bb2-mode – Edit Blitz Basic II code in Emacs

May 22, 2017 0 Comments

bb2-mode screenshot

For the past couple of months I’ve been messing about with some retro-programming, working on a little game in Blitz Basic II for the Commodore Amiga (more info coming soon). I just wanted a nice no-stress project to spend a few weeks on before making yet another attempt to change my life through code.

I grew up on Blitz, and it was fun to return to it again after 20 years. On a whim, I decided to write an Emacs major mode for Blitz II so I could edit and read code outside of an Amiga Emulator. It was also a good opportunity to practice my Lisp programming (Emacs plugins are written in Emacs Lisp).

bb2-mode not only provides syntax highlighting and online help for over 2400 Blitz II commands, it can load and save tokenized files. Blitz II saved its source code in a custom file format in order to save disk space. As far as I know, bb2-mode is the only thing outside an Amiga which can load and save these files. So even if the Emacs-using-retro-Blitz-programmer demographic isn’t that large, bb2-mode still has some value.

Anyhow, bb2-mode is on github and is under active development. I’ll have more to say about Blitz II in the future, so stay tuned.

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9th May 2017

May 9, 2017 0 Comments

In other news, Theresa May announced the return of Letters of Marque against the dastardly Continentals and the cruel Turk.

In a special televised announcement on the One Show, May issued Olympic Rower Sir Steve Redgrave with the first letter and waved encouragingly as he set out to plunder a French fishing vessel in his rowing boat.

“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman,” she declared, “but I have the heart and stomach of a Tory MP”. “Nicholas Soames!” yelled a guttersnipe before he was dragged away by the police.
“God for Harry, England and Prince George”, the crowd yelled as Sir Steve rowed away with a cutlass between his teeth.

Last seen being sucked under the wake of a ferry somewhere around Dogger bank, Sir Steve is remembered as a fine Olympian but a middling Buccaneer. Theresa May was unavailable for comment.


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AtlasMaker now on Github

August 6, 2016 0 Comments

I have uploaded the latest version of AtlasMaker to Github, so it should be easier for you to hack on, report bugs etc. Not much in my Github account at the moment, but I plan to upload some of my experiments soon.

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Post-Antigen Blues

May 8, 2016 0 Comments

So, I haven’t written a blog post since 2014! What have I been doing since I released Antigen?

Well, I have been busy:

  • Learning 3d modelling
  • Improving my art skills
  • Improving my maths skills
  • Learning Unreal Engine
  • Learning Common Lisp

Developing Antigen was a pretty frustrating experience. I had no problems with the programming, but creating the artwork was difficult and took a great deal of time and experimentation. I threw away an enormous amount of crap artwork during the production of the game. So I resolved that once the game was finished, I would spend some time working on art fundamentals before doing another game.

I’ve been working through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which I actually find quite difficult. I’ve never been interested in drawing things in the real world or in representing reality; I only ever wanted to express what was in my imagination. My brain goes crazy when I try to draw a chair or a cup or something – its like it’s not interested in purely sensory phenomena, but constantly tries to seek ideas or “personalities” in things. I’m going to stick with it. There’s a lot of value in doing things that don’t come naturally to you.

I’ve also been working on the exercises on Draw A Box which I’ve found extremely helpful in building basic pencil handling skills (Which I sorely need. I have dyspraxia, and had to have a special pen at school!)

Coffee machine modelled in Maya. One of my first models since starting the Digital Tutors course. One day I’ll do a nice render of it

On top of that, I’ve been learning 3d modelling in preparation for my next game which will use the Unreal game engine. I learned to model years ago, using Imagine on the Amiga, but my skills were pretty out of date. Maybe I’ll post some of my models and renders when I start getting good. I’ve been following tutorials on Digital Tutors. The tutorials are very good, but it is a bit pricey, especially as you’ve gotta sign up as a premium user to access the project files/reference images which you need if you really want to succeed.

Imagine 2.0 on the Amiga. I got this free from a computer magazine in the early 90’s. My first 3d modelling experience


Apart from the game development stuff, I’ve also been learning the Common Lisp programming language. I got interested in Lisp a couple of years ago when I first found out about Lisp Machines; high-end workstations from the 70s and 80s that worked in a fundamentally different way from computers today. They offered programmers a positively luxurious environment for building software, and I found them extremely inspiring. I want to do something special with Lisp, but I ain’t gonna talk about that yet 😉



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