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Music on the Commodore PET and the Faulty Robots

Reading time 26 min
Views 2.4K

After completion of the System Beeps, I wasn’t planning to make another stand alone album release with the pseudo polyphonic music, as I felt the topic had been explored enough. This, however, wouldn’t mean I couldn’t apply the experience and skills gained to make more utilitarian stuff, like an actual retro game OST or an old school demoscene project. Such an opportunity arose in Autumn 2020, as David Murray of The 8-bit Guy Youtube channel fame announced his new game to be in development, the Attack of The PETSCII Robots for Commodore PET and some other Commodore 8-bitters. As I previously worked with David on his previous big release, Planet X3 game for MS-DOS, and this was a perfect opportunity to satisfy my interest towards the pre-graphics era PCs as well as apply my vast experience both in the minimalistic computer music and 6502 assembly programming, I offered my services that had been accepted. Besides the sound code I also had hopes to participate as a music composer this time.

Unfortunately, this time the project didn’t went well on my side, and lots of issues of all kinds eventually turned it into a small scale development hell (you can learn more from a series of posts at my Patreon blog)  The end result was that my code and sound effects were only used in the VIC-20 port, and music for other versions has been created by other people. However, I was left with the full working code of the sound system for PET, and a number of music sketches. It would be a pity to file it into the archive, PET projects aren’t a frequent thing these days, so another chance to use the stuff wouldn’t come any time soon. So I got the idea to develop my music sketches into full songs, and release it as an alternative OST, and having David’s approval it has been done and released in the Winter 2021 as Faulty Robots, a small music album for PET that is available as a digital audio release and a runnable program for the actual PET computer.

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Total votes 5: ↑5 and ↓0 +5
Comments 2

Making a demo for NES — HEOHdemo

Reading time 26 min
Views 4.9K
There is a lengthy history of computer arts festivals, also known as demo parties, held in Russia over the last quarter century. For decades, once in a while people from all over the country gather together to compete in their ingenuity at getting what was once deemed impossible out of the old or new computer hardware and mere bytes of code. A few leading annual events has been established in the early years. One of them, creatively named CAFe (an acronym for Computer Art FEstival), was held in Kazan from 1999 to 2003. It went under the radar since, making the way for the everlasting Chaos Constructions (1999 — now) and DiHalt (2005 — now). After so long hiatus, the last year CAFe made a loud comeback, returning in full glory — at least by the number of prods released, if not in the scale of the event itself. Presentation of the compo entries went far into the night, with the last demos being shown at 6 AM to the popping eyes of the few hardy ones. There was my demo, too, and this is the story of its making.

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Total votes 13: ↑12 and ↓1 +11
Comments 0

Making a demo for an old phone — AONDEMO

Reading time 13 min
Views 3.5K
I wanted to make a demo ever since I saw the classic Polish mega demo Lyra II for first time in 1997. I also wanted to do something for the largest Russian demo party Chaos Constructions for a long while, but have never gotten around that, being occupied with other duties. Finally, in 2018 the time has come, and I fulfilled both desires at once, Van Damm's double impact style — made a demo called AONDEMO that entered ZX Spectrum 640K Demo compo at Chaos Constructions.

I bet the red thing you've just seen does not look much a Spectrum to you. Here's the story.

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Total votes 13: ↑11 and ↓2 +9
Comments 0

PC Speaker To Eleven

Reading time 12 min
Views 34K
Known now as a «motherboard speaker», or just «beeper», PC Speaker has been introduced in 1981 along with the first personal IBM computer. Being a successor of the big serious computers for serious business, it has been designed to produce very basic system beeps, so it never really had a chance to shine bright as a music device in numerous entertainment programs of the emerging home market. Overshadowed by much more advanced sound chips of popular home game systems, quickly replaced with powerful sound cards, it mostly served as a fallback option, playing severely downgraded content of better sound hardware.

«System Beeps» is a music album in shape of an MS-DOS program that features original music composed for PC Speaker using the same basic old techniques like ones found in classic PC games. It follows the usual retro computing demoscene formula — take something rusty and obsolete, and push it to eleven — and attempts to reveal the long hidden potential of this humble little sound device. You can hear it in action and form an opinion on how successful this attempt was at Bandcamp, or in the video below. The following article is an in-depth overview of the original PC Speaker capabilities and making of the project, for those who would like to know more.

Total votes 34: ↑32 and ↓2 +30
Comments 3

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