Workprint – June 2018

One ongoing project that’s been vexing me a little is the new C64CD game; the problem I’m having is with the name, which is basically six consonants from the latter half of the alphabet slung together pretty much at random which make it, as far as I can tell, unpronounceable. That wouldn’t be a problem except there’s always a chance I’ll need to talk face to face about this thing down the line and having to refer to it as “Thingybob” because I can’t pronounce my own game title would be embarrassing if I had any shame… perhaps I’ll just tell everybody that it’s pronounced “Thingybob”?

Anyway… the weekend saw me prodding around Vallation with the intention being to migrate to the latest version of Char Pad; this was mainly because it supports direct editing of the character set again rather than painting to the tiles, something which kept me away from every version after the first release. This transition would also mean a begrudging upgrade to my cheap and incredibly cheerless map converter which was originally written because the levels are stored as source code with each screen being a converted block of Char Pad map data followed by colour, exit and enemy data.

But on yanking the existing CTM files into the new version of the editor I discovered that the mode Vallation used which assigned thirty two bytes per tile with half of them being attribute data wasn’t supported in this updated Char Pad! Instead there’s an attribute byte per character so, if the byte for character $14 is set to red, every instance will appear in that colour and there has to be a second copy of the character if you want one in purple. But after muttering darkly about this for about half an hour whilst and prodding grumpily at the data, I realised that the bullet had actually been dodged because, apart from the four teleporter characters which ended up getting their own code, the tiles weren’t using more than one colour per character so converting it was actually possible.

It still took a quite few hours of juggling to sort out the existing levels, followed by rewrites to the tile plotters which updated how they handled colour, then some new code allowing each tile set could have a unique attribute table as well but, after three days scratching my head and swearing, for the most part at least all of those changes are invisible because it looks the same as before! On the plus side, there’s over 5K of memory saved on colour data and I can work in a far more comfortable version of Char Pad now, although the map converter was more cheerless than I remembered it being and will need further surgery sooner rather than later.

Retro Gamer 90

Another month, another issue; Hard Hat Harry and Hyper Viper represent for the BBC Micro (and the former on the Electron as well) as a platformer and Snake variant respectively, number-sorting puzzler NES 15 is in the hizzle for the NES and there’s more puzzles from Kolmik Deluxe Edition, which is bigging up the Atari ST posse. [Ahem]

On the indie side of things there’s Autocross Racing from Psytronik on the PC, cool cutesy blasting stuff from Mimi in the Sky on XBLIG and I managed to sneak a review of the slightly disappointing cross development tool Char Pad 1.7 as well. Charlie Knight’s Mini Bullet Candy is the Flash Boredom and the interview is with Shmups forum bunny Udderdude who is going it alone as a developer and deserves a bit of support!

And wandering off at a bit of a tangent, I’ve persuaded Dean at Leeds market to convert my C64DTV2 as long as I source the parts and bring along a decent how to guide; here’s a picture of the stripped out board, fudged to a female Molex connector for power being fed by a PSU that came with a USB to 3.5″ hard drive interface from Hong Kong: