May 192016
 

After the awesome success of the last CPCRetroDev last year it is time for a new game competition in 2016, isn’t it? This year there are even higher prices, which you can win with your game in different categories. As usual the competition is organised by the University of Alicante / Spain and aims to award the best and creative game developers, who create a game for an unmodified Amstrad CPC 464. The deadline for this years competition is the 26th October 2016, 23:59h (CEST), so don’t waste any time and start the development of your awesome game.
If you are not familiar with development for the Amstrad CPC, you can have a look at the CPCtelera game development kit, the great programming tutorials on CPCMania, the CPCrslib programming library or cpcitor’s development toolchain. There is also a category for Locomotive BASIC programs and you can find help in the CPCWiki forums.

You can achieve the following awards (all in all about 1.050 EUR!!!):

Special awards

  • 125€Gominolas to the best music
  • 125€Jon Ritman to technical development
  • 125€Dinamic to innovative playability

PRO category

  • 300€ – Best game
  • 150€ – Second best game
  • 75€ – Third best game

BASIC category

  • 100€ – Best BASIC game
  • 50€ – Second best BASIC game

…and there will also be a physical cassette edition with all 2016 games, too.

You can get more information about the competition rules and about the competition itself on the CPCRetroDev 2016 homepage. Be sure to participate and bring your creative game ideas to the Amstrad CPC.

May 112016
 

During the last years we saw a lot of hardware expansions for the Amstrad CPC. Most of them were the usual expansions like more RAM, ROM or storage. But finally, thanks to Duke, the Amstrad CPC gets an Wifi expansion, which you can use to connect to the internet. It is possible to send HTTP requests and it also starts a web server (on the on board Wifi microcontroller), where you can change some of the settings.
Besides the Wifi connectivity it also features a ROM board and a SD card slot for storage. The SD card will also be supported directly by replacing ROM 7 (AMSDOS), so you can use software, which don’t use direct FDC access directly from the SD card.

Here is the video of the current version of the Wifi expansion:

If you are interested in ordering a board or just want more information about the expansion board, head over to Duke’s homepage.

Apr 202016
 

A new version of CPCtelera, the Amstrad CPC game engine for C developers, was just released in version 1.4. CPCtelera offers a huge C library for the SDCC C cross-compiler, which makes it easier to create games and applications for the Amstrad CPC. This version features a new license (LGPL), support for the CPCRSLib, a lot of new examples and a huge load of new methods and optimisations (see the changelist below). It is available for Windows, Linux and OS-X. You can get the latest version from GitHub and discuss it in the CPCWiki forums.

Changes in v1.4:

  • Low-level library, scripts, building system and examples moved to LGPL license to suit more developer needs.
  • Added CPCRSLib installer script (cpct_installrslib): automatically installs and configures CPCRSLib to be used along with CPCtelera.
  • Added -c modifier to cpct_mkproject to let the user create CPCRSLib enabled projects.
  • Improved cpct_drawSpriteMaskedAlignedTable to work with un-aligned sprites. Only 256-bytes transparency table shall be aligned now.
  • Added interrupt unsafe functions for keyboard scanning
  • Improved img2cpc sprite generation: explicit array width*height sizes and automatic size constants generation.
  • Added new high-quality random number generators: Marsaglia XORShift 8/16/32 bits and Marsaglia XORShitf+ 40 bits state.
  • Simplified use of random number generators with standard macros cpct_rand and cpct_srand, to work like C functions rand/srand.
  • Added simple user example for random number generation: easy/random.
  • Added macro IMG2SPRITES for automatically converting tilemap TMX files into C arrays on typing “make”.
  • Added macro TMX2C for automatically converting image files into sprites (C-arrays), tiles and tilesets on typing “make”.
  • Added configuration files image_conversion.mk and tilemap_conversion.mk to easily include TMX2C and IMG2SPRITES macros for all user assets in the project.
  • Added new conversion options to cpct_tmx2csv: generation of C/H files, different output folder, and custom c-identifier generation.
  • Added new macros cpctm_createTramsparentMaskTable and cpctm_declareMaskTable to easily define and create 256-bytes aligned transparency tables, greatly simplifying the process.
  • Added Horizontal Sprite flipping functions: for Modes 0, 1 & 2 and normal/masked sprites, working from RAM and ROM, to suit different user needs.
  • Added user examples for horizontal flipping functions. C-examples: flipAnimM2, flipSprites. ASM-examples: hflipSpriteM1, flipMaskSprite.
  • Added macro cpctm_screenPtr to do static calculation of screen memory pointers, saving CPU and binary space when calculating constant locations.
  • Updated old examples to use new macros, especially cpctm_screenPtr.
  • Improved cpct_img2tileset output messages and success status check. Also added an option to output harware converted palette values.
  • Added CPCT_VMEM_START macro defining video memory start: standarizes its uses.
  • Updated hello world template example to use new macros, simplifying its code.
  • Added assembly macros for undocumented Z80 opcodes: used to clarify code.
  • Added ultra-optimized assembly macros for bit and pixel reversing inside bytes: they can reverse pixels inside a byte for modes 0, 1 and 2.
  • Added macros CPCT_ABSOLUTE_LOCATION_AREA and CPCT_RELOCATABLE_AREA to absolutely locate code and data inside binary space and memory.
  • Added example advanced/relocateMemory to show how to use memory relocation macros.
  • Added CPCT_XBITARRAY and CPCT_ENCODEXBITS macros to easily define, declare and populate bitarrays.
  • Added new type of bitarrays: bitarrays of 6-bits per item.
  • Added new example medium/bitarrayMaps1 to clarify the use of bitarrays as tilemaps and other structures.
  • Added sprite blending functions: can blend sprites with background using different modes like XOR, OR, AND, ADD, ADC, SUB, SBC, LDI, NOP.
  • Added sprite blending example medium/blendedSprites.
  • Added colour enumerations to simplify palette definitions and palete colour changes (CPCT_FW_Colour and CPCT_HW_Colour)
  • Added support for cpct_winape script to automatically load debugging symbols on launching DSKs.
  • Updated cpct_winape to download Winape 2.0 beta 2.
  • Added another ASM example with some sprite/text drawing, automatic sprite conversions and animations.
  • Some performance improvements on previous functions.
  • Updated to SDCC 3.5.5. (and fixed libboost 1.6. compilation problem).
  • Fixed a problem with multithreaded compilation on ARM platforms using SD Cards as main storages (mainly Raspberry Pi)
  • Added OBJS2CLEAN variable to makefiles to let the user clean some custom generated objects.
  • Improved documentation
  • Fixed cpct_tmx2csv failing on cygwin
  • Added tilemap_hwscroll example to show hardware scrolling capabilities along with an expanded tilemap.
  • Added latest 1.1.1. version of Retro Game Asset Studio (RGAS)
  • Everything packed with love to give user the best possible set of tools 🙂
Apr 182016
 

Do you know the Visual6502 project? The 6502 CPU was decapped and reverse engineered to retrieve more information about the way it works and get a better emulation. On the page you will also find an emulator, which shows you how the CPU works on the chip level. Well, why speaking about this project? Because it is about getting information by reverse engineering the chip and that’s what happened to the Gate Array aka “Amstrad 40010” and some other chips. Robcfg sent some of them to Sean Riddle who was kindly enough to decap the chips and provided the photos. The Gate Array is a custom made chip by Amstrad, which provides e.g. clock frequencies or the colour information for the CRTC. With the photos it is possible to do a reverse engineering and hopefully extract a schematic of it. Maybe it is possible to build a replacement in the future, too.

Amstrad-40010-612px-am2_metal

If you want to help or want more information about it, have a look at the thread in the CPCWiki forums.

Apr 062016
 

SugarboxA new version of Sugarbox, a relatively new Amstrad CPC emulator for Windows, was released. The main feature of the new version is the support for various CPC emulator disk image formats (e.g. HFE of the HxC floppy emulator or RAW from kyroflux), precise Z80 emulation (according to Kevin Thackers timing test bench) and some other features.
Be sure to test the new version of the emulator and download the latest version from http://sugarbox.free.fr.

Changelog:

  • [CT-RAW/IPF]: Native support of these two format. CAPSLib dll from SPS is no longer used. This will fix some non-working dump( due to bug in the lib).
  • [IPF]: Add a SAVE IPF option. You can save your current disk in IPF format, to generate a 3″ disk. You can even write dump with weak sectors.
  • [HFE]: Now it’s possible to save HFE file!
  • [edsk]: Added some tuning to handle sector of header size lower than real size.
  • [edsk]: Fixed some nasty memory overrun.
  • [edsk]: Fixed the way of handling overlapped disk: “Corsarios (UK) (1988) (CPM) [Original].dsk” disk now run correctly. In fact, all dsk should now retrieve their original size of 6k/track
  • [edsk]: Fixed support for ALLGAP dumps
  • [FDC]: New paradigm : Weak bits are now handled by bit. Multi-revolution dump are converted to single revolution with weak bits data.
  • [FDC]: Fix a bug with the SZ byte = 0 in read track command (this fixed “War In Middle Earth (UK) (1987) (CPM) [Original].dsk” dump)
  • [Tape]: Add a delay when motor is on/off. This fixed “Last Mission”
  • [Z80]: Interrupt mode 0 is partially fixed: It does nothing, but no longer corrupt the Z80 registers
  • [Z80]: Fix some wrong behaviour of undocumented opcodes
  • [Z80]: Add the undocumented ‘Q’ register used for Flags, and fix the SCF/CCF instructions regarding this register
  • [Z80]: All Z80 tests from Patrik Rak, adapted to the CPC by Kevin Thacker, are now correct.
  • [Display]: Fixed wrong behaviour for 100%speed with 100hz screen without black frame insertion: Speed was twice what was intendeed
  • [General]: Add Autorun disk on insertion which try to guess the best file to run.
  • [General]: Optimization: Everything is now running 60-80% faster than before
  • [General]: Add a support for auto-executing BIN file (with AMSDOS header), through drag’n’drop.
  • [General]: Fixed the Spanish configuration for 464, and added support for Danish keyboard.
  • [General]: Added -fullscreen command line to enable fullscreen by default
  • [General]: Fixed the “-command” option : In order to run a disc, just launch your command as Sugarbox -command run\”disc\” for example
  • [General]: Added sound for disk drive
  • [General]: Fix copy/paste for english/spanish/danish
  • [GUI]: Added a feedback when loading tape/disk/SNA/SNR
  • [GUI]: Added a preliminary debugger, with Register edition, breakpoints, flags
  • [Joystick support]: Fixed diagonals not supported with some joypads (now, games should be far more playable!)
  • [Memory]: Fixed the configuration : 64k computer no longer have improper PAL
  • [Settings]: Fixed some nasty bugs preventing the keyboard settings to work

 

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