Updates, News & Stuff
870 games played. Emptiness. Relief. Still on schedule. 230K words written in just over 300 h. So the text material is 98% done, and most of the graphics and layout have been put together. The next part is the slow and not exactly fun process where the jigsaw-pieces are put down one by one... But absolutely - Some games have to be played as well. Otherwise, this is going to be a very long and soul-shattering spring.
1/10/2019: The second half
Time for an update... Just a few minutes ago, I played the 660th game of the ones that are going to be featured in the upcoming "second half" of PLAYING COMMANDO! And that means that 80% of the material is written at this point. (Which has taken 235 hours so far. Not counting the game-playing time, obviously.) The reason why this project was born is simple: It emerged from the need to daily escape into something during last spring. And the project started growing... It was right when the previous book started to feel more and more "incomplete"... Okay, so a project like this will probably never be "complete", but bringing just a bit more attention to all these charming C64-games is what I think is enjoyable.
Meanwhile, only around 10% of the book is completely finished right now. The deadline isn't set (Except: "around midsummer".), because there are still quite a few things that I just want to include in the whole thing. But, no - It won't be anything spectacular. It'll merely become the second half of an existing book - With a near-identical layout, structure, and concept. Albeit with different............ Games...!
And just like last time, I hope it helps you discover a whole bunch of vintage video games that eventually bring you unbelievable joy...
12/23/2018: One year later...
Where did 2018 go, then? Well, the "second half" of the book "stole" a significant part of this year's spare time, that's for certain... Merry C=hristmas, and have an absolutely great 2019 either way...!
Just an uncalled-for Blues Brothers-reference: We're 200-something days from deadline, I've got a six-pack of Red Bull, a pack of painkillers, it's dark, and I'm staring at two computer screens.
10/4/2018: Ben Daglish (7/31/1966 - 10/1/2018) R.I.P.
We're crushed and saddened beyond words... You just know the world is turning a hell of a lot worse when you have to write two dates after the name of a legendary composer... :'(
7/31/2018: Still obsessing... Fighting the emptiness that the lack of Old School video games leaves in daily existence...
Naw... I'm not done with this... A continuation of the "project" has been materializing (slowly) since April the 28th.
7/29/2018: Controllers... Yeah. Stating the obvious, but they make one hell of a difference. Or maybe it really is the nostalgia talking...
It's of course a matter of preference like with everything else. But without a Joystick... It just isn't the same... Joy...
I more or less subconsciously started with this "C64-emulation"-stuff after realizing that getting original hardware and future proofing them was something that I wouldn't be able to do for several reasons. And those visions of stacks of disk boxes with ALL the games... It would've soon become a white whale.
So. Emulation. And to make it feel as close to the real thing as possible. And a part of that is the controller. I think the original Xbox-one was pretty good with the analog stick. The PlayStation DualShock 3 - Not soo much. I just never managed to get it to work properly, and there are way too many buttons that you accidentally can press while playing. A big step up was the SNES PC Controller. But the best (Although not perfect.) so far has been the C64-Mini Joystick. It's like one huge fragment less missing from the experience. It didn't feel like it at first, and I had already heard so many different things about it. (Both positives and negatives...) But there is this test that I always resort to.
And for some reason, it's this:
The swamps / quicksands and creeks in The Last Ninja, and the rowing boat and the boxes in Last Ninja 2. If I can get across those screen like it still was 1988, then it's a very good sign. Back in the days, I never could be able to get across the lake in Palace Gardens, so my dad always had to trigger the bug where Armakuni is able to run on water... The pillars on Level 3 in Delta is also a very good test. (And to be able to pick those weapon upgrades was never easy, but it's easier now than before.)
5/22/2018: CCS64 on Wine. On Linux. How well does it work?
Very. Very well, indeed. If you solely want to use CCS64, on a desktop / laptop, and don't have a Windows machine, this is the next best alternative.
5/20/2018: My brother was spring cleaning / going through some old stuff, and found these FINE pieces of literature. I bought them in the late 80s, but since he got the C64 when I went over to the Amiga, he also had these books - Up until now. It was heartwarming to see these treasures again. There's the book called "VIC-64 Grafikboken" (Original title: "Graphics Guide To The Commodore 64".) by Charles Platt. It explains in detail how the C64 graphics work, and it also tells you how to make your own set of graphics-, sprite- and characters (Including generator programs for these.), and how to code your own games in Basic. (The example that they use in this book is "Air Attack" that's in the Gamebase64.) It appears to be from 1984.
The other one is simply the original manual for the Machine. (There was also a system manual for the C128, since we got one of those at one point too.)
And this is the Bible. Second edition. Everybody swears by it for a very good reason.
4/27/2018: Something must be wrong, or maybe it's more common that one would believe. That is: Becoming "home blind" or whatever the hell the right term is, and discovering error upon error in a project a couple of months down the road after completion... I "wish" I could blame all the seemingly endless and infuriating oversights on insomnia, crack, or something... But yeah, it's a bloody thing. As soon as I discover a "tiny" error, a missing word, a spelling- / grammar mistake, or an ordinary fuck-up, I kind of have to adjust it. [#Insert optional neurological-disorder-"or-something" here.] (These are relatively easy to fix, but it's not too clever. And there are probably zero clever ways to do it.)
The correct MD5 checksums for the downloads are as follows:
(That's the "December 2017" v1.2 plus 120 text document revisions and 25 changes made to the pages / layout since then. The formatting was all fucked up in the last chapter as well... [muttering] Bloody amateur...)
4/4/2018: Definitely attracted...
...to this. In an unhealthy way, I think. But as usual, some severe research needs to be done before a purchase...
3/30/2018: Still a bit hard to believe...
It's like another good dream come true... C64 games. Running at more or less constant 100% speed on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. Using the x64sc version of VICE. With reSID-emulation and sampling method set to "Fast". (And CRT-emulation turned off.)
3/20/2018: Unbelievably uninteresting
This is a very small section of the LibreOffice Calc-sheet that I used to keep track of most things related to the project... One can't say anything else than: Time flies, seemingly accelerates, and screws up everything in the end. So on this day, one year ago exactly, I played two games for 53 minutes in total (No idea which ones, though.) and had written around 96000 words... This must have been one of the slow days! (Or it was just two games that relatively slowly killed the mood...) On the direct opposite side of that spectrum was April 14th with 15 games played for 454 minutes. And that's so easy to remember, because that (probably rainy) day was all about C64'ing the entire morning, noon and afternoon within an uncontrollable flood of nostalgia - An uncomplicated reminder of how goddamned fun it simply was... And still is...
(The columns in the sheet with nothing but "2"s and "1"s were for when both games on that particular page had been written about, and when the page in question was completely finished. The game-titles of course represent which games are on said page.)
Either way - This is torture, already... If only it would feel like time slows down now instead, so that there'd be at least a "perceived" 8 hours a day for video games instead of 20 minutes here and maybe one hour there... (No wonder why it feels empty inside, right...?)
(Life should always feel like the end of an 80s action movie...!)
3/18/2018: The hunt...
...for the perfect C64-emulator goes on. With the RetroPie on a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, it was possible to get the VICE 3.1 x64 to run at full speed (100% CPU / 50 FPS) with the reSID-emulation set to "Fast". But running the x64sc was never an option - Even with FastSID-emulation and the sound synchronization set to "Adjusting" (Instead of "Exact".), the CPU-emulation speed and FPS dropped to unacceptable levels. (Around 80% for the CPU at app. 40 FPS.) With reSID turned on and set to "Resampling", the emulation plummeted to 50% CPU-emulation speed, which of course meant that the games ran in slow motion with severe audio stuttering.
But as you might know by now, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ was released on March 14th... So of course it had to be checked out for a very specific purpose...! Now, you can't just take the old SD-card from the earlier model and insert it into the new one... (Imagine that I tried and believed that it would actually work...?!) The seconds after turning the computer on, it simply doesn't get past the Splash-screen. The curious thing is that it displays a "power supply function failure"-warning?! (A little flash in the top right corner.) But - With an upgraded RetroPie-image (from https://retropie.org.uk/forum/topic/16307/retropie-4-3-15-stretch-images-for-testing) and the "ROMS" in the right place, the machine booted up like it should.
That boost in the CPU-department (Broadcom BCM2837B0, Cortex-A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.4 GHz instead of 1.2 GHz Broadcom BCM2837 64-bit CPU.) turned out to be a bit of a positive surprise. For the sake of consistency, I naturally compared the emulators with the same settings - For performance: Speed was set to 100% and Refresh Rate to 1/1. For Video settings: Fullscreen-mode on, CRT-emulation, and no Double Size / Double Scan. Sound sync was set to "Exact", and Sample Rate to 41000 KHz. (Including "Medium" Fragment Size and SID-filters turned on.)
VICE x64 on Model B+ can now run at 100% CPU with the reSID-emulation set to "Resampling" and audio sync set to "Exact". (The most accurate SID-emulation in existence.) But what's amazing is that the x64sc starts up nicely and runs at nearly full speed (95-97% CPU / 48 FPS most of the time.) - That is, if you switch over to FastSID-emulation instead and set audio sync to "Adjusting". As for reSID-emulation: Even with the "Fast" Sampling Method-setting, you only get around 80% CPU-speed. (And it just doesn't sound good at all - Non-stop audio stuttering and drop outs.) Although, in this case, you can always turn off CRT-emulation to get the CPU-speed back towards the 100% value.
But yeah - The difference in hardware may not be ginormous, but it's getting closer and closer...! Maybe the "Pi 4" will be able to run x64sc and reSID set to "Resampling". (Like most new(er) laptops and desktops do without keeling over.)
3/10/2018: Elljis AB
On Strömstadsvägen, Uddevalla, Sweden, was this small store called "Elljis" in the mid-to-late 80s. It was focused on Commodore and Commodore only. And this is where The Machine Of Happiness was bought on August 14, 1987. (Maybe I should have taken the picture on that day last year instead of on a "balls in liquid nitrogen"-cold day like today.)
And now... There is nothing...
2/25/2018: At least the laptop at work now has a fully functional OS... Still going strong in 2018! :]
1/17/2018: Minor corrections made here and there during the last couple of weeks, or so... Not annoying in the least... :(
1/10/2018: The front cover references:
1/8/2018: The files have been verified / virus-checked again and again.
12/27/2017: Just made some "final" minor adjustments to some of the pages. And apparently, it's impossible to discover all graphical- and spelling mistakes before the files have been uploaded.
(C) 2017-2018 Maximal Brain Malfunction Press