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Geek Culture / Sinclair spectrum, games and sprites?

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Fluorescent
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Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posted: 15th Dec 2016 20:13
Since The Game Creators is a British company, I'm going to assume that several, if not all, of the older generation of users of this forum have encountered one of the computers in the Sinclair Spectrum line of computers.

I never encountered one, mostly because I'm not British and I think I'm just a smidge too young, but having watched videos of Sinclair games on youtube I've noticed that the sprites seem to be black and transparent and the colours are part of the background, so the sprites would sort of change colour depending on where it was on screen. Is that a correct assumption and how did that work in practice? I assume it was an effect due to limited memory, but if you could put the colour in the background to begin with, why then couldn't you move it to match the sprite?
Van B
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Posted: 15th Dec 2016 23:29
The spectrum uses character based colouring, so each 8x8 pixel area can have a paper and an ink colour, no more than 2 colours per character block - not without some fancy interrupt routine to switch colours. There are other computers that used the same character based graphics, but most had better video capabilities and colour palettes (like the C64). The attribute or colour 'clash' is kinda what made the speccy unique, developers had to work around that limitation and often that led to inventive ways to render the screen. A lot of British and european developers cut their teeth on the speccy, I think it's fair to say that we have a respect and fondness for it, even to this day.

I love the speccy, in fact I made 2 games for it (Dead Flesh Boy, and Super 48k Box)... the later was actually mentioned in Retro Gamer a few months ago, in the homebrew section, and Dead Flesh Boy has had a few youtube reviews, people seem to like it, although Super 48k Box is a far better game really.
The code is dark and full of errors
BatVink
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Location: Gods own County, UK
Posted: 16th Dec 2016 11:54
Not an answer to your question, but you might like to look at this AppGameKit project....

https://manicmineragk.wordpress.com/
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Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur
TutCity is being rebuilt
Kevin Picone
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Posted: 17th Dec 2016 03:36 Edited at: 17th Dec 2016 03:40

The colouring stuff is a by product of the bitmap and colour map being seperate. So there's byte that gives the colour of 8*8 pixel tile, where as the image is held in the bitmap. So each block of 8*8 pixels can only have 1 colour. 8bit systems have a few combo's of the same sorta idea, where as 16bit systems are generally planar moving into byte per pixel (chunky) modes we use today. So they use sheets of bitmaps, where the colour of the pixel is the combination of set bits in the same location at the same place..

Here's few links from my forum on planar

* Retro Computer Environment
* Challenge #27 - Learn binary operations through Retro Computer Graphics
* Convert Bitplanes to Chunky pixels

PlayBASIC To HTML5/WEB - Convert PlayBASIC To Machine Code
Fluorescent
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Posted: 18th Dec 2016 09:28
That sure was an interesting solution to a problem we no longer haveā€¦

Spectrum came with Basic, much like pretty much all the other 8-bit computers of the 80's. And i assume it was used by most bedroom coders, but the companies, would they develop their commercial games using Basic? Or was there C-compiler and or assembler available for the Spectrum?
Kevin Picone
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Posted: 18th Dec 2016 11:05

Not too familiar with the Spectrum scene, but on the C64 some games were written Basic. Many of those that did, also used machine code chunks to do workload tasks though. Assembly was the language of choice, but given the environment you really need a cross assembler setup, as doing all the work on the machine was pretty tedious. ,So it wasn't uncommon for people to use monitor to write directly in machine code. The monitor would parser an line of asembly and poke it into memory. But it means you're doing all the address mapping, rather than the assembler. Which is tedious as hell but made a lot easier with monitor cart's



PlayBASIC To HTML5/WEB - Convert PlayBASIC To Machine Code
BatVink
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Posted: 18th Dec 2016 11:34 Edited at: 18th Dec 2016 11:37
[EDIT] - Manic Miner coded on the TRS-80 -



Coding on it in BASIC was the worst experience. Every command was assigned to a key on the keyboard, you couldn't just type the command. The rubber keyboard was extremely unresponsive.
I had a Dragon 32, a much more robust machine, but 99% less popular.
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Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur
TutCity is being rebuilt
Zappo
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Posted: 13th Jan 2017 10:45 Edited at: 13th Jan 2017 10:47
I know I'm a little late to this conversation (and it's a bit off topic) but it's been a while since I've been in Geek Culture...

This might be of interest to some of you who were into the Speccy. I actually have a couple of cover art prints from Matt Smith games which he kindly signed. A very good friend of mine built a web site involving Matt and I helped a little with some of the back-end programming. I was over the moon when he gave them to me




Chart data provided with kind permission from ELSPA

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