Friday, 27 March 2015

TRANCE SECTOR RETURNS!

27th March 2015


Back in 2012, Trance Sector was born, and released at The New Dimension. Now 3 years later the game has STRUCK BACK and will be shown at GubbData 2015 some time TOMORROW then you can check the game out afterwards :) Here's a glimpse of what the first Trance Sector was like :)



So what is Trance Sector Ultimate then? Trance Sector Ultimate (or TSU as some of us like to call it) is a very SPECIAL production, which features BOTH the original and competition levels of the game, which I wrote some time in 2012, and 2013. Although it was originally planned in 2014, but major delays were made due to various circumstances beyond control. A brand new version of this game is finally complete and ready for release some time TOMORROW!

TSU consists of 64 levels. (32 levels from the standard and competition versions of the game). In which you can select from the main menu. The graphics are completely different with huge thanks to Akira/Genesis Project and Saul Cross. Music has also been changed, although it is a thumping trance tracks. There's also a brand new presentation and a specially exclusive intro for the RGCD release. Now I'm about to talk more about this project.

HeavyStylus originally contacted me, about giving details about the original Trance Sector to become a 64KB cartridge production. It sort of motivated me, until I realised more work needed to be done for this game. The game required a new presentation, intro/loading screen, and some additional graphics. Little did I expect, was that Trance Sector was to become A NEW GAME WITH A NEW NAME. Since I was up for it, I decided to do exactly that.

Akira, at first got involved with the graphics (Or should I have said the Splash Screen). He sent me his idea for the splash screen, which was to present the game with an interlaced kind of intro. It looked really nice, but the speed of the interlace caused quite a lot of flickering and the raster lines were badly timed. Later on in the game project, I reworked the intro and tried one of my own versions of the intro. Unfortunately due to personal reasons beyond control. Nothing else could be done with the project until earlier on this year. When HeavyStylus announced on the Lemon64 forums, looking for a new graphican for this project. GFXer Saul Cross (Rocket Smash EX) joined in the fun and send me his examples. After I saw those new graphics mockups. I fell in love with those, and jumped straight back to the TSU project.









HeavyStylus got in contact with me and suggest I should give this retro style game, a modern day C64 look and emailed me some screen shots of a suggested idea for the game's front end. It was inspired by a GMI intro, which GMI used to link to their demos. Such as Viva Revo-Lucion, but with an additional implementation and of course, inspiration. So, I ditched the old Trance Sector title screen and programmed the new front end. I also added a horizontal text scrolling message, with rainbow colours scrolling vertically through it. The background colour setup was a shade of grey (50 shades of it? Nah, only 3 shades of grey are used on a Commodore 64). I also programmed a sub-routine which would flip between pages 1 and 2. The first page was the credits screen, followed by the high score table. The options screen allow the player to select whether or not to have in game music or sound effects.When fire or space bar is pressed on the front end, the title screen is then presented with the game options. You can select whether or not the game is using standard or the competition levels mode. Then the game will start afterwards.

It wasn't just the new front end I worked on. Saul and I also worked on the brand new look help screen. This takes effect if either the scroll text finishes or UP on the joystick is pushed. Unlike the original Trance Sector, where pages flipped automatically to display the help page. I made it where it can be exited with just the fire button. Since there are some secrets stored somewhere in the project, which gamers have to find for themselves.

What about the main game? Well, things were pretty much easy as not much needed to be done there. all I had to do was program some routines that swapped from the title screen character set, to the game character set. This was due to memory issues and should the front end graphics still have been used in the game, it would look completely odd :-). Thankfully, not much game code needed to be altered, since the main game code is already there. I didn't even have to touch the pre-packed level data. Which was more on a plus side of things for me. The concept was simple:

You are part of a squadron who has been transported on to an unnamed planet. Your mission is to enter a giant warehouse, which consists of highly toxic radioactive nuclear pods inside the TRANCE SECTOR. You must guide a ship through all 32 floors of the factory disposing all of the nuclear pods. Once each sector has been cleaned, a time bomb is primed and the floor will be destroyed. Then you'll transport on to the next level. Only one thing that stops in your way. The Cygma Elite's highly intelligent seeker security system. The rockets will move back and forth, unless spots you in sight. Once you are spotted. The missiles will go for you.

There are different obstacles, as you progress into the game, such as security stun rays, which can hold your ship for a short period of time. There's also magnetic conveyor belts, and also other obstacles, which can either be useful to your ship or make life more tougher. The most deadliest of all obstacles are the BLOCKERS. :-)

During each level a ball will appear, which is guaranteed to give you EXTRA points or abilities to gain bonus life or destroy all seekers visible before new seekers are re-spawned.

Okay, back to the main game ... Not much had to be altered with the game. The only things that I needed to alter in the game, were some slight bug fixes, which involved the power up (scoring points) as one of the power-ups didn't work originally. Also the music was given an overhaul. More about this in the next paragraph. The game play is really challenging. Being a bad gamer, which I am, it is pretty tough, although it is POSSIBLE to complete all levels in the game. I tried it before in cheat mode... :-D

Anyway, what about the music? The title screen music used to be the original TAPE LOADER / DISK MENU tune of Trance Sector, released back in 2012. (You can find this at http://tnd64.unikat.sk/t.html). The other tunes we re-done to scratch. In game music is a remix of the original Trance Sector in game music, but even more powerful and upbeat. The LEVEL COMPLETE, GAME OVER, HI-SCORE TABLE Name entry and GAME COMPLETE music are completely fresh new tunes. All of which are still hard-thumping sound tracks. In game SFX has not been changed. I felt there was no need for that :)

Okay, back to the intro ... Well, Akira originally programmed a routine to display his hires logo, with some flickering raster lines, but there were some major timing problems. I could see why. I tried to play some music in the intro, but everything was running TOO SLOW. An idea was glued to my head. "What if I re-programmed the intro, and improved it slightly with new music? ". I gave it a try by programming it into C64Studio, and results turned out much better than expected. Raster beams were flickering like mad,  so they needed to be moved across off screen slightly. So with a few timing pointers, the tiny flickers had gone. After I was very happy with the intro, I linked the game together.

The game project was near to completion. All I needed to do now was get it NTSC fixed.. Since I had no experience to get this game project to work on NTSC machines properly, it was up to Didi/LXT to fix this issue. Once that was done, Georg Rottensteiner built the final 64KB cartridge (As I was really struggling with this part of the job). Finally TSU was finished, and ready for released in time for GUBBDATA 2015 in Sweden for the big screen.

Yesterday, for a bit of fun, I created a little tape loader for the game for a later release on the TND web site. The tape loader was built using a bit of additional programming using TapeToolBuild by Martin Piper. The loading screen was inspired by the URIDIUM tape loader which I first saw on thee Megatape 27 of ZZAP64 magazine. Here's a video of the overall result ... Just to tease you :-D







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