More 1% finished shit

As promised mere minutes ago, I have a few more half-baked ideas ready to foist upon the unsuspecting world.

I should have made it clearer that all these were dreamed up in the depths of time – between 1986 to 1991 or so I reckon.  That will at least give me some leeway when it comes to explaining why they are hand drawn and not full 3D models.

So as you can see, I had a book which was clearly character focussed.  I think the bit at the bottom was supposed to represent the lava tunnels or whatever the hell they were of Rygar.  Damn that was a wicked game.  Don’t be fooled by all the videos on YouTube; they are all weird-arse versions.  Go to this link and check out the original arcade game complete with sweet atmospheric music (and a bass line that I’m totally going to use one day).  The fact that it morphs into some sort of hacked version isn’t too bad, as the soundtrack also turns into some banging 303 mayhem.  The ironic thing is that the 303 pre-dates many of these games.  If only pioneers like DJ Pierre and Armando turned their skillz to computer game sound-tracks …

So here we have some designs for some sort of shoot ’em up.  I still tried to work within a limited colour palette, but these sprites would have been pretty large for any 8 bit machine of the era.

More shoot ’em up material, this time modelled on Gradius I think.

Ahh, yes.  The moai statue gives it away – must be Gradius.

Hmm, some power-ups for Gemini Wing plus some sort of character from Joust?

Moon Patrol?

Ok, so I must have run out of textas by now.  These icons were for a sort of role playing game with spells and weapons and such.

And now we come to the main characters.

It’s a tank, complete with 8 directions of movement.  There is only so much re-scaling and rotation you can do algorithmically within a 16×16 square with 8 colours.

Moving towards something more serious – trying to create some sort of GUI on the BBC.

Ditto for this – a font designer?  Pretty sure there wasn’t a standard font file format so of limited use unfortunately.

A further example of my GUI concept for the BBC, clearly borrowed from the RISC OS platform (which borrowed from an amalgamation of every other GUI in existence – although the ability to drag files between applications without the tedium of saving and loading them was unique as far as I know).  As always, if you can’t afford to buy one, build it instead …

I got a bit further with this ‘Mario Killer’ platform game.  I actually coded this up far enough that you could run and jump around a game level.  Nifty …

Notes on a game where you drive a tank around picking up weapons and blowing shit up.

Now this is different.  I was slightly into role-playing games and war games (sci-fi and fantasy ones only of course; in case my mum is reading), and combining that with a love of anime (long before I’d even heard the term) and robo-suits I came up with this.  It was great not having to worry about screen resolutions and pixels and just draw something.

I used to enjoy reading the Middle Earth Roleplaying game books (which were fantastic), as well as Role Master and the Star Wars roleplaying game.  As my wife reminds me, I spend a lot of time reading and not enough time doing, but it isn’t always that simple, especially if other people are involved.

Still, I’ve gotten back into my Fighting Fantasy books again but time isn’t on my side.  It isn’t like I can read a couple of pages before I go to bed.  I’ve reacquired the ‘Sorcery’ series again but like everything important to me, I’d want to give it my full attention.

How does one find the time to spend an hour of uninterrupted attention to devote to anything these days?  And by uninterrupted I don’t just mean that the phone doesn’t ring.  I mean no-one talks to me, no-one emails me, no-one rings me and I can’t hear anything that requires a response from me like a baby crying.

I miss being a kid/teenager and living at home.  I could close the door to my room in the evening and that was it – the rest of the world could get stuffed.

I love artists like Steve Roach, Robert Rich and Thom Brennan, but how do you appreciate a 20+ minute ambient soundscape with so much going around you?  I really miss having that time.  I might have to buy this to recreate the same feeling while taking the bus to work.  Not the same is it?

Ironically I now have all the trappings to enjoy it more than I could have dreamed before – a beautiful sound system, comfortable lounge room, stand-alone house where my ears will implode long before the neighbours complain about the noise and piles of CDs filling the walls.

But no time to enjoy it …




I coulda been a game designer …

… Not much chance really, but working in isolation meant that if my favourite game was not available on my chosen platform, which as you may recall back to the genesis of this blog was the Acorn BBC Micro, then I had little choice but to write it myself. Back in the DIY days of personal computing that wasn’t as crazy as it sounds, and thankfully that ethos still survives if stuff like this is anything to go by.

So in collating material from the archive of my life, I came across a bunch of designs for my take on something that could only be described as an obsession (at the time; I’ve discovered other things since as I’ve grown older for better or worse): Bubble Bobble.

I won’t describe the game as you know it of course.

But did you know that Taito announced in 1996 that they had lost the source code to the original arcade game?  Pretty weak huh?  Thankfully we have the Cloud these days (although if Sony uploaded their source code to Beanstalk for example, what are the chances that they would then turn around and sue them for copyright infringement in 6 months time?).

Anyway, I dearly wanted to be able to play this at home (because no matter how much it cost to buy it would have been cheaper than playing it for hours on end at the arcade), and as no version existed for the Beeb, it seemed like a suitable use of my time to try and create one.

And this is what I came up with …

Bubble Bobble 1

A few power ups it would seem, including the classic ‘music note’ motif.

Bubble Bobble 2

A couple more sprite designs for Bubble Bobble, along with one third of an XOR map.  I must have been pretty pov at the time to be that tight on my graph paper. I guess my pocket money wasn’t very high.

Bubble Bobble 3

More characters, including the letter bubbles to get an extra life.  Not sure why I used those colours – it looks very MODE 5.

Bubble Bobble 4

Getting serious now – hopefully some of these are recognisable.

Bubble Bobble 5

My final lot of characters.  There were plenty of more to do to cover all that were in the actual game – and that was before any were actually animated. Phew.
Maybe by this time I started wondering how the hell I would animate and control a whole heap of bubbles on the screen, let alone the main protagonists and the monsters, and realised it was somewhat beyond my skills.

So there you have it – my attempt at bringing that masterpiece of arcadium to the home television screen.  I never got any further than the character designs but it was awesome fun.

I tried to keep the designs within the limitations of my chosen platform but I’m pretty sure a few extra colours crept in there.

But wait, there’s more …

Misc 1

Looking at these I’m very tempted to say these are meant to represent the rather awesome shoot ’em up Gemini Wing.
Besides the sweet music, this game stood out from the rest by the fact that the bad guys were things like insects, maggoty things with huge jaws and eye-balls on stalks coming out of the ground.
Oh yes, and the first level boss was a Giant Walrus that lived in a waterfall. Obviously a rare freshwater walrus …

Misc 2

Ok, that is definitely Gemini Wing, except for the skull. Not sure about that … could be useful one day though.

Misc 3

Ok, something else now.  Looks like a more traditional sideways scrolling shooter.  With a bi-plane.  Maybe that is a left over from Time Pilot (or Space Pilot as the rather excellent BBC clone by Superior Software was known).

Misc 4

Ok, so I was a bit of a Super Mario fan too – the fact that it had so many hidden areas was mega cool and kept you coming back.  Not to mention that playing something like this at the arcade and knowing where those areas were and having an audience of people who didn’t was very satisfying.
As ever I had an idea of doing my own version, but made numerous changes.  The thing that shot out the bomb remained, and maybe the original had a fish somewhere.
However I’m pretty certain the Mexican jumping bean is new but I’m not sure if it was meant to be a power-up or an enemy. Or maybe it is a black pudding with extra fresh blood?  It isn’t often I get to say OMGWTF (and actually mean it, as opposed to people who say it in every second sentence), but speaking of black pudding it seems there is documented evidence that someone actually died laughing at that particular episode of the Goodies.  I’d better be careful – it is one of my favourites and I’m not getting any younger.

In the interests of keeping page load times to something reasonable I’ll take a short break, but there is plenty more!  Stay tuned!