Hello ColecoVision fans, and welcome to Team Pixelboy's first news bulletin of 2012!
The new games that were officially released last week are selling very well. I haven't received a reply from every customer I contacted, so I expect to make a few more sales in January. I believe the worst of the sales rush is already behind me (at the time of posting this, all paid orders have been shipped, except for those that were paid in the last 10 hours or so) and I should remind everyone that the layaway plan offer expires on January 5th 2012.
While people are patiently waiting for their games to arrive by mail, I'd say now is a good time to outline the Team Pixelboy projects that I will be working on this year. I ended up spending most of 2011 preparing the six games released last week, and this year will be mostly more of the same, with some new games on the horizon, including the special surprise which I mentioned last week...
THE GAMES OF 2012
Wonder Boy :
Eduardo Mello gave me a very nice present on Christmas day last week, namely the final release candidate of Wonder Boy, which I tested and approved. The game is now ready for release, but I haven't started working on the box art or the manual yet. I want to get started on that early this year, to get a head start on all the work that's ahead of me.
The beta version that Eduardo gave me last summer was supposed to offer infinite lives for testing purposes, but that added feature didn't work correctly. Two days ago, he gave me another beta ROM with the problem fixed, but I found another bug that freezes the game randomly. I asked Eduardo to look into this, and I'll get started on beta-testing this game as soon as I receive a new beta. Beyond that, it will only be a matter of getting the box art and manual done, like Wonder Boy.
Champion Ice Hockey :
This game was tested last year and it works quite nicely as-is, except for the fact that the skating physics seem off... At times, it feels like you're controlling bumper cars instead of hockey players on the ice. I asked Eduardo to fix this by making the ice slightly less slippery, and I expect that this tweak will make the game more frantic and more fun to play. Once the game has been modified and beta-tested, I'll have one more box and manual to prepare. (*sigh*)
Jewel Panic :
This will essentially be a re-release of Daniel Bienvenu's Bejeweled, but it will contain some altered features, as well as the addition of a bonus game, namely my own game of Sudoku, which I programmed myself a few years ago. There's still a lot of work to do on the software, but as Team Pixelboy's first 64K offering, it's progressing quite nicely. I expect to have this done by next April, and the box and manual should follow quickly afterwards.
Module Man :
This used to be listed under my "Personal Projects" on my web site, but if you look now, you'll see it's been moved to the "Outsourced Projects"! That's because my good friend Stephen Seehorn is currently working on the conversion of the Coco-2 game to the ColecoVision, and he's made very good progress in the last month. The screenshots I attached below are from the actual ColecoVision version! Stephen still has a lot of work ahead of him, but if all goes well, he should finish Module Man well before the end of 2012. Which is good, because software made from scratch requires a lot more beta-testing, to find and fix all the bugs.
AND THE SIXTH GAME?
The main reason why I release six games each year is because the german printer company that prints my game boxes will only accept a print order of no less than six different boxes, at 150 copies per box. Lots of wasted cardboard, I know, but it's a take-it-or-leave-it kind of deal. With the five games listed above, I need a sixth game to meet my quota for this year.
I'm hoping that this sixth game will be The Black Onyx, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Eduardo will find some time this year to work on the game. As I explained to him last week, The Black Onyx cannot be beta-tested within a few weeks like most other SG-1000 ports, because it's a fairly large game, and several months will be required to make sure that there are no major bugs remaining anywhere in the game. So getting this game ready by the end of this year is a pretty tall order. I don't even want to think about how many pages the manual will require...
Aside from that, another possibility for the sixth game is Joust. Last summer, Daniel Bienvenu commited himself to adding sound effects to the soundless AtariSoft prototype, but after making some good initial progress with it, the project seemingly fell into limbo. Daniel has been moving away from the ColecoVision homebrew scene lately, so I'm not too hopeful that Joust will be ready by the end of this year. But no one can really predict the future, right? So let's all keep our fingers crossed.
If neither The Black Onyx nor Joust can be finished in time for the planned Christmas 2012 release date, then I'm really not sure what the sixth game will be. I could be persuaded to publish a game made by any ColecoVision homebrewer, as long as it's a quality title... Eduardo and I talked about releasing the MSX port of King's Valley under my Team Pixelboy label, but that game requires Opcode's Super Game Module, and it won't make much sense to release King's Valley if the SGM is not released this year. If the SGM is indeed released in 2012, however, then King's Valley may very well be released in parallel, just so Donkey Kong Arcade won't be the only SGM-compatible game released. We'll see how things will pan out over the next few months.
ARABIAN, HOW I LOVE THEE
There's another small change I made to the web site, namely bringing back Arabian from oblivion. It seems there are some people out there who are truly hoping that a ColecoVision version of this arcade game will become reality one day, and who am I to crush the dreams of ColecoVision fans?
Note that I'm not making any real promises here, but given the fact that the original arcade game uses a Z80 CPU, perhaps someone out there will one day tackle the difficult job of porting it over to the ColecoVision. In fact, the walking/kicking/jumping physics of the player's character are so clunky that it may be best to get the arcade version ported directly, to have a ColecoVision version that truly reproduces the arcade game as faithfully as possible. I need to keep the door open to this possibility, as a publisher.
THE COLECOVISION TRADING CARD PROJECT
Releasing six games this year will be quite a challenge (perhaps more than last year, with Module Man and The Black Onyx requiring much more beta-testing than any of the games released last week), but this year marks the 30th anniversary of the ColecoVision, and I think I should do something extra special for the occasion.
So I've decided that I'm going to put some significant effort into my ColecoVision trading card project. This month, I'm going to work on the basic card template, and I'll get a sample card printed in February. If it all works out as planned, I should be able to crank out at least one series of 25 cards by next summer, and then another series by next Christmas. That's my goal anyway, assuming that my next group of six Team Pixelboy releases won't take up too much of my time.
So as you can see, I've certainly got my work cut out for me this year. And to meet all my deadlines, I'm going to have to work on a tight schedule. But it will be an exciting year as well, expecially if I can finally release The Black Onyx with the EEPROM-based savegame feature.
I'm looking forward to seing (and purchasing) the upcoming ColecoVision releases from other homebrewers, namely RKGames' Monster Bash, Dvik-&-Joyrex's Burn Rubber, Opcode's Donkey Kong Arcade, as well as youki's and bfg.gamepassion's projects. Keep up the good work guys, and let's all make 2012 a year to remember! Happy New Year, everyone!
This concludes this news bulletin. We now return you to your regular forum activities.