Workprint – December 2018

Time for another workprint and I’m afraid this one is pretty much going to be a case of me saying “watch this space” in various different ways because, whilst there are things ongoing for amongst other things the CSDb Intro Creation Competition, I’m keeping the entire deck of cards close to my chest for the moment to allow for random rewrites or complete changes of project priority. There are at least two more intros being prodded at right now and one uses an FLD routine, but that’s about as specific as I’m willing to get for the moment.

But one of the sillier ideas I came up with a few weeks back but ultimately decided not to pursue – one of the down sides to the CSDb ICC is that you can only enter three intros, I usually have twice as many ideas – was by total coincidence realised by ROLE a few days back, although my version was going to be a bit more involved technically, pushing into the side borders and stretching the sprite. Perhaps I’ll do my interpretation and release it alongside the competition if I can find some free time?

There’s going to be a couple of releases on t’other label now that December is under way; it’s game code that’s been loitering around my hard disks for an age that was essentially put aside but not quite forgotten entirely when I switched to “demo mode”. You could consider those to be a “festive season bonus” but, since I dislike said annual event with a passion and am nowhere near organised enough to arrange something like that anyway, it’s really just me “clearing the decks.

Watching Backlog (C64)

Since I’m in an intro-y kind of mood right now I decided to have a ponder about “past glories” and loaded Backlog, a collection of intros I wrote for various people during the 1990s that were thrown together into a single file at the end of 1999. Perhaps unsurprisingly the show starts with an intro, although this one was written specifically for the job; it has a logo by WHW Design, music from 4-Mat – one of his earliest tunes as a member of the group if memory serves – and the design was based on a Cosine intro Hookie used during the 1980s.

The first actual intro in the collection was written in 1991 for Chancer when he was a member of Babygang and is one of two I coded for them. It saw a fair amount of use in part because it was designed to be compact, with everything bar the music being crammed into the first 4K of memory and there are even a few cases of this in the wild where the music was removed entirely in order to save even more space. I’m told that it also compresses rather well, although that’s more by luck than design on my part!

The Derbyshire Ram intro that comes next in the collection hails from 1992 and is pretty simple stuff with a swinging logo, scroller and some cosine-following sprites but, because I’m thoroughly disorganised and it took a little too long to code, so Barry had already left Deadline by the time everything was finished! And there’s a similar story behind the Success intro that follows as well, it was commissioned by Mistri in 1993 and I spent some time cramming the logo and larger character set into a ridiculously small amount of space only to find out that they’d just joined forces with The Ruling Company and my code would therefore remain unused.

Next is the only other Cosine intro included in this collection, which was first used for the Electronic Music System V7.03 in 1997 and subsequently linked to a couple of Cosine games around the same time. The main “design choice” was to work within a reduced area of the screen by drawing a box around everything apart from the logo and this is the primary inspiration for Refix 2017. The final intro in the collection was coded in around five hours to go in front of A Lil Bit Of, a three part demo by Carcass again put out in 1997. The music in the final release was composed by Necrophobic, but I didn’t realise there was a new tune being supplied so the intro is timed around the Replay tune included on this release. Once space has been pressed we get to the finale, another 4-Mat tune accompanying a large “end” logo that swings onto the screen.

There are a couple more intros that could have been included including the second Babygang intro mentioned earlier – there’s an extremely good chance that I actually forgot about it when compiling the collection – and one I did but, if memory serves, never quite finished for Rebel Alliance around the time I was coding Pink Elephants In Lemonade. And because of those two the idea for Backlog 2 has been stewing pretty much since the first one was released although, unless I’m forgetting something else, there’s not much to go into it after those and the more recent Cosine intro used for GR9 Strike Force

Workprint – November 2018

So my plans for releasing last weekend went… well, badly. Ongoing illness and me never being at my best this time of year aside, the main reason is that my ability to plan ahead is at best negligible and what little “skill” is actually there will often be completely overpowered by industrial quantities of procrastination. Plan A was started but was too ambitious so ran out of steam and the switch to a more realistic Plan B simply arrived too late in the day to be viable. It’s probably telling that my last contribution to X was For Teh Win in 2006 – back when I was more able to pull all-nighters if needed – where the actual workload was smaller since it ran from a single file and I didn’t do the graphics…

It’s not that I didn’t get anything done though because some code was written and indeed linked, so what I’m “planning” to do now is consolidate Plan B and another project that’s been on the back burner for ages into one, easily manageable demo with the intention being to push the results out of the door in time for the C64 competition at Forever next year since there’ll be a joke in there which should hopefully work with that audience… because if you can’t be top of the pops for technical expertise and haven’t really got the conviction to carry off something thematic, try going for the laugh.

Anyone who hasn’t looked at the releases from X’2018 should give them a go, there were twenty one demos and six 4K intros in total (as well as a couple more demos released outside the competitions and a metric bucketload of music and graphics entries) with even the just-for-fun entries like the one from Poo-Brain – only the second C64 release from the newly-minted C64 division of a usually Windows-based group – being enjoyable to watch.

As an unexpected but happy Wednesday morning addendum, I’ve just noticed that the CSDb Intro Creation Competition is back for 2018 as of Monday. The closing date is on the 6th of January 2019 so that’s a solid two months of coding time and participants can enter up to three intros. I’ve thrown my hat into the ring for a couple of previous instances so it’s the well that Macro Sleep, Refix 2017 and Koalatro sprang from as well as C64CD release Clonetro. I think there’s a few existing ideas knocking around amongst my workfiles so, once things are back on a more even keel, I’ll have to start dusting them down to see where I stand.