Wednesday, February 22, 2012

News Bytes

Hey y'all!  Sorry I've been inactive here for a happens...  Anyway, I thought it might be good to at least announce a few tidbits.

The Sounds Of Fahrfall

In an earlier post, I released an Alpha Test version of Fahrfall.  That release originally included a disk image which can be used either in an emulator or with DriveWire or which can be converted into an actual diskette for use on a real CoCo.  But, not everyone with a CoCo has enough hardware laying around to make use of those options and they may not be satisfied with using an emulator.  So, I used the Toolshed tools to make an audio file available that can be used to load Fahrfall through the cassette interface built-in to every CoCo!


Also, in order to satisfy my own curiosity I set-up my Tano Dragon (a CoCo "clone").  I was able to use the audio file above to load Fahrfall on this American-ized Dragon without any problems -- hooray!

Ready For The Road

In another earlier post, I mentioned that I had plans to take Fahrfall on the road a bit.  For years I have made a habit of going to the annual "Last" Chicago CoCoFEST!, and I have often taken one or more CoCo systems along with me.  Impromptu packing strategies are workable for one trip per year, but I wanted something more durable for this year's activities.  To me, nothing says "durable" like a Pelican case.

I chose the Pelican 1620 because it was the biggest case that was still small enough not to automatically qualify as "oversize" with most airlines.  With a 20" LCD monitor, a CoCo2, a CoCo3, and some misc support hardware, it will probably still be "overweight".  Hopefully I can still take it on an airplane if I need to do so.

Video Killed The Radio Star

Where I live, a group of us are trying to establish a "makerspace" (aka "hackerspace").  We do not yet have an actual space, so for now we have formed a club that we call the Alamance Makers Guild.  The club has regular meetings, and at the last meeting I did a little show-n-tell session about Fahrfall.  Our club leader Ben Harris took some video which he then edited and posted.

IMHO, Ben did a great job on the video.  You should also check-out some of the stuff he offers through his business Harris Educational.  If nothing else, buy one of his t-shirts! :-)

I have added an event to my Fahrfall road show!  For those on the east coast of the USA, make plans to attend VCF East 8.0 on May 5th and 6th, 2012.  Why?  Because Fahrfall will be on exhibit there!  Seriously, come out and tell me how much you love Fahrfall! :-)

So Long For Now

Well, those are the current highlights.  On top of that, I have recently spoken to a reporter for the local news paper.  I expect Fahrfall to be mentioned in the Burlington Times-News sometime soon -- how exciting!  Sometimes it pays to live in a more rural area...

Anyway, now you should grab the Alpha Test release and give it a go.  Let me hear from you!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

RetroChallenge Winner!

Well, the results are in...Fahrfall is a RetroChallenge Winter Warmup winner for 2012!  That officially makes Fahrfall an "award-winning" game! :-)

I know, I know -- many of you will compare this to winning an argument on the Internet... ;-)  But, I am really excited about this little honor.  The other RetroChallenge competitors had some cool projects, and it would have been perfectly reasonable to pick a different winner.  I really appreciate this little bit of recognition...I am proud of Fahrfall!!

Captains Of Industry

I know that you must be dying to get a Fahrfall t-shirt!!  Still unable to shake the Fahrfall bug, I took a little time to actually setup a CafePress storefront.  There are several options to accommodate a modest range of tastes and budgets.  Feel free to deck-out yourself in some Fahrfall gear, then come to CoCoFEST! or Maker Faire: NC and say "hello"!

I hope to get back to some Fahrfall development soon.  It might not be this weekend -- I need to dig out of the hole I made over the past month while focusing on Fahrfall.  But, I'll be back soon with some more updates -- stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fahrfall T-shirts!

OK, so I haven't quite decompressed from my work on Fahrfall.  In fact, I decided that I needed a Fahrfall t-shirt!

Capturing Graphics

I hacked-up a dummy version of the Fahrfall code.  This version cycles through just enough title screen frame sequences to get all of the "FAHRFALL" bits onto the screen.  It also skips printing the copyright info and the "PUSH BUTTON" message.  But, it does put both the falling and standing versions of Fahrve onto the screen.

I loaded that version of Fahrfall into MESS and I let it run.  I then used the GNOME screen capture utility on my Fedora desktop to cut-out the title and the Fahrve variants.  These looked alright, but they needed a little processing.

The custom t-shirt sites are fairly easy to use, but they don't seem to be very good at resizing graphics.  The Fahrve images looked fine, but they were a bit small.  I used the ImageMagick 'convert' utility to make them quite a bit bigger.  Once they were resized, you could see that there had been some dithering along the way -- Fahrve looked really blurry!  I added an option to 'convert' to sharpen the image somewhat, and it looks OK now.

Another problem with the screenshots was the opaque black background.  That doesn't sound like a problem, but when you put it on a t-shirt you will have a big square area of black that probably won't match the t-shirt beneath it.  Luckily, 'convert' understands transparency (at least for PNG images).  So I added another option to the 'convert' invocation and the opaque black backgrounds disappeared.
Customized Goodness

I visited the CafePress site and found their custom t-shirt offerings.  Their online design software is fairly easy to use.  I uploaded my graphics, added some text to plug the blog you are reading, and moved stuff around a bit.  My t-shirt is on it's way!

If you are a Fahrfall fan and you want to show your true colors, then feel free to order a copy of my design!  I don't have any relationship with CafePress (other than as a customer), so I won't make any money off your purchase.  I doubt many people will pay the full price for a custom t-shirt anyway.  Still, I would love to see someone sporting Fahrve on their back! :-)

Maybe someday Fahrfall will be popular enough to merit bulk merchandise production?  That would be cool... :-)