"Forget about the shoot-em-up designer," "ignore the Quill," "disregard the might of HURG," "here is The Ultimate Games Designer for the ZX Spectrum" shouts Andrew Green sounding rather like a travelling salesman peddling the latest Miracle Potion™.
The problem with other Games Designer software is that you're often confined within the limits of a particular genre, predefined sprite attack waves, limitations on program size or restrictions on distribution due to a direct dependence on the original code etc.
Amazingly there are no such restrictions with this software - although Andrew would like a mention in anything you produce with it - in fact the only reason I can see that he is offering this software for FREE is that he's narrowly missed the commercial market by 30-or-so years?!
U.Z.X.S.G.D. is provided in a .z80 format, however, if this review goes well* the developers have said they're willing to knock up a loading screen and offer it for sale in a proper box for only $14.95 plus P&P.
Either way it would seem that this "truly groundbreaking piece of software" is, finally, the answer to the 80s dreams of aspiring Speccy Games designers everywhere.
Mr Green kicks off by thoroughly recommending users to read the instructions before attempting to write anything - which is both sound advice and oddly menacing at the same time?
There are only 4 pages and, despite the eye-bleed inducing black/yellow background effect, it seemed simple enough so I jumped straight in...
You begin by selecting a Memory Block starting point (I just went with 23296 as suggested) and then start entering the game code as a sequence of seemingly meaningless numbers (which he refers to as 'machine code??')
Needless to say I didn't have a clue where to begin, so I downloaded a copy of The Internet and searched for "Machine Code Type-ins."
It turns out that each computer has its own 'machine code' and that the listing I'd discovered was for the Atari 600XL, however, this only became apparent after I'd manually converted from HEX and typed in 2349 individual numbers.
Next up I found a dusty old copy of "40 Best Machine Code Routines for the ZX Spectrum" in the attic. Despite being published by Hewson Consultants it appears that this wasn't a type-in of Uridium as I'd first assumed in WHSmith back in 1987.
C Nonsense in BASIC, 5020:1 again?!
A psychometric test I completed in 1995 concluded that I would make an average programmer and so it's with some authority that I can state that U.Z.X.S.G.D. may not enable the masses to realize their game designing fantasies, after all. Sorry 80s dreamers.
Apparently Helen Reidy typed-in husband Dave's machine code for Skool Daze - likely using a program not-too-dissimilar to this - so we know that great things are possible - however, I doubt that I will ever successfully use the Save, Load or Test functions of this particular program.
* Andrew has since begrudgingly given us permission to provide the .z80 version for download having decided not to pursue the physical distribution model.