Monday, September 30, 2013

Top 10 TI-82 Clone Games

Hey, everybody likes Top 10s, right? So today, let's have a look at the ten best game conversions for the TI-82 graphic calculator. Because, as everybody knows, graphic calcs are meant for gaming. Or can you think of any other practical uses?

Anyway, this is of course by no means an objective list. If you disagree or feel something's missing then don't hesitate to leave a comment below.
Also, the term "clones" is used loosely here and refers to any game that borrows the idea and look'n'feel of another game - it doesn't have to be an exact conversion, though.

Btw if you don't own a TI-82, you can try these games on an emulator. I recommend Tilem2. Also, you will obviously need to install the appropriate assembly shell first. All shells can be found here.

Well, let's get started then, shall we.

Daily Dosis #3: Reflections of a Dancing Leaf

A perfect track for this time of the year:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Overdrive by Titan

Are you telling me you haven't seen the the new SEGA Mega Drive (Genesis) demo by Titan? Well, you better get to it, then:

"Overdrive" was released at Evoke last month, where it took first place in the "alternative demo" compo.

Details and downloads can be found at

Daily Dosis #1: Sneak by Hunter Bridges

Howdy folks, it's been a busy week for me, so things here at the Ancient Wonderworld have been a bit neglected. I'll do my best to make up for it in the next days.

Anyway, let me introduce a new feature, dubbed the "Daily Dosis". From now on, I'm going to post some cool music every day. Well, maybe not every day, expect 5-6 post per week. Mostly it's going to be chip, micromusic & friends, obviously, but be prepared for occasional random posts every now and then.

Well, enough talk, let's start the series already.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

[CB009] YERZMYEY – Microsongs

Now what do we have here? A new album from the legendary Yerzmyey? Composed for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16K with AY interface, it contains 11 charming, heart-warming tunes with a true demoscene vibe, made with Soundtracker 1.1.

As you can expect from the great master, in addition to the music being great, the arpeggios and echos/delays are top notch. Also, be prepared to hear a lot of Yerz' specialty: laboriously fine-tuned buzzer sounds. All that in less than 4.8 KB of data per song, mind you.

But well, listen for yourself:

The album was released on Japanese chiplabel Cheapbeats. It is available both as download or CD on Bandcamp.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

C3S - GEMA Alternative Needs Support

Some of you might have already heard about the Cultural Commons Collecting Society (C3S), an organization which aims to provide an alternative to major-label oriented performance rights societies in Europe.

The idea of C3S was born out of the special German situation in regards to performance rights. The current problem with being a musician in Germany is that all your performance rights will be managed by a state-controlled, monopolistic collecting agency called the GEMA. This anachronistic legal situation is a left-over from the Nazis, who introduced the monopoly in 1933.

The problem isn't so much the monopoly itself but more the fact that the GEMA lacks a democratic structure and has limited accountability, which means it's vastly intransparent. This has lead to a situation where the organization is effectively controlled by major labels and mainstream producers, who managed to award nearly all the collected license fees to themselves.

Furthermore, GEMA threatens the whole alternative music scene by forcing small venues to pay exorbitantly high license fees, even if those venues don't host shows with GEMA-registered artists. So, to sum it up: Whenever I play a concert somewhere in Germany, the venue has to pay a substantial amount of money to GEMA, of which I get... well? Take a wild guess. Yep, that's right: Nothing, Zero, Zilch.

Therefore, the primary goal of C3S is to challenge the GEMA monopoly. On the long run however, C3S wants to provide transeuropean alternative to traditional collecting societes, especially for those artists releasing under Creative Commons and similar licenses.

The C3S idea has now matured, and the organization will be officially registered on September 25th. They will prepare their application for registration as a collecting agency, which is due to happen in 2015.

C3S is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on startnext. They intend to raise 200.000 Euro by September 30th, however at the moment they still fall a bit short. So if you can, please chip in to support this important project!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Plain PETSCII Graphics Competition

A C64 textmode graphics competition? Now that's what I call a unique theme for a competition. And here's an example of what you'll be up against:

Rules are pretty simple. No fancy tricks, only ROM characters and colors. No previously released works, three works maximum per author, deadline is October 31st, submit works in executable format through CSDB.

Not sure if I'll be submitting myself though, since I'm anything but a PETSCII expert. But it's such a great idea, I just had to let you know...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Lowest Resolution: Exogenesis by Wavesitter

A new contender for the lowest resolution demo ever? Matt Westcott aka Gasman recently released this crazy production under his new moniker Wavesitter (a lovely play on the German word for budgie, "Wellensittich").

The demo is intended for use with a Novation Launchpad MIDI controller hooked up to a Raspberry Pi (or pretty much anything else that can run Python and has an USB port).

Visuals on a 9 by 9 pixel display? Now that's hardcore. The music, made by Paul Turrell aka Hoopshank, and the visuals were synchronized by hand.

So is it really the lowest resolution demo ever? Technically it would be possible to beat 9x9, think segmented displays or small-scale LED installations. I'll do another article on this subject once I've dug up some more substantial information on the matter. If you have any pointers for me please leave a comment below.

Lowest resolution demo or not, Exogenesis came in first in this years' Wild Compo at Sundown all the same. Fair enough, I'd say.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Teletext Music: Remote Control Music Studio by Goto80

It's a teletext-controlled music editor/tracker with powerful AI elements, made by Goto80 with assistance from Raquel Meyers.
It runs on any TV capable of displaying teletext, via Peter Kwan's vbit USB Teletext Inserter.

Rarely in my life have I ever seen something so fascinating and mesmerizing. I don't even know what on earth is going on for the most part. I'm just deeply impressed and speechless.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ancient IP Art Discovered

Last weekend I received a large, mysterious shipment... Among the loads of banana boxes there are some interesting ones containing art I did many years ago.

Of course I'm extremely pleased to have this stuff back. It's really like a lost part of my personal history is coming back to me. 

There are quite a few works that I had totally forgotten about. There's a load of shitty, mostly unfinished cartoons, cover art for books that never happened, really weird shit that makes you go "What did the artist want to tell us with that?", and even some actually decent stuff, like the one above.

Well, let me explain a bit more. I'm essentially not a "visual" type of person, and so doing painting and graphics is somewhat alien and taxing for me. I can't handle colors very well, so I prefer to do black and white designs. Also I like to work with fine, precise tools, so I almost exclusively use quills, cutters, fine-tip pens, and pencils. Another personal quirk of mine is working in miniature format. Most of my graphics are smaller than a postcard.

 In the last five years, I haven't practised my hand-craft graphic skills at all, though I do want to get back into it eventually. In the years 2004 - 2006 though I was a bit more active in the visual realms, and this is where most of the rediscovered drawings are from.

To celebrate my reunion with these historic works of mine, I will post some of them on here once in a while.

The one above is called "inward sun". I very much like this one, mainly because I think that it does a good job of conveying a message that can't be expressed in verbal form, which is my central motivation in making art. Yet somehow I have no memory of making it. I can only guess from the other things in the same notebook that it's probably from 2005 or 2006. Anyway. The original is 11,5 by 11,5 cm, black is done in ink and the yellow aura with pen.

Both the orgininal and reprints will be on sale in a few months, if you're interested get in touch or leave a comment below.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

SIDsound on Sega/SN76489

Now here's something awesome: French coder Aly James has managed to pull off an interrupt-driven pulse width modulation on the SN76489, the PSG chip found in the SEGA Master System as well as later models. The effect sounds somewhat similar to the "SID Sound" effect known from Atari ST/YM2149.

Random and IP at Classic Computing 2013

So it seems I'm going to play as opener for the legendary Random at the Classic Computing 2013, which is happening September 21st/22nd at the Institute of Media Studies at Humboldt-Uni Berlin. The concert is on Saturday the 21st, starting 9 PM with a SID DJ show by Thunder.Bird. Entrance is free, so check it out!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HT And ROM 19.006 - Progress

Good news, everyone: I've finally had some luck with getting HoustonTracker to work with TI-OS 19.006.

Let me explain. ROM 19.006 is the OS version used on the "CS" and "Parcus" models. Those are belated versions of the 82 with a different case design. Most notoriously, the Parcus was dumped by TI mainly on European markets in 2001, two years after the 83+ had been released. Unsurprisingly, it flopped completely. Which is why you can find truckloads of them on Ebay.

Got my Parcus from the Bay for a few bucks about a year ago, still in it's glorious throwaway plastic packaging. So far I've had nothing but trouble with it (aside from the fact that it's made of really cheap plastic and looks totally ugly). There's near zero documentation on it online. The "great" new sideways link port is a far stretch from the tightly fitting 82 ports, and it doesn't work with my home-made parallel link most of the time. And worst of all, Texas Beeper Massacre doesn't run on it, because the display driver runs at the wrong speed.

But now, thanks to my new SilverLink, I can at least communicate with the calc. Well, more or less reliably that is, sometimes I have to "massage" the link port a bit. Well, makes sense now that that book is called "The Medium is the Massage". But I digress.

Today, I finally managed to load a build of HoustonTracker that didn't crash immediately... Yeeehaaaww!

Sound doesn't work yet, though. This confirms something I've been suspecting for a while - port addressing has changed in ROM 19.006. Probably it'll be using 83-style values ($d0..$d3 or what was it). Will check that in the next few days.

So, long story short, there is hope for all those out there who are unfortunate enough to posess one of these atrocious pieces of TI hardware. To all those who don't have one yet, my advice remains: Stay clear of them, they're crap. /rant

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New ZX Spectrum Fraktur Font

After a recent surge of interest in low-res font design, I now present you my Gesellenstück: Phraktur, a Fraktur font for the ZX Spectrum home computer.

It is inspired by the Koch-Fraktur, a modern and minimalist design devised by fontmaker Rudolf Koch shortly before World War I. It was a very popular font until Hitler denounced Fraktur as Judenschrift in 1940/41.

The font, called Phraktur, is available in FZX format, to be used with Einar Saukas' and Andrew Owen's excellent FZX driver. It was developed using Claus Jahn's equally awesome FZX Editor, which will be available on once it passes beta stage.
The fzx file contains the complete typeset, comprising upper and lowercase letters including all umlauts and mandatory ligatures, interpunctation signs, and medieval number figures.
The font is fairly condensed horizontally, so it is useful for low resolution screens despite it's fairly large height of 15 pixels.

Check out Phraktur and quite a few other Spectrum fonts on my zxgraph page.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

HoustonTracker Developement Switched to Linux

Until recently, I have been developing HoustonTracker on a WinXP system. But a few days ago, I finally kicked myself in the butt and set up a working toolchain under Linux. This will make developement a lot easier, because I managed to automatize the whole building process with an interactive shell script, which in turn calls the usual CrASH/Ion/mallard batch scripts in DOSBox. If the build is successful, the resulting binary will be loaded in my favorite TI emulator, tilem2.

Next step will be to split up main.asm into subroutines, and consequently reduce main.asm to a simple meta file for linking all the subroutines. This will make it easier to eventually merge the current target-specific code into one single general set.

Anyway, the new fancy scripts can be found on the GitHub project page. To make them work, you'll need to grab the latest version of the source code as well.

welcome to the jungle

So I'm gonna try this blog, since it's so popular nowadays and people don't seem to even remember a time when there were those things called websites. 
Expect a lot of ramblings, updates on my various arts and programming projects, and random posts about random stuff. 

Yours truly,