MARK HALL TALKS TO PROGRAMMER PAUL KOOISTRA ABOUT LIFE, FILMS, ADVICE, AND HIS AMSTRAD CPC GAME : THE MIGHTY FINE SHOOT-EM-UP STAR SABRE
MH: How did you get into programming, was it through friends or did you simply see a game and think “wow, I could do that”?
PK: Early on in High School my parents bought my brother and I a CPC464... I was interested in learning how to program it from the outset, but later I, along with some of my friends with C64s, decided we. were going to get into making games. We only got as far as making some things in SEUCK, Quill, GAC, and Laser Basic and not much was finished for my part, but I did manage to gain some knowledge of assembly before the 8-bit era came to an end and I put that aside at the time.
MH: What Amstrad or other computer system game would you most like to have been involved with back in the day?
PK: Nothing comes to mind. I don't think I'd want to have been involved with games I enjoyed playing or that impressed me somehow, anyway.
MH: Star Sabre is the only CPC game you've ever released, how proud are you of this project? And was there anything you wanted to put in but couldn't due to memory restrictions?
PK: I'm pretty happy with it, as I largely achieved what I set out to do. - My focus was to try to make a shooter on the CPC at what I considered an acceptable frame rate, with no slow down, good sprite count and collision detection with a little leeway to it. I believe I just about managed that, with the only thing I'm not quite happy with in the end being the sprite count.
Oh, no! Oh, Jesus! They've taken over! (I know! - Ed)
I had to leave out a few things for memory, specifically a high score table, enemies made of several sprites appearing during a level, and secondary weapon pick-ups for the player. Of course, more generally there's the lack of music and the very limited graphics space, but those were issues I expected from the beginning with targeting 64k and there really wasn't much I could do about them beyond taking something else out.
MH: Would you ever do another game, or a sequel maybe?
PK: A sequel isn't likely. I am thinking about different ideas for other possible games, but I haven't settled on anything yet.
MH: What advice would you give to anybody attempting to write their own game, especially on the CPC or CPCplus?
PK: Be prepared for it to take a lot of time! For the CPC I'd have to recommend using WinAPE for development. It's such a great development tool, I almost don't think of it as an emulator any more!
The monkeys now ruled space; they'd taken over
MH: What is the best game you've ever played, across any system?
PK: Probably Ico. I could name quite a few games for this, as there are some genres and games I just wouldn't compare. But of all the games I've played over the years and just been grabbed by, I think Ico is the one I've had the least misgivings about at the end of it all.
MH: Desert island games, what ten games would you take with you?
PK: Soul Calibur (DC), Contra 3 (SNES), Super Ghouls & Ghosts (SNES), Rez (DC), Oblivion (360), RType 3 (SNES), XCom: Enemy Unknown (PS1), 1942 (Arcade), Timesplitters 2 (GC), and Rygar (Arcade).
MH: Some call the CPC the also-ran, but was it really as bad as everyone makes out?
PK: Yes, it must be since I always get the “wrong” thing! I've got an HD DVD player, plasma rather than an LCD TV, a DC originally instead of a PS2, and (arguably I guess) a SNES instead of a Mega Drive... In fact the only blot on my record for buying against “consensus” was getting a PlayStation after the SNES, but with a new entrant having a marketing campaign like 'Society Against PlayStation', how was I supposed to know?
MH: One final question, what is your favourite movie of all time?
PK: Well, again I wouldn't really say there is one all time favourite, but for the sake of the argument, let's say Aliens.
RA issue #1
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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.