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.

Workprint – September 2017

The lack of releases means this blog has been even quieter than usual… but things continue to happen in the background. For example, the rewrite of the Hex Files is still in the “exploratory stage” as I settle on an assembler and IDE to target, rethink the running order and actually start doing a bit of writing. CBM prg Studio initially looked promising but I really didn’t like the way it converts tabs to spaces in the source code; I’m used to whizzing around with the cursor keys so it feels somewhat stodgy. A few other options have popped up (feel free to insert a Finbarr Saunders reference here both for “popped up” and “insert”) so I’ll have to see if they feel any more comfortable.

Last month’s post also received a slightly less than subtle comment about Vallation. I forgot to mention it in said post, but it was the first piece of game code I started prodding around and a few changes have been made. The problem is that they’re not exciting enough to write about, essentially boiling down to just reorganising the memory layout to shift all of the graphics from bank 1 to bank 3 which makes space for extra level data required to expand the game out. At the moment this is all pretty much irrelevant until the end of game code is properly repurposed to act as an end of world event (each world is planned to be three levels sharing a graphical theme and, hopefully, some bespoke enemies) because it still stops after the original three levels unless I remove the checks, in which case the player instead gets deliberately stuck on the first screen of level 5’s map because it’s not done yet!

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.