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Unofficial Who

Alien 8 (C64 port in progress)

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Some incoming news from http://www.indieretronews.com/2018/10/alien-8-ultimate-play-game-classic-is.html#more

 

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Possibly the best news of the day unless something even better gets announced, as we have recently come across a post from a good friend, that the Ultimate Play The Game classic ' Alien 8 ', will be coming to the C64 as from next year 2019! This port is being worked on by EMU with loading screen by STE, and was originally developed by the legends that is Ultimate Play the Game for the ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC and MSX in 1985!

 

Alien8.png

 

edit Video below from earlier attempt at a port. Cheers @Gregory Wolfe for the heads up

 

 

Edited by Unofficial Who

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That youtube video is not a WIP of emu's port as the website you linked to makes clear.

 

It's wholly disappointing and based on emu's other ports not at all representative of what he is likely to produce.

 

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Other Alien-8 C64 conversion WIP by Artur Bujdoso

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12 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

Ah, thanks for pointing that out!

 

I’m annoyed that they did that. That loading screen is enough to get hyped about and that slow, earlier attempt is more of an anticlimax than anything.

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3 hours ago, Gregory Wolfe said:

 

I’m annoyed that they did that. That loading screen is enough to get hyped about and that slow, earlier attempt is more of an anticlimax than anything.

 

That loading screen is a thing of beauty. It's what the Starquake intro screen looked like in my head.

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On 22/10/2018 at 20:43, emu said:

Hello, I haven’t even started on the Alien 8 c64 conversion yet so it’s a good 6 months away before it’s complete. I’m currently working on a native c128 version of Knight Lore (based on the c64 code) which will fly!

 

I’ll be ready to start Alien 8 in about a months time. It will be a full, complete, Z80 conversion and it will be fast!

 

As you rightly say, the video above is nothing to do with me, it’s a port of the cut down BBC B version which was neaver released.

 

Thank you for the positive feedback regarding our C64 Knight Lore port. It was a real pleasure to work on. Interesting to note that only about 50% of the code is optimised in our port (the main routines are heavily optimised however) so there is still scope to make the C64 version even faster!

 

emu.

 

I don't know how you found us here but I'm glad you did. The Knightlore conversion cropped up on my Twitter feed and so I made a thread about it, when a link to your thread was posted I read it from start to finish. As a C64 owner back in the day I was very envious of these games on the Spectrum. You're doing a great job, please keep it up. I need to get myself some C64 hardware, maybe a. mini, and give these games a go.

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Thank you. I only owned a Spectrum for a few months in 84/85 before I moved onto a C64 in 85. The only games I really missed from the Spectrum where some of the Ultimate games, particularly KL & A8 and one or two others. So it’s always been an ambition of mine to get them converted. So a long time coming but better late than never!!

 

It was great working on KL and slowly seeing it come to life but it was a lot easier  to convert than I thought it would be. I’m looking forward to working on A8 now. I’ll probably do another WIP on the lemon site when the time comes if you’re interested take a look in a few months. Thanks again for the positive comments!

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14 hours ago, emu said:

As you rightly say, the video above is nothing to do with me, it’s a port of the cut down BBC B version which was neaver released.

 

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post, but I'm pretty sure Alien 8 came out on the BBC micro, as I owned it.

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56 minutes ago, K said:

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post, but I'm pretty sure Alien 8 came out on the BBC micro, as I owned it.

 

He’s saying the earlier, abortive, C64 conversion, featured in that YouTube video, was based on the cut-down BBC conversion. I had no idea the BBC version was cut-down though.

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1 hour ago, Gregory Wolfe said:

 

He’s saying the earlier, abortive, C64 conversion, featured in that YouTube video, was based on the cut-down BBC conversion. I had no idea the BBC version was cut-down though.

 

Fair enough, I did misread it after all. Thanks.

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Yes, sorry as Mr Wolfe says I was talking about the C64 version which was based on the BBC code that wasn’t finished. The BBC version was released back in 85.

 

I haven’t looked at the Alien 8 code in detail yet but it think it’s safe to say some stuff had to be dropped to fit the BBC version into 32k. The game over animation is missing for example.

 

The BBC version of Knight Lore was missing some of the animation on the main character and some background tiles are missing too. It’s still a great conversion however and they did well to fit it into 32k. Our C64 conversion of KL is based on the Z80 code so it’s complete but it uses all the 64k and even an extra 1k of colour ram!

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Update from emu on the Lemon forums.

 

I've made some good progress on the conversion over the last week or so. 



- Fixed a problem that was crashing some screens after exiting them. 
Alien 8's screens are made up of more objects than Knight Lore and Pentagram so in the more complex screens the optimised sorting routine was running out of buffer space and overflowing. Easy to fix in the end, just added a bit of space to the two buffers. 

- Un-Mirrored some background sprites that were slowing some of the screens down. 
The Filmation engine re-draws all sprite data (including background objects) if a sprite is drawn over the top of another sprite, every frame. In a number of cases this requires a sprite image to be un-mirrored in real time. This can be quite expensive CPU wise when it happens. Fortunately Mariusz's sprite routine allows sprite data to be un-mirrored. This means that the memory used for any sprite that is un-mirrored is doubled, but it does give a very nice speed up and the C64 has loads of memory anyway so it was worth checking and un-mirroring a few background sprites (like parts of the wall and door frame) and the clockwork mouse moving sprite. 

I did un-mirror some of the moving sprites in Knight Lore but I didn't look at the background sprites, so I might well re-visit Knight Lore in the future as it might benefit from having some of the background sprites un-mirrored as well. 

- Re-worked the timer countdown routine. 
The timer countdown routine was in need of optimisation. It was using around 6500 CPU cycles per frame. Anyway, I've re-written the routine and now it only uses around 250 CPU cycles per frame! Well worth doing and the only cost was about 200 bytes of extra memory used. Although being much faster the routine produces identical output compared to the original routine. 

Next up is to re-code the game over animation...

https://www.lemon64.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=71412&start=15&sid=16cd31cca259fa5dc290453b351478a3

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