Sunday, 22 May 2011

Richard @ RetroVision 2011 - Llamasoft jolly!

22nd May 2011

Well nothing new to show you at the moment, I did not even take any photos at this event as I really got carried away with enjoying myself (Oops, now that was silly). It started when my brother, Phil and I got up at 9am, had some breakfast and tea (Put the kettle on Philip). I was on the IPod Touch checking for new emails before setting off to the event. We both got ready and driven from Solihull to Oxford, getting stuck in traffic for about 40 minutes or so, due to an accident in one of the junctions. When we got there, we found parking to be really awkward, so we had to use the city centre multi-floor car park.

Anyway, after I got to the Foly Bridge pub, I bought a glass of cola for Phil and also one for myself, then I headed off to the function room and said "I have come for the Retro Vision event, I am Richard, Sheepoid programmer, and this is my brother Philip". Kenz was very surprised to finally see me in person at the event. I went over to the C64 and thought I surprise the people by playing Sheepoid, and then entering on the high score table "Richard Bayliss is here". This was where I then bumped into Vinny, followed by my co-op assistant of Sub Hunter. Frank Gasking. They both were also delighted to see me in person down there. One of them even bought me a drink and offered to buy Philip a drink, but he turned down the offer. Frank also got out his copy of Sheepoid and asked if I could sign it. Which I did. Kenz also came over to me and got a copy of Sheepoid out and asked if I could sign the inlay as well. Which I also did.

The computer, which I was mainly playing games on at the event was mainly on the Commodore 64C (Just like what I have). The C64C also had a 1541 Ultimate device plugged into the back of the machine, with LOADS and LOADS of Commodore C64 games on there, including Sheepoid. I might consider ordering one of these later on this year, as my 1541 disk drive keeps playing up. I also talked to Frank and Vinny about how I was involved in programming games. I even brought a disk with a couple of previews (Super Tau Zeta and Up In The Air), but I really should have brought it on an SD Card.

Later on, after looking around, I went straight back to the C64C and got Philip sitting next to me, and did something which brought memories back. We had a Vioris challenge :) After all these years (1993 or something like that), Philip and I were playing Vioris and he, unfortunately beat me at this game. Pah! Typical ... I'm not that good at gaming am I? ... I decided to then play the classic "Commodore Force" cover tape game, Relax ... Ooops, he beat me once again. Then afterwards, I played Trailblazer against him and I still lost at it! ... It goes to show that I am more of a games creator than a games player today :o) I was then interviewed by Paul Drury from Retro Gaming magazine, asking me questions about how I was involved on the Commodore 64 and why I was involved. I was happy to answer those questions, and as soon as the interview was over after 2 or 3 minutes or so, I went back up and played "Star Sabre" for the Amstrad CPC, as well as Drop Zone on Kenz's Specadore (Commodore 64 with a painted casing to make it look like a Spectrum). Man, that "Star Sabre" game was awesome, I wish there was a port of it for the Commodore C64. Hope a programmer (not me) would be able to take on this challenge).

RetroVision had some great competitions, I participated in only one, but I shall tell you about it later on. One competition, which I did not participate in was Hiper Viper for the BBC computer. I saw the game in action. It was one of those classic remakes of the traditional Worm/Snake style game.

The next competition was "Sheepoid". Vinny was the man in charge of the scores, and the game appeared on the big screen. Darn. I forgot to take some photos of this event. Pff! There were some players playing really well at this game, and there were some players who failed with embarrassment. Especially where one particular person scored NO points at all. There was one person who put their name down for this competition, but they did not seem to be present for the competition at the time, so I got my brother to cover for them. Oh dear. Bad move. He did not do good at all. He scored 30 points, and lost a life straight away. This really made me laugh!

There were also some people speaking to me about Commodore 64 stuff. Colin showed me some classic games which he was involved with, or had friends who made the games - which unfortunately never actually got released. Colin also showed me his music editor, which he's working on for the Commodore 64. One particular game, which took my attention on the C64 was an unreleased blaster, which was written back in 1993. I cannot remember what the game was called, but it reminded me of Firebird Software's classic shoot 'em up called Galax-I-Birds. Another game was some kind of underwater platform game. I said to the person who showed me the two games, if those were released back in the eighties, they would have made great Mastertronic / Firebird releases. Also if the game was released in 1993 it would have made a great cover tape game for one of the two UK C64 magazines that were still alive at the time.

Another gaming competition come up. I signed my name for it, and I signed my brother's name for the compo. Not realising that it is a tournament for more than 5 players. I played my brother up by putting his name as "Philip/Pork Pie". The compare asked for the compo entrants, "Richard/TND" and also "Philip/Pork Pie". I was laughing when I heard that. We played a few bouts of the tournament. I lost completely, Philip made it to the finals, which made me a bit jealous. Well, as I have said before, I am more of a game creator than a gamer in general :)

Before I decided to leave the event and head for home, I was sitting outside speaking to Philip until Kenz come along and asked me to sign a Sheepoid framed poster for the charity auction. I was very happy to oblige to do this. The auction went on for ages, and in the lot sixty something was the picture, signed by me. Philip missed the picture being sold at the auction. After this, I went over to Kenz, Vinny, Frank and some other people. Shook their hands and said I had a great time and sure would love to come to RV2012 next year. What a fantastic event it has been.

Oops, I had a great time at RetroVision 2011, but I had forgotten a couple of things. One was to ask for a tape and premium disk version of Sheepoid, before leaving and another which was to show the work of Up in the Air (A project which I held back, due to feeling uncomfortable with parts of the project and also due to work) and Super Tau Zeta (Which is currently still under development). Sorry to Alf and Wayne for failing to show the previews from my floppy.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Joy-sticks :)

Tuesday 17th May 2011

Just as I thought it was nearly all over for Sheepoid (Baaaah!), I've had quite a big surprise today. First, when I was coming home from work, I bought two ice creams from the Ice Cream van. One for myself, and one for my brother. I sat down, relaxed enjoying my 99 with flake. Then my brother said to me "I have a done a surprise project for you, Richard.". I originally thought that Phil must have been secretly working on a C64 style game on his lap top for my PC or something similar. Well, How wrong I was. My surprise was much bigger. It's not a game this time, but something which I never expected. - A brand new, and pretty special joystick for my (Take a guess) Commodore 64.

I am guessing that Phil found it really difficult to use the SpectraVideo joystick, which I have had for so many years (and is still working today), while he was playing Sheepoid on Friday last week. He even failed to get past the first level, due to the joystick being pretty awkward. So I showed him how to play the game properly. Well, either last week or this week. He secretly ordered various parts and components, and he built a new arcade style joystick inside the garage, and also used some unused wood and boarding, and he coated it with white paint. It must have took him some time to do this, especially the electronics. The biggest problem would probably have been to find a suitable port for the joystick. So he found one of my old joysticks and wired that up to the new joystick. One problem ... The wire's too long :)

Phil also worked hard on making an additional feature for this special joystick by wiring the direction controls, to move the player according to direction of movement. The red button was wired to act as the usual fire button. Finally the blue button was something special, which joystick manufacturers failed to add for the Commodore 64. Especially for driving simulators and platform games. The blue button was used as an extra UP command. This is so that when playing platform games, the blue button could be used to allow the player to jump. What a clever chap ;o)

To finish off his secret project, Phil decided to test the new joystick on my Commodore 64. He had to fiddle around with loading stuff using the DC2N, while I was away. Then he managed to load up the cute and hilarious Thalamus game, Creatures and he tested the joystick on the game. Worked a treat.

I was impressed with the amazing work and time, which Phil spent on this secret little hobby project. I loaded up Hewson's Uridium and played the game using the new joystick. Hmm, it is something I would need to get used to. Mainly because I am used to having the fire button on the left and the direction stick to the right. Instead the buttons are on the right, and the main controller was on the left. That did not really matter because I played Uridium quite well with this device. Huge thanks Phil.