Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

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dfzx
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by dfzx » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:20 am

Ralf wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:09 am
My private opinion is that these extended versions existing in the 80s didn't give you much more than standard one and there was much nuissance with loading and saving your programs.
Bit harsh, Ralf. :)

White Lightning was Forth based, and from what I recall it did funky things (presumably with interrupts) to get all sorts of nice concurrent sprite effects. It had sprite designer and sound designer software, plus some game design stuff too.

I never saw Laser BASIC, but the review in Crash (http://www.crashonline.org.uk/25/basics.htm) says "You can do all sorts of tricks if you can remember the right command — moving, scrolling, panning, recolouring, masking, rotating, animating, enlarging, shrinking, inverting and detecting collisions — in other words, you can fiddle about with patterns on the screen in almost every conceivable way."

If you're after a genuine retro games creation experience I'd say these sorts of packages bring quite a bit to the table.
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hikoki
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by hikoki » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:20 pm

For Sinclair Basic, BasinC:http://arda.kisafilm.org/blog/?page_id=848&lang=en plus CharAde:http://www.railtron.com/files/spectrum/
A next move can be Boriel Basic: zxbasic.net which lets you play with asm snippets
BTW @Joefish would it be too much work to make CharAde compatible with Boriel Basic ?

I didn't know about these old Basic extensions like Laser Basic.
What about Logo? There are a number of articles on Home Computer magazine.
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Ralf
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by Ralf » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:30 pm

Bit harsh, Ralf.
Maybe ;)
The problem is that I have never seen a good game written with these Basic dialects. Actually I haven't seen much games at all written with them, don't believe any of them really caught on.

But I've seen the infamous SQIJ ;) and if you don't know it, it's written in some kind of extended Basic. You can enter into Basic from it just by pressing Break. It's a very, very bad advertisment for the tool used to create it.
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dfzx
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by dfzx » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:26 pm

Ralf wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:30 pm
The problem is that I have never seen a good game written with these Basic dialects. Actually I haven't seen much games at all written with them, don't believe any of them really caught on.
The thing about those extended BASICs, at least for me, is that they extended what the Spectrum's native BASIC did: teach me programming. I learnt the native BASIC, then when I'd exhausted the learning potential of that, along came Beta BASIC. I played with that a while, then looked at the Forth of White Lightning, then moved onto another BASIC dialect - I forget what it was, but IIRC it came with a magazine and had some sort of native sprite control. After that I was ready for assembly language.

I didn't actually write anything concrete with any of them, and certainly not a completed game, but that's not the point. The point is that they continued my education, providing more incrementally sophisticated platforms to learn about techniques and data structures and all the rest of it, much more so than native BASIC ever would have been able to. It's all history now, and there's probably no need to learn any of them in the modern era given all the good alternatives to hand now, but that was my personal journey.

Hence my soft spot for them. :)
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KayBee
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by KayBee » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:27 am

Thank you all for your replies. I am drawn to these extended basics because I like the enhancements they provide, over the standard basic. If I had been in the UK in the early 80's I would have had a Spectrum, and I would have wanted to make a cool game. Knowing me, I would have tried these dialects back then because the advertising for them showed what amazing things were possible. I will try FUSE, and I also like the emulation snapshot idea. My end goal is indeed to have my game on a cassette.

Starting with the right emulator could save me from frustration, so I appreciate the advice.

Thanks again.

KB
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Joefish
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by Joefish » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:07 am

hikoki wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:20 pm
For Sinclair Basic, BasinC:http://arda.kisafilm.org/blog/?page_id=848&lang=en plus CharAde:http://www.railtron.com/files/spectrum/
A next move can be Boriel Basic: zxbasic.net which lets you play with asm snippets
BTW @Joefish would it be too much work to make CharAde compatible with Boriel Basic ?
Interesting thought. I did want to revisit CharAde as I think the command list was getting a bit out of hand. I guess you could add it to Boriel. Maybe with an extra command to pass data to the CharAde interpreter rather than diverting LPRINT. Although it seems a bit inefficient to me; in a new BASIC it'd be better to access the graphical functions directly with new commands, rather than have to edit them into strings and then offer the string up for processing.

I also had the idea of a sort of 'CharAde Lite' that was just for drawing a larger number of UDGs faster. I think all the scrolling features of CharAde made it daunting for a beginner, so something that could just handle a few banks of coloured UDGs and a simple back-buffered static 32x16 screen. This sort of grew out of the idea of a Game&Watch engine, which also sits around unfinished.
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Joefish
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by Joefish » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:15 am

My advice, and this is from experience, is not to touch White Lightning, as trying to program anything in Forth will drive you mad.

Laser Basic has all the same features. But I genuinely think my CharAde engine is better and more attuned to games. Laser Basic lets you do things like pixel scroll multiple windows of the screen in different directions, which is just not going to work practically in any sort of game you can write with it. I based CharAde around character-square sprites and movement, and wrote it with emulators in mind. Indeed, the graphics editor is only really any good with (a) a mouse and (b) emulation running at 4x normal speed!

The problem with any extended BASIC though is you're still stuck with the core of your game running in BASIC, which is slow, so you really have to allow for that in your game design. The better design tools like BASINC, AGD, Boriel's ZX Basic, the PASMO assembler etc. all run on a PC to generate files to use in an emulator, which is a much more comfortable way of working. (Though you can use CharAde with BASIN and BASINC; it's how I wrote the graphics editor. But as you observe, there's still a bit of file-type juggling).

The most important thing to do when developing in an emulator is turn off 'auto file loading', so that when you insert a virtual tape for saving it doesn't reset the emulation and lose all your work!
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Re: Advice on the sweet setup for programming on the Speccy.

Post by Magnus » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:27 pm

Joefish wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:15 am
My advice, and this is from experience, is not to touch White Lightning, as trying to program anything in Forth will drive you mad.
I have the same experience :lol:. White Lightning seemed so promising. I remember watching the demos, thinking that now I'll finally be able to write that elusive blockbuster game. Never managed much more than moving a sprite around the screen :oops:. I wonder if any games were actually produced with this tool...
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My Spectrum emulator project: https://softspectrum48.weebly.com.

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