Cleaning springs

I recently opened a shiny new YouTube channel – or more accurately, started using the one that they insisted I have in my own name back when Google+ was a thing – with the first video being footage for the post about Chronos last Saturday; the rest of the weekend has been spent getting my head around Vegas Pro and, after a little messing around, the channel now has a dozen videos available which have been added to the relevant posts in the playing” category here.

It isn’t quite spring yet, but the “cleaning” has already started because most of the tidying up of this blog that was started at the end of 2017 is now done; screenshots and videos are now resized to match the WordPress template more closely and a couple of broken links were tidied up along the way. I still have over fifteen posts where the screenshots need to be scaled up for the new formatting to work properly, but those will hopefully be taken care of in the next couple of days.

Workprint – March 2018

So let’s get some workprint business out of the way first; since there are now two people showing an interest in converting Vallation to other platforms I might just have to properly shuffle it to the front burner and get on with building the new levels so they actually have a full game to convert. This process will doubtless involve lots of expletives – all aimed at myself for taking shortcuts or bodging – and possibly some rewriting or at least refactoring of the code because it seems to take far more processing time than I remember.

The RLE-based background compression I was mumbling about in the last update is also implemented and works surprisingly well, in fact there’s a simple but functionally complete game wrapped around it now. It has over 56K of background data in there which has been compressed into a mere 23.1K and takes around six minutes to scroll through at one pixel a frame. My intention is to get the entire game done rather than doing a “development diary” so I know it’s finished when writing the C64CD blog posts.

I’ve done a few more tests as regards grabbing video footage, again using VICE and OBS to this time accidentally record a full ten level playthrough of Warhawk. The results look quite solid, but there’s a bit more fiddling with settings I want to do and I have Vegas Pro courtesy of the Humble Bundle to install and get my head around… so who knows, perhaps I’ll become a rich and famous YouTuber? Well okay, probably just a YouTuber but I’m only doing it for the groupies anyway.

In other news, whilst I was away in Kent I met up with fellow Cosine inmates Darren Nevell , Frank Gasking and Sean Connolly for the twice-yearly internal meeting; that makes things sound all official and stuff, but we basically take up a corner of Starbucks and natter for the best part of a day. After nursing a coffee each for a couple of hours we then piled into Level Up and spent a happy hour or so trying to persuade ourselves not to buy everything in sight! Amongst other things I ended up with a PSU for one of my spare Atari 800XLs, a collection of books which are destined for the racking going into my office once it’s decorated including one about BASIC for the Dragon 32, an unboxed freebie of A64 – a C64 emulator for the Amiga which has a dongle for connecting peripherals – and… well, this thing:

Despite looking like an adolescent Enigma machine it’s actually a joystick interface for the Spectrum where each direction and the fire buttons can be connected to keys so pushing left on the stick is, as far as the computer is concerned, someone holding down the O key. I absolutely adore the bizarre but functional nature of this thing; it’s such a perverse work-around for the problem but at the same time will literally work on anything that doesn’t require actual typing to play. Come to think of it, you could also “type” rude words with the joystick…

Some upgrades and catching up

I was going to post on Friday, honest… but the last couple of days have been spent rebuilding my Beloved’s old HP DC7700 as a workstation for myself and then experimenting to find out if it’s powerful enough to grab better quality videos for YouTube than I was managing previously. With that in mind, here’s a recent test where I played Warhawk badly to the point where my arse was handed to me on level 7:

This was recorded straight from WinVICE 3.0 using OBS Studio at what I think should be 480P and, although it’s better than my previous uploads which were dumped straight from the emulator, there’s still some tweaking to do. The next trial will probably be without VICE‘s scanline generation enabled to see if that makes a difference and I’m open to suggestions on what else might help!

The machine itself isn’t done yet; most of my regular software is installed but not fully configured and it’ll be getting more RAM and a second hard disk – shown above and labeled as a “surveilance hard drive” which is slightly concerning, I don’t want Amber Rudd rifling through my source code – as well. I’m hoping those upgrades will improve things on the video grabbing front, but failing that a dive into eBay for a better GeForce card than the one already in there will possibly be in order…