12-May-2016 (Thu)
Wherein the Snarkatron has been resurrected.

Joshua and Jeff, a pair of our loyal Death Guild regulars, took the Snarkatron home and fixed it! There was no Curse of the Sign this time around. That went a little bit like this, and a little bit like this:

But we also worked out how to get it to display images instead of just text! Witness the new hotness:

I'd actually known this was theoretically possible since the beginning, but never tried it because I didn't think anything would be legible at all, due to the low resolution (160×28) combined with the large gutters between characters and lines. Guess I was wrong!

You have to do it in a completely crazy way: it doesn't have the ability to take a bitmap, but you can upload a new font. So you have to break up your image into 5x7 tiles. And you only get 96 of them, so you have to re-use duplicates and hope that the image isn't complicated enough that it needs more. Colors are per tile, not per pixel, and brightness is global, so no multi-color images or dithering tricks, either.

15 Responses:

  1. Geoff Smith says:

    I do kinda miss the snark aspect of it.

  2. Luke Stutters says:

    Still a better rendering engine than OpenGL ES

  3. jwise says:

    More pictures of the sign's guts are available, too. I meant to go write some more about how it works inside, but I think that seems like a losing battle, so the little blurbs with each photo are what you get for now...

    (and after all / you're my DataWall ...)

  4. nightbird says:

    It's not like this game had never been played before in 8-bit.

    One idea is to make each character into 2x3 pixels. That takes up 64 out of your font table. The pixels won't be of equal size. So? And your artist can make use of the remaining space in the font table as that artist sees fit.

    As for colors, I assume a character can be two colors as long as one of them was black. A beginner can break the grid into regions and paint each in a different color. An expert can take it from there.

    This might not be as good as an Apple ][ or a C-64, but I submit to you that it is a mile ahead of IBM's CGA crap.

    • nightbird says:

      Besides, if the board is 32x4 characters (if I read you right), how many characters would you need to cut off on each side to make the font table work as a bitmap? 4?

      96÷4=24
      (32-24)÷2=4

      Or you can just skip one of the character lines on the board. Any one.

      32×3=96

      • jwz says:

        Yeah, I also think it might work to upload a new font without clearing the board first, which would get you that extra 25% of characters at the expense of the upload time. I haven't tried, but I think that might work and the rendered bits would persist. But CGA? Luxury! Regardless of what the serial port accepts, this thing puts characters on the screen at about 300 baud, not counting the 800+ bytes it takes to define the font. I've watched better porn on a VT52.

        • Elusis says:

          Clearly it's now time to upload some ASCII style art of a flying penis.

          • gryazi says:

            NyanCock?

            • Elusis says:

              There's an infamous piece of ASCII art from back in the day that was just a circumcised cock slowly traversing the screen left to right. Mesmerizing, even without being trailed by a rainbow fart.

  5. Jim Sweeney says:

    Saw this last night at tech rehearsal -- mighty nice lookin'!

  6. kris says:

    Seriously jwz, just break down and enter this century. an LCD screen is not the end of the world.