Home > Z80 Assembly > How To Write ZX Spectrum Games – Chapter 7

How To Write ZX Spectrum Games – Chapter 7

Basic Alien Collision Detection

Note: This article was originally written by Jonathan Cauldwell and is reproduced here with permission.

Coordinate Checking

Coordinate checking should be self-explanatory to most programmers, but is included here for the sake of completeness.  It is also the next step in the development of our Centipede game.

The simplest type of collision detection would be something like this, used to detect if two UDGs have collided:

       ld a,(playx)        ; player's x coordinate.
       cp (ix+1)           ; compare with alien x.
       ret nz              ; not the same, no collision.
       ld a,(playy)        ; player's y coordinate.
       cp (ix+2)           ; compare with alien y.
       ret nz              ; not the same, no collision.
       jp collis           ; we have a collision.

Okay, so that’s pretty simple but most games don’t use single-cell character graphics.  What if the aliens are four character cells wide by two high, and the player’s character is three squares high by three wide?  We need to check if any part of the alien has collided with any part of the player, so we need to check that the coordinates are within a certain range.  If the alien is less than two squares above the player, or less than 3 below him then the vertical coordinates match.  If the alien is also less than four squares to the left of the player, and less than three squares to the right then the horizontal position also matches and we have a collision.

Let’s write some code to do this.  We can start by taking the player’s vertical coordinate:

       ld a,(playx)        ; player's x coordinate.

Then subtract the alien’s vertical position:

      sub (ix+1)          ; subtract alien x.

Next, subtract one from the player’s height, and add it.

      add a,2             ; player is 3 high, so add 3 - 1 = 2.

If the alien is within range the result will be less than the combined height of the player and alien, so we perform the check:

       cp 5                ; combined heights are 3 + 2 = 5.
       ret nc              ; not within vertical range.

Similarly, we can follow this with the code for the horizontal check:

       ld a,(playy)        ; player's y coordinate.
       sub (ix+2)          ; subtract alien y.
       add a,2             ; player is 3 wide, so add 3 - 1 = 2.
       cp 7                ; combined widths are 3 + 4 = 7.
       ret nc              ; not within horizontal range.
       jp collis           ; we have a collision.

Of course, this method doesn’t just work for character-based graphics, it works perfectly well with sprites too, but more of those later. It’s time to finish our game with some collision detection. As our graphics are all single-character UDGs we don’t need anything fancy, a quick x=x and y=y check are all we need.

 We want a black screen.

       ld a,71             ; white ink (7) on black paper (0),
                           ; bright (64).
       ld (23693),a        ; set our screen colours.
       xor a               ; quick way to load accumulator with zero.
       call 8859           ; set permanent border colours.

; Set up the graphics.

       ld hl,blocks        ; address of user-defined graphics data.
       ld (23675),hl       ; make UDGs point to it.

; Okay, let's start the game.

       call 3503           ; ROM routine - clears screen, opens chan 2.

       xor a               ; zeroise accumulator.
       ld (dead),a         ; set flag to say player is alive.

; Initialise coordinates.

       ld hl,21+15*256     ; load hl pair with starting coords.
       ld (plx),hl         ; set player coords.
       ld hl,255+255*256   ; player's bullets default.
       ld (pbx),hl         ; set bullet coords.

       ld b,10             ; number of segments to initialise.
       ld hl,segmnt        ; segment table.
segint ld (hl),1           ; start off moving right.
       inc hl
       ld (hl),0           ; start at top.
       inc hl
       ld (hl),b           ; use B register as y coordinate.
       inc hl
       djnz segint         ; repeat until all initialised.

       call basexy         ; set the x and y positions of the player.
       call splayr         ; show player base symbol.

; Now we want to fill the play area with mushrooms.

       ld a,68             ; green ink (4) on black paper (0),
                           ; bright (64).
       ld (23695),a        ; set our temporary colours.
       ld b,50             ; start with a few.
mushlp ld a,22             ; control code for AT character.
       rst 16
       call random         ; get a 'random' number.
       and 15              ; want vertical in range 0 to 15.
       rst 16
       call random         ; want another pseudo-random number.
       and 31              ; want horizontal in range 0 to 31.
       rst 16
       ld a,145            ; UDG 'B' is the mushroom graphic.
       rst 16              ; put mushroom on screen.
       djnz mushlp         ; loop back until all mushrooms displayed.

; This is the main loop.

mloop  equ $

; Delete the player.

       call basexy         ; set the x and y positions of the player.
       call wspace         ; display space over player.

; Now we've deleted the player we can move him before redisplaying him
; at his new coordinates.

       ld bc,63486         ; keyboard row 1-5/joystick port 2.
       in a,(c)            ; see what keys are pressed.
       rra                 ; outermost bit = key 1.
       push af             ; remember the value.
       call nc,mpl         ; it's being pressed, move left.
       pop af              ; restore accumulator.
       rra                 ; next bit along (value 2) = key 2.
       push af             ; remember the value.
       call nc,mpr         ; being pressed, so move right.
       pop af              ; restore accumulator.
       rra                 ; next bit (value 4) = key 3.
       push af             ; remember the value.
       call nc,mpd         ; being pressed, so move down.
       pop af              ; restore accumulator.
       rra                 ; next bit (value 8) reads key 4.
       push af             ; remember the value.
       call nc,mpu         ; it's being pressed, move up.
       pop af              ; restore accumulator.
       rra                 ; last bit (value 16) reads key 5.
       call nc,fire        ; it's being pressed, move up.

; Now he's moved we can redisplay the player.

       call basexy         ; set the x and y positions of the player.
       call splayr         ; show player.

; Now for the bullet.  First let's check to see if it's hit anything.

       call bchk           ; check bullet position.

       call dbull          ; delete bullets.
       call moveb          ; move bullets.
       call bchk           ; check new position of bullets.
       call pbull          ; print bullets at new position.

; Now for the centipede segments.

       ld ix,segmnt        ; table of segment data.
       ld b,10             ; number of segments in table.
censeg push bc
       ld a,(ix)           ; is segment switched on?
       inc a               ; 255=off, increments to zero.
       call nz,proseg      ; it's active, process segment.
       pop bc
       ld de,3             ; 3 bytes per segment.
       add ix,de           ; get next segment in ix registers.
       djnz censeg         ; repeat for all segments.

       halt                ; delay.

       ld a,(dead)         ; was the player killed by a segment?
       and a
       ret nz              ; player killed - lose a life.

; Jump back to beginning of main loop.

       jp mloop

; Move player left.

mpl    ld hl,ply           ; remember, y is the horizontal coord!
       ld a,(hl)           ; what's the current value?
       and a               ; is it zero?
       ret z               ; yes - we can't go any further left.

; now check that there isn't a mushroom in the way.

       ld bc,(plx)         ; current coords.
       dec b               ; look 1 square to the left.
       call atadd          ; get address of attribute at this position.
       cp 68               ; mushrooms are bright (64) + green (4).
       ret z               ; there's a mushroom - we can't move there.

       dec (hl)            ; subtract 1 from y coordinate.
       ret

; Move player right.

mpr    ld hl,ply           ; remember, y is the horizontal coord!
       ld a,(hl)           ; what's the current value?
       cp 31               ; is it at the right edge (31)?
       ret z               ; yes - we can't go any further left.

; now check that there isn't a mushroom in the way.

       ld bc,(plx)         ; current coords.
       inc b               ; look 1 square to the right.
       call atadd          ; get address of attribute at this position.
       cp 68               ; mushrooms are bright (64) + green (4).
       ret z               ; there's a mushroom - we can't move there.

       inc (hl)            ; add 1 to y coordinate.
       ret

; Move player up.

mpu    ld hl,plx           ; remember, x is the vertical coord!
       ld a,(hl)           ; what's the current value?
       cp 4                ; is it at upper limit (4)?
       ret z               ; yes - we can go no further then.

; now check that there isn't a mushroom in the way.

       ld bc,(plx)         ; current coords.
       dec c               ; look 1 square up.
       call atadd          ; get address of attribute at this position.
       cp 68               ; mushrooms are bright (64) + green (4).
       ret z               ; there's a mushroom - we can't move there.

       dec (hl)            ; subtract 1 from x coordinate.
       ret

; Move player down.

mpd    ld hl,plx           ; remember, x is the vertical coord!
       ld a,(hl)           ; what's the current value?
       cp 21               ; is it already at the bottom (21)?
       ret z               ; yes - we can't go down any more.

; now check that there isn't a mushroom in the way.

       ld bc,(plx)         ; current coords.
       inc c               ; look 1 square down.
       call atadd          ; get address of attribute at this position.
       cp 68               ; mushrooms are bright (64) + green (4).
       ret z               ; there's a mushroom - we can't move there.

       inc (hl)            ; add 1 to x coordinate.
       ret

; Fire a missile.

fire   ld a,(pbx)          ; bullet vertical coord.
       inc a               ; 255 is default value, increments to zero.
       ret nz              ; bullet on screen, can't fire again.
       ld hl,(plx)         ; player coordinates.
       dec l               ; 1 square higher up.
       ld (pbx),hl         ; set bullet coords.
       ret

bchk   ld a,(pbx)          ; bullet vertical.
       inc a               ; is it at 255 (default)?
       ret z               ; yes, no bullet on screen.
       ld bc,(pbx)         ; get coords.
       call atadd          ; find attribute here.
       cp 68               ; mushrooms are bright (64) + green (4).
       jr z,hmush          ; hit a mushroom!
       ret

hmush  ld a,22             ; AT control code.
       rst 16
       ld a,(pbx)          ; bullet vertical.
       rst 16
       ld a,(pby)          ; bullet horizontal.
       rst 16
       call wspace         ; set INK colour to white.
kilbul ld a,255            ; x coord of 255 = switch bullet off.
       ld (pbx),a          ; destroy bullet.
       ret

; Move the bullet up the screen 1 character position at a time.

moveb  ld a,(pbx)          ; bullet vertical.
       inc a               ; is it at 255 (default)?
       ret z               ; yes, no bullet on screen.
       sub 2               ; 1 row up.
       ld (pbx),a
       ret

; Set up the x and y coordinates for the player's gunbase position,
; this routine is called prior to display and deletion of gunbase.

basexy ld a,22             ; AT code.
       rst 16
       ld a,(plx)          ; player vertical coord.
       rst 16              ; set vertical position of player.
       ld a,(ply)          ; player's horizontal position.
       rst 16              ; set the horizontal coord.
       ret

; Show player at current print position.

splayr ld a,69             ; cyan ink (5) on black paper (0),
                           ; bright (64).
       ld (23695),a        ; set our temporary screen colours.
       ld a,144            ; ASCII code for User Defined Graphic 'A'.
       rst 16              ; draw player.
       ret

pbull  ld a,(pbx)          ; bullet vertical.
       inc a               ; is it at 255 (default)?
       ret z               ; yes, no bullet on screen.
       call bullxy
       ld a,16             ; INK control char.
       rst 16
       ld a,6              ; 6 = yellow.
       rst 16
       ld a,147            ; UDG 'D' is used for player bullets.
       rst 16
       ret

dbull  ld a,(pbx)          ; bullet vertical.
       inc a               ; is it at 255 (default)?
       ret z               ; yes, no bullet on screen.
       call bullxy         ; set up bullet coordinates.
wspace ld a,71             ; white ink (7) on black paper (0),
                           ; bright (64).
       ld (23695),a        ; set our temporary screen colours.
       ld a,32             ; SPACE character.
       rst 16              ; display space.
       ret

; Set up the x and y coordinates for the player's bullet position,
; this routine is called prior to display and deletion of bullets.

bullxy ld a,22             ; AT code.
       rst 16
       ld a,(pbx)          ; player bullet vertical coord.
       rst 16              ; set vertical position of player.
       ld a,(pby)          ; bullet's horizontal position.
       rst 16              ; set the horizontal coord.
       ret

segxy  ld a,22             ; ASCII code for AT character.
       rst 16              ; display AT code.
       ld a,(ix+1)         ; get segment x coordinate.
       rst 16              ; display coordinate code.
       ld a,(ix+2)         ; get segment y coordinate.
       rst 16              ; display coordinate code.
       ret

proseg call segcol         ; segment collision detection.
       ld a,(ix)           ; check if segment was switched off
       inc a               ; by collision detection routine.
       ret z               ; it was, so this segment is now dead.
       call segxy          ; set up segment coordinates.
       call wspace         ; display a space, white ink on black.
       call segmov         ; move segment.
       call segcol         ; new segment position collision check.
       ld a,(ix)           ; check if segment was switched off
       inc a               ; by collision detection routine.
       ret z               ; it was, so this segment is now dead.
       call segxy          ; set up segment coordinates.
       ld a,2              ; attribute code 2 = red segment.
       ld (23695),a        ; set temporary attributes.
       ld a,146            ; UDG 'C' to display segment.
       rst 16
       ret
segmov ld a,(ix+1)         ; x coord.
       ld c,a              ; GP x area.
       ld a,(ix+2)         ; y coord.
       ld b,a              ; GP y area.
       ld a,(ix)           ; status flag.
       and a               ; is the segment heading left?
       jr z,segml          ; going left - jump to that bit of code.

; so segment is going right then!

segmr  ld a,(ix+2)         ; y coord.
       cp 31               ; already at right edge of screen?
       jr z,segmd          ; yes - move segment down.
       inc a               ; look right.
       ld b,a              ; set up GP y coord.
       call atadd          ; find attribute address.
       cp 68               ; mushrooms are bright (64) + green (4).
       jr z,segmd          ; mushroom to right, move down instead.
       inc (ix+2)          ; no obstacles, so move right.
       ret

; so segment is going left then!

segml  ld a,(ix+2)         ; y coord.
       and a               ; already at left edge of screen?
       jr z,segmd          ; yes - move segment down.
       dec a               ; look right.
       ld b,a              ; set up GP y coord.
       call atadd          ; find attribute address at (dispx,dispy).
       cp 68               ; mushrooms are bright (64) + green (4).
       jr z,segmd          ; mushroom to left, move down instead.
       dec (ix+2)          ; no obstacles, so move left.
       ret

; so segment is going down then!

segmd  ld a,(ix)           ; segment direction.
       xor 1               ; reverse it.
       ld (ix),a           ; store new direction.
       ld a,(ix+1)         ; y coord.
       cp 21               ; already at bottom of screen?
       jr z,segmt          ; yes - move segment to the top.

; At this point we're moving down regardless of any mushrooms that 
; may block the segment's path.  Anything in the segment's way will
; be obliterated.

       inc (ix+1)          ; haven't reached the bottom, move down.
       ret

; moving segment to the top of the screen.

segmt  xor a               ; same as ld a,0 but saves 1 byte.
       ld (ix+1),a         ; new x coordinate = top of screen.
       ret

; Segment collision detection.
; Checks for collisions with player and player's bullets.

segcol ld a,(ply)          ; bullet y position.
       cp (ix+2)           ; is it identical to segment y coord?
       jr nz,bulcol        ; y coords differ, try bullet instead.
       ld a,(plx)          ; player x coord.
       cp (ix+1)           ; same as segment?
       jr nz,bulcol        ; x coords differ, try bullet instead.

; So we have a collision with the player.

killpl ld (dead),a         ; set flag to say that player is now dead.
       ret

; Let's check for a collision with the player's bullet.

bulcol ld a,(pbx)          ; bullet x coords.
       inc a               ; at default value?
       ret z               ; yes, no bullet to check for.
       cp (ix+1)           ; is bullet x coord same as segment x coord?
       ret nz              ; no, so no collision.
       ld a,(pby)          ; bullet y position.
       cp (ix+2)           ; is it identical to segment y coord?
       ret nz              ; no - no collision this time.

; So we have a collision with the player's bullet.

       call dbull          ; delete bullet.
       ld a,22             ; AT code.
       rst 16
       ld a,(pbx)          ; player bullet vertical coord.
       inc a               ; 1 line down.
       rst 16              ; set vertical position of mushroom.
       ld a,(pby)          ; bullet's horizontal position.
       rst 16              ; set the horizontal coord.
       ld a,16             ; ASCII code for INK control.
       rst 16
       ld a,4              ; 4 = colour green.
       rst 16              ; we want all mushrooms in this colour!
       ld a,145            ; UDG 'B' is the mushroom graphic.
       rst 16              ; put mushroom on screen.
       call kilbul         ; kill the bullet.
       ld (ix),a           ; kill the segment.
       ld hl,numseg        ; number of segments.
       dec (hl)            ; decrement it.
       ret

; Simple pseudo-random number generator.
; Steps a pointer through the ROM (held in seed), returning
; the contents of the byte at that location.

random ld hl,(seed)        ; Pointer
       ld a,h
       and 31              ; keep it within first 8k of ROM.
       ld h,a
       ld a,(hl)           ; Get "random" number from location.
       inc hl              ; Increment pointer.
       ld (seed),hl
       ret
seed   defw 0

; Calculate address of attribute for character at (dispx, dispy).

atadd  ld a,c              ; vertical coordinate.
       rrca                ; multiply by 32.
       rrca                ; Shifting right with carry 3 times is
       rrca                ; quicker than shifting left 5 times.
       ld e,a
       and 3
       add a,88            ; 88x256=address of attributes.
       ld d,a
       ld a,e
       and 224
       ld e,a
       ld a,b              ; horizontal position.
       add a,e
       ld e,a              ; de=address of attributes.
       ld a,(de)           ; return with attribute in accumulator.
       ret

plx    defb 0              ; player's x coordinate.
ply    defb 0              ; player's y coordinate.
pbx    defb 255            ; player's bullet coordinates.
pby    defb 255
dead   defb 0              ; flag - player dead when non-zero.

; UDG graphics.

blocks defb 16,16,56,56,124,124,254,254    ; player base.
       defb 24,126,255,255,60,60,60,60     ; mushroom.
       defb 24,126,126,255,255,126,126,24  ; segment.
       defb 0,102,102,102,102,102,102,0    ; player bullet.

; Table of segments.
; Format: 3 bytes per entry, 10 segments.
; byte 1: 255=segment off, 0=left, 1=right.
; byte 2 = x (vertical) coordinate.
; byte 3 = y (horizontal) coordinate.

segmnt defb 0,0,0          ; segment 1.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 2.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 3.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 4.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 5.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 6.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 7.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 8.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 9.
       defb 0,0,0          ; segment 10.

But wait, why are there two tests for collision detection instead of one? Well, imagine the player’s gunbase is one character cell to the left of a centipede segment. The player is moving right and the segment is moving left. In the next frame the segment would move into the cell occupied by the player, and the player would move into the position occupied by the segment in the previous frame – player and centipede segment would move straight through each other and a single collision detection check would fail to pick this up. By checking for a collision after the player moves, and then again after the centipede segments have moved we can avoid the problem.

Collisions Between Sprites

Fair enough, most Spectrum games use sprites rather than UDGs so in the next chapter we shall see how sprites may be drawn.  For collision detection, the same principle of coordinate checking can be used to detect collisions between sprites.  Subtract the first sprite’s coordinates from those of the second, examine the difference and if it’s within the size range of the two sprites combined we have a collision on that axis.  A simple collision check for two 16×16 pixel sprites might look something like this:

; Check (l, h) for collision with (c, b), strict enforcement.

colx16 ld a,l              ; x coord.
       sub c               ; subtract x.
       add a,15            ; add maximum distance.
       cp 31               ; within x range?
       ret nc              ; no - they've missed.
       ld a,h              ; y coord.
       sub b               ; subtract y.
       add a,15            ; add maximum distance.
       cp 31               ; within y range?
       ret                 ; carry flag set if there's a collision.

There is a drawback with this method. If your sprites don’t entirely fill their 16×16 pixel boundaries then the collision detection will appear to be too strict, and collisions will happen when sprites are close together but not actually touching. A slightly less sensitive check would involve clipping the corners of the sprites into a more octagonal shape, particularly if your sprites have rounded corners. The routine below works by adding the x and y coordinate differences and checking that they are below a certain limit. For a collision between two 16×16 sprites the maximum coordinate distances are 15 pixels for each axis, so by checking that the x and y differences are 25 or less we are effectively shaving a 5x5x5 pixel triangle from each corner.

; Check (l, h) for collision with (c, b), cutting corners.

colc16 ld a,l              ; x coord.
       sub c               ; subtract x.
       jr nc,colc1a        ; result is positive.
       neg                 ; make negative positive.
colc1a cp 16               ; within x range?
       ret nc              ; no - they've missed.
       ld e,a              ; store difference.

       ld a,h              ; y coord.
       sub b               ; subtract y.
       jr nc,colc1b        ; result is positive.
       neg                 ; make negative positive.
colc1b cp 16               ; within y range?
       ret nc              ; no - they've missed.

       add a,e             ; add x difference.
       cp 26               ; only 5 corner pixels touching?
       ret                 ; carry set if there's a collision.
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