Ant Attack Trainer for the ZX Spectrum

I’ve never written a trainer or a cracktro for a game. Sure, I hacked games for fun when I was a kid, and I shared these cheats with friends – but I never packed them up into a trainer or a cracktro. So I decided to write one, and I decided to go back to my roots and do something retro. First I took one of my favourite old games (the awesome Ant Attack by Sandy White) and hacked it. Next I wrote a trainer menu and crafted a delivery method to get the hacks into the game. Finally (and.. ok.. this is a bit more contemporary) I presented a talk about it at this year’s Assembly demoparty:

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Authentication and Encryption with ZeroMQ

ZeroMQ is great. The ZeroMQ guide is even greater – in fact it’s a great read even if you don’t plan on using ZeroMQ. But if you try to code something that isn’t covered in the guide then things can get a bit tricky. Sure, the guide teaches you how to run on your own but sometimes you can go so far out that you’re on your own. One of these “things” is authentication and encryption. ZeroMQ does support both of these out of the box since version 4, but it’s not in the guide. There are a couple of blog posts about it (exhibits one and two) but they cover a lot of ground quickly and, more annoyingly for me, they use CZMQ (a ZeroMQ extension library) and not just plain old ZeroMQ. Google for examples and.. well.. there’s nothing. And that’s why I’m writing about it now.

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JavaScript Simple Demo Framework

I’ve been thinking about “gamejams” lately, and how to change things slightly to make a “demojam” – a one or two day event where a bunch of people get together and make demos. One of the big problems I noticed when I ran gamejams in the past was that people often have no real idea of what they can actually achieve in such a short space of time. We would have people who worked at gamedev studios come along and spend the first half of the jam writing an engine before the realisation hit them that they were never going to get a game done. So.. no.. don’t do that. You need to hit the floor running. And if you want to work in a team then you can’t expect the other members to sit there twiddling their thumbs while you write the perfect render pipeline or asset system. You have to arrive at the jam with something that you can start creating content in from the moment you come up with your first idea.

Creating a demo engine that is suitable for a demojam is actually pretty simple if you make a few assumptions and cut a few corners. These days you can go a long way with some full screen shaders, post processing effects and maybe a few image overlays. That doesn’t even sound like an engine, more like a framework. So what if you could get such a demo framework? What would be the most accessible platform for it? How about somewhere with lots of readily available, high quality dev tools and libraries that can run pretty much anywhere? Well, now that WebGL has matured and anyone who’s programmed anything can pick up and learn JavaScript as they go along – how about making it web based? Enter Simple Demo Framework.
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Fingers Of Doom – Another PETSCII piece

Ok.. so here’s something that I completely forgot about – Fingers of Doom! It’s another online PETSCII animation in colaboration with Raquel Meyers. Music this time from Dan Brännvall and my JavaScript animation player was based on the C64 code from Johan Kotlinski.

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Ten Years, Two Demos, One Demoparty

At the recent Sundown demoparty I released two new Ate Bit demos – one for PC and one for ZX Spectrum.


First up is the PC demo, 0xAnniversary. The title is a pun on the the hexadecimal code for the number 10, which can be written as 0xa, and the fact that this year marks the 10 year anniversary of Ate Bit. To make it even more poignant, our first demo was released 10 years ago at the first ever Sundown.

0xAnniversary was written fairly quickly over a period of about five weeks. The demo was written mainly from scratch but borrowed a few key bits of code (mostly texture and shader loading) from AteBitVJ. Music is by 4mat.

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Omega Balls – Realtime Graphics Shot Breakdown

Here’s a realtime audio-visual experiment that I made recently. It’s a bunch of glowing balls, synced to the majesty of 4Mat’s track, “Omega”.

A few people have asked me how I made it. The short answer is that the video was rendered in real-time in my AteBitVJ app and captured using Fraps. I thought I’d take things a bit further and explain how the scene is constructed by doing a shot breakdown on a layer by layer basis.
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Demos We Care About

Demos We Care About is a daily feed of demos that someone, somewhere, cares about. The goal is to share the best, most interesting, most loved demos to a wider audience. There are two in fact two main audiences for the feed – demosceners who want reminding of the best that the scene has to offer, and then there’s the wider audience of non-demosceners who might not normally get to see these works.

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Is this Animal Romantics?

Last week saw the release of Animal Romantics, a browser-based audio visuals project created by myself, Raquel Meyers and Goto80. The project is essentially a music video for a song but, unlike a streaming video on YouTube, the whole thing plays in realtime in your browser. The great advantage of realtime here is that the video can be tweaked and customised by the viewer – there is a selection of audio remixes available, each with slightly different visuals, and the user can enter their own text messages that get displayed during the show. These remixes can then be shared to others with a custom URL.

The piece was released at the pl4int3xt pavilion at the Wrong art biennial in Sao Paulo. You can also jump straight to the Chipflip, where the piece is hosted.

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Quick and simple Javascript debugging for webpages


I was recently trying to debug some Javascript code in a webpage that was having problems on certain combinations of OS/browsers and I needed to quickly find out why. The difficult bit was that it was my test users who were having trouble, not me, so I couldn’t just jump on their machine and debug the issue. Firstly I started peppering the code with console.log() (the classic printf debugging technique) output and then getting the users to email me the output from the browser’s Javascript console. This worked.. to an extent. It relies on your user’s ability to activate the console and reliably copy+paste the output into an email. Some users are fine with this, but with others you might as well be asking them to perform a heart transplant. And then there’s another class of users: the ones on iOS or Android who don’t even have a console(!)

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AteBitVJ spotted in the wild

Two weeks ago, at the Sundown demoparty in southern England, I took AteBitVJ out for a spin. Actually, it was two spins.. VJing for Hoffman and then Savannah, both of Unstable Label. Both played pretty hard breaks, with Hoffman demonstrating his awesome PT-1210 software running on dual Amigas.

Unfortunately there isn’t much footage of AteBitVJ in action other than this video showing Hoffman in action, with my visuals in the background. <crime reporter>If you have any photos or videos of the event, please don’t hesitate to send them in</crime reporter>

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