The Ninja Milkman Conspiracy (and Maze)

I’m a bit behind in my blogging, so I’ve got a bit of a “what I did this summer” catchup to do. First up is The Ninja Milkman Conspiracy, a cheap and cheerful oldskool scrolly Speccy demo made for this August’s International Vodka Party, featuring the classic circle interference effect, some creative use of dithering, and a dancing robot. What more could you ask for? The title, incidentally, was just something random and irrelevant to save it from being called ‘IVP 2008 demo’ (which is just as well, because there were already 2 other demos in the competition called that) but is actually a reference to the milkman at one of our offices who is able to deliver the milk and disappear without making a sound.

…All of which is ordinary enough, but the exciting thing (if you’re the sort of person to get excited about build scripts) is, um, the build script. I’ve been happily using makefiles for ages, but this time I finally flipped at the amount of redundant boilerplate you need to shove in there for a typical Spectrum project, even a small one like this – having to remember command line syntax, having to explicitly set up dependencies even though they’re all clearly marked as ‘include’ lines in the assembler file – so I came up with Maze, a Spectrum-oriented replacement for Make written in Ruby. Inevitably, being a scratch-my-own-itch sort of program, it’s a bit more hard-coded (and tuned towards my own way of working) than I’d like, but I reckon it’s enough of an improvement over bog-standard makefiles that it could conceivably be useful to other people. And if it is, maybe I’ll be encouraged to rewrite it in a more open-ended way some time…

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