Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

the first official Friday of spring in the northern hemisphere, and that's a reason to celebrate. 🍾 At least it's a reason for a new issue.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And that's exactly why we're devoting a little more time to the topic of games today. Besides the new things that gonna come in 2022, there are also a lot of old things, that should remind some of us of our childhood or youth.

Ahhh ... Nostalgia 🫠

Enjoy the issue, which should be the answer to all questions.


Colossal Cave 3D

Colossal Cave 3D
Imagesource: https://www.colossalcave3d.com/

In my world in the 80's games roughly divided into two groups. On one side shooter-action-dexterity-2d-vertical-horizontal-scroll-non-scrollers™ and adventure games.

And I wasn't one of those, whose favorite after-school activity was trying to completely break a Competition Pro (... not that that was possible). My world was definitely adventure games and besides the later titles from LucasGames, especially games like King's Quest, Space Quest and later Leisure Suit Larry from Sierra On-Line Systems excited me.

Accordingly, my hands got sweaty when last fall Ken and Roberta Williams announced, they were working on a new title.

Out of retirement, into working life. That's how I like it!

In the meantime, there is a lot more information available for the release of Colossal Cave 3D Adventure, which is scheduled for fall 2022. And if you want to follow the work in more detail, you can do so via the ColossalCave3D Twitter account, which was opened especially for the game.

Let's hope, that zeitgeist and current technology won't get in the way of the project and that the spirit of Sierra Adventures will be revived.

By the way: For those interested, spectrum.ieee.org has portrayed Roberta here and it is a fine read.

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Apple-1 in a Shader

Apple-1 in a Shader
Imagesource: Wikipedia - User: Roll 3d6 

In 2022 you either build yourself an Apple-1 computer (Hello chip shortage) or you let your creative energy flow into a self-built 6502 emulator plus peripherals.

Between these two options there is not so much, if you want to understand in technical detail, how the whole story of colorful pixels on glowing screens at home started at some point back at the end of the 70s.

A competent fellow in the addressed genre named FlyGuy has turned to the second variant in 2019 already, but the project has appeared on our screens only this week: 

Apple-1 in a Shader ... yep. 😳

A 6502 emulation implemented in a shader, extended by the memory map and peripherals of the Apple-1 and implemented on shadertoy.

The unfortunately unknown author is no stranger - at least he was responsible for a similar stroke of genius before. That was a Chip-8 Emulator in a shader.

Quite impressive and directly usable in the browser.

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MS-DOS Open Source Games

Open Source MS-DOS Games
Imagesource: Microsoft

Whether you classify MS-DOS as retro or not, probably depends a lot on your own production and release date. However, we don't want to discriminate here, and rather draw attention to the achievement behind the following:

Open source MS-DOS Games

Open source was hardly a topic at the time when MS-DOS was the biggest kid on the block. So it is all the more pleasing that today quite a lot of games and other software are openly and freely available. 

A user named hellricer has taken a closer look at some of them, built the games from the sources and made them work on a modern machine.

A nice summary, and a classic reunion with Turbo Pascal Pro ... yeah! 

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Imagesource: https://www.nushell.sh/

Ok, this curve is really difficult to get, but the topic had to go into the current issue - an attempt:

Such a BASIC prompt of an 8-bit machine is somehow already a shell ... isn't it? (Maybe even a better one?) And most of the retromachinists I know, spend a lot of their time in front of vim or Emacs in a terminal emulator anyway.

And voila ... perfect segue to the project: Hello Nushell!

Bryan Lunduke summarizes at least part of everything worth knowing in his article in a clear and entertaining way, but there is more.

All details about this nifty shell can be found here and with the IBM color CRT style we are back in retroland after all. Puh … 🥵

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Commodore Languages

The following doesn't look exciting at first, but the facts themselves are massive. For the beloved 8-bit machines from Commodore there are at least 16 different languages available for their programming. 

And for each of these 16 languages there are in turn almost countless variants in the form of commercial products, shareware or open source. 

Dan Fandrich has tried to meticulously compile ALL of them and - what can we say - looks like a success! 🙌

In his listing you can find Assemblers, BASIC Interpreters, C, Cobol, Forth, Fortran, LISP ...

If you are looking for a new field of activity with 8-bit in breadth, you will definitely be happy with this compendium. 

Great compilation - that's what I call real dedication! 🤝

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Apple-1 Clock Chip

Apple-1 Clockchip
Imagesource: https://unsplash.com/

Ken Shirriff is one of those people that I personally seriously envy. Ken either professionally has the opportunity or privately the time to take apart, analyze and document old machines and especially their chips. 

Again and again this results in articles, that are not only characterized by Ken's expertise but also by real „wow experiences“. 

This time Ken dedicated himself to the DS0025 Two-Phase MOS Clock Driver of the Apple-1, which had to be able to handle one special feature of the Apple-1 memory in particular: The shift-register based RAM substitute.

As always, Ken's article on the subject features high-res die-shots and lots of detailed information.

Definitely not to be missed!

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PETSCII Renderer

PETSCII Renderer
Imagesource: http://c64os.com/

Gregorio Naçu is the mastermind behind C64 OS and should be known to everyone interested. Besides his plan to make the C64 a daily driver in 2022 again, Gregorio is always working on side projects, that lead to very interesting results.

And a few days ago he came up with the idea to build an image-to-PETSCII converter, that cleverly converts modern image formats to PETSCII to be able to display them on a C64 afterwards.

His writeup for the project is super interesting, and Gregorio has made the source available on github.

Have fun with tinkering.

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The A500 Mini Review

The A500 Mini Review
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/h552-eR0cGA

My personal YouTube recommendations this week were full of it: The release of the A500 Mini. It seems like everyone and their grandma already have one, but the actual release date is April 8th.

Anyway, if you're a big name on YouTube, you're a big name on YouTube - and you get a preview version for a preview review ...

Not that I'm jealous. 😏

Chris Simpson aka Perifractic already had the pre-preview version in his hands, and has now released the second part. If you don't know the specs, capabilities and details of the device yet, you can get all the details here.

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The Change for Gaming

The Change for Gaming
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/Cvez4DLpPoA

And we'll stay on the topic of gaming for now. Around 1992, the world of gaming slowly changed. The 8 and 16 bit machines of the 80's slowly faded into the background, and PC games became more and more sophisticated in terms of technology and thus gaming possibilities.

Retro Dream took a closer look at some of the games of that era, and gathered some interesting facts.

The result is a relaxing 13 minutes of entertainment and a potential reunion with old friends.

Give it a try.

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80s Console Games

80s Console Games
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/SwVfI4MCUvs

Jeremy Parish is on the same track, but turns back the wheel of time by about 10 years. So it's not about the PC, but about Nintendo consoles. 🎮

The well researched history is really interesting, even if you are not necessarily a fan of these devices. But if you are convinced by the quality of the video and Jeremy's way of telling the story, you will find a lot of other gems on this topic on his channel.


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The free time is probably pretty tight for everyone of us. Therefore we hope, that we have hit the mark again this time with one or the other article, and something for your weekend was included.

If not, please let us know. We are happy about any criticism, but also about any other kind of feedback. If you like, you can simply reply directly to this email.

And by the way: This email has no copy protection. You can forward it to friends and acquaintances without issues. We are happy about every new subscriber. 🤟

We'll be hitting your inbox again next week with issue #43. Until then - build something. And speak about it.

Take care.

Jan & Bastian

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