Sean's Technology and Writing Blog

Updated disc of Amstrad CPC games and utilities available now!

23 October 2020


3D Mapper I've just published an updated disc of my Amstrad CPC software, which I originally wrote back in the 80s and early 90s. It includes the programs I wrote for Amstrad Action and Amstrad Computer User magazines, as well as the demonstrations from my Amstrad Basic programming book, The Basic Idea.

For a while, I've thought that there are things in The Further Adventures of Fred that were a barrier to people enjoying the game. The first level was way too hard, and you had to redefine the keys each time the game loaded unless you had a joystick. There was a silly practical joke at the end of the first level that was probably just irritating. I set out to see whether I could fix these things, 30 years on, and with very little in the way of documentation.

It was interesting for me to be "hacking" my own game, and trying to work out what was going on inside it using a disassembler. I was surprised at how much I remembered about Amstrad programming, and also how naturally solutions occurred to me when I hit a problem. You can read all about how I fixed the game, and what I (re)learned about its code in my article Hacking The Further Adventures of Fred.

The Further Adventures of Fred was due to appear on the cover tape of the final, cancelled issue of Amstrad Action.

I have also taken the opportunity to revisit the other programs on my disc. The biggest revelation was how easy it was to spot small tweaks that could potentially improve the software a lot. I think this is partly because I've worked on usability projects now, but mainly because I have more life experience and the benefit of seeing the software afresh so many years later. Redefining the keys for Misfit, for example, using a simple hack, makes the game much easier to play. I added instructions, so it's easier to see what to do with the programs without having to refer to this website, the original magazine they appeared in, or anything else. I tidied up some of the dodgy screen alignments.

My updated software disc includes:

  • A much friendlier, more playable version of The Further Adventures of Fred
  • More intuitive key combinations for games including Alien Intervention, Paclone, and Misfit
  • Clearer and more prominent instructions in Sprite Definer, 3D Mapper, Gribbet, Envelope Definer, Piano Chords Tutor
  • General improvements to the presentation of the programs
  • A better menu, with issue numbers for the magazines where the programs originally appeared
  • A new program, Hexdump, for studying what's in the memory. I wrote it while updating The Further Adventures of Fred, and included it on the disc.

The Basic Idea was one of the first pieces of content I published when my website launched over 20 years ago. Since then, desktop screen sizes have got much bigger. In this refresh, I've taken the opportunity to add more, bigger, and better images throughout. I've also updated the tutorial in several places. There are instructions for using the new Hexdump program. I added a built-in hex-to-decimal converter in the Road to Code chapter. I needed to use one quite a bit while updating Fred, and thought it would be nice to build one into my tutorial, in the same way I incorporated a maze generator in my tutorial on map design for Mission Python. I haven't written any Javascript for a while, so it was a nice exercise to create a tiny snippet for the hex converter.

The chapter on sound now includes an explanation and code example for Transound, a technique that enables you to position sounds in the stereo field based on where they're generated on screen in a game. I came up with this in the 80s, but relatively few people had stereo speakers then. Using emulators today, I imagine many people have.

Speaking of emulators, I have also updated the instructions for the Winape emulator for running Amstrad games on your PC. If you don't know how to play Amstrad games on your PC, start there!

If you're interested in retrogaming and/or programming for old 8-bit machines, I hope you'll take a look! You can find all my Amstrad CPC tutorials and software here.

Here are some screengrabs from the disc to whet your appetite.

The Further Adventures of Fred

Gribbet

Wallbuster

Fishtank

Alien Intervention

Menu screen



Permanent link for this post | Blog Home | Website Home

0 comments

Dip into the blog archive

June 2005 | September 2005 | January 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | May 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 | July 2017 | August 2017 | October 2017 | November 2017 | January 2018 | February 2018 | August 2018 | October 2018 | November 2018 | December 2018 | January 2019 | March 2019 | June 2019 | August 2019 | September 2019 | October 2019 | January 2020 | February 2020 | March 2020 | April 2020 | May 2020 | June 2020 | September 2020 | October 2020 | Top of this page | RSS

Credits

© Sean McManus. All rights reserved.

Visit www.sean.co.uk for free chapters from Sean's coding books (including Mission Python, Scratch Programming in Easy Steps and Coder Academy) and more!

Discover my latest books

Mission Python book

Mission Python

Code a space adventure game in this Python programming book published by No Starch Press.

Coder Academy book

Coder Academy

Learn to make games and other programs in Scratch, and make a web page in HTML. Highly interactive book for 7-10 year olds.

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps book

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps

Discover how to make 3D games, create mazes, build a drum machine, make a game with cartoon animals and more!

Walking astronaut from Mission Python book Top | Search | Help | Privacy | Access Keys | Contact me
Home | Newsletter | Blog | Copywriting Services | Books | Free book chapters | Articles | Music | Photos | Games | Shop | About