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Tile based system on the DS and PSP

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Hey guys. Our studio is currently prototyping a turn-based top down tactical game for the Nintendo DS and PSP. We're starting off prototyping on the PC while our engine coders get aquainted with the console's hardware, and I've come to the point where I need to design the actual tile system. The units in the game can move to any floating point position; they aren't tied to the tiles. However in terms of scenery and rendering we need a good tile system so it runs smoothly on the less powerful handhelds. I've never designed a tile system before and I'm really just looking for any advice anyone has on this subject, re: size of tiles and so on. Any help is hugely appreciated. Ian -- Ian Hardingham Mode 7 Games www.mode7games.com

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Quote:
Original post by Omroth
The units in the game can move to any floating point position; they aren't tied to the tiles.

[caution] Warning: The DS doesn't have a floating point processor. It is possible to use floating point, but it comes with a horrible performance penalty. It does have a fixed-point processor. Regular floating point gives you about 6 decimal digits of precision at any location. The fixed point system gives you 12 bits below the decimal point, or a precision of 1/4096, which is roughly increments of 0.00025. Don't underestimate the difficulty required in porting floating point code to fixed point. There are many obvious and many subtle differences that will bite you.

The PSP has a floating point unit which is pretty safe to use assuming your programmers know how to profile their code.

Quote:
However in terms of scenery and rendering we need a good tile system so it runs smoothly on the less powerful handhelds.

If it is all sprite-based, you will be just fine on both platforms.

I strongly recommend you hire a bunch of pixel artists familiar with the handhelds. On the DS particularly, you will need to have an art lead who knows how to carefully restrict palette usage. The DS is quite restrictive on palette usage. The PSP, with more memory, is more generous.

Quote:
I've never designed a tile system before and I'm really just looking for any advice anyone has on this subject, re: size of tiles and so on.
The DS has a character-based tile engine built in. You map tiles to characters, and it just works. It's pretty slick for simple tile backgrounds. Check the documentation for all the details. The PSP doesn't have the same functionality.


Unless you have an existing cross-platform engine, you'll probably want to develop two separate games optimized for each platform, rather than developing a single shared-source game. While there is some code you can share, you'll be best off branching onto platform-specific variants very early on in the development cycle.

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Just wanted to chime in to agree with frob's points. It would be very difficult to stress the PSP's limits in a turn-based top-down game, especially one that's also going to run on DS. However, given the differences in the two platforms, you're probably going to want separate art assets (at least for some things). Aside from the hard limits (poly count, etc...), even the DS should be more than capable of making such a game, unless your engineers have no experience with fixed-point, optimization, RAM budgeting, etc...

In fact, if this is your team's first handheld/console project (sounds like it might be?), then RAM is going to be the biggest problem. Many folks have a hard time adjusting to memory constraints. Note that the DS has about 1/8 the RAM of a PSP...

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That's a huge amount of useful information, thank you both. This is indeed our first console title. I was expecting the RAM issue, but the fixed point issue is something I'll need to analyse carefully.

If anything else comes to mind please don't hesitate to post it.

Ian

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Firstly the difference between PSP and DS extends beyond fixed-point and floating point in that PSP also has in addition to its floating point unit a matrix math unit as well.

Best bet is to create a standard mathematics library that hides the details of the implementation. This could be complicated by the fixed/floating point issues explained by others already.

As for anything more specific about tile systems you're probably best off checking the Isometric Land forum for how-to deal with tile based rendering and design.

Good luck by the way.

Andy

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