Cecco’s Log

Stardate: 23 December 1988

Well, I bloody never. Just when I thought I’d gracefully ended the majestic run of Cecco’s Log, a much unwanted request from Hewson’s ex-page 3 stunner, Toni ‘how about a commission?’ Waknell, heralds the conception of just one more log to grace the pages of his splendidly effervescent rag.

I tried my damnedest to dodge doing my duty, but those ruthless blighters at CRASH and Hewson (sounds like a tacky comedy duo) took advantage of my well known weakness for luxury items and bribed me with a bag of nuts and a lifetime’s free subscription to CRASH. I’m quite surprised that they’re not sick to the back teeth with all those silly photos of me holding cats, jumping off castles and generally pratting around.

Stardate: 25 December 1988

I’m sorry to disappoint everybody, but the most exciting thing I did over Christmas was take aspirin. My girlfriend and I were decked out with flu and tonsillitis. Which reminds me: why are there no aspirin in the jungle?

Because the parrots eat ’em all. (Awful joke courtesy of Chris Hinsley.)

Stardate: 3 January 1989

As with most games, the nearer Stormlord approaches completion, so does a severe memory shortage. I managed to substantially alleviate this problem by compressing the maps. A single, expanded map in Stormlord used up over 2500 bytes of precious memory. Using an effective map compression algorithm, this has been reduced to under 500 bytes — a compression ratio of about 80% (yawn — Ed).

Stardate: 6 January 1989

If you’re technically minded, you will know that the old Speccy is a funny thing, and that any code placed below memory location 32768 runs about 20% slower than code placed above it. What I’ve been having to do is constantly rearrange the program and place any non-time critical code, such as the front-end and high score stuff, below 32768 to leave as much room spare above. The difference this makes is quite startling. If I place the scroll routine below 32768, instead of Stormlord running at a fast, smooth and flicker-free 25 frames per second (as it does normally), it drops down to a flickery 17 frames a second. This is a sobering reminder of how near the mark I am as far as the Spectrum’s capabilities go (har, har! — Ed).

Stardate: 12 January 1989

Did you see the news about yet another computer virus that is supposed to wreck IBM compatible PCs on the 13th of the month? Being the careful chap that I am, the first thing I did was change the date on my PC to the 13th to see what would happen. (A potential excuse for not doing any work should not be sniffed at.)

Stardate: 16 January 1989

Nick and I arrive at the Hewson ‘farm’ as Andrew calls it. I proudly load up Stormlord for Paul Chamberlain, the software producer (people in software houses like these fancy titles). I point out the subtly erotic animated sequence at the beginning of the game and, quite, frankly, I’m disgusted by the vulgar reaction. There I was, trying to symbolise the subtle neoeroticism of a surrealist macrocosm, only to be faced with a barrage of:

Whe-hey! Know what I mean! Get 'em off! Cor blimey!

(The kind of people I have to work with!)

Apart from this outburst, the meeting vent very well. I’m glad everyone agreed that Stormlord is totally different from any of my previous games as I’ve been getting pretty wound up by a couple of people who reckon I can only program games of the Exolon/Cybernoid variety. A distinctive style does not a mere rehash make . . . (so there). (And there was I thinking it was subtitled Exolon II — Ed.)

Stardate: 20 January 1989

Nick and I zoom off to Hewson’s for the celebration of Paul Chamberlain’s birthday. With no expense spared we have brought him a vastly-valuable filofax that looks like a leather jacket, and something that Nick insisted on purchasing a strange little packet containing these peculiar things called ‘fundoms’ (funny Dominics??). (Har, bloody, har! — Ed.)

Stardate: 22 January 1989

Well folks, after many months of public humiliation, I hereby announce the (very) final termination of Cecco’s Log. I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the development of Stormlord (and Cybernoid II come to that). My next article for CRASH will be called Cecco’s Bog in which I will be reviewing all the new toilets that come onto the market. So send in your votes for the CRASH Readers’ Top Ten toilet chart to one of Ludlow’s foremost khazi connoisseurs, Dominic Handy.

This is where I must bid everybody ‘Farewell’, as I end the termination of the absolute, past the penultimate, final Cecco’s Log (got that Dom?). Please don’t grieve as I bring to a close one of the greatest eras (!) in computer journalism. A final goodbye and fondest regards.

‘And now, the time is here...’

(Has he gone ... ? Great, I’ve been dying to chuck away this Cybernoid II sweatshirt for ages! — Ed.)