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Posts posted by shahid


    I saw on something you were a keynote speaker at some computer event, so still in the limelight :)


    I probably should not ask but why the jump from Playstation, thought it would have been a safe bet or were you just keen to be in charge of yourself. Not had my hands on any of the VR things, might look for a cheap PS4 one after Xmas for my daughter, I hope the experience is worth it :)


    Good luck with the VR thing, look forward to seeing it, its not Chimera VR is it :)


    Seriously, hope its great and sells bucket loads..




    The reasons for leaving were widely reported and accurate, but to sum up, I'd achieved more than I ever hoped to achieve at PlayStation, so I wanted to leave while on a high and I wanted to make games again and at my age, I didn't know if I'd ever get the chance again. I didn't want to have any regrets and not trying gamedev again would have been something I would have had terrible regret about.


    I'm very happy to answer any questions about the original Chimera here. There will be another version of Chimera at some point, but not for Atari, as Tezz has already done the definitive version :)

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  2. Hello everyone!


    In preparation for the full reboot I'm working on, I've been putting together a remake (reasonably faithful to ZX Spectrum version) of Chimera. Full details are on my blog at http://www.chimera2010.com - you can download latest builds there for Mac and PC. Nothing fancy yet. The Mac version requires Mountain Lion sadly, but other than that, they should both work.


    Remember, this isn't the reboot with the new features I'm going to put in, but just a remake (re-release?) of the original, written from the ground up in C++ using the Cinder Library for the OpenGL stuff, not that it needs any hi tech or anything. I've been working on this in what little spare time I have.


    I'd love your feedback!


    Oh and possibly also your help. I'd like to know if anyone is able to get the original Atari graphics for Chimera for me in some modern format. It would be dead easy for me to replace the existing Speccy graphics and I'd like the player to be able to select which port they'd want to play. Personally, I always loved the look of the Atari version, and it was the version I loved the most, even if it ran way too slowly!


    All the best!

  3. It's been a year since I was last here. I've picked up Chimera again and am making progress there.


    Also, yesterday I decided to finally scan my entire Atari 400/800 Operating System Source Listing. I'm going to post it on my Chimera blog and when I do, I'll check back here and let you know. Not sure how useful it will be, but I Recall some people saying they'd like to see it. It's at 600dpi, so you can see the coffee stains on the cover and the grain of every page!


    It weighs in at over 400MB, so if anyone has any ideas on how to bring that down a bit without degrading the quality, I'd appreciate it.


    Two more games? On our A8 games base there's only more Matta Blatta, what is the other one?


    It was The Comet Game. And it was rubbish. My first published Atari game in 1983 was "Storm in a Teacup". That was also rubbish, but it was my first, so I love it for that. I might have done more, I don't remember.


    BTW, I just bought The Comet Game on Atari off eBay. I felt like J.R. Hartley from that old Yellow Pages advert ;-)

  5. Welcome Shahid and a belated Happy Eid to you...


    Hope you had a good time in Saudi, my mother in law just came back after making her first pilgrimage.


    Sorry to hear about your bike and the idiots up there...


    Like many in here I'm from the days like yourself when the machines were new and exciting, Chimera was one of my faves which was odd as I was never much into the isometric stuff (non spectrum owner).


    After Chimera, what happened, its like most 8bit individual programmers just faded away as the Atari died, my old mate Noel Daniel (Sidewinder and Thunderfox on the 8bit Atari) just seemed to vanish (I think Carmel knows what happened to him.


    DId you just move on to business stuff?


    Thanks for the welcome DragonStomper, and many thanks for your Eid greetings. I have never been to Saudi, but would obviously like to go one day!


    Really appreciate the sentiments about Chimera.


    I continued to do quite a lot of coding, but mostly on other platforms. I ended up doing two more games on the 8-bit Atari.


    After 1990, I got into music production and started making music for video games, featuring in games by Virgin and Core Design; then in 1992, joined BITS full time at first to head up their music dept and eventually moved into production. After that I left to join Virgin as a PRoducer, then Hasbro as a Senior Producer, then Exec Producer, then I set up a funding outfit called START! games, which got quite a bit of attention. I think some of this is mentioned in the About page on the chimera2010.com blog - really appreciate the interest.

  6. 4) Overlay all higher priority objects into the buffer


    Thanks for the explanation. By priority I assume you mean depth "into" the screen?


    Yes. I came up with "DPA" because I was making fun of all the silly acronyms people were coming up with at the time to make it seem they were cleverer than they were. I had no idea that over a quarter of a century later, people might make the same mistake with me! :-) :-) It was just a bit of fun.


    I had wondered why you'd chosen to update the whole screen on the Atari version rather than the method you used on the other versions. This was something I was planning to address in the revamp I started earlier in the year to rewrite it as you did with the c64 despite the amount of work it would be :) There was also the possibilty in doing so to make use of the rather unused feature of the A8 having the 4 player missiles as an overlay with Priority0 set so that the robot can have 3 independant colours from the background. Other than all that it was adding the samples and the Rob Hubbard music from the c64 version to make use of the additional 16k.


    That's really terrible about the robbery, I can imagine how gutted you must have been losing all your work and equipment like that :(




    I could have done the spaceman using PMGs, but I'd still need to do the other sprite, like the terminal, the electric fence, and the other stuff I don't remember. :-) Even avoiding PMGs, using DPA would have been much quicker, if I'd had more time, I would have taken this approach for the Atari version.


    Of course, the interesting thing nowadays is that none of these performance issues prevent you from doing pretty much anything you want to do (within reason)


    So I'm very much looking forward to doing my remake, though it will be significantly different from the original in gameplay. The scream will remain of course!

  8. A transcript of the diary I did can be found here: http://www.birdsanctuary.co.uk/chimera/xt.php


    The Dynamic Priority Allocator (DPA) sounds interesting. What was the theory of operation behind that?


    1) Work out what the dirty rectangle was for each movable object (usually two, the player sprite and one other, like the electric fence, bread etc.)

    2) Draw the relevant section of the background screen into a buffer the size of the dirty rectangle

    3) Draw the sprite over the top in the new position


    At this stage you have what you need, except that the sprite will be in front of everything, so...


    4) Overlay all higher priority objects into the buffer

    5) Draw the buffer(s) onto the screen


    There are two speed advantages to this approach:

    i) The entire screen doesn't need to be drawn back to front as it was on Spectrum and Atari versions

    ii) The lower priority objects don't need to be drawn again


    This technique is very similar to Chris Stamper's Filmation engine.


    The C64 version was better still, in that you didn't need to use dirty rectangles at all. I'd just cookie cut the higher priority objects from the sprite.

  9. Something that I've always wanted to ask was whether it was the case that the software houses in the UK specified to developers that the Atari releases had to be 48k or less to cover the majority of the models in the Atari 8-bit family (not to reduce the potential market) or did they leave it up to you?


    There were very few people who wanted Atari product in those days. I had to convince Firebird to take it in the first place. At the time of release, I don't think the 128k machines had even come out. (My memory on that is a bit hazy though) - I had to keep insisting, and eventually they took it. I doubt they would have wanted it if it had exceeded 48k. My first Atari game had to fit into the 16k machines, but only actually took about 4k. It was rubbish, but it got me into the business. :-)


    My biggest regret with the Atari version was that I didn't do the same technique for screen updating that I ended up doing on the Amstrad, which was to update only the dirty rectangles. It was a complete screen update, like the Spectrum version. Despite the fast 2MHz processor on the Atari compared to the pedestrian 1MHz 6502 on the C64, the latter was the faster version because I used sprites and a cookie cutter technique to mask the hidden pixels.


    Obviously, once the 130XE was out, I bought it - and absolutely loved it. Sadly, it was stolen, like all the rest of my equipment, including my treasured Apricot Xen, bought for me by Firebird, with an opulent 20MB hard drive and a paper white screen.

  10. Thanks for your kind welcome! I was pleased with that pause screen too. I got the bands by using quad width PMGs the full height of the screen, so I could cycle those colours independently. I was a big fan of DLIs


    Apart from the old stuff at chimera2010.com, there is the excellent resource here: http://www.birdsanctuary.co.uk/chimera/i.php


    A transcript of the diary I did can be found here: http://www.birdsanctuary.co.uk/chimera/xt.php

  11. Yes it was me. From memory, I did the sample on the Spectrum version first. I redid the C64 version using the Covox Voice Master. I varied the pitch every so often.


    My family thought I'd lost it when I was recording the samples.

  12. Thanks for inviting me here.


    I should first say that the amount of nostalgia I feel for Atari hardware is probably unhealthy. I still have my original copy of De Re Atari and not a day goes by when I don't miss the early days of computing. My career started on the Atari 400 in 1983.


    As for "A Different Kettle of Fish", you're really not missing much. From memory, your goal is to drop a kettle tied to a string to the bottom of a body of water, taking care to avoid fish with both the kettle and the line. That's it.


    As for the missing code, here's what I just posted on my blog:


    I agree that it’s a shame. Some points in my defence, if I may:


    1) I keep archives going back all the way to the beginning – see the pristine copy of the letter from Chris Turner at Arctic for an example of that.

    2) Any archives of my code would have been on 5.25″ floppies, notwithstanding several media changes since then, and the unavailability of drives that can read any code I may or may not have, the media is unlikely to have lasted a quarter of a century.

    3) I actually wrote “A Different Kettle of Fish” on paper, and I had kept the paper, but…

    4) In 1989, all of my materials were stolen. It was a devastating blow. I lost pretty much everything I ever worked on from an office I shared with the PDS guys – and I’m not sure I ever quite recovered from that loss. Only now, in 2011, am I finally in a position where I can consider going back to my pre 1990s life.


    Having said all that, I will have another rummage through what’s left to see what I can find. The game definitely worked when I shipped it to Firebird.


    I will have a look, but I don't hold out much hope. I'm pretty sure the version I sent to Firebird for mastering was OK, but it is 26 years ago.


    As for the remake, it's back on. More news on that front soon!


    Thanks very much for your interest in Chimera!

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