Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Peer Johannsen

Vectrex Academy 2019 Project

New Vectrex Game Title

  • VEC-MAN

Project Status

  • Final release version 2-3
  • But still some more additional gamma testing of release version 2-4 going on ;-)

Synopsis

  • Minimalistic Pac-Man clone in the style of the original eighties' Vectrex games
  • This project was originally meant as an educational example for the students of this course. It has somehow grown out of hand and has by now evolved into a full Vectrex game.

How To Play

  • Vec-Man lives in a maze and is always hungry. His task is to eat all the food pills that are laid out in the maze in order to advance to the next level.
  • Unfortunately, the mazes are inhabited by hostile ghosts who are also hungry and want to eat Vec-Man. If Vec-Man is caught by a ghost, he looses one of his lives.
  • With higher levels the number of ghosts will increase, and the ghosts will move faster. Also the layout of the mazes will become more and more difficult.
  • Some mazes contain power pills. If Vec-Man eats a power pill, then for a short period of time he will be able to eat the ghosts. A bonus life will be awarded if all present ghosts are eaten.

Trivia

  • The intention of this project is not to recreate the original Pac-Man, but to do a Pac-Man themed clone for the Vectrex that adds slight taste of its own.
  • There are small and large mazes. In each level, the layout is different.
  • Vec-Man can take one of the outer warp exits which cause him to reappear on the  opposite site.
  • The ghosts cannot go through the outer warp exits.
  • In each maze, there are either 2, 3, 4 or 6 ghosts.
  • Each ghost has its unique strategy of chasing Vec-Man.
  • In higher levels, food pills and power pills start to move and are thus more difficult to be caught.
  • Some mazes also contain secret bonus items. Choose wisely when to use them.
  • The sequence of levels is always the same. It is created by procedural content generation techniques based on a determistic pseudo random number generator.
  • The game starts easy, but some of the much higher levels might become crazily difficult to virtually impossible...
  • The starting level can be selected as game option. However, the machine's high score will only be updated if game play is started at level 1.
  • A two player modus is available in which the players take turns.
  • The game is written entirely in C. The original Vectrex BIOS routines are used exclusively for interfacing with the Vectrex hardware.

Author

  • Master Control
  • Rank: Mission Command

Screenshots

Game Play Video


Alternate Overlay Designs

Notes

  • Please read the manual before playing.
  • On initial start, the scaling of the graphics can be calibrated up to a certain degree in order to better compensate for the fact that every console has a slightly different analog behavior.
  • The game's graphics use different brightness levels. Please adjust the brightness of your console (the potentiometer on the back) so that you have a good contrast. The usual rule of thumb ("turn brightness up until the dot in the center of the screen appears, then turn it down again until that dot just vanishes") does not give the best results (vectors are too bright to give a good contrast). Turning down the brightness a bit more works better.
  • During gameplay, use button 1 to pause the game.

Regarding a physical cartridge release

  • The options of having a physical cartridge release are currently being evaluated.

Downloads

  • Downloads are free and for non commercial use only. Use at your own risk.
  • Please respect the copyright and credit the author and the origin of this game.

Latest modification on 11/07/2019, 09:00
  • Gamma test version 2-4 uploaded as a result of the Vector War feedback
  • Vec-Man now slows down for 2 frames (skips movement for 2 frames) when eating a pellet / pill. I do not know if this really affects the game play in terms of difficulty. First, I tried  skipping just 1 frame, but that felt not noticeable to me. Might be due to the fact that the original Pac-Man ran at 26 Hz, and Vec-Man is running at 50Hz. Skipping 2 frames is now visually noticeable. Still, I don’t know if I like this whole thing and if it should be kept. Thoughts?
  • The ghosts can now decide to reverse direction in the instant when Vec-Man eats a power pill. This is the only situation where ghosts can reverse their direction. They must not do so, but will do so, if their AI decides that this might be to their advantage. This makes chasing the ghosts a bit more difficult, and so far I like it, and I think that I will keep this. Thoughts?
  • When Vec-Man eats a power pill, the ghosts now slow down less than before (to about only 2/3 of their current speed). Before, the ghosts always slowed down to minimum speed, regardless of the level. Again, this should make chasing them a bit harder. I guess I will keep this. Thoughts?
  • The "slow" bonus now slows down the ghosts only. This is what I intended from the beginning. Up to version 2-3, this bonus also slowed down all other moving items as well (pellets and bonuses), so this is rather a bug fix. Again, this should make things a bit harder for the player, and I think I will keep it. Thoughts?
  • The ghosts in level 1 now start out a bit faster than before. Together with all the above, level 1 should now be a bit more interesting, but still manageable for novice players. Thoughts?
  • Slightly modified level 36 and made it a tiny bit easier, as a reaction to many players reporting it to be really hard during the Vector War. Thoughts?