Things have been a bit… meh recently. I caught a cold at the end of last month and am notoriously bad at recovering from illness so didn’t sit down to do as much programming as I’d wanted to; I have done some code on a scrolling shoot ’em up which is for the Hex Files rewrite although it isn’t anywhere near finished just yet. It’s called Rubidius because even work-in-progress projects need a name and is running with some unused graphics which currently look like this…
…but there’s a distinct possibility that things will change as the project progresses. It’s deliberately a simple game internally – the attack wave driver is more primitive than the code in Edge Grinder for example – but I’m avoiding things like unrolled loops or self modifying code. Keeping things simple has, rather ironically, been a little complicated since I wanted to scroll the colour RAM but still keep things PAL and NTSC compatible.
Andy Vaisey has graciously agreed to compose the music for both Rubidius and the other game I have in mind which is a reworking of the original Hex Files sprite dodging one, although I haven’t randomly plucked a name from the periodic table and flipped a letter or two out for the title of that one yet.
The lack of releases means this blog has been even quieter than usual… but things continue to happen in the background. For example, the rewrite of the Hex Files is still in the “exploratory stage” as I settle on an assembler and IDE to target, rethink the running order and actually start doing a bit of writing. CBM prg Studio initially looked promising but I really didn’t like the way it converts tabs to spaces in the source code; I’m used to whizzing around with the cursor keys so it feels somewhat stodgy. A few other options have popped up (feel free to insert a Finbarr Saunders reference here both for “popped up” and “insert”) so I’ll have to see if they feel any more comfortable.
Last month’s post also received a slightly less than subtle comment about Vallation. I forgot to mention it in said post, but it was the first piece of game code I started prodding around and a few changes have been made. The problem is that they’re not exciting enough to write about, essentially boiling down to just reorganising the memory layout to shift all of the graphics from bank 1 to bank 3 which makes space for extra level data required to expand the game out. At the moment this is all pretty much irrelevant until the end of game code is properly repurposed to act as an end of world event (each world is planned to be three levels sharing a graphical theme and, hopefully, some bespoke enemies) because it still stops after the original three levels unless I remove the checks, in which case the player instead gets deliberately stuck on the first screen of level 5’s map because it’s not done yet!
Hammer Down is pretty much out of the door now barring unforeseen circumstances, and I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to consider which project to pick up from my overflowing folder of work files. I do have one specific idea already though; for ages I’ve been promising myself that some time would be found to rework my Hex Files programming course for the C64 so that seems like a “plan”. The originals are showing their age somewhat, the first instalment was published two decades ago through Commodore Zone and the revision currently online at Oldschool Gaming has merely been modified for C64Asm, my cross assembler of choice at the time.
I already mentioned a reworking of Hex Files on Facebook about a week ago and the response was positive enough to warrant further consideration; the new version would be more games oriented and, because I’d try to write quite a bit of it in advance rather than putting something together close to deadline each month, should hopefully be a bit more consistent in writing style and overall “direction”… and I’d have to remove all the self modifying code because I’ve never been happy about providing tutorials which rely on it.
It also requires a new name to differentiate it from what’s already online and the front runner right now is “C64 Workshop” which leaves things open for potential re-workings to cover other platforms in future if I feel brave enough. There’s also the question of which development environment to favour; I’ve considered options like Kick Assembler and CBM prg Studio – the latter is already installed on my “scrap box” laptop to get a feel for it – but at the moment my personal setup of ACME being called by Crimson Editor and backed up by a range of other tools doe seem simpler to set up.
I’ve done a little groundwork but It does need some more thought… does anyone have some ibuprofen handy?