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A couple complex augmented TI-Basic programs
Posted by Travis on 1 December 2019, 01:25 GMT

This year, news items began with two pure TI-eZ80 Basic programs. It turns out that we'll end the year with other TI-Basic programs for the same models, but this time augmented by assembly programs / libraries. Both are complex programs showing once again that hybrid TI-Basic is a viable option for some types of programs.

1000 Bornes SE is an accurate reimplementation of a popular 1954 French card game by Xavier "critor" Andréani, taking advantage of the Sprites for TI-Basic library by Gérald "grosged" DeGroote for faster, full-screen, 8 bpp color screen handling. Here, SE stands for "Sprites Edition", as a previous version used only TI-Basic commands for drawing sprites and lines onto the limited area accessible to TI-Basic. The Sprites library already appeared in a November 2017 news item, before the library was uploaded to our archives, so it couldn't be featured at the time.

For those who have never played it, you can think of 1000 Bornes as a real-world road spell card game, where the goal is to earn points by laying distances, casting "spells" (red lights, speed limits, etc.) and the corresponding normal anti-spells (repaired tire, refuel, etc.) or special anti-spells (extra points when using them to retaliate for a spell, and immunity against this particular spell for the rest of the round). Whichever player reaches 5000 points first wins.

This implementation supports both French and English, and automatically switches language depending on the calculator's current configuration. Anecdotally, it can display a QR code representing a URL pointing to a description of the game's rules. Oh, and it has an AI; however, what I wrote in my feature of Andrew Vauter's TI-68k Uno holds true for 1000 Bornes as well: playing that game with other humans laughing at you or cursing you has a social aspect a calculator can't quite produce ;)

Slightly later, Ben "calclover2514" Pryor first uploaded his Menus OS, The First BASIC Shell for the TI-84 Plus CE!". It's made of a whopping 184 programs (!), nearly all of which are TI-Basic, which need to be sent to archive as the whole set can't fit in RAM at once. In fact, a sizable number of those programs are part of 20+ games (Connect-4, Frogger, Minecraft, TicTacToe, 2048, etc.), but Menus OS has a number of math-related programs (Pythagorean theorem, a 3D grapher, etc.), and of course, features expected from what is dubbed "shells" on our platforms: enabling lowercase letters, setting the date and time, and various others. The code assumes that the improved assembly support in OS 5.3.0 and later is available, which isn't a terrible restriction. The README is quite detailed.
As far as I'm concerned, I'll keep using Cesium instead, because it's much more lightweight and has fewer bells and whistles that I don't need, but other people may have other tastes, and anyway, I wanted to highlight the amount of work represented by this assembling and programming exercise :)

Both programs seem to be compatible with the TI-83PCE EP and therefore the newer hardware revision (M and later) of the 84+CE.

Article written by Lionel Debroux, with slight input from Adrien "Adriweb" Bertrand.

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Assorted games for the Nspire
Posted by Xavier on 29 November 2019, 22:09 GMT

We did not forget about the Nspire series: our archives still contain many files worth highlighting, whether they're from the usual suspects or not :)

Qubic is a 3D 4x4x4 TicTacToe, written in Lua. 3D brings a welcome additional challenge to the classic TicTacToe game, without making the game insanely difficult, unlike 3D variants of some other games. This implementation supports 2 players and 1 player vs. AI mode (two levels of difficulty for the AI), and provides both a take back feature and a hint feature, for cheaters people in learning mode. To sum up, this game has the usual quality of Rolf Pütter's productions.

Minesweeper is also written in Lua, open source under the MIT license. The graphics and general gameplay (difficulty levels, highscores) closely match those of the original Windows 3.1 implementation, this is good work. It's Jonas Skayo's only file in our archives so far.

Liero is a nice port of one of the open-source implementations of this highly configurable real-time two-player Worms-like game, in native code, by gameblabla. The Liero series dates back to 1998; you can easily document yourself about the long history of Liero if you're interested in it, and nowadays, you can even play Liero online against remote opponents through your favorite browser :)

nBinaryPuzzle is an open-source C++ implementation of a game resembling a binary variant of Sudoku, by another familiar author, A. J. Orians. The rules and key bindings are described in the README; here as well, the user can request a bit of help from the calculator. The game's life is very high, as 200 levels are provided, and more can be added through external files.

Note that I have tested neither the compatibility of the native code programs with the newest hardware revisions (W and later) of the Nspire CX (CAS), nor the compatibility of the Lua programs with the Nspire CX II series.

Article written by Lionel Debroux.


Several nice programs for the TI-68k series
Posted by Xavier on 27 November 2019, 23:50 GMT

As often, today's features will be a mix of old and new content, this time for the TI-68k series.

Returning author Ralf Willenbacher, to whom we owe the great Delsgolf and nQuake FPSs, has recently produced a 89/89T reimplementation of the "STNICCC 2000" demo for Atari ST by Oxygene, dubbed NICCC89 2000. As indicated in the README, this work was done for a competition launched by Pouet.net, one of the reference sites for the demoscene: reimplementing this beloved demo on other platforms, starting from data files derived from those of the original demo, which Ralf compressed to save a fair amount of space. Being a demo, this program is non-interactive, besides the exit key. Unsurprisingly, Ralf's implementation looks a lot like another earlier reimplementation I once saw for a more powerful, more game-oriented platform (GameBoy Advance ?), apart from the fact that the rendering has fewer shades of gray. All in all, it's another solid piece of work :)

Multiple pieces of David Coz's work was highlighted here years ago, with such quality pieces as Edit3D, Gran Turismo or a Prince of Persia demo. However, he's one of the most prolific authors in our archives, and some of his other productions are noteworthy as well. For instance, Puzzle Bobble's more than 40 levels can give you hours of playing, shooting bubbles to the right places and in the right order, in order to eliminate all bubbles, which is easy at first, but gets harder as the game progresses. Note that the program, which targets the 89, 92+ and V200, predates the advent of the TI-89 Titanium; therefore, if you want to run the binary on a 89T, you'll have to patch it with GhostBuster. It worked fine for me. The source code is provided in another archive.

Before David Coz's grayscale Gran Turismo, there was Thomas Fernique's MegaCar for the 92, 89 and 92+, with simpler, B/W graphics. Thomas was one of the first persons to upload programs on ticalc.org, more than 20 years ago, and at the time of this writing, he remains in the top 50 by raw number of archives, with more than 400K downloads. MegaCar was somewhat popular at the time; at least, our archives have a section dedicated to game files for MegaCar. The most usable version of MegaCar for modern TI-68k calculators is Flavien "FlashZ" Racine's open-source HW2-compatible port of MegaCar, which works on the TI-89 Titanium. Note that the game requires PreOS, and that any remotely modern version of TI-Connect should fail to properly transfer the string variables used by the game as track files (at the time, most games used string variables for binary data), while TILP still attempts to maintain compatibility with these files.

More than 15 years ago, I remember spending some time on Christophe "Ximoon" Molon-Noblot's 4-grayscale rendition of the "7 colors" computer game, dubbed Seven Tiles. In order to win, players (2 humans, or 1 human + 1 computer with a reasonably good AI) have to conquer at least half of a tiled terrain, by changing the color / pattern of a tile to match that of some adjacent tiles. The difficulty is adjustable by controlling the size of the terrain and the amount of fragmentation. The screenshot is for the 92+/V200, but the game also works on the 89/89T, with more scrolling. The source code is provided alongside the binaries.

Article written by Lionel Debroux.

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DStar family: over 20 years old, still new members
Posted by Xavier on 25 November 2019, 22:42 GMT

A few months ago (look, we're not doing only retro-features for decade-old software :P), Patrick "tr1p1ea" Prendergast, who received multiple features here over time, uploaded DStar CE for the TI-eZ80 series. It's the latest incarnation of a lengthy series of "DStar" games; as far as we know, this implementation is the only one targeting a TI graphing calculator equipped with a color screen. Clearly, although the gameplay remains true to the earlier implementations, color brings a nice touch, as does the overdrawing of sprites, creating a simple 3D effect :)

DStar games, whose player has to move a character (ball) across levels to collect all pieces, with the sole ability to move as far as possible until hitting a wall, or a special movable block (box) which can be controlled independently from the main player (in some implementations, box and ball can be swapped by pressing a key) and needs to be used to complete some levels, in the right order to avoid getting stuck, date back to circa 1997. They're available on a variety of platforms, not just TI graphing calculators, which, er, happen to be what our archives focus on. In fact, there are way too many implementations in our archives to feature them all; therefore, we'll focus on hopefully not too arbitrary a selection.

Joe Wingbermuehle's original implementation (this is a version with improved graphics and 10 levels), which inspired all of the others, was never featured here before. There are at least three direct ports / re-creations of this version, by Ahmed El-Helw for the TI-82, Jason Kovacs for the monochrome 83+ family and Matt Baker for the TI-68k series.

The oldest file in our archives - but not the oldest implementation, it seems - is Andrew Von Dollen's DStar for the TI-92, using the old Fargo 0.1.x series. It provides the 20 levels from the HP-48 implementation and the 5 levels from an older version of the TI-83 implementation. Andrew is responsible for no less than four other ports of DStar, on the TI-82, 85 (two different shells) and 86!

DStar with level Editor by Scott Davis is one of at least four TI-Basic implementations, two of which have a level editor. This one is for the 83+/84+ and has 9 built-in levels. The graphics are closer to the simpler ones of Joe Wingbermuehle's first versions.

Should you take up on the challenge, we hope that you'll enjoy spending your time thinking and scratching your head on these levels, be it on most TI graphing calculator models or on your smartphone, using e.g. Ahmed El-Helw's implementation :)

Article written by Lionel Debroux, with slight input from Adrien "Adriweb" Bertrand.


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