Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

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BryanFRitt
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Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by BryanFRitt » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:17 pm

I took notes while playing this game of bugs, and feature ideas I came across.

Overview of main important points:
Lots of bugs while trying to use the tape as a rewind and continue from there, and it's non-intuitive. It took quite a while to figure out what was going on, and how to work around some the major issues. Could be very WTF !@#$%^&* frustrating at times.
Starting a new level, or loading a save point should pause the game[, or have this as an option.]
Can't skip right to a level unless all previous levels have been completed, or manually skipped.
Which of the scores at the end was the score of the last play?, it looks color coded, but no way to really tell which one is which.
'Hall of Fame' could be more browseable.
Getting disks should have a sound.

---

This is mostly written as I came across issues with minimal editing, and some going back and adding more details to previously written items. [below and attached file are the same, unless I edit later]

Rocks and Diamonds
Supaplex
Dynamite issues
after setting one can't immediately press a direction
when going through a tunnel explosions half way kill the ball,
through a tunnel shouldn't be one key press it should be two, aka add a stop in the middle

Is there a way to beat Classic Original Games Supaplex levels 100(IQ!)(?aka Supapalex 99 level 63 High-Q), 105(One's Missing), 108(Sadism) ?, (I've beaten the rest, not saying those are impossible)
How to beat 'AARON DAVIDSON'S TUTORIAL' level 13? (beaten both Tutorials a while age except for that level 13) UPDATE: I finally beat level 13, diamonds can hurt other creatures when they fall
Don't remember them saying the trick about pulling the boulders when there's like three or more stacked high.
Supaplex Dynamite types is hard to tell apart.
How to beat/get credit for level 0 of Emerald Mind?
BouldererDash level 007 seams to have less diamonds than needed., UPDATE: found/finished it.

launch a bomb or get ready to take the next square

replay does some death scene(even if F2 starts at the right scene), and not last save, says the timespan of last save? Is the recording discontinuous if stop button is pressed then record button is pressed?
(and the whole replay thing isn't intuitive)
1I'd like a simply rewind like xye has
How to see winning tape?

Does the finish save last tape work? Idea: have a separate tape for current one and highest score.

What's the skip level handicap?, IF any, If there's not any, why does it say that there is one? Perhaps it could say 'any handicap' instead?

Counting down emeralds seams weird, how about a count up fraction got/need? (especially when gotten more than what's needed)

What is the 'EMC GRAPHICS PREFERENCE, AGA/EGS'?

What do the colors in the menus represent in Level sets?

Zelda level seams very more like a prof of concept or different type of game, than a level

Starting a new level should pause the game like starting from a save point.

Can't skip right to a level unless all previous levels have been completed, or manually skipped

How to get to the levels with name selector only using the keyboard?

Shortcut to restart at last save should if there is none restart the level

Should have a total emerald count of level available Retrieved/Required maybe available, maybe initial and destroyed

I somehow got two basically blank level sets with my name it, no idea on how they got here.

For the ?Emerald Mind? unlimited dynamites how about something
that says what level of power they are at?

Which of the scores at the end was the score of the last play?, it looks color coded, but no way to really tell which one is which.

Options for where the save/playback game column goes, top, left, right, bottom

How to turn off sound effect / visualization for save game state?

'Hall of Fame' could be more browseable... Switch levels with left/right, Does it really need to show blank/unsaved slots? Does it really save blank ones?

I don't think that I'd ever beat a level 99 times or more. [see database normalization]
How about when you load a state that has a score, the new score could optionally change it's corresponding old score instead of creating a new score.

How about some descriptions for the menu items highlighted, put in the empty right column box.

Rename 'level creator' to 'level editor'

Option to extend/shrink the view ratio fit available screen ratio. (warning: might change playability on some levels)

should 'Sound Effects (looping)' be called 'Music (looping)' and be below 'Music'

For 'The game elements' there should be a way to go back and forth instead of just forward, like left keyboard or right mouse button to go back to previous page.

Something feels wrong about the initial screen menu items / order...
?maybe change
'Start Game' to 'Start Level', and move 'Setup to top?
Show the level name, etc... of the level without having to wait for it to show up under the picture

Saved tape did not match what happened... the bombs did not kill the yam yam like the playback of the tape says. Enhanched emerald mind 017, or was this an earlier session that overrode my current one?

It should be more obvious that 'time is up' when 'time is up', (so not left with thoughts like WTF hit me?

Fails to return control to xterm xsession upon finishing?

On some levels it segfaults, even though it was working on those levels before, feels like something to do with the tape being messed up.
[1]+ Segmentation fault rocksndiamonds

The save state bug(s) are annoying I almost finished a long level, saved it, restarted my computer and the save and/or replay back failed! Have to basically start the level all over again.
It seams like two bugs, one involving last death, and one with the tape doing the wrong things(not continuous?)
This is the main problem with bugs I am having.

How about multiple jump or warp to spots on the tape?
And/or an easier way to continue from a spot on the tape?
!@#$%^&*(), I really hate the tape, have to start the level over again due to it, it's buggy non-intuitive and no easy/real way to rewind.

Maybe this should be two tapes? One the last saved at spot, one the current play?

I notice that the REC is red at startup, but if I try to continue from the middle of tape it isn't. Then if I press record it starts the level over. Is the issue that it doesn't properly continue from the middle of a tape?

'Date of Recording' isn't 'Date of Recording' it's more like 'today's date', as playing one back that I didn't do that day still shows 'today's date'

Inconsistency ine time, one is in seconds the other in minutes:seconds, I like MMmSSs better, ':' seams to imply time of day, so I prefer to use letters 'h' 'm' and 's' after the numbers they go with instead.

Should go to pause after playback, even if it wasn't paused at the end of tape

Even after death spacebar should be pause, maybe with a press esc to continue or something...

Looks like Supaplex has more levels than then one downloadable from the Rocks and Diamonds site
9,10,11,12, 27, 92,93,94
http://www.elmerproductions.com/sp/levels.html
Guessing all the 'empty' levels are ones that would be incompatible? was it last updated in sometime between Aug 2000 and 8 Mar 2001?

So these were imported into Supaplex, and then from Supaplex to Rocks and Diamonds? IDEA: How about a direct conversion? + verify that they are winnable?

Getting disks should have a sound with them

ctrl+direction to E plays win music but doesn't count as win? Keeps on playing. Probably shouldn't play winning music. Could be fun for some people... repeat the winning sound over and over.

going from a continued save should only have one high score. [save tape, win, and the play from save again... only one score should be given even though there were two finishes, use the best one?, the last one?, pick in options]
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Holger
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by Holger » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:07 pm

Hello BryanFRitt, welcome to the forum! :-)

First of all, let me thank you a lot for your extensive work of writing down such a huge amount of observations and thoughts from/about playing Rocks'n'Diamonds! This is really helpful, as one might be suffering of some sort of tunnel vision (sometimes not seeing the obvious anymore) after developing and maintaining a game for more than 20 years. :-o

I'm afraid that I won't be able to answer everything in one go, but I will try to start with what you've marked as "most important". In general, it might be helpful if you could group some of your observations depending on topic, to break up that long post into smaller, more manageable entities. It might also make sense to open separate threads in the "bugs", "ideas/features" and "help" sub-forums, depending on the nature of your observations.

As you didn't write about it explicitly, I assume here that all your observations are related to running the last version 4.0.1.0 on Linux (as you mentioned "xterm" below).

I'll continue answering your observations within separate posts, to be able to split this thread later, if required.

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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by Holger » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:26 pm

Lots of bugs while trying to use the tape as a rewind and continue from there, and it's non-intuitive. It took quite a while to figure out what was going on, and how to work around some the major issues. Could be very WTF !@#$%^&* frustrating at times.
First of all, what exactly do you mean by "rewind"? Although I am usually speaking of the "tape recorder", the analogy is not very good, as I think it behaves more like a CD player (which has no "rewind" in a sense a real cassette tape recorder has).

The main difference is that pressing the "stop" button resets the level recording in R'n'D to the start, while displaying the total length of the recording, just like a CD player would do, so pressing "play" afterwards would restart playing from the beginning. A real tape recorder would stop the tape just where it is, while displaying the current tape position. This is not what the "R'n'D tape recorder" does. (Instead, one would press the "pause" button in R'n'D to achieve something similar.)

So there is no "rewind" at all with R'n'D level tapes. (As a side note, this is also technically impossible, as a given game state can only be used to calculate subsequent game states, but not previous game states -- the tapes only store the user input, but no complete game states. So rewinding or "playing backwards" is technically not possible.)

That said, could you please describe some practical examples of what kind of bugs you encountered exactly?

When describing a bug, could you please make sure to add the following information:
- How to reproduce the bug exactly,
- how the buggy behaviour/result looks like,
- what would be the expected behaviour/result.

You may well be right that the tape recorder is non-intuitive (at least for new users), so I would be happy to hear what are the major problems and obstacles a user might stumble upon when using it for the first times. (After all, it's already loaded with too much functionality, I'm afraid... :-/ )

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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by Holger » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:35 pm

On some levels it segfaults, even though it was working on those levels before, feels like something to do with the tape being messed up.
[1]+ Segmentation fault rocksndiamonds
Of course, this kind of bugs is the most annoying that could happen, and I really want to fix it as soon as possible. :-o

Although your description does not sound like that, is there any chance to reproduce such a crash? Do you see any pattern that leads to such a crash? Any chance of running the game inside a debugger like "gdb"? (Segmentation faults usually are relatively easy to debug and fix if the program is running inside a debugger that shows where in the code the crash happened.)

As you mentioned the tape system: Does the crash happen in recording or playing mode, or both? Does it happen when just operating a tape button, or when playing the game?

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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by Holger » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:37 pm

Can't skip right to a level unless all previous levels have been completed, or manually skipped.
Set "handicap" to "off" in the setup menu (game sub-section) to be able to select every level you want! :-)

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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by Holger » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:42 pm

Which of the scores at the end was the score of the last play?, it looks color coded, but no way to really tell which one is which.
The score entry of the last play is the one that is highlighted with a different color than all other score entries! (I think it is red, while all others (old entries) are green -- don't have the game available right now.)

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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by Holger » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:44 pm

(to be continued)

filbo
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by filbo » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:47 pm

Regarding tape usage, Bryan might find these posts useful both for helpful config, and usage notes:

config recommendation: tape player buttons & actions (note: the actual macro sequences are obsolete)
Tape synchronization problem (look for 'When I am solving a level' for application note...)
[4.0.1.0] Pause before end - where is it? (note: contains proper macros for current RnD code)

BryanFRitt
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by BryanFRitt » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:20 am

For the above post I was using the latest either the latest from Debian Stable 4.0.0.1, or the latest from the website 4.0.1.0. I started off with the version in Debian Stable, and switched over the the latest from the website at some point.

Before playing 'Rocks and Diamonds' I used to play 'Xye' which had a 'rewind' function by pressing the 'Delete' key. <I would have chosen 'Backspace' for this instead of 'Delete' to better match what the keys do in a word processor. Delete deletes the character after the cursor, and Backspace deletes the character before the cursor. Instead they chose backspace to exit the level.>
-
So there is no "rewind" at all with R'n'D level tapes.
Well I found something that you might call a rewind...

How to rewind state in Rocks and Diamonds:

Note:
This can be buggy, but it kind of works for the most part.
Useful when last 'save tape' spot has a mess up, and you don't want to start the level over.
This is more of a continue from the middle of a playing back tape than a rewind.

To start actively playing the game back at any point stored in the tape:

Press the stop button.(in the bottom right section, the button with a picture of a square)
Press play.(in the bottom right section, the button with a triangle)
When it gets to the point you want to start playing from press the pause button.(in the bottom right section, the button that has two vertical line segments) [?might could skip this step?]
Press the F1 key (and if asked, confirm 'REPLACE OLD TAPE?').
This will be your new starting point for future F2 'STOP RECORDING AND LOAD TAPE?'.
-
Warning: This might not always result a working tape after exiting the level, even if it was working while playing the level.
To see if it worked, replay the tape for the level selecting the level and pressing F2, or starting the level and pressing stop button followed by play. Watch what happens. Sometimes the things don't match what was done towards the end. I have a feeling this might be buggier with levels that need more precise timings for things, or when done at points when the 'Hero/Murphy' is moving. I'm not sure, it's possible this could be more of a placebo feeling.
-
Redesign ideas:
Why is there a 'Stop button', and a 'record' button? No need to stop recording at any time. [or am I missing something?]
Change 'Play button' to what video players might call a stop and restart tape.(maybe a line in a circle pointing to itself followed by a triangle?)
Instead of clicking play several times, add playback speed buttons... playback faster, and playback slower. (include paused as a speed)
-
Note:
Adding an actual rewind to future versions might be seen as unfair by some, but at least I'd like it. :)

filbo
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by filbo » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:59 am

Seriously, read those posts I pointed to.

BryanFRitt
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by BryanFRitt » Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:47 pm

Yes -- avoiding F1/F2 and only using the play/record buttons on the tape recorder should always result in tapes without such synchronization problems. That is, stop and replay the recorded tape (with normal or one of the faster speeds, optionally using "pause before end"), enter "pause" mode, switch to "recording" mode and unpause to continue recording the game from the selected tape position (or just continue playing, which also unpauses the tape). This should always give correct tapes.

I really have to apologize for this problem, which makes engine snapshots useless in some (if not many) cases. Fixing this problem is even more urgent with the new step-based snapshots (which are therefore disabled by default and still considered experimental until this bug is fixed).

I desperately hope to get this fixed one day... :-/
I had quit using the play/record buttons because they were not intuitive, and starting using the F1 and F2 save and restore states because it was more instinctive.

If I press the stop button, REC is no longer in red, and it no longer records. While playing back if I press the stop button, REC is no longer in red, it also no longer records, and allows me to continue playing; However first instinct is thinking I just stopped the playback and can continue on from there, instead of continuing from there without recording. From there I see REC is no longer in red so I press REC thinking OK it'll record what I've done, instead it starts over. Or even pressing PLAY would unpause a game I was playing instead of replaying from start. Obviously this instinct is incompatible with how these buttons actually work.

It seams to me that NOT recording should NOT be an option. It should always record. You could do a playback until save point(and pause), if that's what you want.
Last edited by BryanFRitt on Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BryanFRitt
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by BryanFRitt » Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:29 pm

Holger wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:37 pm
Can't skip right to a level unless all previous levels have been completed, or manually skipped.
Set "handicap" to "off" in the setup menu (game sub-section) to be able to select every level you want! :-)
Thanks, that enabled skipping!

Curious as to what the actual handicap(s) is(are). Is this the handicap just not being able to skip to a random level, or is it also something else? If it's just not being able to skip levels, maybe it should be called something like 'no skip level(s) handicap'? And the prompt on "skip level despite 'no skip level(s) handicap' being set".

Even with this handicap on, if I click on a unplayable level it goes back to the previous screen like it's going to play what I clicked on. (instead of doing nothing)

The level I beat with handicap off didn't count for when handicap is turned back on[, and for the next one I have to beat it, or do a 'LEVEL STILL UNSOLVED ! SKIP DESPITE HANDICAP?' to get to the next level]. Some might prefer it this way, other's might not.

BryanFRitt
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by BryanFRitt » Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:04 am

Just thinking about it, the tape bugs seams to have happened more[ or only?] on levels with the 'Electron' in them, Then again maybe not.

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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by BryanFRitt » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:54 am

Here's a tape from a level that got messed up.
There was a difference between playing back from start and using F2 to load tape at a position. F2 was working, but replay tape from start wasn't. Then I exited and restarted the level, then both F2 and replay tape from start were messed up. By messed up, I mean the moves are not what I had done. This one may have been messing up at the beginning of a level, but I've seen it start off working, then start messing up in the middle.

$HOME/.rocksndiamonds/tapes/supaplex_96/046.tape

Update: Same thing happened again. F2 working until exiting and restarting level, playing back from start quit working. This time towards the end. Note: I changed 'game speed' just before where it messes up(, and might have done the 'rewind' trick too?)
$HOME/.rocksndiamonds/tapes/supaplex_96/048.tape

If I run the game with `--debug` the speed after 'warp forward' is much much slower. Instead of way faster than 'warp forward' it is actually a little slower than 'warp forward'.
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BryanFRitt
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Re: Notes from playing, feature ideas and bugs

Post by BryanFRitt » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:24 am

I'm starting to wonder if tape gets messed up when saves are done quickly and close to another save.

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