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MegaZeux 2.80 public BETA
-- Introduction --
MegaZeux 2.80 is a hybrid port/rewrite of MegaZeux 2.70 for DOS (actually,
development for 2.80 began a bit prior to 2.70's release, but it's 100%
feature compatible). It is not a complete rewrite, in that the existing
MZX source was used as a base for its development. Nonetheless, quite a lot
of the code has been rewritten, and what hasn't been has been reformatted
and carefully examined. As much as 75% or more of the current source is new
code or code that has been heavily modified from the original. For this
reason, it is not adequete to simply refer to it as a port, because a
typical port will only have the bare minimum changes necessary to make the
program run seamlessly on other platforms (or sometimes, just one other
platform, such as MZX32). This does not fully realize this project's short
and long-term goals, which include:
- First and foremost, as stated, allowing MZX in its current state to run
seamlessly on other platforms with no handicaps (for instance, missing
robot editor)
- Removing unnatural limitations within MZX itself.
- Providing a relatively sane and efficient implementation of MZX's
- Providing source code which is decently readable, maintainable, and
can easily be modified and expanded upon.
- As much portability as possible, placing portability over other ideals.
In case anyone is actually interested, here is a more technical overview
of what has actually been done so far on this project:
- All ASM files have been rewritten to ANSI C compliant C++; this mainly
involves the mammoth game2.asm.
- Everything graphics related has been replaced with an SDL driven engine,
including text mode rendering (also capable of rendering SMZX modes)
- All keyboard and mouse events are now also handled by an SDL driven
engine. All internal keyboard/mouse routines use SDL keycodes; no
attempt was made to convert to MZX's old format at this level.
- All world/board/robot loading and saving code has been entirely
rewritten and is more modular now.
- All robot handling code has been rewritten from scratch, and is more
sane/efficient now (allocation, message sending, sensors, etc.)
- All counter handling code has also been rewritten from scratch. This
includes the functionality of builtin and "function" counters. It also
includes a new string framework.
- The robot interpreter has been almost entirely rewritten.
- The main game playing code (game.cpp) has been almost entirely rewritten.
- All module/sample playing code has been rewritten to use modplug and
SDL. PC speaker effects are emulated.
- The main part of the editor (edit.cpp) has been almost entirely rewritten.
- The robot editor has been entirely rewritten, utilizing a modifed (fixed)
version of RASM (released by me over a year ago)
- All other source files (for instance, window handling code, scroll
displaying, char editor, etc.) have been largely overhauled, some to more
of a degree than others. At the very least, everything has been
reformatted and made to work with the new systems.
Now, for a disclaimer. This release is very much in beta status. What that
means is that it will almost definitely have several bugs. I have every
intention of fixing such bugs as soon as I can, and if I don't, someone
else definitely will. The port has been tested internally by private beta
testers for some time now, and I suspect that there is at least a 90%
compatability rate. Nonetheless, MZX has such a diverse number of
applications and worlds have so many variables that it's impossible to
test exhaustively, especially with the features added after version 2.51s3.
See more about bugs/reporting procedure further down.
-- Platforms --
Currently, the port will only definitely work on Windows (9x or NT based).
It should build on Linux, however, there is no support for case insensitive
file reading yet, so you would likely have to run games off of a FAT
paritition to have any luck with them. Chances are it won't work very well
on MacOS X because the code is not 100% endian safe yet. These problems
will definitely be alleviated in due time.
-- Minimum Requirements --
I really can't give any exact numbers here, because for one thing it depends
entirely on the game being ran. Chances are the requirements will only be
slightly higher than it would be for a machine that can run the DOS version
correctly, and sometimes may even be slightly lower. As compared to the
original, the port has to manually draw the screen pixel by pixel without
acceleration. However, the renderer is optimized and quite fast.
For the record, I believe the lowest specs machine that has ran the port so
far is a 266MHz mobile Pentium 2 with 32-64MB of RAM. Chances are it can
run fine on something even slower than this. Right now, I don't know, but
in the future this section will likely have more information. If you have
any specific success or failure stories on older hardware, let me know.
-- Gameplay --
Gameplay should be more or less the same as it always was. Some keys
are changed though:
- Use ctrl + alt + enter to toggle between fullscreen and windowed mode
(read the disclaimer on this further down!)
- Use F12 to dump the screen to a BMP; this can be done at ANY time.
The default values (speed, volumes, etc) are the same as they were before,
but if you change them in MZX they won't stay that way the next time you
load. To change them permanently, you have to change the config file
(see below).
Password protected worlds are not supported natively. However, if you try
to load one, you will be presented with an option to permanently decrypt
the world and then load it. With that said, password protection is now
100% removed from MZX, and no trace of encryption code exists outside of
the decryption module.
There are a couple discrepencies that break compatability that should be
- key_pressed and key_code now return unsigned chars instead of signed,
so if the game checks for negative values, it won't work.
- The same goes for reading back characters for strings.
- Some things that worked in the DOS version only worked due to chance,
such as there being default (but valid) values for sprite widths or
heights and thus sprites could be displayed before new values were
These shouldn't apply to very many games (I know of one.. in the recent
DoZ. The game was already really broken anyway :p)
-- Limitations --
The MZX port removes many limitations of the original. However, some
still remain due to the world format which has not been changed. These
are the changes:
- Boards may now be as large as 32767x32767. Please do not make boards
this large. :)
- You may now have up to 250 boards.
- Boards may have up to 255 robots, 255 scrolls, and 255 sensors.
- There is no robot memory per board limit. However, individual robots
may only be up to 64k large. If you include the global robot, this
means that you effectively can have up to 16MB of robot memory per
- The same applies to scrolls, which have separate memory spaces and
may only be up to 64k in length each (so you could have almost
16MB of scroll text per board, but who would want that??)
- The robot stack need not be initialized, and will be dynamically
resized as necessary (useful for recursion). This refers to lines
such as
. "#*-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8"
at the beginning of robots. They're no longer necessary or useful
(they will be ignored, like any other comment).
- You may have a virtually unlimited number of counters active. The
theoretical limit is some 4 billion. The effective limit depends on
memory available.
- The same goes for strings, which may now have any name, so long as
it begins with a dollar sign ($). The same conventions regarding
strings in 2.68+ still apply (see 268_info.txt for more information)
- Local2 and local3 no longer have dangerous side-effects. Local4
through local32 are also available per-robot now.
A warning: I have tried my best to make it impossible to exceed these
limits, however, you may be able to somehow. If you do, don't save the
game. You will probably corrupt it. Just exit.
-- Video --
The port by default runs in a window that is 640x350. It can run fullscreen,
but chances are you won't get 640x350. It's very likely that you'll get
640x400, which only has minor black bars at the top and bottom (I find it to
be entirely satisfactory). If you're not so lucky, you might be limited to
640x480. You can manually specify a resolution in the config file. In fact,
before going into fullscreen, I recommend forcing 640x480 then 640x400. So
far we've experienced temporary monitor problems when trying to go into
640x350 fullscreen for one user - it may be a good idea to force 640x400's
refresh rate using a tool like hztool (win9x) or NVRefresh (win2k+). You
can also set these with PowerStrip, as well as experiment with custom
refresh rates. It is worth trying to add 640x350 and 640x700 in this
If you don't get 640x400, there might be a remedy to this.. but as of now
I don't know any. I believe that most video cards can handle it, though.
In the cases where you can't, it's probably a driver/OS/configuration issue.
It is also possible to set a multiplier for the height, for the image to be
stretched. Be sure that the multiplication of 350 is within the resolution
chosen or MZX will crash! On my machine, I can run MZX at 640x700 with a 2x
height multiplier and it looks great.
-- Audio --
With this version, many more module formats are playable than compared to
the previous version. The following are natively supported:
Yes, WAVs can be loaded as mods, and although this is not generally
recommended it could be useful sometimes (such as for short musical clips).
GDM is not supported natively. However, if a GDM file is attempted to be
loaded, an attempt will be made to load an alternate .S3M version, and if
it does not exist, one will be created by converting the GDM file.
The same goes for SAM; they will be converted to WAV. Therefore, you can
now use WAV files natively as samples.
It is strongly recommended that you do not include any GDM or SAM files in
distributions of new MZX games; instead include only their conversions.
You cannot load GDM files with alt + N in the editor at all anymore.
However, you can convert SAM files by testing them with alt + L, and you
can convert GDM files by loading them with a robot. Or, you can use an
external convertor.
Audio is always sampled to 16bit, 44KHz. If your computer cannot support
this, then I believe SDL will emulate it, although I'm not 100% certain
(this remains to be seen). If this is the case, you're in dire need of a
new soundcard anyway.
The size of the audio buffer can be changed in the config file. See the
comments therein to determine the affect of this.
-- Editor --
Although quite a lot of the editor has been rewritten from scratch, a
sincere attempt has been made to make it as compatible and similar to the
original as possible. These are the differences:
- You cannot click on help options to make it happen (for instance, you
can't click on L:Load and expect it to bring up the load window).
- You cannot import or export ANS files. Use MZM instead.
- You can now perform repeated copies by selecting "Copy (repeated)"
from the block command window. This will cause you to repeat the copy
indefinitely until you press escape. Also, after the first paste is
made, you may press ctrl + direction to move in steps that are the
size of the copy (you really have to try it to get a good idea of what
I mean)
- Press alt + H to hide/unhide the menu/information occupying the bottom
6 lines of the screen.
- Right click is similar to pressing insert (grabs whatever's under the
- Exporting char sets now gives direct options to set the size/offset
for partial charsets. The old format (prefixing the name) will not
- For saving files, you may make filenames larger and use mixed case
(as opposed to all caps).
- Now when you import worlds their exits will actually work.
- Loading worlds results in all empty boards and empty
robots/scrolls/sensors within the boards being removed. When you delete
a board, you won't be presented with a gap in the board list anymore.
- You may once again select ASCII as a default charset and revert to it
in the char editor. You may also select a default SMZX charset.
- Anywhere you can enter a line of text you can now press ctrl + left
and ctrl + right to go to the previous/next word.
- This isn't totally limited to the editor, but now everywhere a
selection box shows up (such as for files, boards, items) you can
press multiple keys to seek to a specific entry. Furthermore, in
file selection boxes you can press backspace to go up a directory.
- The SMZX char editor has been changed quite a bit. First, to use, you
must be in SMZX modes 1-3 (toggle using F11).
Within the editor, press keys 1 through 4 to change the "current color."
You can place this color with space, and you can toggle repeated
placement on/off using tab (sorry, no clear/toggle in this mode, they
got in the way far more than they helped).
You now move in increments of 1 char naturally instead of "half chars."
Right click grabs the current "color" underneath the cursor.
- The robotic editor has been rewritten from scratch and is therefore
quite different. Some options do not appear in the help at the bottom
(not enough room), so refer here for information:
You are now able to type invalid code within a robotic line. You will
see that it's invalid due to the way the line is color coded. If you
try to escape while any lines are invalid or if you press alt + V, a
window will be brought up describing the nature of all erroneous lines.
It will also let you mark each line to be deleted or commented out on
exit. If all invalid lines are marked with anything besides ignore,
you can exit safely. You may also mark invalid lines using ctrl + I, D,
and C (to mark as ignore, delete, and comment respectively).
ctrl + C may also be used to comment out a normal line, and then
alt + O is still available, but you may only change macros here (see
the config file for the other rarely used options). This does give
you more room to modify macros, though. They may be up to 64 characters
in length, and you may set up to around 45 or so in this window. (To
get larger, you'll have to use the config file.)
There are some slight discrepencies in robot size; if you highlight the
last line then leave it it will register as a compilation of that line.
Yet, when you exit, the line will be discarded, so this addition is not
permanent. This shouldn't be problematic.
alt + enter and alt + escape no longer work; use the alternatives
(alt + b and alt + u)
-- Config File --
The config file is named config.txt and is a plain-text file that is
intended to be edited in a text editor. All information about it and
options are described in the file itself. It's a good idea to keep a
backup of it in case you want to be made aware of the defaults again,
but if you simply delete the file these defaults will be used.
You may also set config file options at commandline. Note that you
may not use whitespace at all here (if you do, different words will
be counted as separate options). For instance, you may run from
command line:
mzx280 startup_file=test.mzx mzx_speed=7
To start MZX with test.mzx at speed 7.
It's probably worth the time of any new user to check out the config
file options.
-- Misc --
The default char sets for MZX, SMZX, ASCII, and even blank are stored
as actual charsets in the same directory as MZX (mzx_default.chr,
mzx_smzx.chr, mzx_ascii.chr, and mzx_blank.chr respectively). They
are not read-only by default, but you may want to make them so. Don't
change them unless you know what you're doing.
See build.txt for information about building from source.
-- Known Bugs --
As of this release I don't KNOW of any bugs, and in general I don't
make a habit of releasing something when I know of specific bugs. Since
I wrote much of the code and have a good understanding of virtually all
of it, and because it's much easier to debug outside of DOS, chances are
I should be able to fix any bugs that crop up.
-- Bug Reporting Procedure --
If you find a bug, report it on DigitalMZX (there will be a special
pinned thread for this) or e-mail me at Here are
some guidelines to consider:
- Describe exactly what is happening to you. Do not attempt to diagnose
the nature of the bug, because you may be wrong, and this could throw
me off significantly.
- I may ask for you to then send the world file where this is happening,
or even better, a save file.
- Include directions of how to reproduce the bug. If the bug doesn't
happen every time, try to find out what is causing it some of the time
and reproduce it regularly.
- If possible, it would be very helpful if you were to create a new world
which synthesizes the bug in as little code as possible. This may
require some debugging of your own on the game in question to find out
exactly what's not working.
Please do NOT make reports such as:
Because they won't help anything.
-- Credits --
Main author: Exophase (Gilead Kutnick,
Original MZX base code: Gregory Janson
Additional MZX contributions: Spider124, MenTaLguY, CapnKev, JZig,
madbrain, Akwende, Koji
(I'd also like to thank MenTaLguY for idput.cpp, the first converted
piece of MZX's code base, which has been included in the DOS build
since version 2.51s3)
Original SAM2WAV code: madbrain
GDM2S3M library code: ajs
Default SMZX charset: LogiCow
Beta Testers:
I'd really like to give a special thanks to my beta testers,
especially Terryn. They really worked very hard in not only finding
bugs but helping crush them. If not for them, the port would have
never progressed at all. They were very patient and hardworking
throughout this whole ordeal.
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