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.

3 thoughts on “Workprint – June 2018

  1. Always liked Vallation, Hope you get to carry on the Stellar work you did and Release it ( God I’m like a Dog with a Bone as regards your Games are’nt I ? LOL ) Commercially ! :->

  2. I’ve not used Charpad for a while.

    Last year, I rewrote the Arkanix Labs mapper, CartographPC, in PureBasic. It has a ton of new features, but still only does mapping on a char basis at present. I hope to include tiles/blocks soon. Most things are in place behind the scenes for this feature, I just need to implement.

    After a bit of reverse engineering, I did hack myself together a version that read Charpad files and it was pretty cool seeing something I wrote loading the Charpad files containing the Commando and Uridium chars and maps! :D

  3. The most recent version of Char Pad is pretty darned good, it does almost everything the original did and adds so much more on top; it could handle
    Hammer Down’s map now, something that isn’t true of the previous iterations.

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