v1.1 in the works

An update for SkillGrid has been in the works for a long, long time. As a result, SkillGrid v1.1 is a much improved version - as you can see from the following massive changelog, which captures all the changes made to this day.

1. Fixed the asteroids activation (they could activate also after a reset of their timer, e.g. when they were postponed and, in the meanwhile, a milestone was reached).

2. Fixed the milestone handling (it replenished the shield and the charge in those extremely rare occasions when the ship had just been destroyed, preventing the game over to execute).

3. Fixed the assignment of points when the MUSIC MODE cell was caught while the Boltspitter was active (25 instead of 5 points were awarded).

4. Fixed the audio decompression routine (due to forgetfulness, 1 byte was not changed in one of the two routines involved; that caused noise during playback, but "luckily" the effects with SkillGrid's own music were not audible; in fact, the bug was discovered when the PRESS PLAY ON TAPE edition was made; also, due to INTREQ.AUD0 being used for multiple purposes, the very last tiny chunk of one-shot music was not played).

5. Fixed the dynamic selection of audio channels (under some rare circumstances, it could steal a channel from music).

6. Fixed the rendering of halt sign (it processed 18 lines instead of 6).

7. Fixed a data file (it contained about 3 kB of useless data).

8. Fixed the (potential) malfunctioning caused by hiscore saving when the game booted from CD on an Amiga CD³² configured to have nonvolatile.library save data on a device other than NVRAM (i.e. when there is a volume that has Prefs/Env-Archive/Sys/nv_location defined). See also the notes below about hiscore saving.

9. Fixed/improved/updated the manual (in particular: in one place it erroneously said that the scrolling speed is halved when the Skull activates, which is false; it failed to mention that the TURN cells award 25 points in music mode).

10. Changed the BRAKE cell type from bonus to undefined (as it has a negative effect when time is running out, given that it delays the appearance of cells, and thus also of the TIME cell); graphically, now the cell has a yellow border.

11. Changed the BOOST cell type from malus to undefined (as it has a positive effect when time is running out, given that it accelerates the appearance of cells, and thus also of the TIME cell); graphically, now the cell has a cyan border.

12. Tweaked the 30 seconds grace period at the beginning of a game: prevented also the RATE/DOWN, SLOWDOWN/HORIZONTAL, SLOWDOWN/VERTICAL, TURN and UFOS/FAST cells from appearing; doubled the chances of appearing of cells.

13. Added the TRIPLE BEAM cell.

14. Changed the look of caught cells so that they appear disabled (instead of flat-filled with a color).

15. Tweaked the transparency of cells when asteroids, Mothership, Skull and music mode are active to preserve their double-color look even if painted in a single color.

16. Fixed one pixel of the POINTS BONUS cell.

17. Improved the sprites: modified palette to make sprites more vibrant and distinguishable; added 8 new UFO sprites; reworked spaceship, Boltspitter, Morthership and Skull graphics; reworked game start, pause and game over writings/icons.

18. Improved the music: changed a few volumes for a better mix; compressed bass instrument a little bit; increased the S/N ratio by reducing the dynamic range (by means of the changes above and by reducing some peaks without causing any distortion); lowered octave of bass instrument in "danger" tune; improved compression algorithm for better compression ratio; made decompression routine faster; assigned to the Boltspitter the same tune of the other bosses; assigned the "danger" tune (previously assigned to the Boltspitter) to asteroids and missiles.

19. Improved the sound samples: removed clicks from a few of them; shortened a few of them; reworked explosion sound; added "charge low" speech warning.

20. Added cycling writings (including hiscore) to title screen.

21. Touched up the graphics of 'M' and 'W' everywhere.

22. Improved the controls: replaced [REWIND] with [FIRE2]/[BLUE] so that also a normal 2-button joystick can be used; added support for [FIRE2] also to the installable version (which is crucial for running the game from hard disk on Amiga CD³² consoles that do not have a keyboard); added keyboard support (i.e. now the cursor keys act as joystick directions and [SPACE] as [FIRE1]).

23. Improved file loading so that, when the game is not running from floppies, the SkillGrid?: assigns and the launcher script are no longer needed.

24. Trashed AmigaOS on the Amiga CD³² to gain the RAM necessary to run the game (which requires more RAM than before, and unfortunately at boot the Amiga CD³² kernel steals quite a lot of RAM); as a consequence: removed the possibility of quitting to AmigaOS; hiscores are saved exclusively to NVRAM (i.e. Prefs/Env-Archive/Sys/nv_location is ignored); implemented direct EEPROM access routines to save the hiscore to NVRAM (still, the NVRAM slot is allocated legally and nothing is touched outside of it; as a positive side effect, saving is now much faster).

25. Improved hiscore saving: restricted it to just when a new hiscore is made; reduced by 6 bytes the occupation in the Amiga CD³² (tiny) NVRAM.

26. Worked on the CD ISO image: minimized buffers (to gain RAM); laid out files/directories in a manner that will hopefully make the loading faster on the Amiga CD³²; added readme.txt to the root directory.

27. Made the startup and cleanup code more robust and more likely to succeed in low CHIP RAM situations.

28. Made various speed and memory optimizations.

29. Adapted the game to 3 floppies (unfortunately, due to the additional data, it cannot fit in 2 floppies anymore).

30. Added a strategy guide.

31. Improved the readme.txt files.

32. Worked on icons: added icons to all the user-relevant files/directories; redrawn / touched up the icons; made all icons 72 pixels tall (8 pixels = padding); removed paths from the default tools where appropriate.

33. Updated/improved the installer.

34. Removed "wd" bits from the files on floppies.

35. Reworked package artwork.

However, the update cannot be released yet because the NVRAM routines need to be tested. Maybe you can help: check out this post in the community section.

Footnote: the image is a 2-frame animation that shows the old and the new sprites.

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