Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Peer Johannsen

Vectrex Academy 2019 Project

New Vectrex Game Title

  • VEC-MAN

Project Status

  • Release candidate version 1-3 ready for testing

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 each maze, there are either 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 power pills.
  • In higher levels, food pills and power pills start to move and are thus more difficult to be caught.
  • 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 code has not yet been fully optimized for speed and memory consumption.

Author

  • Master Control
  • Rank: Mission Command

Teaser Screenshots

Demo Video


Teaser Video of level 32


Release candidate testing

Please note

  • Initial start
    • The scaling of the graphics can now be calibrated up to a certain degree in order to better compensate for the fact that every console has a slightly different analog behavior.
  • During gameplay:
    • Button 1 pauses the game.
  • Brightness:
    • 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 (you will see what is meant). I found that 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). On my consoles, turning down the brightness a bit more works best.
  • Known issues:
    • At the very beginning of some levels you might still encounter the infamous "vector wobbling". There is an easy fix, just use less objects in that level. However, for now I would rather see if I can do some more performance improvements to get rid of this. It would still be good to know in which levels this does happen, and how disturbing you find it.
  • Questions:
    • I would like to know if the difficulty of the game feels right? It should start out easy, then progress in a challenging way, yet keep the higher levels (all of them up to level 256) playable. This is hard for me to judge, as I have played/tested a lot while developing. I know a certain something about the ghost AI which certainly gives me an advantage and which I find very hard to ignore while playing.

Regarding a physical cartridge release

  • The options of having a physical cartridge release are currently being evaluated.
  • If there is interest in this, then please contact me and let me know.
  • Any help here is highly appreciated!

Downloads

  • Release candidate version 1-3, for use on a real Vectrex and in Vide: vec_man_rc13.bin
  • Release candidate version 1-3, ParaJVE version: vec_man_rc13_parajve.bin
  • Overlay vec_man.png
  • Game manual vec_man.pdf
  • Once testing is completed, the final game binary will also be available.
  • 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 08/01/2019, 14:00
  • Release candidate version 1-3 is ready for testing