Monday, October 21, 2013

The Mazes of Shamus - IBM PC Version

I recently revisited an old post on Vintage Computing & Gaming about the Atari 800 version of Shamus, which pretty much maps out the entire game for you.  It turns out that the IBM PC version has quite a few differences when it comes to the level maps, so for those of you who actually got to know the game through the PC port (like myself), this post might prove vaguely interesting.  Possibly.

The game is a neat little maze shooter by Synapse - think Berzerk, but with a large predefined game world, which adds a sense of exploration to the twitch reflex madness.  IBM picked it up for its PC Entertainment Family series, and it wound up on our turbo XT clone, one of the first games I ever played on it.  For a first-generation PC title, it wasn't bad; there was just one tiny little snag: the keyboard controls were offensively and game-breakingly horrible.

See, you move your character using the arrow keys, pressing them to walk and releasing them to stop.  So far so good, except that the latter part doesn't work very well: the game randomly fails to register the fact that you've just released a key, leaving your character waltzing happily towards the nearest wall.  And since the walls in this game kill you on touch, that's kind of like a guy with a weak bladder and poor aim playing russian roulette with an electric fence.

When playing Shamus using the keyboard, this will happen. Repeatedly.
Typical PC desk after a spontaneous act of Shamus-inspired remodelling.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Using Photoshop as a CGA Bitmap Paint Program

Adobe Photoshop has an "indexed color" editing mode for palettized images, but let's admit it, it sucks.  No layers, no anti-aliasing, no filters, no (easy) dithering, and so on so forth: clearly, it's no substitute for DeluxePaint II, Autodesk Animator, or even PC-Paint.  There are modern, free and open source packages which explicitly seek to fill this gap, but just for fun, can Photoshop's limitations be subverted?

Recently, at least by my glacial standards of time, someone (thanks, Andrew!) suggested to me the idea of making a timelapse recording of my pixel-pushing process.  I hadn't done anything like that before, but I did have a fun concept for a blog title along with a matching image, so I decided to give it a go.
The result is obviously plastered all over this blog's header, but here's the video:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Power-On Self-Test...

Yep, I'm POSTing.  *rimshot*  I've been persuaded to open one of these blog things, and those of you who know me might be surprised that I've chosen this particular service by this particular provider.  But it seems to be the only one that's both free and (almost) completely customizable, and rolling my own wouldn't be very cost-effective, so there.