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Core Dump

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Core Dump - Work In Progress

Episode 84

August 26, 1999 : A new entry, indeed!


I'm writing this introduction at 00:13, thursday night. Inspiration? Maybe. Guilt? Can I feel guilty of not writing a diary? On this moment I do. Many people await the completion of Core Dump, and others have given positive comments on my website and diary. Also, I regret having to leave some E-mails unanswered. I always intented to answer every mail, but in practice it just doesn't work. I apologize to everyone I failed to answer.

The Many Dollars Question

Now. Let us return to the issue at hand. The Game. It's not ready. It's at 95%. Hold on, wasn't it at 95% over a year ago? Erm well yes it was.

Sigh. Game coding can be a frustrating business. Core Dump is by far the largest project I've done. In fact, if you would have come to me with the Core Dump game design, I would have said you're too ambitious to try it on a humble MSX. I don't think I'd use this game plan if I were to do it again.

The Life of... a game

When you're brainstorming, which is always the best part (Pat is also guilty of this), a game is just never big enough, good enough, clever enough. And we can always think of a more groovy game idea that is utterly impossible to realize. Still, often I try to code outrageous stuff (multiple window scrolls with dynamic window sizes for example) and heck, sometimes it even works. So far so good.

So then you're in phase two, in which this "amazing" game stuff has to be converted into a playable game. Fair enough, that's a challenge. But this part is heavily dependant on the technical issues concerning sprite sizes etc, ram size, so you're still pretty much on the coding front. And so the challenge is kept. And that is fun (for me anyway) because I like to see if I can do it.

By this point, the main graphics will be pretty much in, although you can count on it that they will change at least five times. Now come the levels, so off you go, more gameplay. (Oh, and some music and sound effects. But we use standard routines for that.)

And when that basic engine is in, you can shoot stuff, and stuff can shoot you. Now the plot has to be worked into the game. Keeping in line with the rest of the concept, such a plot is typically way too ambitious to implement. So off you go, putting some characters here and there, until you end up with something like the downloadable promo you guys could have downloaded [here]. That promo contains 80% of the game engine, mind you, but only 5% of the graphics, levels, enemies and dialogue.

So you get some feedback on the promo and adjust the game mechanics accordingly. Now the engine is at 95%. Add some levels, enemies, "compose" some music. Jolly.
Some more dialogues for the plot here and there.
Add some levels, enemies, "compose" some music. Jolly.
Some more dialogues for the plot here and there.
Add some levels, enemies, "compose" some music. Jolly.
Some more dialogues for the plot here and there.
Add some levels, enemies, "compose" some music. Jolly.

At that point in time we're almost at 30% of the intended plot, having slaved away for hundreds of hours... but the work is becoming repetetive and less inspired as a result. Oh yes. Do something else (save/load routines, wonder a bit about compression, disk swap systems) but still, a lot of work to do. (enddemo? what's that?)

...and it goes on and on... and in the meantime I'm studying and reading and playing foosball and...

Are you complaining or what?

No, I'm not complaining. Been there, done that. This is not my first game, as you will be aware of. And it's basically the same every time, so it takes quite some endurance to see such a large project through to the end.


In the meantime I have been working, you know, because I did some promotional stuff. I created an advert for the backside of Hnostar Magazine 43, check it out below, and I did some designs for the disk-labels of the game.

Hnostar 43 back Disk label concept
(Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

I also did some character revisiting because I got this icon-editor, and made some funny icons of my previous games. It also showed some of the development of the Parallax games characters throughout the years.


Working on Core Dump

So, the next few days I will be working on the game, and trying to give a day-to-day report of my activities... beware!

Go on...

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