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Vintage & Modern Tech Blog

<5 Min *AGD* BASIC #1 - Intro to AGD BASIC

October 21, 2017

The Sinclair Spectrum ROM BASIC is great, and has plenty of keywords to build a plethora of programs, including games but - it was realised early on in the 1980s that BASIC programs could be slow and jerky.

 

The reason for this sluggishness is that the ROM BASIC is a high-level interpreted language.

 

The Spectrum doesn't actually understand BASIC. Instead, it operates as a binary system, completely comprised of 'low level' 0's and 1's. This means the BASIC has to be interpreted, keyword by keyword line by line - a bit like going through a book translating it from English to Spanish.

 

Further delays are caused as each and every line of BASIC is checked for errors by the computer. In animation, Sinclair BASIC moves small 8x8 User Defined Graphics (UDGs) in jerky 8 pixel jumps and has no dedicated sprite handling.

 

For the BASIC programmer, the best of both worlds would be an editor, that compiles BASIC into nifty binary machine code.

 

Enter Arcade Game Designer (AGD) 4.7 - Jonathan Cauldwell's popular and free to use BASIC, that has been in development for several years now, and has spawned tens if not hundreds of new games for the ZX Spectrum (and Amstrad CPC) in the 21st Century.

 

To start with - if you decide you would like to begin using AGD - there are a couple of first steps that would undoubtably prove useful for the beginner.

 

Getting started

1. Download AGD 4.7 from Jonathan Cauldwell's website HERE.

 

2. Watch Paul Jenkinson's beginner and advanced tutorials on 
   YOU TUBE (via The Spectrum Show).

 

3. Head to the Downloads page and click on <5 Min BASIC ZX,

    which includes an example AGD program based on my 2015 game

    Christmas Gift Hunt.

 

4. Grab Unofficial AGD Tools, also on the Downloads page.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Stephen

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