Okay, is this thing on? Testing… Testing…
Things have been a little quiet on the Project Blog lately. I’ve been puttering back and forth between different projects, so maybe there’ll be a backlog of things to talk about here soon. First though, we’ve got something new: an October Retrochallenge. The management has been updated, the schedule has been modified, and so it’s once again time to do something new with something old.
I’ve been wanting to write a game for a long time, and I’ve played with different ideas in different languages over the years. Maybe it’s time to take that a little more seriously, at least for a few weeks, and see if a foundation can be created.
To see where this is going, let me explain my influences:
- My family got a Commodore 64 when I was in junior high. My first great gaming experience was Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. A friend gave me a copy of the game along with a five-page fanfold printout of the most basic instructions. I was completely lost. I was literally lost, a lot of the time, in the vastness of Britannia. I have fond and visceral memories of certain moments of discovery: stumbling across the town of Yew in the thick forests; using a moongate for the first time; sailing around the southern tip of Britannia and seeing a lava lizard along the banks of a river.
- I’ve been watching Casey Muratori’s Handmade Hero videos. It’s inspired me to play around with design, and to approach things more iteratively. I think I have a tendency to over-architect my software designs. Sometimes that can pay off, but sometimes it can leave you with unnecessary complexity. I’m trying to be more exploratory with my coding these days, which might be a well-suited approach to the Retrochallenge format. Also I’ve got lots of ideas about how to put things together.
- I’m kind of perversely fascinated with the idea of using C to develop on the C64. C is not well-suited to the 6510 processor, but it can be done. I’ve used cc65 as a development environment for some other projects, but I think this one will push the speed and resource utilization a lot more. It’s worth remembering that Questron, for example, was written in a combination of assembly and BASIC, so by comparison I think this should be manageable.
- I hemmed and hawed for a long time about which machine to use this time around. Developing on the Amiga would have been easier, and would have let me steal more ideas from Handmade Hero. But the C64 was calling to me, and I thought that platform would be a better match for my artistic capabilities, which are basically nonexistent.
How far will I get with this project in a month? It’s hard to say, but I’m starting with one of the basics, and the thing that first caught my imagination: creating a really big map to wander around on. You can see something very preliminary at the top of the post. More on that soon.