OIDS - improving, expanding, pls. test

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OIDS - improving, expanding, pls. test

Postby AtariZoll » Sun May 21, 2017 7:02 pm

Did 2 versions:
1st is HAGA v. where Editor works not, but you have state saves and better Falcon, TT compatibility.
2nd is basic hard disk version, where Editor works.
Both need min 1MB RAM.
Because game has very strong copy protection, similar to one used in Dungeon Master it needs some more testings. I found some 5 locations which read fuzzy sector, and it is overridden, probably no more, but who knows ...
http://atari.8bitchip.info/TestMe/OIDS.ZIP
http://atari.8bitchip.info/TestMe/OIDSHD.ZIP
When it is tested, I will do floppy version too.
Last edited by AtariZoll on Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Sun May 21, 2017 10:13 pm

Okay, tested both on the TT030. First one shows the cover image fine, OIDS load up screen works (though I noticed a white box in the upper left of the screen), but then the level select screen flashed a few times, then finally said something about pressing the 'E' key... which I may have done to make it do something, but then it let me select the level. I selected Novoid, and proceeded to play the game (by the way the loading time is incredible on these newer versions). Unfortunately, it seems the copy protection must still have some bits left around, because when you shoot things, they don't blow up.

On the second release, it boots smooth, no issues with the level select screen, but same issue with the shots going through everything.

Of Note; my TT030 is stock, except it has 4mb of ST-RAM (2mb onboard, and the old upgrade board), 4MB of TT-RAM, and an UltraSatan on the ACSI externally. Just in case any of that matters.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Mon May 22, 2017 9:49 am

Thanx. I forgot how to play it. Updated both versions - system what I used by Dungeon Master was not good enough for it, so added more fuzzy sector samples. I finished first Novoids planet. But really don't like to play this thrust type games.
White box at top of screen is just side effect of running it under TOS 1.04 in RAM. I can go later on fixing it, but that is just graphic glitch.
Level selection flashes because whole system used by HAGA - it needs in this case 5 RAM swaps for each of 6 galaxies, so 30 flashes. But after menu appears, it goes further with normal speed. That's price for higher compatibility with diverse hard disk drivers, TOS versions + having possibility to save game state at any moment, and be able to continue at that point later. I can not cache those files, because they are writable by game.
What about cheat options ?
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Mon May 22, 2017 2:43 pm

Awesome work! Cheat options would be nice. I used to lov ed this game, but have found that I am all sorts of terrible at it now. But at least the timing is set right on the TT, so it isn't ultra fast. I will try your fixed I nes later today, and try it out on my 1040STe as well. I need more room so I can hook them all up at once instead of constantly moving them around.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby Eero Tamminen » Tue May 23, 2017 9:50 am

Great, this version seems to work fine (died on a missile... :-))!

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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Tue May 23, 2017 10:51 am

Cool.
I was thinking little about improving scroll. Probably can do smooth scroll even without blitter. That may cost little + RAM, but we can remove editor from play version. So, I went into disassembling it. And lucky ! That was my way fastest Atari ST game disassembly so far. About 1.5 hours only.
Of course, hard part just comes: understanding that C, asm salad. Removing copy protection fully, removing some crap code, removing editor ... Ah, and better scroll. Will take some time ...
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Tue May 23, 2017 11:44 am

Nice! I need to track down that collection of levels that I found on the forums at some point and give those a try.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby CiH » Tue May 23, 2017 3:58 pm

I was thinking little about improving scroll. Probably can do smooth scroll even without blitter. That may cost little + RAM, but we can remove editor from play version. So, I went into disassembling it. And lucky ! That was my way fastest Atari ST game disassembly so far. About 1.5 hours only.
Of course, hard part just comes: understanding that C, asm salad. Removing copy protection fully, removing some crap code, removing editor ... Ah, and better scroll. Will take some time ...

An improved Oids would be well worth seeing, keep it up AtariZoll :-)
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Sun May 28, 2017 8:23 pm

After analyzing code, tracing, doing some testings I realized that code limits framerate to 10 fps (PAL, 50 Hz refresh), or 12 fps on NTSC, VGA. Regardless from CPU speed. But it can be faster even with 8MHz CPU, especially on simpler planets. Drawing code is not so slow, and I really don't see why programmer reduced it to 10 fps.
So, I did some minor changes for preview version, where can see how smoother can it be. I reduced only acceleration of player's ship. All other is much faster than normal, but can play little. It will need lot of time to set speeds of everything to normal at higher framerate. Disassembly was not hard, but doing changes in this is not simple, because is done with some C compiler, and there are no regular labels for variables, not even for most rutines. All goes via address register indexing. Correcting whole source to some normal type asm would be months of work. So, I will do mods in special way - keeping size of everything unchanged.
http://atari.8bitchip.info/TestMe/OIDMPRE1.ZIP
Archive linked above contains ST image file and folder for hard disk run. So, use what is better for you. Will be too fast on TT, so try rather on some ST(E) or in emulator set to regular 8MHz. Copy protection is removed completely (no need for floppy sector dumps anymore), hopefully.
Should get 25 fps on simpler planets like NOVOIDS first planet.
This is somehow similar to case of Uridium - in both cases code is not so slow as it seems on screen, but programmers did some strange limitations of control speed in one case, and framerate in other.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Sun May 28, 2017 9:03 pm

Sweet! I'll give it a shot on an emulator (just found out my 1040 STe isn't producing any sound... now I get the fun of trying to figure that one out).

So PAL actually ran a little bit slower than NTSC? That's interesting. I recall reading that some games were faster on the ST than the Amiga due to PAL vs NTSC, though kind of odd that at 50Hz refresh, it'd limit to 10 vs 12 at 60Hz. 50 fps vs 60 fps I could see.

Ha, would be nice if the TT had a slow down mode like the Mega STe did (though to be fair, the Mega STe does it the opposite way and boots at 8MHz then goes to 16 if you have it set to such in the control panel.)
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Sun May 28, 2017 11:04 pm

Tried it out on Hatari with my Steam Controller. Definitely runs smoother, but it's quite fast for sure. Extra hard with the Steam controller, and the analog stick.
Atari 8Bits: 800xl, 600xl, XEGS, 800, 130xe, 130xe (fully upgraded (soon!))
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:19 pm

Here is second preview, I think that this is well playable already.
http://atari.8bitchip.info/TestMe/OIDMPRE2.ZIP
https://youtu.be/OyXbwlnf8JA
Changes done so far:
Removed delays, so framerate is much better - 25 fps on simpler planetoids, instead 10 (PAL)
That made almost everything faster so corrections were needed:
Player ship rotation control slowed, to be able to set desired angle.
Gravity effect lowered.
Ship acceleration lowered.
Enemy bullets slowed.
OIDS slowed.
Note that above slowing are such, that result in similar speeds as in original.
What did not slow:
Player ship fire. I think that faster fire will make progress easier on hard planetoids.
Mother ship - it goes down and up much faster, but that's just good, I think.
Enemy ships and missiles. I need to make more tests to see about how their speed changed with that delay removing.
I found another copy protection, what appeared after some half hour of playing, that's corrected too in this version. Hopefully last one :shrug:
Last edited by AtariZoll on Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:42 pm

NICE! Ha, you've tweaked this enough, it almost sounds like you could add a 'Ultra hardcore you'll die a lot' mode. Or as Street Fighter called it, 'Turbo'.
Atari 8Bits: 800xl, 600xl, XEGS, 800, 130xe, 130xe (fully upgraded (soon!))
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:34 am

Well, maybe can add extra setting options before start, where can set some speed (ratios) like bullet fire speed, gravity strength ...
Would be good if some people more experienced with game say what would be useful. Here I mean only speed ratio related, not some extra mods.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariCrypt » Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:56 pm

This is so nice!! I'm liking the changes and it's lovely and smooth.
Next add STe DMA usage like in the other games - how about an ambient sound sample for a background? ;)

Great work!!
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:11 pm

Also, can you make it work in VR? :p

More seriously, awesome work! Wish I could get my STe's sound working...
Atari 8Bits: 800xl, 600xl, XEGS, 800, 130xe, 130xe (fully upgraded (soon!))
Atari STs: 1040STf (broken shifter), 1040STe, Mega STe, TT030, Falcon (CT60e, SuperVidel)

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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:51 am

Thanx guys. Before going in some grandious updates, adding features, we need to make sure changes so far are OK, there are no copy protection remains. And most important is playability. So far, I got complain that it's easy to kill OIDS with much faster fire, auto repeat. What myself noticed too right at first test. It is possible to fire single bullet, but it is probably too hard - need to press fire button for very short time. So, I guess that it needs some extra correction too.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby Desty » Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:49 pm

This is very exciting! I wish you would livestream the process of investigating, cracking, fixing, enhancing and testing... it would be really interesting to watch.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby CiH » Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:19 am

Out of general interest, how many layers of copy protection were found in the end.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Mon Jun 05, 2017 4:40 pm

Desty wrote:This is very exciting! I wish you would livestream the process of investigating, cracking, fixing, enhancing and testing... it would be really interesting to watch.


Well, that's very slow and even boring process, most of time :D That livestream would be good only for people with sleep problems :mrgreen:
Basically, it is lot of tracing using Steem Debugger. Which is excellent for that purpose. But game's machine code is very hard to trace and understand, because is done with C compiler. There is little ASM, for screen mostly. Enhancing is part what needs some experience with games. My first idea was that scroll is not enough small step, but when I looked how many Vbl-s takes 1 main loop cycle, U realized that it is 10 fps only. Doing it with Steem Debugger took only couple minutes. Then came smaller shock: there is 3x in row waiting of 20mS (pretty big time for computer) in main loop. When I removed it, got instantly 25 fps. That was easy part. Because everything went too fast. After that very slow seeking for what determines speed of ship, enemy fire, gravity effect (it went 2.5 stronger), etc. All it took 10s of hours.
Testing is done mostly with Steem Debugger - and you can speed up it to simulate partially TT, + many other things. Then I tested on real Atari Mega ST and Falcon. Details lower.

CiH wrote:Out of general interest, how many layers of copy protection were found in the end.


Plenty. Protection is very similar to what is used in Dungeon Master. There is 3 separated XBIOS 8 call for readomg fuzzy sector. That's easy to locate.
Then, there is 3 hidden direct floppy access code call, where code is not present at start of game, but it loads short part from OIDS.LIB, decrypts in workspace, and then executes. That code is only some 100 bytes, and soon disappears. So, there are 6 places for floppy protection sector read.
Then it looks for fuzzyness , again with code what is encrypted in LIB file. In DM it is hidden in main GRAPH file.
If checks fail, it will freeze oids, or if fails in later stage will make fire ineffective.
I solved in earlier version it by supplying to checks 6 alternating samples of fuzzy sector (system what worked well with DM), simulating org, floppy.
For reassembled I removed all loads, found locations which do checks, activate screwing of game ... All in all, there are changes at about 20 places.


New test v. May be final :
http://atari.8bitchip.info/TestMe/OIDMPRE3.ZIP
Changes:
Lowered players fire and autorepeat speeds, so less collateral oids damage :D
Lowered push/pull effect of such fortresses - it was increased too with bigger fps rate.
Added speed control for faster machines - now should be well playable on TT, with 30 fps .
On Falcon there are gf. errors, that will be fixed in HAGA version.
On Mega STE at 16 MHz smoother at complexer planetoids, but not too fast for play.
Some code cleanup.
Version shown at start is now 1.2 .
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariCrypt » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:13 pm

Oh nice one!! Gonna grab this and have a play tomorrow :cheers:
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariCrypt » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:10 am

Playing this now. It feels authentic to me but I've just realised just how sucky I am playing this game again lol. I need to practice more but it's superb and feels to play like the original, but better of course... On my STe, only Cosmoids was selectable but that's probably down to my dodgy SD card that I should really sort out. On hatari other levels were selectable just fine. Great work so far! :)
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby AtariZoll » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:43 am

I found some further problems, what is likely copy protection too: refuel on planetoids works not, when you land close to stations. At start, if you activate shields for some 5 secs, fuel will complete disappear. So, need more fixes, more playtesting. Then, it seems that shield consumes too much fuel at 25 fps, so need to mod that too.
This game really needs to go in it, there are so many protection layers.
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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby Ragstaff » Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:23 pm

In any case we really appreciate your work, very cool stuff

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Re: OIDS hard disk versions for test

Postby leech » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:06 pm

I was wondering about the shield, been a long time since I'd played the game, but was fairly certain that the shield was supposed to last longer. But then I couldn't remember if you had to land on top of the fuel pods or next to them to get fuel again.
Atari 8Bits: 800xl, 600xl, XEGS, 800, 130xe, 130xe (fully upgraded (soon!))
Atari STs: 1040STf (broken shifter), 1040STe, Mega STe, TT030, Falcon (CT60e, SuperVidel)


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