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Review: Rocky Memphis - The Legend Of Atlantis

I'd like to send thanks and kudos to icon64, the team behind Rocky Memphis - The Legend Of Atlantis. That's Stuart Collier, Trevor Storey and Saul Cross.
I'm a great starter of games but not a great finisher. The short list of games that I've become obsessed with through to the end include Portal 1 and Day of the Tentacle. I'll spend days trying to figure out a puzzle and I don't like too much pixel-perfect-platform-jumping or battling enemies.

Legend of Atlantis fits the bill perfectly. There have been similar games but for a native C64 game this looks and sounds so good and plays so well.
The puzzles are perfect. You don't want them to be too obvious and just go through the motions. Nor do you want them to be impossible or unfair. In LOA you collect items as you go along (which aren't too easy to find because you can't see them on the screen and have to search) and you have to work out how those interact with devices you find in the rooms. There a…
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Cool-running and cool-looking C64 power supply

I must mention that I'm very pleased to have taken delivery of this power brick which will power a C64 and a Vic20.

I have a collection of Commodore power supplies (I'm sure we all do). It bothers me that they get hot, I can usually smell the one I've been using when it's been on for a while. I believe that there's also a risk of it failing and frying the board of a valuable computer.

This one is from Electroware, aka c64psu.com. They're in Poland but the shipping was reasonable and quick. The item itself was very reasonable too, coming in at well under fifty quid with taxes and shipping.

It doesn't run totally cool but gets as warm as any transformer you plug into the wall, because it has a regular step-down transformer for the 9vAC. For the 5vDC it has a modern switching circuit.

They make a version that feeds your computer and your 1541, one that has the right connector for the C128 and one for powering an Amiga. They all come with a choice of wall plug…

Music for an imaginary spooky video game

I've made a little progress with my game, and I'm feeling a little more positive about the gameplay now. Here's evidence
I have about three 'happy sheep ambling about' tunes now, and this is the reason that the game has been sidelined a little. Once I'd started to write music, that's all I wanted to do for a while.

One of the pieces I started writing (there are many) is 'music for an imaginary spooky video game' which has just about made it out of the end of the pipeline. I did start to compose it for three voices with our friend the SID chip in mind, but it grew! This is the full orchestral version, MuseScore is doing a pretty good job of rendering the instruments, but as usual with these things, some instruments suck, particularly the brass.


I've got as far as making a satisfactory version that runs on the C64. This involved quite a bit of programming, I first adapted Derek Morris's sound routine (which he says he's happy for me to do)…

Homebrew game for C64 - part 5: C64 / 6502 IDE for Mac

So far I've not written very much about the actual gameplay. That's mostly because I had done a bit of that before I started writing this blog. I will write some of that up 'retro'spectively. (geddit?)

But I've been choosing to do other things such as the music and whilst doing that I got hung up on writing a system for converting music notation to assembly.

I've been muddling by with a miscellany of tools (TMPx, an online sprite editor, XCode etc). This has been working pretty efficiently, with a few frustrations. So today I decided to begin work on an IDE for Mac, which AFAIK doesn't exist.
Not bad for a day's work.  The syntax colouring alone makes the assembly so much easier to read. The line numbering probably took more time than the rest put together. You never know what's going to go smoothly and what you'll be stuck on for hours.

But is this just displacement activity?? Am I avoiding getting on with the gameplay because I'm having do…

Homebrew game for C64 - part 4: does it run on a real machine?

This has been an amazing journey so far. I've worked entirely on my Mac and the Vice emulator while dusting off a real breadbin 64 and gathering the necessary adaptors and other hardware.
Isn't this the cutest thing??!

It's a SD2IEC from The Future Was 8-bit. Thank you to them for everything they do. I've got a version that should work with C64, Vic20, Plus4 and more. I didn't go for the preloaded card option, but it was very easy to grab a card, format it and load it with stuff.

This was a very big moment. It's been weeks since I started this project, and for the first time here it is running on original hardware.

The sheep look fantastic to me, cheap monitor aside (the characters are straight from my cartoon, Yvonne the Sheep).

It's very early days as far as the gameplay goes, I've mostly been working on the tune recently and have built a system that allows me to pretty much import from sheet music.

The music played, and it sounds beautiful! (This is …

Homebrew game for C64 - part 3: generating assembly straight from sheet music

This post is going to combine musical notation, music XML, cocoa programming (objective-C for MacOS) and retro game programming (specifically the music) in assembly for C64.

That might qualify this as an extremely niche post, so if you're reading because you're interested in all or some of those things, or if there's some other reason why you'd like to convert sheet music to another format, do let me know if the comments so that I know I'm not entirely alone!

In the last couple of posts in this series I wrote about how I was tinkering around with a little tune for a game I'm writing for C64. Writing out the notation is something I'm very comfortable with.

I eventually arrived at a great and efficient way to store and play the music within my game. This involved using a kind of 'bytecode', combining instructions and data. (A development of code that came with Derek Morris' book). That looks like this:
That looks pretty laborious to write out by h…

Homebrew game for C64 - part 2: more SID tune fun

The development of the music for this game has gone so well - way better than the development of the gameplay itself, which I'm having serious doubts about!

Writing a silly tune was the easiest part. I've now improved that - it has a 'chorus' which is deliberately reminiscent of 'English Country Garden'. The main part of the tune is meant to accompany sheep trotting / blundering around a field.

It even has a fourth part now, although I can only use three because the C64's sound chip - SID - has three tone voices.
And here's how it sounds using the Vice C64 emulator:



Disclaimer: Tonight I've been messing around with voices and ASDR envelopes, and haven't yet found settings that I really like. The bass in particular is raspy here, I want a smooth sound, but when I use the triangle waveform it sounds very quiet even with the highest sustain volume.

In the first part of this little diary, I mentioned that I started to use Derek Morris' sound li…