|★ APPLICATIONS ★ CREATION GRAPHIQUE ★ Panda Sprites (c) Interceptor Software|Amstrad Action) ★|
|Panda Sprites||Applications Creation Graphique|
The Amstrad has no sprites built in to the video chip- so if you wont to write that definitive version of Space Invaders you'll need some nifty software. Can Amsoft's Shape and Sound and Interceptor's Panda do the job? They both claim to make sprite generation as easy as zapping an alien. Steve Malone puts the them to the test.
Panda Sprite allows you to generate two distinct types of animation. The first is yer conventional sprite. the kind of : small pretty; design you see performing acrobatics on most shoot-em-ups .The second type is called a 'frame' winch allows the programmer to generate soma nifty cartoon-like animation, which, incidentally, is difficult with conventional type of hardware-based sprite. However both types are created in much the same manner.
On LOADing the program, you are presented with a screen showing some pretty impressive examples of the kind of thing you can do with the it The user's appetite is whettad further by the assurance that it s ail performed from BASIC However, before you can start creating your masterpiece, you first have to decide which Mode you want to be in. as drawing & design in one mode and then trying to RUN it in another can produce some pretty abstract effects This means that before you start you'd better decide whether you want your sprites plain and intricate or created from slabs of colour. However, on the positive side, if you decide on the four colour mode, you can create your own palette beforehand.
Having done that you can then move onto the other features of the Options table. Obviously, if you re starting from scratch you'll want to create your own sprite or frame. Up to 128 frames or 32: sprites can be generated. After deciding which canvas to use, the artist can begin The frame and sprite definition routines are much the same with the screen divided into three windows The top window is the canvas, while one of the smaller windows enables the programmer to see what the sprite or frame Is actuary going to look like. The third window is used for the animation which we'll come to later.
The drawing on the main screen is performed by moving a: cursor around with the cursor cluster and pressing the space bar to plot a pixel. Although this system is adequate, I for one would; have liked to have been given the chance of using a joystick for those broad strokes. Alas, nowhere does the manual give you the option. Colours can be altered by using the < and > keys and erasing is done by changing to the background colour. Other; options that are available from the Draw mode include being able to rotate your design by a specified number of degrees or to move the whole design around the box :
In order to create realistic animation (tor example, to show a man running) you need to flash two or more sprites in the same position This is done by re-editing the original design with any changes and then defining it with a different number. Simplicity itself! Once you have finished editing your sprites, the program gives you the option of choosing which sprites are to be alternated and at what speed you want them to swap.
One of the major problems with sprite generators on all machines is that they allow you to do all manner of creative design and then omit to tell you how to implement the things within a program. Thank fully. Panda gives detailed step by step explanations on how to call the routines from BASIC and machine code and create onscreen animation and movement.
The difficult bits of the animation are performed by machine code routines (implemented as | commands) which are LOADed and SAVEd with the designs. All the programmer has to do is to call the routines and define the parameters that are required, for example which frame is to be used and where within the window you want it placed. Therefore |NEWSPRITE allows you to define a sprite and the series of animations that are required, while | SPRITE will print the sprite and step through the sequence on screen.
Three other commands are implemented by Panda allowing additional features. |COLLIDE is used to detect sprite collisions, which no self-respecting arcade game can do without. Less exciting, but equally important are |WINDOW which defines the window in which the frame or sprite will be positioned and finally, there is the |SCROLL command which scrolls a section of the screen. although it must be admitted that this command can creak a bit if the window is too big
AMSTRAD ACTION #5