As noted a few times recently, I’ve cycled over into “demo mode” and have been working on… well, something that I’ll be keeping quiet about for a little while yet until it properly gets past that stage where it could be changed or indeed completely reinvented on a whim. Generally speaking though, my intention is to have something ready for X’2018 in early November – assuming we have a representative to take it along – and have a cluster of prototype routines along with some other ideas I’ve been meaning to try and a folder of logos because everybody loves logos… right?
Things have been going slowly but surely so far – today alone I somehow managed to metaphorically paint myself into a corner on two different occasions with what should’ve been relatively simple code, either choosing a less than sensible place to store things or simply running out of memory altogether – and, because it’s been a painfully long time since I worked on anything that wasn’t a onefiler, last week saw me sitting down and trying to get my head around cruncher and loader integration with some of the more recent iterations of popular tools with very little joy… at least until I discovered lft’s Spindle that is.
Spindle is, in essence, a back engine for demos which deals with loading and decompressing of data to the point where the user doesn’t need to be involved; no fighting assemblers to build loader or decruncher code, no messing around with building disk images of data, just document the files being used and the order they’re needed via a script file which is then run through Spindle to automagically get a working disk image out the far end. There are caveats of course – a couple of places in memory have to be avoided, something else I bumped into today – but having to do things just a teensy bit differently is worth it for the results.
Main project aside, there’s also been a little time spent generally doodling both with graphics and ideas for effects and a couple of forays onto other platforms; something might come of the latter if they survive testing on real hardware – in both cases the code was for a platform I don’t actually own right now, so that’s something of an issue – but at the very least it was all good practice.
Hammer Down is pretty much out of the door now barring unforeseen circumstances, and I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to consider which project to pick up from my overflowing folder of work files. I do have one specific idea already though; for ages I’ve been promising myself that some time would be found to rework my Hex Files programming course for the C64 so that seems like a “plan”. The originals are showing their age somewhat, the first instalment was published two decades ago through Commodore Zone and the revision currently online at Oldschool Gaming has merely been modified for C64Asm, my cross assembler of choice at the time.
I already mentioned a reworking of Hex Files on Facebook about a week ago and the response was positive enough to warrant further consideration; the new version would be more games oriented and, because I’d try to write quite a bit of it in advance rather than putting something together close to deadline each month, should hopefully be a bit more consistent in writing style and overall “direction”… and I’d have to remove all the self modifying code because I’ve never been happy about providing tutorials which rely on it.
It also requires a new name to differentiate it from what’s already online and the front runner right now is “C64 Workshop” which leaves things open for potential re-workings to cover other platforms in future if I feel brave enough. There’s also the question of which development environment to favour; I’ve considered options like Kick Assembler and CBM prg Studio – the latter is already installed on my “scrap box” laptop to get a feel for it – but at the moment my personal setup of ACME being called by Crimson Editor and backed up by a range of other tools doe seem simpler to set up.
I’ve done a little groundwork but It does need some more thought… does anyone have some ibuprofen handy?
As noted in the last instalment, I’ve been feeling all demo-ish lately so have spent most of the last month writing demo code; the result is a dentro called Bus Noise and, assuming the music turns up in time for me to get the linking done, it’ll be released at Sundown this coming weekend under the Slipstream banner. Here’s a teaser screenshot from the opening credits…
…and I might try to get a few other bits and bobs ready for the UK’s only scene party as well, but it does depend somewhat on available time.
Also on the demo front I do have another, more long-term project in mind; back in the 1980s and to a lesser degree the 1990s we just used to throw a part or two together and release regardless of if there was a party. I’d quite like to work on smaller, monthly releases using spare assets in the same way – my primary concern is about tying myself down to a monthly deadline (since I’m not particularly well organised) but opinions are more than welcome and, since we’re on the subject of bravery, I’m toying with setting up a Patreon account but worry that nobody loves me enough…!