NoRecess - Axelay (author of Star Sabre, Dead On Time and Sub Hunter) interviewed !

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Axelay (author of Star Sabre, Dead On Time and Sub Hunter) interviewed !
1 March 2011, 6:42 pm

Paul Kooistra, also known as Axelay, is the author of Star Sabre (2007, 2009 for the 128Kb-version), Dead On Time (2010) and Sub Hunter (2011). He is one of the most productive game programmer for the Amstrad CPC these days. I was curious to know more about him, and he kindly accepted to answer my questions ! Have a good time reading this.



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Gryzor




Axel

Is Axelay still active in the CPC-Scene? He brought us a couple of excellent games. Somehow he was the precursor to Batman Group, which are at the moment the pearl-producers.

XeNoMoRPH

Quote from: Axel on 14:31, 26 June 22Is Axelay still active in the CPC-Scene? He brought us a couple of excellent games. Somehow he was the precursor to Batman Group, which are at the moment the pearl-producers.
yes, https://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/news-events/announcing-sonic-gx-a-new-episode-of-sonic-the-hedgehog-for-amstrad-gx-4000/
your amstrad news source in spanish language : https://auamstrad.es

Dubliner


rexbeng

Quote from: Axel on 14:31, 26 June 22Is Axelay still active in the CPC-Scene? He brought us a couple of excellent games. Somehow he was the precursor to Batman Group, which are at the moment the pearl-producers.
I am not sure I understand what you mean. Axelay is still making games on the CPC (and on other formats), while Batman Group are mostly making demos.  Since that interview was published (~10 years ago), Axelay did 6 games while Batman Group did 1 game and 1 teaser video of a suuposed game.  ;D 

TotO

"You make one mistake in your life and the internet will never let you live it down" (Keith Goodyer)

tjohnson


XeNoMoRPH

your amstrad news source in spanish language : https://auamstrad.es

XeNoMoRPH

your amstrad news source in spanish language : https://auamstrad.es

Axel

Quote from: TotO on 19:57, 26 June 22And for me, the best one in all points is Relentless. 8)
"Relentless" ls amazing, but I would say, "Super Edge Grinder"...so smooth, bigger sprites and full colour. A shame, that it is only a one level thing. It would be a great "complete" game (like Star Sabre, another great game from Axelay), that looks technically like an C64-Game with hot Amstrad-Colours.


Axel

Quote from: rexbeng on 19:38, 26 June 22
Quote from: Axel on 14:31, 26 June 22Is Axelay still active in the CPC-Scene? He brought us a couple of excellent games. Somehow he was the precursor to Batman Group, which are at the moment the pearl-producers.
I am not sure I understand what you mean. Axelay is still making games on the CPC (and on other formats), while Batman Group are mostly making demos.  Since that interview was published (~10 years ago), Axelay did 6 games while Batman Group did 1 game and 1 teaser video of a suuposed game.  ;D
Okay, you are right. Batman did only one game. Haha. But one huge one. 
Wasn't Rhino involved in the R-Type Remake?

TotO

Quote from: Axel on 00:46, 27 June 22I would say, "Super Edge Grinder"...so smooth, bigger sprites and full colour
Relentless is 50Hz, 6 areas and fit into 16K !

Quote from: Axel on 00:48, 27 June 22Wasn't Rhino involved in the R-Type Remake?
Not at all.
"You make one mistake in your life and the internet will never let you live it down" (Keith Goodyer)

rexbeng

Quote from: Axel on 00:48, 27 June 22Okay, you are right. Batman did only one game. Haha. But one huge one.

Again, it's a matter of perception, really.

Pinball Dreams consists of just 4 fixed screens (/maps) and moves just one sprite (the ball). There is no visual or virtual progress in the game, no animations, nor any changes that alter the gameplay may happen. The only thing there is to see, is the vertical scrolling which we all know the CPC can do well (Batman are using a technique used since 1987 in Mission Genocide, so no news here). Then there's obviously the memory consuming graphical buffering which achieves the pixel-perfect colliding for the ball but this is also known and widely used.

The map with fixed colliders and trajectories is taking the bigger chunk of this game. I don't know if the original Amiga code may have been made available somewhere which would make things easier. But either way, the method was already there and the transfer onto the CPC could have been made either by disassembling the existing code or by carefully studying the original game. Of course not many people would enjoy doing it the hard way. Still, while this involves a huuuuuge amount of work, it is mostly logistics and not much of a technical achievement.

Finally, on to the matter of game design. Batman Group didn't really have to bother with it at all. And I'm not even mentioning graphics. :)

For me Batman Group are great developers but they are even more great marketists. They picked a game that suited perfectly the CPC technical abilities. A prototype for the C64 exists since 2005-ish, but simply because the machine is not made to expand the graphics to the borders, there's not enough screen area to display the table. This immediately renders the game 'unplayable' (without even coming to the second big issue which is the colour limitations) compared to the Amiga version.

So, bottom line, very smart choice of game. Popular back then, seen as an achievement on the Amiga. Technically easy to expand the screen area and do the scroll on the CPC. The game only moves one sprite. At the same time, the attempt to create this on the C64 was not successful. 

MaV

Quote from: TotO on 00:52, 27 June 22
QuoteWasn't Rhino involved in the R-Type Remake?
Not at all.
You're too humble.

R-Type CPC is made by TotO and Fano with a bit of help from other guys.
Black Mesa Transit Announcement System:
"Work safe, work smart. Your future depends on it."

MaV

Quote from: rexbeng on 10:27, 27 June 22Pinball Dreams consists of just 4 fixed screens (/maps) and moves just one sprite (the ball).
There's a little bit more going on on the table, it's not just one (ball) sprite. Saying there's only the ball sprite is comparable to saying Alcon 2020 is only having the player ship as a sprite.
But yes, BG are good at marketing and they have the sense to port games that would work well on the CPC. Nothing wrong with the latter. Every system has its strengths.
Black Mesa Transit Announcement System:
"Work safe, work smart. Your future depends on it."

rexbeng

Quote from: MaV on 11:16, 27 June 22
Quote from: rexbeng on 10:27, 27 June 22Pinball Dreams consists of just 4 fixed screens (/maps) and moves just one sprite (the ball).
There's a little bit more going on on the table, it's not just one (ball) sprite.
Well, I specifically wrote 'moves just one sprite' and I only see one sprite. There's nothing else freely moving around. Other things going on on the table is colour changes, and the brackets which despite appearing to be 'animated' they are on fixed positions. So mostly 'map graphics'; someone with deeper knowledge on the coding side of things might put it in better words, but I don't think these are comparable to 'moving enemies' in any game. Sorry, I find the comparison to Alcon a bit off.

rexbeng

Quote from: MaV on 11:10, 27 June 22
Quote from: TotO on 00:52, 27 June 22
QuoteWasn't Rhino involved in the R-Type Remake?
Not at all.
You're too humble.

R-Type CPC is made by TotO and Fano with a bit of help from other guys.

If I were to come to an academic conclusion from this discussion, I'd say that Batman Group's marketing/PR has worked so well that every outsider or newcomer to the CPC scene is lead to believe that all good games on the system are done by Batman Group! ;D

MaV

I think I see where where we clash now. I'm one who wouldn't want to call objects on screen on a CPC in particular sprites, because that was originally only used for hardware sprites (CPC+, yes, that one has sprites, standard CPCs no).
So, if anything is copied into CPC screen RAM and is used in collision detection it therefore must be something like a "sprite" (or it isn't because no hardware support.) I don't like the term software sprite at all. AFAICT, no object on the screen in PD changes just colours, but feel free to correct me.

So static or not, it's a "sprite" if it changes form even on the same position for me, or we just outcast the term completely because not applicable to the CPC. It's far easier on the C64, it either is a sprite (because hardware) or it isn't.



I didn't say Alcon vs PD is a good comparison. :P
Black Mesa Transit Announcement System:
"Work safe, work smart. Your future depends on it."

eto

Quote from: rexbeng on 11:35, 27 June 22If I were to come to an academic conclusion from this discussion, I'd say that Batman Group's marketing/PR has worked so well that every outsider or newcomer to the CPC scene is lead to believe that all good games on the system are done by Batman Group! ;D
When I came (back) to the CPC scene 2 years ago, this was not the case. Yes, I had the impression, that this group could deliver exceptional stuff, with immense love to detail and quality. But even if this was definitely extremely impressive, it was always clear that Batman Group is just one of many groups and individuals that create amazing stuff.

Axel

Yes, indeed. Like brainwashing. Batman Group can wash some brains.
I really believed that all good games on the system are done by Batman Group!
But not anymore. I can see clearly now.

Nworc

Quote from: MaVI don't like the term software sprite at all.

Well, what better name do we have for that, instead of software sprite, any idea?
On the Amiga it's even more confuse, they have three kinds of ways to do that: hardware and software sprites and blitter objects.

Quote from: MaVAFAICT, no object on the screen in PD changes just colours, but feel free to correct me.

Right, I also thought so and just confirmed: I can turn off the Gate Array using a switch - colors still changed.

rexbeng

@MaV
Well, I don't know if I ever want to get involved into such an argument. It's not an ideological matter; a 'sprite', either hardware or software, is what it is. It doesn't change based on peoples' feelings. ;D

Besides, tiles are not sprites and may be used in collision detection.

OMG I just remembered how frustrated I was with some dude who did a video some time ago (Pinball Dreams was the reason for that as well) arguing how he 'felt' the CPC shouldn't be considered as to having scrolling abilities, because those weren't inline with his concept of how the world should work. :picard2:

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