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1  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2004-09-20 05:09:12
I have released 1.0 (final) of PacDasher, the free Java arcade game. It is downloadable at

On unzipping the file, just execute the run script -- assuming you have the latest version of Java. As always, the game can be run from the Web at

Thanks to everybody for giving feedback over the past eighteen months and helping make this software what it is.

2  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2004-06-21 04:00:48
Anyway, if a webstart version appears that uses retroweaver then I'll certainl play this game

Web Start for 1.4 gives you a scarier certificate message than 1.5. Also, if the keys don't work at first, check that there isn't a dialog blocking things in the background. Lastly, sound is not supported for the 1.4 version.

By the way, has anybody tried the run14 script in the distro?

3  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2004-06-14 03:15:12
Thanks TheBohemian. Retroweaver seems to work pretty well. In release 0.99 of PacDasher I have a run14 script for people using Java 1.4:

Hope this works for Mac users like swpalmer. There is just one extra bug in the 1.4 version, to do with sound.

Version 0.99 also has fruit at each level, a classic Pac-Man feature missing till now.

Let me know of any problems. I'm afraid I won't have much more time to work on PacDasher, as I am going back into industry soon.


4  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2004-05-25 02:11:16
PacDasher 0.98 has been released. It contains bug fixes and extra effects. Also there are two configurations:

The classic maze with 8 levels (I thought 256 was too many), each a little faster than the last:

... and a configuration with five different mazes, one for each level:

Try the latest version (also at and let me know if there is anything I should fix before 1.0. Has anybody tried it on Linux yet?

The comments so far have been very helpful.

5  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2004-05-12 21:29:28
I think I've fixed the worst of it. CPU usage is now less than a quarter of what it was. PacDasher 0.96 uses full-screen exclusive mode to ensure that the page flipping abilities of most video cards will work. Also, there is extra double buffering for the complex maze.

It should take less than 5 seconds to cross the long path at the bottom of level1.

If you clear your Java Console, and go to

...I hope you will have a better experience. If you are using the full version from, and it is still slow, please send me your pacdasher.log as there is a lot of good debugging info in there.

6  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2004-05-12 02:06:18
PacDasher 0.95 is out -- now with sound. PacDasher is a maze arcade game which is: free, open-source, and configurable.

digitprop: I corrected the blooper in the Web Start config. If you clear your cache in the Java Control Panel, it ought to work now:

swpalmer: Sorry about the Mac thing. The features in J2SE 1.5 were too attractive for me to resist.

deepFlame: That's interesting about  the CPU.  PacDasher has frame rate control so it grabs all the sleep() it can get.  On my 1.4MHz Wintel system, it takes 30% CPU. I know it performs much worse on Linux. On the IDE question, I am using the latest NetBeans (3.6). It doesn't support 1.5 either but I manage.

7  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2004-05-09 12:32:36
PacDasher 0.93 has been released. Note that J2SE 1.5 beta 1 ( or above is now required. If you have this you might even be able to run it now from your browser:

As usual the source can be downloaded at

Changes since my last post include bug fixes, J2SE 1.5, java.util logging, Web Start (a requested feature), and more mazes. To see a sample maze, try

run spiral.xml

You can make your own mazes. The XML format is fairly self-explanatory I think: let me know if it is not.

If you encounter a bug, especially anything to do with key input or jerkiness, please send me the pacdasher.log (in the same directory as the run script) and let me know what video card you are using. I can be reached at (without the 'NOSPAMBoTS'). Thank you to all who have commented and made suggestions in the past.

Human interest: see today's NYT report on 'Pac-Manhattan'.

8  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2003-07-25 17:30:33
0.9.0 is out there. Now with an ant build.

There are several reports of the keys being sluggish. I can't promise this is fixed in the latest version, as I have not reproduced the problem on my local machine. So this is currently the most frustrating thing.

Benny, System.gc() only suggests that the garbage collector run. Though in my experience it generally runs right away.


9  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: PacDasher on: 2003-06-22 20:30:46
Hi Benny,

Jerason showed me that 0.8.8 has poor packaging. I've just made 0.8.9:

Use the run and cleanbuild scripts. I've tested it under NT4 and RedHat 9. Let me know how you get on: I'm interested in bug reports for different machines than my own, and general suggestions.

10  Games Center / Archived Projects / PacDasher on: 2003-06-09 01:48:59

This is my first post to, announcing the creation of a new Pac-Man clone, called PacDasher.

PacDasher requires J2SE 1.4 -- a large part of my reason for creating the game was to experiment with the latest 2D API and garbage collection features. The game allows custom mazes to be written in XML. Sample mazes, faithful to the original Midway versions, are included.

The latest version, 0.8.5, can be downloaded at

More info at

Bug reports to I am an experienced Java developer but this is my first arcade game, so comments and criticisms would be welcomed.

In developing the game I learnt a number of lessons. They will be old news for most people on this board (which I often used to research issues) but I'd like to share my experience as I think many other first-time Java game creators will go through the same things and maybe this summary will save them some time:

1. Review double buffering and understand the new BufferStrategy class.

2. Garbage collection is your biggest enemy as it interrupts the animation. Create a minimum of objects in the main iteration loop (instead reuse objects with pools, etc.) Measure the memory put on the heap per frame (for PacDasher <2K per frame). Java API calls can create a lot of garbage too. Choose a low-pause garbage collector on the java command-line. Call System.gc() at natural pauses in the game.

3. Also important for a constant frame rate is to eliminate Hotspot's opportunistic compilation. Use -Xcomp or -Xint.

4. Whereas most OO designs will concentrate on reusability, arcade game designs should concentrate on performance to compensate for Java's relative slowness.

5. Design data structures based on expected usage. What is the most common question that processing will put to your UI model? Also, for decent frame rates(PacDasher has 50 fps) only use Collections if you really need their methods. Prefer arrays.

6. It would be nice to use layers to separate what changes from what doesn't. This is well supported in the MIDP 2.0 Game API. Unfortunately in J2SE there are a lot of technical difficulties. Images take too much time to combine. Alternatively, JLayeredFrame, as with other Swing components, is heavy in terms of memory and there seems to be no way to really efficiently clear a Graphics (foreground) context (help?). Note that transparent colors are slow too.

That's all. By the way, while testing I found my video card is too old to take advantage of the new hardware acceleration features in Java, so things like BufferStrategy would just be extra overhead from my perspective and I ended up not using them.

James McCabe,
SCJP, SCWCD, available for work around Denver.

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