After finishing Megablasters I was a little uncertain on what to do next. Rex of Beng! tried to convince me to create a Zombie fighting game with him called "Rigor Mortis". (We actually started to work on it, but also never finished it). But I also had some ideas for other projects.
One of these ideas was to create an up to date version of the classic Broderbund game "Loderunner". One of the features of this game has always facinated me since I first saw it: the smooth animation of these tiny characters!
The intention for my version of Lode Runner was to put in even more and smoother animation than the original Lode Runner had. I wanted to add several different kinds of extras like a number of different weapons ranging from simple weapons like a baseball bat, a stone to more sophisticated weapons like guns, a shotgun to a flamethrower and a rocket launcher. Of course the use of each of these weapons would have a large number of animation frames as well as being hit by one of these weapons.
I wanted to create a cartoon like animation where enemies being hit by a baseball bat would double up and fall to the floor, topple over when being hit by a rock or a bullet and run away burning like a torch after being caught by the flames of the flamethrower. I also had the idea that if one of these burning enemies would run to the end of a platform the burning person would fall down leave a trail of fire and some ashes remaining on the ground.
Besides that the different animation phases that were planned for the Lode Runner included walking, running, climbing up ladders, moving alongside a pole, falling from a platform (including spinning with the arms before losing the balance and landing with a few rebounds on the floor), picking up things, using weapons, opening doors, giving someone the finger, ...
The basic idea of the game was supposed to be the same like in the classic Lode Runner, but all of the rest would be quite different. I also had the idea of including invisible platforms that lead the way to else unreachable goodies, several hidden extras, a cheat mode, buttons and levers to open doors and trapdoors, etc.
I started the game with some animation tests and was happy with the results. The first animation frames I had created looked very nice and the movement of the character was fluid. As usual I created a map editor with which I could create the screens for the different levels and set up a testing ground for my animation and game action tests.
At some point though I had to discover that even with such small characters the drawing of all those hundreds of animation frames takes a lot of time. Since I used Mode 1 I had just 3 different colors available, but still matching all the different frames to get a smooth animation took more time and effort as expected.
Since I was about to start studying I had lots of other things to do and so I abandoned this project (as I did the CPC a little time later...). Still the animation I had drawn so far look pretty nice. Somehow I still think it’s a shame that I didn’t continue this project. Especially since the programming was expected to be very easy, just some simple collision tests and easy enemy controlling subroutines...
Addition July 6th:
I've recently rediscovered a playable demo of the game on one of my old discs! I knew it was there somewhere, but I couldn't find it, when I compiled the .dsk files originally.
It was still only a Maxam source code file that didn't yield a runnable binary file. I had to write some routines to store a runnable binary file on a disc in order to obtain a playable copy of the game. So I had to write Z80 assembler code for the first time in years - luckily I didn't have much trouble getting back into typing Z80 mnemonics into Maxam. I just had to look up the correct system calls to open a data file (CALL &BC8C), write data to it (CALL &BC98) and to close it (CALL &BC8F).
By the way: that doesn't mean that I'm restarting writing CPC stuff again. I'm just doing you a favor by creating a runnable demo version of the game!