Workprint – May 2019

Last time I talked about the new, C64-specific version of C64CD blaster Stercore and this month continues that “trend”. It’s now officially called Stercore XD and I’ve actually got the majority of it written and working somehow!

Memory is getting very tight but all of the graphics are done now including some sprite animations – one of the aliens and the explosion have been “inherited” from Super Hyperzap – and everything just about fits into the lower half of the C64’s RAM after decrunching until the code grabs around 10K more whilst unrolling the background scroller. Spacial awareness is important here because I’m planning to put the final release version of Stercore XD out as a cartridge image for the RGCD competition. To that end the build process automagically makes a working CRT image for testing.

I still have a “to do” list including tweaks to the collision detection, a rewrite of the enemy movement code to optimise it, adding explosions and bolting in the simple attack wave driver from Super Hyperzap with a couple of small tweaks but, since there’s currently only about 280 bytes of ROM left in the 16K block the game has to occupy as a cartridge, some concessions might be necessary. To give a sense of scale, this paragraph is 457 bytes…

The House Of Mouse

So there was no post or indeed video uploaded last Saturday but I do have something of an excuse… it’s because I was out and about for the space of an entire week and, due to my aforementioned lack of organisational skills, there wasn’t a video edited or ready to go. So where exactly did my Beloved and I end up for several days you may ask? Well, I’ll post one of over six hundred pictures that were taken below and we’ll see if you can guess…?

That’s right girls and boys, I was vacationing in sunny Huddersfield! Well okay, it was Disneyland Paris but close enough, right? We had nearly a week visiting at the House Of Mouse with one of the grandchildren, spent a lot of time riding on many of the attractions, even longer in queues for said rides and paid a small fortune for concessions. Generally speaking a good time was had by all, although I really felt it in my legs – Rassilon alone knows how my Beloved survived – and will probably need a few days to recover after all that walking because even if you know where you want to be and have a reasonable idea of the park’s layout there’s still a huge amount of legwork involved.

It’s absolutely worth the effort though, there’s so much to see, do and indeed find around the park with little short cuts between the different areas to explore and attractions to stumble across. Obviously the big draws are the rides themselves and we went on Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates Of The Caribbean several times during the stay. Disney knows how to put on a show so there’s a daily parade down Main Street or the illuminations just before closing time – the latter was absolutely stunning with images projected onto the castle surrounded by lasers, fireworks and water fountains – and, as part of Disney’s Performing Arts OnStage programme, the Videopolis Theatre in Discoveryland had at least one live performance per day from children and teenagers to watch; we saw four in total from Centre Stage, SJ Dance, St Johns Marlborough and Hylands School Arts.

The only thing we’d do differently given the chance would be to avoid going over a weekend because the park and rides were absolutely rammed so waiting times were around an hour on Saturday or Sunday even with the head start we got of a morning by staying in one of the Disney hotels. Even with the distractions on offer in many of the queues, slowly shuffling forwards for that long takes a serious toll. It’s possible to work around those delays by getting a Fastpass – which is sort of like reserving a slot in the queue – and wandering off to find something to do or perhaps consume in the meantime but that needs more organisational skills than mine to do optimally.

The first draft of this post was thrown together on the Eurostar whilst listening to Protracker modules but the wifi was utterly pointless – I ended up inadvertently recreating the scene from Mission: Impossible where Max’s sidekick tries to upload the NOC list before reaching the Chunnel – and I was too tired to get my head around sorting things out on the second train of the day back to Yorkshire, so this is instead popping up the day after along with a collection of hand-selected images to peruse.

I also amused myself by going for a toilet break during the channel tunnel, meaning I got to have a pee under the sea because it’s “better down where its wetter”. Yes I am indeed an adult, why do you feel the need to clarify that?

Workprint – April 2019

The work on pushing new graphics into the updated C64 version of Stercore is progressing slowly but surely; so far I’ve replaced pretty much all the original attribute-flavoured tiles with graphical versions – as in the screenshot from Char Pad below – but they’re still in need of tweaking to remove or rework some elements. It does look like there’s a reasonable amount of space left in the character set for some extra detail though and, although there’s a few ideas brewing for new graphics to add, I’ll need to sit down and check through the maps first to make sure everything is present and correct before assigning characters.

Apart from that there’s not much else going on at Chez Roundabout because I haven’t really had much time – a dodgy shoulder has been making typing very difficult for most of the last month, which is frustrating when you’ve got ideas but can’t do much with them – which goes at least some distance towards explaining the lack of blog posts – but there’s a few odds and ends on my “to do” list for when things hopefully settle down in a week or so. And at the same time there’s all of the regular urges to write yet another horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up that need be fought…!