Workprint – June 2019

With Stercore XD released last weekend I’m sort of between projects… well okay, a hopefully final re-mastering of Hammer Down needs attention so I will have to give it a little thought at some point, but for various reasons I’ve been struggling more than a little with motivation on that one. Part of the problem is that every update to the code is a balancing act now and, even when that goes well, the changes also see me refreshing the greetings list which scrolls past on the titles page which is at best an uncomfortable process due to the data format I settled on to in a vain attempt to keep the size down.

So since I’m procrastinating there’s a chance that I’ll actually listen to the part of me which is constantly shouting “let’s make a new shoot ’em up” like a seven year old existing almost exclusively on a diet of E numbers. Right now that high-pitched, overly excited voice in my head reckons that a single screen blaster would be fun to do and I’ve got some unfinished business on that front anyway from when I started a “cover version” of a small game called Death Dealer that was intended for release on cartridge back when RGCD were limited to 16K. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect that project whilst perhaps wedging in some backgrounds or adding more complex waves to improve the longevity?

That would go some way towards bridging the gap in C64CD’s “narrative” too. My original plan was for the games to evolve over time almost like a newly-minted coder picking up skills between releases; I started out with a single screen gallery shooter – a reworking of the first assembly language game I coded as a beginner myself – and planned to build up the complexity with each game, but Stercore XD broke that sequence by leaping ahead a large distance.

With all of that said though, I’m reasonably sure that previous paragraph wasn’t just me trying to find excuses to work on another shoot ’em up.

Engage smug mode

So this blog is fairly smug to begin with, but I’ve got slightly more reason than usual at the moment; the latest issue of the excellent disk-based magazine Vandalism News was released at the Flashback party and it includes an article about the history of RGCD written by James “Heavy Stylus” Monkman which (and here comes the self-satisfied grin) name checks me quite a lot.

But putting my almost painfully over-inflated ego aside for a moment, the piece is very interesting and should probably be required reading for anyone considering the whole retro or indeed indie publishing gig. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a new tune from Rock of Finnish Gold in there and that is just several different shades of awesome.

And since I’m doing a particularly “look at me” kind of update today, a photo with me in it at Play Blackpool will apparently be appearing in Retro Gamer’s event report soon (presumably issue 143). So yeah, fame at last and all that – where do I sign up for a couple of groupies…?

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.