, bubbles; in particular of Prince of Wateria) and modified chompers (in particular of Micro Palace). I'm quite happy with how those turned out. Now, if SDLPoP allowed these images to be larger (x2 or x3), a professional artist could create new, super polished potions and chompers for the game. But if you then look at these objects, are you looking at PoP potions and chompers, or are you looking at potions and chompers that just happen to be in the PoP game.

I agree that the soundtrack of FM Towns is very nice. When I added the FM Towns page to popot.org, I consciously invested time into making sure it includes a ZIP package with the soundtrack. (Created those MP3s, came up with proper filenames, added the info.txt.) At 73MB it's probably the largest file hosted at the website, but I really wanted to make sure people have easy access to it.

As for SDLPoP and music, since version 1.13 it supports loading music from the data/music folder. FM Towns's intro.mp3 is a bit too long for the DOS version, but technically it works fine. Simply convert intro.mp3 to intro_theme.ogg - on Linux I can use "soundconverter" for this - and put that file in the data/music directory. (The file data/music/names.txt shows you which OGG filenames to use.)

When it comes to things like an in-game options menu and the ability to re-map gamepad controls, I wouldn't wait for this. ;) It might arrive, but most of the work is done in small steps. It started with the disassembly, then there was room-drawing code, and so on. It's done in people's spare time, and it would be unpleasant to have a pile of work to get through. No doubt everyone will agree that these features would be neat. It's slowly moving forward, first things first. :) Some of the things you mention could already be fairly easily implemented, given the already available SDLPoP.ini functionality. Disabling the time limit for instance. An easy mode with non-lethal traps also shouldn't be difficult. Falcury already implemented the ability to change the starting time, this should be included with the next release. (Your "shorter time limits", I think.)

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Sance » January 1st, 2016, 7:50 am

I understand that apart from a few of the features I'd like to see most of the stuff I mentioned should be very hard work. For clarification I don't want all of these features because I'd personally play the game with using them, my suggestions all come from the perspective of how could be the player experience improved and varied to the level where PoP1 would be more approachable to let's say SoT fans who never played the original "trilogy" (sorry, I find it hard to call the 3 games a trilogy because PoP 3D is clearly it's own thing while most of the story elements hinted on in PoP2 remain to be unresolved). I'm very familiar with that community - hell, I'm even in the credits of Two Thrones mostly because I posted a lot on the forums and made some trailers as a teenager :D - and I always see the passion the current core has for the original games but most of those guys and girls never finished the original games because they found them too hard and archaic. Now, I played a DOS version a lot when I was kid to the point where now I may even be able to finish it with my hands tied behind my back but in this generation it would take a lot of dedication for someone who is used to the more modern, streamlined experiences... that's PoP Classic and Shadow of the Flame 2013 were created but those are not the original games.

As for what is Prince of Persia for me: to put it simply every version of the game that let's you play it in its 100% mechanically accurate form. As for the graphics itself: sure, the DOS version is the classic and it very closely resembles the Apple II original but when it comes to Mechner's artistic intentions the Mac version IS the DEFINITIVE Prince of Persia without a doubt. You see, PoP is aesthetically based around old swashbuckling adventure movies, most notably the 1940 version of Thief of Bagdad (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033152/). The Prince always intended to look like this guy:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_4iB9RenE0XI/T ... 1%255D.JPG
http://deeperintomovies.net/journal/ima ... agdad3.jpg

He is not the blonde dude you see in the DOS version, Mechner did not work on that, it's just how the developers interpreted the original Apple II character. Apple II has the blueprint but the Mac has the fully realized product, the "Karateka guy" is the result of the technological limitations of the Apple II. Because of this the goal should be always to replicate the Mac version because that IS and forever will be the video game called Prince of Persia. If David wants a technical challenge that's the stuff he should look at: modyfing SLDPoP to be able to accurately represent the 640x480 graphics and the 256 colours. :) Anyway I played the Mac version both on Basilisk and on the Wii (actually I made the recordings I've posted in my last comment) but if any currently interested fan would want to play it he has two non-realistic options: the Wii version of Forgotten Sands which is not in any way, shape or form relevant (though it's a great game, definitely better than the 360/PS3/PC version) and the iOS version that is now non-existent because it's not sold anymore (Ubi sells PoP Classic instead of it now). You have the original game and there is no realistic means for the usual end user to play it, that's crazy!

Anyway you're right: I'm into modding generally and yes, I've played PoP mods that had normal level design instead of tricks but why I stopped playing them is because trying them out in an quick, easy way is not an option: that's a long list we have in the Total Pack and the last time I saw it I did not find any indication showing me what kind of a mod I'm looking at. I'm also a huge fan of emulation and source ports and I find them essential to keep an old title relevant: for example after playing a lot of zDoom or ECWolf I could not return to the original versions because they vastly improve the gameplay experience and it's been ages since I've played PoP1 using a keyboard, the last time I replayed DOS PoP1 I was using an Xbox One controller (and firing up SLDPoP yesterday was the first time I saw the pixelated graphics in yeas: it's advmame3x scaling for me, I love it, the whole game looks like a kid's drawing with it :)). I'm not a programmer, I'm a gamer: the ease of use, the approachability and the graphical spit and polish are what I find important in a remake. After playing Grim Fandango Remastered with the point-n-click interface I could not start playing the original version with its tank controls and why would I if the new approach is a definitive improvement?

Edit: Tried Micro Palace: that's exactly why I don't play PoP1 mods anymore. :D The concept is good but the level design doesn't make any sense whatsoever because you're just fooling the player into false preconceptions: platforms that are shaking but actually are perfectly solid when you stand on them, gates that appear to be closed but actually you can step through them, elements that are making a play on the slightest, unnoticeable nuances of the game mechanics. I understand that it can make sense in creating something that is "ultra hardcore" but it's actually textbook bad game design. No offense but it's stuff I'd instantly lock out of the Total Pack by turning a "no bs" filter on. :) In my opinion a good mod respects the original concept of the game by not going out of it's way to show all the flaws of the original mechanics and it's not mocking the established ruleset (closed gates need to be OPENED, shaking platforms FALL etc.). Exactly 2 people could complete those levels and you're one of them.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Falcury » January 1st, 2016, 11:27 am

Sance wrote:that's a long list we have in the Total Pack and the last time I saw it I did not find any indication showing me what kind of a mod I'm looking at.
You can go here for some extra information on mods: http://www.popot.org/custom_levels.php
But in general, I don't think that it's possible to predict whether anyone is going to like a particular mod or not. I think mods using tricks have their own artistic value and this should definitely not be discouraged (that would take all the fun out ;))
If so desired, you can of course make a curated pack that fits what you want, although that would take some effort.
Note that we have been adding optional patches for gameplay bugs to SDLPoP, so in the future it may be a bit easier to design challenging levels without "unpredictable" trick shortcuts.
Sance wrote:Because of this the goal should be always to replicate the Mac version because that IS and forever will be the video game called Prince of Persia.
I first played PoP on a Mac and used to say the same back then. Now I like the DOS version better.
Honestly there is no single truth in this so I will have to disagree.
Sance wrote:my suggestions all come from the perspective of how could be the player experience improved and varied to the level where PoP1 would be more approachable to let's say SoT fans who never played the original "trilogy"
Sance wrote:In my opinion a good mod respects the original concept of the game by not going out of it's way to show all the flaws of the original mechanics and it's not mocking the established ruleset (closed gates need to be OPENED, shaking platforms FALL etc.). Exactly 2 people could complete those levels and you're one of them.
I understand your points, but we don't need to "sell" the game. I think Norbert summed this up nicely (the main motivation for modding is modding itself). So there is no "need" to appeal to all gamers.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by David » January 1st, 2016, 1:05 pm

Falcury wrote: I think the original aspect ratio should probably be disabled by default, because the nearest pixel sampling looks horrible in windowed mode. But it can get a prominent spot in the [General] section of the INI file?
Right. Added an option to use the correct aspect ratio.
(Was it a good idea to add this to options_type?)

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Falcury » January 1st, 2016, 1:26 pm

David wrote:(Was it a good idea to add this to options_type?)
I don't know what we should do with that. There's this in replay.c:

Code: Select all

void apply_replay_options() {
    stored_options = options;
    options = replay_options;
    if (!options.use_fixes_and_enhancements) disable_fixes_and_enhancements();
    // but it does not make sense to apply these as well:
    options.enable_mixer = stored_options.enable_mixer;
    options.enable_fade = stored_options.enable_fade;
    options.enable_flash = stored_options.enable_flash;
    options.enable_text = stored_options.enable_text;
    options.enable_replay = 1; // just to be safe...
    options.enable_quicksave = 1;
}
When I added options_type I thought it would be handy for quick switching between set-ups (mainly to recreate the way that replays were originally captured). But in hindsight, perhaps it does not really make sense that I also put enable_mixer, enable_fade, etc in options_type because they have absolutely no effect on a replay...
Perhaps adding options_type was a bad idea altogether.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Norbert » January 1st, 2016, 3:53 pm

It's difficult for me to assess how approachable or archaic PoP1 for DOS is for new generations. To me the game is very approachable and most of its (expert) players seem to be youngsters. But then again, I'm inside a 'filter bubble' because of selective exposure. One thing I do know is that there are way more difficult games (on Steam, for instance) that are very popular. Think of, for example, Super Meat Boy. Its keyboard controls are very smooth and precise, but so are those of PoP. I'm pretty skilled as a gamer, but after about 10 hours I had to throw in the towel. I think it's the teenagers that get all those "without dying" achievements. The gamepad support that was added with 1.15 (and improved with the upcoming 1.16) might help make SDLPoP more approachable for console gamers.

As for Mechner's artistic intentions, he has said that his favorite port is the DOS version because it's the 'most true to the original'. Therefore I don't think the Mac version is the "DEFINITIVE Prince of Persia". This actually makes me think about Star Wars, its special editions, how people (like George Lucas) change, and the reaction of fans and critics to the film's additions. Perhaps there is no single truth, as Falcury writes.

You write the prince is "not the blonde dude you see in the DOS version". I'm not sure what you mean here, because in the Apple II version he also has light hair. Contrary to what you wrote, Mechner was involved with the DOS port (and not just as a documentation writer). He's also credited not just for the original concept but also as the director of that port. I agree that it is unfortunate that the Mac version appears to be difficult to run on modern platforms.

Regarding Micro Palace: note that yaqxsw frequently manages to solve levels differently from how they were intended. If you watch my solutions maybe you'll find that things aren't as difficult and trick-infested as they seem to be. Also, each level has only two rooms because it does expect players to experiment and persevere. But, yes, it does assume players have some knowledge of tricks. Nowhere near as crazy as Prince of Wateria though, that mod has some bad levels, like level 1. :| (My first PoP modding attempt.) And note that getting all the life potions is optional. Either way, I agree that both mods are too difficult.

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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Sance » January 1st, 2016, 9:33 pm

Falcury wrote: I first played PoP on a Mac and used to say the same back then. Now I like the DOS version better.
Honestly there is no single truth in this so I will have to disagree.
I'm split here: I like the gameplay of the DOS version the most while I prefer the Mac graphics but individual opinions are kinda irrelevant because for most people and the industry the Mac version is PoP and there are a number of reasons for that:

1) The original desgin intention as I've described: to reflect on Norbert's post too a bit Mechner can like the version he wants - an individual opinion is irrelevant and the statement that the DOS version is the one closeset to the original Apple II is undeniably true... but when you look at the design documents you see a character that closely resembles the character you see on Mac in form:
Image

On the first drawing you see the silhuette of a guy wearing a turban, "pointy shoes" and "baggy trousers"...

2) As I've written before, the Prince is basically John Justin from the 1940 version of Thief of Bagdad:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMiF67ggUOM
"Prince Ahmad is the rightful King of Bagdad but he has been blinded and cast out as a beggar. Now a captive of the wicked Grand Vizier Jaffar he is cast into a dungeon where he meets Abu, the best thief in all Bagdad."

3) The character of DOS PoP1 is not "canon": in the sequels you see a dark haired guy, especially in PoP2 he looks like the lost twin brother of John Justin. :) Also whenever the original PoP1 character is referenced symbolically in the later titles it's done through using the colour scheme of the Mac Prince (dominantly red and blue with some white in it). Example:
Image

4) The DOS version is the version that saved the game from being a flop and while it may be the one that was more widely pirated it was the Mac version that sold the most copies by a long mile.

So you know, if I'd have to choose a favourite version I'd say DOS too but when it comes to its looks it's simply outdated and by that I don't mean the graphics quality but the art design. When the Apple II version was created the prince had to have a very light colour scheme to vibrantly jump out of the black background and if you look at the Apple II's capabilities you'll see that Mechner did not have much choice in the matter. I know that I won't convince anyone in the community that is all about modding the DOS version that the Mac is the definitive PoP so just consider this: there are a lot of different versions of this game so offering choice for the player is always the best options and just a great thing in general (hell, this whole community and the Total Pack is based around the idea of giving that choice so why argue against it?).
Falcury wrote:I understand your points, but we don't need to "sell" the game. I think Norbert summed this up nicely (the main motivation for modding is modding itself). So there is no "need" to appeal to all gamers.
Sure, I get that and I don't want my criticism to be taken the wrong way: you can iterate on the game as much as you'd like and as a modder you don't have to give a damn about the general principles of game design... but it's a good idea. When it comes to PoP I feel that these kinds of mods come from the fact that there is not much room for modding the game: Mechner developed it for 4 years so while the mechanics are highly limited and simple the original 12 levels give you anything you can expect from the game, honestly it's a marvel of game design, it's the result of a very specific concept polished to give the game perfect pacing. That's why an advanced remake like SDLPoP could be so important: to give new possibilities to modders beyond the original's limits.
Norbert wrote:It's difficult for me to assess how approachable or archaic PoP1 for DOS is for new generations. To me the game is very approachable and most of its (expert) players seem to be youngsters.
I'd say that when compared to the time period when it was released PoP is very approachable, it's not something like Castlevania 3 for example. What it lacks is basically the difficulty selection: these days usually even the hardest games have certain layers that can be bypassed in a lower difficulty to let a new player advance from the beginner level (easy) to the pro level (hard). Ideally an easy difficulty should be something that let's anyone complete the game the first time they seriously want to but designed in a way that prepares the player for a higher difficulty. The philosophy is that "you can complete my game any time you want but if you want a challenge I provide it too". I feel that these days that's an accurate guideline to decide if a game is approachable or not, it basically comes from the iteration of how game designers created arcade games back in the day: you can complete the arcade version of Mortal Kombat on your first try because the AI goes easy on you after you die and continue a few times... but the aim is not to make the palyer better but to sink more coins into the arcade machine.
Contrary to what you wrote, Mechner was involved with the DOS port (and not just as a documentation writer). He's also credited not just for the original concept but also as the director of that port.
Just like in the case of the Mac version but actually back in the day games did not need a director in the modern sense because the development process was not that complex. You can read that "director" credit there as consultant in my opinion. You really can't trust the credits from that period, for example PoP2 only credits Mechner as providing the original concept while he also totally wrote the game and gave it a general gameplay design outline. These days he would be referred to as creator, writer, designer etc.
Regarding Micro Palace: note that yaqxsw frequently manages to solve levels differently from how they were intended. If you watch my solutions maybe you'll find that things aren't as difficult and trick-infested as they seem to be. Also, each level has only two rooms because it does expect players to experiment and persevere. But, yes, it does assume players have some knowledge of tricks. Nowhere near as crazy as Prince of Wateria though, that mod has some bad levels, like level 1. :| (My first PoP modding attempt.) And note that getting all the life potions is optional. Either way, I agree that both mods are too difficult.
I wouldn't say the problem is the difficulty because from looking at the solution nothing in there is extremely difficult to do. The problem is that a player wouldn't know he can do all that stuff with the game, not even through a massive amount of trial and error. To use a simple analogy if you don't know that your character can jump even a basic pit will kill you.

Andrew
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Re: SDLPoP; David's open-source port of PoP (pre-release)

Post by Andrew » January 1st, 2016, 10:00 pm

Sance wrote:adding an optional easy mode with non-lethal traps - to let newbies or SoT fans just pick up the game play
Sance wrote:most of those guys and girls [SoT fans] never finished the original games because they found them too hard
Bear with me, this will probably be a bit long... :roll: I have to say I find the above an extremely ridiculous but sadly all too common point of view amongst younger gamers. It is generally acknowledged that video games nowadays are far easier than they used to be.[1,2] It honestly makes me quite sad to see a company like Nintendo adding Guides and Assist Blocks to newer Super Mario versions because the majority of gamers today can't even finish level 1 of the original Super Mario Bros.[3] :shock: Now I know the original Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon etc. games were quite hard,[research paper at arXiv via MIT Technology Review] but let's not forget that these are some of the largest video game franchises of all time. Would they have achieved such a cult status if gamers had en masse dumped them all right at the outset for being "too hard"?

The reasons for complexity reduction in games is not hard to determine either. People nowadays, especially the younger generations, have hair-trigger attention spans. The general demand is for instant gratification. Anything remotely resembling a tough challenge makes most casual gamers balk because very few have the patience and are willing to put in the time required to properly understand and master games of the caliber that were fairly common earlier.

There are of course exceptions, both among gamers and modern games. I also do not want this rant to come across as an "old games or harder games are always better" argument, because that's certainly not true. However if we ignore the problems involved with getting older games to work on modern systems (or overcome them, as SDLPoP laudably does), I see no reason for newbies of today (who are really interested and willing to put in the effort) to not obtain hours worth of enjoyment from many older games like PoP 1 & 2, just as newbies back in the day did. "No pain, no gain", as they say! :) Instead of dumbing down older games to cater to newer generations, which I feel is a completely bass-ackwards approach, I would instead suggest simply removing the hurdles to game play (SDLPoP FTW) and then teaching kids to appreciate the aesthetics and challenges of true classics, which in many cases far outdo their modern remakes or 'spiritual successors'. (Note: By 'classic" I do not simply mean something more than, say, five years old. Age by itself does not a classic make!)

As it is the gaming community does a piss-poor job of accurately recording and celebrating its own history.[5,6,7,8] On top of that let's not encourage tampering with the game play of older titles just to satisfy some fickle fans. I'm with Falcury here, in that while we'd love to see this community expand, there's no need to "sell" the games by tinkering needlessly with their difficulty and balance (which I think Mechner did an absolutely wonderful job with). If some newbies really need hand-holding, the existing practice mode, save states (and if need be, cheats) should more than suffice, just as originally intended.

/rant

(Speaking of original intentions, I consider it vitally important for SDLPoP to attempt as best as possible to preserve bugs in the original EXEs that enable various tricks, just as Chocolate Doom does for example. INI settings can be provided to fix the bugs - which the devs clearly never intended - but should be optional, because they'll modify game play. I'm glad to see that so far SDLPoP adheres to this philosophy of preservation coupled with optional enhancement.)
Sance wrote:the Mac version IS the DEFINITIVE Prince of Persia without a doubt
I disagree, and anyway consider this a pointless argument since everyone's bound to have their own favorites. Regardless, the fact is that SDLPoP is a port of the DOS version. While there's obviously no reason to prohibit users from attempting to modify it to graphically resemble the Mac version as much as possible (and perhaps even make it easy for them to do so provided it doesn't require much effort), I see no reason why the SDLPoP devs themselves should focus their efforts towards replicating the game play or quirks of non-DOS ports faithfully. That said, it's open source so if someone wants to use the DOS disassembly to attempt to faithfully replicate a non-DOS port, what's stopping them?

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On another note...
Falcury wrote:
David wrote:Furthermore, should I also add the various other differences as options?
That would be very nice to have! There could maybe be a "master" option (perhaps called "pop_version" or something along those lines, with possible values "1.0", "1.1", etc.) that changes the "defaults" for all of the individual differences at once. Then the individual options could override that (if desired).
I agree! We can have pop_emulation_version with possible values being default, 1.0, 1.1, 1.3 and 1.4, where only default would enable other individual tweaks. If one of the versions is explicitly specified then all other individual tweaks should be completely ignored and the values relevant to that version should override all manual changes.
Last edited by Andrew on January 1st, 2016, 10:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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