My Computer Chronicles, Part 3

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This is part 3 in a 5-part series about my computer chronicles, right from the beginning of the 80’s to the end of the 90’s. I’ll go into details about the computers I used, how I got into the C64 demo scene, created my music players and editors, and the experiences I had on the way until the turn of the millennium.

Part 1 is here in case you missed it.

More connections

My swapping friend Kim knew a mate from school that was a member of the Amiga group Channel 42, and soon I had also established connections with them. Although they were strictly demo coders on Amiga, they respected what the C64 could do. In fact, both Niels and Morten were both very easy going and observant, often pointing out the little details in demos on both computers. Morten would later turn out to be a skilled programmer, coding games on Amiga and consoles, while Niels was a graphics artist that knew how to draw inviting cartoon characters. They themselves broadened my connections further as they too knew a lot of other fellow wizards. Niels and Morten would also later be important as they got involved in computer games for Danish television. More about that later in this part.

Niels Krogh Mortensen
Niels in my room, probably around 1991. He later founded Krogh Mortensen Animation in 1997.

Kim, Scorpio and I created a C64 division of Channel 42 and I left Dominators to join it. Niels even created a few logos for C64 intros coded by Scorpio.

Towards the end of March 1989, I went to the Ikari & Zargon party in Slagelse. I had just converted a pop hit by Sandra to my NewPlayer on C64 and it was used in a demo by Ikari. This was a shared Amiga and C64 party, and the Channel 42 guys introduced me to Jesper Kyd. He was still learning the ropes at this point, but I noticed that he shared the same penchant for being observant and eager to learn when listening to MOD tunes on Amiga. He got hold of a new one at the party and it was interesting to see the way he immediately zoned in listening to it, concentrating intensely on how it was composed.

My Computer Chronicles, Part 2

Read more “My Computer Chronicles, Part 2”

This is part 2 in a 5-part series about my computer chronicles, right from the beginning of the 80’s to the end of the 90’s. I’ll go into details about the computers I used, how I got into the C64 demo scene, created my music players and editors, and the experiences I had on the way until the turn of the millennium.

Part 1 is here in case you missed it.

Stepping stones

1988 arrived and it would completely eclipse 1987 in activity and important events. First of all, I was jumping from one group to the next, typically together with a few friends such as Kim, to greener pastures. The first jump was from New Men to Galaxy in late 1987, then to 2000 A.D. in February 1988. After a very short stop at INXS in April, I continued to Jewels (joining up with Brian and their friends) the same month, then Wizax in June. Finally I settled down a bit with Dominators in August – at least for the rest of 1988. Most of these groups had something to do with cracks, but they had their demo divisions as well. I made a few demos along the way, like the wavy “Enjoystick!” for 2000 A.D., and I also made the last part for a disk loading demo by Jewels where I had two color-cycling scrollers across removed side-borders. Not totally out of this world, but good enough to prove that I knew more than just how the SID chip worked.

My “Enjoystick!” C64 demo from April 1988, playing one of my OldPlayer tunes.

The scene was constantly growing, new people popped up in new groups, and a lot of them turned out to be allies – new friends – but not all. Some were in direct competition with me right from the beginning and stayed that way for years.

One such person was Thomas, better known as Laxity.

My Computer Chronicles, Part 1

Read more “My Computer Chronicles, Part 1”

This is part 1 in a 5-part series about my computer chronicles, right from the beginning of the 80’s to the end of the 90’s. I’ll go into details about the computers I used, how I got into the C64 demo scene, created my music players and editors, and the experiences I had on the way until the turn of the millennium. If you’re not used to home computers and chiptunes, fret not! I have tried my best to intersperse the text with interactive question boxes to help explain the technical terms and jargon in passing.

“This is the shop where they have the Commodore 64, dad.”

It was shortly before spring in 1984. I was 18 years at the time and still living together with my parents in our old house in Rungsted, some 24 km north of Copenhagen. Money was definitely not my forte, but dad had finally promised to help me buy the Commodore 64 that I had been dying to get for so long.

We went into the shop and quickly found the shelves where they were showcasing all the popular home computers. Among these, they had a Commodore 64 and a Sinclair ZX Spectrum that we could type on. No monitors. Just checking out the keyboards. But the decision had already been made, so we found a shop assistant in a jiffy and asked to buy a C64.

Commodore 64

“I’m sorry, we just sold the last one and we can’t sell the demo model over there.”

No More Featured Images

Happy new year, everybody!

As of today I have decided that my future blog posts will no longer have featured images. It’s those pictures in top as wide as the blog column itself. Whenever I write and add a new blog post, those featured images are always a nuisance. It feels like needless extra work finding and adapting this picture and rarely adds all that much to a blog post that usually already contain a lot of images.

So, from now on they’re only found in past blog posts from 2015-2016.

The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 4

Here’s a gallery of 12 HUD-less screenshots I saved while playing Blood and Wine – the last expansion pack for The Witcher 3. They are all from the new zone called Toussaint.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine

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Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2016 | Genre: RPG, Third Person

I had a vacation between Christmas and New Year and I managed to complete the main story of the second and last expansion pack. I was invited to a new zone by a couple of noble knights in shining armor. The new zone had a different color palette, more vibrant and saturated, and the buildings looked like something from the southern part of Europe. But to be honest it didn’t really feel all that different. The dungeons, the caves and even the big town felt like it could just as easily have been part of the main game.

At least the people there were much friendlier towards Geralt. No more spitting as I passed by.

Screenshot

The second expansion followed the trend of a harder difficulty that the first expansion introduced. I was particularly miffed at the spewing plant monsters that spawned around a monster area, confusing me with bubbling pods and forcing me to run around all over the place. Sometimes I avoided a spot in the distance because I could see those pesky plants warming up for a fight. Some of the vampire enemies, especially the naked ladies, were also a bit too tough for my liking.

Quote of the Past

I think the most likely issue is that while there just has to be other life of varying intelligences around the universe given the sheer number of galaxies and stars, the odds of intelligence popping up at the same time are somewhat astronomical.

Our planet’s been around for 4.5 billion years. Homo Sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years. We just started using radio for less than 150 years. There’s a not-negligible chance we may wipe out our own species with engineered disease or war in the next hundred years or so if we don’t get some backup humans off-planet. (Thanks, religious fanatics with modern weapons!) So that’s a mighty short window to broadcast to another civilization.

If you look at history as a 24-hour day, even if two species pop up a couple of seconds from each other, they’ll likely miss the window to communicate with each other.

The only way contact is likely is if intelligent species can survive in a technological era for many thousands of years. That’s going to require other species to be a lot more reasonable than ours is proven itself to be so far.DennyA, Quarter to Three Forums

The Early AdLib and Sound Blaster Music

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This blog post contains my early AdLib music from 1991-93. Most of it are conversions from SID tunes on the Commodore 64. These were painstakingly transferred using a basic converter program, after which I had to spread arpeggio chords into real channel chords since AdLib had three times as many channels as the SID chip did. In some cases I even added a tenth Sound Blaster channel with sampled drums.

The editing was mostly done directly in the assembler listings except for a few of my own test tunes which was done in a prototype music editor that would eventually become EdLib. You won’t need an emulator plugin to play the tunes – they have all been saved as MP3 for easy listening.

The Alibi (AdLib)
March 1992 C64
Converted from Laxity’s original C64 tune. This is the standard AdLib version.

The Alibi (Sound Blaster)
March 1992 C64
Converted from Laxity’s original C64 tune. This version features a tenth channel with digi drums.

Colgate – Title Music
December 1991
Converted from Drax’s original C64 tune composed for the game.

Lollypop AdLib Music

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In 1994, the side-scrolling 2D platform game Lollypop was released for DOS, and in 1995 for Amiga. It was developed by Brain Bug and released by Rainbow Arts, featuring music and sound effects by Vibrants.

lollypop_title_screenlollypop_main_menu

This blog post contains all the AdLib music made for the DOS version, saved as MP3 for easy listening. Most of it was composed by Thomas Mogensen (Drax) and Torben Hansen (Metal) in EdLib.

The peripheral tunes made use of all nine channels that the OPL2 chip supported. However, the level tunes only made use of five to make room for the sound effects in the remaining four channels.

Peripheral tunes

Title Tune
1993-94 Vibrants

Hiscore
1993-94 Vibrants

Congratulations
1993-94 Vibrants

FastTracker II Music by Drax

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Thomas Mogensen, known as Drax in the European C64 demo scene, was known for his many excellent SID tunes there, but he also made more than 180 FastTracker II tunes from 1995 to 2003.

FastTracker II was a popular DOS tracker in the 90’s that used the proprietary XM file format. It employed samples as instruments, played with alphanumeric notes in patterns of typically 64 rows each. Up to 32 channels were possible. I have converted the original XM music to stereo MP3 for easy listening here.

3 Monkeys – 1 Beer!
June 1997 Maniacs of Noise

666
December 1997 Maniacs of Noise
A short sine waveform tune.

A Different Existence
June 2002 Maniacs of Noise