Workprint – March 2018

So let’s get some workprint business out of the way first; since there are now two people showing an interest in converting Vallation to other platforms I might just have to properly shuffle it to the front burner and get on with building the new levels so they actually have a full game to convert. This process will doubtless involve lots of expletives – all aimed at myself for taking shortcuts or bodging – and possibly some rewriting or at least refactoring of the code because it seems to take far more processing time than I remember.

The RLE-based background compression I was mumbling about in the last update is also implemented and works surprisingly well, in fact there’s a simple but functionally complete game wrapped around it now. It has over 56K of background data in there which has been compressed into a mere 23.1K and takes around six minutes to scroll through at one pixel a frame. My intention is to get the entire game done rather than doing a “development diary” so I know it’s finished when writing the C64CD blog posts.

I’ve done a few more tests as regards grabbing video footage, again using VICE and OBS to this time accidentally record a full ten level playthrough of Warhawk. The results look quite solid, but there’s a bit more fiddling with settings I want to do and I have Vegas Pro courtesy of the Humble Bundle to install and get my head around… so who knows, perhaps I’ll become a rich and famous YouTuber? Well okay, probably just a YouTuber but I’m only doing it for the groupies anyway.

In other news, whilst I was away in Kent I met up with fellow Cosine inmates Darren Nevell , Frank Gasking and Sean Connolly for the twice-yearly internal meeting; that makes things sound all official and stuff, but we basically take up a corner of Starbucks and natter for the best part of a day. After nursing a coffee each for a couple of hours we then piled into Level Up and spent a happy hour or so trying to persuade ourselves not to buy everything in sight! Amongst other things I ended up with a PSU for one of my spare Atari 800XLs, a collection of books which are destined for the racking going into my office once it’s decorated including one about BASIC for the Dragon 32, an unboxed freebie of A64 – a C64 emulator for the Amiga which has a dongle for connecting peripherals – and… well, this thing:

Despite looking like an adolescent Enigma machine it’s actually a joystick interface for the Spectrum where each direction and the fire buttons can be connected to keys so pushing left on the stick is, as far as the computer is concerned, someone holding down the O key. I absolutely adore the bizarre but functional nature of this thing; it’s such a perverse work-around for the problem but at the same time will literally work on anything that doesn’t require actual typing to play. Come to think of it, you could also “type” rude words with the joystick…

Workprint – July 2017

Yes I’m running late with the workprint post again (or perhaps I should say “as usual”) but, now that I’ve settled back into playing with game code, there’s been some time over the last couple of weeks spent dabbling with Z80 and quite a bit of head scratching about how to do software sprites; I’ve got a sort of working routine on the Spectrum which lacks proper X movement right now, but a lot more thought is required because it can only deal with three or at a push four objects per frame that are ten by ten pixels. That’s crappy and I know the problem is down to my Z80 “skills” being tragically weak, although another project that shall remain nameless for the moment has recently taught me a few things that might help.

On the 6502 front, I’ve been doing a few tweaks to Hammer Down that have been pending for ages so that’s slowly creeping forwards. There’s also the option of doing a small, reasonably well documented C64 game perhaps under the Backward Engineering label (since it hasn’t seen action for a while) to release via C64CD but I haven’t decided what exactly. My “default setting” is a scrolling shooter of course and part of me is tempted to write something with a simplified attack wave engine similar to the one in Ash & Dave’s Pirates In Hyperspace where the enemies have speed values for X and Y which all get changed when a timer expires. C64CD releases are meant to be simple so should I boil the design down to the bare minimum like that or do something a little more involved I wonder? Again, further mental gymnastics are needed…

Workprint – July 2016

Wow, I somehow seem to have missed the workprint post for a couple of months without either realising or knowing how it even happened! Since I’m currently blaming everything on the result of the EU referendum, so that can be the scapegoat for this situation as well even if it’s demonstrably not the case. In truth, free time has been more scarce than usual so releasing a demo at Sundown has, along with plans to actually show up in Budleigh Salterton for once, sadly fallen by the wayside. It might still be possible to get a monthly demo release together to contribute, although the ideas pile is a little sparse and I doubt a multi-platform audience would “get” what .

So instead I’ll be focusing on a Plus/4 part to contribute for the Cracker’s Demo 5 deadline; it’ll be started from scratch – I can’t test the code being written previously – and my current mantra of “if in doubt, DYCP” is almost certain to apply, that’s doable. I mean, it’s not as though I have problems with meeting deadlines is it… oh.

Here’s some news that isn’t mine though, Sokurah has just released his ZX Spectrum conversion of my C64 game Vallation! It can be downloaded from the relevant page of his website and features some lovely graphics from Craig Stevenson as well.