Dustlayer

Retro means old but cool.

I grew up with the Commodore C64 but was never able to master the machine. I was young, I wanted to play the latest games and let other people do the pioneer work on exploring this incredible hardware. Today I have better skills to catch up on what it takes to code the C64. I will share what I learn along the way. Enjoy the trip to the past!

Three C64-Related Kickstarter-Projects You May Have Missed

I really like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and all those other Crowdfunding-Platforms.  You can support enthusiastic people with ideas that commercial publishers do not believe in or that have no great return of investment value. Some projects will fail and some will succeed. Luckily, for Retro Gamers, the succeed rate is very high!

Here are three C64-related projects you may have missed that just hit their completion. Each stands out on its own and I am very happy I backed all of them. 

Wasteland 2 by inXile (Released September,19 2014)

My original copies of Wasteland on C64

Wasteland on C64 was a very popular post-apocalyptic role playing game by Interplay. While sequels were planned, they never emerged daylight. However, The Wasteland setting and mechanics were the inspiration to create the Fallout-series which again was very successful on it's own. 

A few years ago, Brian Fargo, the original producer of Wasteland acquired the brand rights which was owned by Konami back then. With his company inXile he started the Kickstarter-Campaign to make Wasteland 2 real. I remember Wasteland being one of the first high-profile Kickstarter-projects for games along with Broken Age by Double Fine. Timing probably was perfect for inXile at that point as the success was remarkable. Wasteland 2 collected $3,000,000, more than three times the budget Brian and his team originally asked for.

Funding period happened in April, 2012 and at that time inXile scheduled the release date for the finished product to sometime in September 2013. Looking back, this was impossible to achieve, not with this amount of money and the even bigger pressure to create an awesome product.  

The original C64 Boot-Disk of Wasteland

So it actually took 2.5 years from start to finish and Wasteland 2 is now available via Steam as well as in a boxed version. I have not really played it yet but the reviews are just fine and it seems that fans as well as people new to Wasteland like the game.  

While downloading Wasteland 2, I thought I check the original game briefly again. I looked for my original copies and loaded up the first disk. Of course, it still worked - don't take this for granted with a CD-ROM after 26 years by the way. 

 

How Wasteland was played in 1988.

I ended up playing Wasteland 1 for a couple of hours! What a great ride back into the past. The setting and the great writing captures you immediately again. By the way, you can play Wasteland 1 on PC too as inXile released a faithful port during their Wasteland 2 development.  

In the meantime, the Steam download on Wasteland 2 was completed and I briefly loaded the game. In 1988 we would have never believed in playing games with such advanced visuals on a really big screen at home. While I can not review the title at this point, I feel that the experience to have helped making this game real, is already very rewarding.

26 years later - Wasteland 2 in 1080p beamed to my basement's screen.

From Bedroom to Billions by Nicola & Anthony Caulfield (Premiere September, 26 2014)

Coding in the 80s

This is a movie documentary about the UK video games industry starting from the very early 80s. Originally funded in August 2012, the scope of the project became larger and larger. Additional money was collected, much more interviews than planned were recorded. It took Nicola and Anthony over two years to finish their ambitious project and from what I have seen so far, this documentary will become an instant classic. 

C64-Legend Rob Hubbard

They put 2 hours 30 minutes of interviews, commentaries and old video reels into a very professionally made movie that certainly sets the benchmark for any next attempt to capture that industry of the past.  The movie premiere is this week and I can't wait to have my backed Blu-Ray in the mailbox.

You should certainly grab a copy if you have the chance. 

 Movie Poster and Cover-ARt for the finished documentary

Movie Poster and Cover-ARt for the finished documentary

Commodore 64: A Visual Compendium by Sam Dyer (Shipped September 13, 2014)

I know some retro enthusiasts engaged with Kickstarter-projects who wanted to pass on this one. From the actual campaign it looked rather unappealing. There was this individual Sam Dyer who wanted to capture the magic of the C64 visuals. I think quite a few people assumed, that he would just grab some screenshots and put them into a book. This statement would not do justice at all to the finished product which arrived in my mail yesterday. The Visual Compendium is a masterpiece and exceptionally well crafted. While it features  tons of images it also comes with lots of statements by veterans of this long forgotten era of the games industry. 

The finished Book

The 200 full-color pages and printed lithography are of excellent quality. The selection of games and images will hardly let you miss anything. There is no book like this one and you will love to browse the various slides every now and then every year. 

As opposed to the other two projects I introduced above, Sam Dyer managed to deliver in time! Funded in May 2014 and promised for delivery in September 2014, the book arrived on schedule.  This is something you can not stress enough because it is incredible hard to not only plan and develop a product, whether it be small or large. You need to take care of "investors" who are pushing for results, you need to handle  the organization of perks and other goodies and then there is of course the shipping process. Sam handled this more or less alone as an individual and published 50 email updates to backers along the way. My deepest respect for this achievement and professionalism - well done!

By the way, he will start another Kickstarter to create a corresponding Amiga Visual Compendium mid-October. If your next stop after C64 was the Commodore Amiga, this is the next Kickstarter project you want to support!

Here are some quickly done photos of the finished product. Click the image to cycle through a few pages.

Oh yes, last but not least and noteworthy, on the final page of the book, you will find an advertisement for dustlayer.com! The portrait of myself was drawn by Stephen Ian Thomas aka SIT. If you don't know him, check out this interview

The first printed advertisement for dustlayer.com

That were three exceptional C64-related projects from small to large scale that emerged through crowdfunding. Please continue to invest in great ideas if you  believe in the vision of individuals and teams on a small budget. For each of the three products above, I am very glad I contributed and so should you. 

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Lost Treasures - The Commodore Production Line in Hong Kong

Good friends of mine from Hong Kong recently started a  company. It turned out that next to their new office, there was a former Commodore production line. They got their hands on a CD with some old photos from December 1992.

The photos were taken by Robert Baker who was in production engineering at Commodore in West Chester, PA and who had been in Hong Kong for a pilot production run of the Amiga 600.

Luckily I also got my hands on some of Roberts original business cards as well - C64-Enthusiasts, look at the cool Fax-Number, all others, note how the email address looked 22 years ago. 

I contacted Robert and he thankfully granted me to put  that photos on the blog. To go full circle to C64-Programming - which dustlayer.com is all about after all - Robert has in fact quite some history with programming our favorite Commodore machine! He has written lots of articles that can be obtained from his website over at http://www.bobnj.com/cbm - check out the archive.

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Reporting Back for Duty!

It's been a while since I updated the Site - what happened?  I started a new company with two friends last August  to build mobile games for children. After a lot of foundational work we have now finally finished our first product which will be submitted sometime this week to the AppStores.  You should check out our Facebook page if this topic is interesting to you. 

Anyways, during the last couple of months I usually worked in the evenings so I had no time to take care of my hobbies. However, now with the big milestone taken I think it's time to do some 6502-coding and blogging again.  Hooray! 

To give the blog post some more background, let me recap! 

Why writing tutorials for 30 Years old Hardware in 2014? 

When I started reading books on the Commodore C64 I was thinking a lot about how working with computers changed since 1985. While there is no doubt that a Billion more people use computers nowadays it seems that in the same breath no-one does know or cares why and how things work. 

If you read this website you are somewhat interested in understanding (old) computers or pick up knowledge you did not when you were too young - like myself. 

Why the Commodore C64?

 Some of my C64 books

Some of my C64 books

The C64 is a prime example for the art of engineering an elegant chipset. 

The machine can do amazing effects if done right. No need for additional RAM or Turbo Cards. Any 30 years old C64 can run the latest demos released in the still very viable C64 scene which never stops to amaze me.. 

The C64 sold dozens of million times - everybody who grew up in the 80s knows about its games.  It sold over 12 years in a more or less internally unchanged hardware. All sold C64 on the world will run the same software, will execute the same code, have the same limitations. 

Though the machine can be considered more or less fully explored there are still new cool things discovered by further exploiting the chipset. Those findings are crafted into awesome effects in demos or artwork, never seen before - I think this is awesome.

When I read a good book on C64 programming or execute my own code, it's like understanding and talking to a very old friend.

Anyways, stay tuned for new episodes on dustlayer.com in the next couple of weeks. I still have to catch up myself as I got a bit rusty by not looking at 6502 code for 10 months. :-)

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