News + Updates
Interview with Beyond Reproach
Author of the Sexy Robot games
series. Richard digs out some typical interview related questions
at games programmer Beyond Reproach. He talks about the Sexy Robot
series, the games, and what TND stuff has impressed him the most and
also other bits of chitty chatty banter. Here goes :o)
originally gave you an idea for the two Sexy Robot games? Was it
something real, or imaginative?
.... Well, the first time I saw a ‘Sexy Robot’, it was airbrushed
several metres high onto a fairground ride. I discovered some time
later that it was based on artwork by a Japanese artist called Hajime
Sorayama, and that he’d painted quite a number of different Sexy
Robots. At that time I was working on a very crude graphics converter
for hi-res C64 graphics, so I started using the robot artwork to test
it out. I had wanted to make a matching-pair puzzle game for while, and
I had thought about using these hi-res graphics as a background to the
game, but I ended up dropping that idea. A while after that, I produced
a better graphics converter (for multicolor C64 graphics) and also the
code for a shifting-tile based puzzle game, and that’s when I revisited
the Sexy Robot idea.
sources (tools+apps) did you use to create your own games?
I use C64ASM to do the cross-assembling. There might be better options,
but I've become too familiar with the syntax of that assembler to
switch to something else now. I created the music with Lasse Oorni's
excellent GoatTracker program, and also borrowed from his IRQ disk
loading routine for Sexy Robot 2. Nearly all of the SR graphics were
produced using a Dark Basic(!) program I wrote for myself about 5 or 6
years ago called 16M2PRG. Basically it could take a 24-bit colour image
and turn it into C64 multi-colour data (although usually I'd work the
image down into the C64 palette before processing, and leave it to
16M2PRG to get rid of any extra colours per tile that the C64 couldn't
display). I keep meaning to turn 16M2PRG into a C++ program, but I just
never get around to it.
RB: Who originally gave you ideas for this game?
Believe it or not, this game was, at the time, purely based on my own
idea. One reason you might find that hard to believe is that there was
already a puzzle game on the C64/Amiga featuring ‘Sexy Robots’ called
Blue Angel 69 (and a sequel named ‘Sexy Droids’ on the Amiga) – but I
genuinely had never played or even heard of those games prior to
completing the first Sexy Robot game. I guess great minds think alike…
RB: How long did it take for you to create each game production?
It’s difficult to say, because generally I only worked on SR1/SR2 for a
couple of days at a time, and sometimes there would be months in
between periods of work on it. These days I could probably throw
together SR1 in a couple of days if I had absolutely nothing else to
do, but I hadn’t been doing assembly on the 64 for long, so I had a lot
to learn. I still am learning, but I’m a lot better than I used to be…
RB: What did you enjoy the most about creating the game project?
BR: To be honest, I don’t remember what was particularly fun or
otherwise about making SR1 as it was such a long time ago. I think it
felt good when everything started working together (the UI, the
gameplay, the large image scroller, etc.).
particularly pleased when I got the loading system up and running for
SR2, as it allowed me to move stuff in and out of RAM much more
flexibly. Also it was great to get the music playing throughout the
loads (and there were a lot of loads!). I also liked my main music for
that game – probably could have put a little more time into the
‘b-side’ tune though.
RB: What did you least enjoy the most about creating the game
BR: The IRQ loader in SR2 probably caused me the most grief, I suppose
that’s why it was one of my favourite things to have achieved. Some of
the large graphics compress using a proprietary algorithm, it was
sometimes a pain in the neck trying to get those working correctly.
Somehow I almost managed to release SR1 with robots 4 and 5 scrambled
in their large view because I’d got the compression wrong.
What do you think of games from The New Dimension? Which game is your
favorite, which is your least favorite?
BR: Having played the Sub Hunter demo I definitely think it’s your best
yet – good music, quality animation on the sea-life, and lots of
variety with the different level types. Balloonacy is another game I
quite enjoyed. I can’t think of one that I would describe as my least
favourite, but obviously I haven’t played them all, there are so many!
What do you think of my music?
BR: I like it, I think it’s distinctive, i.e. I could possibly
recognise that a piece of music was made by you just from the style. I
enjoyed the title tune for the Sub Hunter demo (I presume that’s yours!)
RB: Do you still own a Commodore 64 or C128? If so, what sort of
equipment did you use for it?
BR: I’ve had a Commodore 64 since around 1990/1991, although it got
replaced under warranty at least once in the first few years. I didn’t
get a 1541 drive until about 5 years ago, and that was mainly because
my 3rd party Datassette was on its last legs. I have an XM1541 cable
which is very useful, and just recently I’ve bought a brand new 1530
Datasette (although I ended up having to fix it myself after it got
beaten up in the post…)
RB:. What do you think is better? A real C64 or C64 Emulation? Also why
do you think one is better than the other.
BR: C64 Emulation has reached an incredibly high standard, and it makes
cross-development so much easier than it would otherwise have been.
Nevertheless I think playing games on a real C64 is always going to be
preferable, just because it’s the real thing – and also multicolour
graphics don’t seem quite so blocky when they’re on a slightly less
sharp TV display. Another point in favour of using a real set-up is
that things look a lot better when the display is genuinely running at
50Hz (i.e. a television), and you can’t always get that on a modern PC
(although 100Hz probably looks OK – I can’t get that on my monitor
you surprised that the C64 productions scene is still alive?
BR: I suppose it's surprising that any 25 year old system should still
be getting so many new games, and still being pushed further, some
might say. But then, it was a great and inspiring computer, so if any
system from that era should still be used and appreciated by people,
its the C64.
RB: What do you think of the C64 in general?
BR: It remains my favourite computer. It was the first one I ever
owned, and it not only got me interested in games, but programming as
well. It’s the best of the 8-bit micros by a considerable margin (I do
like the Spectrum, but it’s just not of the same quality). The C64 is
an endless source of entertainment for me, whether it’s playing games
I’ve never played before, or just trying out new ideas in programming.
It’s not always in front of my TV, but it never stays in the box for
you be writing any more C64 games if you still had the time?
BR: I'm sure there'll be more Beyond Reproach games in the future. C64
programming is a hobby I always come back to eventually, whether I've
left it alone for a week, a month or a year. Actually time isn't so
much a problem for me as sticking to an idea, I always have new ideas
for games or programs and start working on them before finishing the
last, and the result is, nothing gets finished. I'm sure I'm not the
only one who does that though : )
I have started on some of the ‘technology’ for a 3rd and final Sexy
Robot game – it’s going to be more challenging than the previous games,
and will also feature some nice tricks in the intro, but I’m going to
try and keep that part as a surprise.
RB: What's your all time favorite C64 game, demo and tool in
It's hard to pick a favourite C64 game, as it would really depend on
the time you asked me. Although they're not currently my favourite
games, Midnight Resistance and Rainbow Islands are probably the two
that stand out from my early days. Trailblazer as well – such a simple
game but I could play it endlessly! I have to admit I haven't seen
hundreds of C64 demos, but the Second Reality C64 conversion was
awesome, and the little animation at the end of Anime-tion (Ninja/The
Dreams) impressed me, probably because I’ve tried unsuccessfully to
produce things like that myself before. As for tools, well I guess
GoatTracker is my favourite tool for C64 purposes. I haven't used tools
on the C64 itself in a long, long time... and then it would have mostly
been ‘loader-makers’ for BASIC programs.
RB: What game, demo and tool did you/do you still hate the most?
BR: I can't think of a game I hate now, because nowadays I tend to look
at games from a more technical point of view and appreciate the work
that's gone into them (even if the games haven't come out particularly
fun or playable). But again, looking back at the old days (early 90's),
some games I found particularly tedious then were Ghostbusters II and
Moonwalker (mainly because they took ages to load and were pretty
frustrating to play). Street Fighter 2 was a disappointment, but then
the developers were never going to go out of their way to produce a
great C64 version at that late stage in the machine’s existence. I
couldn’t really name a demo or tool that I didn’t like, mainly because
I haven’t watched/used enough of them to form that sort of opinion.
RB: Do you
have any advice to any newbie games programmers today?
BR: Based on my own limited experience, the advice I’d give to anyone
starting out programming on the C64 is to keep it simple to begin with.
You’ve got to walk before you can run, to use an old cliché.
Also, there are lots of people on forums/newsgroups that are willing to
help you out with your programming questions, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Don’t ask me though, because I probably don’t know! :)
RB: Okay, thank you for your time. :o)