Friday, December 15, 2023

Hey, so, 2023 is nearly done!

End of year blog. I like to look back each year and see what all I did. Last year it was really quiet. Like, stupidly quiet, so let's see how 2023 did!

I managed to get Cool Herders for the Nintendo GBA completed and sent off to Piko Interactive, but we're still waiting to see the next step there. That took about eight months! But I think it came out better than the DS version with the extra time. Hopefully we'll see it in 2024.

I continued to work on animatronics through the year, and even travelled to Sydney Australia to do the install of the Jurassic World Exhibition. Working in Australia was one of those things I always wanted to do, so it's great to have been able to check that off the ol' bucket list. After that, however, I decided it was time to focus on Canada and stepped down from there. I returned to work a full time company out East, and that's just starting to ramp up. The first challenge sounds interesting, and we'll see if we can do it. No more animatronics for now, I guess, unless someone in Canada wants to help start something!

Taxes taxes taxes... it has been a massive thorn for the last few years. But I think this one wraps up the US side finally - I hope so. It also took eight months! So sad as it is, that is all wrapped up. (What's doubly sad about it... I'm missing Burbank lately. Oh well. ;) )

We actually finally tried to get another license for Dragon's Lair TI, but the owners have increased the price for a license to far beyond any hobby project. (Actually, my email shows I tried twice ;) ). That killed that once and for all. Still, was glad to get a reply and am very grateful to ReadySoft for helping me fulfill a wish list item.

I met a local robotic company owner, and he was really cool, but we haven't managed to catch up again. He's also a local Nabu computer fan, which is pretty fun.

Then I helped get an SG-1000 emulation cart working on the Phoenix - I believe it was bus timing and he managed to get it working, so that's pretty cool! 

Besides Sydney I also visited Ottawa twice, just for fun! But the bigger trip was down to New Zealand where a very special friend got married. It was an awesome wedding, themed to Lord of the Rings and down at Hobbiton. I wished I was in costume too, but it was a great show and was so very cool to see everyone again. I missed them a lot.

Tree in the back yard fell down and landed on my townhouse roof! Fortunately, it did very minimal damage and the main concern - the roof - suffered just a few shingles. It came within inches of the windows so I was really lucky!

I also got a call from a company that pays people to act as experts - that was nice! Unfortunately the people in question didn't want technical information, they wanted inside business information. I didn't have that, so I didn't get paid. But I'm still available for that! ;)

An old buddy from high school visited from overseas, that was fun! I didn't realize when he planned it that it was just overnight, but hell, we still enjoyed hanging out!

Then I finally got Super Space Acer ColecoVision completed! It's got F18A sprites, multiple modes, endings, solid music... really pleased with it. That's been shipped off to CollectorVision and we'll see how that proceeds. I might need to get some artwork done for it, but I won't get to see Binky till January. CollectorVision might do some too... but we'll see. 

I did try to hire a couple of artists for the sprite work... but finding pixel artists who also understand palette limitations proved very difficult. The two I actually paid did not seem to understand the restrictions, and dragged their feet on starting. I ended up rendering the ships in Second Life and taking screenshots. ;)

Next step there is porting to the TI. I started it a bit, got a workable toolchain for making a bank-switched cart and got part of it running already. The challenge there is the pages are only 8k versus the 16k pages on the ColecoVision. It makes packing the data harder, and all the page numbers are different. I still have to port the final fixes to the TI and try to get it working again.

Fortunately, the GCC compiler has seen some recent updates, and so there's a little more confidence in the 8 bit values. To that end, I've also created a cross-platform version of libTI99 that merges the TI and ColecoVision versions, with potential for others. I did not build the Coleco SSA on it, unfortunately, but I am building the TI version on it. It'll be nice to have them all with the same feature set.

Of course, through the year my main relaxation (???) has been working with the UFW. My raccoon Sila has upgraded to an evil cyborg and she's had a couple of stories for other people that developed her own character nicely. Danur didn't have much this year, and Oscar is just a backup referee... though it seems all three have fans, so that's nice! (Photos by Ember!)

So that's a little better than last year! Hoping to be productive in 2024!