Archive for the ‘Jason’s News’ Category

The economics of 2p machines

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

The pictures have been up since the event itself last weekend, but here’s the “official” post about myself, my Beloved, Spencer and three storage boxes of Oldschool Gaming systems heading off to Play Blackpool. This year we were set up in the corridor to one side of the main hall rather than the entrance which was more noisy (making conversations about the games running with people who were playing them more difficult) but warmer than last year and conveniently placed near where the cosplayers were gathering for photos.

Sadly, there’s just a couple of pictures I took of the heritage trams that passed us on our final journey from hotel to venue on Monday because I ended up suffering with a raging toothache that day and was of absolutely no use to anybody. Since then I’ve been trying to sleep through the pain and have actually visited an emergency dentist to have work done despite a deep-seated childhood phobia, all of which is my excuse for this post and the May workprint being late – there’s not much to say anyway, but it’ll be sorted during the coming week.

Despite my being useless on the Monday, there’s still quite a few pictures from the other two days in the relevant gallery.

Play Blackpool 2015

Pictures taken at Play Blackpool on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of May 2015.

Workprint – April 2015

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Since the last one seemed to go down reasonably well, here’s another update from the Cosine Laboratories – Because You’re Worth It. The subject this time is going to be Hammer Down since that’s occupied most of my programming time since the last update. One of the pending jobs for a while was finalising the maps but, since they were originally produced in Cartograph and the newer revisions broke compatibility with the work files, that meant converting everything to a new format.

In the end I spent a weekend writing some quick and disgustingly dirty tools in BlitzMax (I have some prior in this area, the level editors for Co-Axis and Warflame were completely devoid of “user friendly” features like load and save and most of my self-built cross dev tools work with fixed filenames and Windows notifications rather than opening a GUI window!) to shovel data into and then out of Tiled‘s TMX file format. Here’s how the map looks when nestled into its new home:

This editor isn’t designed for 8-bit style tile editing like Char Pad or Tile,medo are, but it’s not too difficult to “persuade” it using a cropped screenshot of the characters produced by a small program running in VICE.

We’ve been thinking about mastering as well and now have working images with test data for both disk and tape, using the Covert BitOps and Sean’s Powerload loading systems respectively; Powerload was originally written in the 1990s and, to our knowledge at least, the first tape fastloader to open the upper and lower borders whilst working; it was supplied with an auto mastering tool with Reaxion when we sent it along to Commodore Format but they decided to freeze the game on the intro and use their own loader instead, neatly undoing a lot of work on our part… and then a few months later, a game turned up on their covermount with some remarkably familiar loading stripes and the borders open!

I’m still hesitant about calling Hammer Down as “done” just yet because the loading screen is a placeholder right now, we haven’t finished the bonus music demo for the disk version and there’s a few game elements that might need a tweak, but these will all be dealt with during April. Promise!

Workprint – March 2015

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Since the blog has been a bit quiet of late and because I get asked once in a while what I’m currently working on, this is hopefully going to be the first of a series of monthly project updates. But, since even on a good day I have the attention span of a bag of amphetamine-dosed squirrels, there will probably be lots of random changing of priorities and things will get forgotten so this might turn out to be futile but fingers crossed and all that.

So first off is Hammer Down for the C64, the top down, multi-directional collect ‘em up inspired by Action Biker on the C64 and Atari 8-bit along with a couple of other budget titles. As it stands the game is pretty much complete now barring some cosmetic tweaks and we’re already thinking about the cassette and disk mastering. It also stands as one of the biggest games I’ve ever written, taking over 60K of memory and using nearly all of the available processing time during play, so it’ll be going out as PAL only and I’ll be interested to see if anyone gets an NTSC fix up and running.

Once Hammer Down is out of the way the 64K version of Vallation for the C64 should get picked up again. The current state of play is that it has six of the nine levels with two out of three graphical styles pretty much done (the screenshot above features the second graphical set which will be used for levels four to six) and it also bolts in extra enemy types and graphics as well.

Blok Copy on the Plus/4 is just waiting on music and Sean is already thinking about it; since he feels that getting the tune down to two TED channels is a non-starter we’re instead aiming for a SID card-equipped, 64K machine as a minimum – the game will run without a SID present but either be quiet or perhaps have TED-powered sound effects. There was some discussion on the Plus/4 World forums about running a competition similar to the yearly RGCD or ABBUC ones which would’ve provided a nice incentive to get this out the door but the thread dried up before it properly got started.

Speaking of ABBUC, I haven’t decided on a project for it this year; I did have something in mind but it requires a lot of trial-and-error testing and may well be unworkable in the long run. There is something of a “plan B” which won’t be anywhere near as involved technically, so if the time can be found that might step up instead. The remixed version of Co-Axis which was back-burnered late last year for a couple of reasons (the most obvious being a lack of free time) should hopefully be done and dusted for the next RGCD competition. After that, there’s some other projects being prodded at but nothing solidified enough to write about.