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Digitiser: The Game: Development

Part 13 - 30th December 2019

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Don't get too excited, but there has been some measurable progress. Bitmap graphics can now be decompressed to an off-screen buffer, then stretched horizontally to a second one, and finally expanded vertically during the copy to video display memory. This is essential for neatly composing screens in a not-quite-authentic teletext style.

Not actual game. Self-promotion purely coincidental.

If you are still following these irregular updates, then you probably know what a stack pointer is. The next job is to repurpose that for speeding up the final copy to video memory, like it's 1986. However, I do hope to add something by loading the registers once for each line doubled vertically, or at least determine if that approach only works in theory.

I'll be satisfied if that's my only clear achievement for next month, because I also expect to be refactoring some messy code from the last game. Soon, while it still works, rather than when it undecipherably breaks during the next rush to completion. So mostly for my own benefit, though progress towards code that others can actually use would be a nice bonus.

In line with past performance, my previous game took longer than expected to finish. The sticking point was the cassette inlay, one of the main selling points for old home computer games. I'll keep it brief - most of my progress in monochrome pixel art did not translate to other mediums. However, I was fortunate to find the perfect pose for the loading screen whilst slacking on the Found Footage retrospective.

Also, having finally finished what began as a six month project, it was time to take a proper break. This partly involved playing other games - some of which I hope to review next year - without feeling guilty about not having finished my own.

My future.

I have already plugged Simon Daly's recent free game, but will now elaborate. You may remember him from Chunky Fringe, and this is a little something that he put together in a break from the epic wordsearch-adventure UFO a Dracula. Casual players may mistake the PETSCII-style abstraction for a crashed emulator, but it plays smoothly enough that even they may begin to appreciate his distinctive style. Along with the creepiness, jokes, and astute nostalgic observations.

I would also like to thank the admins of Spectrum Computing for, aside from keeping up with all the new releases, making time to say encouraging things about Super Enquiry Simulator (as did many other forum members.) I'm not ready for the full post-mortem yet, but the feedback has already nudged my Digitiser game plans towards more interaction.

The rave review from Portugal was most humbling. Fortunately, I was not awarded a numerical score for art game reasons, so I can now safely mention that the reviewer also makes rather good chiptunes, without arousing suspicion that my endorsement is merely payback for an improved Metacritic average.

Whatever happens next year, including work on the Digitiser game, Chunky Fringe 2020 will take priority. I foresee that being a more intimate event than last time, like the Teletext Block Parties, but who knows what Mr Biffo is planning? Himself included. I was hoping to make some sort of career from old games, but if not, such gatherings and the kind online feedback more than justifies continuing it as a hobby.

So, happy new year, and may the retro scene feature more people realising their own personal projects. Also, less death threats arising from commercial disputes. Thanks.

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