A lookback on 2015

Well, this was a different year to recent ones, Mid-way through it I quit my Job, gave away my Business to a friends of mine and started working at another good friends company, doing roughly what I’ve been doing for the last 9 years, but without a lot of the stress that running a web design business, whilst maintaining a sizable client base and keeping on top of billing, phone calls, etc, etc. All going through myself.

I’m a lot happier where I am now, I can get on with working on just one website, as opposed to chopping and changing between many at the same time, I can actually focus on tasks in an order instead, work on generally improving my coding style and other stuff which is great!

So, my work life seems a lot better than it did before, certainly more stable anyways.

Despite this, I’ve not been able to devote as much time as I like to game coding over the year as a whole, but the latter half has given me new interests within the realms of Homebrew Coding. So far it’s been purely on the Gameboy and I’ve made 3 games for it since learning in in August, there’s a larger game in progress also for it. It’s become my new passion development wise, that’s for sure.

Over the Christmas break I’ve decided I want to write a game up for the Atari 2600, probably in Machine Code, if I manage to get a pixel on screen that’ll be an achievement by the looks of things though! I’ve never dabbled with machine code before and, whilst Gameboy Development with GBDK has proven to be a really fun introduction to coding on older systems, the limitations of the Atari are extreme. So, it’ll be fun to see where that goes next year, maybe I’ll get something onto a cart, maybe not, I guess we’ll find out eh?

There’s still work on They Are Everywhere which I’ll get around to at some point next year also. I really have to finish that one off, or it’ll just never happen, which would be a shame as it still feels fun to play now as it did earlier in the year before feature creep came along and said “Hey, maybe you should add more game modes and port it to the Gameboy” Geez, that has really got be released soon.

More importantly It’s 9pm and I spy both Rum and Cola downstairs so… Buh bai!

Back to Gameboy or Atari Game Development Tomorrow?

Christmas was lots of fun and it’s been lovely but I’ve got that urge to get back behind the code again so tomorrow evening I’ll either start making another lil gameboy project, orrr possibly continue They Are Everywhere with levels 6 to 10 or, maybe, just maybe look more into Assembly for, of all the things, the Atari 2600.

Yes, the Atari 2600.

The one that’s most likely a real ruddy nightmare to develop for, has really, REALLY limited everything. Yeah, that’s the one. Again, mostly for the challenge of making something for an old system, this one being older than myself even!

I’ve done some research online and it seems like a worthwhile challenge, I won’t be attempting to make anything in particular, but, if I can make anything work on it, I’ll be happy with that.

Also, the folks at atariage.com offer the ability to put your game onto a cart for $25.00, which is kinda cool, now, time to dig out that Atari 2600 from somewhere…

I blame myself for reading through Racing The Beam the last couple of days. It’s quite the fascinating read if you’re into retro gaming and goes into details of 6 Atari VCS games, from one of the release cartridges (Combat in 1977) to Pitfall, Yars’ Revenge and the Ill-Fated Initial conversion of Pac Man with details on how the developer for each game explored the limits of the Atari console and made it work seemingly beyond it’s capabilities. It’s crazy stuff!

Soo, probably time to download Stella and some other tools, will report back in a day or so.

So, 2 Gameboy Games, 2 weekends. Is this a trend for me?

Probably not, haha! I do love making games for the Gameboy though, so I’m going to continue down that line for a while now. It’s still enjoyable to code games for limited hardware for me and it’s taught me a fair amount about code optimisations, which is handy for me in general. There’s also plenty left for me to learn about it, I may have made 3 games in total for it and have one in the pipeline but there’s a lot to learn in that lil system and I’d also quite like to make myself some tools I can use better within the games I make.

I nearly ended up using my own system for the sprites for Novascape, but, sadly it had a small bug, which has now been fixed so I can make more complex backgrounds and sprites with a bit more ease than before!

I might try my hand at making a basic platformer next time around, It would be nice to get a better hang on properly mapped scrolling backgrounds. Then again, They Are Everywhere has been waiting in the wings for quite some time now and really needs completion sometime soon. Ohh decisions, decisions…

Additionally, I put some feelers out on twitter regarding making some videos to help people into Gameboy Development with GBDK as the documentation on getting started with it seems rather scarce out there. I remember searching for hours in an attempt to find a PDF that contained the actual values that converted over to notes! I made my port of Spike Dislike using an inaccurate emulator, which then showed up on actual devices and my current emulator of choice, BGB.

So, I’ll spend a lil bit of time during the Christmas break putting some videos together for the New Year, yeah!