And now... back to our regular program
first few weeks of pre-sales have been better than I expected and this
has given me a very positive view of the Color Computer games market.
It's good to see a healthy interest in the CoCo community for new
software and I find it very encouraging the way people have shown
their support for my work. I
hope my work on Pop*Star Pilot provides everyone with enjoyment and
showcases some of the capabilities of our favorite 8-bit system.
been a long journey of development starting in June 2013. Some of that
time was delayed due to other intermediate CoCo projects such as the
Hires Joystick Interface project with John Kowalsi, the 225 scanlines
hack for Basic with Robert Gault, and my game Neutroid 2.015 which was an upgrade and enhancement of my first CoCo game Neutroid 2 (1984).
There were bursts of development when I tackled some complicated technical challenges and moments when the enthusiasm and motivation had temporarily been lost.
But as each challenge was conquered and the end of the project was coming into view, the desire to complete the game to the best of my abilities became a personal priority.
Preparing for worldwide release
The game packaging has now been finalised and production has begun. I'm on track to start posting out from mid November.
The average time for standard postal delivery to the US is about two weeks. Even accounting for postal delays due to the approaching Christmas rush period, that still leaves a few weeks before the Christmas deadline.
My goal is that every order is delivered in time for Christmas.
In case of unseen delays, a backup plan will be to e-mail the base DSK image of the game to people with the physical package arriving later. At this stage, delivery is looking that it will be earlier rather than later.
I have purchased a supply of blank printable CD media with a gloss surface finish. Test prints have shown this to work quite well giving a shiny and professional finish to each CD that I print.
It all looks professional and of commercial quality.
The optical media used is a standard 650Mb CD-R disc written using the standard ISO 9660 format. This should be readable on any computer with a CD or DVD drive.
In the root folder of the CD is the POPSTAR.DSK file itself. This can be tranferred to an SD card for use in a CoCoSDC controller or mounted as a drive in Drivewire. If you have the necessary equipment, it can also be written onto a standard 35 track CoCo 5.25" disk.
The DSK file can also be mounted in either the MESS or VCC CoCo3 emulators. The game runs perfectly under MESS as long as your computer is fast enough to run MESS at a smooth rate. VCC has a lower hardware requirement but does exibit a shaking of the background due to a timing inaccuracy within the current version's emulation.
I have tested it running in Gary Becker's CoCo3FPGA. The current release at this time has a bit of background shimmer just as in VCC but clears when set to 25Mhz mode.
Roger Taylor tells me that a test version of the game I sent him runs perfectly on his FPGA CoCo3/4 project.
CD Contents (Bonus content)
There are two additional folders on the CD.
The first is where the bonus games are stored. This contains all my previous CoCo programming efforts including full versions of Pacman and Gate Crasher which I was selling prior for $10 each. Each game includes scans of the original game package artwork and instructions.
Additional information about these games can be found on my Projects Archive website:
The second folder contains a 30 minute video I created some time back which I will not disclose at this point. I'll leave it for people to view as a surprise Christmas gift. :)
The disk contains a total of 624Mb of data making it a full CD of CoCo goodness!
The curse of the 5.25" floppy disks!
I've had an interesting time trying to secure enough 5.25" floppy disks that I can use to supply with the package for those that requested it.
I had 10 boxes of disks (10 disks in each) that were still unopened and shrink wrapped from the day they were manufactured. They had been stored in a cool dry place to preserve them until needed.
I broke them open and began testing each disk for data integrity. After several days, I ended throwing out 6 boxes worth of the media. They did not stand the test of time very well at all!
Some had fungal deterioration on the disk surface but most simply squealed and scraped when spun in the drive.
The magnetic material on these disks had deteriorate to the point that the disk surface had lost it's smoothness and it sounded like sand paper rubbing across the drive heads! These disks were immediately assigned to the bin.
Those that survived the squeal test were then tested for data integrity by issueing a DSKINI to initialize them. Each disk was initialized three times after being magnetically bulk erased. If they initialised three times with no errors, it moved to the next testing phase.
A DSK image file was written to each disk using BACKUP with the VERIFY option ON. This was done twice for each disk.
If it passed this test with no errors, the disk was marked good and will be used for Pop*Star Pilot distribution.
Phew! I was glad when that was over!
Last minute bug spraying
Pop*Star Pilot is relatively bug free (nobody let Murphy in!).
After hours of playing, I'm satisfied it's ready for the real world. A last minute correction was made on part of the level design at the end of Zone 4 to correct a possible onomaly. Not a bug as such, just a-little-thing-I-left out. :)
Very occassionally, there will be a small glitch in the graphics rendering but it's nothing that alters the flow of the game and in most cases will pass unnoticed.
There is another interesting glitch which I will keep quiet for now. It's not a bug but a feature which people may discover accidentally. Again, it has no effect on the game but looks cool when it happens. :)
Copyright 2013 by Nickolas Marentes