This firmware finally incorporates all-encompassing changes so I went ahead and put in everything I wanted to change for a while in one go: to better support native (and frequently quite weird) ports of various wireframe games the hardware watchdog which I have been using myself for a while has been exposed for everyone as an expert option – and by necessity enhanced to also cover the entirety of all code segments, which it previously did not have do to for my own development. This affects the 6809 codebase, too, ever so slightly since this watchdog has to be petted diligently. I’ve tested the most demanding cartridges – serial port. 6809 cart. like the Vector Terminal cart. and the 4x48kb Vectorblade game – for a while and all looks well here. All native cart – practically everything on the main page and the menu system – support the watchdog for ages now anyways so nothing changed there. It is disabled by default at the moment, though, but eventually will be enabled by default. If this watchdog ever activates the vf is aware of it after its forced reset and displays a warning. And if this happened during a dev. cycle it goes back to the dev. option.
This is not the only deeper change in v2.30: the menu text system has been adapted to finally be able to support a faster text scroller for the ‘safe’ text mode, too. I decided to change the scroller a slight bit for all modes while doing so. This also fixes/bypasses the visual coord. imprecision around the center on some Vectrex units of the scroller.
Some internal plumbing changes were made for the better support of autostart cart. extensions (their/vf option access w/o ever exposing the menu system, in fact before the system has started normally). Again specific, all-encompassing but inevitable for the standalone mode of native apps. The recently implemented and still fine-tuned hot-plugging capability of the volume is closely linked to these changes, too.
This should conclude all the internal rewiring which had to be done to better support a new variant of the VecFever, the expanded autostart feature and the stability when running weird, new things. So to test this and sweeten the firmware update I have ported six X Windows games to the vf lib., ranging from abysmal to excellent:
- ICBM 3D – a Missile Commander clone in 3D
- Rebel Defender – a 3D learning project of someone (I think)
- XInvaders 3D – a Space Invaders clone in 3D
- XLander – a Lunar Lander clone in 3D
- ZBlast – a pretty nice, semi-3D shoot’em’up
- Word War vi – a unique melange of Defender, Scramble and something new: this is the excellent game
however only the first five are finished and ‘Word War vi’ – which already took more than twice the amount of time than all the other five combined – is still a work in progress so I just included a ‘Teaser’ binary. In fact for Word War vi I had to implement a completely new type of native application setup – a ‘memory hog’ one where the application can grab almost every byte of RAM there is. Was worth it for this game, I really like it.
There are also smaller changes sprinkled throughout, e.g. for Beluga Dreams a non-solid line feature and a better way to update the LEDs via native apps has been added, for example.
The unusual amount of info. should tell you that this is not a normal update: this is internally far ranging and took weeks of near-continuous work, courtesy of the still on-going covid lockdown and more importantly abysmal weather conditions. After the coldest April of my lifetime now the rainiest and coldest May, too..