Welcome to ClrHome
Grayscale in the editors! Oct 14
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
From the beginning, Pixelscape and tileIt! seemed to be essentially the same project on two different platforms, and that's why we made sure data from one would be compatible with the other. It also means that one project can't add any notable new features without the other being involved, but this might be actually be a good thing.

One major feature request shmibs and I have taken on is the ability to create grayscale sprites and maps with our tools. It's been requested for a while now. Considering how easy it is to create three- or four-level grayscale graphics with Axe, grayscale support should have been a no-brainer from the beginning. Unfortunately, both projects were designed with monochrome graphics in mind, and the addition of grays would be a huge change.

But it's been done: Pixelscape and tileIt! both now allow sprites and maps in grayscale!

In both projects, the grayscale system is heavily tied to Axe's system of two buffers. In Pixelscape, left-click to toggle a pixel on the front buffer and right-click to toggle a pixel on the back buffer. In tileIt!, use 2nd and MODE, respectively. (To change the grayscale mode, use the drop-down menu in Pixelscape and TRACE in tileIt!.)

The one major drawback is that the data format used by the projects had to be changed. Sprite sheets created with the old versions are no longer compatible with the new ones (tilemaps should still work, however). As always, data from one project will work with the other.

Here are some other miscellaneous features that have been added to Pixelscape:

  • Exporting the map as a GIF, PNG, or JPEG image
  • Editing the sprite and map hex directly (allowing for easy previews of sprite data in hexadecimal form, for example)
  • Sprite shifting

I've gone ahead and converted all sprite sheets people had saved online for Pixelscape to the new format. Sorry for the inconvenience; we hope you'll find the new features useful!
The contest entries Sep 16
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
This spring, TI-Planet sponsored a fairly big programming competition called TI-Concours. (This is very late news. It started seven months ago and ended four months ago, and I probably should have posted about it then. Oh well—it's too late now.) The contest had three categories, and in each category participants had to create three programs. It was great motivation for me (and also for many others, I'm sure) to get some stuff done in the early months of the year.

For the first part of the Axe contest, we were asked to make a Snake game. Snake? Again? That's one of the most common simple games out there. There must be hundreds of Snake clones on ticalc.org already. I didn't want to make something that would get lost in that vast sea of snakes and worms and nibbles, so I went and made something completely ridiculous: Snake, in 3D!

And that's the story of Snakecaster, the completely overkill Snake game. I had to learn raycasting and other random stuff in order to have any idea how to make it, so it beats Minesweeper for the most effort I've spent on graphics. (By the way, if anyone out there is interested in learning raycasting, there used to be a really awesome tutorial at http://www.permadi.com/tutorial/raycast/index.html. It seems to be down now, but you can get the whole thing at the WayBack Machine. Seriously, there's something magic about that tutorial.)

The second round was to make a "Paint" program. The main goal for mine was to make it as intuitive as possible. It turned out that I never used it myself once the contest was over, but apparently some people find it still useful, so you can download it here. (Don't bother asking me for help with drawing Homer Simpson—that sample image was a product of two minutes of Google Images, Gimp, and SourceCoder 2.) I guess since 100% of my effort went into graphics in that program, it beats Snakecaster for the record amount of effort I put into graphics, in a sense.

Finally, there's Fruit Ninja. You've already seen it (I already "released it" four months ago), but I never actually uploaded it to any archive sites because there was a little bug that had some pretty nasty effects. Specifically, getting a high score would result in corruption of one byte of your calculator's RAM under certain conditions. Not too appealing for an game achievement, is it?

Well, here it is. If you don't know about it yet, watch this video of it in action. The plan was to take a game that relies on a touchscreen and somehow adapting it so that I could play it in class—yet another ridiculous idea.

Something I didn't mention was the amount of time it took me to sprite those rotating fruit. There's 1.5 KB worth of data in those 16×16 sprites, because there are four types of fruit, and each one has eight different perspectives. And it's 3D. I hate 3D. I had planned at least eight types of fruit, but by the time I realized it'd taken me more time to make the graphics than to write the code for the game,, I knew I had to stop. And that's by far the most effort I've ever spent on graphics (or will in a very long time, I'm sure).

Along the way, I actually started to enjoy making sprites, especially 8x8 monochrome ones. If you need help with some random sprites, shoot me an email or PM, because I might just do it for fun.

Oh yeah, there's also Tic-Tac-Toe, or what remains of my plans to enter the TI-BASIC section of the contest as well. It's Tic-Tac-Toe. Moving on.
A better ORG Jul 19
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
The ORG assembly IDE is by far our biggest webapp, but it's also one of our most active. A lot has changed since it was first conceived late last year and first published in January. On the outside, it's gotten a complete makeover (or three): the colors changed, parts got rearranged, controls were updated, and so on. But the real improvements were in places that aren't totally visible—the places where huge sections of the project were tweaked, added, or in many cases completely rewritten.

Some of the changes are ones you can see when you take a look at the new page. There's the new theme, of course, and the new structure to go with it. The page is now divided into two visible blocks instead of four, with the editor expanded to more than half the screen area to make code easier to navigate. The tab system is still there, but much improved—some minor tweaks and transitions (inspired by the Google Chrome interface) were implemented to give them a more native-app feel, and the tab bar can finally handle more than a few tabs that would once stretch beyond the screen. The common keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S can now be used to quickly save all open files. And if the expanded code editor still isn't big enough for you, F11 will make it full-screen (and your browser too!).

The newest button added to the control bar is the (long-overdue) Open. Like with Pixelscape, it allows you to open source files (both as plain-text files and ZIP archives) or one of a set of templates. In addition, you can drag-and-drop text files straight into the page to open them (on modern browsers).

Back-end changes were mainly for cross-compatibility with a wider range of Z80 devices and programming styles. Thanks to suggestions from members at World of Spectrum and MSX.org, ORG has begun to expand its focus toward all Z80 projects. It can now assemble projects to plain binaries, ZX Spectrum TAP format, and TI-83/TI-82 STATS.fr programs, in addition to the original support for TI-83 Plus–series calculator formats, and more equate files and directives were added for compatibility.

Encompassing both sides of the project is a plan for greater language support: thanks to kindermoumoute, Matrefeytontias, and other members of the calculator community with exceedingly long nicks, most of the ORG UI has been translated to French, including all controls and log messages. All that's left is the (also updated) enormous help guide, and ORG will be fully usable in both French and English. Other languages are also being considered; if you have a suggestion—or better yet, a willingness to take on the tedious task of translation—please let us know!

Finally, for all the meta developers out there, the ORG assembler now exposes a public API for all its functions. Any platform supporting HTTP POST requests can take advantage of the API for the wide variety of compiling options ORG can handle. Basically, anything the ORG assembler can do, you can include in any apps of your own, web-based or otherwise. Sample code to use the API in both JavaScript and PHP is provided in the help manual in the ORG webapp.

We hope the updates to the ORG IDE will be useful to all Z80 developers and enthusiasts out there. Feel free to offer suggestions and comments—as I've said, this is a very active project!
Two projects, one idea Jul 11
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
A few weeks ago, shmibs and I, unbeknownst to one another, each began working on a new project. Mine was a web resource and his was a tool written in Axe, but as it turned out we were working on essentially the same idea.

tileIt! is a sprite and tilemap editor made with Axe. It means to simplify tilemap creation by first providing a robust sprite editor (with features such as rotation, reflection, and shifting), then allowing you to create a map using the sprites you make. In addition, sprites can be "played" as an animation, which should help with creating animated sprites. Your sprites and map can then be exported in a variety of formats, including as picture variables, as a TI-BASIC matrix, as Axe source, or as an appvar for transfer.

Pixelscape was a completely separate project—an online tilemap and sprite editor inspired by Aichi's now-defunct A·Sprite and A·Map. It has almost identical features as tileIt!: the same rotation, flipping, and shifting transformations, the same form of animation playback, and the same concept of using the created sprites to easily build a tilemap. It can also export in a variety of formats including picture variables, assembly source, and Axe source with optional run-length encoding. You can also copy, paste, and undo changes with the common keyboard shortcuts. In addition, when I found out how similar this was to shmibs's project, I made sure to make it compatible, so you can both upload and download sprites and tilemaps as tileIt!-format appvar files. (At one point I seriously considered renaming it tileItOnline!, but I'd already made that awesome logo.)
Mobile site live Jul 4
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
After completing some enormous changes to the site design last month, we realized we still hadn't tackled the biggest storm about to hit most of the known Web. No, I'm not talking about the Apple iRene. That was last year. The present threat is the smartphone apocalypse, due in three years or so. Supposedly, that's when most Internet traffic will start coming through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets (and hopefully calculators), but unfortunately a sizable portion of the world's web sites are woefully unprepared.

And so we're joining the mobile bandwagon too. The main ClrHome site, the parts that got the facelift last month, are now completely browsable on and optimized for iOS and Android devices. Same URL, different experience—just open clrhome.org in your mobile browser and the site will basically load as a web app. There are still some minor quirks, but it should be largely functional. If you find any glitches or have any suggestions, don't hesitate to tell us!

Similar mobile optimizations should be coming soon to many of our online tools.
Fruit Ninja released May 30
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
No, seriously. Finally, a game that essentially requires a touchscreen to play can now be played on a TI-83 Plus.

And no, my calculator does not have a touchscreen. What it does have is a rather large keypad. Convenient, isn't it? What if you could use that keypad as a sort of touchpad, swiping around in it like it's smooth? That's the idea behind this game.

The video doesn't show the screen very well, so here's an animated GIF for the graphics.

Like what you see? Download the game here, then comment below!
Welcome to the new site May 25
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Wow, we haven't had a post in nearly four months. But don't worry, we've been busy making changes—lots of changes.

As I'm sure you've noticed by now, we've had yet another (yet another yet another) redesign, and this one will stick—I promise.

Along the way, we let go of our site on Blogger, moving all our news and non-news to a new system right here on the new front page. Other pages have also been moved and rearranged: instead of our classic three sections of "Projects," "Tutorials," and "Resources," the rest of the site is now divided into "Products" (the stuff we've finished), "Resources" (same as before), and "Upcoming" (things we're actively working on). Our entire tutorials collection will now count as one of our Resources, and all the other Resources have been moved to top-level directories (taking out the "/resources" in their URLs). The site has even gone mobile—just open up clrhome.org in your phone's browser.

What do you think of the changes? If you have anything to say, please comment below! (Oh, and you can use BBCode in your comments now, too.)
ORG Z80 IDE released Jan 28
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Our most ambitious webapp yet is now available. The ORG IDE is a complete IDE and assembler for Z80-assembly projects, particularly for those designed for the TI-83 Plus–series calculators. Featuring a tabbed interface with a syntax-highlighting code editor (by CodeMirror), you can now edit, build, download, and host Z80 projects with any number of files from any web browser.

In less dramatic news, our front page received yet another facelift. Hopefully this one sticks around.
Contra lives Jan 21
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
But before we get to that, Simul 2 won first place in the extended-BASIC section of zContest 3! And if there had been a prize for largest screenshot size, Simul would have won that, too. (It was also the most difficult screenshot I've ever taken, even at 25% speed.)

And now I'm back to working on Contra. Besides making some much-needed sprite changes (more are on the way, in the name of visibility), I've also re-implemented moving enemies (which can now jump around on platforms), added swimming, and made jumping and scrolling completely smooth. Even with that, the program still has a delay to slow down each frame (on a TI-83 Plus, too), so I'm still free to add falcons and those flying football-shaped things.
/b/up, /b/notify, and /b/roccoli Dec 28
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
There are now four new online tools in the ClrHome /b/ folder, and unfortunately, none of them have much to do with calculators.

b up is an HTTP status code checker (checking for things like 404 messages and redirections). It's like any of the dozens of "is it down for everyone or just me" sites, except that it shows how a page is "down" or "up." I've always used isup.me for that purpose, but I decided to make this a few days ago when I realized that what I really needed was something that told me what actually happened—whether a page was Forbidden or Not Found, whether it redirected permanently or temporarily.

The notifier (dubbed "Calculator Stuff" for now) is a browser extension (our first) that feeds recent forum activity on Omnimaga, Cemetech, and Revolution Software into your browser toolbar. It features options such as number of posts to fetch and time between fetches and also keeps track of your display name to ignore posts you made. It's currently available for Google Chrome only.

And finally there's /b/roccoli, the Recursive Broccoli.
The tale of TakeFlight/ClrHome Dec 19
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Nine months ago, the Kingdom of ClrHome annexed Blast Programs, a similarly small country ruled by one Anthony Cagliano. After granting a pardon (and fellow kingship) to the king of Blast, we incorporated the new territory into the new ClrHome Empire, spanning the entire domain of clrhome.tk.

This month, we have again scored a victory in the diplomacy of calculator websites. TakeFlight Productions, dedicated not to the worship of TI but to Casio, has joined us in brotherly alliance. Together, we've found that despite any religious differences, the two sites have similar goals in this dangerous world: we're both involved in calculator and web development, we both do (or are planning to do) reviews of calculator games, and we both host a version of the Wikipad—Casio on TakeFlight, TI on ClrHome.

At the same time, ClrHome conquered the valuable domain of clrhome.org by the brilliant military strategies of her general, alberthrocks. TakeFlight has been granted its portion of the rich spoils, located at casio.clrhome.org. Rejoice.
Time to update your bookmarks again! Dec 5
by alberthrocks ClrHome Staff
I'm not messing with you - you get to update all those links, signatures, etc. again! But it's nothing to regret - we now have a TLD domain name for ClrHome!

Yup, you got that right - we've gotten a shiny new domain name - clrhome.org!
A mystery Santa registered and gave this domain to us (the admins can reveal that Santa if they would like ;)), and so now we have a legitimate domain name!

No worries - we are still on Juju's VPS, and all of your project data will still be intact.
It's just that we'll be in limbo between clrhome.tk and clrhome.org temporarily...
Also, search engine optimization is at its peak, since we have a (again, using that word) legitimate domain name! (In plain English: expect to see ClrHome near the top of the Google search results!)

I'm not terribly sure how all of this DNS is supposed to sort itself out (after all, Deep Thought does most of the site maintenance), but just in case, you (visitors, admins, etc.) should change the links you're allowed to change (such as your bookmarks, if anybody's bookmarking us, and forum/email signatures). Thanks, and sorry about the new mess #2!

P.S. - if you don't know me, I'm one of the older (older as in earlier, not age older) admins on ClrHome. I just don't post as often - or rather, post at all! :P (This counts as my first blog post.) You can find me on Omnimaga and Cemetech with the same username.
More Star Trek updates Nov 29
by ACagliano ClrHome Staff
I am pleased to announce the 10th consecutive day of substantial Star Trek progress. As of now, the planning phase is entirely complete and I am coding features. The framework of the program and its GUI is done. Now working on the battle loop and networking. Just a few fun facts before I go into features:

Pages: 41
Characters: 43,943
Lines: 2,083

As for features, there are a few. Not all are coded yet, but they will be available.

1. Defeating another player earns you battle points. Use these battle points to purchase equipment for your ship.

2. Upgrades. Upgrading a ship system increases its maximum health, to a max of 255. Upgrading the generator system increasing its max health; upgrading the unit itself increases its max power output. Upgrading weapons (phasers/photons) allows them to cause more damage. Upgrading the scrambler allows it to last longer. Upgrading the cloaking device allows you to do more things while cloaked that you would normally have to uncloak to do.

3. Locking. Press one key to lock on to a ship in the same 255 x 255 x 255 as you. Press it again to choose another. Locking is essential for firing weapons. The only thing that will work without it is the scrambler.

4. Ship has a Power Supply Drive. Every system that is in use drains power. The impulse drive and warp drive both drain power steadily while in use. Firing weapons costs power. Cloaking drains power at a steady rate. Shields drain power at a steady rate. Transporting costs power. Your generator is designed such that, at max power, your ship can function with all main systems online and shields raised, and not lose power. However, if you upgrade your weapons (more powerful weapons consume more power) and the cloak (the more powerful cloak costs more power), and have everything raised at once, without upgrading your generator, you will likely exhaust your power supply. Should you run out of power, all systems that require energy will fail until power is available, including your shields. A warning will display on your screen when power is getting low, so that you may cut back power usage by lowering your cloak, halting your ship, or doing some other action that reduces power usage. All of your main systems must always use the same amount of power to function, so cutting them back is not an option. However, you can cut back two systems, your Weapons and Sensors. Cutting back the power to weapons makes them less powerful (a weapon fired with 60% power to the system will deal only 60% of its max damage). Cutting back power to sensors decreases their range. You can control this in the "Power" menu. If the generator takes damage, it starts to put out less power, which can be problematic for you if the power supply is not keeping up with the base demands of the ship.
Minesweeper and Madness Nov 29
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
I've decided to enter two games into the pure-BASIC section of zContest this year, and both are essentially finished. I've posted about Absolute Madness before; it's my sequel to AbsIns, a TI-BASIC puzzle platformer. I've finished the level designing and capped it at 21 levels. That should be enough. (I don't really expect many people to beat the first two-thirds, honestly.) It also got a little intro cutscene today, and even if it's short and simple, it's the biggest effort I've ever spent on a game introduction of any sort. You can see it here.

My other planned entry, Minesweeper, could have been an update to my first (simpler) Minesweeper port, but it's really a complete rewrite. This time, it features flood-filling, a white-on-black theme, and the biggest effort I've spent on graphics for any game. Ever.
Four games at once, only better Nov 29
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Back when I released Simul, it was my best Axe game ever. It was my first Axe game ever, and it was cumbersome at best. To play the final stage, Stage IV (dubbed "fourplay" because—well, you'll see), you needed to stretch both thumb and index finger (on both hands) to false arrow keys buried in the middle of the keypad.

That's all changed. My entry for the extended-BASIC section of zContest 2011 is Simul 2: a complete rewrite of that multitasking game. Here's a screenshot.

So what's different? This time around, I focused on making the game playable. Every game uses two buttons and only two buttons, either the up and down arrows, left and right arrows, MODE (acting as up) and X,T,θ,n (acting as down), or ALPHA (acting as left) and STAT (acting as right). That way, four games can be played at once using only eight buttons that are a reasonable distance from one another. Only your thumbs play the games, like they were meant to do.

Another issue with the old version was that the game ended as soon as you died in any of the minigames, so even getting to Stage IV was nearly impossible, even at the slow speed. That's been changed too. In the new version, only your progress in the current stage is reset when you fail a game; you can keep playing, but your death count is tracking your progress all the while and leaves an impact on your final score. And yes, there are scores this time.

For those of you who have never played Simul before, it's essentially a game of multitasking. In Stage I, you switch among six minigames (Pong, Falldown, Avalanche, Jump, Tunnel, and Obstacles), playing each one for a few seconds before switching to the next. Your only goal is to keep alive in each minigame for six games in a row.

When you reach Stage II, you're presented with a different screen: one split into two halves, with each half controlling a game. Pass six more sets of games and you reach Stage III, where (as expected) you play three games at a time. The final stage is Stage IV, where you need only pass six more sets to win, leaving you in infinite mode.
A bit of news Nov 19
by ACagliano ClrHome Staff
It's been a while, hasn't it?

I've got a few announcements to make. First off, to all administrators, I decided to change the password to ClrHome's Twitter account. This was after no less than forty-one (41) login attempts. Yes, forty-one. Administrators only, contact me for the new password.

Second, I would like to welcome a new member, corvetta, who will be assisting us in the Public Relations area. We wish her luck, godspeed, and all that other nerdy stuff we say around here that means welcome. Welcome!

Um, well, because Deep Thought will staple me to a tree for posting a blog that's this short in the topic of news, I kind of need to write a bit more. On the personal level, my Legend of Zelda project has been indefinitely halted, and I am resuming progress on Star Trek Multiplayer (link). I hope to have a beta release out soon, but then again, you've all heard that from me before, haven't you.

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Welcome! ClrHome is a site and programming group with a variety of upcoming projects and finished products for the Texas Instruments line of graphing calculators, as well as an extensive collection of popular resources to help you make your own programs.

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