A Kind of Magick?

July 20, 2010

It’s odd, isn’t it. Fate, I mean. In the last year I’ve completed 2 games and started a third and yet, have I updated my blog? Have I hell! Yet today I decided to do it. Today of all days.

It would appear that tomorrow marks the first anniversary of my last blog post. How odd, then, that I have news!

I’ve been working on Heavy on the Magick on and off for a while, but I’ve made very little progress. That’s not fair actually, I’ve made SOME progress, work on my XML map and game data, graphics ripping, moving sprites around, the normal stuff, but nothing that you could say was work towards HotM in particular.

The problem, you see, and I’m sure I may have mentioned this, is graphics. I’ve played around with ripped sprites, tidied them up the best I can, arranged them in a useable sprite sheet, blitted them to the screen and…… they still look shocking!

So then, what to do?

I’m not happy with my sprites but I want to get the engine working, I mean, if I have a proven working engine then I MIGHT be able to persuade someone to draw some pretty pictures for me. How can I do the game some justice without exposing the world to my gash blitting?

Ladies and gentlemen, I offer, for your perusal and comment……

Yep, you read it right…. ASCII on the Magick. I can cope with a bit of ASCII… And you know what? I’m getting somewhere. Using the power of the font, I’ve now got in:

Text input movement – working

A compass – working

Wall decor – Partly working

An ASCII map – working

And that’s just for starters…..

I’ll keep this up to date when I remember, but I thought I’d share my progress while I actually had some. So, as the title says, it’s a KIND of magick…..


Back tracking and back on track

July 21, 2009

Well, after some consideration and much support from the Retroremakes chaps, I have reconsidered shelving Action Biker and have been working on it for the past few days.

One of the things that I have decided to do is, however, challenge myself with a second project. One that will start from scratch and be given a time limit.

Action Biker will be continued after the completion of this mini project.

Actionless Biker, including ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’

July 14, 2009

It’s as I feared. The popularity of Action biker has overwhelmed me, the constant cries of ‘More, more, more’ are just too much for this poor soul to take.

Yes, with the latest demo of Action Biker on offer for three and a half days* over at RetroRemakesand not a single download having taken place, I think we can re-assign Colin to the bin. This isn’t a defeatest attitude, it’s not me taking my ball away, it’s simply that there are so many better things I could be doing with my life than remaking a game that no one wants and that, it would appear, nobody apart from me ever enjoyed originally.

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Action Biker – The story so far….

June 1, 2009

I guess I’d better get up to date before doing much else on the dev blog.

AB was a Spectrum game I used to play all the time. It was a maze cum puzzle game that got me hooked from the moment I started playing it, despite it’s many and varied pitfalls and bug ridden problems. Yes, I’ll get it out the way right now, the C64 version (a completely different game, who’d odds it eh?) has a far greater following, yes, the game was near on impossible to complete, yes, of course there were better Speccy games out there, Christ, there were better AMSTRAD games out there, but I loved it. It’s still a firm favorite on the little DS if I feel a bit of retro emualted goodness is required.

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Action Biker – Intro

May 21, 2009

And so it begins…..

The very first screeny. What a clever chap I am eh?

The very first screeny. What a clever chap I am eh?

Yes, the time has, indeed, come once again to pick up mine fingers and code.

So why Action Biker? Because, as is so often the case, I want to. Yes, I’ll admit, it wasn’t the greatest game in the world. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it was a pretty dire game, possibly even terrible. Thing is, it’s only really in hindsight, and with the use of emulators, that I now realise this. Action Biker was, as it goes, one of the most played games on my little rubber keyed friend. It was up there with Elite, Spellbound and Wriggler. I used to love it.

Turns out it was badly put together tripe that was almost impossible to complete, even with pokes. And this, you see, is the reason for my return. I want Action Biker to be loved like I loved it, I want it to be remembered for the quirky fun elements that were there, not for the fact that it would more often than not put items needed to complete puzzles PAST the puzzle itself, nor the fact that in what was, at it’s very core, a game based on the principle of elapsed time, you would go and have tea at your mate’s house thus wasting hours of precious game time. Don’t even get me started about the location of the damn petrol stations!

So, anyway, I’ve started work on this in earnest this week. The origins of the remake, hovever, go waaaaaaaaay back.

Action Biker was the first game I started after the Underlord beta was released. It was just a little project while I sorted out some graphics for what should have been, but never turned out to be, an Underlord update. Underlord is still in beta, don’t expect that to change any time soon. But I started work on the Biker concept in later July ’08 with a re-write of Meditator, the map utility I’d written for Underlord. I reused code where I could but most of it was new. Once I’d got a working map editor I started ripping graphics and bulding me a map. That was when I stopped development. Around mid August I just lost interest. It happens occasionally, you know, I just couldn’t be bothered to finish the map.

Roll forward a few months, past the Wild Bunch WIP (I’ll get on with that one day), past the Cyberun WIP (ditto), past the two Xmas games I started but didn’t finish…. You get the picture, I’m sure. Mid March I stumble on the Action Biker map. How easy would that be to get scrolling? Shouldn’t take too long I’m sure……..

Mid March turned into early April and still no progress. I thought about coding a lot, I really did. I got excited about the prospect. Ultimatly I couldn’t be bothered.

Then I started working nights. Funny how it goes isn’t it, I go to work at 3 in the afternoon and come home at 10, straight to bed after tea and all of a sudden my mornings become my evenings. There’s nothing on the telly, there’s no-one around, what should I do?

Code, dear fellow, code.

So I have decided to write a code blog, for my reference more than anyone elses, but if anyone else gets anything out of it, even if it’s just a laugh at my appauling coding, then I’ll be a happy camper.

If you are really interested, I’ll also be keeping Retroremakes.com up to date with releases, screen shots and other, more useless, junk. If you do want to comment please feel free to do so either here or on my RR thread.

Wish me luck….

History Lesson 1 – SIM

May 7, 2009

So then, it’s about time I got some of my games back on’t interweb.

Using this as a ploy to kickstart my blogging habbit once more, I have decided to bung up a brief history of my games to date and also to keep a record of my current project. More of that later. First, however, a brief history of SIM.


SIM is the first game I can ever really remember wanting to play over and over again. I had a VIC 20 at the time but remember joining the computer club at school just so I had access to a BBC B so I could play.

SIM is basically a collect and avoid maze game spread over 50 or so screens. It involved solving puzzles, navigating invisible mazes and outwitting alien creatures, all so you could collect the 10 Simarals to drop into a well on one of the screens.

The game was written by Joshua Portway way back in 198* or so. It was released on the BBC and Electron platforms and, though it apparently sold by the shed load, I’ve not met anyone other than my computer club buddies who has ever played it.

Around early 2007 I started frequenting a shady side of the internet known only as Retro Remakes. Being facinated with 8 bit gaming as I was (am?) I began downloading remade versions of classic Speccy and C64 games but could never find any of the games I actually wanted. SIM, obviously, was right at the top of my list. I’d managed to grab an emulated version but it wasn’t cutting the mustard, oh no siree no. What then, you may ask, was a young man to do? There was only really one option left. I remade the game myself.

I started work on SIM in Feb 2007. I decided to use Blitz Basic, a new language to me, to code the game and rip and tidy the graphics and sounds from the original game. Around May 2007, after 3 months of almost constant coding, I had myself a game.

I’m not gonna go into the technichal side of the coding, partly because, as a language, Blitz is so easy it would be insulting to those trying to learn it, partly because I shoe-horned so much bad coding in to get it working that I struggle to follow the code, but mainly because, on reviewing the code, I really don’t understand what most of it does. I coded Eric in Blitz, it took me just shy of 2 months and then abandoned the language for the everso slightly more challenging C & Allegro combination.

SIM still remains my most complete game and, though the others are playable and completeable, SIM is the only one I am satisfied with the graphics on (they were never meant to be good, just useable) and is the only one to have ANY audio.

There are a few bugs in SIM, unfortunatly I doubt these will ever get fixed, I really can’t be bothered to re-install BB, this is a shame, but there you go!

The game can be gotten from the ‘Stairway To Hell’ clones section or you can simply get it here

Mouldy Old Dough

January 26, 2009

So, after 3 months or so of doing squat all on here I’m back. It’s been a busy 3 months too. What’s happened? Well….

  • I’m unemployed – obviously this is a bit of a downer so I’ll get it out of the way first and not dwell on it!
  • Underlord is complete! – Not entirely true, not even close to true, I’ll post on it’s status at some point in the near future
  • The Retro Remakes Competition 2008 has finished and the judging has been judged. No official announcement concerning the winner has been made yet due to other matters but it’ll be soon…
  • Retro Remakes was hacked. Badly hacked. Actually, incredibly well hacked. Oddbob has worked his arse off over the last few weeks to get some semblance of normality back to the site. He’s got new forums up and running and there’s a temporary front page. I gather he’s working on restoring the hosted sites at the moment. This has caused a huge postponement in the announcement of the competition results.
  • The Ripon Charity Pantomime has been and gone. For those of you who don’t know, both my eldest daughter Kim and I are both involved in the panto (along with a lot of very good friends – Wochamate John, Gina, Et al) and, for the second year running I managed to bluff my way into another principal slot. I’ll get a full report up at some point, hopefully before next year’s panto…..
  • My Facebook activity is going up and down like an uppy-downy thing. I need more friends so add me!.
  • I’ve started and abandoned about a half dozen games, some have actually had code written and one has even had a map created which meant completely rewriting the map editor I made for Underlord. This is a GOODTHING.COM as there was at least one good thing to come out of the whole WIP > RIP process. The games I have ditched are as follows..
  1. The Wild Bunch
  2. Wriggler
  3. Everyone’s a Wally
  4. Gatecrasher
  5. Bards Tale 2
  6. Action Biker (ZX Spec version)
  • I’ve been offered the graphics for one of my favorite shooters, Cyberun. This will most likely be my new WIP though I’ve not actually done anything on it as of yet (I’m waiting to see how many sprites I’ve got, sizes, etc).

I’m sure there’s been other stuff happen but it will have to wait till I remember it.

I’ve got things to do now, I need to get my 3 completed games up on this here site somehow as I just noticed today that there are absolutly no links on the web for any of then (how HAVE you been coping?)


October 23, 2008

I’ve been around on this super-sized sphere of sh!t for many a year now, and I’ve seen a few things, I really have. Thing is, I’ve always wanted to talk about what I’ve seen and done. I’ve never been one to keep my feelings to myself on matters concerning the world at large, or my large part of the world, or anyone elses less significant parts of the world, or…. You get my drift, I’m sure.

I’m not a prollific writer. Not by anyone’s standard, not prollific at all, but I have never had an issue with written communication. I write for work, I write for pleasure and, for the last year I’ve been writing for an online community.

And this is where the problem lies. Not with work, that’s another thing altogether… Not with pleasure and not with the magical world that is the internet and in particular not the bit that hangs around the retroremakes part of the internet. The problem is with the writing.

Never before has the desire to sit down in front of my PC and tap away until something at least barely legible has appeared on the screen before me, been further away. It’s not the subject matter I’m having problems with. It’s affecting everything I love to write or write about. Gaming, coding, life, the kids, the wife, even ME! It’s a classic case of bloody writers block and I’m not happy about it.

So, I need to get on my backside and start sorting my life out! Well, the bit of my life involving the writting of things to be written.

And it starts here!

Server issues

August 13, 2008

I hate servers.

I work with the bloody things all day. Keep them ticking over nicely, I do, no probs.

So, why the hatred? Because my home server died this evening and I really CAN’T be bothered to do anything about it. Lazy, I know, but I really can’t 😦

Tomorrow night I guess is rebuild night.

Losing my memory

July 9, 2008

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks on and off trying to ‘slimline’ Underlord.

Now, what I write here is going to shock those of you that have been writing games for a while. Shock you and probably make you collapse laughing. Please, however, bear in mind a couple of things…

1) I’ve been coding games for only a year.
2) Underlord is my first scroller and only my 3rd game.
3) I’ve got absolutly no idea what I’m doing until I try something.

Are you sitting down? Good………

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