Website for David Bolton, software developer in London, England

Bulge Design Notes

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Bulge Front ScreenScreenshot of game
I'd been playing tabletop and strategy games for 13 years, programming games for a year when this dropped in my lap. Another programmer had the skeleton of the game- towns on a terrain map, starting units, attack defence values etc- years later I discovered it was taken from Avalon Hill's game which I'd never played. My job was to turn it into a game.

The graphics (Not the front screen) were all my own work. We are talking January 1985 here! I think my favourites were the 88s. All graphics were multiples of 8 pixels, 24 x 16 IIRC. So they occupied 3 x 2 spaces in the map grid. AI was fairly rudimentary- all German units were assigned initial targets and reassigned once taken or if enemy units were nearer. The drip-fed allied forces were given nearby towns as their targets.

On reflection I think making it real-time was a bit hard on the player but it gave it an edge so maybe not that bad an idea. Nothing like pressure to pile on the stress! I think we (Choice Software) got 1,000 for writing this. (and the CBM-64).

Total time from start to finish was about 8-10 weeks but this was written in assembler without a debugger! The only debugging tools we had were print statements. It was about 4,000 lines of Z80 assembler. Also noteworthy as my first Z80 game. Prior to this I'd only programmed in 6502. To learn Z80, I wrote a 6502 cross assembler. Yeah it sounds daft but we had the sources for a Z80 editor/assembler which we ran on Tatung Einstein's- a CP/M machine which used Amstrad 3" disks. Compiled machine code was into the Spectrum (via a custom PIO) or the CBM's CIA chip (daft name for a parallel port chip).

As I knew 6502, I developed a version that compiled 6502 programs. It taught me Z80 then I went into the Spectrum version first and followed it with the CBM-64.

There a reprint of a review here. Only 62% score though!


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