Categories
C64

The Commodore 64 Book – 1982 to 199x

Several months ago my old C64 buddy, Andrew Fisher, emailed me to tell me about his new book, The Commodore 64 Book – 1982 to 199x. At the time his email fell through the cracks in the Thunderbird inbox and was destined to remain unanswered until I received a reply from another friend, Iain Black, curator of The Def Guide to Zzap!64 to a recent email I sent him. He asked if I had heard from Andrew so I went digging and found Andrew’s correspondence.

I’m glad I did. I just visited his site and ordered my copy of his book. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it and poring over all the reviews and little nuggets of retro goodness. If you were ever a fan of the C64, I think you owe it to yourself to splash out the couple of quid this books costs so you can bore the pants off your significant other, your work colleagues or friends with hopelessly antiquated nonsense from 20-30 years ago!

For the Speccy fans, there was The ZX Spectrum Book – 1982 to 199x but unfortunately only 1000 were ever printed and it’s sold out.

c64 golden years

In 1982, the Commodore computer company launched its new machine – the Commodore 64.

Twenty five years later, that machine is still going strong with new games and thousands of users worldwide.
To tell the story of the best-selling home computer of the 1980’s, writer and Commodore 64 fan Andrew Fisher looks back at around two hundred of the top games and how the industry has changed. From the pioneering third party companies like Electronic Arts and Melbourne House, to the homebrew software of the new millennium, the story of an 8-bit computer (and its remarkable sound chip) is a nostalgia trip for games fans.

Yes, difficult as it may seem, but people are still coding on the C64. I presume most of them work on emulators and I remember reading a forum post from a young guy who had never owned the machine but wanted to learn 6502 assembler. The C64 Scene Database lists almost every single demo produced and new ones are being added all the time. Not bad for such an old machine eh?

Categories
C64

Introduction to C64 demo coding

ozone
.C:2101   A9 3A      LDA #$3A
.C:2103   CD 12 D0   CMP $D012
.C:2106   D0 FB      BNE $2103
.C:2108   A2 09      LDX #$09
.C:210a   CA         DEX
.C:210b   D0 FD      BNE $210A
.C:210d   A2 00      LDX #$00
.C:210f   BD 00 09   LDA $0900,X
.C:2112   8D 21 D0   STA $D021
.C:2115   8D 20 D0   STA $D020
.C:2118   BC 00 0A   LDY $0A00,X
.C:211b   88         DEY
.C:211c   10 FD      BPL $211B
.C:211e   E8         INX
.C:211f   E0 65      CPX #$65
.C:2121   D0 EC      BNE $210F
.C:2123   A2 01      LDX #$01
.C:2125   CA         DEX
.C:2126   D0 FD      BNE $2125
.C:2128   A9 00      LDA #$00
.C:212a   8D 20 D0   STA $D020
.C:212d   AD 21 D0   LDA $D021

So, who knows what’s happening above? Come on, it’ll come back to you if you look at the screenshot! I found a great tutorial on C64 demo coding. Unfortunately it’s a 404 now, but Google cached it and I downloaded it here for safe keeping: intro-to-programming-c64-demos.html
Look for the part on $d012

$d012 might be the most important address of them all, when it comes to demo programming on the C-64. $d012 has two different functions:

* When read, it returns the number of the current raster line.
* When written, it is used to set the number of the line where the next raster interrupt will occur.

We’ll get back to raster interrupts later. You need to know about $d012 to understand them, so pay attention to the stuff in this section! The first item above is interesting, but it may not be obvious why it is interesting.

The current raster line is the line that is currently being redrawn on your screen. The whole screen is redrawn 50 times per second. Each time it is redrawn from top to bottom, from the left to the right. So, if you want something to happen 50 times per second, all you have to do is to check the current value of $d012, and when it reaches a certain value, call the routine that performs the desired task. When finished, go back to checking $d012.

That blew me away when I found out about that. You could literally change the background colour of the screen halfway down the screen, have multiple text and graphics modes, use more than the default 8 hardware sprites. The PC was disappointing in comparison.

That code above is for Justin who reminded me that Vice has an ASM monitor!

Categories
C64 Donncha

Who or what is Xeer?

I used to go by the handle, “Xeer”. It’s under that name that I coded Commodore 64 demos many years ago. There’s even an entry for me on the C64 Scene Database! Exciting times then, but I’ve often been asked where the name Xeer came from. Now I can reveal it’s very obscure origins.

You may have heard of a space trading game called Elite that was released in 1985. If you haven’t, then don’t worry. You’re a youngster aren’t you? It made serious waves in the games scene for many years and even spawned an awful sequel on the PC a couple of years ago.
Anyway, I came across the game a few years after, probably in 1988 or ’89 and was hooked! I have to be honest, I preferred the shoot-em-up parts to the dry and boring trading bits. Games never lasted very long but it made a lasting impression on me.

One thing led to another, and I became interested in the C64 demo scene, but I needed a handle. Luckily I came across a few cheats for Elite that gave me infinite fuel or some such other nonsense and went looking around the galaxy. Here’s what the galaxy looked like back in the late 80’s.

Elite Galactic Chart

While exploring, I came across the little planet under the cursor above. Can you guess what it’s called? Yup, Xeer. Here’s the info sheet on it.

The planet Xeer

I haven’t seen any large yellow bug-eyed frogs about anywhere but I expect they’ll show up sooner or later.

More Xeer trivia: The traditional Somali Constitution is called Xeer, although the linked page on combackalive.com makes little sense to me. Anyone from that region know more?
For the Elite fans: The Zzap64! review.

Categories
C64 Donncha's Links

I'd rather be blogging

What is your most precious commodity? Mine is time. That’s why I’d rather be blogging than twittering.

  • 85 great photography sites suggested by the readers of DIY Photography, including my photoblog. Thanks for the link!
  • Mark celebrates the 25th birthday of the Commodore 64. Is it that old? Wow. commodore_64.jpg
    More: Wired Gallery, Interview with Jack Tramiel, Apple rejected by Commodore? (phew!)

    With no money to build thousands of Apple II machines, Wozniak and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs both approached Commodore with the Apple II. “Chuck Peddle from Commodore came to the garage and he was one of about three people we showed the Apple II prototype ever,” Wozniak said.

  • Mark welcomes MTOS. (sort of)

PS. almost forgot, Alan Whelan of Trocaire emailed to ask me to mention their ethical Global Gift campaign to help, “poor families around the world this Christmas.” While we’re on the topic of Christmas charity, by supporting Bothar you can help send cows to needy families. A bizarre item on the radio a few days ago involved a reporter accusing Bothar of keeping poor people poor. He reasoned that Bothar need poor people to operate. Weird stuff.

Categories
Apple Humour Movies

Bill and Steve and the C64

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, C64

When Bill Gates and Steve Jobs fight who mediates and brokers a peace deal? The venerable Commodore 64!

“Macs get you laid”? The stereotypes continue. (via and here)

Categories
C64 Games Movies

Youtube feeds my C64 Nostalgia

It’s all Mark’s fault. He mentioned Codemasters, then Dizzy, then he posted this movie of Magicland Dizzy completed in super-fast time. I had to search for more.

The following post contains several Youtube videos so click more if you want to see Gyroscope, Ghosts and Goblins, Barbarian and other Commodore 64 classics brought to life again!

Continue reading “Youtube feeds my C64 Nostalgia”

Categories
C64

The High Voltage SID Collection (HVSC)

Mark reminded me to check out the The High Voltage SID Collection as I haven’t looked it up for several months! It’s a huge collection of Commodore 64 music all organised neatly for nostalgic types!
I note that my old friend Merman/Andrew Fisher is mentioned in the release notes for the latest update. Looks like he’s been very busy for the last few years!

Categories
C64

C64 people and the good ol' days..

I’m stuck in work late, yet again, and plouging through a long list of things when I get an email titled, ‘remember me?’ from Andrew Fisher. Andrew was a member of the c64 demo group ‘Ozone’ that I formed with Ciaran Langford many a year ago.
I haven’t heard from Andrew in a long time so I took the opportunity to call him and we had a great chat catching up, and reminising about the ‘good ol’ days’ 🙂
Prompted by a visit to his homepage I searched for mention of the demo I worked on for Ozone and found it nestled away in a C64 demo archive. Thanks Andrew for submitting it there!