ROM Cartridge: 1st prototype finished

August 17th, 2009

Ever since we - Arnold and Rockin-B - began developing the new SEGA Saturn graphic adventure called Police Officer Smith, it has been a dream of us to make the game a professional commercial release. What once was a dream, turned into a long-term goal which still seemed unreachable because of a lot of barriers to overcome.

But now we have reached an important milestone and found a solution to get Police Officer Smith running on any stock SEGA Saturn console, without the need for a modchip or swap-trick. You might recall that there is no way to create a bootable CD-R for SEGA Saturn. So It has been clear for a while that the only way could be to make POS the first cartridge+CD based game for Saturn.

We finally managed to manufacture (all by ourselves) a ROM cartridge prototype, which plugs into the cartridge slot of SEGA Saturn, just like an action replay cart. After powering up the Saturn, the BIOS will start executing the Police Officer Smith game from cartridge! All memory consuming graphics and sound data will still be loaded from specially created CDs. A not noticable copy protection will prevent leaked copies floating around. Here are some pictures:

SEGA Saturn ROM cartridge in action:

The raw PCB of the ROM cart even works on a Saturn with damaged CD-drive:
pos_boot_cart_inserted

Only the small one of the two connectors is used:
pos_boot_cart_inserted_close

This picture compares the PCB sizes of the prototype cart, a memory cart pro and a small not yet functional version of the prototype cart:
pos_boot_cart_size_compare

Saturn Lua Player released!

Juli 9th, 2008

The graphic adventure game Police Officer Smith has been the first SEGA Saturn game to utilize the well-known powerful and fast scripting language called Lua. In fact POS wouldn´t have been possible without Lua.

It´s been obvious that a Lua interpreter would be really useful for everyone who likes to create Saturn games and we wanted to share the effort that we put into the Lua interpreter of POS.

So we encapsulated the Lua interpreter from the POS game and made it much more comprehensive. The Saturn Lua Player wraps hundreds of useful and powerful functions from well documented libraries like SGL, GFS, PCM and STM.

Saturn Lua Player: screenshots of SGL samples written in Lua

You´ll find all you need to make you´re own Saturn homebrew game. Twelve selected samples that were included with SGL library have been ported from C to Lua. They range from 2D paralax and rotated scroll display to textured and gouraud shaded 3D display of massive polygon counts.

Download the all-in-one package of the Saturn Lua Player here:
SaturnLuaPlayer_080701_R1.zip (15 MB, Zip)
SaturnLuaPlayer_080701_R1.zip (8 MB, 7-Zip)
All you need is a text editor to create a Saturn Lua Player game!

This Saturn Lua Player is a significantly improved version of the one that´s been in POS so far. POS will be modified to use the SLP in the future, so our game will take profit from this release, too!

New story in the works!

Mai 24th, 2008

The feedback of the recently released SEGA Saturn demo of Police Officer Smith proves us, that the graphics and the technical aspects of our adventure game are top-notch. So looking critical at it, we have realized that our weak points are the storyboard and the gameplay script.

Arnold began to work on a new, alternative story. The new script grew very rapitly, Arnold adding new scenes and Rockin’-B reading the results and giving suggestions for improvements. The document itself is much better organized, easier to read and to understand. It is already as complex as the previous one.

It’s easy to see that the new story focuses on action and varied gameplay. Instead of simply telling a story, in this new script a second character appears and together you both expierience adventures full of fast paced action.
Another aspect is the police detective work. There are crime scenes to investigate and puzzles to solve. All this gives a raised level of atmosphere.

Compared with the previous story, this one is much more fun and more interesting. The gameplay quality will be increased a lot. Personally, I did enjoy reading the story as if I read a book of my favorite author. At this moment, it’s not decided if the new story will be included in the to be released Police Officer Smith game. That’s because most graphics, sounds and voice actings of the original story are already finished.

www.policeofficersmith.de opens it’s doors!

April 4th, 2008

Finally, the new Police Officer Smith website is up and running!

All material from the old english and german websites has been taken over to our new domain www.policeofficersmith.de. A lot of new content has been added lately, have a look and browse the categories!

From now on, this is the central and only website for Police Officer Smith. Previously, it must have been very difficult for people to get information about the game. Two different homepages, two different forum topics, a youtube page and the Rockin’-B website…there were many places to go to for information about POS.

We hope you enjoy this new place, you’ll find plenty of stuff here. If you come here, you can be sure to be up to date about the upcoming SEGA Saturn game Police Officer Smith. Feel free to give us feedback, comments are appreciated!

First demo of POS released!

April 4th, 2008

The Police Officer Smith C4 demo is available for download!

This is the very first public release of POS for SEGA Saturn. It’s a small preview version that contains just the first two scenes. The main menu is complete, the intro is done and the inventory and controls help screen are in, too.

Features:
All text is available in English and German. The language is auto-selected at startup, if the system language is anything else but German, then English language is taken. In the main menu, you can always manually select the language of your choice.

The demo features background music, sound effects and voice acting (in German only). You can set the volume for each of the three sound types, separately in the main menu. So yes, you can turn off the German voice samples!

POS also auto recognizes the presence of an external RAM cart, both sizes 1MB and 4MB are supported. The effect is that the image buffer is larger. If an image is displayed a second time, it’s more likely that it doesn’t need to be reloaded from CD again, instead it can just be taken from the RAM.

Download:
Police Officer Smith C4 is available as single game CD image, as well as multi game CD, together with all the other entries of the Saturn contest.
Download POS C4 from this website!
Be sure to burn it on CD-R only (not CD-RW), with low recording speed. I recommend to use the free and compatible CD writing software ImgBurn 2.4.0.0 or higher.

Controls:
POS C4 controls

POS C4-demo wins the Saturn contest!

April 4th, 2008

It’s unbelievable, our demo especially created for the C4-2007 SEGA Saturn Coding Contest has beaten all other entries! Waiting for the judge decision has been very exciting. First we thought there’s no chance to win, because the strongest competitor named Gaganoid is just so much fun to play and the judges did like it, too.

After all five judges sent in their decision, suddenly POS became the favorite winner. Three of the judges gave POS the most points and two of them rated Gaganoid first. A total turnaround!

The next shock came when all points were summed up, which unexpectedly resulted in a draw decision. Both entries finished with 57 points! Fortunately, there were still extra points to be collected and luckily, POS got a lot of them due to it’s feature richness.

Both main creators of Police Officer Smith (Arnold and Rockin’-B) are very happy about the result. Have a look at the screenshots of all entries:

Screenshots of all entries of the C4-2007 SEGA Saturn Coding Contest

Image blending methods in POS

April 4th, 2008

Being a render graphic adventure, Police Officer Smith leads you through the game using a big number of pre-rendered fullscreen images. When advancing from one image to another, instead of just displaying the new image, POS offers a great variety of 35 image transition methods to choose from.

There are basically four families of image transitions in POS:

1) fade
Here the screen color fades to any color of choice (red, blue, white, black, …) until the image has disappeared and the screen is just made up of that color. Then the color fades away and the new image fades in. The VDP2 graphic processor feature used is called color offset.

image blending: fade

2) window
The VDP2 scroll screen display processor of the SEGA Saturn got a feature called window. A window is a rectangular area on screen, that can be specified in size and position. Also specified is, if a certain picture is to be displayed when it’s inside or outside the window area.
So both pictures are loaded to VDP2 VRAM, one picture is set to be displayed inside, the other one outside the window. The window is then changed such that the new image fills the screen more and more.

image blending: window

3) shift
The new image position is set such that it is outside the visible screen area, just beneath the currently visible image. Then the position of both images is modified, the new image is shifted into the visible area until it fills the whole screen.

image blending: shift

4) just display
As the name suggests, there are also two methods of displaying an image immediately.

Solving the biggest problem

The main problem with images of size 704×512 is memory consumption. There is 512 kBytes of VRAM available for the VDP2 scroll screen display processor, but a single image already eats up 360 kBytes! So how to place two images in VRAM, such that methods 2) and 3) can be implemented? In these methods, parts of the old and new image are visible at the same time.

The solution is the VDP1 sprite processor, which gots another 512 kBytes of VRAM available. The image currently displayed is converted to a series of 8 sprites, which are transfered to VDP1 VRAM. The conversion is done half by the main CPU and half by the slave CPU, to speed things up.

The old image now being displayed by the VDP1, allows to load the new image to the VDP2 VRAM. Afterwards, the VDP1 image is treated as if it were a scroll displayed by the VDP2 and voilá, there we go!

The interesting thing about this is, that the hardware manuals stated the VDP1 could NOT display images of that size. We tried it out and were very lucky to see that indeed the VDP1 can display images of size 704×512!

Some more render images

März 26th, 2008

Here are some more render images that have been created for Police Officer Smith:

POS image: LibraryPOS image: Car repair shopPOS Image: Lobby in police precinct

Story snippets

März 26th, 2008

Our Hero is Police Officer Leon Smith, whose daughter Jamie has been murdered. Leon Smith matches the desperate situation and digs into the case: Jamie got a gem from a junk market, which turns out to be a map to a mystery treasure place. Obviously, there were a lot of bad guys who claimed for the hidden map. There will be several person switches where you can timetravel
and play with Jamie in the past visiting China, Japan and Germany.

Stay tuned for the rest!

german:
Jamie’s Geschichte
Alles beginnt auf dem Flohmarkt, Jamie ist mal wieder auf der Suche nach etwas was sie gut gebrauchen kann. Sie kauft sich diesen wunderschönen Diamanten, mit dem Gedanken ihn als Ziergegenstand zu nutzen. Aber dieser Diamant ist was ganz anderes als sie denkt.

Schon bald merkt sie grosses Interesse von zwei Männern asiatischer Herkunft. Daraufhin möchte sie der Geschichte dieses Stein auf den Grund gehen. Sie möchte alles über ihn erfahren. Der Stein gehört zu einer Fruchtbarkeitsstatue. Der Ursprung des Steins soll in China liegen. Sie besitzt aber keinen einzigen Cent und muss sich so erst etwas Geld dazuverdienen oder vielleicht gewinnt sie ja
sogar bei einer Verlosung. Danach geht ihre Reise weiter nach China.

Leons Geschichte
Leon hat mal wieder einen sehr anstrengenden Arbeitstag hinter sich. Kaum lag er zuhause in seinem Bett, klingelte das Telefon, mal wieder. Jamie sei tod in einer Seitengasse aufgefunden. Er hat vor 13 Jahren seine Ehefrau verloren und jetzt auch noch seine Tochter. Er kann es nicht glauben das jemand anderes den Fall seiner Tochter übernimmt, denn er selber möchte den Mörder seiner Tochter aufspüren. In Jamies Wohnung findet er schließlich ein Tagebuch von ihr. Er hielt gerade Jamies Leben in der Hand. Nun erfährt er nach und nach alles über Jamie.

Den Rest erfahrt ihr beim spielen von Police Officer Smith!

Character: Martin of Behrlingen

März 26th, 2008

Age: 28
He’s every week on the junk market and sells decoration and other things. There is always something useful to be found there. He is keeping a couple of secrets…

german:
Martin von Behrlingen
Alter: 28
Er steht jedes Wochenende auf dem Flohmarkt und verkauft Schmuck und Kleinkram. Bei ihm lässt sich immer wieder was nützliches finden. Dieser Mann verbirgt so einige Geheimnisse in sich. Welche?