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Topics - zapiy

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1
RVG Interviews / New 8-Bit Heroes Questions Needed.
« on: February 06, 2018, 13:30:20 PM »
RVG is pleased to announce our latest interview with New 8-Bit Heroes, the guys behind new NES game Mystic Searches.
and NES Tool Maker.
Ask your questions here.

2
RVG Interviews / Chris Blackbourn Questions Needed.
« on: February 06, 2018, 13:27:05 PM »

RVG's latest interview is with Chris Blackbourn, creator of the awesome Skidmark game on the Amiga. Below is a breakdown of what and where Chris has worked.

2012-Present Independent Game Developer

Waipu, Northland, New Zealand

• Developing amazing independent games.

2011-2012 Ubisoft

Montreal, QC

• Team Lead, Gameplay on unannounced title.

2007-2011 BioWare / EA

Edmonton, AB, Montreal, QC

• Designed and co-implemented domain-specific language and runtime for specifying autonomous agent behavior in UE3.

• Scrum master for an unannounced episodic UE3 title.

• Contributed to Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2.

• Requirements gathering for Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer.

2003-2007 Lionhead Studios / Microsoft

Guildford, UK

• Integrated RenderWare Physics SDK (now EAPhysics) into Black & White 2.

• Provided a crucial bridge between the gameplay and graphics teams.

• Key debugger for 1000KLoC codebase.

• Designed and implemented AI improvements for “Battle of the Gods” expansion pack.

• Added visualizers for physics assets and navmesh into C# editor for Fable II.

• Prototyped “Team Racer”, a co-operative multiplayer racing game for XBLA.

2003 Heriot-Watt University

Edinburgh, UK

• Provided easy to use front end for specifying ensemble methods for 3D FEM simulation.

• Optimized and debugged Beowulf cluster, including data aggregation and analysis.

1998-2002 Right Hemisphere

Auckland, NZ

• Led a team of eight programmers developing tools for 3D content creators.

• Developed industry leading UV unwrapping tools for Deep UV.

• Wrote multi-threaded model renderer for Deep Paint 3D.

• Technical lead for co-development with leading Japanese 2D animation company.

• Added internationalization support to our skinnable GUI system.

1997-2002 Hilltop Publishing

Auckland, NZ

• Sole member of the IT department for a small magazine publishing company.

1992-1998 Acid Software

Auckland, NZ, Leamington Spa, UK

• Lead developer of the 3 person team responsible for the “Skidmarks” family of multiplayer racing games for Amiga ECS, Amiga AGA and Sega Genesis.

• Developed prototypes for Playstation, Jaguar, 3dfx, OpenGL and DirectX.


Please ask your questions here.

3
Xbox Console Chat. / Favourite Xbox Games?
« on: January 30, 2018, 20:12:13 PM »
Ok new section so a new thread, what's your favourite games on the original Xbox?


For me there where many, I'm sure this is the same for many of you.

Jet Set Radio
Pirates
Forza
Splinter Cell
Halo

Just chose 5 but I could go on lol.

4
Xbox Console Chat. / New Xbox area.
« on: January 30, 2018, 20:04:11 PM »
Its here so fill your boots lol.

5
Retro News Round up / New KS: NESmaker - Make NES Games.
« on: January 24, 2018, 19:42:57 PM »

NESmaker is a software tool for creating brand new, hardware playable, cartridge based games for the Nintendo Entertainment System...without having to write a single line of code.

A few years ago, while developing our NES game engine in the archaic 6502 Assembly language, our team (made up of mostly non-programmers) realized that we needed a much more efficient method for rapid prototyping and testing.  Instead of digging into the assembly every time we needed to make changes, we conceptualized wysiwyg tools for common tasks that would output, reorganize, and manipulate the underlying code; developing screens, building animations, altering AI...things like that.  We recruited Josh Fallon, tool developer extraordinaire, to help realize these tools.

Before we knew it, we had inadvertently created NESmaker.

More here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1316851183/nesmaker-make-nes-games-no-coding-required#

6
RVG Interviews / RVG Interviews Bitmap Bureau.
« on: January 24, 2018, 18:36:19 PM »

So 2018 is here and we are back with our lastest RVG Interviews, this time its none other that the latest Megadrive homebrew dev, Bitmap Bureau, this are the guys behind the awesome Fatal Smarties and the amazing looking Xeno Crisis.


Xeno Crisis


Fatal Smarties

Here are our questions, enjoy.

Zapiy

Thanks for agreeing to the interview guys, could you take a moment to tell us about each member of the team and how you got to this point in making your Megadrive/Genesis games?

Bitmap Bureau

Hey everyone, so the Xeno Crisis team consists of 5 members spread across Europe, with myself (Mike Tucker) and Matthew Cope being based in Southampton in the UK. I’ve been involved in the games industry since 1995, starting with games testing at SCi, then onto creating some of the very first mobile games at iomo. In 2008 I formed an indie studio called “Megadev” which focussed on high quality Flash games, but we also developed Adult Swim’s first Steam title, Super House Of Dead Ninjas. This paved the way for Bitmap Bureau, which I formed with Matt early in 2016 - we had previously worked together at iomo, where he specialised in cross-platform mobile technology.

For the Xeno Crisis project we wanted to work with some of the best talent around, and particularly people with Mega Drive experience. I knew that Henk Nieborg was still active and had also previously worked on “The Misadventures Of Flink”, one of the Mega Drive’s greatest looking games, so we approached him and were fortunate enough that he wanted to get involved. For those that don’t know of him, Henk is a veteran pixel artist and has been pushing pixels since 1990 with an emphasis on developing his own distinctive style - he has worked on projects such as Lionheart, Lomax, Shantae, Spyro 5, Harry Potter and Contra 4.

We also have the excellent Catherine Menabde working on cutscenes, interstitials, and key art - she studied animation at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow before doing some work as a storyboard and background artist in animation, and then spending a year as a comic colorist. We’ve worked with her on two previous titles, and it’s great to have her working with us on Xeno Crisis.

Finally, there’s Savaged Regime (Daniel Bärlin), who is handling the music and sound effects - I don’t think there’s a finer YM2612 musician around, and he is determined to push the chip to its limit - in fact, we love Daniel’s work so much that we’re releasing the game’s soundtrack on both CD and vinyl!


Shadowrunner

Your Kickstarter for Xeno Crisis was a huge success. Did you have any idea it would be so popular?

Bitmap Bureau

To be honest, we were quite apprehensive about launching the Kickstarter - we weren’t really sure how many people would get behind the game, and we’d also been told that it wasn’t wise to launch a Kickstarter over the Christmas period. We were hopeful of hitting the target near the end of the campaign, but amazingly we were 100% funded in just 40 hours and were blown away by the support from the retro gaming community from all over the world!


Shadowrunner

Do you have a date in mind for when you would like to have the game finished?

Bitmap Bureau

Well the Mega Drive was launched in Japan on October 29th, 1988, and we would like to have Xeno Crisis in the hands of Mega Drive owners on or before that date, to coincide with the system’s 30th anniversary.


Zapiy

What made you guys enter the 2016 GGJ?

Bitmap Bureau

I’ve taken part in many game jams over the years, particularly at the University Of Portsmouth - the UOP Game Jam lasts for 5 days and you’re expected to work between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Thursday with the competition wrapping up midday on Friday, so about 35 hours in total. The Global Game Jam has a very different feel though - you have far less time (if you intend on sleeping!), and it’s pretty intense. The first one I took part in was the 2015 GGJ at Southampton University, where the theme was “What do we do now?” - having turned up late I didn’t realise this though - someone told me the theme was “A question”, which it was of course, but I didn’t realise it was “What do we do now?” until an hour or two later! As soon I knew what the theme was an idea came to me immediately, and the end result was a manic top-down multiplayer game called “Funky Boys In Whack Times” which went on to win the event thanks to the awesome visuals from Jon Davies and audio from Mike Clark:



So yes, following this success I was of course keen to take part in the 2016 GGJ, but this time my old colleague and good friend Matthew Cope wanted to join us. Matt always loves a challenge though and insisted we make a Mega Drive game - neither of us had any previous experience of developing for the system, so we were truly throwing ourselves in at the deep end! Progress was pretty slow as I was wrestling with C and couldn’t just throw things around the screen as easily as I could in AS3 or Haxe, my preferred languages, but we managed to put together a reasonable little horizontal SHMUP called “Fatal Smarties”, named by Jon after I injured myself opening a tube of Smarties on day one; it wasn’t until a few days later that I put the connection together - that’s how hectic and tired things are at a GGJ! Anyway, although very few people at the jam itself were particularly interested in what we were doing (I think the average age was below 20), we were really encouraged by the positive reception the game received online, and it would of course spur us on to start work on Xeno Crisis in 2017.


Zapiy

Is the name Bitmap Bureau in any way a homage to Bitmap Brothers?

Bitmap Bureau

A little inspired, yes - I played many of their games back in the ‘80s / ‘90s, particularly Speedball 1 and 2. The use of the word “Bitmap” was mainly because we wanted to get across our speciality in 2D games with strong pixel art, and the word “pixel” had already been used by thousands of indie developers.


Zapiy

What’s next for you guys, any sneak peaks?

Bitmap Bureau

Given the success of the Xeno Crisis Kickstarter campaign and the great feedback we’ve received, we’ll almost certainly be looking to start work on another Mega Drive game title towards the end of this year, but we’ve yet to settle on a genre!


Zapiy

What are the real draw backs to creating games for the Megadrive that you have found so far?

Bitmap Bureau

Not sure there are any draw backs - we love it! :) It’s a great challenge and a real buzz when you fire up a Mega Drive and see your game on an old CRT. The biggest actual draw back is probably the efforts required in terms of manufacturing and hardware production that come along with the Mega Drive title. We’re so used to easy digital releases that it’s easy to forget the efforts involved for a physical release.


Zapiy

Have you created any special tools to help you create your games?

Bitmap Bureau

We’ve written a few custom tools to crunch and process the tilesets and maps. We’ve also written a custom video processing pipeline much like the work shown by Jon Burton’s amazing Gamer Hut channel used in Sonic 3D


We also have quite a powerful set of cross platform engine technologies, so we can target multiple platforms efficiently. We hope that will improve and extend through into the retro consoles we’re working on throughout development.


Zapiy

Is there any discussions on bringing some of your work or new work to other systems? (SNES or Amiga).

Bitmap Bureau

We’re looking into developing for other systems, but we don’t have anything to announce just yet.


TrekMD

Your Kickstarter was originally for Xeno Crisis for the Genesis/MD but you got funding to support the Dreamcast and other systems.  How difficult is it to port the game to these other systems?  Will the game have added features for the more advanced systems?

Bitmap Bureau

We’re actually developing Xeno Crisis on the PC initially, prototyping each element before it’s then ported over to the Mega Drive version - the reason we do this is because we can try out something like a new enemy in just a few minutes on the PC prototype, but on the Mega Drive we have severe limitations particularly in terms of RAM, VRAM and ROM space, and everything generally takes much longer, so we need to ensure that we’re 100% certain about whatever it is we’re adding to the Mega Drive version before we go ahead with it.

We’ve used our game engine in three other projects, which easily allows us to export the game to all modern platforms - the Dreamcast port will be more demanding, but we’ve already had experience with the system and don’t anticipate any major problems. The Mega Drive is the lead version of the game, so we’re not looking to add too much to the other versions, but there may be subtle tweaks and refinements where we are less technically constrained. Ultimately we’re looking to scale the graphics by non fractional scalings either 2, 3 or 4 times to fit the screen, and then we might need to draw more map tiles around the outside of each room depending on the aspect ratios. Of course, we’ll be providing different control options as most modern platforms make use of controllers with 4 face buttons like the SNES, so that’s one small difference, but the game plays great with just 3 buttons anyway. There has been talk of an enhanced soundtrack too, but really we think people will be blown away by Daniel’s music direct from the YM2612.


Zapiy

Are you guys shocked at the current resurgence in retro related gaming?

Bitmap Bureau

I guess the NES and SNES Mini have both helped with the recent resurgence, but I’m a firm believer that great games are timeless, as is great pixel art and music! Also, particularly with 8 and 16 bit systems it’s just nice being able to flick the power switch and start playing almost immediately - that’s something that put me off modern consoles from the Wii onwards which seem to take an age to boot up, then there’s updates, non-skippable cutscenes, enforced tutorials etc. There’s the social aspect too - there was no online play for the older systems, which meant that if you wanted a 2, 3 or 4 player game then you’d have to get your friends round - it’s hard to beat that feeling of playing games like Bomber Man, Mario Kart and Golden Eye with a bunch of people in the same room, and that’s still true today.

Looking beyond that, there’s many games which near-on perfected many genres back in the ‘90s, such as Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania: SOTN, Streets Of Rage 2 etc, and although there’s been a lot of modern imitations, I think more people are starting to realise just how good those old games were.


Greyfox

What systems do you guys own and which was your favourite?

Bitmap Bureau

I’ve been a fan of consoles since importing my Mega Drive from Japan when I was about 12 and went on to get a Super Famicom, PC Engine, Super Grafx, Neo Geo CD, Neo Geo AES, Sega Saturn, N64, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, Gamecube, Vectrex and even the woeful Jaguar and PC-FX! I was also lucky enough that my parents got me an Amstrad PC1512 when I was 11 via hire-purchase - it was a lot of money, and I think my parents struggled for a long time to pay it off, but it was a great machine and no doubt played a big part in my career in the games industry. Myself, Henk and Matt also own a range of JAMMA boards too - emulation of most systems is very good these days, but there’s nothing like playing on the original hardware.

Anyway, it’s almost impossible for me to pick a favourite system, but it would be between the Mega Drive, Super Famicom, PS1 and Saturn, purely for the quality and range of games on each of those systems. The PC Engine with the CD-ROM add-on is a thing of beauty though, and the Neo Geo has a coolness and brashness about it that no other system can match. I was pretty disappointed with the N64, despite playing Mario 64, Golden Eye and Mario Kart 64 to death, but my biggest regret was buying the Jaguar - even the excellent Tempest 2000 couldn’t save that system!


Greyfox

What games and genres were your favs?

Bitmap Bureau

I’ve always been a huge fan of Japanese games with Capcom, Konami, Sega, Namco, Taito and Data East producing many of my favourites. I’d say Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Initial D Arcade Stage Version 3 are my games of all time though, and the two games that I’ve put more hours into than anything else. Other than that I used to play games across all genres - these are some of my favourites: Pilotwings (SF), Descent (PC), Unreal Tournament (PC), Ultima V (PC), Starflight (PC), Pool Of Radiance (PC), Tatsujin (MD), Super Shinobi (MD), Strider (MD), Final Fight (ARC), Neo Turf Masters (NG), King Of Fighters ‘96 (NG), Daytona USA (ARC), Ridge Racer (ARC), Sega Rally 1&2 (ARC), Goemon (SFC), Actraiser (SFC), Parappa The Rapper (PS1), Bio Hazard 1&2 (PS1), Bard’s Tale (PC), Snatcher (SCD), Super Monkey Ball (GC), Sim City (SNES), Dodonpachi (ARC), Rogue (PC)...I could go on. ;) If I had to settle for a favourite genre then it would probably be racing or fighting games, but I was a huge RPG fan in my teens - these days I don’t have the time or patience to play those kind of games. :)


Greyfox

Who in the industry did you idolize when you was starting out?

Bitmap Bureau

I think one of the first game industry “celebrities” that I knew of and admired was Roberta Williams, who wrote the fantastic King’s Quest series - she always featured on the back of the King’s Quest boxes, which was unusual back then, and it was even more unusual to see a woman at the forefront of a game studio. I still play King’s Quest with my 6-year old daughter now. :)


After that, Richard Garriott really stood out to me - his work on the Ultima series was incredible, and he sounded like an eccentric character. Ultima V really is a masterpiece, and it’s even more impressive that the whole game is crammed onto 4 floppy disks. Equally impressive was Starflight, and I would often look at the dev team’s photo in the manual and wonder how they’d created this huge galaxy filled with adventure in such a tiny space!



I was also lucky enough to meet Brian Fargo (the co-creator of Bard’s Tale) when he visited SCi’s office in Southampton in 1995 to check out Carmageddon, and I’ve also bumped into Shigeru Miyamoto a total of three times - one time he was directly behind me eating breakfast at the hotel we were staying at whilst attending GDC! He was one of the few Japanese names that you’d read about in game magazines in the UK, along with the legendary Yu Suzuki, and Yuzo Koshiro, the great musician, all of whom I looked up to in a big way - was there anyone cooler in the games industry back then than Yuzo Koshiro?! :)




Zapiy

Your modern releases have a retro vibe, can you tell more about the decision to go do this route?

Bitmap Bureau

As you can probably tell, as a studio we’re all fans of older games, and we always strive to reproduce the “feel” of those classic titles from the ‘80s and ‘90s, which I class as the golden era of gaming. In terms of aesthetics I think we did a pretty good job with Super House Of Dead Ninjas back when we were “Megadev”, but with Xeno Crisis we’re going full-retro of course. There’s a lot of people making “faux retro” games (ourselves included), but we thought, “Why not do it properly?”.


Zapiy

Will you be selling Xeno Crisis once you have completed all the KS pledges so those that may want to still buy it can?

Bitmap Bureau

Yes, we’ve already opened a pre-order ‘store’ on IndieGoGo InDemand, and we’ll soon be opening a BackerKit store too. Naturally though, the Kickstarter and Collector’s Editions are no longer available. Here’s the IndieGoGo link:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/xeno-crisis-for-sega-genesis-dreamcast-and-switch#/


Greyfox

Do you have any other unfinished projects for retro titles that you might share?

Bitmap Bureau

We have several prototypes for various games and also a load of game jam projects that we could potentially unearth, but nothing for the Mega Drive or any other retro systems. That being said, we’ll almost certainly be looking at starting on another Mega Drive game when Xeno Crisis is completed.


Zapiy

Any chance of a physical release of Fatal Smarties?

Bitmap Bureau

We don’t plan on revisiting Fatal Smarties from a development point of view, but we are toying with the idea of releasing it physically for those people that are interested. It was only ever intended to be a game jam game, but it turned out pretty well given the very limited amount of time we were able to put into it.

Thanks for the great questions everyone, and we hope you enjoy Xeno Crisis!

7
RVG Interviews / RVG Interviews Mark Healey.
« on: January 18, 2018, 15:02:49 PM »

Mark Healey has been in the games industry since 1988 and first worked at Bullfrog, on Magic Carpet and Dungeon Keeper, for which he did the majority of the graphics. When Peter Molyneux left to form Lionhead, he soon followed.

After working on games such as Black & White and Fable, he developed Rag Doll Kung Fu in his spare time and released it over Valve's Steam network in October 2005.

He left Lionhead and went on to found Media Molecule with Alex Evans, Dave Smith and Kareem Ettouney in January 2006 and they created yep you guessed it, LittleBigPlanet.

Mark is currently creating a version of LittleBigPlanet for the C64... 8)

Enjoy the Interview.


Zapiy

Thanks for agreeing to the interview, could you take a moment to tell a little about you and how you got into the gaming industry?

Mark

I was born in 1971, in Ipswich Suffolk, I am a father, I live with a mad Argentinian woman called Sol, I like making stuff, especially computer games and music, I have a dodgy back, which forces me to swim a lot.
My first computer was a commodore 64 which my step father bought on HP (hire purchase/credit), which I fell in love with straight away, I taught myself to program in basic, then assembler - and started many games that never got much farther than some graphics moving on the screen - but was determined to somehow end up working in games (it wasn’t really seen as an ‘industry’ at the time, you certainly couldn’t go to college to study it), it was either this or be a rock star.

I ended up going to art college to study ‘graphic art and design’ as I was quite into drawing, and obviously loved making graphics on c64, I had to leave the course after a year though - coming from a family that lived on social security, I received a grant to buy equipment - I spent my entire second year grant in one go on a disk drive for my C64, and had to leave the course as I couldn’t afford to buy paper/pens any more.

I then ended up on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme - or ‘You’re Thatchers Slave’ as we used to call it), on a business programming course, which was a bit weird, as my programming knowledge was way ahead of the tutors - I’d get an assignment for the week, make it in about an hour, then secretly make stupid things to make the other students laugh - I remember being very proud of my ‘random insult generator’, which got me into a lot of trouble. To give one of my tutors credit - they knew I really wanted to make games, and introduced me to the boyfriend of a friend of theirs that was making computer games for the Sinclair spectrum - that was really my big break - we met, I showed him some demos of stuff I had half finished, and he arranged to take me to go up and meet Code Masters who he was making games for. On the way there it suddenly dawned on me I was supposed to be pitching an idea for a game, so I made something up in the car and feebly pitched it to David Darling (Celestial Garbage collector! It’s basically a defender clone, where you collect garbage cans and,…..um,….yeah, cool hey?). He wasn’t too impressed with the idea, but could see from my demos I wasn’t a complete idiot, so suggested I make a C64 version of my friends game he was making on Spectrum, that game was KGB Super Spy, my foot in the door, after that I worked a lot with my spectrum friend (Christian Pennycate is his name btw!) - I did a bunch of educational software for Europress (Fun school), and ended up specialising in graphics, which was much less of a headache than coding, which was the start of me working in the industry as a graphics artist for many years.       



Zapiy

Much is said about KGB Super Spy being your first published game but what was the first game you actually created?

Mark

I used to make simple games in basic for my sisters and friends to play - I can’t remember which one was actually first, but the first bunch were “Ghoul Busters’ (inspired by Ghost busters), ‘Way of the Imploding Foot’ (can you guess what game that was inspired by?), and ‘Agrophobia’ - a text adventure game with three locations and lots of filth which I actually sold at school, I think i sold three copies, and was well chuffed.


Zapiy

What was you experience of working at Codies in the heyday of gaming?

Mark

I didn’t actually physically work there, I just got a contract as a freelancer and worked from home, I only got to visit their offices once(a bunch of porta cabins in the gardens of their family mansion I seem to remember) - I used to talk on the phone every now and then with a producer, that was it really. On one occasion towards the end of finishing the game, my mum ripped the phone of me and started nagging down the line, about how I hadn’t paid any rent, and they should give me some money, I was freaking out, “MUM, for gods sake, you’re going to mess up everything!!”…..I got a check through the post promptly, and handed it over to mother.

 
Zapiy

Do you have any incomplete gaming code or graphics for unreleased games in you collection that you might consider sharing if aloud?

Mark

Well, I started a C64 game a few years ago called ‘Mega Annihilation Death’, which I planned to be a kind of Delta style shoot em up, but in 3d, you can see a video on youtube - I lost the  source code though, and couldn’t be bothered to start again, I might attempt this again one day.
I’ve also started various little projects in Unity, but nothing really worth shouting about. I’ve been very lucky in my career to only work on games that actually see the light of day, so I’m grateful for that.
 

Zapiy

Are you an 8bit or 16bit fan and please expand why?

Mark

I’m more an 8-bit fan than 16-bit, probably because of the C64, which I spent so much of my youth obsessed with, it was my life really - by the time 16-bit computers were a thing, I was already working in the industry, so it was work now (which I still loved, and still do) - the C64 is like a time machine for me, taking me back to my childhood, and many fond memories.



Greyfox

Whats the reasoning behind the name Media Molecule?

Mark

We wanted a name that wouldn’t pigeon hole us into making games, I liked the idea that we might dabble in other things in the future (like music, film, that kind of stuff), or make things that weren’t really ‘games’ as we think of them.


Greyfox

Can you tell us about how you guys met up and formed Media Molecule?

Mark

We worked together at Lionhead Studios - which is where I started getting back into coding (I’d been doing solely graphics for many years now) - I decided to teach myself C++, as I was getting annoyed by coders who claimed my ideas weren’t possible to code - I decided I would do it myself just to prove them wrong, I ended up making Rag Doll Kung Fu in my spare time as my learning project, which ended up being the first non Valve game released on Steam, I got some help towards end from Alex,Dave and Kareem  - making this was a kind of crash course in all that is involved in making a modern computer game outside of my comfortable life as an artist, (it’s the first time I had had to deal with things like localisation for example), so gave us the confidence to go and do it again, but bigger and more ambitious.



TrekMD

What are the real draw backs to creating LBP for the C64 that you have found so far?

Mark

Well, the main drawback is finding the time to actually make progress on it, I’m very busy at the moment trying to finish Dreams (our current game for PS4), as well as being a father and dealing with all that life throws at me, so progress will be slow I’m afraid, certainly don’t hold your breath! The various restrictions that the C64 has aren’t really drawbacks for me, that’s what makes it fun,obviously it won;t be a feature matched port, more a game inspired by LBP (Proper Physics is out of the question, but I’m going to try something Tetris/boulder dash inspired here, we’ll see how I get on with that…) - I do wish you could double buffer the Colour Memory like you can the character screen though….
The main thing I love now about making a C64 game compared to back in the day is that we have the internet, so finding out how to do a particular thing in assembler is only ever a google search away, that and a nice dev environment - no more having to wait for ages to compile and see results of what you just coded!


Greyfox

Have you created any special tools to help you create LBP on the C64?

Mark

So far, All i’ve made is a crude map editor in Unity, which spits out a text file I can put into my source project. Eventually It would be nice to make a map editor that runs on the C64, but that can wait, first I want to get some gameplay happening.


Zapiy

What was the inspiration in making Littlebigplanet for the C64?

Mark

I was bored one day, and drew Sackboy in a Pc based C64 sprite editor, it just kind of carried on from their really - it’s been cool to see other recent C64 games based on modern games (Prince of Persia for example), I thought ‘why the hell not’, let’s see how far I can get with this.


Greyfox

You have worked for some iconic gaming companies like Codemasters, Bullfrog and Lionhead Studios, do you have and stories from you time with these software house?

Mark

Hoho, yes, lot of stories, but most of which I could get into trouble for, or get other people into trouble for.
I remember my first day at bullfrog, I mangled someones car trying to park, and had to enter the office saying ‘Hi, I’m Mark, the new guy, by the way, I just totally mashed in someones car door, sorry!”
The Bullfrog parties where always a good laugh - as well as the piles of booze, there was often two huge pots of chilli-con-carne to choose from, one ‘normal’, and the other one loaded with hashish, which led to all sorts of shenanigans.
There was the coder (whose name I won't mention) at Lionhead who used Peters chair to code while receiving 'oral pleasure' one weekend from an Italian female fan who just turned up at the office one Friday.
I will stop here. 


TrekMD

Are you shocked at the current resurgence in retro related gaming?

Mark

No, not at all, many people who were kids when home computing first hit the mainstream are getting long in the tooth now, and like me, probably pine for the magic of their childhood.
It’s a bit like your parents or grandparents being really into steam trains I guess, 



Greyfox

Which Software company do you have the fondest memories of and why?

Mark

In terms of where I’ve worked, Bullfrog takes some beating, I met some great people there, and got up to lot’s of naughty fun stuff, and also learned a lot from Peter Molyneux about making a larger game with a team.
In terms of C64 and games I admired, Thalamus stand out to me, they just seemed to be a notch above others in terms of quality. 


Zapiy

What games and genres were your favourites?

Mark

My all time favourite C64 game is probably Wizball, I have fond memories of playing it with my stepfather, the ‘Creatures’ games were amazing in terms of art and technical quality, and I remember spending a lot of time with Shoot’em up Construction Kit (which was inspiration for LittleBigPLanet in years to come..).
To be honest, though, I’ve always enjoyed making games more than playing them, I’m not really a big gamer, there’s only so much your eyes can take looking at a screen.   


Greyfox

Who in the industry did you idolize when you was starting out?

Mark

Jeff Minter was quite a star in my eyes, he made it all seem so cool, and he loved Pink Floyd, who happen to be one of my favourite bands too.


Zapiy

Will you do a physical release of LBP with one of the many retro publishers once complete?

Mark

If I ever finish it(which I do have a great desire to do btw), and assuming Sony are cool with it all (which I'm sure they would be), then yeah, sounds cool to me, let’s wait and see if i manage to make something that resembles a game first though. :)


Zapiy

Do you have any other unfinished projects for retro titles that you might share?

Mark

Just the one I mentioned before (Mega Annihilation Death), and I’d love to do something Rag Doll Kung Fu inspired for C64 too, watch this space!


Zapiy

Which one of the games you have been involved was the hardest title to create code or graphics for and why?

Mark

My current project ‘Dreams’ is the hardest thing Ive ever worked on, it’s ambition is massive, it’s been a long one, but I think it’s amazing, so hopefully nothing drastic goes wrong between now and it’s release.


Zapiy

Also which are you proudest of and why?

Mark

I think Rag Doll Kung Fu, as I did 99% of this on my own, and it felt the start of a new chapter in my life which I’m still living in, if I hadn’t done this, I think my life would be very different right now.


Zapiy

I loved Sleepwalker and James Pond 2, what graphics did you create for these classic games?

Mark

I don't actually remember doing much for James Pond - I think it was literally a few textures for a PC port (I didn’t actually work on C64 version), but Sleepwalker, I did all the Graphics for the C64 version, back in those days it was much more typical to only have a single artist on a title.


Zapiy

Black & White received universal acclaim on release, the AI was mind blowing for the time and according to reports the game took 3 yrs to complete, can you expand on what you was tasked with on this game and what it was like to work on perhaps one of the biggest game changing games ever?

Mark

I was an artist on this title, I made the Chimp/ape character, the Good and Evil characters that floated around trying to persuade you to do various good or bad deeds, and various bits of scenery. I also threw in lots of design ideas.


Zapiy
 
Thanks Mark and hope you like the variety of our questions?

Mark

It was a pleasure, hope you find some of my answers interesting!

8
Retro News Round up / New Kickstarter: Galencia Khaos Sphere (C64)
« on: January 16, 2018, 19:15:06 PM »

After the success of the Galencia fighter and the defeat of the Yehoh Aramada, Earth returned to peace and soon after, its old ways of greed.

The unstoppable wheels of industry kept turning, destroying all in their path. No thought for life, beauty or the future. All eyes are on the present, never happy with what we have, we plough onward for more material possessions.

The great war was soon forgotten and the before we knew it a darkness that no one expected was cast upon us, the time for man was quickly coming to an end. The Khaos Sphere has descended and its curse unleashed.

Galencia Khaos Sphere is an an exclusive C64 Shmup available on 512k cartridge only, for PAL and NTSC systems.

Features:

80 levels including scrolling, static and 3d stages.

Rich story telling

Branching level structure giving various, non linear, routes though the game

Play as Ace Harper or Amy Starbanger

Choice of 3 players ships: Galencia, Spartan and Gundola

Unlockable achievements

Dual soundtracks tuned for 6581 and 8580 sid chips

Pilot profile and status saving direct to cartridge.

Massively multiplexed sprites as seen in Galencia

New members will be added to the Team Galencia banner to bring you an exceptional experience never before seen on the C64, these members will be announced on successful completion of the Kickstarter campaign

Galencia Khaos Sphere will support both English and Spanish language straight out of the box.

To see more and pledge visit here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1083534856/galencia-khaos-sphere-c64?ref=user_menu

9
RVG Interviews / RVG Interviews Matt Phillips
« on: January 16, 2018, 19:00:33 PM »

It's with great pleasure I can announce our first RVG Interviews of 2018, this time its with the developer of the Tanglewood on the Megadrive/Genesis.  Below is some of Matt's credits.

Studio History
Traveller's Tales
Crytek
Deep Silver Dambuster Studios

Game Development History
LEGO franchise 2009 - 2013
Homefront: The Revolution
​TimeSplitters 2 (HF:TR arcade port)

Enjoy the interview.

Zapiy

Thanks for agreeing to the interview, could you take a moment to tell a little about you and how you got to this point and making Megadrive games?

Matt

Sure! It was basically a childhood dream that never left me, I've wanted to make my own game for the machine since seeing Sonic for the first time. I had ideas in my head over the years and tried to find the time to learn how to code for it, and I finally found the spark when I got a job at Traveller's Tales and met some veteran Mega Drive coders there who convinced me to try learning assembly language. After a couple of years practice, whilst writing a blog of my progress, I got confident enough to start a small platforming game. With the help of an artist friend we managed to build it up into a proper demo - the project was called Watershed at the time. Everywhere I showed it, people mentioned Kickstarter and wanted to see it come to life properly!


Shadowrunner

Your Kickstarter for Tanglewood was a huge success. Did you have any idea it would be so popular?

Matt

No, I didn't think it would get anywhere near this kind of attention! It was plastered over major gaming news sites, and it even made its way to a two-page spread in Retro Gamer magazine. It was mind boggling seeing it spread. I ran the maths several times before the Kickstarter went live, worrying about the target and trying to trim down the budget as much as I could, and even then I thought it was going to be way too high to be feasible. After the first few days of funding, it was clear I had a chance!

Shadowrunner

Do you have a date in mind for when you would like to have the game finished?

Matt

Yes, we have a ballpark figure of April 2018. We're planning to hit beta at the end of January, then it's just QA testing and final tweaks, then the lead time for PCB manufacture and assembling the cartridges, and it'll be ready to ship.

Zapiy

Does Tanglewood manage to push the machine beyond what we’ve seen thus far? If so, how?

Matt

Being my first game on the system, it doesn't perform any tricks to get more out of the hardware. Plus, I'd like it to remain compatible with clone systems, home arcades and emulators, so I've been careful to ensure it doesn't do anything that would cause issues. However, I have exhausted all ROM, RAM, VRAM, and every CPU clock cycle, so it certainly makes use of the machine as much as it can! For the next game, though, I'll be taking what I've learned and pushing it further.

Zapiy

Whats the reasoning behind the name Big Evil Corp?

Matt

It's a tongue-in-cheek name, a bit of a dig at some major corporations with regards to greed, tax evasion, employee treatment and the top-down hierarchical nature, games or otherwise. I've always wanted to found an ethical studio that is open about its development, treats employees like human beings, and one that understands the ramifications of things like overtime, admitting that crunch is a management failure and should be avoided at all costs. Obviously I have no employees yet so we'll see how it goes when I can afford some!

Zapiy

Whats next for you, any sneak peaks?

Matt

Well, after the Mega Drive version of TANGLEWOOD is done I'm heading straight onto the PC, Max, Linux and Dreamcast ports, and I've been talking with publishers about bringing it to modern consoles, too. After that, I have two more games designed, ready to start. They're of different genres, and I hope they attract some of the Mega Drive's more hardcore fans!

Zapiy

What are the biggest draw backs you have found so far when creating games for the Megadrive?

Matt

The biggest headache is the physical manufacture. It's been a nightmare to organise and it took up most of the budget, but thankfully almost everything is done apart from the PCBs themselves. It's one of the biggest charms of the project, though, and I don't think it would have taken off if I only offered digital versions, so I'm aiming to try and centralise the manufacture and find a way to reduce the cost so I can keep creating more physical games without more crowdfunding.

Zapiy

Have you created any special tools to help you create your games?

Matt

Yes, plenty. I have a full suite of level editing, map conversion, sprite animation and audio tools, and an automated test system. A friend of mine wrote a coding environment that automates building, deploying and debugging in an emulator, too, so I can work on the train without my devkit. Other people have chimed in with some custom designed electronics, like a USB Mega Drive debugger and a scart-to-HDMI converter.

Zapiy

Is there any thoughts on bringing some of your work or new work to other systems? (SNES or Amiga)

Matt

Yes, other than the Dreamcast port which has already been announced, I recently bought an Amiga 500+ with the idea to port the game. I've been talking to some Amiga experts who are willing to help. It's a bit of an experiment so far, we'll see how it goes. I've added SNES support to some of my conversion tools, but it's been difficult tracking down development hardware for the machine.


TrekMD

You Kickstarter was originally for Tanglewood for the Genesis/MD but you got funding to support the Dreamcast.  How difficult is it to port the game to these other systems?  Will the game have added features for the more advanced systems?

Matt

The biggest obstacle was translating 68000 assembly language into C, which is going to take a while to finish, but it's getting there. I managed to speed up the process by writing a new engine based on the same tech that runs the level editing tools, so it can load the level editor files directly. This means scene loading and rendering, sprite drawing and animation, and colour palette management is already in and working since it was already functional in the editor. These ports will have a few extras like proper 16:9 widescreen support, upscaled graphics, higher quality audio, and some of the content that was cut to save cartridge space.

Zapiy

Are you shocked at the current resurgence in retro related gaming?

Matt

Not particularly shocked, since my generation of gamers are now at the age where nostalgia hits hard so it makes sense that retro gaming has taken off. I'm surprised that Mega Drives are available to buy brand new, thanks to TecToy and AtGames, though! That's quite a big deal and not something I thought I'd ever see.

Zapiy

What systems do you own and which was your favourite? (retro)

Matt

Wow, let me see - Master System, Mega Drive (about 12 variants of the thing!), Saturn, Dreamcast, Game Boy, Game Boy Advanced, NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, Wii, PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Vita, Xbox, Xbox 360, Amiga 500+, Atari STe, Commodore 64, Acorn Electron, and Ive been hoarding development kits for most of those. The Mega Drive is undoubtedly my favourite, and has been since I got one as a child. I guess the C64, being my first computer, holds second place in my heart. I loved the thing!

Zapiy

What games and genres were your favs?

Matt

2D platformers, without a doubt, both retro and modern. I'm a huge fan of 16-bit platformers like Sonic, Flashback, Another World, and all the Disney classics, through to Abe's Oddysee, Heart of Darkness, Skullmonkeys for the PS1, all the way to modern platformers like LIMBO, INSIDE, and Ori and the Blind Forest. A few notable mentions from other genres are Discworld, Conker's Bad Fur Day, the Half-Life series, Portal, Uncharted, The Last of Us, and more recently I've become obsessed with Overwatch!

Zapiy

Who in the industry did you idolize when you was starting out?

Matt

Right from the start it was Traveller's Tales, although I don't think I knew any individual names at the time. BBC News ran a piece on Sonic 3D Blast/Flickies Island - it was a big deal since the Sonic franchise had been handed to a UK studio - showing people working on various things around the office, and I was absolutely smitten with everything about it. Later on in life when Far Cry had just hit the shelves, I had a newspaper clipping of the Yerli brothers talking about Crytek and its game engine, I think I kept it pinned above my desk for years. Funnily enough, I ended up working for both companies, and met everyone involved!

Zapiy

Will you be selling Tanglewood once you have completed all the KS pledges so those that may want to still buy it can?

Matt

Yes indeed, we'll be running pre-orders soon so we can afford to manufacture a second batch, and hopefully once it's released we can keep a steady trickle of sales going. You can sign up on our website to be notified of when pre-orders go live.

Zapiy

Do you have any other unfinished projects for retro titles that you might share?

Matt

We have another game in the design phase, a 2D shooter with hover mechs. It's a fast-paced action platformer with a big elaborate story, some light RPG elements, and a whole load of multi-stage boss fights. We're not ready to show any concepts just yet, though!

10
Announcements and Feedback / Podcasters and Youtubers please read.
« on: January 15, 2018, 22:38:09 PM »
As of today i'm calling all those that advertise their media to give a little back either by being active elsewhere on the forums as we have plenty to chat about or you can start a discussion or maybe a mention on their media.. This is not compulsory, and it will not change how we allow you to advertise on here

Other than that please keep all your media related posts to a single thread please.

 8)

11
Arcade Homebrew / Airframe: Rashlander
« on: January 13, 2018, 20:49:11 PM »


The game will be using Aerotech’s Skycurser upgradable conversion kit, called Airframe, it is a compact kit that incorporates a PC-to-JAMMA board and ITX PC hardware. Instead of carts it uses USB thumb drives.

Developed by Ryguygames, this follows the pattern of Griffin Aerotech lobbying other indie developers to create their games for their hardware.

About the Game.

RASHLANDER is a super tough take on the classic Lunar Lander gameplay in which you pilot your little spacecraft around procedurally generated micro-verses populated by Mario Galaxy-esque planetoids.

The gameplay in RASHLANDER is very easy to pick up and play but very hard to master. In each level you must make your way from the starting point to the finish and land successfully. There’s lots of debris floating around in space, which you can thankfully bash out of the way without damaging your ship, but colliding with a planet or large black mines can have catastrophic effects.

Your little space craft has its own inertia and is affected by the gravitational pulls of planets so you’ll need to adjust your trajectory along the way. You will have to be careful with your fuel consumption though, every time you fire your thrusters you’ll use up some fuel and the only way to refuel is by landing on designated refueling stations (your fuel level doesn’t top up between levels).



12
Completed Interview Questions / Mark Healey Questions Needed.
« on: January 13, 2018, 15:15:25 PM »

Mark Healey has been in the games industry since 1988 and first worked at Bullfrog, on Magic Carpet and Dungeon Keeper, for which he did the majority of the graphics. When Peter Molyneux left to form Lionhead, he soon followed.

After working on games such as Black & White and Fable, he developed Rag Doll Kung Fu in his spare time and released it over Valve's Steam network in October 2005.

He left Lionhead and went on to found Media Molecule with Alex Evans, Dave Smith and Kareem Ettouney in January 2006 and they created yep you guessed it, LittleBigPlanet.

Please post your questions.

13
Homebrew Games / LittleBigPlanet for C64.
« on: January 13, 2018, 00:55:10 AM »
Yep you read that right, LBP for C64, this is being created by none other than Marcos Healey the co-founder of Media Molecule who made the original game.

Check this video out.



Can not wait for more on this.

14
Retro Media. / Castle Books Catalogue of books(Free)
« on: January 13, 2018, 00:47:50 AM »

RVG member a retro world regular AmigaJay is kindly giving all his books away in PDF format free and one extra gift.

For more go to his new site https://jaysretro.blogspot.co.uk/

Nice one Justin.

15
Retro Media. / New Mag: Kilobyte Magazine. (free)
« on: January 12, 2018, 18:34:38 PM »

ilobyte Magazine is a hobbyist magazine dedicated to 8-bit computing today. This edition contains the following articles:

    The Art of Floppy Disk Sleeves
    50 Years of Logo
    How a Commodore 64 can produce VR images
    Book Review: Making Games for the Atari 2600
    How to make scrolling possible on the Interton VC4000. Programming the Signetics 2650A
    One Jump’n’Run rule them all: Sam’s Journey (C64)
    First Person Adventure: Argus
    Flying High: Starfysh

..and more!

Website: https://issuu.com/kilobytemagazine

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