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Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


Let's All Type poo poo In from COMPUTE!'S GAZETTE



Hi, everybody! We're going to do something a little different this time. This'll be an experimental thread that will either be hilariously successful or a colossal failure. Either way, ITT we're going to type video games from a magazine directly into a C64 (emulator) and do a one-post Let's Play about them.


FAQ

Q: What is a COMPUTE!'S GAZETTE and why is this thread here?

A: Look upon this tome, for many a programmer was born from its dark secrets:





Compute!'s Gazette was the magazine if you were a computer nerd in the 80s. It was a C64 hobbyist rag and, IMHO, the greatest single magazine ever published in the United States. Besides the hilarious ads and neckbeard letters to the editor, there's some surprisingly deep cuts on various bits and bytes of the Commodore 64 and friends. Besides that, it included full source code of various programs! Looking back 30 years later, I didn't realize as a kid how big of a deal some of these actually were. There's an entire assembly language shim in one of these. That is as far as C64 programming goes, because most of the complicated stuff involved putting data A into address B and gods help you if you didn't have a manual to tell you where those were. Using assembly sped the process up tremendously. Plus, it made you feel like a badass.

But we don't care about any of that. We're here for the video games.


Q: Wait, it had video games?

A: Yes! You could get them straight out of a print magazine and into your computer! They took hours to type in! You needed special tools to make sure you didn't fat-finger something! They were often terribly disappointing! The games, not the fingers.


Q: Why would we do this to ourselves, why

A: The C64 has always held a special place in my heart. It was a hodgepodge of chips, code, features, and limitations that behaved like it was put together by a RNG. Some of the most creative, insane, and just plain weird games were made for this thing by actual big-name software houses—and one day, we'll visit some of them. That day is not today, however. What we have in our future are oil-stealing aliens, a bagboy who is totally not a bartender stop asking, a guy in a zoot suit collecting apples, and lots and lots and lots of hex.

It's incredibly interesting (to me) to see some of the BASIC programs behind the scenes---although most of the good stuff is in machine language. Plus, you never know what the gently caress you're going to find in there. And not just in the source code, either! Some of the ads between articles were not only strange to start with but are also drop dead hilarious in modern context.


Q: Sure, why not. How do I get started?

A: Click here for a crash course to get you up and running. The C64 isn't exactly a friendly environment to come into cold, but you shouldn't need to know more than a handful of commands to play along.

Beyond that, you'll need two different programs provided by Compute!'s: the Automatic Proofreader (for BASIC programs) and MLX (for machine language programs). Fortunately for you, I'm providing a D64 disk image with these programs in the next section. I mean, if you really want to, you can type them in yourselves. I won't stop you. They're in just about every issue.


Q: Soooo. What do we do after they're typed in?

A: Run them, play them a bit, and then question this and every other life decision you've made.

After that, write up a one-post Let's Play on the software and post it to this thread. The following format is suggested:


  • Game Name
  • Month/Year of Issue
  • Game Summary (idgaf if you just make something up)
  • Either screenshots or a video of the game in action
  • What's Good
  • What's Bad
  • Weird/hilarious ads you came across
  • Disk image of the saved game, if you want (FFS DON'T USE MEGALOADS OR FILEDUMPSTER OR WHATEVER)


It's okay if we have multiple people reviewing the same games! I mean you may feel kind of dumb typing in something someone else already did, but besides that, it isn't first come first serve. Also, don't be weird and post multiple times with long spergy paragraphs about a dumb little 5 minute game. That's weird. Don't be weird.

I'll collect the LPs I think are particularly good (my own are included by default ) and link them back to them here. If all goes well, I'll ask Baldurk to archive the thread after we have a good collection and/or interest finally dies down. If it doesn't work, this will become thread wherein we all laugh at Chokes' failure. actually that's every thread


Read up on the next section, and then get to it!




(Grab the latest GOON!'s Gazette disk image from here here to check out the games reviewed ITT)




OUR PARTICIPANTS


Chokes McGee

ManxomeBromide

FredMSloniker

Complexcalibur

Prenton

Adnachiel

Kangra
  • Potholes (contains bonus feature about Disassembler!)


BONUS FEATURES


Chokes McGee:


ManxomeBromide:


FredMSloniker




Techie Crap


ManxomeBromide


Kangra


FredMSloniker
  • Hex Wars: An autopsy (part 1 part 2 part 2a part 3 part 4 part 5) More information than any one human being should know about behind-the-scenes C64 programming. It's like the Necronomicon, powerful secrets are held within but learning too much will drive you mad




FAN ART (?!?!)


Grimwit knows how the sausage is made.





MaxomoneBromide is trapped in a hell of his own making.


Chokes McGee fucked around with this message at 19:51 on May 16, 2016

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Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


Technical Guide, aka How Do I C64??




1. Getting Started
2. Typing in BASIC Programs
3. Typing in Machine Language Programs
4. Basic Keys
5. Basic Commands
6. Errors
7. Advanced Topics




Getting Started


Before we get started with anything else: VICE uses direct 1541-II emulation at native speeds, which means you're going to be waiting a while for disk operations. This is normal. As long as the light in the lower right of the window is red and the numbers are moving, the system hasn't locked up. There's ways around this, but I don't want to get into that here as it's going to be complex enough.

To start with, grab the following:


  • VICE Emulator - you want the non-SDL version
  • gazette.d64.zip - Unzip this to get gazette.d64, it has MLX and Automatic Proofreader already saved
  • An issue of your choice of Compute!'s Gazette
  • Read "How to Type In COMPUTE!'S Gazette Programs" in the issue It will familiarize you with C64's "quote mode" and the magazine's general notation. It is absolutely required reading if you've never used a C64 before, or else you are going to get very confused very quickly.


You'll also need this image:





This is the native key mapping for the C64. You can get VICE to use a modern layout so your PC keyboard behaves as expected, but everyone will laugh at you and call you names behind your back.

Locate VICE and execute x64, which is the C64 emulator.





You'll see the above. At this point, you're good to go. There's really only two more things you may want to fiddle with:


  • Settings -> Joystick Settings. The Commodore 64 had two joystick ports that responded to programming in completely different ways. You will spend a lot of time trying to figure out which goddamn port the game wants. This menu is where you can swap between the two.

  • Settings -> Keyboard Settings. You can select Symbolic US here to go with a more modern PC keyboard layout instead of the direct C64 Positional mapping. (You wuss.)




How to Type poo poo In: BASIC Programs

  • File -> Attach Disk Image -> Drive 8 -> gazette.d64
  • Ctrl-Alt-R (hard resets the machine)
  • LOAD "PROOFREADER",8
  • RUN

Once it says "PROOFREADER ACTIVE", you're good to go! Just start hammering in the code. Every time you hit Return, a little two-letter checksum will appear in the upper-left corner. Compare it to checksum next to the line in the magazine. If it's different, you screwed up. Cursor up and do it again.

When you're done coding---or if just want to take a break---you can save your file thusly:


SAVE "@O:WHATEVER",8


WHATEVER is obviously the filename.

Once you're done and everything's saved, run it like any other program! On future boots, you can use the LOAD command to get it back into memory.




How to Type poo poo In: Machine Language Programs

Oh boy, are you in for a treat!





Programs more complicated than a few beeps and boops require tighter code that fits into the C64's limited memory---and thus, requires machine language. These are the actual raw, native bytes that assemblers spit out after processing source code. The average program length in Compute!'s is about three pages of three columns of this poo poo. If you're willing to brave the wilds, though, this is where the good stuff is.


  • File -> Attach Disk Image -> Drive 8 -> gazette.d64
  • Ctrl-Alt-R (hard resets the machine)
  • LOAD "MLX",8
  • RUN
  • Enter Starting and Ending address. (You can find it in the article itself, not the code.)
  • N to skip clearing memory
  • E to enter data
  • Type in the Starting Address from the article
  • Get to work typing in pages and pages of hex


MLX has a built-in checksum that will make sure both the data and the address associated with it are correct. If everything works out, it will beep and show the next address. Otherwise, it will make a very rude noise and tell you to redo the line. Once you're finished, you'll automatically be taken back to the main menu:


  • Hit S to save
  • Type in the program name. (Follow the article's instructions! A lot of times they have to be named very specific things.)
  • Hit D for disk
  • Wait an excrutiatingly long time


Once the menu comes back, you're done. If you want to save what you have so far and come back later, you're going to have to work around a design flaw in MLX. See "Advanced Topics" for this.




Basic (hurr hurr) Keys

First and foremost, Commodore machines have something called "quote mode." When you hit quote, you enable a mode where special keys, i.e. CLR/HOME, are printed as reversed symbols instead of directly executed. You'll know this has happened when you start getting gibberish instead of your cursor moving around like you expect. To get out of it, either type another quote or just hit Return.

Secondly: The C64 overwrites text instead of inserting. (You can insert extra spaces one at a time if you need to.) It will also happily print status and error messages right over the top of any text in its way, so keep that in mind.

Thirdly: You can re-run commands by cursoring up to them and hitting Return again! This is very helpful for when you gently caress something up and the Automatic Proofreader tells you that you're wrong and also dumb.

Finally, here are some common hard-to-find keys and their mappings/meanings to the C64 keyboard:


  • Tab - CONTROL
  • Ctrl - COMMODORE KEY
  • Shift + Home - CLR/HOME, aka clear screen
  • Shift + Backspace - INS a space to the right
  • ESC - RUN/STOP. Stops a currently executing BASIC program.
  • Hold ESC then PgDwn - RUN/STOP RESTORE. Soft-resets the machine from anywhere. Don't trust this, just use Ctrl-Alt-R to do VICE's hard reset. It's there if you want/need it, though.


The rest can be found on the keyboard JPG from "Getting Started."




Basic Commands

This should be enough to get you started:


  • LOAD "FILENAME",8 - Load a BASIC program into memory.
  • LOAD "FILENAME",8,1 - Load a machine language program into memory. May need a SYS command afterwards to run. The article will tell you if this is the case.
  • LIST - Show lines from current program. You can specify a range (i.e. 200-400) if you like. RUN/STOP (ESC) will stop the data dump early.
  • RUN - Run a program. Durp.
  • NEW - Flush memory and start over. Always use this before starting new programs, etc.
  • LOAD "$",8 - Load the directory of the current disk into memory. Once complete, use LIST to view it. (Warning: This will clobber your current program if you have one. Also, use NEW afterwards before starting a program, or you'll have a lot of garbage left in it.)




Errors

You'll know when you get one. "? SYNTAX ERROR" is the most common, it means the computer has no idea what you're even trying to do. "? FILE NOT FOUND" is another common one and speaks for itself.

Also, keep your eye on the red/black light in the lower right corner of VICE's window. If it's blinking, something's gone wrong in the disk---either a bad filename, you tried to overwrite a file without the overwrite option set, etc.




Advanced Topics


MLX doesn't use the overwrite flag when it writes data to a disk. If you want to save and come back later, you'll need to get around this using direct disk drive commands.


  • Hit Return on a blank line to get back to the menu. (Note the address you stopped at!)
  • If this is the first time you're saving, just save as normal, and you're done.
  • For second and subsequent saves, add ".2" to the name when you save
  • Ctrl-Alt-R
  • OPEN15,8,15,"S0:FILENAME":PRINT#15,"R0:FILENAME=FILENAME.2":CLOSE15
  • yes that line is howling insanity but it should work nonetheless
  • LOAD "$",8:LIST to make sure it took


In case you need to do some file management for whatever reason:


  • Scratch: (aka Delete File) OPEN15,8,15,"S0:WHATEVER":CLOSE15
  • Rename: OPEN15,8,15,"R0:NEWNAME=OLDNAME":CLOSE15




Feel free to post any and all questions to this thread!

I've used the C64 way more than is healthy, and I can answer all your questions. Probably. Or maybe not.

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


Let's Play Apple Willie!

Apr. 1990, Vol. 8, No. 4




Summary:

Notorious mobster "Little" Apple Willie is left empty-handed on this, the day of the Godfather's daughter's wedding. To avoid having a hit put on him, he must come up with a gift, so he dons his purple zoot suit and sets out onto the mean streets of Chicago.

Luckily, God has pity on him and transports him to the garden of Eden, where he can collect Apples of Knowledge to placate the mafia princess. To save the day, he'll have to dodge unhealthy looking birds, the evil Serpent that tempted mankind, and his own crippling inadequacies as a human being.




Playthrough


(No, that's not a video hang at the start. It's some guy's homebrewed solution to C64 graphical processing.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdREzIjhfAc






The Good

The graphics on this are pretty drat phenominal for a dinky little game. I mean, it uses parallax scrolling. There are commercial C64 games that didn't do that.

The control and sound is pretty crisp, too---at least by C64 standards. This is one of those things you could play for like ten minutes and not even realize how much time you've spent on it.




The Bad

I hesitate to even call this a game. Jump thing, duck thing, get apple. Repeat until dead. I mean, it's free and all, but god drat. Push the button a little bit.




The Weird





Before you die, please make sure to give your crack-withered organs to someone else. I'm sure nothing could go wrong with this plan.







paging yospos to the thread, yospos to the thread




The Verdict


This "game" was written more as a technical demo, and it shows. It looks pretty and will amuse you for all of two minutes before you realize you spent four days of your life typing it in and collapse weeping to the floor.

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


This is so relevant to my interests you don't even know. I don't remember this specific program, though, so I may have moved on to the Amiga by then. I'll try to find the time for some audience participation, but no guarantees.

FredMSloniker fucked around with this message at 06:40 on Mar 1, 2016

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


FredMSloniker posted:

This is so relevant to my interests you don't even know. I don't remember this specific program, though, so I may have moved on to the Amiga by then. I'll try to find the time for some audience participation, but no guarantees.

Thanks! I'm going to do a few more to encourage people, plus I shouldn't ask people to sink time into this if I don't.

AlphaKretin
Dec 25, 2014

A vase to face encounter.

...Vase to meet you?

...

GARVASE DAY!



I own a C64 (or 3). I've never used it, have no desire to type out all those programs you provided workarounds for, and have no idea how I'd record video from it but maybe it can contribute somehow!

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


I was writing this as an edit, but then you posted, so...

Compute!'s Gazette had two versions of both the Automatic Proofreader and MLX programs. MLX changed versions in Issue 31, and the Automatic Proofreader changed versions in Issue 32. In both cases, the changes increased error-detection power and ease of use. However, this means that checksums from the old issues won't work in the new programs, and vice versa.

Hirayuki
Mar 28, 2010




Hell, yes! My family and I laboriously typed in I don't know how many programs out of this magazine back in the day. Often one of us would dictate the code while another typed it in. We didn't have Automatic Proofreader (today is the first I've heard of it), so we had to be careful.

The only one I clearly remember having typed in (in MLX, no less) was Bug Run. It had sprites and sound effects and everything! I hope it comes up in this LP.

Kangra
May 7, 2012



I really wish we had access to the original source for some of these. I'm sure that a disassembler might help, but that would still be a lot of effort. I'm curious now how those graphics were done. Was it actually necessary to write to the screen before-hand in order to change between the parallax images that quickly, or was that a form of double-checking to see that they are all showing up correctly?

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014

"What we therefore hath joined together, let Gnoman put asunder..."


Hitting Alt+W in VICE will run the system as fast as your computer will handle, but without sacrificing emulation quality.

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


Kangra posted:

I really wish we had access to the original source for some of these. I'm sure that a disassembler might help, but that would still be a lot of effort. I'm curious now how those graphics were done. Was it actually necessary to write to the screen before-hand in order to change between the parallax images that quickly, or was that a form of double-checking to see that they are all showing up correctly?

I believe that what it's doing is drawing a frame of animation, saving it to another part of memory, drawing another frame of animation, saving it elsewhere, and so on. The computer can slap data from one place in memory to another a lot faster than it can follow a series of drawing instructions. The same logic can be used for any program that has an expensive calculation but a limited number of possible values to be fed into that calculation. You can make the program run faster by calculating all of the possible results ahead of time.

Of course, then you're trading a large number of on-the-fly slowdowns with a single, much larger slowdown at the beginning. You can avoid that by calculating the results when you're preparing the program for release, either saving the results as a data file or, if you're using a compiled language, by baking the results right into the finished program. (I believe at least some precompilers can do this sort of thing on cue.) Putting the finished frames in this program would cause the amount of text you'd have to type in to be huge, but you could split the program in two, having the first generate a data file and the second be the actual game.

Grimwit
Nov 3, 2012

Those eyes! That hair! You're like a movie star! I must take your picture!

Story Time!

My Grandpa used to read the Gazette and program his C64 (and eventually 128). Stored all his programs on cassette tape. One day I wander into his study and see his computer it on. Huh. I was always taught to save power by turning stuff off if you're not using it.

I cost him 3 hours of programming.

Learned what it meant to "get a woop'n" that day.


Anywho, this thread seems nice.
I'mma just watch and relive my days of Red Max and Spiderbot and Impossible Mission from afar if you don't mind.

Seyser Koze
Dec 15, 2013


Nap Ghost

Crossroads all the way, baby.

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


Seyser Koze posted:

Crossroads all the way, baby.

You have good taste, sir!

George
Nov 27, 2004

No love for your made-up things.


Let's check in on how Alfredo is doing.

Oh whoops, I was thinking of Loadstar. I remember getting an April Fools version of this called Dispute's Gazelle though.

George fucked around with this message at 03:55 on Mar 2, 2016

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


Yeah, I'm increasingly getting the feeling by "Let's Play" we mean "Let's watch Chokes get carpal tunnel."

I'm fine with being the only person doing the programs, it just means this will be a slow and only quasi-interesting thread from time to time. My ultimate goal is to lure people in to do this stuff themselves, though. I get the feeling we'll get more hilarity out of it that way.

ManxomeBromide
Jan 29, 2009

old school


Let's Play Astro-PANIC!

This was published a bunch of places: first in the Feb 1984 issue of COMPUTE! Gazette, but the copy I had typed in was actually from COMPUTE!'s Second Book of Commodore 64 Games. Full disclosure: I typed this in awhile ago, during a week of no internet but many Commodore books.

The version of MLX that book had looked way more badass, too:



Also, for whatever god-forsaken reason, everything was in decimal:



THE GAME

Blow poo poo up.


Click image for video

The Good

Unpredictable, fast-paced, a real difficulty progression. My personal best is level 8. It's actually fun to play in a mindless sort of way.

The Bad

"Unpredictable" can sometimes mean "game-overs the Hell out of you for no reason". Graphics and sound are a little half-hearted, but I certainly paid more for worse occasionally.

Scoring is literally random.

Splitscreen display is visibly unstable. Sloppy, and trivial to fix (COMPUTE! itself ran about six articles on how to), but the machine was only 2 years old at this point, so perhaps I am judging it unfairly.

The Weird

As you can see from the video, it loads itself into a location that confuses BASIC's idea of how memory works. I'll make a D64 for this (and maybe some of the others I recall fondly) but I'm going to need to slap a loader on it to make it actually run with RUN like a civilized C64 program.

ManxomeBromide fucked around with this message at 04:55 on Mar 2, 2016

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


ManxomeBromide posted:

Let's Play Astro-PANIC!

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Astro-PANIC is actually a pretty good one FWIW! I mean none of these are going to be arcade classics but it's a hell of a lot more complex/fun than Apple Willie (the poor schmuck).

At some point somebody'll most assuredly want to do Crossroads. I decided to do Haunted Mansion next (A DOOM MANSION?!?!), if no one's gotten to it by then I'll do the honors.

Also! There are two player games in here! If you want to do a dual Let's Play of two people failing to understand how anything about the game works, please please PLEASE feel free to do so!

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


ManxomeBromide posted:

Scoring is literally random.

Only in the sense that the saucers' movement is random. Heck, they tell you the scoring formula in the magazine! (Short version: they're worth more the lower they are.)


Chokes McGee posted:

Also! There are two player games in here! If you want to do a dual Let's Play of two people failing to understand how anything about the game works, please please PLEASE feel free to do so!

Hm. I'm not sure how well network play would work (I know VICE supports it, but don't know how well). There are a fair number of two-player strategy games in the mag, though.

ManxomeBromide
Jan 29, 2009

old school


Chokes McGee posted:

At some point somebody'll most assuredly want to do Crossroads. I decided to do Haunted Mansion next (A DOOM MANSION?!?!), if no one's gotten to it by then I'll do the honors.

I've never seen those so I'm super-excited about that.

I already went through the pain of typing in the 20-odd pages of it like a year ago, so I will spare people additional carpal tunnel and announce an intent for a playthrough/writeup/publication of Richtofen's Revenge now. It might have actually literally been the C64 game I played the most as a kid, and since I had "pirated" it from my friend's dad back then I had no idea it was a type-in Gazette game until after university. (EDIT: That's because it wasn't a Gazette game; it was collected elsewhere instead. Oh well. It's still very good and it's the same crew.)

ManxomeBromide fucked around with this message at 05:50 on Mar 2, 2016

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


ManxomeBromide posted:

I already went through the pain of typing in the 20-odd pages of it like a year ago, so I will spare people additional carpal tunnel and announce an intent for a playthrough/writeup/publication of Richtofen's Revenge now. It might have actually literally been the C64 game I played the most as a kid, and since I had "pirated" it from my friend's dad back then I had no idea it was a type-in Gazette game until after university. (EDIT: That's because it wasn't a Gazette game; it was collected elsewhere instead. Oh well. It's still very good and it's the same crew.)

Can you post a link back to the original source code? At least so people can appreciate how much insanity effort this takes. (If it's not public domain then it's so don't worry about it)

Otherwise idgaf as long as people are contributing to the thread!

Chokes McGee fucked around with this message at 06:35 on Mar 2, 2016

ManxomeBromide
Jan 29, 2009

old school


Chokes McGee posted:

Can you post a link back to the original source code? At least so people can appreciate how much insanity effort this takes. (If it's not public domain then it's so don't worry about it)

Otherwise idgaf as long as people are contributing to the thread!

It seems to be available from the same source as the Gazette issues so I'm assuming it's OK, but it's not so much public domain as presumably-appropriate use. If this is an issue anyway I'll be happy to take the link down, but archive.org counts as legit, right? The source itself is pages 155-167, with a goodly number of pages before it on how to type it in and play it.

Of particular note is that you have to trick BASIC into loading MLX somewhere else so that you might enter the program properly. This also has the nice side effect of letting it run with RUN instead of SYS 49152 as before.

Bloodly
Nov 3, 2008

Not as strong as you'd expect.

This takes me back. Not exactly the same, mind you. This topic has sparked an old memory.

I used to own a ZX Spectrum, and my mother bought me a little book or two full of programmable games. I never really understood-I was too young and lazy at the time.

Still...I wonder if this site and the books in it sparks memories for anyone else.

http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/fe...ding-books.aspx

Bloodly fucked around with this message at 07:25 on Mar 2, 2016

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


ManxomeBromide posted:

It seems to be available from the same source as the Gazette issues so I'm assuming it's OK, but it's not so much public domain as presumably-appropriate use. If this is an issue anyway I'll be happy to take the link down, but archive.org counts as legit, right? The source itself is pages 155-167, with a goodly number of pages before it on how to type it in and play it.

Of particular note is that you have to trick BASIC into loading MLX somewhere else so that you might enter the program properly. This also has the nice side effect of letting it run with RUN instead of SYS 49152 as before.

Oh hey, appropos of nothing, I have a utility kicking around from my test runs named SysStamper. You can put the sys address on the disk directory instead of the file blocks so people know which one to run. Might be useful!

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


ManxomeBromide posted:

Of particular note is that you have to trick BASIC into loading MLX somewhere else so that you might enter the program properly.

To go into more detail: the first version of MLX stored what you were entering in the memory it would ultimately be loaded into. This worked fine for stuff you were loading into, say, 49152 ($C000), a popular choice for machine-language programs, as it was 4K of memory not used for anything else. However, this meant you had to load the program with the command 'LOAD "filename", 8, 1', then run it with 'SYS whatever'. Which was a bit inconvenient, especially if you forgot the '1' at the end of the LOAD command, which told BASIC to pay attention to the file header giving an address to load the file into. Without it, the program would be loaded into BASIC memory (starting at 2049, or $0801), which would cause all kinds of problems.

But those problems could become an opportunity. If you started the machine language file, not with machine language, but with a short BASIC program that only used the SYS function to call the actual machine language, you had all of BASIC storage (just under 38k) to play with. Plus you could just load the program with 'LOAD "filename", 8' and run it with 'RUN'. Heck, if you stored it on tape, all they had to do was push SHIFT and the RUN/STOP key, which would automatically LOAD and RUN the next thing on the tape!

If you wanted to enter a program like that using MLX, though, you had to go through some shenanigans to load the BASIC program somewhere safe and tell the computer where to find it. Which is why, in the second version of MLX, the data you entered would be stored in BASIC memory between the end of the actual MLX program (at the low end of BASIC memory) and the beginning of the variable storage (at the high end). Then, when it was saving the data, it'd just save the desired loading location into the header, and when you actually loaded the program, it'd go where you wanted it. (Saving the desired loading location wasn't strictly necessary for the aforementioned trick, as you could just leave the '1' off the LOAD command, but not every program entered with MLX actually used this trick.)

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


Basically the answer to how "did they even make games on the C64" is somewhere between "voodoo pagan witchery" and "I don't know and I actually made one"

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


Let's Play Haunted Mansion A DOOM HOUSE?!

Feb. 1984, Vol. 2, No. 2





THAT'S RIGHT A loving DOOM HOUSE




Summary:

This is one those games that comes with a storyline built in, so I'll just settle back and let the intro tell you wh—





WHAT

THAT SATANIC BROOM-RIDING rear end in a top hat





Ghosts, bats, and spirits, eh? Sounds like what you need is a Bad Enough Dude to save the President's cats.




Gameplay:

Grab cats, one at a time, and haul them back to the bottom of the maze. You'll lose points and temporarily freeze your guy by running into ghosts and bats. You'll also be pushed back a random number of steps if you're carrying a cat, ostensibly because you drop the drat thing and have to go collect it. Save ten cats and the maze regenerates so you can keep going. Run into one of the evil-faced spirits, and it's an instant game over.

This a strategic game more than an action game. You can just plow over all the ghosts and bats in your way and then bring the kitties home, but you want to go for the high score, right? I hope you said yes because that's the only metric you have for success in this game and also possibly in life. The rest is figuring out how to deal with spirits in tight spaces, because they move infrequently but in small, super erratic bursts.




Playthrough:


I picked max difficulty because I'm a balla like that





Right away, you can see I messed up a couple of lines of code. As a result, the externals of the house aren't quite up to OSHA standards. Apparently it's a groverhaus instead of a DOOM HOUSE?! Who knew.




House #1


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbWGrskSmgk


Nothing particularly exciting here. Spirits are jamming most of the empty intersections, so I make the easy saves, then take out a bat to the left to open up the middle cats. Same thing with a rightmost ghost for the rightmost cats. After that, the tough part is how to get to the top of the house without plowing over a bunch of mobs in the process. I finally just bite the bullet, run into a couple of bats at the top, and corkscrew my way up and down for the last two cats.

Clear!




House #2


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jlYZcY7kUs


Yeah, this one doesn't go nearly as well. Not the least of which because a spirit spawned next to nearly every single feline on the board.

I grab the first three fairly easily, although I have to hustle to get the third as that spirit gets reeeeeeaaally interested that I'm up there. I continue to live life on the edge by taking out a bat and using that to get to two cats in the middle—one of which is directly by a spirit, who fortunately decides not to move.

Another trip up the right side, plow over a bat, the grab the kitty from the middle of the house. That's six!

For reasons I don't understand on watching the playback, I decide to take the literal most dangerous route possible to the middle of the board, then to the upper left and over a bat to open up the top two cats. I slam into a ghost and a bat on complete accident while carrying the first one home—the controls in this game aren't exactly crisp—and despite there being two spirits in the general area, I manage to get it to safety. I then make an incredibly poor decision of plowing over two bats on the left side, freeing the spirit, then slipping in behind him to grab the cat. I mean, on the face of it, the plan almost worked... but I shot out of there too fast afterwards, and the result was a game over.




The Good

I'll be damned! It's an actual video game! One that's kind of fun to play! The incredible thing is that it was originally made for the VIC-20 and ported over to C64.

Those are actual symbols on the screen that you can type in, by the way. The C64 keyboard had a shitload of extra characters like that, and all you had to do was use SHIFT or the Commodore key to get them. The program does cheat a little and alters the bitmaps of certain characters when it starts in order to produce "sprites" that can be moved quickly around the screen. It's a pretty simple/crude, but on the other hand, they came up with a quick and dirty system that actually isn't too shabby. I mean, it's not going to win any IGN awards, but for something you punched in from the back of a magazine it's not bad at all.




The Bad

beepbeepbeepbeep BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP




The Weird





"...also leading candidate for the Zodiac Killer."







I am reasonably certain doing taxes on a VIC-20 is not only a sign you're going to be audited but also that you need powerful antipsychotics for the well-being of you and those around you.




The Verdict

Quick(ish) to type in and actually fun, Haunted Mansion is something I could see myself playing a few rounds of while I'm waiting for my coffee to brew, someone to return an email, work to stop paying attention so I play better games, etc. 4 of 6 would type in again!!!!!!

Chokes McGee fucked around with this message at 03:39 on Mar 3, 2016

AlphaKretin
Dec 25, 2014

A vase to face encounter.

...Vase to meet you?

...

GARVASE DAY!



That game looks neat, looks like something simple that budding coders could try to recreate.

AlphaKretin fucked around with this message at 03:46 on Mar 3, 2016

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

Man, watching that map generation go to work was a real kick in the nostalgia. I've probably implemented that branching tree maze generator a half-dozen times myself.

ManxomeBromide
Jan 29, 2009

old school


Is it using the screen memory to decide where walls are? Can you take your non-OSHA compliant house and wander up to the moon to show that witch what for?

e: oh god why is there sunlight and where did all of these programs come from this was supposed to be an insomnia cure
e2: also maybe it is the fatigue toxins but these seem to range from not embarassing to amazing

ManxomeBromide fucked around with this message at 13:59 on Mar 3, 2016

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


ManxomeBromide posted:

Is it using the screen memory to decide where walls are? Can you take your non-OSHA compliant house and wander up to the moon to show that witch what for?

I assume it's just using character reading from the screen directly. Now I'm intrigued to hack on this thing. The screen generation is literally done through print commands.

As a bonus feature (after I get my latest chapter of Paper Sorcerer up, I don't want that LP to wither and die) I'll try altering the walls and see if I can get up there to run over her and erase her from the face of the Earth.

ManxomeBromide
Jan 29, 2009

old school


Let's Play Richtofen's Revenge!
One of the "Previously Unpublished" games in Compute!'s First Book of C64 Games

The Plot

The dreaded ace Baron von Richtofen has been spotted! We'll have to deploy our vast fleet of attack planes and balloons to defeat h...

... wait, sorry, I was holding this cue card upside-down. It is in fact the Red Baron who has shown up with a fleet, and our plan is to send one plane against that fleet.

I see nothing wrong with this plan.

The Game

Click image for video


I do a normal run at start, beginning at level 1 and grinding my way up until I get bored enough to get careless. Then I crank the starting level up to level 30. It... doesn't end well.

The Good
  • Full wraparound scrolling map
  • Holy cheese, look how much stuff is running at once at high levels without lag
  • Music and sound effects
  • Crapton of difficulty levels; 1-30 available at start, and it goes up to at least 40 before capping out

The bad
  • Your shots sometimes flicker so fast they're invisible
  • Shooting an enemy at too close a range can make their explosion kill you
  • Level select numbers are basically unreadable
  • Getting a 1-up after every level means that starting on low levels can be a tedious but unstoppable steamroll
  • Hunting down that last drat plane or balloon in a wave is sometimes a chore

The weird
  • Our biplane can hover

The Verdict

This was published in 1983 and I'm pretty comfortable calling it commercial-quality for the time. It might not be to Lode Runner levels of polish but I sure played more of this than Manic Miner.

ManxomeBromide fucked around with this message at 15:28 on Mar 3, 2016

EricFate
Aug 31, 2001

Crumpets. Glorious Crumpets.

Chokes McGee posted:

Let's All Type poo poo In from COMPUTE!'S GAZETTE

Q: Wait, it had video games?

A: Yes! You could get them straight out of a print magazine and into your computer! They took hours to type in! You needed special tools to make sure you didn't fat-finger something! They were often terribly disappointing! The games, not the fingers.

I eagerly look forward to when someone finally works their way down to Laser Chess.

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


EricFate posted:

I eagerly look forward to when someone finally works their way down to Laser Chess.

Oh, I'll do it.

Don't think I won't.

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007


ManxomeBromide posted:

Let's Play Richtofen's Revenge!

The Verdict
This was published in 1983 and I'm pretty comfortable calling it commercial-quality for the time. It might not be to Lode Runner levels of polish but I sure played more of this than Manic Miner.

Commercial quality is right. This is essentially Chopper Command.

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


EricFate posted:

I eagerly look forward to when someone finally works their way down to Laser Chess.

Laser Chess was in 'Compute!', not the Gazette. Still...

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

This is Urotsuki.


FredMSloniker posted:

Laser Chess was in 'Compute!', not the Gazette. Still...

Incorrect! Laser Chess appeared in the 1988 Special Issue, seen here.

FredMSloniker
Jan 2, 2008

Why, yes, I do like Kirby games.


Chokes McGee posted:

Incorrect! Laser Chess appeared in the 1988 Special Issue, seen here.

Aaaand the Internet Archive just went down for maintenance. I'll take your word for it, but I was right about it appearing in Compute!, at least:


(Source: Wikipedia)

BiggerJ
May 21, 2007

What shall we do with him? A permaban, perhaps? Probate him for a few years? Or...shall we employ a big red custom title? You, the goons of SA, shall decide his fate.

FredMSloniker posted:

Aaaand the Internet Archive just went down for maintenance. I'll take your word for it, but I was right about it appearing in Compute!, at least:


(Source: Wikipedia)

It's back up, and he was right about the 1988 Special Issue. And to provide content, a megapost of book series mentioned so far:

Compute! Magazine - Archive.org's archives of Computer! Gazette's parent magazine. Its type-ins were dropped in the May 1988 issue (Issue 096).

Compute's books (holy poo poo this list got huge):

(Notes: VICE also emulates the earlier VIC and later C128. 'alt' indicates an alternate download. If you a program from a Compute book, list both the book and the originating issue, which should be listed on one of the first few pages of the book.)

Commodore Collection Volume One (alt) (for VIC and C64 - all programs first appeared in this book and may not have appeared in Computer or Compute Gazette)
Commodore Collection Volume One (alt)
Commodore 64 and 128 Collection (all programs are for C64 and C128-in-C64-mode)

First Book of VIC Games
Second Book of VIC Games (alt)

VIC Games for Kids (alt)

First Book of VIC (alt)
Second Book of VIC
Third Book of VIC (alt)

First Book of C64 Games (alt, alt 2)
Second Book of C64 Games (alt)
Third Book of C64 Games

Creating Arcade Games on the Commodore 64 (alt) (includes six games)

C64 Games for Kids (alt)

First Book of C64 (alt) (alt 2)
Second Book of C64 (alt)
Third Book of C64 (alt)

First Book of C128
Second Book of C128

There's more books by other people, including books with more type-ins, in this collection.

Official PDFs of British publisher Usborne's computer books - Mystery of Silver Mountain and Island of Secrets were essentially like Usborne's story-based puzzle books except the puzzle existed partly in the book and partly in the computer game. As for their other books, the mentioned Usborne Guide to Better Basic is missing but you can get it from here. (Before doing type-ins from a book, make sure your emulated computer of choice is mentioned on the cover. When actually doing one, write down which lines have alternate versions for that computer so you don't forget.)

BiggerJ fucked around with this message at 00:19 on Mar 5, 2016

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EricFate
Aug 31, 2001

Crumpets. Glorious Crumpets.

Chokes McGee posted:

Incorrect! Laser Chess appeared in the 1988 Special Issue, seen here.

drat straight it did.

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