Issue 56

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Editor
Nigel Parker
Spell Checking
Peter Badrick
Text, HTML & eBook Conversion
Paul Davis
D64 Disk Image
Al Jackson
PDF Design
Nigel Parker
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Copyright
Copyright 2011 Commodore Free Magazine
All Rights Reserved.

CONTENTS



Editorial

WOW this is a great issue! (Of course you could argue otherwise and may just print it out the line the budgies cage!)

In this issue

I have an interview with ROBERTO DILLON the creator of a book called Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multi billion Dollar Industry. I know this isn’t strictly just Commodore related but more a retro look at the whole industry. The interview I am sure you will find shows how passionate Roberto is about the industry and also how he still loves and is impressed with Commodore; and the uses we are putting our machines to.

The Next Issue of Commodore Free will have a review of the book. Sorry you have to wait as that should give me enough time to read it from cover to cover and make something loosely called a review (of sorts).

What I can tell you at the moment is; it’s a concise and easy read about Computing history with a more balanced approach than some other computer history books, who seem to miss out the relevance of Commodore altogether. The book does have some information about the internal politics of Commodore and........

Ahhh well for more you need to read the next issue to find out more.

We have a Couple of games reviews; most notable of these is the very long over due and much anticipated release of “Prince of Persia” or POP as some people call it. After years of being put to rest the game has been coded from the apple disassembly by Mr SID, Does it stand the test of time and is it any good? All these questions are answered in my review, a temptation is to give the game a 10/10 However I sawed from this temptation and scored the game with my gut feelings, although it is long awaited and very good I don’t feel it worthy of a 10 score.

Also is a game called OUT SPACE, this has now been finished after the project was started some years ago and put on hold, the code has been revamped and updated to finish the game for general release. I can tell you if you are a Jeff Minter fan then this is a game you need to play, as its on the same wavelength and Jeff’s efforts.

Mix all this with some news

Chuck the whole thing into a PDF creator and we end up with something people call a fanzine

Enjoy and feel free to send comments

Regards
Nigel (EDITOR)
And the Commodore free team



NEWS


Theatre of War II: The Pacific for the VIC20

Name: Theatre of War II: The Pacific
Author: Ghislain
Released: November 5, 2011
Requirements: Unexpanded VIC-20 + Disk Drive.

Description: In the sequel to the first WW2 Tactical Strategy game that takes place on the Eastern Front in Russia, this time you are transported to the Pacific Ocean where you command the Imperial Japanese Navy against the American forces.

The preamble states: "June 1942. Our Grand Imperial Navy is chasing the Yankee interlopers across the Pacific Ocean. We will attack a fatal blow at Midway and then hunt them into their havens". If you can defeat the the enemy through five levels of increasing difficulty, you will have achieved the ultimate victory.

There is also a two-player option. Instructions are included in the game program from the main menu.

Download https://sites.google.com/site/gdbsite5000/main/theater2official.zip?attredirects=0&d=1

Discuss http://sleepingelephant.com/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5413



Amiga It's a Knockout! 2011/12

It's a Knockout! a classic Amiga knock-out tournament run by the forum members of Lemon Amiga and English Amiga Board. Returning for a 3rd time. Five games will be played over seven weeks. Score high and knock out your opponents.

Voting for the comp Starts Now (November 13th) and will remain open for two weeks. Once voting is closed competition will begin!! Voting:

Lemon Amiga: http://www.lemonamiga.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9485

EAB: http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=61823

The first round of competition will be a qualifying round. The following rounds will be run in a round-robin format until only 2 competitors remain! The final two will battle it out to be the "It's a Knockout! 2011/12" Champion.

Voting will be limited to games played during the 2011 Lemon vs EAB Super Comp.

which are...

How do I take part?

Easy. Firstly get yourself either a real Amiga or an emulator like WinUAE or E-UAE. The current round thread will tell you which game to play, give links to where it's available, link to manuals (if they are online), and tell you any extra rules for that game. To enter take a screenshot of your highscore (or a photo of your TV/monitor screen if you're using a real Amiga) and post it in the game thread. You can use free image hosting sites like Imageshack or Photobucket to post your scores.

All competitors must be a member at either Lemon or EAB, so if you're not already, it's time to join!



Plus/4 Gets a SID Chip

http://plus4world.powweb.com/hardware/Solders_SID_Card

Sounds from C64 are now available for the Plus/4!

Plug the card into the expansion port and you are ready to go. You can adjust the volume on the card and you can hear the sound over the plus/4 or take the output from a 3,5mm-Stereo-jack.

More pictures are available from here

http://bsz.amigaspirit.hu/Plus4/SIDcardV2/pics/

Handle: Solder
First Name: Christian
Last Name: S.
Website: http://solder.dyndns.info/



Chameleon Special From AmigaKit

Chameleon is a new re-configurable computer system with many third-party cores in development such as Amiga (Minimig) and C64. The Spectrum core was demonstrated at the Replay Expo 2011 show by Individual Computers. The Latest accessory offers include discounted CDTV Remote Controller for use with the Chameleon.

For more information about the exciting Chameleon product, please visit:

USA: http://www.amigakit.us/product_info....oducts_id=1033

UK: http://amigakit.leamancomputing.com/...oducts_id=1033

Europe: http://amigakit.leamancomputing.com/...oducts_id=1033

www.amigakit.com Amiga Computer Store

Chameleon is a new re-configurable computer system.

The device can be used as a miniature stand-alone computer system running many third-party cores

Alternatively it can be plugged into the rear expansion port of the C64. When installed in the rear of the Commodore 64, The Chameleon is an extremely user-friendly cartridge that can be used without opening the computer.

As a stand-alone unit it feature a SD card slot on the side to read data files, a VGA socket to output to a monitor display and a cable loom to connect to a PS/2 keyboard and mouse. It can be powered by a USB power adapter or active USB hub can be used as power source (available separately). Even a USB-enabled computer (LCD-TVs, DVD-players...) can be used as a power source!

The Chameleon can be used with the CDTV Remote Controller which can be added as an Accessory Option

Technical Data Summary



Slide Released for the Commodore 64

A Sliding numbers game for the Commodore 64 has been released for more information and the download visit here:

http://noname.c64.org/csdb/release/?id=102737&rss



Out Space Released

TMR wrote

This game was originally written during the 1990s but never released - an almost final version with a revised difficulty curve and other tweaks was previewed at Replay 2011 on the Oldschool Gaming stand and this is the final release version.

Game created by Jason Tinkler

http://noname.c64.org/csdb/getinternalfile.php/100301/Out-Space%20-%20Jason%20Tinkler.d64

Reviewed later in this issue of Commodore Free



Commodore eBook Now Available

-----Original message----------------
Subject: Commodore eBook now available
From: bbagnall

A new eBook version of Commodore: a Company on the Edge is now available. Kindle and iPod users (who download the Kindle app) can enjoy the book immediately without any inconvenient shipping charges. Excerpts from the book are free to read online at the websites below:

Amazon.com: www.amazon.com/dp/B0064BB3RI

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0064BB3RI

Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B0064BB3RI

Amazon France: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B0064BB3RI

Read the story of Commodore in print.

http://www.variantpress.com/books/on-the-edge



P1565 Project Updated

Commodore 1565 floppy

Stefan Egger wrote

The project P1565 has been given an update. The Goal of the project is to create a replica of the Prototype-floppy Commodore 1565 for the C65.

Information

English: http://scacom.bplaced.net/Collection/p1565en.php

Deutsch/German: http://scacom.bplaced.net/Collection/p1565.php

main page computer collection Vienna

English version: http://scacom.bplaced.net/Collection/indexen.php

Deutsch/German: http://scacom.bplaced.net/Collection/index.php

More updates and other projects are coming. There is also a poster design and card game as finished projects. P1565 and the next project Should be cool, so stay tuned for more "want-to-have"-items from computer collection Vienna

Thanks
Stefan Egger

www.computer-collection.at.tc
Computer Collection Vienna



Retrogaming Times Monthly #90 Released

A new version of the magazine Retro Gaming times has been released here are a list of contents

http://www.retrogamingtimes.com/



CBM Command Updated

What is it?

CBM-Command is a disk manager for the Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore Plus/4, and Commodore Pet/CBM computers. It is written in the vein of Norton Commander or Midnight Commander; but, it is much simpler due to the target platforms. Each Commodore model has its own native version of the application.

What does it do?

It works on both real machines and the VICE emulators.

So far, we have tested it with the following hardware:

Additional testing has been performed under VICE, using the following file systems:

Features

http://cbmcommand.codeplex.com/

New features are:



CrossCrabTris 1.0 Released

KeHo Software has released a logic game for the Amiga. The game was created by Achim Kern, and is programmed in the Hollywood language. The game is a cross between a crossword puzzle, Scrabble and Tetris. The game is available for MorphOS (ppc), AmigaOS4, AmigaOS3 and AROS

http://www.kehosoft.de/crosscrabtris_hollywood.html



Jack 2.4 Now Available

Jack is a multi (jack of all trades) application for the Amiga OS)

Download/Installation instructions:

* Existing Users - Simply start your current version of Jack as normal and when prompted click the confirmation button to proceed with the download**. Open the Installation Drawer and click on the Install Jack icon - after that simply select the location where you already have Jack installed and the installation is complete.

** Once Jack has left OS4Depot's Upload queue.

* New Users - Visit OS4Depot http://www.os4depot.net/ and type Jack in the search box. Installation is simple, just press the Install Jack icon and select a location where you would like Jack to be installed. Jack will now appear on your Dockbar.

WBStartup:

Users can enjoy Jack on their Workbench all the time if they wish, simply press F6 inside Jack's Commodity Window and select WBStartup - alternatively open up your system disk and select the Prefs drawer. Next click the Add button, find and double-click Jack and then save.

Jack has the follow features:

and more...



Extensive Collection of Commodore Related Videos

Robert wrote:

The above video, Bernardo talks the MCC-216 at Amiwest 2011, has been uploaded to YouTube also. Go to http://youtu.be/eJ9JlLBwCN0 Under YouTube's 15-minute limit,

Yes! The last 2 videos have been uploaded; they are:

Robert Bernardo

Fresno Commodore User Group
http://videocam.net.au/fcug



CBM PRG Studio Version 1.6.0 Released

This version allows you to target the Commodore 128 machine. The only major limitation being the screen designer (and some other minor tools) are not available for C128 projects at the moment. A huge thanks to Tony Schiffbauer who helped with getting the C128 support off the ground!

Note: C64PrgGen and VIC20PrgGen are no longer being developed; they have been replaced by CBM prg Studio.

What Is It?

CBM prg Studio allows you to type a BASIC or machine code program in using a nice Windows environment and convert it to a '.prg' file which you can run on an emulator, or even real hardware if you're feeling brave and have the right kit.

The following machines can be developed for:

What CBM prg Studio isn't is a front-end for tok64, cbmcnvrt, bastext or any other tokeniser/ detokeniser/ assembler. It's all been written completely from scratch.

http://www.ajordison.co.uk/index.html



Komoda 5 Magazine Released

PDF Magazine released

Credits:

Text:
Akira
Kenji
Komek of Komoda Team
Ramos of FanCA, HVSC Crew, Samar Productions
Uka of Genesis Project, Komoda Team
Interviewed:
Raf of HVSC Crew, Scene World Magazine, Vulture Design

http://ca-fan.pl/download/komoda/232-komoda-nr-5/download



USB Joystick Adapter

Markus Gritsch has developed a USB joystick adapter. The adapter enables the use of an analogue joystick with your favourite emulator. Markus has used a PIC micro controller and a few components on a experimental circuit board. He tested his adapter with the VICE emulator on his laptop and the famous Competition Pro Retro joystick. The schematic and the firmware are available to download.

this small adapter connects a vintage joystick to a modern computer via USB. to play C64 games under emulation

http://dangerousprototypes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=2971



Bill Herd Launches Commodore 128 Website

Recently launched is a Commodore 128 website by the legend that is Bill herd, the site contains videos and a forum and lots of information not just on the 128 but Commodore science and technology in general .

http://www.c128.com/



AmigaOS 4.1 Update 4

From Hyperion Entertainment Blog

Just a quick note to say the development and testing teams are working on AmigaOS 4.1 Update 4 right now.

Several issues identified in Update 3 and earlier are being addressed thanks to direct customer feedback via Hyperion's support forum. A huge thanks to all those that have taken the time to register and post your bug reports! AmigaOS can only get better with direct customer feedback so keep it coming.

Along with the usual assortment of bug fixes, there may well be a surprise or two as well.

Steven Solie

AmigaOS Development Team Lead
http://blog.hyperion-entertainment.biz/?p=546



Mini SD 1541 Drive

Rik Magers made his own version of the Commodore 1541 disk drive. He started with a uIEC from Jim Brain Designs. The uIEC has JiffyDOS and the ability to store up to 32GB. Rik got hold of a small plastic box that looks similar to a real 1541. After cutting, tweaking and several tubes of glue, he had a mini version of the 1541 including working LEDs on the front

https://www.commodoreserver.com/BlogEntryView.asp?BID=D31E7915D4204192A741061BD5C7C99D&EID=0B55CA414691476BBDCFE6A995A1E0CB



Cinnamon Writer Updated

Cinnamon Writer is the compact and efficient word processor developed especially with Amiga and Amiga-like systems in mind. With version 0.60 Cinnamon writer has all of the basic functionality expected of a modern word processor. This includes changeable layout style, support ant aliased truetype fonts, infinite "intelligent" Undo/Redo history, user defined page setup and file compatibility with other word processors as Word and OpenOffice that can use RTF or DocX files.

Cinnamon Writer 0.75 - Claus Deslers has improved his Cinnamon Writer for AmigaOS 4. Cinnamon Writer is a compact and efficient word processor. In this version: Compatible with MS Word docx files. New layout options. Changes to the GUI. The most recent version can be downloaded from the web page of Claus

http://desler.be/modules/wfchannel/



Interview With Roberto Dillon

By Commodore Free

Q. Please introduce yourself to our readers

Hi! My name is Roberto Dillon, I was born in Genoa, Italy, just one year after Pong; and I have been a gamer since a very tender age. After finishing my studies with a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering and having worked as a software engineer for a while, I moved to Singapore at the beginning of 2005 where I finally got involved in game development and related activities at a professional level. I also wrote two books, "On the Way to Fun: an emotion based approach to successful game design" and "The Golden Age of Video Games: the birth of a multi-billion dollar industry" published by AKPeters and CRC Press.

Q. What do you do for a day job?

I'm currently the Game Design Department Chair at the Singapore campus of the DigiPen Institute of Technology, where I teach subjects like Game History and Game Mechanics for the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Game Design. After all the teaching and department management work, I'm also collaborating with a Singapore based company named Kentaura as Chief Game Designer. If you think all this keeps me quite busy, well, you are definitely right!

Q. How were you introduced to computers?

I remember it quite well: it was an evening during summer 1981: I was 8 and, with my parents, we were invited for dinner by one of my father's colleagues who just got a TI99/4A from the US. He kindly showed us how it worked and played some demos, using also a plotter. I was so fascinated by it I stored those abstract images printed in grayscale tones on a small roll of paper for years.

Q. What was the first game you played?

It was a Home Pong clone, specifically a ColorMate De Luxe: an obscure console made by an even more obscure manufacturer (Boyang Electronics). It seems very few people remember it by today. I really wonder how we got it...

Q. What was your first Commodore machine and do you still own it?

It was a C64. Alas, it broke many years ago: needless to say, the day I tried to switch it on and nothing happened, was very, very sad. On the other hand, this unlucky event helped in convincing my parents to buy an Amiga 500! The Amiga was later sold during my sophomore year in university to buy a PC. Shame on me!!

Q. Do you still own any “retro” computers?

Yes but, surprisingly for a "Commodorian" like me, I currently don't own any Commodore machines (yet!) but one of its competitors: the Sinclair ZX-Spectrum. Somehow I always found the Speccy to be a very "cute" machine (compared to the "awesomeness" of the C64) and I always wanted to experience Ultimate early masterpieces as they were meant to be.

Q. Would you like to “plug” some of the games you have worked on, and what your involvement with the game was?

The first games I ever developed were for the C64: very simple action/arcades and text adventures. Luckily, none of them survived up to this day so no one can see how bad they were! As I was saying earlier, I started doing things at a professional level only once I relocated to Singapore to design and develop serious games within the gamLAB at the Nanyang Technological University. One of those projects was the "Virtual Orchestra", a PC game that aimed at providing a simple orchestra conducting training while serving also as an introduction to music making for children. I was the lead designer and programmer. "Orfeo" was another small PC game I developed more recently based on my academic research on the analysis of emotions. Here we had to rescue Eurydice by playing Orfeo's lyre and expressing different basic emotions like happiness, anger, sadness and fear. The game was showcased at some important events in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro and got plenty of very interesting and extremely varied feedback, ranging from "enchanting" all the way down to "complete crap"! Actually, I do understand why it raised such a wide spectrum of possible reactions: Orfeo shows very innovative game mechanics and concept but it's really just a proof of concept so if you expect a polished and challenging game, you are most likely going to be hugely disappointed. Last, I'm currently working on a new and very ambitious SNG (Social Network Game) for Kentaura. This is still an unannounced title so I can't say much for now but stay tuned because I believe it has real potential!

Q. I am intrigued by the “virtual Orchestra” can you explain more about this project to our readers

This project was designed with the idea of providing a simple "orchestra training" and educational tool and was playable with a "gyromouse", a device that resembled a Wiimote (but note that the Wii was not officially released yet when we did this). By mimicking real conducting gestures, players could control in real time the tempo, the articulation and the volume of the music performed by the orchestra on the virtual stage. The game was presented at the Serious Games Summit in Washington DC in 2006 and at various events and road shows, gaining very good feedback and the interest of the international press but, unfortunately, no one from the gaming industry seemed interested in taking the project to the next level. I guess it was not considered commercially viable... Anyway I look forward to working on this concept again in the future, maybe once I will finally get my hands on a XBox/Kinect SDK!

Q. You say the book can be used as an educational tool as well as a general curious user tool; can you expand a little on its educational use?

Indeed, "the Golden Age of Video Games" was designed with the needs of a college level game history class in mind: light, concise, to the point and with the most accurate data I could find. This doesn't mean it should be a dull academic read full of numbers though, and it's my hope I managed to write it in an entertaining way for a general audience too: there are plenty of interesting anecdotes, including some exclusive ones on the very early days of the industry thanks to the input of Atari's co-founder Ted Dabney. While writing it, I tried to be as objective as possible but, I guess, you can still understand Commodore had a special place in my heart and memories...

Q. I know this is covered well in your book but “who invented the first video game”

Interestingly, this question is not as straightforward as we may think at first and, indeed, it generated (and still generates!) lots of debates and controversy. It all depends on how we define "video games" in the first place: do we refer to games on dedicated hardware or also on general purpose computers? Should we only consider commercial products or also obscure lab/academic experiments? Only digital or also analogue? Do we take into account games that use TV technology in any way or only those that use a proper TV signal? Only once we clarify all this (with the latter point being the most critical), we can try to answer the earlier question but, as long as there's no unanimous definition for the word/concept of "video games",there can't be any agreement on which was the first video game either. Personally, I tend to like general and simple definition of things, so my view is that any game that allows a player to interact with some images on a screen via TV related technology is a "video game". Under this assumption, the first example was the CRT Amusement Device developed by Thomas Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Man in 1947. It was an extremely simple and rudimentary experiment but it was the very first attempt at using the Cathode Ray Tube, i.e. the basic building block at the core of any TV up to a few years ago, for gaming purposes. It was a missile shooting game, by the way, where the targets were represented by overlays to be placed on the screen.

Q. What is the “golden age of video games” you may plug the book, but also explain what you mean and why was is Golden, weren’t they all underpowered with very limited graphical and sound capabilities, shouldn’t they all be buried and forgotten about

The "golden age", as defined in the book, covers the years of the early affirmation of video games as a medium and as a commercially successful product able to conquer a stable place in the homes of millions of people throughout the world. Namely, we are talking about the years between the release of the Atari VCS (1977) and 1994 when the industry landscape completely changed due to Sony PlayStation's launch and the definitive affirmation of the IBM PC, with the consequent bankruptcy of previous industry leaders like Commodore. Those years were so much full of bright ideas, technical advances, amazing games, catastrophic failures and terrific successes that they really can't be ignored nor forgotten! I think any person, regardless of age, with an interest in video games or business or even just pop culture, should get into that fascinating period, play at least a few games on the most relevant platforms and understand how they were able to achieve "fun" despite technical means that could easily be overshadowed by a simple modern smart phone! There's actually an important lesson to learn here: "Fun" is not really dependent on technology prowess but on good game design and ideas, and there were plenty during those pioneering years that defined the different gaming genres as we know them today.

Q. Do you feel recent games and consoles have lost something from the “golden age?”

They did, but I feel that sense of wonder and discovery that was characteristic of those years is actually coming back thanks to the indie scene that is getting more and more relevant on new, emerging and cheaper platforms. New, risky ideas were at the core of the game development experience in the early days but this had to be stifled once development teams and budgets became so big that risking a failure was not an option any more. Anyway, as I was saying, all this is coming back all over again on different platforms that allow smaller developers to be more agile and, most importantly, more daring in their choices.

Q. How much do you think “commodore” contributed to this “golden age”

I think it's impossible to underestimate the significance of Commodore on the gaming scene of the eighties and early nineties. The two main actors that greatly shaped those years were arguably Atari, for the first phase dominated by dedicated systems, and then Commodore which led the home computer revolution during and after the infamous industry crash of 1983 (for which they actually played an important role by bringing home computers to prices comparable to those of consoles thanks to Jack Tramiel's vertical integration mantra). The C64 and the Amiga were amazing gaming machines and it's no wonder that so many talented developers of today cut their teeth on these systems, and many people still develop for them!

Q. Do you think the hardware or software is more important? For example you could have and in the past there has been some truly exceptional hardware but not much in the way of software (games), Nintendo seem to be very secretive in the past about how to actually code the device was this a wise choice

Well, Software runs on Hardware so we may be tempted to say that HW is more important, on the other hand, in a practical commercial environment, we see that it is SW that sells HW so we'd say that SW is more important! Looking at the history of gaming platforms, we clearly realize that a HW which is not designed to be developer friendly will not attract enough attention regardless of how powerful it may be so, without proper HW, there won't be good SW either. It's a bit of a chicken/egg situation: each one needs the other to be successful! Regarding Nintendo, their restrictive policies often drove some controversy and indeed it wasn't easy for developers to get started on the Famicom/NES back in the day. Many believe this was actually a "test" aimed at discriminating only the very best developers so as to keep the game quality as high as possible. A bit harsh for sure, but we may say it worked and drastic measures where clearly needed to revive dedicated systems after the crash and the rise of home computers in the mid eighties.

Q. What in your opinion went wrong with the games industry and also why did the whole thing crash and Commodore and Atari die such a painful death.

There were many factors acting together and it was clearly a very complex scenario. I'm afraid it'd be too long to discuss it here so I'd suggest your readers read the book to find out my analysis on the subject! ;)

Q. Do you feel it’s now primarily about the money, whereas in the past is was more a passion to create something?

Money and passion seem like a good/evil or yin/yang dichotomy, with the two components always struggling to find a proper balance which constantly shifts between the two: in the early days, in general, we may say passion was in the lead. This wasn't that true any more in the early eighties and, indeed, we had the crash. With the home computers we had a first Renaissance period with companies like Rare and Codemasters being founded by young, talented developers driven by their passion for writing games and later, with bigger and bigger teams and millionaire budgets, clearly it was money that dictated the choices instead. Now we see passion coming back quite strongly with many indie developers writing games because they have ideas they want to implement, without necessarily the aim of becoming rich. It's a never ending cycle: passion drives the pioneers, success arrives and, with it, money. Businesses expand and money becomes more and more important, ultimately bringing a reaction in creative people who want to be free to realize their vision without the pressure of quarterly financial reports and so on, and the cycle repeats itself.

Q. Do you think enhanced graphics and Sonics create a game, or is it still the game play; and the graphics and Sonics in the game really are there to enhance the experience?

As a game designer, I tend to believe that game play is king. Sure, realistic graphics and sound clearly don't hurt and can create truly immersive and fantastic experiences but they are not a "sine qua non" condition to have fun, though.

Q. What makes you go “WOW”! and what was the first computer or game that made you go WOW?

I'd say how the game succeeds in sucking the player into its virtual world. The first real "WOW" moment for me was when I played Impossible Mission on the C64. The digitized speech and smooth animations where like nothing I heard and saw before! This doesn't really contradict what I answered in the previous question, though, as they were perfectly functional to the game exploration, puzzle solving and platforming gameplay.

Q. While researching the book what surprised you the most about, the things you learnt

It was surprising to see so many sources contradict themselves and see how much confusion and misinformation there is still around! No precise data exist for the sales figures of many early systems and we can find wildly different estimates. Confusion doesn't reign only on the hardware side though as many famous games are still surrounded by misinformation too: for example, many people still believe the original "Final Fantasy" got its name because Square was closing down! I definitely learned lots of things while writing "the Golden Age", especially on the very early days thanks to my discussions with Ted Dabney, whom I really have to thank a lot for his kindness and help.

Q. Was there a system ever launched (and from your research) where you though DOH why have they even bother creating this; it’s a dead duck even before they put the machine on sale

Too many to list! From the earliest generation where many companies wanted to replicate the Atari VCS or the Intellivision successes, to Philips and its CD-I and the Apple Pippin. No matter how big the market can potentially be: there are only a limited number of players who can really strive for success but this was a lesson we had to learn the hard way.

Q. Was there ever a machine you thought would be a “dead duck” but actually you found is sold quite well

I know many people would say the Wii here but, instead, I was quite confident on its selling potential after I saw it for the first time at GDC in 2006. It may be surprising but I'd actually say the PS3! Its high manufacturing costs, difficult to program multi core CPU, blue ray discs (when movies where likely to start a transition to digital streaming and delivery) and the soon removed hardware retro compatibility with the PS2, really made me wonder about Sony's strategy. Anyway, the system still managed to recover from its slow start thanks to some fantastic exclusive games (another example of how SW rescued a HW platform which was in clear trouble).

Q. Who do you feel is the most inspirational user or company in regards to 1.Computer games, 2.The home computer market, 3.What individual or company was detrimental to both, either with lawsuits or patenting things so tight as to affect the markets for other users?

The answer to the first two questions is quite straightforward, and I guess most of our readers will agree with me: Commodore! Though, honestly, also Sinclair needs to be given at least an honourable mention! The third point is much more complex as lawsuits and over patenting are a diffuse problem that existed since the very first days of the industry with Magnavox (the producer of the first home gaming system, the Odyssey) suing almost anyone who wanted to get into the market without paying them royalties. While I believe this is extremely dangerous in the long run and very detrimental for innovation and progress as it completely defies the original purpose of a patent (i.e. to be used as a IP "defence" tool and not as an "offense" to get easy money), I'm afraid this is a necessary evil we need to live with, as long as patent laws don't get changed.

Q. Would you like to list your 5 top games and the reasons why?

I'm afraid I have to limit these to games that appeared on C64 otherwise I'll never be able to select only 5! And, even with such a restriction, it is really a hard task. In no particular order:

Q. Are you surprised at the “retro” interest in machines and games

At first I was but, actually, if we think about it, it is not surprising at all. We are getting older, and naturally remember our youth with nostalgia, so remembering also the old computers and system that played such an important role in our youth is a very natural consequence. Collecting and researching the old games is then a very instinctive next step... Surely I would have never imagined seeing old games for the Atari 2600, the Intellivision or the NES selling for several thousands of dollars, though!

Q. The commodore 64 with Geos and various updates can output to laser printers, it can do this to postscript colour printers, (as you will know) what is the best use of “retro machines” you have seen recently

I have to agree on the Geos updates. Geos was amazing back in the day and see how it can still be used even today is really mind-boggling.

Q. The games industry seems to be Nintendo, XBox, Sony, do you think there is room for anyone else or do you feel we are about to turn another corner with more people playing games on phones rather than consoles, and or using media centre devices for games when at home, like internet enabled TVs etc.

Three main players seem like the perfect number for the industry. If another one kicks in successfully in the same space, most likely it will be at the expenses of another company, like Microsoft taking over Sega's place or Sony filling the vacuum left by Atari. The mobile, online and social trends seem on a clear expansion route and, in the end, I've the feeling that "traditional" consoles, to survive, will have to evolve into these directions too, by integrating more and more online functionality and acting in synergy with mobile devices to provide a more streamlined playing experience.

Q. Do you have a question you think I haven’t answered?

This was the most extensive and complete interview I ever went through so, no, I don't think you left out any important question!

Q. Finally you have unlimited funds and resources to create something (it could be none computer related) what would you create and why

I guess I would start a game development studio with the specific aim of experimenting with new game mechanics and ideas, bringing forward the legacy and spirit of the early development days!

All best!

Roberto


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Roberto Dillon (Author)

Product details

Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: A K Peters/CRC Press (8 Mar 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1568815824
ISBN-13: 978-1568815824

Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multi billion Dollar Industry

Roberto Dillon (Author)

Product details

Paperback: 209 pages
Publisher: A K Peters/CRC Press; 1 edition (28 April 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439873232
ISBN-13: 978-1439873236



Review: Out Space

Commodore 64 Game

Loading the game we are presented with a title screen with a few options, quickly grasping the joystick (in port2) and pressing fire we are transported to a vertical space of top down scrolling stars.

Looking at the games graphics you could very easily dismiss the game, I know when I looked I was very unimpressed on first looks. The game is something that looked like a SEUCK game, HOWEVER I was totally wrong! And you will also find this out as soon as you start pressing fire and moving. This is no SEUCK game, this is very smooth, and while the graphics could be improved somewhat; the game play is very solid. Music wise on the title screen is a classical piece that sounds a bit like “ave maria” but without the melody, this loops and actually sound OK, its a more electronic version than a true classical replication of the original. And on death we are greeted with another tune.

Level 1 Guardians Of The Gate

The attacks come in waves, and from what I have heard and seen there are some very random characters to destroy, even penguins get a look in! Each wave has a name and this is displayed at the bottom of the screen along with number of remaining lives and score. The game is very fast action and super responsive. In game sounds are great think of Galaxians, and you get a rough idea.

Level 2 Madness Moons

Level 2 sees us with a different attack faze and some killer moons to attack these don’t just scroll down but seem to roll around the screen. You seem to have to kill a set amount on each level to progress further in the game, my poor attempts didn’t seem to find any power ups and I think this is something that should be implemented especially smart bombs!

Level 3 The Celestial Sea

Level 3 is about the best I can muster up (without cheating) with my ham-fisted flying experiments, you can only move left and right and not up the screen. The movement on level 3 is definitely a disadvantage, when the fish start to attack you really need an option for moving up and down. The game has as you will be aware from the screen shots, a very Jeff minter feel about it; not just because of the strange aliens but more the game play. The more you play the game the more you “get into it” very nice effort indeed.

Even after my futile attempts to destroy the world we are greeted with a strange death sequence looks a bit like a psychedelia type of mix, sorry it doesn’t show up well in an static shot think of symmetrical moving blobs.

Death Scene

On of the later levels, looking very Jeff Minter like

Solid game play and actually you do get used to the graphics, sounds are great, no in game music to distract so you can listen to your own preferred artist.

On the main screen you have 2 options

Pressing the Commodore key will toggle the game mode from normal to insane

The insane option has the effect of speeding up the advancing aliens to they attack faster.

The other option is pressing the control key will cycle through the starting levels, so you can play the later levels even if you are as bad at shoot-em-ups as I am

Graphics: 6/10
Sounds: 6/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Lastability: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

Solid gameplay and a wacky outlook on life are what you will get from playing this, if you like flashing strobe effects then its one to try, smooth scrolling and little to fault, its a tried and tested formula but well executed and with a vary Minter style.



Review: Prince of Persia

Commodore 64 Version

Finally it is done...........

Mr Sid has completed a version of the famous and very eagerly awaited Prince of Persia (commonly referred to as P.O.P) for the curious you can look at his blog

http://popc64.blogspot.com/

What Is It

Prince of Persia is a platform game developed by Jordan Mechner and was originally released in 1989 for the Apple II computer. The game was a major mould breaker mainly because of the animation used. Jordan watched his younger brother running, jumping and playing and created a character that mimicked his brother with a process called roto-scoping, this involves tracing the outline of a real person and his movements into a sprite package to give a realistic impression of movement. Think Impossible mission and you get the idea

Although the game was released for a number of hardware platforms, it never made its way to the commodore 64, this could be due to the memory limitations and the fact the game would have to continually pull data from a disc or be produced on a cartridge; and this may have been thought to expensive a process because the Commodore 64 was maybe thought not a viable hardware platform at the time. Who knows?

The port of the game was achieved by studying the original Apple II code and copying it across to the Commodore 64, to run the program you will need an EASY FLASH cartridge (again because of the amount of date and the continual pulling of the information) or you can use newer versions of VICE emulator to play the game.

Storyline

It is a time of darkness. While the sultan is off fighting a foreign war, his Grand Vizier Jaffar has seized the reins of power. Throughout the land, the people groan under the yoke of tyranny, and dream of better days.

You are the only obstacle between Jaffar and the throne. An adventurer from a foreign land, innocent of palace intrigues, you have won the heart of the Sultan's lovely young daughter. And in so doing, you have unwittingly made a powerful enemy.

On Affair’s orders, you are arrested, stripped of your sword and possessions, and thrown into the Sultan's dungeons.

As for the Princess, Jaffar gives her a choice, and an hour to decide: Marry him--or die.

Locked in her room high in the palace tower, the Princess rests all her hopes on you. For when the last sands drain from the hourglass, her choice can bring only a throne for the Grand Vizier...a new reign of terror for his long-suffering subjects...and death for the brave youth who might have been...Prince of Persia.

What you'll Need

To play PRINCE of PERSIA, you will need a Commodore 64 or 128 with a joystick connected in port 2. The game will run smoother on a C128.

Gameplay

Enough of the history lessons what’s the game like to play?

I am sure everyone has seen the game but just for the person who hasn’t here is a quick review. Loading the game we are presented with the POP screen and credits, it has to be said that these look amazing, and are a real taster of what is to come in the game.

Left to its own devices the screen will clear and show the title credits then an animation of the princess and Jaffar who talks to the princess and brings in an hour glass turns it upside down and leaves, then the game starts! Of course you can start early by pressing the fire button.

The animation of the princess is good but the main game graphics will just blow you away.

The game has unlimited lives, but you are up against time and only have 1 hour to complete all the levels and rescue the princess.

The game starts with our hero stuck in a dungeon with flickering lights (although they don’t affect the screen the flickering animation is realistic) Movement of our hero is just amazing, can you imagine the shockwaves this game would have caused if it were released on the c64 when the game first came out, absolutely stunning.

The game is about solving puzzles, how to open doors where and how to step, some floor and ceiling tiles are actually switches and some are loose and the smallest touch from our hero will send them crashing down potentially causing death to our little guy. Jumping up will show loose tiles and punching the ceiling will also reveal secrets.

The backgrounds are clear and the whole thing looks and feels like a superb solid commercial release.

The tile screen has some oriental style music and this follows through to the scene of the princess, in game are spot sounds, although they are good they are quite sparse

Start of level two:

Saved!

Graphics: 9/10
Sounds: 7/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Last ability: 7/10 when its finished you could try to finish it faster?!

Overall: 8/10

Once finished you only have the option of returning to do the whole thing again but faster, for this reason I have marked the overall score down. MR SID has provided us with a superb conversion of a classic game. The game is continually being bug fixed and tweaked see MR SID`s blog for the latest version.