February 26, 2016
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 »
January 14, 2016
At X’2014 C64 Party I took part in graphics competition with a piece called Out Run Memories, part of which you can see above.
Some time later an extended version was released as a one-file demo called Out Run Memories Upshift!
Crafting the picture together was quite a lot of work – it all came back to me now that I started to clean up my old work files. While going through the numerous files I had laying around, I thought it might be fun to put together an animation of the work steps I went through.
So here you go, both versions considered, more than five weeks’ spare time effort put into one gif animation. Read the rest of this entry »
July 17, 2015
The Kickstarter campaign for new C64 C cases using the original molds happened, and a lot of people have been very excited about that. Despite some ridiculous occurrences by Kickstarter (can’t show renders of the cases) and dimwits owning some rights to Commodore brand (can’t even mention Commodore in the campaign), the campaign was a real funding success.
Also the production phase faced an unfortunate incident, as the plastic molding company that produced the cases suffered a fire in the factory. The fire destroyed the transparent cases which had been the first ones pressed. Despite these shortcomings and delays the cases got pressed and sent out in the last couple of weeks. Related forums and social media groups have been filled with photos of these new cases and nice C64 setups installed in them.
I got mine last week, and guess what I’m going to do? Post some pictures of course! Read the rest of this entry »
May 24, 2015
I mentioned about C64 Reloaded in my previous post. Let’s talk a bit more about it.
Because here it is!
The C64 Reloaded is a new C64 motherboard. It is recreated according to the schematics of C64B3 model, ASSY NO 250466, and is designed to use the original C64 chipset. A good description you’ll find on the announcement on Individual Computers’ website. Basically, it’s a real Commodore 64, only manufactured with today’s standards.
I haven’t had enough time to spend with this machine to call this a review yet. Instead I’ll share a pictorial overview of the board and some of the nice details on it. Read the rest of this entry »
May 17, 2015
Long time no posting. Once again there’s some interesting things going on in the C64 community. Especially one of the on-going funding campaigns I would like to bring to your attention.
First a quick recap.
C64 Reloaded. Image (c) Individual Computers
Already last year on April Fool’s Day Individual Computers announced the C64 Reloaded. Being no joke, it’s a newly produced C64 motherboard using the original chipset to celebrate C64’s 32th anniversary. After some changes in pricing and availability schedule, these new motherboards should be available on Individual Computers’ web shop shortly.
New C64 C cases. Render (c) Thomas Koch
More recently, on March 2015 an interesting Kickstarter project surfaced. It was for newly produced C64 C casings using the original molds. The project has an interesting back story, and the project funding goal of $ 10,000 was met in no less than a day! Eventually, the Kicstarter for the new colored and transparent C64 cases was so popular, that the initial funding goal was filled almost ten-fold. The cases are in production at the moment, and backers should receive their rewards sometime soon.
As to complete the lineup, there is now another crowd funding project going on for new C64 key caps in various colors. The funding goal is quite high, € 25,000. This is no wonder, as this time also the molds for the casting process has to be made. At the time of writing, roughly 60 % of the funding has been met, and the funding period will last for one and half weeks still, ending somewhere around 28th May 2015.
The C64 Reloaded and new C64 casings already came true. I’m hoping that also this third re-manufacturing project becomes reality. Not only hoping, I’m of course backing also on this effort, and I would like to encourage you to do so too!
Read the rest of this entry »
July 24, 2014
I’ve covered SwinSID micro and nano few times before. It’s a great idea – a micro controller based SID chip replacement, working as a spare part for a C64 or C128, or as a substitute to some other application like a DIY-synth. For Commodores, it’s especially suited for a gaming machine, as only very few games feature such tricks that would not sound about right on the SwinSID.
However, there’s this downside with the SwinSID that it does not support analog controllers. This is because it’s the SID chip that handles the reading of analog controllers in the C64, and the A/D converters are not implemented in the SwinSID. The number of games supporting paddles, mice or analog joysticks is not that big, but still it’s a shame that they won’t work with SwinSID. Also the few games that support second joystick button are affected. They behave as if the second button would be triggered constantly.
So there is a lack of fully featured replacement for a SID chip. This is a shame as SID chips are sought after, and supply for good and working chips is getting more and more scarce. The demand of SID chips have been recognized, as it’s not that difficult to find a supply of SID chips from Asia. It’s just that many have found out that these chips are often dead, faulty or downright fakes, and often rebadged.
Knowing that there are a lot of these faulty SID chips with bad filters or missing sound channels, it had occurred to me that maybe these could be combined together with SwinSID to make at least a fully featured replacement for the SID chip. Sound from the SwinSID, and A/D converters from an otherwise faulty SID.
Recently I ordered some spare parts from Mutant Caterpillar Games, who have a selection of chips for 8-bit computers in stock, including SID chips. As we were talking together with Ian Gledhill about SID sourcing challenges among other things I mentioned this idea of mine. He kindly sent me few faulty rebadged SID chips to test it out.
So, off I am to build an adapter that allows me to install SwinSID and a ‘badSID’ to the C64. Read the rest of this entry »
May 14, 2014
The Commodore 64 has a disk drive that is unique in many ways. Not only is the Commodore 1541 said to be the world’s slowest disk drive, but it’s also big, bulky, noisy and has a reputation of being unreliable. Also, it works in an unusual way. In many ways it’s the disk drive that has defined our experience with the C64.
In addition to the original model 1541 there were also the updated models 1541C and 1541-II from Commodore. The drives have different looks, differences in hardware and in ROM versions, but the basic functionality and features are principally identical.
Some later models in Commodore’s 8-bit serial disk drive range were improved in some ways, but those have less importance today. For a C64 as a retro system, the 1541 is the de facto standard. Still, in this time of emulators and hardware add-ons, compatibility with the original 1541 disk drive is regarded as a must.
And today, for someone who doesn’t want to resort to emulators only, the large and unconventional disk drive brings some practical challenges. So understanding the 1541 helps us to understand the options we have for replacing it! Read the rest of this entry »