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Back to the Future


When I undertook to recreate some of my favourite classic games from the 8-bit era during my RetroRemakes challenge, I found myself drawn back to the joy of creating simple games on those early computers. There’s something about the fun of creating something on such a simple system, with so many limitations that would be considered crazy today. I dusted off, recapped and replenished my old systems from storage, 3 ZX Spectrums, an Atari ST, and an Amiga. The 16-bit machines are great fun, but nothing gives that feeling of pure nostalgia like playing Jetpac, Manic Miner, Pssst, and so many other favourites on the Spectrum.

I also decided, what seems like, and probably is, years ago to invest in the 2nd Kickstarter for the Spectrum Next, which has now finally arrived and sits with pride on my second desk, unfortunately not used as much as I’d like to. All this has led me to yearn for the old days….but. Programming games in Z80 assembly, while a joyous trip down memory lane, is a bit too arduous for me these days, I guess I’ve grown lazy.


An idea was born to create a tool to make it easier for myself, and hopefully, others, to realise their 8-bit game ideas on the Spectrum or an emulator and relive some of those good times. As I can now build things very efficiently in Godot and spend much of my freelance developer time in that engine, it seems to make sense to use that engine to create the tool.

Taking advantage of the capabilities and power of modern hardware to create games for lesser systems is not new, even back in the day, we used a PC with a cross assembler for 8-bit development at Incentive. This however will be much more than a cross assembler. My mission is to create something that will empower anyone with a modicum of creative energy and some determination to bring their masterpieces to life, with no (or realistically very little) programming knowledge. Built-in tools for sprite and graphics creation, maps, and a visual programming tool for bringing your game to life with simple drag-and-drop blocks.

The tool is early in development, it doesn’t even have a name yet (suggestions welcomed), but making rapid progress. I’m documenting the process with semi-regular, small video blogs on YouTube. While I’m not sure exactly how I will make it available for others to use yet, it will happen. So, if you want to see it grow, pop over to my YouTube channel and subscribe, and if you’re interested in supporting this project, buy me a Ko-Fi and get in on the early access when it’s ready for prime time.

Buy me a Coffe @Ko-Fi

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