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The latest news from wubsoft HQ!

3rd July 2022

Hi to anyone who's reading this, thanks for keeping an eye on what I'm up to!

I've been a bit bogged down working on 'The Space Adventure Simulator 2' recently so I've taken a break to absorb the stunning new issue 26 of Sam Revival and to set up His Majesty to play the cover disk (which I've heard has one particularly good game on it!). I also thought that writing a quick update would be helpful to get some perspective back now I'm reaching that 'almost finished' stage with the game.

The parts I'm working on now are the bits that handle when the player kills a monster or dies. I'm still not massively comfortable with drawing graphics and so I've tried to use that to my advantage by making something similar to the very early South Park cartoons. So kind of crappy in a way that's comical, but effective enough to convey what's going on. So far it's been a lot of trial and error, drawing small sprites and writing fiddly code to orchestrate several elements at the right time. If it works then the fiddlyness will have been worth it!

I've made a better small font for the game text that has most of the ascii set, with the lower case letters going below the line properly where necessary. It's more readable than my previous efforts but it's still not perfect. A bit of shading will probably help but if TSAS2 goes really well I might go on a hunt for a proper graphic artist to collaborate with for TSAS3.

One of the big changes I've made for TSAS2 is how many lives the player has, something I got completely wrong for the first game. A crew of one hundred was way too many and totally ruined the strategy element of the gameplay. There's no consequence to losing crew members while exploring the planets and moons and so you can just asset strip system after system way too easily.

TSAS2 does things completely differently. You now have 26 'Captains' who you play as, one at a time, until you die or get beaten in a battle. The captains are named, from A-Z, after characters from sci-fi films and TV shows and I've made two sets, for male and female characters. I cannot overstate what a monumental challenge this was! I thought it would be considerably more straightforward given how much sci-fi has been made over the years, but completing both lists without using any characters from Star Wars or Star Trek (which I thought would be cheating given how many characters they've churned out over the years!) turned out to be impossible. It seems that script writers like to pick names from a very small area of the alphabet and a lot of really good names had to be left out simply because there were too many choices.

The game itself is about halfway to being a proper RPG. I have a nice storyline worked out to base a game on but I'd rather save it for TSAS3 and use TSAS2 as the testing ground for creating a coherent universe and functional resource management system first. So I've made a fairly traditional arcade adventure, think Atic Atac or Con-Quest, with some of the main elements of an RPG mixed in.

My 'Big Idea' for the resource management system, which I had to simplify way too much for the first game, is to use real-world chemistry where you can slowly amass elements from the full periodic table. I had planned to put together some kind of system based on Lewis structures (which I learned about by watching an excellent chemistry course from MIT), but this is all way too much for a Sam game, even if I could work out how to do it and actually code it, which is highly unlikely!

I liked the materia system in Final Fantasy 7 and want to create something along those lines. The first TSAS sets out the basic idea, metals for ship strengh, gasses for weapon power and less common elements having more value. It may end up being some sort of fudge but we'll see!

Finally, I have cleaned up my 4MB STe and had a go at sun bleaching it, ready for working on and testing the ST version of TSAS2. I'm hoping it will be a pleasant way to have a crack at 68k assembly but I'm not going to make too many promises until I've put some proper time into it. If the ST is anything like the Sam then a few teething problems are to be expected..

And yes, I know I spelt laser wrong, with a z, on that demo video. And yes, I know it's an acronym and not a word. Seriously, stop yelling at me! :)

21st April 2022

As always, it takes a bank holiday weekend to see any real progress from me!

If you got to this page then you must have seen the new website, unless you have an older browser that doesn't support HTML5. I have no idea how well it will work for people, I get surprising and uneven results from my tests on various, mostly older, machines. It's set to run at 60fps and it's a bit too fast running natively, which seems to work about right for me online.

If it works particularly badly on your system then please consider dropping me an email to let me know! I will point out the obvious flaw, while I've left space for them, I haven't added touchscreen controls yet. I don't have a modern enough device with a touchscreen to develop on right now, but it's next on the list so will get sorted at some point! SDL supports touchscreen controls perfectly and I have used them for my openGLes projects in the past, so I'm not expecting problems..

In other news, I have added a video to my youtube channel of some of the graphics and gameplay for the new version of "The Space Adventure Simulator", which is ticking along nicely despite a considerable drop in the amount of free time available since life started to return to normal.

4th September 2021

You can get the new game here.

The music for this was created by Howard Price, and he's done a remarkable job of recreating the original gameboy music and sound fx for the Sam. According to his blog he's going to write about the process of putting the tracks together, which should be very interesting. I can't thank him enough for his efforts on this, it's really made the whole thing worthwhile.

Overall I think it has turned out pretty well, but there's a few differences from the gameboy version that deserve an explanation.

The collision detection on the gameboy version is very forgiving, which for a small screen is probably a good idea. But on the Sam it made things a bit too easy so I've made it exactly half as lenient; the collision detection ignores the outermost pixel of the bubble whereas on the gameboy it was two pixels.

The bubble behaviour is also not perfectly copied, although it's pretty close, and the maximum distance you can move the bubble with one blow seems to be identical. I am very tempted to keep tinkering with it endlessly, but the way it's working here is very playable so I probably won't :)

There's one object missing on a couple of the levels, and while most of the animations are about right, I didn't kill myself trying to copy everything perfectly.

Finally, as the gameboy version is so easy to complete, I've also made a whole set of ludicrously difficult levels that should drive you mad. Don't say I didn't warn you! :)

6th June 2021

I've successfully compiled a simple game that I wrote many years ago for windows xp to run in a webpage. In truth this is an act of procrastination because I still can't get shared memory working between javascript and a wasm module, which is essential for making my online graphics tools.

As for the tools themselves, I have all the pieces working nicely on the Sam and I'll make a video showing what the web version will do asap. In short, it will be possible to choose a bmp, select areas of it to convert into compiled sprites, and then save the output as either a 32k page for using directly on the Sam or as a Comet source code file.

I've also made a good start on a tile map system that uses graphics converted with these tools, and that will support animated tiles. I'm making a video to show the new versions of The Space Adventure Simulator and Dungeon Game that will make use of all this.

To cap off a busy year of coding projects I have finally made a start with Atari ST programming. I've set up an emulated system using Steem SSE and have Devpac3 working nicely from a vitual hard disk. I do have a real ST but I'm going the emulated route to start with. I've managed to get some graphics from The Space Adventure Simulator converted to degas .pi1 format and have used a good 68k/ST tutorial to learn how to draw them on the screen. The Atari ST uses the same method of storing pixels in nibbles as the Sam, but also makes things slightly more complicated by storing them in dwords rather than bytes. Despite the extra complexity, supporting the ST with my online graphics tools will be simple. Famous last words..

At some point I'm also going to remake this whole web site so it's less rubbish.

9th May 2021

I've added the first version of a wavefront object loader to the site. It seems to work fine with smaller objects but larger ones cause a memory error that I haven't found the reason for yet. As the standard version works fine I assume I'm doing something wrong with the javascript.

This version doesn't handle textures, only material colours, and only a single object and material file. If you don't happen to have an object handy you can download one of my test objects here. I downloaded a lot of ready-made objects like this about ten years ago when I was working on my object parser, but I can't remember exactly where it came from now.

What's the purpose of this? I'm trying to learn the javascript I need to work properly with webassembly as quickly as possible and this seems like a fun way to go about it!

8th May 2021

I've begun work on some online Sam Coupé tools for working with BMP files. The plan was to port the tools I already use into webassembly but re-writing them in javascript may prove easier. Passing a file to the wasm routine works perfectly but getting the converted data back out for saving within the page doesn't...

When these tools are working for the Sam I'll start on the Atari ST versions. I've been meaning to get started with an ST version of wubtris for a while but there's never enough time.

It has also become apparent that my HTML knowledge is a bit out of date and even after fixing all the really big mistakes on this site I still have dozens of errors. Some of the HTML attributes I use have been deprecated since 1998, which is about the last time I made a web page to be fair!

The Space Adventure Simulator Version 1.2

The Space Adventure Simulator Version 1.2 can now be downloaded by following the Sam Coupé link above. I've made a tutorial video that provides a few hints and you can read the instructions in the description for the video on Youtube or on World of Sam.

Samtona Mk1 750cc

The first release of Samtona can be downloaded by following the Sam Coupé link above. Or you could watch this video of some complete hero pwning it!

This page was created using animated gifs from the amazing GifCities project.