Saturday, 30 January 2016

RGCD News Update

Another week, another blog update! James here, back again as promised with a few brief yet IMPORTANT announcements cut 'n' pasted from our recent newsletter! So without further a-do, let's get to it! :D



Commodore 64: a visual Commpendium (Second edition) Kickstarter


Yet again RGCD are back to provide some exclusive cartridge-based goodness to Sam 'Bitmap Books' Dyer's latest Kickstarter campaign, and this time we've teamed up with those award-winning C64 heroes over at Prior Art!

With Sam's 'Commpendium' being primarily an -art- book, Prior Art's recent smash 'Caren & The Tangled Tentacles' seemed the obvious choice for the cartridge treatment. Coded by RGCD's own Dr. Martin Wendt, he'd previously invested a good amount of time and effort in optimising the performance of the (formerly secret) 1.3 cartridge version, with rooms loading almost instantly. Oh, and talking of rooms, I should mention that this Kickstarter build will also include a whole bunch of NEW ones!


So what are we planning for the package? It'll be the usual mix of badges, stickers, manual and an A3, double-sided poster (rolled) - more details will be confirmed when we are closer to shipping.

Unfortunately nearly all of the 100 cartridge perks were snapped up in the last 48 hours, but there are a few signed ones still available at the £75 backer level. Missed out? Don't feel too bad. Back the book at ANY level and you'll get the game on a USB 'cassette' with a whole bunch of other extras that you can play via software/hardware emulation :)



Huenison is on its way to Steam!


In case you missed it, Retream and RGCD's AmigaOS/PC puzzle-shmup Huenison was successfully green-lit for distribution on Steam some months ago. Cool huh? Well the even good-er news is that Saimo has been diligently working through Steam's convoluted integration system and the game is currently pencilled in for release in late February (hopefully complete with the AmigaOS version included as a free DLC)!

Please note that the reason I'm letting you guys know isn't because we're after your coins - it's because if you bought a pre-EUVAT copy from our online store then you'll be receiving a Steam code from us at some point in the near future! :D

Keep 'em peeled...



RGCD/RGCD.DEV are back at PLAY Expo Blackpool 2016


...and we'd love to see you there :)

Ok - full disclosure... I've volunteered my (professional?) services to Replay Events again to assist as their 'indie liaison', so technically I'll be working there with Jamie (and John?) manning the RGCD stand. Being a retro/indie crossover event, we'll probably be showing off a mix of both olde and newe stuff - but yeah - the offer still stands; if you want to meet us in the flesh, please come along!

Located at the Norbreck Castle Exhibition Centre over the 30th April - 1st May weekend, PLAY Expo Blackpool attracts over 5000 attendees from all over the UK during the two day event. It's a real mix of people due to the variety of systems, exhibitions and activities - some come for the coin-ops, pinball and retro stuff, some for the current gen and indie games, others for cosplay, highscore tournaments and talks from game industry legends - but the majority are interested in the whole spectrum of video gaming culture.

If you - or a friend - has a new game that you/they've been working on, then you might be interested to know that unlike some other expos, the indie section at PLAY Expo Blackpool won't be hidden away in a separate hall away from the main ruckus. Indies will be centrally located within the main exhibition space, i.e. where the people are. Prices for exhibiting are extremely reasonable:

* £180 Standard booth (1x table, 6ft backing board, space and power for 2x PC/Console set-ups, 2x Exhibitor passes)

* £300 Large booth (2x tables, 6ft backing board, space and power for 4x PC/Console set-ups, 4x Exhibitor passes)

(Note that wired internet, PC hire and additional exhibitor passes are available at an additional cost. Please drop me a line for further details).


Speaking from personal experience, exhibiting is quite simply the best way to get honest feedback about your game, giving you the perfect opportunity to fine-tune areas of your design that perhaps your family, friends and fans are too kind to question! It's an invaluable experience, and you just cannot get the same level of discussion and interactivity with players of all ages anywhere else. It can be a little daunting, but most certainly will help you to develop the skills (and contacts) to succeed in what is undoubtedly the most competitive gaming market of the 21st century.

If you would like me to hear more then please get in touch (I've composed a document that covers all the basics). You can drop me an email or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. Further information on the event can also be found at the PLAY Expo Blackpool website.



Thanks for all the Orders! :D

Phew! It's been an insane week, packing the scores of games that you crazy C64 peeps have bought from our online store! We sold more cartridges in the past fortnight than in the past SIX MONTHS. Several games are now out of stock again, but most will be back again next week - so keep an eye on this blog for announcements.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

RGCD Cartridges Back in Stock / Upcoming Releases


As some of you have already noticed (thanks guys for the orders!) many of our formerly out-of-stock games are now available to buy again. Hot off the assembly line, Super Bread Box, Bomberland, C64anabalt, Guns 'N' Ghosts, Powerglove and Rocket Smash EX are back on the virtual shelves in our online store. While you are there, make sure you check out P0 Snake and Gravitrix - we're down to our last few copies now - and when they've gone, they're GONE!

While I'm here talking about C64 cartridges, it's probably worth mentioning our upcoming games. Jam It by Throwback Games is currently being remastered to load faster from cartridge, and then it's off to the print shop for the box inserts (illustrated by none other than Oliver Frey) - so that'll be available in the next few weeks. After that, we've got the final version of Moonspire sat here waiting to go, and literally just today the final 64KB version of Tiger Claw arrived in my inbox. This one's going to be a real prize for those C64 in Pixels Kickstarter backers, as not only have we commissioned a special piece of new artwork for the box, but we've also completely packed out every last byte of the cartridge space, with not one, not two, but THREE easter eggs for you to find! ;)


Note that if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can still contact Chris Wilkins of Fusion Retro Books directly and ask to pre-order a copy of the book and Tiger Claw cartridge - we've yet to issue him our final invoice so there's still time left! (Not much though!)

Finally, some bad news... The blue cartridge shells we used for both The Vice Squad and Mollusk Redux are no longer available, so those two are now officially out of print. Maybe one day they'll appear on a compilation (which is something we *are* considering for our older titles), but for now that's it!

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #3

What? We're into the third week of the year already? Where the hell has the time gone? Sure, we've been busy here at RGCD HQ, but I can guarantee that our competition entrants have been busier! Let's see what they've achieved in the past seven days...



Competition Entry #1: Alienator
(Developer: Georg Rottensteiner - Status: In Development)


Well! What do you know? I guess my previous post about Georg withdrawing from the compo must have made him feel bad or something because... he's back! "Looks like with the deadline extension I feel to have to keep participating. Thinking hard about what to do I came up with something very simple. Let’s see if I can make it fun!"

At a guess I'd say that Alienator looks to be something of a Space Invaders clone, but knowing Georg I'd be surprised if there wasn't some clever twist thrown into the mechanics. Good luck!



Competition Entry #3: Escape from Area 64
(Developer: Christian Gleinser - Status: In Development)


Christian has also been in touch this week to share a screenshot of his entry and some brief information. "The current title is Escape from Area 64, but I'm not sure that the name will be kept. It's a maze game with randomly generated mazes, and you control two Alien guys who are trying to escape from an underground bunker."

Well, colour me intrigued! It's not clear if both aliens are controlled by one player (or if it is a two player game), but I'm sure that will be made clearer as the game's development progesses. Anyway, I like the old school vibe that Escape from Area 64 has going for it!



Competition Entry #4: Creepy Crawlers
(Developer: P1X3L.net - Status: In Development)


Ah! My bad. Since receiving the above screenshot I've corrected the title of the game to Creepy Crawlers. At a guess I reckon it's some sort of arcade-style Centipede or Galaga game - but if there's one thing for sure about P1X3L.net, it's that we should expect the unexpected. Looking forward to it guys!



Competition Entry #7: Platman
(Developer: Saul Cross & Andrea Schincaglia - Status: Complete! Awaiting Final Submission)


Just a one-line email from Andrea this week, but it was a positive one! "Platman is complete, all functions are available now!" - So, that leaves me just waiting for the game to arrive in my inbox :)



Competition Entry #8: QWAK
(Developer: Saul Cross & Daniel Hotop - Status: In Development)


Finally some fresh screen shots and more promising news! Daniel writes, "Here are three screen shots, I was hoping to get the other 'looks' in for you but not yet. I've been working on fixing and optimising the code and data, the code is a lot better now and smaller but I might start running into raster time issues. I've worked on graphics compression and char compression and the packed game is currently a healthy 8.12K."



Competition Entry #9: Blap N Bash Revisited
(Developer: Richard Bayliss - Status: Complete & Submitted!)


No real changes since the last time I wrote other than this game is now officially complete and submitted! Well done Richard!



Competition Entry #10: Circle 64
(Developer: P-a Bäckström - Status: In Development)


As I hoped, my last post prompted P-a Bäckström to get in touch and introduce his entry. "My kids recently tricked me into installing this really stupid and annoying game called 'Circle' on my phone, and I just couldn't stop playing. Circle is really super-hard and impossible. 20 points one time, 3 points the next time around. So, what to do if you can't beat the darn game? Well, make your own clone of course!"

"I started fooling around with some code, and got more and more things in place. Then I remembered your compo and thought what the heck. The idea of having it on an actual cartridge sounded great. Being a cartridge based game and all, my thoughts went back to the old days. The vision is (for now at least) that the game will have the looks of an old Atari 2600 game, yet being a clone of a fairly popular and new 'app'. Meaning somewhat blocky gfx but with smooth transitions, gameplay and sporting 'real' physics."

"As far as I can tell, the physics and gameplay are working really well. My kids approve at least ;) And it had me fixing a bug in the Mac OS X port of VICE too! The extended deadline is all for good. It will give me more time to polish, and introduce some demo-like effects where suitable ;)"


And until next time, that is all!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Looking to the Future


Waaaay back in 2009 I started this (well-disguised) Blogger page as a stop-gap whilst a proper new RGCD website was being developed by Elliot, a close friend who helped me start the original disc-based magazine in 2006. However, after making a good start, Elliot became super busy with real life commitments so the proposed work on the replacement site never happened. Until now.

I may have mentioned in passing that Jamie is in the process of leaving his job and going full-time at RGCD. Well, one of the areas we're looking to branch into is providing web design services for people - so the obvious thing to do was to finally give this site a much-needed rework for our portfolio.

Currently Jamie has been going through the process of recreating our site in WordPress, creating his own custom widgets to replace the (surprisingly good) Blogger ones and implementing a lot of new features and functionality. However, one of the issues that has come up is how to streamline our incredibly convoluted 'shopping' system for our growing catalogue of Commodore 64 games.

I first set up the RGCD BigCartel shop as a replacement for the chaotic list of PayPal buttons that I used to have on the original and now-closed shop page. That worked well enough for a while, but then last year due to changes in the EU VAT laws, we had to move the digital products (downloads) to a service that handled the VAT payments for us (itch.io) as RGCD's activities fall way below the ~£80,000 threshold required for VAT registration in the UK. This is far from ideal, but it's not completely impossible to work with... yet.


Later this year, the EU will be discussing what is going to happen with the extension of these complex VAT laws to physical sales. When this comes in (probably over the next 2-3 years, but maybe sooner) it will cause a complete shit-storm (again), just like it did for digital sales. So with that in mind our plan was to migrate all our products, physical and digital, to itch.io.

Not only do itch.io handle EU VAT, but they offer us a fantastic and simple to use system for viewing our sales statistics and finances. The individual game pages are easy to edit, they have a widget we can embed elsewhere and it helps us to get a LOT of eyes on our new releases.


However, although potentially possible, using itch.io for physical sales comes with it's own pitfalls. Currently itch.io is set up only for digital sales, so there is no simple system for handling physical orders (no automatic collation of shipping addresses, discounts for combined postage, etc). We could try embedding their widget into BigCartel or even our own site - but ultimately it's all becoming a little messy.

So I'd like to open the question to you guys, as ultimately it is *you* that this is for - what would you prefer us to do?



Option One - Move completely to itch.io...

...and hope for system improvements down the line(!) At the moment this is one of the more favourable options from our side (looking to the future). Doing this would mean that for each game, prior to release we could build and pack every cart and have them stored ready for shipping - saving us valuable time on 'picking orders'. We'd be able to do this by offering the download of a game at one price (free even), and then having a secondary product price for the cartridges (pay the minimum of £xx.xx to 'unlock'). This 'higher price' item could potentially be a simple form that the buyer downloads (or even fills in online) and sends back to us complete with their address, etc.
Pros:

  • Very quick and easy to implement.
  • Less time spent hand picking orders = faster shipping and more time being creative!
  • Embedded widgets that we can add to our own website (and others).
  • Indie marketplace (lots of eyes on our games).
  • They handle the EU VAT charging and payments (so we don't have to)
  • Potential for support for cart and physical sales to be added properly in the future?


Cons: (not many, but they ARE biggies)

  • No shopping cart and no combined shipping!
  • We'd have to manually collect shipping addresses from customers.
  • Prices are in USD.
  • One postage-inclusive price worldwide, potentially making the games more expensive for people in the EU (there's roughly a ~4GBP/5EUR difference between postage to Germany compared to Australia, for example).



Option Two - Move physical sales back to RGCD...

...and use itch.io widgets on our site for the downloads (thanks to EU VAT). This was Jamie's initial suggestion; if BigCartel is just a fancy looking piece of middleware that sits between the customer and PayPal, then why not just create our own shopping system for buying physical goods direct from RGCD using the PayPal API?


Pros:

  • We'd have full control of how the system worked (and can implement changes if it doesn't).
  • Back to having a 'one-stop shop' for all our releases (thanks to itch.io widgets).
  • PayPal offers a shopping cart and a 'method' for calculating combined postage.
  • Impressive addition to our web-dev portfolio.

Cons:

  • An epic amount of work in comparison to option 1!
  • More time spent getting the implementation/support right = less time spent on making games.
  • More time spent hand picking orders = slower shipping and less time being creative!
  • Potentially a *LOT* harder to get 'eyes' on our products than by using itch.io.
  • With EU VAT for physical products on the horizon, this is just a short term fix.



Option Three - Ditch BigCartel & itch.io and find another solution (BandCamp? Etc.)

Before setting up our itch.io account, I looked into several other options - out of which BandCamp was the only other site that remotely suited our needs (handling VAT payments, physical and downloadable versions of the same product at different prices. We (in theory) could shut up shop at both itch.io and BigCartel and move there.

Pros:

  • Fairly quick and easy to set up.
  • Offers a shopping cart and (possibly?) combined postage.
  • They handle the EU VAT charging and payments (so we don't have to)


Cons:

  • Games would have to be listed as music releases(!) so the soundtrack would be more prominent than the games.
  • More time spent hand picking orders = slower shipping and less time being creative!
  • Potentially a *LOT* harder to get 'eyes' on our products than by using itch.io.



Option Four - Do nothing and just continue as usual...

...yep, this *is* an option of course. We can (and most likely will) just continue using BigCartel, and keep physical and digital sales in completely different places - for now (remember, those EU VAT law changes are coming!) The pros and cons of this are completely obvious - you (and we) have already been living with the current convoluted system for years!


So, there you have it! Any feedback on this brief analysis would be very, very useful. Of course there ARE workarounds for some of the problems that each option presents; please note that I've tried to keep things simple in this post.

Oh, and please let us know if you can think of any additional functionality/pages/features you'd like to see on the new site. Jamie and I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #2

Important(!) After holding a group-email discussion with the entrants, we've decided to extend the competition deadline by two months - so the deadline is now midnight between the 31st March and the 1st April (00:00 GMT on the 1st April 2016).

James here, back again with an update on our ongoing competition and some surprisingly good news; not only are (most) of the projects mentioned in my previous post still active, but there are also a couple of new ones too!

We still don't have any prizes sorted out yet, but we are working on it :)



Competition Entry #1: Unknown
(Developer: Georg Rottensteiner - Status: Withdrawn!)

However, starting off on a more negative note, sadly Georg has opted to pull out of the competition. He explained that he "did start something but it just didn't work out" and that the extension wouldn't make any difference to him as he hadn't invested any time into the project for months. He does however intend to enter again next year - so we'll see you in the next round Georg!



Competition Entry #2: Vortex Crystals
(Developer: Richard Bayliss - Status: Complete & Submitted!)


In the previous update I left Richard a public request for enemy spawn animations to be added to Vortex Crystals, but it seems that there's just no memory space left for it in the 16KB compo build. However, as with his entries in previous competitions he does intend to work on a 'full' version later this year so maybe we'll see them in that?




Competition Entry #3: Unknown
(Developer: Christian Gleinser - Status: In Progress)

Not a lot to say here other than Christian has been in touch to say that although he wasn't going to be able to make the original deadline, he'll try to finish in time for the new extension.



Competition Entry #4: Creepy Crawlers
(Developer: P1X3L.net - Status: In Development)

Again, not much to report other than ALeX and Retrofan have said that they're still in the competition.



Competition Entry #5: Unknown
(Developer: John Ames - Status: In Development)

And again, as above.



Competition Entry #6: Icicle Race
(Developer: Saul Cross & John Christian Lønningdal - Status: In Development)

At last! Some actual news! John wrote to me over the weekend with the following update:

"Saul and I actually have had a 90% finished game for over half a year (or more) - you know me and those last 5% of code! There are also a lot of levels to map out, but that will be easy, it's just something we need to do. I will certainly focus on finishing the game and had planned to do that before the deadline, but I dont mind if you stretch it as that would also give Saul and me more time to polish it further."



Competition Entry #7: Platman
(Developer: Saul Cross & Andrea Schincaglia - Status: In Development)


Frustratingly, I received one of the shortest updates ever regarding what is undoubtedly one of my personal favourites this year (for nostalgic reasons). In his email Wanax simply explained that "Platman 16K version is almost ready" - which is great I suppose, but after seeing and sharing the YouTube video above on Twitter I was really hoping to be able to play the damn thing! ;)

Come on Andrea, let's have a proper preview next week!



Competition Entry #8: QWAK
(Developer: Saul Cross & Daniel Hotop - Status: In Development)

No news on QWAK, but I do at last have a contact address for the developer now, so I'll start pestering him for updates. Hopefully I'll have some information to share next time I write.



Competition Entry #9: Blap N Bash Revisited
(Developer: Richard Bayliss - Status: In Development)


Whilst discussing Vortex Crystals with Richard via email, I suggested that he should look into the possibility of fitting his recent bat-and-ball game Blap N Bash into 16KB - after all, at the time of writing it was still hit-or-miss whether or not we'd achieve the minimum of six completed entries required for the competition! Richard suggested initially that this might be achievable, and after a few tests wrote back with some good news. "I have made a 16KB version of the game, but I had to sacrifice the hi-score table", he explained, and then added that rather than entering it into the compo straight away he would design 16 new levels for the game. Nice work Richard!



Competition Entry #10: Unknown
(Developer: P-a Bäckström - Status: In Development)


Finally, a new entry from a member of acclaimed demo group Booze Design! With Booze behind some of the most popular and impressive demos in recent years I'm super-excited to see what P-a 'ruk' Bäckström has been working on. Only starting a few weeks ago (and with just over two months left), I'd like to wish him - and the rest of you - the very best of luck!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #1

Hey! Well this must be a record - two blog posts in two days? Typing about our C64 Game Development Competition last night and seeing the immediate response online made me feel even more guilty for not updating the site, so here it is - ahead of schedule (but still super late) - status update number one!

(Oh, and I've still not had a chance to meet up with Jamie to discuss prizes, but I'm sure we'll sort something out).



Competition Entry #1: Unknown
(Developer: Georg Rottensteiner - Status: Unknown)


Kicking things off, Georg 'Endurion' Rottensteiner was one of the first people to register interest in participating in the 2015 competition, but I've not heard a peep from him since (which is my fault). However, he's surprised us before, so who knows? Perhaps he's been working on another 16KB epic in secret?



Competition Entry #2: Vortex Crystals
(Developer: Richard Bayliss - Status: Complete & Submitted!)


Woah! You've got to hand it to Richard for actually submitting a finished game BEFORE the end of the compo (although it's likely that an update will arrive in my inbox prior to the final deadline, of course). Working in conjunction with well-known C64 game artist Alf Yngve, Richard's Vortex Crystals is a surprisingly fun little single-screen platform-shoot 'em up in which you play as some Special Forces Ninja-type on a mission to collect the titular crystals from an android infested base in order save the world.

As it's the only game for which I currently have a binary, I've actually been playing this a bit already and have to say that it's pretty good! There are some issues with landing at different 'depths' within the platforms (sometimes you appear to be on top of a floor, other times halfway through), and if you read this Richard - PLEASE - add some sort of spawn notification so you can see where the baddies are going to appear! At the moment there are a lot of unfair deaths because you kill a droid, then it magically reappears where you are standing with no 'spawn animation' or warning.

But yeah, I have to say that I love the simplicity of the design and the fun and frenetic-paced arcade action. Feels like a genuine budget game from the late 80's. I'm excited to see how this one progresses!



Competition Entry #3: Unknown
(Developer: Christian Gleinser - Status: Unknown)


A newcomer to the RGCD compo! Well, here's hoping that Christian 'Dr. Wuro' Gleinser is still interested in participating because the videos on his YouTube channel look pretty interesting :)

Apparently based on a game prototype he developed a few years ago, Christian's untitled maze game seems to have come on quite a bit since he initially wrote to us a few months back, but sadly I've not heard anything from him recently. I guess time will tell!



Competition Entry #4: Creepy Crawlies
(Developer: P1X3L.net - Status: In Development)


Yay! Going through my emails I am super pleased to announce that ALeX of P1X3L.net wrote to me back in November to announce that although they hadn't started yet, he and Stefan intended to compete this year with a game called Creepy Crawlies! Other than that, I have no news to share - but hopefully ALeX will write to me to advise of his progress soon :)

And guys! C'mon, lets see a final version of Monster Buster and C-2048 for release in 2016! :D



Competition Entry #5: Unknown
(Developer: John Ames - Status: Unknown)


A second newcomer to the compo who's probably given up due to the lack of activity on our side :( Man, typing this update has made me really sad, imagining what projects 'could have been', had I been a bit more dedicated and organised back in 2015! Anyway, I'm crossing my fingers here that John Ames is still up for participating!



Competition Entry #6: Icicle Race
(Developer: Saul Cross & John Christian Lønningdal - Status: In Development)


Saul has been pestering me for ages to type this update, and with good reason - he wrote to me last year announcing that he was providing artwork/assistance with three potential entries! The first one, Icicle Race, is "a puzzle platform game and demake/remake of a classic from another system". I've no idea what it is and the screenshot above doesn't give much away, but with John Christian Lønningdal on code duties and a proposed "100 levels", it should be good!



Competition Entry #7: Platman
(Developer: Saul Cross & Andrea Schincaglia - Status: In Development)


Next up from Saul and Andrea 'Wanax' Schincaglia is a demake of the Amiga PD (or was it Shareware?) game Platman. You know, this one. Described by Saul as "a conversion of the original Amiga game of the same name - guide Platman through over 60 screens of fast platform action as he tries to eat as many goodies as possible while avoiding the bothersome ghosts". Back when he wrote last year, Saul explained that the game map was complete and that development was "well underway", so I have quite high hopes for this one.



Competition Entry #8: QWAK
(Developer: Saul Cross & Daniel Hotop - Status: In Development)


Last but not least, how do you fancy an enhanced C64 port of the BBC classic QWAK (apparently with elements of the Amiga version thrown in for good measure)? I'm not sure how they are going to pull this off in 16KB, but damn, I'm interested to find out! :D

Developed by Daniel 'Oziphantom' Hotop, Saul promised back in September last year that "a lot of work has been done on the game engine for this one and it is coming along nicely" - so again, I'm keen to hear and see more!

Well, that about draws this post to a close. I'll be back next week as promised with a further update (hopefully with some up to date news from the above entrants!), so until then have a good one!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

We're Back(!)


Hey there internet - Happy New Year and all that jazz! You probably don't remember me, but it's James Monkman here smashing the keys. You know, the guy who used to post on this blog quite often back in ... what? Oh dear...

...Ok, so the last blog post, Tweet and Facebook comments from RGCD were back in October last year and since then loads of people have written us panic-stricken emails and DMs. Well, the truth is we were here all along, but totally swamped with real life stuff. After the excellent Play Expo in Manchester Jamie and I took a short two week break, and then - lo and behold - my youngest of three kids catches the slap cheek virus and then proceeded to share it with the rest of us, one at a time. In fact, I spent my birthday back in November off work in bed with a fever, lying next to a bowl of vomit. Which was just perfect.

Anyway, after about a month of fighting with my wife as to who was going to take the day off work to look after the kids it suddenly dawned on us that Christmas was around the corner and we hadn't got anything sorted for that. And meanwhile of course, my GMail inbox was bursting at the seams due to me not having time to turn on my PC for the previous 6 weeks. You would not believe how long it took me to catch up with that lot. But hey! I'm back at last now, and I've made a promise to myself to post here at least once a week in 2016 (a New Year's resolution of course - let's see how long it lasts).


But what about Jamie? Well after many debates and months of hunting he and his girlfriend Ali finally bought a house! And then they totally ripped the guts out of it and are only just managing to get it put back together again :) Oh! And he's currently in the process of going full-time indie, so as you can imagine, he's had his hands full with that.

Whilst I was nursing ill children and getting no more than 2-3 hours sleep a night, Jamie (being the human dynamo he is) still found time to put down his DIY tools and drop hundreds of lines of fresh code into the now-one-year-old Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat project, so thankfully that has come on quite a bit since I last typed anything here. Oh, and if there are any Chris Wilkins Kickstarter backers out there with questions about Tiger Claw - fear not! The game is finally complete, with just a few minor bits to fix up before we can get it onto a cartridge :)

So, in chronological order, let's have a quick update as to where we are!



Play Expo & Conga Combat Continued

We had a superb time at Play Expo back in October, and it was really nice meeting some of you guys (our 'readers') in the flesh! We took along a couple of PC's and a C64, with the C64 mostly running long-term favourites Super Bread Box, Rocket Smash EX, Bomberland and C64anabalt and the 'proper' computers running Conga and an updated, currently unreleased version of r0x EP. Despite our stand looking like a teenager's bedroom when compared to some of the more swanky looking booths, we got some really valuable feedback, and we'll definitely be taking our games on the road the next time the opportunity arises.


Conga turned out to be surprisingly popular amongst the Expo visitors, with the controllers rarely out of use (in fact we ended up being voted 3rd best indie at the show, but enough bragging!) However, there were a lot of common complaints that Jamie and I jotted down and discussed post-show over a few pints.

Mechanics that we thought were obvious or self-explanatory were completely missed by the public, and it seemed that people were quite determined to play it 'the wrong way' wherever possible!

So here's the low-down on what we've changed:

  • Visible arena borders that fade in as you approach the screen edges.
  • On screen indicators that show where enemies are spawning from.
  • Clearer and more concise instructions!
  • A rating system that judges your performance each time you play (WIP).
  • Fairer enemy AI.
  • In-game playing tips/hints.
  • Tons of bug fixes.

...and what's yet to come?

  • Improved 'between stage' screen.
  • Credits! (WIP)
  • Options! (WIP)
  • Stats/Achievements (WIP)
  • Various improvements across the board.
  • Tons of bug fixes.
  • Ship it.

Joking aside, after a year of working (albeit very sloooowly) on this silly little thing we're confident that we'll have it complete before the start of the next financial year, so you won't have to wait much longer to get your hands on it. In the meantime, check out the latest gameplay capture video at the beginning of this post!



C64 Competition Chaos!

Oops. Ok, it looks like I totally dropped the ball on this one. Seems that if you don't post any updates to a game development competition then the end result is that hardly anyone enters :(

Not only that, but so far we have failed to even secure any prizes this year(!) I'll have to discuss this with Jamie, but at this stage I'm not 100% sure what we're going to do. Maybe extend the deadline? Beg our friends for support in organising a prize fund? I can't give an answer at the moment, but I can promise that the next blog post will be a compo update that will include details of all the game submissions. Not that there are many(!)


On the more positive side, the few entries I have seen do look promising indeed, but you'll have to watch this space for more news on that. For now, check out Richard Bayliss' blog for news on his (completed!) submission 'Vortex Crystals'. Nice work Rich!



Out of Stock Cartridges and New Releases?

This has undoubtedly caused the most worry amongst our supporters - but please fear not, the rather bare-shelved RGCD store is in the process of being restocked with just about everything. Oh! And it turns out that the planned extension of the new EU VAT laws for physical goods will NOT be coming into action this month (possibly not even this year), so we can continue trading as usual for the time being!


On the new release front, we'll be showing off the now complete Kickstarter Backer Exclusive Tiger Claw later this month, and there's Jam It! and Moonspire sat on my desktop ready to go as well. So here's hoping you C64 freaks haven't spent all your Christmas money yet! ;)

And on that note, I'm out of time here so you'll have to wait until next time for further news! Take care all, and check back next week for an update on the C64 Game Dev Competition!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Tiger Claw Update! (Kickstarter Exclusive)


Just a super-quick post to let you know that Matthias "Lazycow" Bock and Saul Cross have been busy working on their Kickstarter-exclusive update to Tiger Claw over the past few weeks. In addition to the already-promised larger game map, revised physics and hidden Easter egg game, we're excited to announce that Tiger Claw will now also feature two new game modes - 'Versus' and 'Survival'.

Survival mode (or 'Training' as Matt refers it it) is a highscore-chasing single-screen mini-game in which the player has to fight off increasingly tough waves of enemy henchmen. It's a great way to master your Kung Fu skills before taking on the main game!


Got a friend who you want to flying kick about the room, but you're worried about damaging the furniture? Good news - Tiger Claw now has that covered with its one-on-one Versus mode! We're still hoping that somehow we can squeeze in 4-player support via the Protovision adapter, but as it stands two player is already a super neat extra for you Kickstarter backers. :)


There are only three more days to go, and this enhanced version of Tiger Claw will not be available to buy on cartridge outside of Chris Wilikin's (already successful) Kickstarter, so if you want a copy you'll need to select the Cartridge tier or add £40 on to your current pledge asap! Go get it here.

Monday, 27 July 2015

RGCD News Update

Been busy round here this weekend, hasn't it? Anyway I've got a few more bits of important news to share and I haven't got time to write a full-on blog post for each one. So, ladies and gents, listen up!



RGCD at Play Expo (Manchester, October 10-11th)


Long-term readers of this blog may recall that a few years back I (James) assisted with booking, organising and representing indies at Replay Events' PLAY Blackpool expo. Well, I've volunteered to help them again - but this time for their far bigger PLAY Expo at EventCity, Manchester (10-11th October). In fact, this time it'll be both Jamie and myself attending - RGCD will be present at the event with a playable/final build of our multiplayer battle game Pan-Dimensional Conga-Combat :)

If you're planning on attending as a visitor - or if you'd like to join us in exhibiting (booths cost £300) - then please get in touch!



Limited Number of Gravitrix and P0 Snake Available!


Both Gravitrix and P0 Snake have reached the half-way mark in terms of sales, so if you're interested in picking up either a copy of 2014's compo-winning P0 Snake or Robot Riot's awesome gravity-based puzzle-em-up Gravitrix you'd best do it quick :)

Oh, and talking of stock - a few extra copies of C64anabalt, Super Bread Box and Bomberland have been added to our online store, so feel free to grab those too if you missed them before!



RGCD Photo Competition


Over the years we've received loads of great photos of people playing their fave RGCD games on real hardware, and to be honest I'm pretty dreadful at photography, so these shots are super useful for helping us promote our games. I mean look at that one above from Arvid Weber - how awesome is that?

So what we're offering is this: between now and the 1st of September, send us your cool RGCD shots (with the understanding that we might use them for promo purposes) and in return we'll send a free game to whoever sends in our overall favourite photo.

To submit, drop us a line with the subject 'RGCD Photo Compo' or similar. Of course, if you want to just send us photos for us to retweet or whatever for fun, we're happy to do that too :)

Sunday, 26 July 2015

RGCD: From Mags to Riches – The Evolution of a Software Publisher


[This article was originally written by J. Monkman for issue #64 of the world-famous Commodore 64 disk magazine Vandalism News, and has been reposted here with permission from the editor. If you wish to read it in its original form, download Vandalism News from CSDB].

One of the things I have discovered over the past few months is that it is really hard to write about something you're both really passionate about and directly responsible for without sounding like a complete asshole. The chances are that I've probably failed here, so you'll just have to take my word that I'm actually an 'OK' guy, and not an egotistical, deluded idiot who believes he has single-handedly saved the C64 gaming scene by selling cartridges and running a game development competition. The part I play in all of this, although significant, is actually pretty small. To give a terrible analogy, much like a frontman of a typical rock band, without the rest of the musicians I'd be nothing - just a guy strutting about and shouting on a stage. So, the main kudos of course goes out to the large and ever-growing family of sceners I've collaborated and worked with since starting out on the C64, and regardless of how many interviews or presentations I'm asked to give about RGCD, this is a fact that I will never forget.

It's probably worth mentioning that I actually wrote the bulk of this article back in 2012 for a papermag version of Propaganda that sadly never materialised. Because of this there's a big chunk of the RGCD story missing that has been covered elsewhere in other interviews and blog write-ups (the release of Super Bread Box at GameCity 2013 in particular). Instead, I've decided to focus on the previously undocumented origins of RGCD, as well as briefly covering our present day activities and the future.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition!


Here it is, the long-awaited announcement of the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition 2015! Following on from the success of the last four competitions (yep, that's one, two, three & four), we're hoping that 2015 will be our biggest year yet!

We are currently in the process of securing prizes and sponsorship, and awards will be given to entries that place 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. Drop us a line if you'd like to help out with the prizes!

Important! Please note that the deadline is NOT the 1st of December this year! December is a stupidly busy time of year for me and I don't want a repeat of last year's "sorry, I'm not available to close the competition" problems. Instead, the deadline is now the 1st of April 2016 - so you have plenty of cold, dark winter nights to code with your feet warming on the C64 power brick :)

2014 C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition Results


Ok, so today I figured it was about time to (finally) announce the next RGCD C64 Cartridge Game Dev Compo ... but then it dawned upon me - I still hadn't actually announced the final results from last year! Well, that's actually not entirely true, as the results were published over at CSDB, but somehow I had completely failed to update the compo page on this blog. Apologies to all involved!

Anyway, there's a story behind this. Earlier this year enthusi and I thought it would be fun to try something different with announcing the results, so we worked away in secret for a few weeks and used his excellent 'Above & Beyond' single-file diskmag format so that the entrants could view the judge's feedback on their own Commodore 64 (and 17 games judged by 12 people resulted in a LOT of text - over 18,000 words in fact).

I did initially intend to publish that text here as well, but let's face it - NO ONE is going to read an 18,000 word blog post! So instead, I've posted the final scores below (together with the original foreword) and packaged up the C64 results-mag disk with a copy of the VICE emulator (win32) so you can view and read it as was originally intended.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels (Tiger Claw Exclusive!)


It's been some time since we collaborated in a Kickstarter (last time being Sam Dyer's hugely successful Commodore 64: A Visual Commpendium), but I'm proud to say we're back again to help with another exciting book project, offering another exclusive game cartridge as a backer reward. But before we talk about that, let's look at the book itself :)

The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels is the 5th (well, probably 6th) book written by Fusion Retro Books head man Chris Wilkins, and is planned as a 236 book about the history and legacy of the Commodore 64, featuring a foreword by Jeron Tel, and over 25 memoirs from home computer heroes such as Archer Maclean, Jon Hare, The Oliver Twins, Roger Kean, Oliver Frey, Andrew Hewson, Tony Crowther and many others.

Full details of the Kickstarter can be read by following the link above, but the book is already funded and Chris is steaming towards smashing some of the stretch goals - and we want to help him make this project as successful as possible! So what are we offering?


You may recall a cute little 16KB fighting game from our C64 development competition last year called Tiger Claw. You know, the game that came second place, behind the awesome P0 Snake. Now we always hoped to release the game on cartridge at some point, but first we really wanted to tweak and enhance a few areas of the game - and with Matthias and Saul already with several projects on the go, Tiger Claw MK2 kept on getting pushed back. However, when Chris contacted me enquiring about a game cartridge as a backer reward, I rallied the team together and Tiger Claw is now back in the RGCD workshop, receiving the following:

  • A larger, revised game map with several more screens/rooms (offering a fresh challenge).
  • Revised controls and physics with more friction.
  • Selectable difficulty.
  • Loading screen and additional music missing from the 16KB version.
  • A hidden additional game on the 64KB cartridge! :)

All of this is in addition to the original game's rooms, items, enemies, bossfights and full PAL/NTSC support (same gamespeed and musicspeed in PAL and NTSC)!


There's not much to share just yet, but we're on target to have the game ready to ship in two months time, packed in one of our DX cases complete with a double sided A3 poster/map, stickers and manual. Each copy will have a numbered sticker on the inside of the case insert with your name printed on, and the cartridges are exclusive to the Kickstarter - you won't be able to buy them from our online store!

To get your hands on this super limited release, back the project at the £70 level - or simply choose a lower backer tier and add £40 on to your pledge (that £40 includes worldwide shipping!) ... So what are you waiting for?!

(It's worth noting that fellow RGCD comrade George Rottensteiner and artist Trevor Storey are also contributing a game to the Kickstarter - so check that out too!)

Monday, 29 June 2015

RGCD News Update

As always, a lack of activity on our blog and social networking outlets means we've been busy - so busy in fact that this is the first opportunity I've had to announce not one, but TWO new RGCD game releases. Oh, and there's a load of other news-bytes as well, so get comfy and let's have a quick chat about the recent goings-ons at RGCD Towers...



Gravitrix Available! (Commodore 64)


Woah! Ok, so here's a first - and quite a milestone for RGCD. GRAVITRIX, the long-awaited and totally-ace gravity-themed puzzle 'em up by Robot Riot Games, was released a couple of weeks back on our all-new 512KB cartridge PCB developed by new RGCD member Siem Appelman together with Shareware Plus. An updated rework of an unreleased game that Nils Hammerich originally completed over 20 years ago, GRAVITRIX brings arcade-style, mind-bending puzzle-action to your Commodore 64 like never seen before!

To complete each of the 120 levels, you must clear the screen of all of the coloured GRAVITRIX stones. ALL of the stones of EACH colour must be connected in a single 'group' in order for them to vanish, ie. you cannot have multiple, unconnected groups of the same colour in different areas of the screen. The big challenge in GRAVITRIX is that the stones don't just have different colours - they have different 'directions' (or gravity) as well!

Each coloured stone 'falls' in its assigned direction (symbolised by an arrow) whenever there is nothing blocking its path, and this leads to some tricky chain reactions that must be solved. To make your life even harder there is also a time limit, environmental blocks and other gameplay elements that are introduced during the early levels.

Available to purchase on cartridge (with an initial limited run of 50 numbered copies), 5.25" diskette or even as a digital download, GRAVITRIX is superb fun - but don't take our word for it, grab yourself a copy of the free demo from our itch.io page!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Pandimensional Conga Combat: Interface Swoosh!


When I set aside time to work on Conga, before hitting the keys I normally sit down, skim through the all-important project design document to see what's left to work on, then pick a few meaty chunks to tackle. Usually I'm over-ambitious and select WAY more than I'll ever manage, but it does help to add a bit of focus and provides me with a rough plan for the days ahead. Doing this also gives James a chance to feed some ideas in ahead of implementation, as more often than not we've ended up scribbling something down during one of our weekly meet-ups and it's never actually made it into the documents (luckily his memory is better than mine!)

So, with three days booked off from real-life work, I set out my battle plan. On day one I'd tackle the entire front end, right the way through to Conga's 'Casual' play mode, then take on the scores and achievements on day two and round off with multi-player on day three! Oh well, one out of three isn't too bad!