|★ APPLICATIONS ★ CREATION GRAPHIQUE ★ SHAPE AND SOUND|Amstrad Action) ★|
|Shape and Sound||Applications Creation Graphique|
Once you are in the 'Shape Generator', the approach is much the same. At the top of the screen is a grid, which depending on the mode you have selected - will be either 16 or 32 columns wide by 32 columns deep. Cursor movement is performed by using the numeric keypad in compass fashion, and plotting via the keys 0-9 and A-F on the typewriter keyboard. These correspond to each of the sixteen colours available in mode 0, which I found preferable to the < > colour selection on the Panda. On the other hand I found the criss-cross grid a bit distracting. and preferred Panda's 'clean' canvas.
As you create the design on the grid the actual sized sprite takes shape at the side. Once the shape has been completed, it can be transferred to the storage area on the right hand side of the screen. The Shape Generator can store up to 128 different designs Position for each new design is selected by means of a movable window which scans across the storage area.
This windowing system is also used when it comes to selecting which designs you are going to include in your animation. Moving the window over a design and pressing CTRL A adds the shape to the sequence. Once all the shapes have been chosen, an on-screen demo of your masterpiece can be played. Again the programmer is allowed to select the speed at which the sprites change.
The Amsoft package contains a number of commands above those used by Panda, which are implemented using Control characters. Among those I found most useful was Fill Rectangle. By setting the top left and bottom right hand corners the computer will automatically fill the rectangle with a chosen colour, which - believe me - is far preferable to filling each pixel in with a separate keypress. Another useful command is Copy Quarter which fills in three quarters of the grid with the design present in the other quarter. Mice for making those symmetrical Aliens.
Animation is performed from BASIC by using a similar system to that of Panda. The hard work is performed by | commands leaving the programmer only having to say what goes where. Where the Amsoft product falls down is in simply telling you how the command works and giving an example rather than walking the nervous programmer (such as your humble writer) through.. Still, that's my problem.
One major feature of the S and S which I've never come across before in a sprite generator is the ability of the program to generate print-outs of the designs. Its so obvious and so useful, it makes you wonder why no-one has thought of it before.
Also included in the Amsoft package, almost as an afterthought, is the sound generator This part of the program makes use of the commands that are already available in BASIC and presents them m a more useable form. In order to help the novice musician, details of the sound parameters are displayed on the screen. Furthermore, once you have developed the sound you like, there is a utility to provide 'step-time programming'. This means that you can record Beethoven's Piano Concerto one note at a time rather than have to play the lot in one go.
AMSTRAD ACTION #5