Friday, 27 March 2015


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 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


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Buzzing for a bonus

10th March 2015

My week's HOLIDAY started Sunday this week. It's going to end soon, but I have not only been out and about places this week, but I have also been plodding away on Honey Bee. For me, the project is shaping up quite nicely and it has been making me happy. I have been thinking that I am very near to completion with the project. .... Well not quite. As more crazy ideas have popped in my head for this project. Find out more in this blog.

Okay, so what has been happening the past 2 days or so?. Honey Bee felt as if there was something missing in general, and that was a bonus round for every level completed. I had two ideas, one of which was similar to a Shark Attack type of stage in Sub Hunter, and another which was one of Kenz's ideas. A flappy bird style bonus stage. Months ago, I was trying to create something by the way of SEUCK WITH GRAVITY. In January I attempted to make a FLAPPY BIRD style game, using the sideways scrolling SEUCK, and the aid of the TASM/CODENET plugin on my 1541Ultimate2. Although the use of gravity was simple enough, I failed to get the jump physics correct and it made the game harder to play. So, I went for the easier option, which was the Sub Hunter style bonus stage. Since I'm no fan of the Flappy Bird phenomena.

I created the bonus stage by manually designing the cave graphics, using Steve's existing graphics, that formed the ground, and rocks, etc. I manually typed these into the source code and created quick and dirty code that built the screen the simplest kind of way. Next I programmed the interrupts and got the scroller in action. I also added it an extra effect for the cave wall background. I added a ROL char routine, so visually during the scrolling operation, you could see a two layer scroll instead of one.

Once I was happy with the scrolling background, I decided to fill the cave with bats, and also get a crystal moving across the screen. Then I linked the main game code, which controlled the player. No use of gravity was being used for this stage, as it would have been hard enough as it is. The next thing I added to the bonus game was a set amount of time, which the player must survive for so that he/she can earn an extra life, by completing that stage. The purpose of the gems is to allow the player to give big points as a reward. For 1 gem, the player gets 500 points added to his/her score. Finally after setting up the set times. I linked the bonus stage to the main game code.

Okay, so I got all those working. Now about the ideas in my head. I was browsing at the sprite data, and discovered that I can simply add some MORE sprites into the game. I moved the text data to a different memory location, to be able to preserve more sprites. I notice that some of the levels, which I mistaken bats for birds, could actually have some birds added to the source. The eagle might be a good option I noticed some of Wayne's sprites, which could be useful for the game. Also, some worms could actually be SNAILS.I think  Some sprites could be used for bouncy 'GET READY' 'GAME OVER' 'BONUS' sprites, before actual things commence in the game.

As well as the game sprites ideas. I feel that I could do with removing the fade in / fade out transition effect every time a life has been lost. As it could possibly annoy the player who just wants to get into the game.The transition effect can be used for after every level is complete and a new level starts.

Admire the screen shots and see you soon with another progress update about Honey Bee - The Full Version.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Back with a STING!

7th March 2015

Okay, so last time, Honey Bee was left alone for a bit in order to get the main Trance Sector Ultimate finished in time for GubbData. Since I have nothing else to do for Trance Sector. I decided to move back on to finishing off the final version of Honey Bee. Would you like to know what has been happening so far this month? Well, fear not, here it comes.

Last time when I was working on the final version of Honey Bee. I imported Steve Day's status panel into the game code, and worked on the new front end, made amendments to it and flipped the screen, added the game sprites. The style of the front end is pretty similar to what I did for Woolly Jumper, except for it is on a light blue background, with a static colourful effect on the scroll text chars.

After I was happy with the new front end, I wanted to add an intro sequence to the game. So I designed the intro background (as well as the end background) using Jon Well's Multi Screen Construction Kit. Then captured the screen to import into the source code. The background was basically the outside world. Similar to the in game graphics. Honey Bee comes on to the screen and introduces himself, and asks for help from the player to do a job for him. He also declares himself to be a very clumsy bee.

After completing the intro sequence, I decided to work on the end sequence. Where Honey Bee meets queen bee. After successfully completing his task. He gets a big surprise. Which I won't tell you what it is. You'd have to wait until the game is completely finished. ;)

Finally the End Screen was complete. I decided to work on the high score table name entry. Once again, it is the same type of joystick controlled name entry. The screen looked rather boring at first, as I did that many times. I decided to add a bit of fun animation. Where you have 8 Honey Bee sprites whizzing across the screen, while wrapping downwards. This made the name entry screen look more attractive.

Since the Hi-Score routine is now finished. My next job this week will be to create a BONUS game, in which involves a horizontal background scrolling trick, some random rocks, and some gems. This is so that Honey Bee can collect objects in order to score points, increasing the possibility of gaining extra lives.

After that, if there's still enough memory. I'll be making sound sound effects and add an option for in game sound effects as well as music. Followed by the final testing and disk + tape mastering. Hopefully by the end of this month Honey Bee should be finished, and released.

Keep watching my blog to find out what happens next.