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TI-Boy CE Alpha released!
Posted by Xavier on 3 June 2019, 20:06 GMT

TI-Boy CE Options TI-Boy CE

Brendan "calc84maniac" Fletcher has been featured here on ticalc.org many times in the past, and today he's back with a brand new Game Boy emulator (that will surely distract you from math class?), this time written in assembly for the TI-eZ80 series!

TI-Boy CE brings familiar Game Boy games to your TI-84 Plus CE or TI-83 Premium CE calculator. As an emulator, this program is designed to perfectly imitate the original hardware: in this case the classic Game Boy, first released in 1989 (Game Boy Color games are not supported, and Game Boy Advance will never be). When testing this program, I found that it ran games very quickly and accurately, and it can even go faster than the original hardware when utilizing the turbo mode feature. Using the included ROM converter, you will be able to play any game with a .gb file extension, including games such as Pokémon Red and Blue, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Land, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and, of course, Tetris. Along with full emulation of Game Boy hardware (besides audio and linking), it has a ton of great features such as:

  • Save states
  • Skin and palette options
  • Turbo mode and frameskip
  • Customizable controls

The download also includes a ROM and save game converter, which can also be used via the emulator's website.

Please note that while this program is in a fairly completed state, it is still an alpha release. It is therefore highly encouraged to keep any important files on your calculator in archive memory (which you should really do anyway) to protect them from potential crashes. That being said, this project is open source and is hosted on GitHub, where you can post bug reports, make suggestions, look at the source code, and see what some of the future plans for this emulator are. Don't let this scare you from trying it out though, as it really is an excellent program which will lead to hours of fun!

Article written by Jeff "Jeffitus" Anema, with input from Lionel Debroux.

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Laying pipes and pixels
Posted by Xavier on 25 May 2019, 20:37 GMT

Flow CE PaintShop CE

Looks like we're back to highlighting programs for color screens, with assembly programs this time, even ;)

jonbush's FlowCE is a "pipe-laying" game for the CE series, where the player needs to connect inputs and outputs through colorful pipes, without leaving empty spaces on the grid (even if some levels can sometimes be solved with shorter, straighter pipe trajectories). Loops for a pipe of any given color, or intersections between pipes of different colors, are forbidden.
The game's potential playing time is fantastic, thanks to the built-in set of 600 (!) levels of varying sizes, ranging from small, easy 5x5 ones to extremely challenging 14x14 ones... We can wonder who even finished all levels? 10x10 levels with 10 flows can already prove to be a challenge, even if it probably eases with experience, but still... it takes some thinking to fill a nontrivial 14x14 grid entirely with 15+ non-intersecting flows, so dozens of these, ouch :)
Maybe a (semi-)random mode could expand the game's life even further? Levels could be programmatically checked for playability before being handed to the user, using some more or less classic pathfinding algorithms. I'd guess that the built-in set of levels was at least partially generated by a computer. On large grids, a pure random + check approach might be too computationally expensive for a mid-range calculator, though.
This game is open source, under the GPLv3, and hosted on Github if you want to take a look. It currently represents jonbush's only assembly program in our archives.

PaintShop CE, by our young and talented member Ben "calclover2514" Pryor, is a graphics/drawing program he developed in ICE for the TI-eZ80 series calculators, and uploaded here recently. The README states that it's his first native code program. It features what you would expect from a simple editor, with several niceties. There's more than setting foreground and background color, drawing individual pixels and lines of width 1, erasing and filling rectangular areas: configurable line width is supported for some operations, rectangles and circles (both outline and filled) can be drawn, as well as text, and there's a single-level undo/redo operation. The large set of available key bindings described in the README duplicates functionality accessible through the mouse, but in a faster way. Note that the program received fixes shortly before this news item was written, so if you downloaded it earlier, you should use the newer (>= 1.2.0) version. The source code is provided alongside the program.

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Semi-recent uploads for the 83+ monochrome family
Posted by Xavier on 5 May 2019, 21:53 GMT

We'll get back to color models soon, but in the meantime, here are a couple mildly recent programs created using Axe Parser for the 83+ family, both provided with source code - development for these platforms isn't dead ;)

A while ago, Ibid 11962 tipped us about the Set (card game) he had recently uploaded to our archives. He had performed most of the foundational work in 2012, but eventually came back to finish and release the game after overhauling the code, upgrading the grayscale routines (GreyLib), and polishing the UI: menus, end game, etc. The game's binaries require a shell.

You may already have played this game over time. It uses a board containing 12 cards showing 1, 2 or 3 colored and shaded shapes; it consists in eliminating three cards which form a "set", defined by the fact that they share, or do not share, a common property on the shapes they bear: their number, their shape, their color or their shading. The game ends when the 12 cards do not contain a set anymore, and the deck of cards automatically given by the dealer is exhausted, and the winner is whoever picked up the highest number of sets. Of course, there are penalties for playing too slowly (the interval is configurable), or mis-selecting three cards which do not actually form a set, unless you make the game slightly easier by disabling that. All in all, it's a fun way to spend a bit of time on a game, honing your vision and perception skills.

In a different style, Josiah Winslow's Puzzler's Sudoku is a good TI-Z80 implementation of the classic game of Sudoku, whose 9x9 puzzles contain a single number from 1 to 9 in every row, column and 3x3 block. The 100 included puzzles already give the game a good playing life, but it also has both a random puzzle mode and an external puzzle editor for creating packs of custom puzzles. Unlike some implementations, this one provides "pencil marks", a way to leave clues about the possible numbers in a grid's location. I use them every time I'm playing a Sudoku game, be it on paper or on a computer, and I avoid computerized implementations which don't have that possibility. Implementation-wise, the grayscale is performed without using GreyLib, and the game doesn't use MemKit for file handling either, because it was written without access to a computer which could run computer <-> calculator transfer applications.

Don't be shy tipping us about your more or less recent creations, even if the fact that we're trying to feature both old and new programs, across all platforms, will usually delay the feature somewhat :)

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Grammer 2 for the TI-83+ family
Posted by Xavier on 7 February 2019, 00:28 GMT

We still haven't performed enough exploration of Zeda "Xeda / Thunderbolt" Thomas's huge production of high-quality programs, so let's do some more :)

Today, we're profiling Zeda's powerful and fast Grammer 2, a language interpreter for the monochrome TI-Z80 series. It is designed for making games, and provides 16-bit integer, and now floating-point, arithmetic. Unsurprisingly, "Grammer 2" is an improved version of Grammer 1, which was featured here years ago, and it even keeps backwards compatibility; It is packaged as an app, which brings interesting features.

A little bit of history first: for the most part, Zeda worked on Grammer 2 in 2011-2013, then the project went dormant for years, after months of improvements and bugfixes on the source code were lost. In 2016, someone else rebuilt source code from slightly newer binaries, and performed extra changes. Finally, in the few months before this news item, more changes were performed: cleanups, optimizations, the addition of a menu and an extension system. Zeda recently updated the archive multiple times, and now keeps working on expanding the functionality further, e.g. this week with nothing less than floating-point math!

As mentioned above, Grammer 2 is an interpreted language, which means that it doesn't need a compilation step, it can more easily show errors in the source code (easier debugging), and the interpreter's checks make it harder to shoot yourself in the foot and crash the calculator. As such, it's probably easier to learn than other languages - Axe, for instance, is a very famous alternative language, and a compiled one, with much less in the way of seat belts. Interpreted languages are typically slower than languages compiled to native code... but as you can see for yourselves in the screenshots, Grammer 2 is plenty fast for quite a number of purposes! Of course, it's much faster than TI-Basic, and provides immensely better access to graphics, like most alternative languages done by third parties on our beloved little calculators anyway.

The Grammer language has a dedicated section in our archives, you can find several dozen entries there... among which is an inevitable numeric quadratic solver showing off the brand-new floats ;)

  Discuss (6 comments)  

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