Far too easily distracted

I’ve been a little more “out there” than usual recently, so there haven’t been many posts and the short version of what happened is, basically, that things just got on top of me. It doesn’t help that there’s been something literally getting on my nerves for the last week either; the fan bearings in my web server’s PSU appear to be close to completely shot so it’s making one hell of a racket, something that isn’t particularly conducive to writing, coding or indeed trying to think! I don’t want to just shut down and swap parts in case something goes south in the process, so I’m in the process of putting together a “stunt server” that’ll step in and keep things ticking until something more permanent is sorted.

Things should start returning to “normal” this coming weekend, assuming I don’t get even more caught up in either Carmen Sandiego or High Score Girl – I suspect it’s just me who gets excited seeing footage of Viper Phase 1 in the latter’s opening titles – on Netflix than I have been the last couple of days.

Releasing Level One (C64)

We’ve reached the end game for 2018’s Intro Creation Competition so there’s been an inrush of new releases over the last couple of days including one last contribution from yours truly with the ever patient Andy Vaisey on music. It went through a few names but Level One was the final choice simply because it looks somewhat like a game.

The scrolling area takes up the entire regular screen – 39 visible characters across by 25 down – and is being moved using a double buffered scroll routine similar to the ones employed by games which in turn leans on some Run-Length Encoded background data. It also uses the C64’s Extended Colour Mode so, although there are only 64 characters available in the font, it can have four possible background colours for each character so I don’t have to scroll the colour RAM.

Something a little trickier is happening in the black bands above and below the scrolling; these are ten pixels high and sat in the borders, but containing a seven character wide Cosine logo and nineteen characters of either static text or scrolling message. To get twenty six characters into that space the code has to abuse the ghostbyte, splitting it at five points on each scanline to produce the extra two characters (they’re at the far left and right of the screen on both lines) and mask off the raster bars for the areas between the sprites.

I suspect a few people will be asking themselves if a game with similar graphics would be possible and the answer is a sort-of-yes, although drawing decent backgrounds when restricted to just 64 characters is bloody tricky!

Workprint – January 2019

So we’ve started a new year but I still have a little unfinished business with the Intro Creation Competition that, since the competition’s deadline looms this coming Sunday, should appear in the appropriate places by the weekend if all goes well. I adore the ICC for giving me a deadline to code to and spawning so many cool intros each time but, since each coder only gets three “slots”, that leaves me with quite a few spare effect ideas, logos and indeed half completed intros knocking about by the end to the point where I’m probably good for the next two iterations.

Now, since it’s sort of becoming “traditional” here’s my new year’s resolution for 2019 – it’s the same as last year, 320 by 200 pixels.

There’s an extremely good chance that I’ve been subconsciously attempting to wear that “joke” out over the years. At the start of 2018 I ported the C64’s power up screen to bitmap ready to draw in a logo but, when I ran out of time, just pushed the unedited conversion out on social media as a PNG. This time the image has gained that planned logo so, if things progress at this terrifyingly fast rate, I might have a complete intro by 2021 or perhaps 2022 if there’s a sprite effect of some kind.