KEVIN ED­WARDS Q&A

The Galaforce cre­ator re­veals the story be­hind his hit space shooter

Retro Gamer - - BBC MICRO: KING OF THE ARCADE CLONE -

CAN YOU BRIEFLY DE­SCRIBE YOUR PATH INTO GAMES PRO­GRAM­MING? it started at school in 1979 where i had ac­cess to a Com­modore PET com­puter then moved to a nascom 2 kit com­puter, and fi­nally to the BBC Mi­cro. a group of like-minded friends wanted to write their own games and i guess there was a bit of healthy com­pe­ti­tion be­tween us as to who could get their games in the shops and make a bit of money. WERE YOU A BIG FAN OF THE CLAS­SIC AR­CADE GAMES OF THE ERA? ab­so­lutely. The early ar­cade games were just amaz­ing and con­sumed a lot of my spare time and money. i used to travel around Manch­ester to play them, in take­aways, city cen­tre ar­cades and even record shops. it was al­ways great when you dis­cov­ered a new game. HOW DID Galaforce COME ABOUT? DID YOU CRE­ATE THE GAME FIRST AND THEN TAKE IT TO PUB­LISH­ERS? Galaforce was a project i was de­vel­op­ing in my spare time, with a shoot-’em-up game as a goal. From a cod­ing point of view, it started with a set of soft­ware sprite rou­tines. i tweaked and re­worked them so that they were as fast as pos­si­ble, re­duc­ing the CPU clock cy­cles they con­sumed. af­ter this i be­gan build­ing the rest of the game frame­work – alien pat­tern move­ment, mis­siles, starfield, scor­ing sys­tem, player con­trol etc. Galaforce took el­e­ments from sev­eral ar­cade games in­clud­ing Galaga, Star

Force and Galax­i­ans. i then added my own el­e­ments to im­prove the game­play. When the game was al­most com­plete i ap­proached su­pe­rior soft­ware to see if it was some­thing that it would con­sider pub­lish­ing. i got a quick, pos­i­tive re­sponse from Richard han­son and we be­gan tweak­ing and pol­ish­ing it ready for pub­lish­ing. i also per­suaded a school friend of mine, Martin Gal­way, to cre­ate the mu­sic and sound ef­fects for the game. CAN YOU RE­CALL ANY PAR­TIC­U­LAR TECH­NI­CAL CHAL­LENGES YOU FACED DUR­ING THE DE­VEL­OP­MENT? it would have to be mem­ory – or lack of it. i bat­tled with the game’s mem­ory foot­print and had to op­ti­mise the code and data size con­stantly. Galaforce ran in screen Mode 2 which takes 20k of mem­ory out of the avail­able 32k. HOW DIF­FI­CULT WAS IT PORT­ING THE GAME TO THE ACORN ELEC­TRON? Galaforce was ported to the elec­tron in about a week. Most of the de­vel­op­ment could be done on the Beeb and then tested on elec­tron hard­ware when re­quired. The big­gest chunk of work was chang­ing the sprites, and other art­work, to use four colours in­stead of eight. The game was switched to screen Mode 5 and the mu­sic was sim­pli­fied to a sin­gle melody track. Both ver­sions were very well re­ceived and sold well thanks to Richard and his team at su­pe­rior. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO RE­TURN WITH Galaforce 2? i wanted to add some im­por­tant el­e­ments that i didn’t have the time or mem­ory to do in Galaforce and to bring it up-to-date. This in­cluded im­prov­ing per­for­mance, in­creas­ing the num­ber of ac­tive sprites, adding mini­bosses and spe­cial pick-ups, in­tro­duc­ing more com­plex at­tack pat­terns, more mis­siles and so on. how­ever, it was 1987 when Galaforce 2 was started and sales of 8-bit com­puter games were drop­ping off quite sub­stan­tially. This didn’t put me off and i de­cided to push ahead with the game. it wasn’t re­leased as a solo ti­tle and was in­stead put on a com­pi­la­tion with three other ti­tles. sales were okay, but times were hard for Beeb soft­ware and Galaforce 2 was my last Beeb game.

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