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The real Martin webb

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About The real Martin webb

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  1. I am sorry this has been so long. But I do try and participate in answering questions around the web where I can. So, today I still build software. These days it is SaaS (Software as a Service) I have my own cloud system used by business's around the world. Our system is hugely complex and is used daily by thousands of customers. I am 54 in 2021 so I guess how does building cloud software compare to making tiny games on the TI 99 in basic. - Actually in some respects very similar. The key thing that the TI99 taught me from the age of 12 was solving problems and making my code compact and fast. The TI and in-fact all of the 80's home PC's were dead slow and limited in memory and power. So in order to build stuff you had to always consider ways of making things appear faster and use less memory. This can be seen in games like ATLANTIS and PANIC ON THE TI-TANIC. ATLANTIS has many many screens each different (Rooms) these were made simply by drawing the sea bottom using RANDOM numbers. I soon discovered that if I use random numbers they are actually always the same, this makes it easy to draw random shapes that will always appear the same when replayed. I used this technique on PANIC and ATLANTIS - to position fish, objects and draw rooms. Normally this would be done using mapping - In 'Adventuremania', 'Mainia' and Lionel I mapped everything into dimensional arrays. This is very low level but still effective. Arrays were used to map rooms, doors, keys, objects etc. The downside is the arrays would consume lots of memory thus bottlenecking the size of the game. In other games such as Battle of the Stars - I learnt how to make lots of things move around the screen. In the early days if you had 3 objects on screen moving each, every game cycle would slow down the keyboard response. On the TI this was dreadful. Later I used a technique where only one object is move each cycle this speeded up response times. Now this may all seem trivial - But, the secrets learnt here were all applied to the COIN-ON ports. For example OUTRUN uses 8x8 char graphics for the objects road side, they are moved at different cycles to speed the game play up dramatically and give the illusion of speed. The step from going from BASIC to 6502 was STEEP! - It took possible a year min to make the first game and it caused a lot of trouble at home. I can recall I had a frog on a large pond plant and he would hop around - I spent ages just playing with it, learning how to scroll screens with out flicker, detect collisions and so on. When I am doing this kind of stuff it is 24 hours night and day. Even today I will literally sleep solving problems. It is a painful exhausting process of determination to succeed. Learning my basic skills on the TI with it's limitations taught me the basics of speed, compression and illusion. All of these are used today in our Business APPS. For example today a customer commented on a live screen share with 10 attendees your app runs really fast - When I here this I know this comes down to understanding that code should run fast even if today we have much faster systems. Speed is everything. From that aspect building BASIC programs on a TI is much like making web pages. When a webpage loads it is identical to loading up a game on the TI - The code runs in sandbox. When we build web pages we use techniques similar to those used in OUTRUN to make the pages load very fast, hiding the bloat in the background. I find it incredible that at the age of 54 I still spend 20 hour days 7 days weeks sat in front of 4 screens building code. As a child I was obsessed with making stuff, it started with cardboard boxes and moved on to wood by the age of 5. By 10 I was constantly visiting rubbish dumps to find broken electrical stuff I could use to build what ever my imagination could imagine. Space ships, cars, satellite dishes to search for aliens - Of course all of this failed. Discovering the Zx80 changed my life - finally I could make what I imagined in small 8x8 pixels - and to this day that is what I do. I love building stuff, I love ideas and challenges and have an endless passion and energy to make it work no matter how enormous the task is. I guess I am an inventor? Thank you for playing these games and showing interest in the history that made them. For some reason seeing the coloured tape cover of SANTA and the GOBLINS brings back the most Nostalgia - I think that time was very difficult at home when I made this game and as a child (14 or 15?) I guess i had dreams of making $$$ and solving family money issues.
  2. Hi intrigues! Martin Webb here, happy to answer any questions you all may have, appreciate and thanks for all your interest.
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