Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Nintendo Gamer; Memories of Sensi Soccer on the SNES

Funny how things turn out isn't it?

July 2012 edition, Sensi SNES Article
Take Sensible Soccer on the Super Nintendo for example,(SNES for those not in the know or have forgotten).Unlike the version we ported to the Sega Mega-drive, Nintendo's 16bit wonder involved a bit more work than the relatively easy port to the Sega hardware. For a start the original Amiga code was written in 68000 assembler which also happens to be the same processor used in the Mega-drive.Converting a game is just a tad easier when both your original code and the target code can effectively run on the same processor.

Unfortunately  the same can not be said when converting to a totally different microprocessor, say one that has its foot still in the 8bit era. You see the processor in the SNES was at it's brass roots level a MOS 6502, yes 'that' very same family of processors used in the Commodore C64 and many other 8bit computers, consoles and arcade machines. Not that I have anything against the 6502 in fact I cut my coding teeth on it back in the day. Thankfully Nintendo opted to use the updated version developed by Western Design Center  which has a wonderful assortment of extras over it's older brother. What extras are these then? Well, extras like 16 bit registers, more instructions and and the ability to address up to 16 megabytes of memory which is somewhat greater than the 6502 and it's comparatively puny 64k addressing range. Cool! (Thanks Wikipedia! come on you didn't think I'd remember all that geek stuff? )

So what's all that got to do with the price of fish? Well nothing but it does remind us that converting a game isn't a just a case of converting the graphics, changing a few lines of code and hey presto you have a new target platform with which to publish your game on. No, it's far more involved than that, even today with multi platform game engines like Unity or Corona which makes the whole process far easier there are still rules to follow but these falter in my opinion when compared to the technical work required doing it old skool!.

 So anyway as I was saying it's funny how things turn out isn't it? I was going through some old graphics files recently when out of the blue I was contacted by Nintendo Gamer Magazine who invited me to comment on my memories of converting Sensible Soccer to the Super Nintendo. Well it took me a while to remember what we did but after after viewing a few old Amiga IFF files, drinking a large mug of tea (or three) those old memories soon resurfaced and before I knew it I'd written enough waffle to pad out a few paragraphs.

So if you want to know how this version of Sensi Soccer differs from that of the original , grab yourself a copy today! Nintendo Gamer July 2012.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Inkscape Colour Picker = Cool!

Quick post today as I've been really, really busy of late.

So a few minutes ago I needed to pick a colour from an image I'd found on that internet thing we all seem to spend our lives using. So I hit F7 moved the mouse curser over to the colour area I wanted and well the resulting hue was not quite what I wanted. .Hmmm if only I could sample a range of colours from an area  and acquire the average hue, now that would be cool.

Oh how surprised I was when by total accident I held the mouse button down again but this time I dragged it without letting go. Wow! A circle appears and the further out you drag the larger the circle becomes! No way I thought, but way it was and behold the average colour contained within the circle was picked up and as soon as I let go of the mouse button appeared as the current draw colour.  Most excellent!!

So today after using Inkscape daily for the past 8 months or so I have discovered something new and something very useful. Awesome stuff!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Sega World Championship Soccer II (Secret revealed)

There's a secret that I'm surprised hasn't surfaced by now? It's not something to change societal structure, nor create widespread panic on a global scale. No, this secret is about a game I worked on during my Sensible Software days, a title that was written using elements of the Sensible Soccer code.

Holy smoke, no way? Get outta here pronto and take your burger with you.(ok ok leave the fries, oh and those onion rings too.. ta)

Here's a screen shot of said game as I'm sure many of you have no idea what I'm talking about..or is that most of you?

Unfortunately I don't have any of the original graphics files for this title although there is a slim chance a copy resides on one of my old Amiga drives somewhere. Not to fear though as I have found a copy of the game on a ROM site and using that wonder of modern software technology known as 'emulation' have taken a few screen shots for your delight and my own historical record.
I didn't do all the art, no no no, my partner in crime was ex-Graftgold artist John Lilley who created the title animation and the cut scene animations used throughout the game, with me providing all game sprites, backgrounds and menu art.

Back then it was quite nice to work on something different, yeah yeah I know how different is one footy game to another? Well different with respect to the artwork and view. Let's be honest the appeal of the original Sensi Soccer was the simplistic uncluttered 'see all view' of the game which lead us to adopt an almost icon like style for the sprites and pitch art. So the chance to work on a "secret" project that allowed me to draw big players and create some nice menu icons with lots of flags and formation icons was too cool for school.

Looking back now through those warm retro loving eyes there is an obvious criticism I could make,"Why are all the players the same?". If I recall memory was quite tight on the cartridge and to keep things within the code structure of the original game everything had to sit within the same framework, including the number of animations for the players and the way they were stored in memory. I believe this was to retain the same colour changing technique used on Sensible Soccer although I could be mistaken. I think you will agree the end result did the job, although the animations are quite crude for their size they work without being too clunky.

I've recently learned that the blue box European release is actually quite a rare and sought after beast and has been known to fetch at auction as much as £750! Wow, unbelievable! 

Having recently played the game via emulation* it's certainly worth trying it out but I would suggest bagging a joypad from somewhere as playing on a keyboard is not going to provide the same experience as using a proper pad. I've got a USB to Sega Saturn pad converter which for this game works brilliantly, especially with a Japanese Saturn pad as they feel great and are easily mapped to cover all Genesis pad functions.
*I tend to use Fusion but Gens will do the job just as well.

That's about it for now, I'll be continuing to document our development of Blobbit Push as we progress but for now it's over and out... until next time that is...(Atari Jaguar... shhhhh) 

** To keep up to date with more meandering and waffle from me you can enter you email address (on the right near the top) and each new blog post I write will magically appear in your inbox! WOW! Yes and all spam free too so none of those African Prince fellas offering you a zillion squid for a small administration fee malarkey. **

Thursday, 1 March 2012

What?? HD art for iPad(1.2.3)?? Part 2

Here's a snippet of the new 'updated' Blobbit Push tile set for the Sand Sludge Bog area. Yes I know it looks like the old one, or does it?
Hang on why don't you compare yourself. Marvelous.
(fiddles with some files... uploads...that was so quick , I've not finished typing this yet).
Right then, here's a shot of the old one below.

As you can see in order to make it work on super mega high res screens as featured on the new iPad 3 I have had to vector up the original art so it renders nicely at these new HD screen sizes. Unfortunately there's no magic button so every piece of art has to be recreated again which isn't too bad as I can now go in and add lots of detail and extras I couldn't do before. That's good right?

You can read more about this process in an earlier post I did  back in *coughs* erm.. 2010..

I suppose we could have gone down the "pixel" route but in all honest I'm pretty sick of all these pixel games using graphics that back in the day would probably have been slated for being too simple. Funny how peoples perception of pixel art and proper HQ pixel art appear to be so widely separated.

Did I mention Blobbit is now on Facebook?  Blobbit the Facebook group

Toodle pip me dears... (until next time)

Visit the Hobeka shop to buy some cool stuff... Pixeltastic!!!!

View more personalized gifts from Zazzle.