Personal Log »

Hyperdrive is almost ready

Hyperdrive is not completely finished, I still need to write some music, but the gameplay is complete and it is being tested by a couple of good friends. I tend to incrementally test my games, so there is not much work left for the testes, but they almost always find something. This game may not be the hardest to test, but it won’t be easy either.

There are also other things to do before the game is released. For example: preparing a dedicated website. I may try to make a teaser video –very difficult and not essential–, and write some blurb of text for the press.

I don’t plan to make a physical release, at least from the start, which should reduce the levels of stress associated to the whole process. The main change is that, in case a bug is found after release, is not that bad. Later on I may consider a Dandanator (or DES) release, not sure.

Despite all that, there is some pressure. This game is using cartridge as media, which is not very common in the Amstrad CPC world, so I may have some backslash because of that. Which is fine, because some people always complain –with good intentions–, not matter what you do. I guess at very least some Amstrad fans will ask for a disc version for the 128K models, and a cassette version for the 464, and basically any combination in between.

The music is not finished yet, but let’s look at some numbers:

  • 11 months of development –I rewrote the engine 3 times until I got it where I wanted–. It moves at 25 FPS (most of the time, at least).
  • 9 levels of weapon for the player, with different speed and sprite (some share sound effect).
  • The enemies have 2 different types of bullets, and one of the bosses have a custom one as well.
  • 5 stages, with different enemies and end boss; that is 8.5K per stage, a bit over 42K in total.
  • 17 different enemies (different sprites, and behaviour), which including the bosses is 30K of compiled, relocatable sprites.
  • Over 15K of background tiles and misc graphics.
  • 16K for the music player, sound effects and songs (planned, I don’t think I’ll need more than that).
  • Over 26K of code, split in two 16K banks –with no bank switching support in the compiler, it was interesting to implement–.
  • Over 15K of RAM used for buffers, variables, etc.
  • The type of gameplay I like, trying to not let the technical part limiting the fun part; which is not easy aiming to get smooth and constant 25 FPS on the CPC!

It is using 12 banks of 16K of the 32 available on a cartridge (up to 512K), so it could be bigger! And all without loading times, and working in all CPC models (and the GX4000), independently of the amount of RAM they have. Sure, it won’t be as easy to load on a real machine without add-ons, but we are in 2022 and most aficionados have those anyway.

So I think it pays off. I wrote in a blog that I think cartridges are a cool media for the Amstrad CPC, and I decided to use it in this game. Could I have done the same with multi-load? Probably, but it would have been 128K models only, and it would have been quite different –likely with some limitations and compromising on some things–. All in theory, of course, because clearly that ship has sailed.

My plan is to allow a month for testing –so I can write the music as well–, and then have a release early December.

Would you like to discuss the post? You can send me an email!