Showing posts from February, 2022

Firebird : 1987

Cockneys Die!!! After Odin's demise, I was left with decisions to make. After months of running on financial fumes to complete Sidewize, I had no significant monetary reserves; not to put too fine a point on it, I was skint. I did have an idea for a follow-up to Sidewize however, and I didn't feel inclined to go into a full-time employed position again. There were a couple of local options. Gary Bracey @ Ocean pitched Colin and me on the Platoon movie license, but we declined because they wanted us to move to Manchester. I didn't drive, commuting was out of the question, we couldn't consider this option on the terms offered. We talked to Elite in Birmingham, who immediately offered us a deal when they saw the Sidewize demo, but like Ocean, they wanted to do licensed titles, and that didn't appeal at the time (the schedules for licensed titles tend to have zero leeway, which is bad enough if you're *not* being paid on milestones). A local company, Reptile Industr

Chasing the raster on the ZX Spectrum in Sidewize

How did Sidewize accomplish the "raster-chasing" required to update the display 50 times per second? Read on! [note: jump down to The Results to see the videos, otherwise let's dive in!] Twitter user Ville Krumlinde  mentioned in a Twitter comment that he had captured the screen draw update sequence for a number of Spectrum games and recorded the updates to video. He mentioned that he had hacked an existing Spectrum emulator to do this, without going into specifics. This got me thinking about how I might do that for the "raster-chasing" games I've developed,  specifically Sidewize and Crosswize. I do have my own Spectrum emulator, it runs on Windows and Pocket PC (and PalmOS, but that is another story). It has not seen the light of day for over 15 years (and my Windows-foo is rusty), so the prospect of compiling it again was a bit off-putting. Then it occurred to me that the Spectrum emulator I have been using for the ZX Spectrum Next version of Nodes of Ye

Nodes of Yesod : ZX Spectrum Next : Update #2

This week I posted a poll on Twitter to find out which of the three presented graphics styles people would prefer for Astro Charlie, the protagonist in Nodes of Yesod, on the ZX Spectrum Next. The images, and the poll results, can be seen below: Which style do you prefer? — Steve Wetherill (@stevewetherill) February 15, 2022 With 384(!) votes in total, the clear poll winner is option A at 55.5% of the vote, with option C a strong runner-up at 33.9%. In fact, there was a fair bit of feedback in the discussion thread where people said they liked option C, but perhaps it could be ramped up a little, adding some subtle shading, so that it wasn't the full-blown "Amiga-esque" style shown in option A, but something more retro and perhaps 8-bit looking. What I didn't say in the poll, but have stated here on this site, is that I plan on having two modes in the game. Previous incarnations of Nodes of Yesod have gone with "classic" (option B) and "enhanced&quo

Nodes of Yesod : ZX Spectrum Next : Update #1

A ZX Spectrum Next, in its natural habitat A quick progress report on Nodes of Yesod for the Spectrum Next. The good news - I worked on it! I managed to spend a couple of evenings last week working on (or more accurately, toward) the game. I am in that preparation phase where I think I have a handle on how to do things, but can't do those things until the other things are done. Such as having some data in a useful format. Most effort has been spent against wrangling graphics, specifically sprite graphics. I already have all the art I need, in (or close to) the appropriate (pixel and color) resolution. The main challenge with the sprite graphics is to wrangle them into a format suitable for the Next hardware sprites. It will be cool to really lean into the custom hardware on the Next, but the problem is that there are way too many sprites to fit in the internal 16KB of VRAM. For example, each animation frame of the main character, Astro Charlie, is nominally 24 pixels wide by someth

Sidewize Scrolling Graphics Breakdown

Following on from the Odin Computer Graphics Part Two post where I mentioned Sidewize, I thought I'd delve into a little more detail on the construction of the Sidewize scrolling backdrops. Sidewize actually does run at 50 frames per second with zero flicker, on real hardware (issue 2 Spectrums, at least). YMMV on emulators, since this game is running really close to the metal! Back in 1987, with a Speccy connected to the typical RF connector on the TV, this was truly a joy to behold! The game itself looks something like this when running (yes, I know there is a slight glitch in the "ground" scrolling area. That does not occur in the game and only occurs here because I got fed up fighting with Photoshop). Typical appearance of a running Sidewize scrolling level The main scrolling backdrop is constructed of one 64x64 pixel block, which is unique and distinct per level. Some of the levels split up how this block appears (floor and ceiling, for example). This block is cons

Odin Computer Graphics Part Two : 1986 - 1987

Continued from  part one . That Telecomsoft Deal On the strength of the commercial success of Nodes of Yesod and Robin of the Wood, Odin Managing Director Paul McKenna had convinced British Telecom (in the shape of Telecomsoft , aka Firebird - I've used the names interchangeably in this post) to pay us a (middle, UK pounds) six-figure fee in return for 10 games (or equivalents, with ports counting as half a game), which were to be delivered over the space of 1 year. It was a lucrative deal for us, but very aggressive obviously. That's about all there is to say about this deal right now, but it was to flavor just about everything Odin did from this point out. Heartland Spectrum Notch number one for Firebird. Heartland was created by Colin Grunes (who had done the animation for Astro Charlie in Nodes) and myself, with others pitching in here and there. The gameplay was very simple, and I su