Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A PET Snake

Recently, I have been programming some very old machines for a bit of fun, namely the Sinclair ZX80 and Commodore PET. And last evening I finished a game for Monument Microgames (MM) and it is available as a free download from the aforementioned website. It's a simple 'gobble and grow' affair, as MM point out, and requires 16K or more of RAM and a 40 columns display. I will get around to making the 80 columns version shortly.

If there is enough interest in this release, and in Commodore PET software in general, then MM will be publishing this with another game on real cassette and possibly floppy diskette. For more information, Twitter me @YearOfCodes. For now, here's a screen shot. Enjoy!

PET Snake for the Commodore PET - 16K RAM/40 Columns - tested on 3032

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

What Next?

What interesting things happen when you turn your back for a while.

For almost 13 years of my life, from February 2002 through to December 2014, I was a published writer for a long running, and now sadly defunct, computing magazine called Micro Mart. At some point in that time I occasionally penned pieces for other magazines (hint: one rhymes with Hetro Gamer, the other with samesTM). And now, the thing that I spent a lot of time and money to achieve seems to be happening. Here is just one example: my friend and head honcho at at Cronosoft, Simon Ullyatt, set up a independent software company to publish new (and perhaps unreleased) games for 8-bit machines, primarily the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Back in the post-commercial and pre-hipster days, he used to sell - at best - maybe 60 games of any particular title in a year. These weren't like Atlantis Software style releases where you really did get what you paid for (I'm thinking more Commodore 64 releases here). These were and are high quality 8 bit games, many of which would have earned top marks from the likes of Crash and Your Sinclair had they been released back in the 1980s.

So a few years after necessarily stopping writing and leaving the whole 8-bit thing to other more capable people, things seem to be in a bit of a boom. For instance, Mr Ullyatt recently re-issued the very excellent Higgledy Piggledy, a 2005 game by Jonathan Cauldwell which I gave a 9/10 for when I reviewed it. He sold out of the reissues within the same evening as announcing it. So not even one day, but a single evening, is accounting for likely at least six months of sales just five or so years ago.

I only hope that this boom isn't followed by an almighty bust, as happened around 1983 to the fledgling video games industry back then. I mean as people realised that vinyl is much better (like much much better) than digital CDs or MP3s, I hope those people with seemingly deep pockets realise that you just can't beat a good, well thought out and produced 8-bit game. Who cares about how real the modern digital world can be when there's a whole world of pixels and imagination to explore from an old and familiar friend.