Cas on Tilburg
|This little (and pretty subjective) Tilburg report is accompanied by shots from the Core Dump intro sequence... which I never got to show at the Tilburg MSX-fair. Read the report and find out more!|
Some people think it's good.
(To drink alcohol, I mean) But it's not always good. Do not go to parties the night before MSX fairs. For it makes you a very bad programmer. That is, if you weren't already.
I arrived at the fair around 12:40. Okay, I admit, that's already quite late, but post-alcohol trauma's made it impossible to go earlier.
And I should have gone earlier. I had been working on the Core Dump intro-sequence, and I'd prepared the drone firing sequence. My backpack contained my harddisk (...thanks to Henrik Gilvad) and off I went, hoping to finish the last bits at the fair. Surely someone from Sunrise, or maybe the Futuredisk, could lend me a computer for an hour?
The intro sequence had been set up, the pictures were ready. Even the music had been synchronized with the pictures. And although I'd ripped some enemies out of the demo version, I figured that I could prepare a cool demo at the fair itself.
That said, I went looking for Pat first. And there he was, safely confined to the Futuredisk place. I dropped my stuff there and went for a walk.
The Fair itself
First impressions revealed that nothing ever really changes with these fairs. I was at the first Zandvoort fair, and actually, this resembled it. I couldn't really notice a decline in visitors, and a few MSX-producers told me they'd done good business.
The usual fare of products was there, yet I was amazed at the rise of Spanish MSX-products. It's like some in Spain stood up and said "Hey! I've got an idea! Why don't we just make our own games!" And apparently, it has worked. Pat and I looked at some of the games, and although they're not all up to standard I have to admit that there's a lot of potential.
One of the Spanish groups showed No name. They showed some great character graphics (on paper as well as on screen) but we figured they needed some work on the backgrounds still. Anyhow, their graphic designer was obviously better than the both of us at drawing people! Yes, people are horrible, especially when you try to draw them. Although I must add that Pat has made some real progress in that area.
On the Sunrise front, I had "the shortest chat in history" with Peter Meulendijks (UMAX, working on the Lost World) and talked a bit with Rob Hiep. And behold! even Stefan Boer showed up, looking quite relieved at the fact that he wasn't "in charge" at the moment, allowing him to engage in some serious fair-hopping. (And always leave someone alone who looks happy - you can only make it worse.)
All the bosses?
I "purchased" a Spanish game: pentaro's revenge (or something like that). It scrolled a bit like the classic Psycho World, although a bit more flicker occurred. It was quite polished, and played reasonably well. Oh, and ofcourse I disassembled it a bit.
(I just can't help myself. Before starting Parallax, I was engaged in hacking japanese Megaroms, and disk protections, and passwords, whatever. This is still something I enjoy, reading other people's code. The easiest way to do this is to build a switch on your external memory extension, which I won't explain here. Anyway, I was quite an experienced hacker, and I still love to tear protection routines apart, just like someone else would enjoy a crossword puzzle...)
If you reach a score of 3000 (or 30.000, I forgot to check) a new option appears on the main screen: vs boss. Obviously, I never reached 3000 points, but hey,"you've got to use what you've got". And I couldn't find any cheats that used key-codes. Pity.
Core Dump coder: avoid if possible
By now, I started looking for a computer. Koenie Dols, of the Futuredisk, wasn't too happy with the idea, so we went for Sunrise. One computer was in use, another was being skillfully destroyed by Henrik Gilvad (that's what it looked like, anyway.) To make a short story a little longer: we had no computer, which meant no Core Dump demo.
And my slight headache (Alcohol...) still hadn't disappeared. We asked some people, but no one seemed to have spare computers with them. Which is odd, because it could happen that Parallax would like to complete a demo!
And then I ran into Manuel Bilderbeek, who told us that maybe he could arrange a computer for us.... hurray! We waited another 45 minutes, but then it happened...
Maico Arts (thanks!) of MSX NBNO gave us permission to use his Turbo-R, so we could finish the Core Dump demo!
And then, all of a sudden, I was sitting behind a Turbo-R (unfamiliar keyboard for me) with a headache between dozens of chatting people. Okay. Let me finish the demo.
As I've been coding for eight years (give or take a few months) I am quite capable of assessing the "good programming conditions". A quick scan revealed 5% good, 95% bad. But hey, there's people waiting, so I started. I decided to concentrate on the drone firing first, but it just wasn't working. After adding some controls for the drone, I asked Pat to draw a "pulsating white blob", because he was getting bored to death.
Work progressed extremely slowely, and it took Pat about 20 minutes to draw two whites circles... but we agreed that this wasn't the ideal working environment. After that, I tested it, and considered putting the intro sequence into the game.
But it was already getting late, and I wasn't feeling like a programmer should, so I decided to forget about the intro sequence. I regretted this decision later but you can't have everything I guess.
The extremely helpful Manuel Bilderbeek ran all around the fair to tell people that there was a Core Dump demo up and running, which attracted quite a lot of people. I was showing the "multiple camera's" bit, and the new intelligent aliens.
To show off the speed of the scroll we put the R800 into Z80 mode, which worked fine. But the most impressive things were (according to the first reactions) the water splashes! Who could have imagined that? Anyway, some players got the hang of "surfing", which is skimming along the water line, which causes an enormous water splash trail behind the player.
I had an extensive talk with Zelly and Kryten (of Mayhem) about the technical details of the scroll routine, and I revealed a bit more about the game's plot to Kryten... Zelly asked me about the leaves visible above the swimming pool (an area in the demo): "They look great! How many shades of green did you use for those?" The answer was: 2(!) shades of green and one shade of yellow. There's only sixteen colours in the palette, use them wisely, that's what MSX programming/design is all about, really.
I got many positive reactions about the control method, which was good to hear. All in all, quite good reactions considering that I had only 10% to show of what was intended...
Surprisingly many people were asking me about OPL4 music for Core Dump. Oh dear. More work. But I'll consider it, maybe if I can arrange something with Rob Hiep. It might even sound good then. Time will tell. And I haven't got any time left at the moment, what with all this studying and going out.
I had a talk with Frank Druijff about the MCCM CD-Rom plans, which was interesting. All in all, I had the usual talks (same as always) but some surprising ones as well. That made it fun, but I regretted not having gone to the McDonalds (tradition).
I didn't see Sander van Nunen, for else I would have talked to him (we know eachother from way back: an MSX beurs in "De Arend" in Amsterdam when I was something like fourteen years old...)
I liked it very much, although these fairs are always exhausting. And although I regretted that I couldn't show the entire demo, I was pleasing to see some reactions.
See you at the next Fair!