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Old 15 December 2011, 17:13   #17
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: london/england
Posts: 344
Won't be much going on until after Xmas probably, still need to sort out a lot of real world crap (car being written off stuff, trying to get last of my money owed out of this chicken sh!t operation, get a desk and some sort of add-ons to my A1000 or a replacement mobo for my dead A2000 etc blah blah zzzzzzzz)

I will probably do a blog on the web so as not to clog up this place, I like the idea of a coders diary. I guess the first place to start is with an answer to "Why?" so I will do this here.

Q: Why?

A: There is no simple answer time to engage waffle engines to max!.....This is really chapter one of the story. Let's hope the story has a great ending with many brave heroes and a happy rescued heroine

Why do it? As some of you may know a guy in the UK without much hope of ever succeeding was so fired up he started his dream project half a century ago. Space Harrier for the Atari 8bit computers. He recently finished this game and that I guess was the trigger to actually wanting to do this. I've always toyed with the idea but if he could find the will to finish that project then so many of my ideas which never get coded can also be completed.

Why now? Because I worked at the worst place I have ever worked in my life up until recently (actual job and management) and it was literally killing me (I now have hypertension for a start....thanks to 18 months working there). I knew things were going to come to an end via liquidating the company and I knew they would replace me with some benefit fraudster working cash in hand there. So I decided the jump calculations were good and spun up the FTL drives and GtFOoT and signed on. I only ended up working there because I took out a massive loan 5 years ago to help with cashflow in my business and needed a steady income to pay it off. Only the PS3 remains from that money but I am still alive so it's all good. The death of my beautiful car to save my own (and subsequent skanking by dirt insurance company in writing off valuation) WILL NOT BE IN VAIN.

Why Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom? Well.......I probably have rammed this down peoples throats a lot but even today my most played game is Super Stardust AGA (ADF not CD ISO). It is a sublime game, I play it so much not just for the game design but because it is just great to play, everything is 'how it should be' in terms of controls. It's the same reason I play Lotus II on Amiga, the controls make it satisfying.

Now here we are, many decades later (OK three) after my fascination with trench space games from the early days of home gaming (Intellivision?) and somehow this stuck. I tried to write some on the C64 as an 11 year old but without ASM coding it was hopeless (I am optimistic......I even tried to write Pole Position for the VIC-20 in BASIC!)

Buck Rogers was great, but not on the C64 (was OK, actually has sprite multiplexing) but I don't know...where is the damn trenches! AND I always thought the Amiga was never really given the kind of game this covers let alone an actual port. Also Amiga games had their sites set low many times (due to sharing code with the ST in many cases) and graphics weren't always as brash and bold like arcade games. So that was it really, I decided to do a version of this game but in a way the authors of Super Stardust AGA would be proud of. The Coleco Adam 'Super' version is great though....needs some Amiga magic in the A/V dept that's all.

Why do you need this game? You don't, I do . It has to exist it's as simple as that really, I hope others will find enjoyment in playing it though of course. No compromise on graphics first of all, even if it means FPS drops from 25 to 20 etc I don't care, Konami's Salamander had slow down on the arcade but nobody complained in 1986. I have already done the Starfighter main graphic with all animation and even shadow outline. It's still a work in progress, but it started life as a rendered 3D image so about 9 frames of animation and size of the graphic just for your ship is around 80x32 pixels for a start.

I've also done the textured desert floor (for version A of game engine, version B will need much different method of drawing and hence source graphics) mountains in the background sky (which will end up being a copper list) and clouds (again will have a copper list on them so they blend with changing shade of blue in sky). Tesla coils are in there too but not the lightning bolts, also am not happy with Tesla coil graphics so will do them again.

Why use Blitz? OK yes I know saying you are writing an awesome commercial (as at 1990) quality Amiga game in Blitz is a bit like saying you are building a sports car with a 2.0L 16v Vauxhall engine and has a bit of the wiff of PD about it BUT in my defense my original design for the game sort of branched out from another project and there is a lot of memory being copied about the screen in chipram but very little stopping of the custom chipset to tell it what to do next due to the size of the chunks of data needed to be copied. So I thought perfect, Blitz has great built in libraries to tell Agnus/Paula/Denise to go do her thing and if you don't need to talk to those pretty ladies too much (even if they have way too much nail varnish on and huge shoulder pads!) Blitz should have a minimal hit in performance.

Bit of a problem now though because I have thought of another way of doing the desert terrain but it requires many smaller images to be blitted around. This is where if I am not happy with how it looks in motion on version 1 I will have to get help/learn ASM! The upside is it will look better, down side is that quality of scaled graphics on Amiga has only been done a few times, and two of those by Magnetic Fields (Lotus II OCS, Lotus III CD32) so.........don't hold your breath!

Why so long to finish? Because it is a huge project, just finding an authentic sample of the Starfighter lasers that I like will take me ages.....the realities are huge. The current Starfighter sprite took maybe 1 day for first draft but there is still even now some changes going on to lose the rendered/raytraced flat polygon look. I have also not written a line of code yet in Blitz to even test anything, will my first test program even compile?!?!?

Then there is the issue of not really having the equipment to do this, I don't even have a desk (great chair though haha) and I need to really put together a few things so I can work on this on a real Amiga. To be honest even a Power Computing XL HD floppy drive would be OK....but it must work on my A1000. Ideally I need an autoboot HD drive for the A1000 but hey I won't hold my breath. My 2 A2000s died last year so I have A2000 hard cards and no A2000.

Why for the OCS machines only? Well Amiga to me was, and always will be, the A1000. A500/600/2000 etc all the same sort of thing. AGA is not exactly exhaustively catered for in Blitz but I would imagine even a stock A1200 would run the game smoother. But no 256 colour graphics as it will just take too long. I promise though that the OCS version will have an extra 32-64 colours with some very cunning copperlists in play, in fact we will be using as much of the subtle shading abilities of the Amiga palette as possible.

Why don't you just go and get a job? Because I don't want to right now

One thing I am hoping is this will make other people feel they CAN do something, and find the energy to make it happen. I hope no matter how my game turns out or what people think of it that it will inspire others to do a game they always wanted to do. If that's all this project does then I am happy to be honest. We need to keep Amiga alive, and what better way than by people starting to write massively over spec'd games. Amiga was the best computer I ever bought in my life for NOT getting in the way of my creative processes. I am giving back something to all those vanguard developers of such amazing hardware and software as Digi-View and Dpaint III etc.

I suppose this concludes chapter one of telling my journey, you all know as much as I do now about this project
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