A workspace in flux

Well, that’s wonderful. Now I’ve missed two posting deadlines in 2018… but at least the year is right first time in this post and I have something of an excuse too, the house has been turned upside down over the last month and a half so the heating could be upgraded. I’ve only just got myself a desktop – and more importantly, a desk – up and running in the last couple of days so my thrown together “work environment” currently looks like this:

With nowhere to actually sit down and work – and more pressing matters like making space for various engineers to work – it’s been quiet on that front to the point where the “planned” post that was going to appear yesterday has been postponed. It’ll probably turn up next Friday when there’s more time available.

One thing that turned up whilst moving storage boxes around was the little A4 whiteboard used to plan for Retro Gamer each month before that job was shifted over to a text file. The board itself wasn’t interesting until I turned it over to find the slightly smudged but still legible to do list for RG Rampage. And yes, my handwriting really is that horrific and pretty much always has been which is one of the reasons why I taught myself to type at the tender age of eleven.

Workprint – January 2018

I’ve missed my first Friday “deadline” for 2008 2018, that’s a cracking start to the year… having a cold is my excuse and I’m sticking to it, although that might just be the mucus!

The aftermath of the “festive season” means that I didn’t have much of note to write about at the moment anyway, I’m still hacking away in the background at the Hex Files remix when I can find time and have been mulling over a game for C64CD which will no doubt prove to be just another cheap excuse to write a scrolling shoot ’em up, but I’m tempted to throw some of the sillier ideas I’ve had for “features” into the mix for that one.

And before I forget, couple of folks have asked why Blok Copy or DYCP 2018 didn’t appear in last month’s workprint; that’s a simple one really, neither project had been decided upon when the post went live! I like to think of myself as spontaneous, although everyone else seems to feel it’s more “annoyingly erratic”.

Blok Copy (A8)

Blok Copy on the Atari 8-bit is an action puzzle game that I originally wrote for the Atari 2600 but bodged the code so badly that it crashes real consoles – one of these days that’ll need sorting out – before porting the game logic to the Commodore PET and onwards to other platforms. And now there’s a new version in town, during the Christmas period the source code was pulled apart and introduced to the Atari 8-bit before some demo-like vertical colour splits were added to make it look pretty and Andy Vaisey produced a lovely rendition of the Sean Connolly tune Sporting Chance which has been the Blok Copy soundtrack since the C64DTV2 version. This new iteration was released as part of the New Years Disk 2018

The gameplay is simple enough, the playfield has five rows of seven tiles which are randomly mixed up at the start of a level and the player has to shift them around until the first column is all 1 tiles, the second has all 2 tiles and so on. A joystick in port 1 controls the on-screen cursor and holding fire whilst moving up or down will shuffle the current column accordingly with left or right moving the current row. The time limit might seem generous on the first level where only three computer-controlled moves take place, but won’t feel so as the game progresses.

The Atari 8-bit code and graphics were ported from the C64 version, but before that happened I wanted to make some tweaks; the source has been “sanitised” to make it more readable, the in-game graphics reworked so that it’s easier to tell the tiles apart – people complained about that with the previous version – and a couple of bugs squidged which were introduced when reworking the PET code. That means there’s a new version for the C64 too, so welcome to Blok Copy RX which was also released today!

Happy new year and all that gubbins… there’ll be a second post along in the near future for the other release from today!