Codetapper's Amiga Site

Uridium 2 Part 9

There are tears in our eyes here at The One for this is — yes! — the ninth and final instalment of Andrew Braybrook's no-holds-barred programming diary, describing the ins and outs of creating the Amiga-ised sequel to his C64 smash hit. Bye-bye Andrew, don't forget to write...

Part Nine — January/February 1993

Friday 29th January, 1993

Jason has written a large piece of music for the game intro, taking about 160K of sample space and incorporating, of all things, a didgeridoo. He is somehow blackmailing the rest of the staff to say how wonderful it sounds, but I can't see it myself. The tune itself is very good, but I'm not too sure about Australian ethnic instruments. No one has used one in a computer game before to our knowledge, so at least it's aboriginal! One of Jason's puns, sorry.

Got some graphics in for the guys dropping into the dreadnought from their landed Mantae and much to my surprise Mark suggested taking out the bullet sprites so only a muzzle flash remains, followed by an explosion wherever the bullet hits. That's the first time he's actually suggested anything which saves me some CPU time. I'll get him properly trained one day.

Monday 1st February, 1993

Preparing demos to take to France for an exhibition. This is where it would be nice if the whole game was finished in a day, but realistically I have to create demos that are bullet-proof and with as few sticking plasters holding them together as possible.

The sub-game is the weakest-looking area so I concentrated on that. I got two different coloured suited-up pilots facing left and right with gun-recoil frames and tidied up the generator shield rings. I also needed a way of getting out of the sub-game so I had to put in an exit (and entrance) for each player, based on the hyperspace sequence used earlier in the game. Also written is the drone control routine for the sub-game, which attempts to keep the drone on the opposite side of the generator. This works reasonably well, but I haven't had time to smooth out the movement yet. At least it all hangs together.

Andrew's new Victory Point symbols

Look! There they are! Three of 'em, in a row near that power-up icon! What am I talking about? Andrew's new Victory Point symbols, of course!

Thursday 4th February, 1993

Returned from an awards ceremony in Paris, empty-handed once again, to more problems and solutions. Rob Northen has been on the dog and bone to Motorola only to discover that someone thought it would be amusing to move the cache control bits on a 68040 chip, which is why we're having so much trouble switching the cache off. Why not use the same bits as the 68030? What ever happened to compatibility? This, and other questions like 'Why does toast always fall butter-side down', will probably never be answered.

Serious memory re-organisation required now; the game won't yet run on a humble A500 with half a Meg of fast RAM and half a Meg of chip RAM. That doesn't really suprise me, I have to say, but Mark is starting to ask awkward questions like "How much memory do I actually have for the graphics, then?". Does he really expect me to know the answer to that? More squeezing required to get the game to fit into all 1 Meg machines.

Friday 5th February, 1993

Interesting fact about Amiga 4000's No. 637: Did you know that the 68040 CPU in the A4000 runs slower than a 68000 in an A500 with all its caches turned off? That fact prompted further investigation into our sound player as we can't just shut the caches off and run the game because we have to have the caches on to even get a sensible speed out of the thing.

So, Jason and I set about finding the difference between our new sound routine which doesn't work on an A4000 and our old sound routine which does. The only possible problem difference we discovered was that the old routine waits for ages after it sets the audio DMA on before it posts the next sample pointer to the chip. That sound chip really does have a mind of its own. Anyway, the sound routine now works, hooray, hoorah. So the new Fire & Ice master disk can go for duplication and I feel comfortable about it working on just about any Amiga, and Uridium 2 will also now work correctly on all Amigas.

Monday 8th February, 1993

Two meetings today. One was with Red Cloud to start the ball rolling on the artwork, box design, disk labels, posters and all the other publicity paraphernalia. The second was with another famous music personality to maybe organise some music for our intro sequence. I now have to produce a video of the game so far to provide a bit of inspiration. If only Tom at Renegade hadn't got all my demo disks.

Walls have big yellow and black chevrons on them

It's easy to tell what's a wall and what's not a wall. For one thing they have big yellow and black chevrons on them and for another your shots splat into them when they hit, as here.

Tuesday 9th February, 1993

Back down to Earth and some real programming. More work required on the sub-game. Now I can try out some more elements to hassle the player(s) while destroying the reactor core. The problem with the invisible bullets fired by the player is that you can't see the damn things. Obvious really, but it makes checking the collision detection a mite tricky. Got the particle processor involved in a large explosion when the reactor blows, at which time I don't really mind if the processor slows down a bit. It won't on an A1200 so there's a great reason for going out and buying one right now!

Thursday 11th February, 1993

It's really hard to find somewhere to have a sensible design meeting in this place. There's twelve of us in three rooms, so you're never alone. Mark and I decided to have an external design meeting, and adjourned to the Archery Bar for a dreadnought designing session. It proved to be fairly fruitful as we got various ideas sorted out and some rough plans for one of the fleets. The trick with any game is not to make it too difficult. Making a game harder is very easy, making a game easy enough to start with is the tricky bit.

Friday 12th February, 1993

Couple of new features created for Mark today. First off, a searchlight which roves the landing strips and secondly, a cunning chaff system. This detects whether either Manta is firing homing missiles and, if so, generates loads of false targets for them. The missiles thus go haring off at the chaff and do not attack the real targets. Had to play with the number of chaff particles and firing rate to get maximum confusion out of the minimum objects.

Made a fifteen minute video of the game as mentioned on Monday. You'd think that videoing an Amiga would be the easiest thing in the world. Not so. Amiga SCART output doesn't do anything to excite our video, and the video only plays through my monitor in black and white with no sound. Technology, eh? Who needs it?

That big white splurge is Andrew's spotlight

That big white splurge is Andrew's spotlight. It may not look too good here but in play it flickers, giving a pleasing transparent effect.

Monday 15th February, 1993

Another successful days programming. A mountain of code (well, a small one anyway) has been created and slotted in at the appropriate points to give what we are calling 'Victory Points' for certain aerial and ground targets. Landing will not be possible until enough victory points have been collected. So, all the code to count them, give them, tell you when you've got enough, generate a 'V' symbol, etc, has all been inserted and the program still runs. But... hardly any of the new code is actually being used as I neglected to include any special targets that could generate victory points. Oh dopey me! Still, I can go home in the knowledge that the game doesn't crash, and I drew a nice graphic for the victory point icon.

Tuesday 16th February, 1993

Tested all the bits that I didn't yesterday, and now I have victory icons generated by fighters, aerial meanies, ground meanies and destructible backgrounds. Any or all of these potential victory point generators are selectable so on different ships I can specify which type of target the player must go for. In reality we'll probably have that fixed from fleet to fleet, so ship one is always on a timer, ship two might be ground destructibles, ship three might be destroy certain fighters, etc.

I set the victory icon to move down the screen accelerating upwards, a sort of reverse gravity. That does a couple of things: (1) it creates a moving object that catches the eye: (2) it gets the icon clear of the target destroyed so it doesn't get confused with explosions or other generated objects; and (3) it ultimately directs the object off the screen. Just for fun I drew the icon myself (quite pleased with it actually) and shrunk it by one pixel each way at a time to create eight images. Now the icon grows from its generation point.

The new mapper is being road-tested by the graphics department and seems quite quick to generate new maps. A few teething troubles with actual data output formatting have thus far prevented me from trying Simon's new map. Still, these bugs are there to be found.

You can just make out some tiny pieces of chaff

If you look carefully in that area where the missiles are you can just make out some tiny pieces of chaff. They work a lot better when the game's moving, believe me!

Wednesday 17th February, 1993

Still no mapper output. It has got it into its mind to shuffle the character codes in the map, thus rearranging them into something not particularly pretty.

Installed a system to change the flashing colour from blue through green, yellow, orange, then red to show the radiation factor in the subgame. As long as the graphics for the background use the two designated colours then it should be clear to the player when it goes red. Question: Is anyone still using a black and white TV with their Amiga? Better use sound to indicate the radiation level too. That only leaves the people with black and white TVs with broken speakers to worry about.

Thursday 18th February, 1993

Actually got some useable output from the new mapper. The character set is now the correct length, in the right order, and looking exactly like it started out. Tremendous. Shuffled the occasional reflect bits about on the map and now the map I can fly over is the same one that Simon created on the mapper. Could it be that the mapper is now bug-free? I wish!

Friday 19th February, 1993

I've finally crumbled and put a cheat mode into the game. Don't get excited though, it'll be removed for the production version with a simple assembly switch: "CheatMode equ No". For now, it allows me to switch in any weapon I want by pressing a function key, and allows me to collect the required number of victory points to land at any time.

I've made the ioniser gun destroy ground targets. That was one of Mark's suggestions from a while ago to allow more choice of weapons to attack destructible backgrounds. I haven't put that in before because I didn't really believe in it and now that I've tried it I think I'll remove that feature as they are suddenly so powerful that you wouldn't ever want to use a different weapon.

Blast away at the glowing sphere while dodging the homing missiles

When sufficient Victory Points have been collected the Manta is allowed to land and the pilot gets to do battle with this thing. The trick is to blast away at the glowing sphere while dodging the homing missiles. This is all played for points and the player can leave at any time if things get hairy, but a big bonus awaits for anyone who can wear the sphere down and blast the thing in the middle.

Monday 22nd February, 1993

Day trip to Pinewood film studios with Uncle Tom to talk about a possible filmed model animation sequence. This could be used in still or motion form within certain versions of the game and promotions relating to the game. I rather like the idea of having a detailed model of the Manta ship available. It actually involves creating a real object from an idea rather than an arrangement of magnetic particles on a disk.

Tuesday 23rd February, 1993

I want to simplify the options screen as it's a bit cluttered at present, what with displaying the game mode and two control methods. It would be a lot more Euro-friendly if it used icons. First lesson in graphics: joysticks are easier to draw than keyboards! Too many little fiddley bits on keyboards. Now I need some player icons.

Learnt how to use the flat-bed scanner and associated software. Amazing is the word for two reasons: (1) great quality computer graphic versions, in full colour, of the printed page; and (2) enormous quantities of hard disk space gobbled up storing said pictures. I wonder how easy it will be to convert these to HAM8 mode on the Amiga.

Wednesday 24th February, 1993

This is going to be the last week of the last instalment of the Uridium 2 diary. Basically I want to have a few surprises left for you when the game is actually complete and I can't do that if we show you a set of pictures of the game every month. It also relieves a bit of the pressure off of me to actually concentrate fully on the game.

It's sometimes a bit tricky remembering something interesting from the day's events to write about, rather like a car mechanic saying "This morning I changed the gearbox on a Metro and this afternoon I put a new set of tyres on a Fiesta." Whereas if you'd just changed the air filter on Brooke Shields' Porsche then it'd be an altogether different story.

A rather nice sequence of the dreadnought blowing up bit by bit

Once the Manta pilot has done battle with the above, he's treated to this rather nice sequence of the dreadnought blowing up bit by bit. Andrew is keen to point out that the explosion graphics were drawn by him, so they may well change in the final game.

Thursday 25th February, 1993

Today I changed the air filter on Brooke Shields' Porsche. No, they'll never believe that. Alright, try... today I helped Mike Montgomery with the sound and keyboard interrupt generators on The Chaos Engine. Now that sounds a bit more believable — just.

The weekend sees Graftgold moving to a new office just down the road so I got a look inside the new place today. Haven't sorted out my 'spot' yet, but I think it's about time I had my own room. Quite uncanny really, but a number of people here agree with that. What can they mean? Anyway, everybody has been given a cunningly marked set of sticky labels to slap all over their computers and desks so that they can find all their gear next week.

Friday 26th February, 1993

Not an overly large quantity of Uridium work being carried out today as the drawers and cupboards get emptied and packed away and the desks and chairs are dismantled. Volunteers required to lift the arcade machine down the stairs. That's definitely going to live on the ground floor in the new place!

So what's left to do on the game? Well, mainly graphics. Lots of work is required to get all seven fleets in and looking great. Plenty of data to be done deciding what meanies start where, what attack waves to use and general playtesting to make sure that the game is a challenge, but completable.

Well, that's about it for the diary, I hope it's been at least a little bit interesting to read, although I haven't managed to stir up much controversy in Letters. Perhaps I'm getting mellow from talking to our cool drummer, Alfie. I hope it won't be too long before the game is completed and that you'll remember all the hard work and detail that went into writing it. Then, if you like it, please go out and buy it. If you don't like it, then remember that doesn't entitle you to go out and steal it just to see how much you don't like it. And if you wouldn't have bought it under any circumstances then you're not entitled to play it anyway.

Thanks for your attention, maybe we'll meet up at a computer show sometime, or who knows, on a train to somewhere. Remember the game, Uridium 2, and thanks to David Upchurch, Gary Whitta and Simon Byron at The One for putting up with my monthly visits to EMAP Towers {although some put up with me better than others!). Cheers all, this is AB signing off until the next time.

Series Links

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9 / Where are you Uridium 2?

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Andrew Braybrook Amiga Softography

Rainbow Islands
Rainbow Islands
Developer: Graftgold
Code: Andrew Braybrook
Graphics: John Cumming
Music: Jason Page
Paradroid 90
Paradroid 90
Developer: Graftfold
Code: Andrew Braybrook
O.O.P.S Kernel.: Dominic Robinson
Graphics: Michael A. Field,
John Cumming,
John W. Lilley
Music: Jason Page
Developer: Graftgold
Code: Dominic Robinson,
Steve Turner,
Andrew Braybrook,
Darran Eteo
Graphics: John Cumming
Music: Jason Page
Sound: Steve Turner
O.O.P.S. Kernel: Dominic Robinson
Fire & Ice: The Daring Adventures Of Cool Coyote
Fire & Ice: The Daring Adventures Of Cool Coyote
Developer: Graftgold
Code: Andrew Braybrook
Graphics: John W. Lilley,
Phillip Williams
Music: Jason Page
Uridium 2
Uridium 2
Developer: Graftgold
Code: Andrew Braybrook
Graphics: Colin Seaman,
Mark Bentley,
Simon Sheridan,
Stephen Rushbrook
Music: Jason Page
Developer: Graftgold
Code: Iain Wallington,
Steve Turner,
Andrew Braybrook
Graphics: Colin Seaman,
John Kershaw,
Steve Wilkins,
Terry Cattrell
Music and sound: Lee Banyard
Game design: Iain Wallington,
Colin Seaman,
John Kershaw,
Steve Turner