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Utilities and bitmaps

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First off, I've got a utility you need if you've ever used the Windows character map applet.

It's Character Map Pro, and it's everything I look for in a utility. It's reasonably small, requires no extra DLL's or even an install program, and it's much better than the one that comes with windows (i.e. it's resizable, has a separate preview window, and can automatically copy if you double-click). All in all, if you've ever used Charmap, there's no reason you shouldn't replace it with this one.

Did a lot of debugging on my CE rasterizer. It's now working in 8-bit and 4-bit modes. 1-bit mode isn't working on the emulator, and 2-bit mode will not work on the emulator, as the emulator doesn't support 2-bit bitmaps. I'll need to actually test these modes on the device. Not looking forward to that, as debugging over the serial port is every bit as fast as it sounds.

My eventual goal is to have four different resource-only DLL's that you can choose from. They will support 1-bit, 2-bit grayscale, 4-bit grayscale, and 8-bit color graphics. The user can then pick the DLL that best supports your machine. For example, if you've got a color machine, you could choose the 8-bit color DLL for the best quality, or you could choose the others to save space. My goal is to have every DLL work with any machine by converting the bitmaps to screen resolution as they're loading. So far, it's working. Exciting!

Got a couple of good pieces of feedback on my stuff about stylus control. A couple of people made the same point, that control in a maze game should be "smart" and allow the user to tap a bit ahead and have the player follow the tap.

Interestingly, the real Pac Man game actually works this way --try it if you can find one locally. If your man, for example, is moving in a vertical channel, and you jam the stick to the right, it doesn't stop and face the wall. He'll continue up the tunnel until the first opportunity he has to turn right. Only when he's got an opportunity to turn, he'll turn.

That's why Pac Man probably felt a bit awkward the first time you played it. Once you got a "feel" for the game, you would anticipate turns and move the stick a fraction of a second *before* making the turn, and the man would move much more smoothly.

Incidentally, I do the same thing in a couple of my games, specifically ThinkTank and Suzy Sushi. When you press a direction key or move the stick, I set a flag called "IntendedDirection". On every move, I check to see if the user can move in that direction. If the player can't, then the player just keeps moving in the current direction.

What I'll probably do is allow the user to tap one turn ahead. For example, if there's a right turn coming up, the user can tap anywhere in the right-hand tunnel, and the man will turn when he gets there. It'll probably just be one of those things that requires some playtesting to work smoothly and easily.
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