Categories
Ireland

RIP Niall Tóibín

Another giant of Irish entertainment and theatre has passed away. Niall Tóibín died today at the age of 89, only a week shy of his 90th birthday party.

Thanks Damien for the longer video and for linking to this article on the Examiner website.

Categories
Games

Retro Asylum on Stunt Car Racer

The guys on the Retro Asylum podcast played Stunt Car Racer this month. That game is one of my favourites. A wild roller coaster of a game where you literally drive a car around a roller coaster.

I played the C64 version for hours on end and listening to them prompted me to set up FS-UAE again as I wanted to try out the Amiga version once more. I think I’ve only ever played that version in emulation as I didn’t have the game when I had an Amiga 500.

Anyway, FS-UAE is a great emulator based on the Winuae Amiga emulator. It uses openretro.org for database files including graphics and game information which is really helpful. It’s sort of an Amiga version of Gamebase64! Here’s a video describing how to set it up. I’ll leave it up to you to find the games and everything else but it’s not hard to find them.

Stunt Car Racer is an amazing game, and in my opinion still holds up today as a decent game. Sure, the graphics are simplistic, sound is limited but what is there is superbly polished.

The Amiga and Atari ST versions even had simultaneous multiplayer which I sadly never experienced but I’d love to know if FS-UAE could handle using some sort of virtual null modem cable to connect emulators on two machines together. It does emulate the Amiga serial port so there might be hope for the future. I found this thread about Winuae but people there didn’t have much luck.

So, what does Stunt Car Racer look like? Here’s someone who doesn’t know how to play it but he’s very entertaining and he learns as he goes..

The game is set on a roller coaster. Timing and speed are everything. You have to hit ramps at the right speed to jump gaps, and failing to line up a turn or a jump in time would result in a crash.

Here’s a much better driver, including the TNT version which I haven’t played yet but looks hard as nails!

[1] This game was created by AmiGer/CARE (http://www.discreetfx.com/care/) by modifying the original game Stunt Car Racer. The TNT of the title stands for “The New Tracks”. A track designer was written in Delphi and used to create 8 new tracks to race. The title screen and menu screen have been modified, as well as the colour palette. [2] The disk version has the track colours incorrect in the track preview window – they retain the reds from the original. The WHDLoad version fixes this problem. [3] 2-player mode via null-modem connection.

This is one of the few games I play exclusively with the keyboard. Start a race and press “p” to pause, then f1 to redefine the keys. I usually use , . t g [space] and then press o to unpause.

Stunt Car Racer appeared on multiple platforms: Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Speccy, and Amstrad machines all had versions. Here’s a video comparing them. It’s amazing what Geoff Crammond and porting teams did back then!

Earlier this year, (2019 for those coming across this post in the future), the game was ported to the BBC Master and it flies along!

That looks way smoother and faster than the C64 version!

There is a sort-of modern remake. The game Assetto Corsa features the first track!

Stunt Car Racer is an amazing racing game. Track down the Amiga version, fire up Winuae or FS-UAE and give it a whirl. You’ll love it!

Categories
Ireland

RIP Gay Byrne

Like most Irish people my age and older I was shocked to hear about the death of Gay Byrne today. He was ever present in Irish daily life as he presented a daily radio show and a talk show on Friday evenings.

If you’re not yet 40 or not familiar with Gaybo because you haven’t lived here, @PantiBliss explained how big an influence he had on Ireland in this tweet.

The #RIPGaybo hashtag on Twitter and in part Irish Twitter is a place of mourning today.

If you watched Stephen Fry on God then you’ve watched Gay in action. Over 8m people have watched this video!

Stephen himself tweeted today about Gay, with this message sent to one of our national radio stations:

RTÉ published this post about Gay featuring lots of the “finest moments” from the Late Late Show. I couldn’t watch many of them for some reason but maybe you can. They don’t load in Firefox for me, even when I try to load them directly. I do remember Boyzone’s first public appearance on the Late Late. Can’t believe that was in 1993!

Every December The Late Late Show has a toy show episode. Here’s one with Zig & Zag & Dustin from 1992. I have to admit I never saw this clip but it made me laugh!

RIP Gay.

Categories
C64

Solar Jetman on the C64

This is a game I’d forgotten about until recently when I saw someone playing it on Twitch. Solar Jetman came out on the NES in 1991, and conversions were made for the C64, Speccy, Amiga and Atari ST. Unfortunately due to poor sales of the NES original the conversions were never released.

Luckily the team at Games That Weren’t were contacted by Martin Holland, someone who knew about the game’s development.

GTW got to work and began to search for this elusive conversion, and started with Haydn Dalton, who sadly could not find anything of the game after some searching. Two years later, and a month or two after the site relaunch, efforts were made to find the game’s programmer, John Buckley as a last ditch effort. After tracing John down to PlaypoolUK, GTW got the news it dreaded.. John hadn’t got any of his old disks no longer…
But a week or two after almost giving up hope of finding the game, Haydn Dalton was one day searching through some things at home, when he stumbled upon a disk with the label missing. The label was in there too, and stated “Solar Jetman Disk 1”, and after a bit more digging, Haydn found the second disk.

GTW

It’s a fascinating story of digital archaeology and the game now be found in various places including the Solar Jetman page on GTW! You can play the original version on archive.org, but Triad released an excellent version that packed the game into one disk side, and trained it too.

The game itself is like Thrust or Lunar Lander, but it came later and is much better than both! Controls are easier and enemies are more varied so if you liked those games you need to try Solar Jetman.

The conversion is missing a few things present in the NES version, and apparently the maps are a little cut down from the original. I need to download the NES version and give it a spin too!

Blow the Cartridge

What do you see when the game ends? Vinny has the answer and posted it on the (old) C64 Game Endings site here.

I discovered an interview with John Buckley, the developer who worked on the C64 version.

What were your first and last ever productions on the C64?
The first thing I did on the C64 was called Jeep Command. I did this in my spare time including the graphics and sound FX. If you have seen it, you will know I ain’t no artist! I sent it off to Bug Byte I think, and they put some music on it and shipped it out. The last thing I did was Solar Jetman, which never got released… until now.

Out of all the games you have worked on, which were you most proud and disappointed with?
I can’t say I am disappointed with anything I worked on. Most of them were conversions, some I wish I hadn’t of worked on but such is life. I liked working on Solar Jetman on the C64 but overall I am most proud of PLOK on the SNES.

Interview with John Buckley on C64.com
Categories
C64

Before I knew about revision control

Going through some of my old C64 discs and I found a bunch of “work in progress” demo parts and routines I was playing with.

Back then I didn’t know about revision control but it was a pleasure to find these bits and pieces of code that I had completely forgotten about. Here’s a few screenshots from Vice, but it’s shocking the difference between Vice and real hardware. The cascading Ozone logo is very pale compared to what I see on another screen. Could it be the screen? Or is it the emulator?

These were found on disc 23, side 1. All those discs are littered with small files, chunks of code that I was working on before throwing them together in the Action Replay monitor.

Kids these days are spoiled with their fancy editors. 🙂

Categories
Humour Youtube

Did Somebody Mention Cork?

Regional accent discrimination? Foil Arms & Hog show are spot on with their accents!

Categories
Science

Rebooting the Apollo Guidance Computer

If you can’t get enough of the Apollo missions after my last post watch as the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) is booted up. See inside the machine at the ropes used to store information and marvel at all the little wires that made the landing on the Moon possible.

For more check out this playlist on Youtube.

If that’s not enough I highly recommend listening to episode 220 of The Oribital Podcast. It has an excellent interview with Ron Burkey that will have you enthralled (well, maybe, if you’re like me and find the archaeology of old software interesting!)

The episode show notes link to scans of the original source code and transcribed copies of the code on Github!

Find scans of the source code above on archive.org and the same code is on Github too!

Categories
WordPress

WP Super Cache 1.6.9: security update

WP Super Cache is a full page caching plugin for WordPress.

Version 1.6.9 has just been released and is a required upgrade for all users as it resolves a security issue in the debug log. The issue can only be exploited if debugging is enabled in the plugin which will not be the case for almost all users.

The debug log is usually only enabled temporarily if a site owner is debugging a caching problem and isn’t something that should be left on permanently as it will slow down a site.

If there is an existing debug log it will be deleted after updating the plugin.

This release also improves the debug log by hiding sensitive data such as the ABSPATH directory of the WordPress install and login cookies. Unfortunately in the past users have copied the log file data into forum posts. A warning message has been added asking the site owner not to publish the debug log.

Details of the security issue will be added to this post in time to allow sites to update their plugin.

Categories
C64

Scrollwars

Yes, yes, another C64 demo. This is Scrollwars, released in 2013. How, just how?

Categories
Games

Dune Legacy: a modern Dune II game

Dune II, a real-time strategy game released in 1992, was as you may guess based on Frank Herbert’s second book in the Dune series. I didn’t play it at the time as I still owned a C64 at the time but I did play it before the decade was out.

In the game the player must harvest spice, return it to a refinery to convert to credits which are then used to build more harvesters or military units. Your military units are used to defend your harvesters and buildings and also attack your opponents. You control one of three opposing houses with the ultimate aim of conquering the other two.

Dune Legacy is a modern Dune engine that will allow you to play the original game with modern controls and higher resolution graphics. As well as Dune Legacy there’s also Dune Dynasty based on OpenDUNE.

They all require the original game to run but if you search carefully you’ll be able to find it online.

I haven’t played much of the game yet but it plays much the same way I remember in the past. Go get it if you’re a fan of RTS games. When you’re finished with that have a look at OpenRA, an open source implementation of Command and Conquer: Red Alert.