Author Topic: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview  (Read 2859 times)

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Offline MacDeath

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Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« on: 14:33, 31 July 15 »
while lurking Facebook I came accross Brian Beuken, who coded Rastan Saga on CPC.

There was this topic about Rastan's music on CPC.

I said : "looked well on CPC but too slow as often... looks like a stripped down slow Sega MasterSystem version... sort of..."


Then I got this reply from Brian Beuken :

Quote
I did my best but the Amstrad was not an easy Machine to scroll

then i harras.... asked him a few questions and he kindly gave a few answers (mini-interview).
he gave some interesting infos about the dev for this game.

Quote
I don't honestly remember the original timescale, probably 12-16 weeks, but I do remember we went over and I got bollocked for it, but it was a total bitch to fit such a big game into such a small machine.
It wasn't ported from the Speccy, both versions were written from scratch as close to the arcade system as we could mange.
I compressed all the graphics as much as possible, used split sprite techniques to increase the variety and some nice double vsync effects to try to use hardware scrolling to keep the speed up. But basically it was pushing the machine too far.

I was also working on other titles at the time since the company was under pressure to put out product. So it was not the most fun project I ever worked on. A lot of graphics that were produced for it had to be binned or simplified, but overall for the time it came out well.

No the Speccy version was written by another Coder in a different office so we didnt' share any code at all, and he had less trouble with the memory overhead due to the simpler graphics on the Spectrum. It actually had to fit in 32K on the Amstrad as we used 2 16K screens to get back buffered sprites displayed, hence the compression.
We included multi load on tape and Disc which allowed some freedom to store different levels and graphics for those levels on the tape.

quite interesting.

he also did a few other CPC games in its time.


http://www.cpc-power.com/index.php?page=staff&lenom=Brian%20BEUKEN

According to CPCpower (may not be compelte or totally accurate) :
Championship Baseball
DJ Puff's Volcanic Eruption
Edd The Duck
Ninja
Rastan
Rockford
Rollaball
Sharkey's Moll
The Moors Challenge
The Royal Quest


I guess if some of you would like some other questions.

Needless to say, Rastan Saga Arcade board was basically a powerhouse compaired to the CPC...
MC68000@8mhz
Z80@4mhz for sounds
(basically a Sega megadrive)
display in 320x240 and many many hardsprites and hardscrolls... also certainly many many palettes of 16...

same hardware family as for Rainbow Island or Operation Wolf.

This game was one of those "Conan" clones. so common in those days in the same vein as Black Dragon/Tiger, or Golden Axe... this one was a basic platformer, very nice graphics and musics, and some neat monster's design.
« Last Edit: 14:54, 31 July 15 by MacDeath »

Offline Nich

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #1 on: 22:56, 31 July 15 »
Then I got this reply from Brian Beuken :

then i harras.... asked him a few questions and he kindly gave a few answers (mini-interview).
he gave some interesting infos about the dev for this game.
CNGSoft has recently managed to 'fix' the cassette version of Rastan, which has some graphical corruption and bugs that prevented the end-of-level bosses from loading. Perhaps you could ask Brian if he knows anything about this? Perhaps he was under so much pressure to finish the game that there wasn't enough time to check that everything worked?

Quote
he also did a few other CPC games in its time.
According to issue 120 of Retro Gamer, Brian Beuken also wrote the CPC version of Yie Ar Kung-Fu - but I've dug out some of my notes and found that there was an interview with Keith Wilson (who programmed Green Beret) in issue 15 of Amstrad Action, and it states that he, along with an (unnamed) colleague, programmed the CPC version of Yie Ar Kung-Fu. I wonder if Brian Beuken is the unnamed colleague and both of them should therefore be credited?

Offline MacDeath

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #2 on: 04:00, 01 August 15 »
link to the facebook topic :

https://www.facebook.com/groups/5357712057/permalink/10153066670372058/

I posted both of your questions.

Offline cpc4eva

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #3 on: 09:54, 01 August 15 »
Love reading / finding the coders and having a chat with them :)

It looks like many of the poor games that were produced faced many up hill battles -

* One or 2 people given a herculean task to complete.

* Management / Owners giving coders a hard time "bollocking"

* Coders finding the CPC hard to scroll caused many headaches.

The larger software houses like Ocean had a massive team of people highly talented in all aspects so no wonder they had the resources and people skills to pull off great games and be a successful business.

The Dave Perry interviews always intrique me though, he was like a project freelancer at Probe working with Nik Bruty for other companies and he really got the best out of the CPC 464, 664, 6128 etc in particular the scrolling.

Offline Brian Beuken

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #4 on: 18:39, 01 August 15 »
Hi :D

yes Keith was indeed the coder on Yie Ar, I only did the sprite routines which used a cool form of RLE compression to get more of them into the game and allow colour changes using the same data.
I also did all the sprite graphics, which at the time were done by freeze framing a video of the arcade game and copying the fames in Amdraw...it took a while

I did however write the Speccy 128K on my own for Ocean which may be why I keep getting the credit for all the 8bit versions of Yie Ar Kung Fu, which is not at all fair on the original coders. Keith was a brilliant young talent and its a shame he quit coding.

I already answered on the FB post about Rastan, I don't know of any level loading bugs in the tape game. When we delivered the masters it was all working fine, so it maybe something bad happened at the mastering stage. I do know we delivered it fine though.

Anything else you want to know feel free to ask.

Brian

Offline MacDeath

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #5 on: 19:39, 01 August 15 »
Yie ar Kung fu was a great game on CPC.
sadly the 2nd opus wasn't as good, looks somewhat MSX ported..


Many games or companies would not properly give credits to the actual workers...
If you want/can you can give us the full list of your CPC works, so we may update our databases and give proper credits.


exemple : CPCpower
http://www.cpc-power.com/index.php?page=staff&lenom=Brian%20BEUKEN
« Last Edit: 20:06, 01 August 15 by MacDeath »

Offline Brian Beuken

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #6 on: 20:08, 01 August 15 »
Yeah well I think YAK2 was an MSX game when we 1st saw it, and all laughed at the farting attacks.  Fortunately I wasn't asked to do anything with it.

hmmm not sure I can remember them all :D
the main one are there for sure, I'll try to recall if there are any others. Y

Offline dlfrsilver

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #7 on: 13:38, 09 August 15 »
You also did some work on the apprentice from Rainbow Arts for Probe if i remember also Brian right ?

About Rastan, what is sure, from what you explained, is that the guy applying the speedlock protection system on both tape and disc
then failed big time, no even talking about the graphics corruption happening in some levels.

This case is not the only one, Bob Pape also told that the guy at speedlock associates fucked his r-type speccy version. The original master was working fine, and the game once the protection was applied and sold in shops was faulty on level 7 or 8. The level 7 was duplicated, and level 8 was missing.

Just for the little story, the version of Rastan sold in the shops on both discs and tapes has a level loader problem :

- the boss levels and normal levels are not loaded the same way. That's why the game doesn't work correctly.

- In order to get the levels and boss levels to load no matter what, you need to obliterate the tape loading error routine, and let it load whatever data the CPC is fed with. Otherwise the game fails.

Other problem, some files were corrupted also in the process, and it's uncoverable unfortunately :(

Oh BTW, the speedlock protection system was running on an Atari ST, so did you gave the rastan masters on a 3.5 inch floppy ?


Offline dlfrsilver

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #8 on: 13:47, 09 August 15 »
while lurking Facebook I came accross Brian Beuken, who coded Rastan Saga on CPC.

There was this topic about Rastan's music on CPC.

I said : "looked well on CPC but too slow as often... looks like a stripped down slow Sega MasterSystem version... sort of..."


Then I got this reply from Brian Beuken :

then i harras.... asked him a few questions and he kindly gave a few answers (mini-interview).
he gave some interesting infos about the dev for this game.

quite interesting.

he also did a few other CPC games in its time.


http://www.cpc-power.com/index.php?page=staff&lenom=Brian%20BEUKEN

According to CPCpower (may not be compelte or totally accurate) :
Championship Baseball
DJ Puff's Volcanic Eruption
Edd The Duck
Ninja
Rastan
Rockford
Rollaball
Sharkey's Moll
The Moors Challenge
The Royal Quest


I guess if some of you would like some other questions.

Needless to say, Rastan Saga Arcade board was basically a powerhouse compaired to the CPC...
MC68000@8mhz
Z80@4mhz for sounds
(basically a Sega megadrive)
display in 320x240 and many many hardsprites and hardscrolls... also certainly many many palettes of 16...

same hardware family as for Rainbow Island or Operation Wolf.

This game was one of those "Conan" clones. so common in those days in the same vein as Black Dragon/Tiger, or Golden Axe... this one was a basic platformer, very nice graphics and musics, and some neat monster's design.

I own the jamma board. The game is basically displaying 256 colors (16 palettes of 16 colors). The board is only made of hardscrolls and tiles (or hard sprites if you want).

This is not a really complex game, it's in the same vein as Turrican.

Offline Brian Beuken

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #9 on: 20:25, 09 August 15 »
You also did some work on the apprentice from Rainbow Arts for Probe if i remember also Brian right ?

About Rastan, what is sure, from what you explained, is that the guy applying the speedlock protection system on both tape and disc
then failed big time, no even talking about the graphics corruption happening in some levels.

This case is not the only one, Bob Pape also told that the guy at speedlock associates fucked his r-type speccy version. The original master was working fine, and the game once the protection was applied and sold in shops was faulty on level 7 or 8. The level 7 was duplicated, and level 8 was missing.

Just for the little story, the version of Rastan sold in the shops on both discs and tapes has a level loader problem :

- the boss levels and normal levels are not loaded the same way. That's why the game doesn't work correctly.

- In order to get the levels and boss levels to load no matter what, you need to obliterate the tape loading error routine, and let it load whatever data the CPC is fed with. Otherwise the game fails.

Other problem, some files were corrupted also in the process, and it's uncoverable unfortunately :(

Oh BTW, the speedlock protection system was running on an Atari ST, so did you gave the rastan masters on a 3.5 inch floppy ?
Yeah Apprentice was an amazing game I was working on at the tail end of the Spectrum era, it ran on 48 and 128K machines and was looking brilliant, but just as it was literally finished, they asked for a few new levels to be added, as I was doing them I got word they'd decided to can the project as the market just wasn't there any more.. So sad, I think it was one of my best ever Z80 games.

That's a shame about Rastan, we put a lot of effort into fitting a lot into the machine, I don't recall hearing about loading problems at the time...bummer

I honestly don't remember how we supplied the code, most probably a simple master tape and a master 3" disc as we were not very sophisticated, things were just copied at the production plants. Adding protection was not something we did then.
« Last Edit: 20:32, 09 August 15 by Brian Beuken »

Offline Brian Beuken

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #10 on: 20:31, 09 August 15 »
I own the jamma board. The game is basically displaying 256 colors (16 palettes of 16 colors). The board is only made of hardscrolls and tiles (or hard sprites if you want).

This is not a really complex game, it's in the same vein as Turrican.
Indeed the game itself is very simple the issue was content, and size of sprites, it was far too big to fit into the 28K or so of standard RAM available when using a double screen buffer, so the main effort was in compressing it to its bare minimum and drawing the sprites fast enough...frankly I failed.
When the 1st level and baddies were in, with a mode 1 panel it looked wonderful, but as we slowly had to add more and more content, we had to sacrifice more and more detail, (like the flaming sword animation) and the game just got more and more stripped.. That again was not uncommon back in the day. If Id been allowed to make a 128K only version it would have looked wonderful, played a lot faster due to not needing to compress so much (and waste real time cycles decompressing)

Ah well...

Offline MacDeath

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #11 on: 00:42, 10 August 15 »
We often came to that conclusion too...
Were CPC designed as 128K machines (or even 96k...) from the very begining, most games would have no need of those compression or low RAM tricks, and could really have been very much better than those too numerous 64k speccy ports.
Not that it wouldn't get speccyports, but some extra RAM tricks can allow for more speed as well.

Also shame that copy protections would sometimes/often screew the mastering.

I think it is quite impressive to even manage to produce a game in 64k with double buffer screen.
multiple loading was helping indeed, yet the tape wasn't best support for multi-loading to be fair. a CPC664 had it a bit easier on the matter yet 6128 had to be the definitive CPC configuration after all.

My brother also has the JAMMA board, but fails to get his arcade machine fixed (RGB monitor issue)... damn him.
It was a typical, even simple, arcade plateformer, quite big sprites and actually well done graphics.
But background+2 layers of tiles (with transparent inks, so count as sprites...) and the 16x16 palettes and some hard for everything.
basically a souped up Sega megadrive...  ;D



Brian :
you also did a conversion for a Baseball game.

looks like it was ported/converted from C64, wasn't it ?

CPC :
! No longer available

C64 :
! No longer available

funny to see the attributes from C64 visible in the CPC version (see the public).

how did you do when you had to convert from C64 ?
I guess you had to simply transfer the graphics with only palette conversion and then code from scratch by yourself, of did you get access to C64 code to see how it was done ?


Ed the duck looks great. for this one you had a full time graphic artist who did a nice Mode0 job.
Obviously you did both ZX spectrum and CPC.

ZX speccy :
! No longer available

CPC :
! No longer available

I like the fact you added those duckfaces on the side so the screen feels a bit more covered, not every speccy/CPC crossdevs did that.
seems like a decent "rainbow island" sort of game (vertical platformer).

I guess that despite having extra work, it was perhaps more comfortable to do both versions yourself with a real graphic artist working the real CPC mode0.
I suppose the fact it was a licensed franchise could sometimes help, if the franchise's owner really asks for nice graphics...


As I told elsewhere, DJ puff is also an obvious C64 port/conversion.
But yeah, c64 is more gifted in hardsprites and hardscrolls... surely this game could have benefited a lot from 128K version only or more graphic artist time paid for.
The main issue is that the background palette is not quite well chosen. It was often difficult to convert graphics from C64 as the palettes are quite different and actually not really compatible/equivalent.

actually a very few palette changes could really give this game some extra visual punch. very sad you no more have the sources.  :'(
« Last Edit: 01:24, 10 August 15 by MacDeath »

Offline Brian Beuken

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #12 on: 02:32, 10 August 15 »
A lot of my work then was ports. The Baseball game was a popular US game on C64 and I had to just pull the graphics out of the binary image, using a bit of code I created myself and then touch them up to work in mode 0. Some of the graphics were cleaned up but most we simple character conversions. I wrote the logic from scratch, I leared the rules from the C64 game and simply implemented it as best I could. I later got a great gig doing Ken Griffey Jr Baseball on the GameBoy and Slugfest on the GBC, because of that game.. Those were proper baseball games though with intricate stats and all rules implemented, it went on to be one of the best selling handled games ever.

I often did 2 versions at the same time, the code usually didn't need a lot of alternation, I used standard sprite and character draw systems, so as long as the data was in the right format, I could be sure of getting the logic working and that's what I could focus on.

I've never seen a video review of any of my games...that was cool, Ed was a really fast produced game for Zeppelin, I did 2 or 3 games for them, but they were very low budget. Sharkeys Moll, was originally an Operation Wolf clone called Operation Shark :D with army jungle graphics, but they got cold feet about taking on Ocean, and decided to change the graphics and style to something else...there was something else I did for them too but my brain is dead.

« Last Edit: 02:50, 10 August 15 by Brian Beuken »

Offline MacDeath

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #13 on: 03:29, 10 August 15 »
Yeah I lurked a lot to find this review...  :D


Zeppelin Games :
http://www.cpc-power.com/index.php?page=staff&stafftype=1&lenom=Zeppelin%20Games


Also there seems to be an editor for the Spectrum version :
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek.cgi?regexp=^Edd+the+Duck+Editor$&pub=^Zeppelin+Games+Ltd$&loadpics=1

is this a level editor ?

still on Ed the duck :
Quote
Sur chaque scène, il faut ramasser 20 étoiles. Pourtant, dans la scène 7, il n'y a que 19 étoiles. Donc, il est impossible de finir la scène 7.
"on each stage you have to get 20 stars but stage7 only has 19 stars, so it is impossible to finish it".
oops.  :D
good point the hackers were also patchers. (the cracked versions were so much more reliable sometimes, like with today's games indeed.)


Also cheat code : FIZ... (as in gin fiz ?)
would you always/often put a cheat code or rarely ?

also funny pun with "Edd Zeppelin"... whose idea ?


Concerning the other game... perhaps it was an "Impulze" game on spectrum ?
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekpub.cgi?regexp=^Impulze$&loadpics=1
or another of their sub-labels ?
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekpub.cgi?regexp=^Zeppelin+Games+Ltd$&loadpics=1
« Last Edit: 04:01, 10 August 15 by MacDeath »

Offline Gryzor

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #14 on: 12:08, 10 August 15 »
Interesting read!


But wot? No vid?


[youtube width=640 height=480]nOkjpv9sB9U[/youtube]


[youtube width=640 height=480]uSY63P37OGY[/youtube]
« Last Edit: 18:27, 11 August 15 by Gryzor »

Offline Brian Beuken

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #15 on: 12:33, 10 August 15 »
Yeah I lurked a lot to find this review...  :D


Zeppelin Games :
http://www.cpc-power.com/index.php?page=staff&stafftype=1&lenom=Zeppelin%20Games


Also there seems to be an editor for the Spectrum version :
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek.cgi?regexp=^Edd+the+Duck+Editor$&pub=^Zeppelin+Games+Ltd$&loadpics=1

is this a level editor ?

still on Ed the duck :"on each stage you have to get 20 stars but stage7 only has 19 stars, so it is impossible to finish it".
oops.  :D
good point the hackers were also patchers. (the cracked versions were so much more reliable sometimes, like with today's games indeed.)


Also cheat code : FIZ... (as in gin fiz ?)
would you always/often put a cheat code or rarely ?

also funny pun with "Edd Zeppelin"... whose idea ?


Concerning the other game... perhaps it was an "Impulze" game on spectrum ?
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekpub.cgi?regexp=^Impulze$&loadpics=1
or another of their sub-labels ?
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekpub.cgi?regexp=^Zeppelin+Games+Ltd$&loadpics=1
yeah I had an editor in it....ohh a missing star, that's a shame, guess the playtesters missed that... No idea who's idea the pun was, probably not mine though I just inserted the graphics I was given.
cheat codes were common if I had an input system in place, it would let me jump to different parts of the game (like level 7 :D) but it really depended on the game and available space.


Offline MacDeath

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #16 on: 18:55, 10 August 15 »
thx again for the answers.

Quote
But wot? No vid?
:o
those are huge, please calm down I only have a CTM664 and those vids are in the overscan zone...  :laugh:
« Last Edit: 18:57, 10 August 15 by MacDeath »

Offline Gryzor

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Re: Rastan Saga CPC coder mini interview
« Reply #17 on: 18:27, 11 August 15 »
Sorry, fixed.