Bladedancer

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triaxcaribdis
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Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:37 am

I owned a company called Omicron Technologies and I wrote the 5 disc epic "Bladedancer" for the BBC Micro. I was recently contacted by Anthony Hope who was searching for a copy of the game and he suggested I logged onto Stardot so here I am. He's trying to get the original discs back up and running. Happy to answer questions about the software or era.

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leenew
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby leenew » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:03 am

If you have the original discs, I suggest NOT trying them, but sending them to one of our members with specialist equipment to give us the best chance of imaging it without damaging either the discs or the drive.

PS welcome to Stardot! :D

Lee.

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:10 am

leenew wrote:If you have the original discs, I suggest NOT trying them, but sending them to one of our members with specialist equipment to give us the best chance of imaging it without damaging either the discs or the drive.

Lee.


One of the discs has some slight damage (looks like heat deformation) to the external jacket although the media "looks" fine. I wouldn't have risked putting it in a drive in that condition. I've offered to send the discs to Anthony Hope who I guess is known on this board?

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davidb
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby davidb » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:24 am

Welcome! :D

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lurkio
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby lurkio » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:29 am

Welcome to Stardot, triaxcaribdis!

I've sent you a PM (private message)!

Btw, for those who might be curious about Bladedancer, all I can say is that it is, in some ways, the Holy Grail of Beeb games that are MIA. I don't know very much about it, but here's a photo of it that I nabbed off eBay, from an auction that I actually won -- but the seller then promptly vanished, and never sent me the game!:

    Bladedancer-.jpg
    eBay photo of Bladedancer
:idea:

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:23 am

Blimey that image is bringing back nervous twitches! I had to send out updated discs due to a problem post release with some BBC Masters, the game used everything I could squeeze out of the poor Beeb, I had 2 bytes left!

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leenew
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby leenew » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:30 am

triaxcaribdis wrote:..... I've offered to send the discs to Anthony Hope who I guess is known on this board?

Oh yes... I know Anthony :wink:

Lee.

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lurkio
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby lurkio » Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:44 am

triaxcaribdis wrote:Blimey that image is bringing back nervous twitches! I had to send out updated discs due to a problem post release with some BBC Masters, the game used everything I could squeeze out of the poor Beeb, I had 2 bytes left!

Wow! Intriguing! If you wouldn't mind, could you just briefly describe what sort of game Bladedancer actually was? I'm assuming it's an RPG of some kind? With digitised graphics?! (How?!) Was it first-person view? Third-person? Top-down plan view? How many players? Etc.

:?:

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:11 pm

The game was a D&D style adventure game which ran in Mode 0. Although this is monochrome it had a decent resolution for digital imagery and I believe I fiddled around with video timings to produce something with two colours. You selected the character you wanted to be and were thrown into the game. It consisted of a very large map split into quadrants and each quadrant had 256 "locations" in a 16x16 grid AFAIR. You navigated the map by moving block by block in any adjacent direction.

Once a block was selected a scene was built up from a library of digitised items, things like "Games workshop" resin houses, railway trees, lead figures etc. and this scene scrolled past in the back ground as your character walked through the scene. There were adversaries you had to fight and kill with various weaponry depending on the character/gender you had selected. Some loctions had cryptic puzzles that you had to type in the answer, others required objects to be collected and dropped at the correct location and some just required you to defeat a "boss" character.

You didn't have lives, you had energy which could be replenished at taverns along the way and you could buy things from shops. The tavern/shop owners where digital scans of peoples faces (college friends press ganged into doing it) and I included their voices.The sounds were digitised so the screams, voices and weaponry noises were real, although that required sideways RAM otherwise you'd just end up with close BBC sound approximations.

The ultimate aim was to collect 4 pieces of Pentagram scattered across the quadrants to defeat the evil Galac Thaar. On completion you were shown a small video of the bad guy (Galac Thaar) disintegrating horribly! Yes that's right VIDEO.

Due to the sheer size of the graphics and sounds files and to stop things becoming "samey" the quadrants were split across 4 discs, each disc providing brand new graphics and audio. Whenever you wandered across a map boundry you had to swap the discs. This sounds like a pain but it actually worked quite well.

The digital capture was produced using a Watford electronics video digitiser, Mike Cooks audio ADC board and a VHS "hand held" camera.

The digitiser was slow to capture an image and scanned down a line at a time which meant your subject had to keep very still otherwise all sorts of weird artefacts occured which caused much hilarity.

Reviews of the game were good but it was let down by the.... wait for it..... lack of save feature. Yes I couldn't fit it in and the disc swapping made saving really tricky. I tried to implement something along the lines of Exile where you saved after a pressing break but just couldnt get it to work in time. You could complete the whole game in 5 hours though, now there's a challenge!

The game was originally offered to Superior software but was turned down due to cost so I decided to publish it myself. It took 14 months to write.

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leenew
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby leenew » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:22 pm

This does NOT sound like a beeb game! Amazing :shock:
I hope we can retrieve it!!! [-o<

Lee.

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lurkio
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby lurkio » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:25 pm

I'm completely gobsmacked!

:shock: :shock: :shock:

=D> =D> =D>

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aerworuld
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby aerworuld » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:28 pm

Outstanding work! That sounds like a game I would love to play *Dribbles*

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:31 pm

It didn't look like a Beeb game either Leenew, I really wanted to push the limits of what was possible and I was inspired by Elite (I know everyone says that, but damn) and Exile. I also had a friend who sang the praises of the newly emerging PC's and he constantly proclaimed 8-bit was dead. I wasn't standing for that, I had Beeb honour to defend!

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lurkio
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby lurkio » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:49 pm

triaxcaribdis wrote:I also had a friend who sang the praises of the newly emerging PC's and he constantly proclaimed 8-bit was dead. I wasn't standing for that, I had Beeb honour to defend!

Good man! Long live our noble Beeb!

leenew wrote:I hope we can retrieve it!!! [-o<

Ditto, and double-ditto!

triaxcaribdis has kindly agreed to send the Bladedancer discs to danielj so he can Kryoflux them.

So now we wait...

:- 8-[ [-o<

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leenew
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby leenew » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:50 pm

:- Is it done yet Daniel? :wink:

Lee.

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby Lardo Boffin » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:19 pm

Did someone say d&d game on the Beeb? [-o<
BBC model B 32k issue 4, 16k sideways RAM, Watford 12 ROM board, Retroclinic Datacentre + HDD, matchbox co-proc, Viglen twin 40/80 5.25" discs, acorn cassette
BBC model B 32k issue 7, turboMMC, Opus Challenger 3 512k, Pi 3 coproc, Acorn 6502 coproc

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danielj
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby danielj » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:48 pm

Gimme a sec! Gordon Bennett! Gotta swab me heads!

triaxcaribdis - very happy to have a go at these with the kryo-do-dar and see what we can hoover off them! You might have to get busy with a hex editor if any bits have bitten the bitrot dust though! :D

d.

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CMcDougall
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby CMcDougall » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:33 pm

welcome !

bet the 4 discs are DFS, so more chance of recovery 8)

3 1/2" ADFS discs are useless , as too much data on them, & rot easy when not branded :x
ImageImageImage

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:55 pm

danielj wrote:Gimme a sec! Gordon Bennett! Gotta swab me heads!

triaxcaribdis - very happy to have a go at these with the kryo-do-dar and see what we can hoover off them! You might have to get busy with a hex editor if any bits have bitten the bitrot dust though! :D

d.


There's been a lot of beer drunk since 1993, not sure how much help the grey cells are going to be for filling in the gaps. I must still have the source code on disc somewhere although it wasn't obviously labelled when I went looking for the masters. My version control was highly questionable back then so that means nothing. I do have several BBC Micros/Masters and a few disc drives but I'm not sure I trust the drives enough (they've been in storage for 20+ years) to read such irreplacable discs.

To confirm, the masters are 40 track DFS disc.

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danielj
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby danielj » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:09 pm

So, just for the record, I have a 1.2mb TEAC that I'll use. I'll give the heads a thorough swabbing with IPA first, then will check the disks for mould. If there's any on the surface I'll try and whisk it off with a cotton bud in the first instance, I can be increasingly aggressive depending on what you'd like me to try? We can even go so far as slitting the sleeve open and giving the disk a good wash in water with a touch of detergent!

d.

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:19 pm

I've not thought about this software for YEARS! I went searching for the reviews. There's one in Acorn computing April 1993 (Can't find a scanned copy online) and Beebug (http://8bs.com/othrdnld/beebug/scans/BeebUGv1201.zip)

The Beebug reviewer didn't have sideways RAM so had the default sound and he didn't take kindly to black and white graphics! However, Marshal Anderson contacted me after reviewing the game and offered me a job at Topologika where I worked as a contractor for MANY years. I ended up writing around 10+ titles.

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:23 pm

danielj wrote:So, just for the record, I have a 1.2mb TEAC that I'll use. I'll give the heads a thorough swabbing with IPA first, then will check the disks for mould. If there's any on the surface I'll try and whisk it off with a cotton bud in the first instance, I can be increasingly aggressive depending on what you'd like me to try? We can even go so far as slitting the sleeve open and giving the disk a good wash in water with a touch of detergent!

d.


The disc media looks like new, they've been sealed in a container and I'm not sure why the outer case of one of the discs has buckled.

20171003_090804.jpg

20171003_090818.jpg

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danielj
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby danielj » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:26 pm

So, I could slit them and put the disk into a clean, flat sleeve? That would lessen the risk of the buckling actually putting excessive pressure on the disk surface and destroying the media?

d.

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:30 pm

danielj wrote:So, I could slit them and put the disk into a clean, flat sleeve? That would lessen the risk of the buckling actually putting excessive pressure on the disk surface and destroying the media?

d.


That would be fine by me. They're useless as they stand, it'd be nice to get SSD images.

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lurkio
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby lurkio » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:29 pm

triaxcaribdis wrote:I've not thought about this software for YEARS! I went searching for the reviews. There's one in Acorn computing April 1993 (Can't find a scanned copy online)

Anyone have the April 1993 issue of Acorn Computing..?!



Here's just the review, separated from the rest of the magazine:


triaxcaribdis wrote:However, Marshal Anderson contacted me after reviewing the game and offered me a job at Topologika where I worked as a contractor for MANY years. I ended up writing around 10+ titles.

Interesting! What platform were the titles for? Can you remember what any of them were called?

:?:

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Multiwizard
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby Multiwizard » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:52 pm

Hi,

welcome to this great Forum... :D


Greetings from my little Dutch Acorn Attic, Wim... :-)

triaxcaribdis
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby triaxcaribdis » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:21 pm

lurkio wrote:
triaxcaribdis wrote:However, Marshal Anderson contacted me after reviewing the game and offered me a job at Topologika where I worked as a contractor for MANY years. I ended up writing around 10+ titles.

Interesting! What platform were the titles for? Can you remember what any of them were called?

:?:


I wrote for MS-DOS then various incarnations of Windows...

Music Box
Talking Clocks
Freddy Teddy
Freddy Teddy and the playground
Money Talks
Tax and please (Windows update)
Maths book
Mathsmania
Music Box 2
WordMania KS2
WordMania KS3
MathsMaina KS2
MathsMania KS3
ScienceMania KS2
ScienceMania KS3
Words and Music
Scallys world
Music box 3 (not released)
Grandads castle (not released)

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lurkio
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby lurkio » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:30 pm

triaxcaribdis wrote:I wrote for MS-DOS then various incarnations of Windows...

Thanks!

Btw, you mentioned to me that as well as Bladedancer, you also have copies of the unreleased Beeb games Slalom and Bricktion. Do you want to send those to Daniel too -- if he's willing to accept them!?

:?:

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danielj
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Re: Bladedancer

Postby danielj » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:42 pm

I will accept anything. I'm fairly accepting.

d.


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