OnyxSoft JoyDivision

Already coming up for February, but one of the first projects I wanted to have a go at building this new year was an Amiga setup on a Raspberry Pi 3, using Amibian.  It’s been brilliant – it’s allowed me to set up a Pi that can boot straight into a Amiga 1200 with an OS installed and access to WHD_Load games, without issues with floppy disk decay like I was experiencing when I dug out the Amiga over Christmas.  Perfect now for a quick fix of Amiga nostalgia every so often.

However, although I could use a keyboard to play the games instead of a joystick – i’d much prefer to have a real joystick to use with games like SWOS.  USB Joysticks are ok, but they don’t quite feel right compared to the original ones I grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s.  It would be great to use my old-school Competition Pro instead.

When looking in the Amibian settings, I noticed that there was configuration options for something called OnyxSoft JoyDivision.   Upon further investigation, I found their website which lists a wonderful little USB device which allows you to connect up a classic 9 Pin Joystick.

joyadapter

The site gives all the source code and PCB layout details, so you can build them for yourself,  or luckily for people like me, you can purchase them when available for a great 22 Euros for 2 – though its best to get in touch with Stefan beforehand to check if that is still the case and if he has them in stock.

No drivers were required.  I plugged it in with a proper Competition Pro with my Raspberry Pi, and it worked right away!  No lag (not noticeable to me at least), and feels great using proper classic joysticks with the setup.  Really impressive, and the build quality was sturdy too.

There are details of what compatibility is like, but the great thing is that the boards come with a firmware that is updatable, and will soon feature support for Amiga/ST mice for instance.  But standard joysticks and control pads should work fine already.

So if you’re looking for a cost effective solution to using your old joysticks in your emulation setups, then i’d highly recommend checking out the JoyDivision.

 

Hidden secrets in games

Update: 11th July 2016 – Added Jet Power Jack hidden hacker messages (See top)

I’ve always had a bizarre interest in the things we were never meant to see – I don’t know why, it’s something i’ve had ever since the day I discovered a cheat which allowed me to be immune to fire/water in Fantasy World Dizzy and helped me to discover odd looking screens which were not part of the game. The desire for discovering unseen materials is why I run a preservation project for games that never saw the light of day.

Getting hold of and sharing something that we waited months for back in the day when magazines showed promising previews of a particular game, and which eventually never showed. However, it’s not just unreleased/lost games which interest me, but its the little details within the games that DID make it.  Most of you are probably well aware of the term “Easter egg” in the computing world, being a small piece of code which is buried away and unlocked in a particular way (Via a code or a key combination).   With C64 games, there are loads of easter eggs buried away in the shape of mini-games,  demo’s and messages from the developers – unlocked via a combination of key strokes or accessing a strange part of a game. Finding an easter egg is pretty neat, but there is much more awaiting discovery that we may not be aware of – things classified as easter eggs maybe, but not intentional ones…

No, i’m talking about bits of unseen ‘assets’ within games …  unused sprites, music, background graphics and even levels! There is a lot of this kind of thing tucked away in the games we all love and know very well, but unless you’re actively digging around – you most likely will never get to see these things.  You may not for instance get to see the cheeky message hidden away in Army Moves Part 2 (See below) unless you were hunting around in the code with a Machine Code monitor. After starting a thread recently on Lemon64 forum, it seems others out there are interested in this kind of thing – and its got me hungry for starting up a new segment/category on the up and coming new GTW portal site (Which btw will be here soon!).

Very quick fire pages/entries for particular titles with hidden bits and pieces, showing you the assets or even how to get access to them.  It’s a slight expansion from just covering unreleased/lost games, but I think it will be an interesting one.  Let’s see how it goes…. As a taster, below are some samples of hidden bits and pieces discovered in a few C64 titles (Thanks to those over at Lemon64 for discovering them)… Continue reading

GTW64 xmas update 2013

Well, part of the usual promoting of what we’ve done recently for GTW64, here is the xmas update doing the rounds ….

The GTW64 xmas update has been published today with the following additions:

(*) 3 previously unseen full games recovered
(*) CDU Games Disk 6 recovered (Including 3 new full games)
(*) 12 previously unseen previews/prototypes recovered
(*) Potential Spore 2 finding
(*) Odd Melbourne House title surfaces in loading screen form (Questerious)
(*) Tangent and RISK prototypes found and added
(*) 31 other additional new entries added
(*) 10 other additional updates added
(*) Frank Gasking work disk collection added

Full news item and updates can be found at:
http://www.gamesthatwerent.com/gtw64

Sound of the colossus

Just recently i’ve been speaking with Gari Biasillo regarding some of his past C64 work.   You see, I grew up with most of Gari’s work on the C64 and have particularly fond memories of Target Renegade (brought from a now long gone newsagent which had a rack of budget titles for £2.99 each – with a “Star purchase” label on them).

One thing about Gari is that not only did he code, but he was a great musician too – the likes of Slayer, Steel, Basket Master and Target Renegade all featured tunes by himself.

Gari is still producing tunes today – and recently released a superb album released called Sound of The Colossus, which you can check out here:

http://soundofthecolossus.bandcamp.com/album/sound-of-the-colossus-ost

Maybe some day Gari will do some reproductions of his old classic tunes? … we’ll see!

Games That Weren’t xmas update 2012

Well, ever since the upgrade of GTW64 was completed – it was straight onto preparing for the Christmas update. No rest for the wicked. Hopefully we won’t disappoint with some big findings to keep you going.

Our main finding this year is:

Otherworld full game

Followed by:

(*) Otherworld full game
(*) Fuzzball music found + more!!
(*) Epsilon preview recovered
(*) Exodus (Nexus) reconstructed
(*) Martin Piper racing game recovered
(*) Two full White Wizard adventures found
(*) Andrew Morris game graphics added
(*) Paddle Mania screens found
(*) Mountain Combaters new entry
(*) Beauty and The Beast tape file
(*) 67 new entries added
(*) 81 updates added

More details about the update can be viewed at:

http://www.gamesthatwerent.com…12-update/

Enjoy everyone, and Merry Christmas!

Sub Hunter released on Cartridge

RGCD and Psytronik Software present another collaboration project – an oldie-but-goldie from 2008, Sub Hunter is finally given an update and a long-awaited official cartridge conversion.

If you’ve followed the C64 scene for the last few years then the chances are that you have already played this great little game (and if not, well, you are in for some good times ahead, as highlighted in our own review – http://www.rgcd.co.uk/2011/05/sub-hunter-c64.html). Sub Hunter is one of the few homebrew titles that has really stood the test of time well, with its varied level-to-level game design always keeping the player on their toes.

This PAL/NTSC compatible cartridge version of the game features the intro sequence, instructions and main game all included within a GS-friendly joystick controlled menu system designed by Enthusi (Martin Wendt). Some minor bugs were fixed (raster splits improved), but otherwise it is the same as the previous version without the minor hassles associated with using disk or tape media.


Sub Hunter is available in two packaging types, a standard card carton and a more expensive ‘deluxe version’ that comes in a plastic case (a Universal Game Case with a specially cut foam insert to hold the cartridge). The standard version is priced at £25 inclusive of UK/Europe shipping, and £26 for the rest of the world, whereas the deluxe version costs £30 (UK/Europe) and £32 (rest of world).

The game itself comes in a transparent blue cartridge shell internally illuminated by a flashing LED, complete with a printed manual and a vinyl RGCD sticker.

Please note that Pystronik Software (http://www.psytronik.net/) are also selling the game as a download, on tape, and budget or premium disk for £1.99/£3.99/£4.99/£9.99 respectively (plus shipping). The game is also available (legally) for free download over at the Commodore Scene Database (CSDB) here:http://noname.c64.org/csdb/release/?id=74139

So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy from our shop page today!

http://www.rgcd.co.uk/p/shop.html#subhunter-shop

Orpheus’ Young Ones conversion story

Recently I got chatting with the C64 developer of The Mighty Bombjack for Elite back in 1991, Geoff Phillips. Very nice chap, who also had a lot of tales from his earlier development days at Orpheus, who were most famous for their Electrosound tool.

Geoff offered to tell a story behind the development woes of The Young Ones, and was happy for me to post it here. So here it is below… enjoy!

Development of The Young Ones

“So I’ll tell you a bit about the Young Ones game. Paul Kaufman and John Marshall went to meet Rik Mayall, and Lise – possibly Ben Elton. I sadly did not go to that meeting – Paul reported back that Rik leant back too far in his chair and fell backwards… We had permission (with obvious rights payments going to Rik/Ben) to develop the game – would that be 1984? Whichever year, it was early in the year when we started. I say we, but I didn’t do any programming, just possibly bounced some ideas around…

At that point I was still working from London, and coming up as needed to Hatley St George, and obscure place near Biggleswade – so obscure that even the nearest bakery was about a ten mile drive down windy roads. Somehow, John had gotten in his head that the AI needed to be farmed out to another programmer and he knew (somehow) a student at university called Stephen Streeter. He would bring his viola to the office, and we had that bizarre thing of him practising viola in between programming. Time passed by, the summer holidays meant presumably that Stephen would be able to do his bit. Summer drew to a close, but still there seemed to be no progress. At that point, Paul, myself and John drove to Stephen’s digs, a smelly student’s room somewhere in Cambridge and we tried to assess what code he had written.

What Stephen had in mind seemingly was that the characters in the game must *want* to meet their objectives. He was writing code to create true AI, but was struggling [perhaps not unreasonably when I look back – we all used pure assembler back then] to make the code function. Then we looked at the code – developed on the BBC Model B. I was horrified by his coding methods. He was not using a proper symbolic assembler with labels and meaningful names. His code consisted of lines of assembler strung out on a line with manually calculated branches! We looked at a few lines, and immediately (by counting instructions) saw two lines with wrongly calculated branch values.

I don’t want to be too hard on Stephen – he was a very nice fellow, and I went to his parents house once for a meal. Soon after John realised he’d have to do the coding himself – he had already done the graphics side with the animations and main game drawing. Time was pressing on though for a release… possibly too late even then. I think he probably knocked up the game logic in a couple of weeks. He used what any sane programmer would have done – tables of objects. For myself, I had to do the package that would be duplicated…. I had created a turbo loader … the C64’s own loader was always too slow. We tested it and it worked reliably. And so John finished the game.

We all piled in Paul’s car and drove up from Bedfordshire to Batley, Yorkshire, where the tape duplicators were. We had in mind that they would take our master tape, and whizz, done, all good, we could come back again. If only…. The tape went through their test rig to make a sample copy. The copy didn’t load… And the hours passed by, evening fell, then night, and I worked through the night, trying to make the damn thing work when it was copied. It was the timings you see, too tight for the copy to work. In the end the really nice guy there in charge of duplication found a way round it – they had their own duplication code that they knew and trusted. Totally exhausted I put in his code.

It was now the middle of the following day, and I was too tired to continue. We found a b+b nearby and getting very strange looks put our heads down for a few hours sleep. What I remember from that experience is that when I put my trousers on the chair of the room all my loose change fell out, and I didn’t ever remember to collect it. Back to the factory. The replacement code worked… but then that led to some new problems which weren’t of my making… I don’t remember what exactly, the game crashed I think …. but John had to work on the main game itself, and this killed some more time. Finally though, the game was put in the bag… with a few bugs (in the game itself) caused by the rush to complete all the logic in such a short time.

The game was too late for Christmas for the main distributor.. I don’t remember exactly what happened there. I recall piles of Young Ones boxes everywhere. I fell asleep in the car on the way back (glad I wasn’t driving) and slept at Paul’s house. I think it took me days to recover! I remember being annoyed at the others back at the office who didn’t seem the slightest bit grateful at the effort made.

I think the disaster of the Young Ones killed the company as I said previously. If it had been sucessful we would have had the money to develop other games. It was a slow downhill slope to doom afterwards!”

Geoff Phillips