As mention on Cemetech's Facebook page and debated on the Cemetech forum, Cemetech's 11th contest is a lightning contest and begins tomorrow morning. Contestants will have until 11:59pm ET on Sunday to finish their entries. Although the topic will be revealed tomorrow morning, the platform is any TI-83 Plus through TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition z80 calculator, and any language is acceptable, including TI-BASIC, z80 Assembly, C, Grammer, and Axe. Entries will be judged on programming quality, completeness of the entry, and how the contestant succeeded in creating a working entry in less than three days. Since we know very well the different effort required to create a given program in different calculator programming languages, judging will be adequately weighted.
Distinction and prizes will be awarded to the top three entries. Prizes will include Guerrilla merchandise, from the samples we recently reviewed. They will likely also include signed copies of "Using the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus" or "Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus" by yours truly, and might also include a few odds and ends as mentioned in our Post Your Calculator Collection thread. As always, entries' binaries and code may not be shared before judging is complete, and previously-released or publicized projects are not acceptable. Given the time constraints, you are not required to create a Cemetech topic about your entry before the deadline (although it certainly can't hurt you). Good luck to all the entrants, and we are excited to see a lot of excellent entries.
Edit, 12/6/2013, 9:51am ET: The topic has been announced: Doors CS/Doors CSE games. Anything that is a game, was not discussed or released before this instant, and takes specific advantage of Doors CS or Doors CSE features will be acceptable. I'll accept a DCS/DCSE header as fulfilling that requirement, but having the game use other functions would make it more attractive to the judges. Games will mostly be judged on the merit of the concept and how much the author was able to achieve in limited time. Leniency will be given for bugs and incompleteness, although completely nonfunctional programs will receive very low marks.
Around the beginning of October, I started a Hybrid BASIC Jezzball game for the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition and Doors CSE. For those not familiar with Jezzball, it's an extremely addictive arcade/puzzle game from the Microsoft Entertainment Pack (MSEP) for Windows 95. I used to have the most fun with that around 5th grade, and although there is one TI-83+ ASM version, it has poor reviews. There are no color versions. Anyway, I started a color version, but soon ran into speed problems. I therefore decided that I would make a version in Assembly, and that I might as well also submit it to the 2013 Omnimaga programming contest if I could get it done in time. To further challenge myself, I aimed to use the same source code to build both a color and monochrome version of the game.
And lo and behold, I finished both versions in about a week of work. Now that Omnimaga has finished private grading of its contest entries, I can finally publicly release Jezzball v1.0 for the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus and the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition. You advance through increasingly-challenging levels, filling the playfield by placing walls. You must prevent atoms (balls) from touching walls that are in the process of being built, but once a wall is complete, the atoms will bounce off that wall. Your goal is to fill at least 65% (75% in the color version) of each level to proceed to the next level. If you fill more than that, you receive a fill bonus proportional to how much extra you filled the play field. If you beat a level quickly, you also receive a time bonus. Your goal is to advance as far as possible. Jezzball v1.0 for the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus and TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition has nearly identical rules to the original PC game, with a few tweaks to make it more fun on calculators.
As you might expect, Jezzball v1.0 requires Doors CS 7.2 or higher on the monochrome calculators, and Doors CSE 8.0 or higher on the color calculators. Simply send the jezzball_bw.8xp or jezzball_color.8xp file to your calculator's Archive, then run it from the Doors CS/Doors CSE desktop or from your calculator's homescreen. As always, please feel free to post compliments, criticisms, and (though I hope there are none) bug reports.
Jezzball v1.0 for the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus
Jezzball v1.0 for the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition
We often get caught up in the details and internals of writing complex, high-functioning software in low-level languages like C or Assembly. When we finish, we often have useful and internally-complex but not particularly visually impressive programs, like Doors CS or TokenIDE. Occasionally, though, all that effort produces some impressive eye candy at the end, which is the case with today's two features: a game by matrefeytontias called IkarugaX, and a 3D engine demo in progress by tr1p1ea called SolidFRAME. Both have been in development for quite some time, and both are for z80 TI graphing calculators. IkarugaX is a Danmaku-genre shooter/arcade game written in Axe for the monochrome calculators, while SolidFRAME is a pure z80 ASM program for the TI-83 Plus, TI-84 Plus, and even TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition.
In a rare upset, the inimitable Ryan from ticalc.org has already featured IkarugaX, and his description is reliably excellent: "the original Ikaruga is an arcade shmup by Treasure and is regarded in some circles as one of the greatest games in the genre. The game introduced a novel "polarity switching" mechanic that is easy to learn but difficult to master, one that [matrefeytontias] has faithfully implemented in his z80 take on the original." You battle through five increasingly challenging levels and five (?) bosses to beat the game; rumor on the street has it that even the author of the game required countless hours to beat the game. Reported to be compatible with Doors CS 7.2, this fast, fun, and visually-compelling game certainly deserves to be on every TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus. You can find the Cemetech Archives download link below.
SolidFRAME is a 3D engine and demo for the z80 graphing calculators, which tr1p1ea has been working on for at least a year. His first post about the topic here on Cemetech showed off impressive monochrome screenshots of a rotating cube, a Mario head, and a Link head. He later added more lighting effects and 2D clipping, then showed off X-Wing fighters in space in anticipation of a future game. Although tr1p1ea still has that planned game on the back burner, we're thrilled to report that he has ported the basic engine to the TI-84+CSE. He has shown off a color cube as well as the same Mario and Link heads, this time in blazing color. tr1p1ea has also added a video of the engine in action; it looks smooth and impressive to us. We can't wait to see where tr1p1ea goes with this.
IkarugaX z80 Danmaku/Shoot-Em-Up
IkarugaX (left) and SolidFRAME in color (right)
This summer, I received a call from Jonathan Rubin of Guerrilla Calculator Accessories, a company that makes cases, screen protectors, and other products for TI graphing calculators. He asked if I had seen TechPoweredMath's review of Guerrilla's accessories, and offered to send a selection my way so that I could share my experiences with Cemetech. We eventually coordinated the exchange, and after about a month of using Guerrilla's products, I believe I can fairly share my thoughts on their products with all of you.
First of all, why would you want calculator accessories in the first place? Judging by the popularity and my Ultimate Calculator projects and the fact that few people have attempted similar hacks, everyone wants to customize their gadgets, but few are willing to risk permanently changing or damaging their devices along the way. Guerrilla aims to capitalize on this demand for individuality by offering colorful faceplates and slide cases for the TI-84 Plus and TI-89 Titanium series of graphing calculators, as well as help protect your TI-84 Plus, TI-89 Titanium, and TI-Nspire CX calculators with soft silicon cases and screen protectors. Read on for my full thought on the value, quality, and cost of Guerrilla's range of offerings. In addition, keep your eyes open for Cemetech's Thanksgiving Lightning programming contest, which will give you the chance to win some of these Guerrilla accessories as prizes!
Read the full review for my thoughts on the slidecases, faceplates, screen protectors, and silicone cases.
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