This page details some other Spectrum projects (mainly MM/JSW games) that I'm considering but haven't 'committed' to yet.
28th May 2009: added Manic Miner: The Lost Levels and Manic Blagger.
I am planning to write a MM/JSW game called H***** - even the title is a secret for now, as I don't want anyone to beat me to it!
It will be one of the 64-room variants of JSW64 (X, Y, Z or [), as I want to use as many of the features from both MM and JSW as possible.
I plan to start implementing in the second half of 2009 at the earliest, although I don't believe it would be a realistic goal to release it by the end of the year.
Willy's New Hat (aka Jet Set Willy IV) is one of the great JSW mysteries, as it is not known who wrote it or when! It surfaced on the Internet in 1997. There are some good atmospheric room-ideas in the game, but only 38 of the rooms are edited, and there are no horizontal or vertical guardians. Furthermore there are several irrational exits (mostly leading to you being trapped in Room 0, "Bottomless Pit Of Nothingness"), which could branch off to new rooms, making it not so linear.
Click here for my Willy's New Hat bug-report, which got me thinking about revamping the game myself! I would extend the game to 64 rooms (with the irrational exits leading to the new rooms), so it would be either a JSW48 game or a JSW64 (Variant X, Y, Z or [) game.
I would write Willy's New Hat (Broadsoft Revamp) after Afrikaan and Toy.
In April 2009, there was a four-page article by Stuart Campbell in Issue 63 of Retro Gamer magazine about a compilation of 20 caverns called Manic Miner: The Lost Levels.
The caverns are ones that were introduced (or modified) by non-Spectrum versions of Manic Miner:
The article gives a screenshot of each cavern, and describes them in terms of a story.
The compilation doesn't actually exist as a playable game. Nigel Fishwick (author of Manic Miner: comp.sys.sinclair) started implementing the caverns by editing the original Spectrum-version of Manic Miner, but sadly this effort was abandoned after two caverns.
So Stuart Campbell merely suggests playing the caverns in a series of emulators:
The article also mentions "the superb SAM Coupé version, which effectively featured two entire separate sequels alongside the original 20 levels."
The thought of doing a Spectrum-version of Manic Miner: The Lost Levels myself has occurred to me, but it's a low priority due to my many other goals, so at this stage, I'd be happy to see someone else do it.If I were to take on the project myself, I'd start with some thorough research into other-computer versions of Manic Miner (and Jet Set Willy), as 20 is a suspiciously convenient number of rooms for a Manic Miner game! If I were to implement it as a JSW64 Manic Miner game, it could have up to 64 rooms (or even 128 in Variants V or W).
Radzone (Dave Rogers and Colin Hogg, Mastertronic, 1986) is a brilliant platform-game for the Amstrad CPC, which has never been converted to the Spectrum. I would love to do so one day, but it would require considerable time and commitment to do a faithful conversion.
Click here to see the original cassette-inlay.
Radzone is much like Jet Set Willy in the way that you move from room to room, collecting items. The items are radioactive objects which you have to remove to make each room safe. There is a time-limit in each room in terms of the amount of radiation absorbed. It's like the air-supply in Manic Miner except that the more uncollected items there are in the room, the faster your absorbed dose of radiation increases. You can cure yourself by going back to a safe zone, which really encourages you to spread out from a growing cluster of safe zones (the game has a nice branching-factor, and the cartography is almost always logical with two-way exits).
Radzone has a great atmosphere, with superb sound-effects that still stick in my mind after all these years, and great music in the start-room (and a few other rooms). The guardians are more sophisticated than plain horizontal and vertical guardians, and you can ride them like lifts, though it can be like riding a bucking horse if you try to do that! :-) Some intriguing graphics, too...
It was only for the Amstrad CPC that Radzone was written (a fact confirmed by Dave Rogers via email). I might attempt to write a Spectrum version from scratch, and/or base it on the JSW or JSW64 game-engine.
From my childhood I remember the intriguing unplayable demo of Roland in Time (Amsoft/Gem, 1985) on my Amstrad CPC 6128. In 2005 I downloaded Roland in Time to play on an Amstrad-emulator, and found it just as Jet-Set-Willyish as the demo had suggested! :-)
So I plan to convert Roland in Time to JSW (possibly JSW64, for I may well need the extra block-types to do a more faithful conversion). Roland in Time features something very similar to the vertical conveyors I plan to implement for my next (48K) JSW game, Afrikaan.
I also intend to research the other Amstrad games in the Roland series, to see if any others are worth including in this project.
Blagger (Anthony Crowther, Alligata, 1983) is a Commodore-64 game with a striking resemblance to Manic Miner. Matthew Gordon recently kindled my interest in Blagger with his Java-conversion, so an obvious question I've asked myself is: should I convert it to the Spectrum as a JSW64 Manic Miner game?
Of course, I could ask myself the same question of many other platform-games... conversion offers a massive world of possibilities!
There's a Manic-Minerish game for the BBC Micro called Magic Mushrooms (Acornsoft), which comes with a built-in room-editor although it only has nine rooms.
You have to collect the many mushrooms from each room and then go to the exit, whilst avoiding horizontal guardians that can turn at random, and dealing with various cell-types including conveyors, ice, crumbling blocks, vertical conveyors and quicksand.
The thought of doing a Spectrum MM conversion has crossed my mind (probably a JSW64 MM game), and also of converting/reinterpreting the standard MM caverns to the BBC game.
In 1979, Kit Williams published a short book called Masquerade, which encoded, in a series of puzzles and riddles, the precise location of a buried treasure: a hare made of 18-carat gold and dazzlingly adorned with precious stones.
The treasure has long since been found, but the book is nevertheless a most intriguing read. The Sun and the Moon are a man and a lady who fall in love. Lady Moon entrusts Jack Hare with an precious amulet to deliver to Lord Sun. For every page of text, there is a picture with a hidden hare and a riddle such as "I AM AS COLD AS EARTH/AS OLD AS EARTH/AND IN THE EARTH AM I/ONE OF SIX TO EIGHT". The book is very surreal and We Prettyish.
I would like to write a MM-adaptation of Masquerade, to be released some time after MM: Outside. There are fifteen pictures, but with the riddles being over 32 characters in length I'll spread some of them over multiple rooms. I'll probably make it a JSW64:MM game so that I'm not restricted to 20 rooms, and can have more block-types per room.
I also fancy doing a JSW tribute to George Lucas's classic six-film Star Wars series (Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)). I might well do a JSW tribute-game, or series of games.
I could do a JSW game per film, but since the plots are rather hard to translate into JSW games, I'll probably just do one big game (probably JSW64) based on the geography of the Star Wars galaxy - set on the planets Naboo, Tatooine, Coruscant, Kamino, Geonosis, Utapau, Kashyyyk, Mustafar, Alderaan, Hoth, Dagobah, Bespin, Endor, &c. - and, of course, in space. This would break the game down into nice clusters, probably connected by teleports - a happy medium between a tediously linear game and a frustratingly branching one.
There are several Star Wars references in existing MM/JSW games: "The Endorian Forest" in Matthew Smith's original Manic Miner is obviously based on the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, as is "Planetfall: Return to Endor" in Richard Hallas's Jet Set Willy in Space, which also features a giant Darth Vader sprite. Adam Britton's The Continuing Adventures: Special Edition has a room called "Use the Force, Willy!", and my own Manic Miner: The Buddha of Suburbia uses the Death Star (which was my logo as a child) as the portal-graphic.
Having already written Manic Miner: Neighbours - Allana Truman, I have a hankering to do likewise for the other Australian soap-opera I watch, Home and Away - with particular reference to my favourite character, Cassie Turner (played by Sharni Vinson).
Cassie's first-ever appearance (in 2005) was an electrifying one: as Ric Dalby was walking along the beach, she rode up on a jet-ski (to magnificent music) and offered him a ride. I was immediately captivated by her svelte, bikini-clad body, her Golovinesque sashay, her appetite for playful mischief, and her intriguing air of mystique (she wouldn't even tell Ric her name). I'd better stop myself right now before an overwhelming proportion of this web-page turns into the Cassie Turner story! ;-)
Cassie's plotlines are not as linear and circumscribed as Allana's were, so I feel more inclined to make a JSW game (possibly JSW64) where the rooms are the various locations in Summer Bay, and the guardians are the characters with whom Cassie has interacted.
I might even end up doing a general JSW: Home and Away with no special emphasis on Cassie, but I'll see how I feel when she leaves (Sharni Vinson has a three-year contract, due to end in 2008).
The start-room will be called "The Last Shower", as the older characters have often been heard to remark, "I didn't come down in the last shower!" It will be a mainly blank room where the player simply falls down from the top-middle of the screen into the room below.
This would be an adaptation of my favourite Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, about an orphan in a workhouse who shocks the officials by asking for more gruel. They sell him as an undertaker's apprentice for a negative amount of money, but he runs away to London, where he is naïvely drawn into a gang of pickpockets. You would probably play as Oliver for most of the game, but possibly as different characters for scenes he isn't in.
I would love to do a JSW game with a nineteenth-century Dickensian atmosphere. By the way, my second-favourite Dickens novel is Great Expectations.
This would be an adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's classic Lord Emsworth books about the vague, amiable old gentleman, Clarence: Earl of Emsworth, who lives in Blandings Castle. That would make a nice setting for a JSW game, with aspects of the various stories and characters blended into the game. You would almost certainly get to play as different characters in different rooms.
I have a Slovak fetish, and I fancy learning the Slovak language. Inspired by the various German and Spanish translations of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, I have a hankering to do a Slovak translation of Jet Set Willy.
My idea is to translate the 60 room-titles to Slovak, and then to delete each room and write it from scratch (i.e. replace Matthew Smith's vision of a bathroom with my own JSW vision of a bathroom, and so on). I'll keep the geography of the game the same, so that JSW fans will easily know the English name of each room.
I might do such for Manic Miner too, of course.
I might write a Jet Set Willy game based on the Bible, covering key stories from the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man... to Jesus Christ's Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven (which would correspond to Willy running to the toilet at the end of the game, with Maria corresponding to the rock that barred the tomb).
I might use patch-vectors, as in Geoff Mode, to implement some of the miracles.