The Hydra Game Development Kit was a joint effort between Parallax and Nurve Networks (headed by Andre LaMothe). For this project they needed a few demo programmers to show off what the system can do, as well as create some software libraries that users can take advantage of in their own programs. I was one of the demo programmers that was asked to come aboard.

It was an interesting project because we received the Propeller chip before Parallax publicly announced it. Since the Propeller was unreleased at that time, we had only our own group of people that we could pool for programming help. Also the IDE was in the development stage at the time, which posed its own problems.

Early on there were two major problems that came up: the limitations of Parallax's graphics driver, and the amount of memory on the chip. The graphics driver that Parallax created used two bitmapped buffers(to create flicker free animation) for video. Programming the screen was pretty easy, but the driver, and the two buffers, took up almost 90% of the chip's 32K of memory. There was also a color limitation where you had only a palette of 4 colors for every 16 pixels. Fortunately both Remi and Colin didn't accept this limitation and programmed new graphics drivers that really opened up the potential of the Propeller chip. I honestly don't even think Parallax knew it was possible to generate the type of video that Colin and Remi accomplished.

Colin and Remi modeled their drivers after the older game consoles, which utilized tiled backgrounds and sprites. These new drivers removed both the 4 color limitation and used A LOT less memory, I immediately embraced and used both these drivers. There was also a great audio driver created by Nick that I also used to round out the programs with sound effects and music.

Below are the demo programs that I created for the Hydra, and the final product at the online sites of Parallax and Nurve Networks. All the source code from the Hydra kit has been released and can be downloaded here. NOTE: These programs do not run on a PC. You need hardware with the Propeller micro to run them.


This program I had the most fun with. Instead of using someone else's graphics driver, I wrote my own for this game to support scaling sprites and a road with a moveable perspective. And with just enough memory at the end, music was provided in the 11th hour by a friend of mine, John Wedgeworth.
Ball Buster v2

For the second version I used the graphics driver that was used in Hydraman and the Hydra demo. Since this driver used less memory, I was able to add more features like sound, mouse support, and more levels. Also because this graphics driver didn't have a color limit, I was able to give it better graphics.
Ball Buster v1

This was the first program I did, and it utilized Parallax's TV and graphics driver, which made good use of the 4 color per 16 pixel limitation. This was finished in time for an internal deadline of early February to show off what the new unreleased (at the time) Propeller chip can do. The only downside is I ran out of memory because the graphics driver used so much of it for the screen.
Tiled Text Driver

This was the last program I created. I designed this to go with Hydra Basic, but in end it didn't work out because it wouldn't have had enough COGs for the save and load routines. To show off the driver, I created a small demo that would take keyboard input and place it on the screen.

In addition to the programs I created for the Hydra, I continued to make more programs for the Propeller micro.
NOTE: These programs do not run on a PC. You need hardware with the Propeller micro to run them.


One or Two player block drop video game
Works with both NTSC and PAL
Play with keyboard or gamepads
Supports Hydra, Hybrid, and Demo boards
Source code included
Download here

Two player retro paddle ball game
Works with both NTSC and PAL
Play with two mice or gamepads
Supports Hydra, Hybrid, and Demo boards
Source code included
Download here
Digital Screen Capture

This is a Windows PC app designed to take digital screenshots of Propeller software and and send the image over a serial connection. The software itself is pretty rough, but it gets the job done. It also includes some software for the Propeller as an example of how to add screen capture code to your programs.
Download here