How my pixels got into ROM

February 26, 2016

P0-Snake-cart-header

This time I’m writing about a C64 game and how I got involved with it, rewinding to early 2015.

For my part things got in motion when my Out Run Memories picture got some positive attention at the time of its release. Thanks to that I got in contact with Antonio Savona, who kindly asked me if I could make a loading picture for his game P0 Snake. Antonio had already created the game for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition 2014, and the game ended up winning the competition by a fair margin!

And it’s no surprise. It’s a clever snake game with a twist, with varied levels and gameplay, and an ingenious one-button game mechanics! On top of the solid game design there are some surprising features for a 16k game like a password system and digitized speech samples! I mean, the game fits into 16 kilobytes. And when that game greets you with a speech sample saying “Welcome to P zero Snake” and introduces more samples during the gameplay, it does raise an eyebrow! There’s an interesting article at the game’s development blog about the challenges with the audio and how it was pulled off.

Just take a look. Note the clever references to various classic games:

Thanks to the 16k game’s success and popularity, it was going to have an extended RGCD C64 cartridge release. And for this extended version I got to make the intro screen! Read the rest of this entry »


Soulless

July 24, 2012

Not too long ago, the C64 community saw a release of a new game, Soulless. New games for the C64 gets released every once in a while, but what made Soulless stand out from the usual new C64 game releases was the passion put into it’s proper commercial release. I was impressed enough to order myself two copies of it!

Release

The game was released under Psytronik Software label and is being sold by two UK based retro game stores; Binary Zone Interactive and RGCD. The game was released simultaneously in all imaginable C64 formats: Cartridge, floppy disk and tape, plus digital downloads to complete the lineup. RGCD distributes the top of the line cartridge version and Binary Zone sells the floppy and tape versions of the game, and the digital downloads. I ordered the cartridge version from RGCD and the premium disk version from Binary Zone. As a nice touch the fellows from both stores sent the game as digital download by email after confirmed order.

The game is identical between all the versions, one can just choose the option that fits one’s retro tripping the best! Cartridge, floppy and tape versions are only for a real C64 of course, but the digital downloads can be used with emulators and devices like Chameleon, 1541 Ultimate, sd2iec drives and so on.

Both stores additionally offers a choice between a budget and a premium version – the game can be bought as a cartridge/disk/tape only or with extras. I’d recommend getting the game with all the extras, as all that stuff makes it feel a genuine old school game!

And besides – just look at all this stuff! This is the cartridge version from RGCD:

Read the rest of this entry »


EasyFlash fastloader comparison

December 26, 2011

Unseen has finally released a new version of the sd2iec firmware. This new firmware version of 0.10.2 does not bring that many updates, but one that I have been waiting for; sd2iec has now support for the fastloader that has been in EasyProg since ages.

I wanted to make a little comparison of the now supported fastloader’s performance using uIEC. Which is faster, EasyProg fastloader or JiffyDOS? Will it take even less time to flash the cartridge if the cartridge image is compressed using EasySplit?

Hardware & software configuration:

The image I flashed several times using different configurations was Prince of Persia C64 version 1.1. It is a 513 kb cartridge image, closely half of the flash memory size of EasyFlash. When the image is compressed using EasySplit, the file size is 159 kb. In Commodore terms, the images were 2069 and 644 blocks respectively. Read the rest of this entry »


Getting familiar with C64 graphics converting tools

November 23, 2011

Like I told in my previous post I wanted to enter one of the graphics competitions in this year’s Alternative Party. I wanted to make my picture using C64 graphics formats, but I wasn’t planning to pixel the picture in native formats in the first place. Instead, I was planning to draw the picture using modern tools and then convert it! Shocking!

I already had a concept in my mind that I wanted to try out: to combine and use different screen modes for different parts of the picture. Of course it wasn’t possible to actually use different screen modes with the picture, especially with my non-existing programming skills. So the road I had to take was to draw the picture elements separately which I then converted to different graphics modes. The parts would have to be combined, and then finally, converted into final picture.

This gave me a good reason to start checking out the different graphics converting tools. Read the rest of this entry »


C64 EasyFlash

February 13, 2011

New hardware for the C64 appears like it was still a production machine. It’s amazing. This time I’m talking about EasyFlash cartridge. EasyFlash has existed for some time already, and now I got myself one of those.

I bought mine fully assembled from Mike Betz via Lemon64 Forums. These carts are nicely finished with quality case, stickers and all. And of course I peeked inside – the case hides the real quality of the cartridge; Professionally made PCB, all socketed chips and flawless soldering make up these EasyFlash cartridges.

So what’s EasyFlash?

EasyFlash is a Flash memory based programmable cartridge for C64. Basically it works like any original game or software cartridge except that the cartridge binary (data, or cartridge image) can be easily erased and rewritten. And this is done using no other tools than the C64 and software called EasyProg. Any standard (8k & 16k) or Ocean Type 1 (128k & 256k) cartridge image can be written into EasyFlash and it effectively “becomes” that cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »


Tips for using sd2iec

October 4, 2010

It’s been already a while since I got the uIEC – one of the available hardware running the sd2iec firmware. I did some experimenting with it on how to make the best use of it if the nicely accompanying JiffyDOS is not present. I posted my experiences at Lemon64 forums, but I thought it would be nice to share them here as well. Still, you might want to read that instead for shorter, less detailed description.

Note that I’m describing sd2iec-firmware being used on uIEC/SD-hardware with Commodore 64. Many different hardware combinations are possible.

The principle

With sd2iec loading files from the SD card’s root folder is like loading files from a floppy disk. The very basic loading procedure is exactly the same – except that the default device number is not 8 but 10. So LOAD”$”,10 or LOAD”GAME”,10,1 works just like one would expect.

Things get more complicated if you want anything more. Something like to enter a directory on the SD card or to mount a .d64 disk image. A real Commodore disk drive wasn’t designed for such things so you don’t even have the commands for something like that. Since uIEC is connected only to the serial port of C64 it can be interfaced only using the IEC bus. Enter the command channel! Everything like directory navigation, disk image mounting and device configuration is done by sending drive commands over the command channel. Read the rest of this entry »


ACID 64 Player Pro supports SID emulation!

September 15, 2010

This should be interesting to majority of SID music lovers. Starting from v3.0.4 ACID 64 Player Pro supports JSIDPlay2. Up to this point ACID 64 Player Pro has been a SID player software only for HardSID users as it has been supporting only HardSID for output device. But it’s now possible to configure JSidDevice as the output source!

What this means is that SID sound lovers who don’t have a genuine SID sound card setup can now enjoy today’s state of the art SID emulation with the wonderful ACID 64 Player. Read the rest of this entry »


ACID 64 and HVSC updates

February 22, 2010

Along with the release of new HardSID models also the ACID 64 Player Pro – my SID player weapon of choise – got updated. The obvious update is the support for the new devices, but there is more to make it a nice update for HardSID 4U owners too.

Now when toggling channels or filter on/off, or when you change the SID model while playing a song, the playback does not jump. So you can seamlessly change the SID “on the fly” when listening – which makes it more interesting to compare different SID models. Another feature that I see as great improvement is the emulated SID reading for the USB HardSIDs. What it means is that some songs that did not work with HardSID 4U because of the hardware buffer made reading from SID chip impossible now work. In other words, stuff made with Polly Tracker now plays great! Dirty ’64, baby!

Not only the SID player but also the source for SID music has been updated. The old-as-internet HVSC website has been renewed: High Voltage SID Collection has got a new web site! Wow. The content seems to be about the same as it used to be, only presented in a “little” more modern and stylish way, and the address is new: www.hvsc.de. Now there is also a SID search on the site and links to various players. It would be nice if they added a STIL support to the search, especially when there is no longer links to other SID search engines.

It’s nice to see that the HVCS crew is well alive and active, but I kind of feel sorry for the old site. It was so old it’s a classic! Luckily the old site is still alive ;)


ACID 64 Player Pro & HVSC update 50

May 12, 2009

Just when I thought in my previous post that ACID 64 Player almost became the second choise SID player software for HardSID, it gets a major update with some great new features. And on top of that the High Voltage SID Collection got update no. 50 just few days earlier. Good times!

Read the rest of this entry »


Winamp plugin for HardSID

April 29, 2009

Hard Software recently released a Winamp plugin for HardSID 4U. So now it is possible to play SID tunes on a real SID chip with Winamp’s user interface and features! Sweet. Features like playlists, random play and seeking are of course supported. It’s just like playing any “ordinary” music with Winamp. The plugin is made with the assumption that you have HVSC on your HD, and you need to define the path to it in the plugin’s configuration. Then the plugin can access the song length (SID tunes never “end”, they just keep looping. The song length information is also used for seeking) and STIL information that are provided with HVSC. The SID files that contain multiple songs are expanded (on play) to the playlist and can be treated as independent entries in the playlist.

All I can say is that I’m very pleased with this release. It makes it very easy and comfortable to have real SID music playing in the background. Just build up a playlist and let the music play. No need to manually change songs or anything.

Even still I prefer the ACID 64 Player for active listening. The Winamp plugin is based on ACID 64 core but some of the features have been cut for simplicity. None of those features really matters for music listening itself, but ACID 64 Player provides more information, especially when expanded with Covert BitOps‘ SIDId playroutine identity scanner.

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