Philipp Klaus Krause
is possibly the only salsa dancing, arrow flinging,
programmer on the planet!
With several successful games programmed behind his
we listen when he has something to say about our favorite system.
is Philipp Klaus Krause? What do you do in the real world?
I was born about two months after the release of the ColecoVision. I'm a student
of mathematics and computer science at the University in Freiburg, southern Germany.
I have a Baccalaureus in mathematics (comparable to a bachelor's degree in the
US) and will soon have a Diplom in computer science (comparable to a master's
degreee in the US).
MT> We all love the Colecovision
here, but why do you love for the Colecovision?
of us here grew up with the Colecovision, but you were in diapers when Coleco
was on top!
The ColecoVision's technical limitations (3.58 Mhz 8-bit processor, 1 KB RAM,
32 KB ROM, etc) make programming for it interesting. One one hand these limits
ensure that one can complete a ColecoVision game and be quite confident to have
done a good job within them. Unlike when programming for a PC one doesn't wonder
if it would be a good idea to add this or that to a game forever, since at some
point there's just not enough RAM / ROM / CPU power left to add more. On the other
hand these limits make one think about how to implement features, about how to
get the most out of the hardware.
have been programming for the Colecovision for many years now.
did you start tinkering with making code for the Colecovision?
A long time ago, when I was still in school. I started experimenting with HITECH-C
and Marcel de Koegel's library.
did you write your own development tools for Colecovision development?
I wanted to use sdcc, which I preferred to HITECH-C, since SDCC is free software
and still actively developed. I wanted to be able to use tools from the Unix world
like make for ColecoVision development. So I wrote tools for ColecoVision development
that fit into the sdcc and Unix world.
did you accomplish?
have written libraries and tools for nearly every aspect of ColecoVision programming.
The only major missing piece is sound creation. There are libraries and tools
for the graphics, including sprites, compression and music. I have become maintainer
of sdcc's Z80 port and was able to make it generate smaller and faster code.
created an exclusive aircraft dive performance stage for the GDG release of the
first Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels. Tell us about this exclusive
having completed Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels (SCJ), I had
some more gameplay ideas that did fit into the SCJ world but which I couldn't
really integrate into SCJ. One of them was to let the player control an aircraft
with dive capability. I made this idea into the bonus level for the GDG edition
of SCJ. The normal edition instead has a bonus level where the player controls
an anti-aircraft gun. Both ideas got integrated into SCJ2 later.
designed your own unique levels for the Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels
did you encounter while creating this new content?
in SCJ, only the first two to three levels are influenced by the Fantasy arcade
game. When creating SCJ2 I started with gameplay ideas, such as the two from the
last question. The levels in SCJ2 differ much more in gameplay than the SCJ levels.
Thus less code could be shared between the functions implementing gameplay. It
wasn't easy to get all the game content into 32KB of ROM. Compressing the graphics
data helped a lot.
Masher is a port of Ole Laursens unique gnome game.
is the relationship between Monster Masher and Boulder Dash?
do not know if or to what degree Ole Laursen was inspired by Boulder Dash
when creating Monster Masher.
random level generator that you designed for Monster Masher is very unique
for a Colecovision title.
you could be so kind, please describe the technical challenges you faced while
programming the game.
There were three main challenges:
Making the generated levels different enough to lead to different situations during
2) Avoiding generating
levels with no possible solution
Allow for some way to continue games
there any features or options in your version of Schlange that were not
present in other versions of Snakes or Nibbles?
There exist lots of different implementations and variants of this game, so this
is a difficult question. AFAIK the searching AI is rather unique (I have implemented
it in Schlange 2 (http://www.spth.de) though before I started programming
for the ColecoVision).
converted the PC game KYE to the Colecovision as CYE.
us about the game and meaning of the games names.
is a puzzle game with a real-time aspect, inspired by puzzle games such as Boulder
Dash and Sokoban. When I presented my games at the Retrobörse
in Karlsruhe last year this game was the most popular. Nearly all the time there
was someone playing it on the ColecoVision I had brought. Since the initial run
of 50 cartridges was a limited edition, but ColecoVision gamers really liked it
and I don't want an artifical shortage keeping players from enjoying the game
I've made a second run of another 20 cartridges, but with different levels this
I do not know why the game and the green dot representing the player
were called "Kye". I changed the "K" to a "C"
to state that that it's a slightly different game and for the ColecoVision. And
since Cye has some two-player levels the green dot representing the second
player is called "Cye", too.
us about your upcoming project for the Colecovision, Bankruptcy Builder.
this game you are in charge of a construction company. You assign construction
teams to construction sites, trying to complete buildings as soon as possible.
During different construction phases different skills are required, so sometimes
you'll want to change teams during construction. After each level construction
teams can be upgraded. Gameplay can get a bit complex, so you'll need the manual
at first. The game will come with overlays for the ColecoVision controllers.
game entitled Colored Gravity is also in the works. What can we expect
from this title?
is a space combat game. Most objects have one of three colors. Instead of gravity
objects of different color attract each other, while objects of the same color
repulse ech other.
seems that all you do is tinker with the Colecovision. What other hobbies battle
for your freetime?
I didn't find much time for hobbies, ColecoVision or other. I hope this will be
a bit different now that I have completed my final thesis. I'm currently learning
salsa dance and doing a bit of archery. I also contribute to OpenStreetMap, mostly
mapping the mountains around the place I live.
can we expect the third and final Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels game?
This game is nearly complete. However I want to wait until I have completed some
more games and can release them at the same time. There already is a demo at http://www.colecovision.eu.
have made available to the public the Colecovision homebrew kit?
does this kit offer to the aspiring Colecovision programmer?
It offers a way to create cartridges. The kit contains all the components needed
to make a cartridge (except for the tools such as a soldering iron and an EPROM
game Tunnels & Trolls was featured in much of Colecos early advertising.
The game never materialized. I remember looking at the sample screenshot and daydreaming
about the title over a quarter century ago. Rumor has it that you are considering
making this long lost game a reality. Little is known about the original games
design, so how do you plan to approach the project?
don't intend to do much guessing about what the game would have been like had
it been created back then. The game's rules will be more similar to the more recent
7th edition of T&T than to the 5th edition. I intend to make this game a classic
RPG, with a large world to explore. However this isn't a simple project, so it
will take some time to complete. Following this interview, you can download a
simple tech demo showing an early prototype of the map engine for T&T from
the Good Deal Games website. There isn't any gameplay yet, just a huge map you
can scroll around. You might want to stick to the roads or rivers to avoid getting
love the Colecovision and we love your games - Thank You!
questions? E-mail Philipp