Wakefield's September speaker was Mark Moxon (former Acorn magazine editor) and arguably number one Elite fan.....
As usual, it was on Zoom with an audience from all over 'greater' Wakefield. Talk was recorded on Zoom if you missed it.
The focus of the talk was Elite! (spoiler in the title). Mark reminded us of his Elite career, starting 1984 with Elite on BBC. He also worked at Acorn User, Acorn and Xara. From 1999 he was on the h2g2 site.
First off we had a quick intro to Elite (just in case). It is a 3D space tracing sim first released in 1984 for BBC Micro. It has been ported to lots of other systems and is one of the most influential games in history.
Elite Documentation project to show how Elite was created and secrets of its coding. David Braden released Elite source code which is very terse and unclear. Some code actually written on Acorn Atom. Paul Brink annotated this with some comments. Mark's lockdown project was to look at Kieran Connell's further annotated version and further document in May 2020. He documented other versions and also Aviator and Revs. He has backported features between versions (ie flicker free Elite code). He also produced a Teletext version.
Next Mark looked at some features in Elite starting with how the Procedural Universe was generated in such small memory. Uses seed value to build other values.
Authors very proud of optimised Maths routines for drawing. Uses sig-magnitude numbers. No lookup tables used except some trig. The ship is at the centre of the Universe to simplify maths.
Mark also dissected the plot screen mode. Mix of Mode 4 and Mode 5 with a custom screen size with interrupt handler handling switches. Square to simplify plotting and code stored in non-visible parts. Rev uses a similar split screen mode.
Some other interesting things covered were the text tokenisation to squeeze in all that text, extended system descriptions, line heaps (drawing and redrawing using EOR), the competition code contains clues so Acornsoft could check entries for cheats, second processor versions (Elite had its own API to use), and TINA (custom code extensions).
Mark gave us an overview of other versions on systems (Commodore, NES, Amiga, Atari ST, Archimedes).
All the details Mark showed us and the versions are on his website. Currently working through NES version.
BBC Master had flicker free smoother graphics which has been back-ported to previous versions.
The Eilte Universe Editor allows creation of scenes from games - inspired by box art on the game. Create your own universe! Mod bolted onto original game.
Teletext Elite uses Mode 7 and surprisingly playable.
As always time for questions at the end.
Thanks to Mark for a fascinating talk and if you are into Elite (or games) his talk is well worth watching.
Details on all meetings (and email address to ask for a Zoom link) can be found on the WROCC website