Forums

Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
SG-1000 / SC-3000 / SF-7000 / OMV
Home - Forums - Games - Scans - Maps - Cheats - Credits
Music - Videos - Development - Hacks - Translations - Homebrew

View topic - Michael Boyd Interview (Sega SC-3000 Developer)

Reply to topic
Author Message
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2011
  • Posts: 188
  • Location: New Zealand
Reply with quote
Michael Boyd Interview (Sega SC-3000 Developer)
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:27 am
Hi All

Michael Boyd was the greatest of the independent developers for the Sega SC-3000. From 1985 to 1987 Michael created Burglar Bill, Burglar Bill II, Caverns of Karanor, Sir Roderick's Quest, Sorceror's Apprentice, Moonbase Alpha, Decimator, and SegaMon.

If you had a SC-3000 in NZ or Aussie back in the day then chances are you know that already :) Unfortunately any other information about Michael and how he was able to create such great games was very scarce.

One of my friends recently managed to track Michael down and he very kindly agreed to answer some questions. He talks about developing the games, his relationship with Poseidon Software, and what he is doing now.

You can check out the full pdf interview at.

http://www.sc-3000.com/index.php/An-interview-with-Michael-Boyd.html

This is a great little nostalgia trip for anyone who ever played and enjoyed his games. Enjoy :)

Many thanks to Glen Mackie for his super sleuth detective work and Andrew Kerr for putting the interview together.
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Site Admin
  • Joined: 19 Oct 1999
  • Posts: 14740
  • Location: London
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:21 am
PDF? WTF? :)
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2011
  • Posts: 188
  • Location: New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:01 am
Maxim wrote
PDF? WTF? :)


:) Yes, I know. That's just how the boys originally set up that area of the site. I guess using MS Word to generate a pdf is a quick and easy way to get a portable document with nice layout if you aren't used to working with CSS and HTML. You'd have to ask the other Survivors if there is a more deep and meaningful reason than that :)

Cheers
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Site Admin
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2001
  • Posts: 8649
  • Location: Paris, France
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:12 am
Excellent work guys! Thanks
I spent quite some time playing Moonbase Alpha but couldn't clear it.

  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Site Admin
  • Joined: 19 Oct 1999
  • Posts: 14740
  • Location: London
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:33 pm
The interview itself is pretty good, better than most fan interviews you see. I guess those games deserve to be a bit better-known - how well do they hold up against commercial SG-1000 and SMS games? Are there hacks available to play them on mainstream emulators (i.e. as .sg files)?
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2011
  • Posts: 188
  • Location: New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:52 pm
Maxim wrote
The interview itself is pretty good, better than most fan interviews you see.


Thanks :) I think the reason it is interesting is that Michael Boyd's games were something special and these were questions most of us have had for the past 25 years. I had always assumed he was a professional developer. I was amazed to hear he was actually a teenager developing in his bedroom, and without even access to a SF-7000 disk drive unit.

Maxim wrote
I guess those games deserve to be a bit better-known - how well do they hold up against commercial SG-1000 and SMS games?


The short answer is very well. His action adventure puzzle games were unlike anything else you could get for the SC-3000.

Think in terms of the setting of 1980s New Zealand. Grandstand NZ launched the Sega in 1984. From memory by mid-late 1985 all the original cartridge stocks were depleted and apart from a few limited imports of newer titles like Champion Boxing and Flicky (and in 1986-7 there was a Cartridge Hire library with some newer Mark III titles). So all you could buy was Aussie and NZ produced tape and disk titles. In practice that meant tape because the SF-7000s cost $1000 when they were launched, and the disks were about $15 each.

Many of those titles were rubbish, or at least playable but obviously inferior to the cartridge games. Michael Boyd's titles (plus a few other select ones) were the only ones that were better than most cartridge games. You do have to like the style of game though. If you want a hard out arcade game you would play something else.

Wanting to complete Sir Roderick's Quest is actually what got me back into the SC-3000. I'd planned to get Mike Boyds games up and running in an emulator, complete them, then store the SC-3000 permanently. But I got side-tracked playing around with the hardware. Even after building the multicart I still haven't taken the time to actually play it through. Ah well - there's always this Xmas :)

The SMS is probably an unfair comparison simply because it was a far more mature system in terms of developer support and hardware (in that order). Also I never had one, so I don't know the games very well. But the style of game Michael Boyd wrote doesn't require arcade game levels of graphics and sound. The only thing they were missing really was decent music and sound effects. But that is a *very* hard thing to code unless you already have a music engine and a composer.


Maxim wrote
Are there hacks available to play them on mainstream emulators (i.e. as .sg files)?


Yes and no :)

You can't convert tape images to a .sg file without emulator support. The SC-3000 / SG-1000 doesn't have a paging system and the game code has to be loaded in the top 32KB of RAM and Basic IIIB has to be in the lower 32KB and Basic IIIB has to run all its init routines (which overwrite the top 32KB of RAM).

The 16-bit / 44KHz tape audio loads on MESS, but is too large to post in general. Plus that requires a bit of fiddling to get working.

So I have a long term project to clean up and convert the tape games to .SF7 disk images. You do that by loading up a hacked copy of Basic IIIB which calls a hacked version of the game where its internal tape load routines have been replaced with calls to load from disk. I did a proof of concept of that around 18 months back then I used the same technique on the multicart.

So yes, I think you'll see them in a usable .SF7 format for emulators in the next 12 months or so. But I doubt I'll have much time to look at it before the end of the year.

I'll give you an idea of the type of effect I'm after. The following is a proof of concept of a menu system adapted from the multicart. This is several cart games combined together into a self booting .SF7 image. I have a command line tool mostly written to automate that for SG-1000 ROMs. I'll package up various tape games using the same interface (although that will have to be a manual operation).

Long term I want to develop a tool to allow you to dump a .SF7 image back through the RS232C port on a SF-7000. That was what I was originally doing before I side-tracked onto the multicart :)
SegaGames_CircusCharlie_Drol_ElevatorAction_Exerion_StarJacker.rar (78.38 KB)
SG-1000 Games in .SF7 image with menu system - proof of concept

  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Site Admin
  • Joined: 19 Oct 1999
  • Posts: 14740
  • Location: London
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:43 pm
Did I ever publish my disassembly of an original SF7 SG pirate multi game disk? That sounds a lot like what you describe.
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2011
  • Posts: 188
  • Location: New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:43 pm
You may have published the disassembly - not sure. I vaguely recall seeing you comment on the approximate structure of those pirate disks from when I've been searching around for information.

This was one of those breadcrumb trails where I picked up bits from lots of places.

Mike Hadrup had left a clue in one of the last Sega Computer mags back in 1987 that you could convert tape games to disk by including a copy of the IIIB ROM on the disk. I eventually figured out how that part worked conceptually and stepped through the ROM until I found an appropriate entry point to jump to new disk load routines calling into the IPL.

Looking back at other software released at the time, there were probably a few commercial tape games that used this technique to convert to disk where the source wasn't available or it was otherwise inconvenient to relocate the assembled code and OS calls. Remember that you had to code everything directly in opcodes within the confines of Basic IIIB back in the day, so reassembling to relocate stuff wasn't a simple option.

For the menu system, I had a .SF7 copy of a pirate ROM disk myself. So I stepped through the boot sector to see how the menu was done. That gives a good example of calling the IPL disk routines directly and how to bootstrap. That gave me enough to complete the tape game to disk conversion proof of concept.

Your SF-7000 IPL disassembly served as the basis for the multicart menu system. I pulled out all the disk routines, and kept the simple text mode interface (writechar, readchar, writeline, readline etc). So that was very handy for the initial iterations and I had lots of example code to follow to test against when extending it.

And the menu system in that example .SF7 image I posted above is a cut down version of the multicart code. So in principle it is exactly like the original pirate disks, just with a more interesting menu system and an about section to make it really obvious that this is not an original disk compilation. You can of course do a complete menu system in a single 256 byte boot sector the way the original pirate disks did if you want to :)

I have it relatively easy with WLA-DX to develop in and emulators to test / debug in. It must have been a real pain in the ass to do this stuff live on the original systems.
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 15 May 2006
  • Posts: 53
  • Location: Sydney, Australia
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:41 am
I had a heap of those pirate disks back in the day - it was pretty much the way we acquired all our games back then. I know there was one that had some of the IIIB Basic "Arcade Pack" Stephen Coupe games on it.

There was a disk version of the IIIB Basic rom on one side of the disk - except I don't think it had the ability to use SAVE or LOAD commands from disk. You could use the BOOT command though. The games were on the other side. I'm not sure, but I think you had to boot into the IIIB Basic first, and THEN flip the disk over and boot into the games menu... something like that.

I'm pretty sure the guy who used to supply us with all our games had a special utility that he would use to make these compilations - similar to the UTILITY program - you'd insert the source disk, then the destination disk... maybe I could try and see if he's still got some stuff around?

But yeah, those Michael Boyd games were really something else. They had a depth to them that you didn't really see in the commercial games, except for maybe The Castle, or Pitfall II.

I'm yet to finish Sir Roderick's Quest myself... might go have a little go of it now on my multi-cart, actually... :)
  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
SEGA Survivors 5 cents worth :)
Post Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:28 am
Andrew Kerr here, first of all let me just mention that it was an absolute honour to be the one to compile the Michael Boyd interview! As a group we all contributed questions but I was the lucky one that got to format it and yes, it's my fault it's in PDF format, primarily for ease of creation but what's the issue with that anyway? :-/

Michael's games (my middle name is Michael by the way) were the reason I got into designing and developing games as a teen and still to this day although as a teen I had MUCH more time to dedicate than I do now :(

To help you guys, I'll attach the Moonbase Alpha map but if that doesn't help, the hack is to load MBA in mess, save a state file, open the state file in a hex editor, find address &HB0BD and change from &H3D (dec a) to &H00 (nop) for invincibility then reload the state file in mess :)
I also have maps for Sorcerers Apprentice and Sir Roderick's Quest and I plan on writing game guides for all of Michael's games and publishing them on our www.sc-3000.com site.

As an added bonus I've included 3 screenshots of a RPG I've prototyped in C# to make it easier to work out the wrinkles before porting to Z80 and that game will also be made available via our site once complete.

Thanks for the positive comments regarding the interview and our work in general.
Moonbase Alpha Static Map Solution.png (75.68 KB)
Moonbase Alpha Map 1
Moonbase Alpha Static Map Solution.png
StaffhavenProto01.png (11.45 KB)
Staffhaven prototype screenshot 1
StaffhavenProto01.png
StaffhavenProto02.png (16.34 KB)
Staffhaven prototype screenshot 2
StaffhavenProto02.png
StaffhavenProto03.png (14.05 KB)
Staffhaven prototype screenshot 3
StaffhavenProto03.png

  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 05 Jun 2010
  • Posts: 757
  • Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:56 am
I will host the 16/44 WAV files for you. As long as we're not going into 10GB territory it is no problem.
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 15 May 2006
  • Posts: 53
  • Location: Sydney, Australia
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:32 am
kerrjnr wrote
I also have maps for Sorcerers Apprentice and Sir Roderick's Quest and I plan on writing game guides for all of Michael's games and publishing them on our www.sc-3000.com site.


That sounds freakin' awesome. Let us know when they're up! :)
  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:18 am
Here are the two maps I mentioned, the game guides aren't a priority at the moment...
Map-Full.png (273.32 KB)
Sorcerer's Apprentice
Map-Full.png

  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:19 am
For some reason I wasn't able to upload the png so I'll try a zip
srq-map.zip (101.58 KB)
SRQ

  View user's profile Send private message
  • Site Admin
  • Joined: 19 Oct 1999
  • Posts: 14740
  • Location: London
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:59 am
Can we put them in the SMS Power maps section?
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:37 am
Yes you can, here's the "clean" MBA map as well.

Also, slightly off topic but can anyone tell me why this SC-3000 BASIC program header doesn't cause a tape read error in mess or an actual sc-3000? I've written a tool to generate SC-3000 compatible WAV files based on the Tape Format Notes available here (http://www.smspower.org/uploads/Development/sc3000-tape_format_notes.zip
) but it's not working :( I've deliberately written an incorrect Parity byte so I expect the "Found <filename>" message then a "Tape Read Error" but it's not. I'll try and compare wave formats against a ripped cassette that works in mess and see if that indicates where I'm going wrong but I thought someone more experienced may be able to help quicker :)
Moonbase Alpha Static Map.png (35.29 KB)
Moonbase Alpha Clean Map
Moonbase Alpha Static Map.png
ExpectedTapeReadError.zip (1.62 KB)
SEGAWAVWriter output

  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2011
  • Posts: 188
  • Location: New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:03 pm
kerrjnr wrote
Also, slightly off topic but can anyone tell me why this SC-3000 BASIC program header doesn't cause a tape read error in mess or an actual sc-3000?


I checked the file you sent me at the weekend in MESS. The problem with that is the key code marker at the end of the leader file is $10 where it should be $16. If you fix that, then the A AAAAAAAAAAA filename is stored at $83A2 for the filename comparison routines and the tape read error triggers.

The number is 16 hex, not 16 decimal (=$10)

So that's pretty good news - your waveform generator works :)

Cheers
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:58 pm
DO'H!!!! :) Definitely a case of too much time spent eyeballing audio waves and binary and hex files - I couldn't see the forest for the trees!

This is great news, I made the change and it gave me the expected error in mess, fantastico!!! Now full steam ahead on completing this tool and offering it on our website to budding developers! WAHOO! :)

Thanks for your help bud!!
  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:10 pm
Just an update for you all, attached is the third prototype release of the SEGA machine language WAV writer - one slight problem is that mess doesn't seem to recognise the $26 (38d) key code type so the filename - user-specified filename truncated/padded to 16 chars - isn't displayed. I haven't tried using my SC-3000H yet.

The "Z80 Key Code" option determines whether the $26+$27 or $16+$17 key codes are used - this is a new update since the version I sent you HonestBob and I'm yet to test it. I've also realised I should disable the "Start Address" textbox if the "Z80 Key Code" isn't checked but that's okay, the start address isn't written in that scenario anyway.

I look forward to hearing your feedback.
SEGAWAVWriter v0.3.zip (229.81 KB)
SEGA WAV Writer v0.3

  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 14 Mar 2009
  • Posts: 16
  • Location: Sofia
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2023 10:38 am
I am in a process of making playthrough videos for most (all) of the Michael Boyd games. So far I've completed:
Burglar Bill

Burglar Bill II

Decimator - Not really complete, but the first few levels, since the game is endless

Moonbase Alpha


I didn't understand Caverns of Karanor, so I skipped the game for now and now trying to play Sir Roderick's Quest. Will update you if I manage to complete another game.
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 14 Mar 2009
  • Posts: 16
  • Location: Sofia
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2023 7:25 pm
I've played Sir Rodericks Quest, but wasn't able to fully complete it, because I can't go through one of the doors at @37:12 in the video. Probably some items or items combination is needed, or the game is broken, since it crashed when trying to go down at East Watch Tower:



I've used the version from the SC-3000 survivors multicart. If there is another version of the game, I may give it a try, or probably I've missed some item or switch and collected only 5 out of the 7 items need to finish the game.

Did anyone manage to complete the game?
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Three Michael Boyd game maps..
Post Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2023 12:04 am
These maps may help folks, don't want to spoil the games and give too much away though :)
MichaelBoyd-Maps.zip (397.56 KB)
Maps for SRQ, MBA + SA.

  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 14 Mar 2009
  • Posts: 16
  • Location: Sofia
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2023 3:30 pm
kerrjnr wrote
These maps may help folks, don't want to spoil the games and give too much away though :)


Thanks for the maps. Another game done, with the help of map:

  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Thu Nov 02, 2023 2:04 am
Pleased to help!

Your YouTube videos are great, and on behalf of the SEGA SC-3000 Survivors (http://www.sc-3000.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/sc3000), thanks for showcasing the SC-3000!!! :)
  View user's profile Send private message
  • Joined: 14 Mar 2009
  • Posts: 16
  • Location: Sofia
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2023 3:55 am
kerrjnr wrote
Pleased to help!

Your YouTube videos are great, and on behalf of the SEGA SC-3000 Survivors (http://www.sc-3000.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/sc3000), thanks for showcasing the SC-3000!!! :)


Thank you for your kind words. Because of them, I made some more Sega SC-3000 playthroughs. They will appear in the next days in this playlist:


I made videos of the arcade pack games, but also of Bank Panic and C-So!
When I make more, I will add them to the playlist.

Greetings
  View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Wairarapa, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Post Posted: Sat Jan 27, 2024 11:27 pm
Great to hear, I'm looking forward to seeing them!
  View user's profile Send private message
Reply to topic



Back to the top of this page

Back to SMS Power!