Retro Gamer 79

I have in my hand a piece of paper… in fact several, a complete magazine in fact. The remakes are a remake of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which converts it into a point-and-click affair), a remake of Donkey Kong, the excellent XBLIG blaster Retrofit: Overload and a Flash game with loads of plumbers in it called Enough Plumbers. The interview on the page after that is with Nathan Fouts of Mommy’s Best Games, the bloke who made Shoot 1Up and Grapple Buggy.

The 8-bit stuff is a collection of resurrected BBC games by Retro Remakes regular (try saying that ten times fast) Minion which includes a fun but bugged Burger Time clone. There is also a mini game-based adventure for the C16 called Olticrun, simple action from Diagonal Ball 2 on the C64 and for the Atari 2600 there’s Evil Magician’s Return, an unofficial sequel to Atari’s classic Adventure.

Oh, and I get a name check in Craig Grannell’s piece about the Kikstart series for my port of the C16 version to the C64 – fame at last!

Knock, knock

To paraphrase Britney, it’s been a while… but the Blast Engine has finally received some attention over the last couple of days!

One of the new functions is the ability to give an enemy object a title – for example “boss core” – and then tell subsequent enemies to “attach themselves to it; they won’t follow it’s movements (because it played merry hell with the aiming system when I had a go at implementing it and would be too restrictive a system anyway) but when “boss core” is destroyed they’ll simultaneously combust with it; the idea is to use these attached objects to build gun mounts or other destructible parts that can be attached to a larger boss object and then given the same movement commands so they tootle around with it.

The object rendering currently offers ten levels of priority, with the background scrolling sitting between levels 5 and 6 and the explosion generator running between the top two; this means that ground-based objects will always be behind airborne ones and enemies without collision information can be employed to generate parallax effects in front of and behind the action. To make synchronising movement easier, objects can specify a speed to be “nudged” down the screen in time with the background scrolling.

A new directive has also been bolted into the timeline processing which halts the scrolling and aforementioned object nudging until a named enemy has been taken out; this means that the scrolling can be paused for mini-boss and boss battles as need be and then restarted without losing sync with the timeline. And objects can now turn to look at the player, which can be surprisingly unnerving…

Late spring clean

So the last week has seen a spot of spring cleaning, both physical and virtual with the latter not quite being complete. On the physical front, the pokey little space I refer to with almost no irony as my office has been radically tidied (the bin has even been emptied, some of the stuff near the bottom had been festering there so long it was close to sentience) and some of those little jobs that have been pending for ages like untangling the cables for various desktops and consoles from each other has taken place.

There’s also been some relatively major tidying up of the front room, the down side to which is that, along with the expected but nondescript nagging sense that I’ve misplaced something important, I have actually managed to lose one of my old Compaq Evo laptops; it was the almost blank one that was being used to develop Edge Grinder (the machine was deliberately empty to avoid the temptation of switching to an assembler) so it’ll need locating since the most recent revisions of the program code haven’t been backed up to any other boxes!

On the virtual front, my (t)rusty work machine Ikaruga (named after a shoot ’em up of course, just like every box on our network) finally managed to grind down her 400 watt power supply and needed surgery – since she was already on the table, I took the opportunity to install a larger hard disk, reconnect the multi card reader properly, remove the lightly toasted Soundblaster Live card (a replacement will be sought on eBay at some point, hopefully along with an old GeForce 4 MX440 for the low specification testing machine since it needs rebuilding too) and do a clean install of Windows XP. In some respects I like working on a fresh machine because it’s so much more responsive, but that’s probably because I hate the actual transition and tend to leave things to the point where the delay before a program opens can be measured in geological time – but the slog of getting everything back to being “just so” is arduous to say the least, which is why it usually gets held off until there’s no other option…

If this urge to tidy stuff continues (it’s possible albeit rather unlikely) I’ll be revamping the WordPress templates for Bullet Mechanics and Illogistix too, although the latter will require access to my stock image collection which is on a 40Gb drive that isn’t in this box right now!