Developer Diary

Firebird weren’t initially that keen on an Amstrad version of Chimera, but I told them I could do it in a week and waited to hear back. Colin Fuidge was in touch shortly after and asked “Remember you said you could do Chimera on the Amstrad in a week?”

“Errr, yeah…”

“Well I’ve got C&VG lined up to do a diary feature on it. When can you get started?”

And that afternoon I went to Tottenham Court Road to buy an Amstrad CPC6128


And I had to start learning how to program the thing. I was also using the CPM Assembler (if memory serves) because DevPac wasn’t quite ready for it. Still, it had a built-in floppy disk and that was fantastic after the hell of the Spectrum and C64, because it was actually quick. Helpful to have speed when you make lots of mistakes learning.

The Amstrad’s screen was better than the Spectrum’s, much cleaner, but not quite as vivid for some reason, despite not suffering from attribute clash. I had the choice of going for 160 pixels across in 16 colour, or 4 colours at 320 pixels across. I went for the latter, which allowed me to re-use the graphics from the C64 version with some re-mapping. Unfortunately, the screen was twice the size of the Spectrum, so I had to use what I later discovered to be a similar technique to the one that Chris Stamper had used in his Filmation system. That gave me a bit of speed back and it ended up being faster than the Spectrum version for the most part.

As for the developer diary, well, it’s been preserved by the awesome Rich Hewison at The Bird Sanctuary. If you want to know if I achieved my target from quite literally a standing start, you’ll have to read the diary. I must warn you, the guy who wrote it sounds very immature.

A quarter of a century on I am half way through my week off and I’ve only just managed to get some code working. In the old days, you wrote a couple of lines of assembler and you had something on the screen. The openFrameworks library gave me a glimpse of something not a million miles from that scenario. Obviously it’s a complete illusion, I’m about as far away from the metal as I need to be and that’s no bad thing.

Last night after packing up, I spent an hour or so looking at the ofxBox2D add-on. Do I need physics for this? Is it overkill? Probably. I’ll leave it for now and focus on trying to get the Room Editor a bit more functional.


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