Friday, 10 February 2012

The sheep invasion starts - THIS WEEKEND!

Friday 10th February 2012

Believe it or not, we have finally finished the final full version of Woolly Jumper. It's quite a miracle that this game's finished and I will be taking a break from 6502 programming for a week or two before I work more on the Up in the Air project, and also a secret game to spring a surprise on folk for RetroVision 2012 on 5th+6th May 2012.

Anyway, I am pretty much relieved that Woolly Jumper has finally finished. The game has took a few months to produce. We had excellent graphics, I came across various problems with the game, which Shaun pointed out to me. We both worked really hard on this production rather throughout December 2011, January 2012 and the beginning of this month and finally we have made it.

So then what improvements have been made for Woolly Jumper, compared to the RGCD
cartridge version. Well for a start off the game consists of an extra 8 levels, in which Pepito the sheep's nightmare is even bigger and wilder. We have also added some additional in game features which improved the look of the game. I have Achim Volkers to thank for the ROL scrolling char routine support :). We also have added high score table, with name entry routine, new in game music for various levels. There is even a much better ending compared to the 16K version of the game. There's also a power up which will give the player a shield for a temporary time.

Shaun and I have been working really hard to bring a quality game production, although the size of each level's very short (But more difficult and challenging) but that couldn't really be helped. The idea was that each of the 16 levels were 32x blocks long, but the last level was one or two blocks less (but still hard enough). We have added as much challenging game play into the game as much as we can.

I feel that WJ feels like a game in which may have been commercially sold back in the late 1980's early 1990's. Budget quality wise :) First of all the upward scrolling intro, which gives a brief background story, game instructions and playing tips. Then on to the main title screen in which looks completely different compared to the 16KB version. I wanted to make a quality production - rather than rush everything (Like how I used to in the early 2000's - proves that quality beats quantity). The front end starts with the credits, then it displays the top 6 high scores (with names), followed by the power ups, followed by the animated enemies. The main game itself is exactly like the 16KB version, apart from the additional bug fixing and improvements I have worked on (Suggested by Shaun) and also the new protection feature (for the sheep), in which is activated for every Sheep Shearer collected. I added a routine which would reward the player an extra life for every 5,000 points scored to help the player get a bit further across the game. I also updated the rocket taking off (You'll see after you download the game). There's much more in store the full game, compared to the original title. We also added one or two surprises into Woolly Jumper as well which we will not tell you about. You'll have to play the game to find out what they are.

After finishing the main game it was time for the mastering. You may say that this is probably the biggest headache of them all. WRONG! The tape mastering was plain easy. As I used Visiload to do this (WHAT?!?!?!). Of course I didn't. I used the same IRQ tape loader as I did for the 16KB version, with some minor modifications, such as updating the load error routine, and using LDA $D020 : EOR #$00 : STA $D020 for the boot loader, then for the main IRQ loader I used LDA $02 AND #$0F STA $D020 to make it look like the Rack it Loader stripes scheme. The loader uses a different loader tune, which sounds sort of JCH like :). The loader still looks a bit like the Rack It Loader, but I can assure you - I did not use the original Rack It loader.

Mastering the the disk version of the game was somehow different but still very presentable. I wanted to make the production look like commercial quality program (although the game's going to be free). So I used an IRQ disk loader source which Martin Piper released in Codebase 64 (and his web site). I modified it to display Ste86's awesome picture and play music, while the data was being loaded from disk. I also added an auto-boot loader by using Joe Forster/STA's auto-start installer program. So that instead of having to type in RUN. Type LOAD"*",8,1. Like many commercial C64 disks :) If anyone tries to validate the disk, then they're stupid as the boot loader will not boot once validated or the *PRG file is deleted :)

Over all Sheepoid 2 - Woolly Jumper has been great fun to produce, despite some of the problems I came across during the production stage. It got sorted out at the end. I probably played this game over 1,000 times to make sure things were right, and finally we've made it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has been involved with this project, or who's looking forward to seeing the final version of the game released this weekend.

Woolly Jumper is NOW available to download for the Commodore 64