Thread: Beats of Fire
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Old 15 January 2015, 22:39   #449
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Originally Posted by turrican3 View Post
Mr Chaplin,
how much time did you have to make the game ???
Roughly six months, including time spent hacking the original PCB to get the gfx out and converting the sprites (the backgrounds were done by someone else using a frame-grabber I think), plus writing the whole thing in assembler from scratch, doing the intro, the "hidden bit", etc,etc. Obviously quite a lot of late nights were involved :-)

Originally Posted by turrican3 View Post
Do you think it could have been possible to make a 32 colours amiga version or it would have been too slow ?? Or was it just a way to make a faster port from the st ??
Errr I can't even remember if it's 4 or 5 bitplanes on the Amiga - you'd have to fire up an emulator and see :-) One compromise that would have made sense would have been to use one set of 16 colors for all the sprites and another for the backgrounds (and then change the BG palette per level)... but given that we all knew an ST version was an absolute requirement (and to be also coded by me and released at the same time!) I expect that stuff got ruled out. It would obviously have used more RAM and been a bit slower also.
Someone want to check if FF is 4 or 5 bitplanes? :-) [Edit; yeah 4 planes for the whole thing; must've been the ST requirement]

Originally Posted by turrican3 View Post
Could you explain us what was the most difficult part in coding this game ??
Putting up with the abuse, decades later :-)

Errr I don't know it was actually probably my fave 16-bit game to work on; I was exceedingly happy to have successfully ripped the arcade GFX. Stuff like the dynamic-defragging memory management, background loading+decompression, things like that were all pleasing to get working. Quite a lot of geek enjoyment when doing it.

It's worth pointing out that (as was typical) I was pretty much just shipped an arcade PCB (...that's all, I hooked it up to a 1084 monitor+homemade joystick board) and left to get on with it. My parent company (Creative Materials) had people doing the graphics in their own unsophisticated way (which IIRC was using a frame grabber on the arcade PCB and then recoloring/chopping it all to remake the maps and sprites).
Due to the large amount of labor involved in that there was zero chance of them doing separate ST and Amiga graphics sets.

They were really surprised when I told them I'd successfully ripped all the sprites from the FF PCB. I'd have loved to use the original backgrounds too but merging the parallax layers and the color issues were too much to solve; especially as I wasn't supposed to be spending any time on ripping stuff anyway....

So after sorting out all the ripping and gfx converting, and deciding which sprite frames to drop and so on, there was the simple matter of rewriting all the game logic and gameplay data from scratch...
It would have been really awesome to have reused code/program data from the PCB, and I looked at it for a day or two before realizing I was running out of time rapidly and it was a ridiculously risky thing to pursue...

I still think that was the right decision; having much more sophisticated hardware tools (logic analyzers, ROM emulators, etc, which I did have later at Codemasters) - or of course MAME(!!) would have made it more within the realms of possibility, although still a very risky option.
Really I'd have had to fully disassemble the entire game code and data blocks, figure out all the h/w (actually that wasn't too hard; did a lot of it) and then isolate the gameplay logic, rebuilt it to use a lot less sprite frames.. etc..etc.. etc...
MAME would be the ideal tool for the job of course. fact that would make rather a nice project for someone now; rip the original gameplay code+data out of the arcade roms and splice it into AGA FF.... Go on! I dare you!

Last edited by RichAplin; 16 January 2015 at 01:04.
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