Workprint – March 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.

Atari here, Atari there

The free time I’ve had over last couple of weeks has been very… well, Atari-filled; my scrolling shoot ’em up Callisto made it out of the door safely and just in time for this year’s ABBUC software competition and there’s another scrolling shoot ’em up been submitted so I’m particularly looking forward to playing that when the releases start filtering through to the public domain in a month or two. Entering the competition has been on my “to do” list for several years now so I’m pretty pleased that the planets have finally aligned correctly for it to happen.

There’s also a fun little (literally, since there’s a size limit of 4K) Atari 8-bit BASIC coding competition on the Atari Age forums and I threw my hat into the ring for it with Stellar Caverns, one of those “use PRINT to scroll the screen vertically” games where the player has to navigate safely through a tunnel. The quirk is that the display list (the sort of scripting language used to define the Atari 8-bit’s display) has been customised to flip the character screen memory vertically so the scrolling runs downwards rather than up.

Finally there’s a third Atari 8-bit game in the early stages of development, but I’m keeping that one under my metaphorical hat until there’s at least a playable level ready to show off demonstrate. That might be happening at Play in October as long as I’ve got enough coding time and there are a few other projects that need attention…!