• Commodore Free - Part 4

    From Stephen Walsh@1:2320/100 to All on Tue Jul 5 20:05:34 2011
    that the C64 creates real sound waves directly while a usual PC sound card
    does not and has to go through a digital-analogue conversion process?

    Second: quickness / reaction times. This might come as a surprise as the
    good old commies have a relatively slow processor, but what I mean is this:
    I turn on the computer and it is there instantly. I hit a couple of buttons
    and a program is loaded in no time (I use a fast loader cartridge).
    No modern computer can keep up with this performance! As well as this,
    there is never a time where my Commodore is hijacked by some other process
    and gives me a waiting sign. Never. I am always the master of the system and
    I always know what it does. Third: sleekness. I will never understand that people understand how today's computers, no matter how fast, hang at times.

    Maybe only for a split second, but there's always an unpredictable delay no matter what you are presenting. This definitely lacks style. Watch the C64
    demo Good Vibrations / The Coders on a real machine and you will know what "sleek" means.

    Poison: I think it is hard to describe the fascination for this machine. For myself: I'm addicted to C64 demos, SID Music and (of course) games.
    I remember when "Deus Ex Machina" by Crest was released, I took my C64 to my workplace and showed my colleagues what this 1 MHz machine is able to do.
    Not all my colleagues where fascinated, but most of them liked the music and what this retro machine is able to perform.

    MacGyver: I love both demos and games. The C64 graphics and music have a
    unique style which make me coming back over and over again. While the system seems to be rather limited at first sight, the C64 has the most power by MHz, KByte, colours and voices. And there are still new tricks even after 28years. The C64 is the VW Beetle of the computers: It gets you where you want to go, not overloaded with features, but with a lot of charm.

    Q- When did Protovision start and what was the main reason for the Business?

    MacGyver: Protovision was founded in 1997, first as a pure game development label by Malte Mundt aka ThunderBlade and Stefan Gutsch aka Big User. I was
    in the background for the first couple of years. The idea was to produce
    games on a very high quality level, for both standard C64 and also for an enhanced C64. The first Protovision game released was Stroke World, published on GO64! magazine cover disk. Also, there were a couple of freelance game developers also from Germany who distributed their games themselves, such as Chester Kollschen (Ice Guys) and AndroZschiegner (It's Magic). We offered to distribute their games, too, in order to reach a wider public by having one organization people could games easier; rather than have several small
    labels run by one private person.

    JTR started to distribute the games. When the Retro Replay came up, we
    included it into our catalogue, too, as it was a great hardware. More
    hardware was added over time, such as the 4 Player Interface and earlier version of the Micromys PS/2 mouse adapter. When JTR had to move several
    times due to his studies, Poison took over distribution in 2003. He also created the first Online Shop for us. Poison ran the distribution from until 2009. Afterwards, Stefan aka Doc of Desire took over.

    Q- How many people are involved in PROTOVISION and what do they do?

    MacGyver: We currently have 9 members. But there are quite some friends and fixed partners and freelancers cooperating with us.

    Q- What does PROTOVISION stand for?

    JTR: Our slogan "Creating the Future" says it all. We're innovating, we
    create, and there's no future without Commodore computers. However, you
    might also like to judge for yourself what Protovision means.

    Poison: I think it is easier to describe what Protovision is. Protovision is
    a group of enthusiasts, who sacrifice their free time to give other
    enthusiasts new products for their hobby. However, as JTR said
    "Creating the Future" - says it all.

    MacGyver: Protovision stands for a modern C64 label from which you can get a lot from one hand.

    Poison: No, the letters PROTOVISION weren't an abbreviation for something.
    It just was simple: A company that produces games that are so fascinating
    that you want to hack that company to get your hands on their games. And the fact that the word "VISION" is inside, is shown in our slogan
    "Creating the Future". But no relevance in the sense of a literal translation into German (or in another language).

    Q- Is the business making a profit or is it more an intention to break even,
    if you do make a profit where do the funds go?

    JTR: We do make a lot of profit, but not of the financial kind. No really,
    this is a hobby and there's no point in trying to "break even" on games you work on for 4-5 years on a Commodore. We want to cover material and shipping costs, and sometimes we make a few bucks extra, sometimes also we loose.
    Extra bucks will be used to pay for advertisements, trade fair events or for buying copyrights to unfinished C64 games, as was the case with Jim Slim.

    Poison: For example: whenever we release a new game, we give out many free boxes for magazines to review or just people who supported us in the one or other way. These free boxes means losses of sales, It takes some time to
    catch up these losses and sometimes we spend our private money to restock
    our storage.

    MacGyver: As for most of our games, the major part of the profit made after
    we covered our costs is going to the developers.

    Q- Is all testing done "in house" or do you have Beta testers in different countries?

    JTR: We're dependent on friends for testing, they are from different

    Q- Do you still copy protect disks or do you feel there is no point now?

    JTR: We don't do copy protections, but we do crack protections. A lot of our games have been cracked and do not play right or have limited functionality afterwards.

    Q- How is a "typical" game developed what is the "usual" development plan
    from idea to finished product?

    JTR: What? You are asking for a planned, organized approach? No, no. We do
    have people like Milo and Oli and Stefan who are really well organized, but they do not write programs. The coders are more the mad professor type.

    MacGyver: Indeed, most games have their own unique way they get developed. Typical only is that we try to make our games compatible to alternative devices.

    Q- You make hardware and software and sell the items in the PROTOVISON shop
    can you list some of the products available for sale, also is all the
    hardware made by PROTOVISION or are you mainly a distributor?

    JTR: We are mainly focussed on producing games more than anything else, but
    we also distribute third party products if we feel they deserve support.
    For hardware, we are mainly a distributor, although we sometimes also
    support its development. Here's some of our most loved items for sale:

    4 Player Interface

    This hardware has been developed by Chester Kollschen. With this interface,
    you can plug in 4 joysticks to your C64.

    Bomba Mania, Tanks 3000, Team Patrol

    These are games for the 4 player adapter. Bomb Mania is our best selling game since ever, it is a bomberman clone with funny additions and extra features.


    The most extensive game experience ever developed for the C64. It is a
    mixture between an adventure and a role playing game and is so huge that you will need half a week to complete it, even if you know the shortest way
    where you need to click and say what. The texts alone take about 3.5MB of space. As well, it does not require tasks to be completed in any particular order, and many things can be achieved through different ways. As it also
    has multiple possible endings, playing it many times can result in very different game play each time. We did not develop Newcomer, but are good friends with the team behind it, and did some support.

    Metal Dust

    We are particularly proud of this brilliant Katakis or R-Type space shooter
    as it is the first game using the power of a SuperCPU to boast effects.
    A SuperCPU is an enhancement to the c64 that gives 20Mhz and up to 16MB of
    RAM. We not only developed Metal Dust itself, but also the development tools around it (assembler, graphics and level editors) and also use these tools
    for other projects.

    Q- Can you list the games structure for example some are free some mid price and some full price?

    JTR: One of our principles is that we only sell what we think deserves a
    price tag. We sometimes give games out for free if they do not deserve
    being paid for or we think it was sold enough. Ranking a game as mid price
    or full price is a discussion between us and the developer (if it is not us). The developer gets more or less money depending on the price in the end,
    while we always only take the same amount for covering our costs.

    Q- What products would you like to sell and what are you doing to get these products to market?

    JTR: The first question is easy: all C64 games and hardware that is worth it! The second one is tougher to answer and even tougher to execute.

    Sometimes we do a lot of work behind the scenes, work out contracts, bring people together, help specifying hardware or getting software to a
    releasable state. All of these activities are not visible to the outside
    world and only sometimes we are successful and get something released. For example we tried hard to get the SuperCPU produced again, we found producers and all, but in the end we did not get permission - and now the unit is practically unavailable. Also other hardware like the 1541 Ultimate (an ingenious disk drive replacement, freezer cartridge and RAM expansion
    cartridge replacement) are things we want to support by distributing them,
    but in 2005 a law was passed in the EU that disallows selling hardware
    without a costly registration, which renders most C64 hardware activities illegal.

    Poison: Yes, I also think that this EU law block the homebrew scene.
    As Jakob told before, we want to support so many cool projects but it is too costly.

    MacGyver: We send out a newsletter, monthly based. We also send our news to various C64/8 bit/Retro magazines. Sometimes mainstream magazines like Micro Mart in the UK or GamePro and M! Games in Germany. What is the use of a
    great new game or a cool new hardware if only a few insiders know about it? With our productions we can prove the C64 is living to people who would not know otherwise.

    Q- If a reader has a game they would like you to produce how they would
    contact you and what royalties do you pay?

    JTR: If someone has a game that we think is worth being published for money,
    we offer taking over the initial costs for printing manuals, labels, boxes
    and keep 3-4 Euros of every order to reimburse the costs. The rest goes to
    the developer. We do not produce on demand.

    MacGyver: They would email to contact@protovision-online.de or use the
    contact form in our online shop, then we see if and what we can workout together.

    Q- If a reader has a part completed project hardware or software could you
    help put forward funding or would you rather take over the project and
    finish it yourselves?

    JTR: We prefer helping others finish their stuff themselves. It is not
    possible to really "fund" a project. Most of the work is done for free, by
    us and other hobby enthusiasts. The money you earn with a C64 game you work
    on for 4 years might be enough to go have an exquisite dinner or two, not

    Q- Has there ever been a problem with the different hardware designs of the Commodore 64 for example the differences between PAL and NTSC machines and differing SIDs or even revisions of the Commodore motherboard, has this ever caused you to stop or put projects on hold?

    JTR: There are huge differences, and we try to stay as compatible as possible without investing too much. It is very hard to produce things that run on
    NTSC the way they run on PAL as the timing is very different. We never stop
    a project due to this, but it keeps being an issue.

    MacGyver: If an NTSC user has a TV set/monitor which can handle PAL, I'd recommend they get a PAL C64 e.g. over on ebay.co.uk. This will open a new universe of C64 software to you! Our cool game Jim Slim has problems on a
    few C64s which can not handle AGSP, due to too weak RAM or VIC. A few of our SIDs may sound a little different on 6581 compared to 8580, but that has
    never been an issue.

    Q- Would you consider supporting other Commodore machines like the 264 range (c16 and +4)?

    JTR: They are cool machines, too. But as our time is too limited even for the open C64 projects we have, we don't plan to extend.

    Q- What is your best selling product and also what is the most requested product (this maybe a product you don't sell)?

    JTR: Bomb Mania is the best selling game, Newcomer the most requested.
    Newcomer is appreciation ware. Many people download Newcomer, but do not pay the appreciation fee that is included in our price.

    Poison: Our 4 Player games sell all very well. This is cool, because
    nowadays people don't come together to play. They sit alone in front of
    their PCs or consoles and use team speak to talk. It seems that the usual
    C64 gamer is more chummy.

    Q- How much life do you think is left in the Commodore brand?

    JTR: A lot. You see people go crazy for commodore logos everywhere, t-shirts, computers, whatever.

    MacGyver: I believe the old Commodore computers are very much alive,
    especially the C64. To quote from a C64 demo regarding Commodore/the
    Commodore sign: "It was a brand, it became a symbol!". That hits the nail on the head. The brand went through a lot of hands they didn't do much with it.
    I have mixed feelings about devices like Commodore 64 web it and C64 DTV, as they rather try to emulate the original while being pretty bad at it,
    compared to today's emulators. C64 DTV native programs are pretty cool one
    the one hand, but those hardly have to do anything with a real C64.
    Let's see how things develop with the Commodore 64 X.

    Q- You have given away free 2 games "Stroke World" and "It's Magic" why was
    it decided these games were freeware?

    JTR: Well they were always free, like Snacks 4 Snakes or Quadris? We just
    felt like giving them away I guess :)

    MacGyver: Not everybody got Stroke World when it was published as not
    everybody subscribed GO64!. When the It's Magic 2 was released, we thought
    it was time to make part one free - to offer a nice game for free to the gamers, and also to tease people for part two ;) The were other small games released for free such as More.Gore's Space Battle Deluxe (predecessor of Advanced Space Battle). Cascade is also a nice but small game by The Blue Ninja, which is on our free games/previews disk which game customers receive
    in addition. Then there is also Quadtron and Zynax III which are rather
    old and would not be worthy to sell/buy.

    Q- Do you plan to support as much hardware as possible from the basic games design for example ensuring the game will run on as many machines as
    possible and will run from CMD hardware and ultimate 1541 cartridges and
    UIEC devices etc?

    JTR: We try to, yes.

    MacGyver: There have been many new alternative devices in the last few years. While this is great, it gets harder to stay compatible to all of them.

    Q- Do you always test beta versions on Real hardware or is this really only important on later "builds" of the software?

    JTR: Ha! You are assuming that we'd develop on PCs and only "test" the code
    on real hardware...? That is true for most developers, yes, but we do not go down this road, usually. We mostly develop on the real machine, for the real machine.

    MacGyver: I know that our friends in Ultimate Newcomer Crew as well as DJ Gruby/Oxyron use PCs for development and also test a lot on emulators.
    Still things get tested on the real thing even in rather early stages of development.

    Q- Do you have any games that have been scrapped in early stages of testing
    and why were they scrapped?

    JTR: Sure. The biggest projects that were scrapped are Turrican 3 and Reel Fishing (a fishing simulator). T3 was cancelled due to legal hassle and RF
    was cancelled, because we got a lot of negative feedback claiming we would
    be "commercial", which is a slap in the face when you spend so much time
    unpaid for your hobby. Such attacks have demotivated us a lot and has cost
    us a few members.

    MacGyver: Mike The Magic Dragon by ThunderBlade has been scrapped as well.
    The coder's time was small with his GO64! Activities, his studies, the Amiga Fever magazine project and later his full time job at QNX. The future of Enforcer 2 and Wor Wizards are somewhat uncertain.

    Q- Feel free to promote PROTOVISION, what new projects are in the Pipeline?

    JTR: Our 4 player Pac Man game "Pac It" where you have to play in a team of
    up to 4 Pac Men to solve the levels with wit and action is in the pipe and
    you can download a preview on our website. We also have an almost finished
    game called Outrage from Cosmos Designs and desperately need a coder who
    would like to get his hands on it to finish it, and we have Enforcer 2 that
    has some stunning preview videos at YouTube.

    However, all of these will still take time to complete - as we are doing this aside our real jobs and life, we cannot promote or commit to any fixed deadlines, but you can expect them somewhere in the next one or two decades.

    MacGyver: Pieces II by Oxyron is a nice little puzzler. While development was rather slow since the release of its preview, it is going to speed up again soon. Also, the Spanish based Los Burros del Soft are going to get the
    English versions of their games MK II and La Carretera (aka The Road) distributed over us.

    Q- How would a reader join PROTOVISION?

    JTR: We always need reliable helpers! There are manuals to proofread,
    translate or layout. There is website work to do, emails to answer, and of course music to compose and graphics to pixel. But above all we currently
    lack coders. Anyone can contact us and offer help, we'll try out how it feels working together and if that fits, we'll let him or her join. we are spread around the globe!

    MacGyver: Most of the PROTOVISION members are in Germany, including all core members.

    Q- Do you have any other comments for the Readers?

    JTR: Thank you for your interest in Commodore computers! You seem to have an eye for cool things!

    Poison: Keep the spirit alive. And share this spirit with your friends.

    MacGyver: Get involved! Support what you like.


    Protovision isn't just about games they have a website with s shop store that sell a variety of things


    the main site is viewable in English and German via the use of the country flags at the top of the screen.

    The site is split into Graphic areas

    * SHOP
    * GAMES

    Clicking on the shop can take you to these areas though through sub menus.
    In the main shop we again see the areas split into sections.

    At the top we see games



    Clicking on hardware have a further option of cables

    The current hardware as of this writing was

    Micromys V3

    Micromys originated as a mouse adapter to connect PS/2 mice from PC to the
    C64. Individual Computers developed it further and equipped it with
    additional features. The new version is called Micromys V3, and as well as
    the C64 it can be used with other systems. The different user modes can be changed via DIP switch:

    * Commodore 1351 emulation (GEOS, Pagefox, GoDot, Mr.Mouse, Prophet64 and MSSIAH)

    * Amiga mode without driver (in this mode, the middle mouse button can be
    used, e. g. for DOpus)

    * Amiga mode with mouse wheel driver

    * Atari mode (Atari ST or Falcon)

    Any PS/2 mouse can be used. USB mice supporting the PS/2 protocol can be
    used, too. Such USB mice typically come with an appropriate USB-PS/2 adapter.

    Micromys V3 has been equipped with a cable, so there is room for the USB-PS2 adapter even if space on the desk is short.

    An illustrated manual is available at www.micromys.de.

    4 player adaptor

    Protovision extends your C64's capabilities with the 4 Player Interface - professional manufactured by individual Computers. Connected to the user
    port of your Commodore 64 or 128, it provides two additional standard
    joystick ports for you to connect. This enables up to four players - with
    four real joysticks! - to play together on one computer!

    You can also build it yourself. Just refer to our building instructions.
    If you want to adapt or even code a game to mak use of the Protovision 4
    Player interface, you are welcome. Look at the source code example to see
    how easy it is.

    Cartridge Cases

    Cartridge case from individual Computers for MMC Replay, MMC64, Retro Replay and other standard C64 cartridges.

    The cases are closed with only one opening for the cartridge connector. If a cartridge with buttons or a pass-through slot shall be used, the
    holes/openings must be cut into the case. This applies to the MMC Replay,
    MMC64 and the Retro Replay.


    Cables in stock list some 19 different models

    Ranging from a c64 joystick to the plus 4 adaptor

    * Floppy drive cables

    * Joystick extension cables

    * Monitor cables (various from scart to s-video cables)

    * Parallel floppy drive cables

    * 1541 transfer cables



    GoDot is an C64 Image Processing System.

    It is continuously being improved. See www.godot64.de for downloads. GoDot is now freeware (for two Euro you|ll receive GoDot on a 1541 disk)

    Virtual assembler 16

    Virtual Assembler 16 is a Turbo Assembler alike tool for the SuperCPU.
    It features 40/53/64 column display, very big memory for source codes and labels and supports all opcodes of the SCPU's 65816 processor. Virtual Assembler 16 has been in use as an internal Protovision tool for some time.
    It is a great tool! We now decided to make it available to everyone.
    So Protovision proudly presents: Virtual Assembler 16 pre-release V2.84!
    The program is complete, but there are some minor bugs which will be fixed later. There are only incomplete instructions, which are in German language only. Nevertheless, we don't want to delay the release of this great tool any further, so here it is!

    Virtual Assembler 16 is AppreciationWare. It means if you like it, please transfer EUR 8 to the bank account found everywhere on this site or visit
    our PTV-Shop to order it online. It is legal to use and copy Virtual
    Assembler 16 as you want. If you pay the appreciation fee, you become a registered user, which means you will receive special support.


    And the miscellaneous section lists

    Protovision branded

    * bags
    * t-shirts
    * jackets

    And a competition pro joystick

    It's back now! The legendary Competition Pro joystick, famous for its reliability, as a remake from Speed-Link and individual Computers.
    The joystick is suitable for all retro systems with a 9 pin connector.
    These include C64, Amiga, Amstrad/Schneider CPC, Atari and MSX.

    The site is clean and neatly laid out and of course you can pay via PayPal,
    all costs are noted when paying so you don't have any nasty extras when you
    go to the pay screen. Transactions are swift and delivery is very quick (usually Just a few days to the U.k.)


    Every order is to be prepaid (EU-Standard Banktransfer or PayPal).
    When launching an order, you will receive a confirmation mail with the necessary data for the means of payment. Please make sure to pay via EU-Standard Bank Transfer, which is free of charge. Foreign Bank Transfer should not be used because the bank levies charges for that.

    Shipping within Europe:

    For orders under 20 Euro we have to charge a low order fee of 3 Euro.
    For orders over 20 Euro shipping is free.

    Shipping outside Europe:

    For orders under 20 Euro we have to charge a low order fee of 3 Euro.

    Shipping prices are calculated by the weight of your order:

    0-500 G: 5 Euro
    500-1000 G: 10 Euro
    1000-2000 G: 20 Euro
    2000-3000 G: 30 Euro
    3000-4000 G: 40 Euro

    If you live outside of the EU, you don't have to pay the German VAT included
    in our prices. Please deduct 19% to get your correct pricing (this will be
    done automatically when you have entered your country). There will be additional national taxes and/or custom fees depending on the type/value of
    the ordered items.

    The shop stock varies depending on stock and availability; it also features a traffic light system to show GREE in stock and plenty to RED OUT OF STOCK!
    so you know a product is available and ready to send.

    If products are out of stock but new stock is coming soon, then this will be listed on the site for example

    Temporarily out of stock. Date for restocking unsettled.

    Easy to use and nothing really I could mention as a negative I found my transactions were dealt with quickly and politely with courteous emails of progress



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