Not only is Stormlord (the follow-up to Exolon) going full steam ahead, but Cybernoid II is also being started — and I thought slave labour had been abolished. (That’s what you think buster — Andrew Hewson.) So it looks like this month is going to be... to coin a phrase... one mean mother.
I have designed some nice graphics for Stormlord and without wanting to sound too immodest, I reckon they are pretty good. If everything has gone according to plan there should be a few screen photographs scattered around the page — hope you like ’em.
I receive a phone call stating that Commodore programmer Nick ’I can do ten programs at once’ Jones and I must attend a meeting at Hewson in Abingdon, next Monday. After trying every conceivable excuse, Nick and I eventually have do yield to this highly unreasonable demand. Apparently, the meeting (or perhaps that should be interrogation) is being held so we can discuss Cybernoid II, and to enable the marketing people and games critics at Hewson to view the latest developments in Stormlord.
No doubt they’re going to give me a hard time, as usual — especially that Paul Chamberlain who is to games programmers what Colonel Sanders and Bernard Matthews are to chickens.
I shall be spending the next few days frantically putting together a demo of Stormlord, ready for the dreaded encounter on Monday.The reason for all this hard graft is to convince everybody that I have actually been working (which of course I have).
Today Nick and I are making one of our rare visits to Hewson HQ, ’in the heart of rural Oxfordshire’, as the recruitment ads used to say. Yes, there is not a scene more idyllic and rural than billowing Didcot Power Station and Milton Industrial Estate where Hewson HQ has its roots firmly planted. We are greeted, as usual, by yet another totally new secretary. I think Andrew Hewson employs a new secretary for every new letter that gets typed up. Oh well, variety is the spice of life I suppose.
As usual Andrew has forgotten that Nick and I are popping over and is ’in a meeting’ with some other poor chap. I decide to wander off to see if I can pester anybody. The marketing department methinks; they’re always good for a laugh. I get chatting to Sandra, the marketing (and definitely NOT PR) person at Hewson, about possible ideas for Stormlord’s packaging artwork.
Needless to say, my brilliant idea of having a photograph of yours truly amongst a dozen semi-nude page three girls is rejected without a second hearing — too expensive apparently. (Funny, I don’t charge that much.)
When Andrew finally notices that I exist, I am goaded into loading up my Stormlord demo. He is duly inspired by the super-smooth scrolling plus the fabulous colourful and lavish graphics (look, be fair, I have to hype the thing somewhere). ’Very sexy’, is Andrew’s comment (whatever that means). The rest of the meeting is devoted to discussing Cybernoid II. Hugh Binns will be designing all the graphics for this second Cybernoid adventure.
I feel it is time that Stormlord had a main character designed for it. As mentioned last month, animator Nigel Brownjohn is the person to be delegated with this task. At The moment I am using Vitorc, the old Exolon character.
I am finishing off programming the main character movement controller. The way he jumps works quite well because the player can dictate exactly how high he leaps. The higher the leap, the quicker the main character’s energy is consumed. I think I’ll use a similar idea for the main character’s thunderbolt throwing, i.e., bigger and more powerful bolts will use up more of his energy than if he threw small sparks. Different nasties and obstacles will demand varying amounts of the character’s energy.
It seems the gang at Hewson HQ want to photograph some screens full of Stormlord graphics. In fact I only just got out of having to take the photos myself. Now, I wouldn’t say that the people at Hewson expect much from me... Oh who cares! Yes I would say that the slave drivers at Hewson expect much too much from me. (Raffaele, I’m sending the boys round — Andrew Hewson.)
Hugh Binns has come over for the weekend so we can discuss Cybernoid II further. Well, that’ll take about half an hour. Seriously though, Nick, Hugh and I have come up with several interesting ideas (half of which I was severely tortured into accepting).
The glorious weather has forced us (totally against our will, I might add) to abandon discussing Cybernoid II, and instead we all have a silly day trip to Windsor Safari Park. It’s a hard life being a programmer...
Today is the day that I actually received the main character’s animation graphics. Including a nicely designed main character into the program is an inspiring moment — it seems to boost the game’s atmosphere immeasurably.
Of course, there are some alterations that I want done (yes I am a fussy so-and-so), and I inform Nigel of these. Overall I think the main dude is pretty splendid — nice one again, Nigel.
I got up at 4.30 am to incorporate the newly-modified main character — why this second batch of graphics were delivered at such an unearthly time shall remain a secret, because to explain would take forever.
Arrrrrghhh... !*!$? The whole graphics disk is corrupted! Many glorious yellow and black streaks have totally smothered all the graphics. I am fed up, tired and going back to bed. Good night! A later (much later) phone call reveals that Nigel actually kept a back-up of all the graphics, so all is not lost — hoorah!
I can at last incorporate the main character into the program. The first thing that I notice is that he animates just a little too fast. A quick modification to the code soon alleviates this problem. Perfect!
I have spent today fiddling with a parallax effect in Stormlord’s scrolling, i.e., a pattern of dots that give the illusion that there is a slower scrolling distant background, as well as the main foreground graphics. The effect works well but still needs further development. Whether or not this piece of code will be part of the finished product only time will tell.
I shall have to close this month’s log. (I can say, in all honesty, that I didn’t think up the silly Star Trek analogy.) See you around...