Thursday, 5 January 2012

2011 - A year of C64 productivity

5th January 2012
Well as 2011 has passed by, 2012 is here. I want to reveal some of the highs and lows of the C64 and TND in 2011.

1000 Kung Fu Maniacs
Before 2011, I was working on Kung Fu Maniacs. A sideways scrolling SEUCK game, which Alf Yngve created. The game was bloody awesome. Who would have thought about making a beat 'em up with the Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit?. I worked on a new front end and also additional enhancements to the game. Jon Wells did the music and helped me out with SEUCK questions. This game turned out to be commercial, although one drawback is the score/panel looks too much like SEUCK, but I didn't know (and still don't) how to make a new look scoring panel. When it come to the tape mastering, I made a loader that looked a bit like the Wild Loader, using the usual TND tape loader source. 1000 KFM turned out to be a loved SEUCK game. :)

First off the start of 2011 was remarkably busy on the TND production front, although there were hardly any game releases at all made by me. That was mainly because I have been working on a game for the Retrovision 2011 all format beer and gaming party. I wanted to make a game for the Llamasoft Jolly. That game was of course Sheepoid. Kenz took interest in doing a Psytronik Software release of this production as well, which I was pleased to hear about. Sheepoid took a few months to create and my fingers took quite a battering working on this production. Well, 2-3 months to be exact. This was because I had to enhance the game a lot and changes were imminent. I also had problems, which involved the explosion routines. The char explosions were assisted by Achim Volkers (Thank you for your help). The game worked pretty well. Extra features were added as well. Frank Gasking and took the reign of play testing Sheepoid. I was informed that I should make a *special* competition version of the game for Retrovision 2011, in which players will only play the game with one life only. More about this later.

Sheepoid loader and Disk Menu
Making the Psytronik version of Sheepoid took quite a lot of battering keys. We wanted a loading picture for the game, and Ste'86 jumped in to draw the loading picture for the Sheepoid loader (Thunderload). The tape loader used a the colour cycling method while loading str
ipes were shown. The cycle represented the no. of blocks loaded, and the flashing sheep represented
the loading progress. I also programmed the disk menu, and was very pleased with the result.

Retrovision 2011

I already wrote a blog in May about Retrovision 2011. This event was great fun. It took about an hour and a half to get to the pub where the event was held. I drunk plenty of pop, but only had one pint of lager. I didn't feel like drinking, but felt like gaming. At the event I met Retromarkie, Kenz (They were the first two people at the event), Frank Gasking and C64Endings.Co.Uk. I also got interviewed by Paul at Retro Gamer, and was shown some WIP games. Those of which were OutSpace, a C64 game which I played on Colin's laptop. Also an unfinished game of Aquarius, which I am looking forward to seeing finished.

Hyper Viper
As I was busy with Sheepoid, I also was very keen to do some tape mastering for Psytronik Software. Hyper Viper by Jamie Howard was an excellent port of the classic MSX maze game, in which you pursued around the maze, guzz
ling the snakes from behind. Scoff in between a snake and it will multiply. :) Interesting concept. I was involved with the tape mastering for this production. Yet again, Ste'86 did another nice job with the loading picture. I composed a tune specially as an exclusive for the game's loader and disk menu. I quite enjoyed this.

Sideways Scrolling S.E.U.C.K Competition 2011

After the success of the SSSC 2010, I decided to launch another one back in 2011. Unfortunately although people posted on forums, etc that they're quite interested to participate in the compo, only a few entrants made it to the compo. Only 3 or 4 different entrants had participated in the compo. The first two games by Anthony Burns and Alf Yngve, opened the competition, except for one person entered the competition. Most entries were quite good. One entry was
of course a fake entry. It may have caught your attention that DeffEnder by Pav Loda / Deff Soft was in fact the fake, which I wrote to see if anybody caught out the fake from the genuine entries. Well not many people thought DeffEnder was fake. The funny thing was, when the voting had taken place, DeffEnder made it 3rd place :). WHAT? I just couldn't believe that DeffEnder actually made it to 3rd place before I disqualified it as a one-off joke. Some people actually thought the fake entry was Escape from the Annoying Chavs. :) The competition wasn't all that successful but we had a clear winner, which was Alf Yngve's excellent Forgotten Forest. I didn't release the enhanced version of the game on to the TND web site because it was part of a SEUCK compilation (as an extra) for Psytronik Software (As suggested by Alf and myself).

Shoot 'Em Up Destruction Set 2
What a busy year it has been for me on the productivity slot. SEUDS 2 was actually the project that had me, Kenz and Ste'86 really busy. I had 5 unreleased SEUCK games to add in game enhancements and new front ends to. The games turned out really well. Super Tau Zeta was a pure epic of last year's Sideways SEUCK competition. There was also Bloodwheels. Games that Weren't originally launched the unreleased version of the game, and I was getting the urge to get this one done. Well, it got mastered with a new front end, some in game enhancements, such as linked explosions, and also a high score table. The next game was one of my favourites. It just had to make me laugh. 2000 Kung Fu Maniacs - Way of the Exploding Fish. This game was quite a pain to update and enhance, but I managed to get the power ups working, the end screen animation, and also the main game's animation. It was purely great fun to have enhanced. The power ups made me laugh, especially the spirit of un-chen as one of the power ups. The storyline really amused me. Trojahn was a quick update. Looked impressive. Finally Forgotten Forest, the game that had won the 2011 Sideways SEUCK Compo. This game had music with SID screams and also linked explosions and power ups, special effects, etc. The tape mastering and disk menu were done and everything was ready for release. It was great fun working on this compilation. Alf Yngve's got some more SEUCK titles for me to enhance in 2012.

Sheepoid 2 - Woolly Jumper
This game took a while, but working in co-op with S.Pearson, made this game a real pleasure to work on. The game was built for the 16K game compo run by The idea of the competition was to create a full game, that would fit a 16KB cartridge. It was hard work to create and I made an 8 level version of the game specially for the compo. To be honest it was something completely different to what I have been making in the past. I attempted my first ever platform game, and it wasn't too hard, nor was it easy either. After the game was entered for the 16KB cartridge competition, it had quite a good result. It came 6th place out of 11 - due to so many stunning entries :) I did a special release of a non CRT version of WJ on 24th December. Now I am working on the full game.

Contributor's games

I was involved with the music for contributor's games, which came in 2011. We shall start with the non-SEUCK titles.

Space Trip
Achim Volkers did a nice platform game, inspired by some classic C64 titles. The player could also enter the console and select which level to board. This console part was inspired by Paradroid.
I had the privilege composing the music for this game. The title music was inspired by many of David Whittaker's classic C64 tunes. Using DMC V4.0 I had a go at doing a Whittaker style soundtrack, which worked out well for this game. Space trip also had it's own exclusive loader, which I made using the IRQ Tape Turbo source by Martin Piper.

On the Farm 2

Achim surprised me yet again with another fun game. This time it was an idea which Wayne/Art Ravers come up with. It was a sheep herding simulator, in which you played a border collie (Shep) who has to herd sheep into the pen within a time limit.
Shep had to be adjacent to the y-position of the sheep and he has to bark at the sheep too. The music and jingles were of course composed by me :)

Happy Blocks (Loader game)

Back in 2010 I did a tape loader game called MooTilation. I did promise people a new loader game for 2011. It turned out to happen in December 2011. :) Happy Blocks was the loader game. It was inspired by a PC flash game in which you dodged blocks, and after a certain number of blocks passed, the game got faster.
You also had to avoid crashing into the blocks. I originally wanted to add a scrolling message to the tape loader during the loader game. Sadly due to timing errors, I had to do away with it, and just use a static title screen. The loader game turned out as how I wanted it, and it was fun to play during loading. The HB loader was first used on the RGCD tape version of C64anabalt :)

As well as being involved with Psytronik Software and a couple of competitions. I also been enhancing a few SEUCK titles. There was Grayhawk by Alf Yngve, a great shoot 'em up inspired by Firebird Software's Warhawk. The game featured some really old-school title music. The title music was inspired by Mastertronic's Sidewinder 2, but of course the composition for Grayhawk was my own work.

Purge 101 by Anthony Burns. This was quite a challenge for me to enhance. I imported this game into the SEUCK Redux source code then created a brand new front end for the game. All worked out quite well, and Anthony has yet another surprise in store for 2012 :)

Strike Team Alpha by Carl Mason. This game took most attention. It was inspired by the Commando and Mercs games. I saw ST 1 and ST 2 back in the late 1990's, and it was a breath of fresh air to see some new tricks and tactics added into the SEUCK. I worked on a brand new front end specially for this game making it look sort of like a commercial production.

Some stuff that never made it to 2011

Up in the Air
I was literally fed up with this game project and felt as if I was getting nowhere with it. Mainly because of the graphics update and packing / depacking everything. I even wrote too much code, whereas there's not enough memory for adding more code for levels, due to the graphics data taking over the memory. At the time I decided to leave the project for the time being and work on finishing SEUDS 2, Woolly Jumper (Which the full version of the game is still not quite finished yet), and keep all of the source stored in a safe place for just in case I decide to go back to the project (Although I don't really want to, to be honest. It's just another Sub Hunter style game, which is nothing new). :)

Evil Wizard 2
It's a game which was originally planned by Pingo to be ready for Christmas. Unfortunately the game's not ready yet. The main levels are finished, and the title screen's set, but we are now awaiting some music from a well known C64 musician to fit the front end.

Ultimate Stunt Boat Challenge
It's a horizontal scrolling Shoot 'Em Up which I left for several years now. To be honest, I forgot that I left this project behind. Whether or not I would come back to it is anyone's guess.

Tape Master Pro II
In 2010 I did a tape mastering utility, which used the autoboot IRQ turbo tape loader by martin Piper. Well, I originally planned to get this tool done during the production of Woolly Jumper, but I just didn't get around to it. It will be made some time in 2012, and I've got some extra ideas to add to the tape loader. Such as use of AND #xx or ORA #xx on the flashing border, and also to make the loader run programs that use KERNAL routines for keyboard input, etc. Which V1 didn't use. Sadly I never got round to fixing a BASIC run in the tape loader source, due to it always failing.