September 14th: Vectorblade BUG!

I am sorry to inform all Vectorblade owners with version below 1.03 – that recently a bug was discovered, that can cause Vectorblade to CRASH.

(All current owners have a version below 1.03, since 1.03 does not exist yet – and if you can’t see or find a version number, than your copy of Vectorblade is less than version 1.03)

I thought about how to handle this, and one option was to replace all flash chips with an updated version of Vectorblade, but right now I do refrain from this.

The reason is, this bug can quite easily be circumvented.
Since I am on a holiday trip right now and my hard- and software ressources are quite limited, I can not build a new version and not 100% analyse the situation. But the current information seem to suggest:

  • the crash can only occur within the boss fight #3 (deathstar)
  • the crash can only occur, if your “scale” is less than 128
    (in 8bit language: “positive”)
    128 is the default, so if you have not actively changed this setting you are “save”.

It logically follows that you can circumvent the bug, if you set the scale to 128 or higher. You set the scale during the calibration with following screen:

Calibration: SCALE

If need be, how can YOU get an update?

(Update not available yet!)

  • for me the least complicated/costly/time consuming method:
    you don’t need an update, since you play on scale 128 or more
  • the second easiest (for me):
    I build a new binary and you find a supportive friend/relative/acquaintance with a eprom burner, that can burn a 256kB flash. If you know someone, than you open the cartridge, take out the flash (it is socketed) and burn the new Vectorblade onto the flash. Put the chip back into the cartridge and everything is fine (except – you lose all progress)
  • if you feel you absolutly need the update and can’t find a person with an eprom burner… contact me and I’ll send you a new Vectorblade on a flash chip. Than you still must open the cartridge and swap the flash.
  • If you feel you have two left hands, don’t know which side of a screwdriver is which… also contact me. Than you can send me your Vectorblade (cartridge only) and I will do the update procedure.

Obviously options 3+4 are not prefered by me, especially because the current postage situation and the resulting prices.

Also on options 3+4 I would put a “wait” – tag.
Vectorblade is “fresh” in the public playing. The beta testers and I played hundreds and hundreds of hours. But obviously we could not test all situations. It just might be, that more bugs are found with now possibly more than 100 people actually playing Vectorblade. For that reason I would wait a medium peroid of time before sending out new hardware.

I hope you can still enjoy Vectorblade even with the current bug.
Believe me nobody is more upset because of this than I.

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8 thoughts on “September 14th: Vectorblade BUG!

  1. Phillip Eaton

    The bad news, you made 100 carts. The good news, you only made 100 carts AND maybe you haven’t shipped them all yet.

    But, yes it’s a bummer…how did the bug get found?

    FWIW, I just checked (VF) VB calibration on my recently test-cart calibrated Vectrex and my VB calibration number was 131. I also tried it on another Vectrex and it was 134, so no immediate issue or me.

    However, I would flash my physical VB cart as and when the new code becomes available/becomes stable. (And when I have the gear to do it, my Stag PP39 isn’t new enough!)

  2. Benjamin Vitters

    I play with a setting higher than 128 so I’ll be fine and will keep the game as is. But good to now if I ever play it on a different machine.
    Thanks for all the hard work, don’t worry on the bug to much as it’s easily avoidable.

  3. John Jones

    I bought one and am going to try flashing the chip without de-soldering it when an updated binary becomes available. If that is a success, I’d be happy to offer my services to those in the US… I’m thinking that they would just send me their cartridge with a pre-paid return (envelope/box).

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