Commodore Assemblers

Jun 12, 2021

This series on Commodore's Assemblers from pagetable.com is giving me flashbacks to hacking out GraphicsBASIC in my childhood bedroom. Good times.


Conny Torneus Jun 12, 2021
GraphicsBASIC does ring a bell, wait... That was you? 😁

Conny Torneus Jun 13, 2021
Correct me if I'm wrong Ron, but you never moved from C64 to Amiga at any point in time did you?

I don't recall you ever touching that subject, only that you/others used Amiga at LucasFilmGames/LucasArts for porting the games.

In my humble opinion the Amiga was not only a great successor to the C64, it was "THE" computer at the time. At least until Commodore managed to "F" it up in the early 90's.

I still believe that if the Amiga would have lived on, computers today would look way, way different.

Ron Gilbert Jun 13, 2021
I never really programmed the Amiga, just dabbled. The Amiga was never really popular in the US and at Lucasfilm we had moved to the PC as it was the large and up coming market here.  The SCUMM engine for Zak was the last time I did C64 work.  It was PC from them on out.

Michaël El Baki Jun 14, 2021
That pagetable is a mine of info and greatness :) Special mention for their GEOS reverse engineering! Awesome all the tricks involved to get this kind of software running on a C64 :)

Conny Torneus Jun 14, 2021
"I never really programmed the Amiga, just dabbled"

Thanks for clarifying Ron. It was always a bit of mystery for me. For me the Amiga was the logical choice after C64 so I spent countless of hours programming on the Amiga.

"The Amiga was never really popular in the US"

Well, the Amiga was never really popular in Sweden either 😀 (Yeah I'm Swedish). People saw it as a "Pure Gaming Computer" and "Business Computers" were more in demand. I later learned that it was really in the UK and Germany it was popular. Doesn't really matter to me though, I have plenty of fond memories from the "Golden Age of Amiga".

Maico De Blasio Jun 15, 2021
I'm pretty sure the Amiga 500 gained a commercial foothold in Australia during the late 80s... so much so that I was disappointed in the Compaq 386 that I did have. I mean, you couldn't even use a boring EGA monitor to watch TV with, either!!!

Mainly, I was envious of the near-arcade quality game graphics and sounds the Amiga could achieve, with generally better and more diverse titles than those available for the PC between 1987-1990. This explains why I gravitated more toward parser-based (and later point-and-click) adventure games, which seemed to be stock-in-trade for PCs at the time.

It wasn't till many years later, especially after reading the 'PC Graphics Black Book' by Mike Abrash, that I discovered that the "boring old" PC was actually a gaming powerhouse just waiting to be unleashed by combining C programming with 'to-the-metal' x86 assembly to put the Intel on a par with 6500-based chips.

I suppose this is easy to see in hindsight.. but no-one - but - no-one could have predicted the rise of the PC as a gaming machine, aided with the advent of 3D-accelerator cards, DirectX/OpenGL 3D APIs, to the GPUs and programmable shader pipelines of today.

Although I'm enthusiastic for the graphics technology at our disposal today, a part of me does wish the world (at least on a computer screen) was still as simple as an 8-bit 320x200 pixel adventure. Why did those worlds achieve a level of immersion and reality that, ironically, the current standard of photo-realistic imagery makes difficult to emulate???

Conny Torneus Jun 16, 2021
@Maico De Blasio
"I'm pretty sure the Amiga 500 gained a commercial foothold in Australia during the late 80s..."

That is awesome 😁 I remember In Sweden between 87-90. It was mainly teenagers or people in their early 20s getting an Amiga. You would rarely see them beeing used for anything but gaming. When I got my first Amiga (Amiga 500) one if my first games on it was Maniac Mansion 😄 But i had it already on my C64 so if Ron is reading this " I'm a purist " I played through the original. Not the ports, not the enhanced or even a remake but the Original 😁

I remember utilizing my Amiga to the fullest, same thing for my Amiga 1200 but not my Amiga 600, that one turned out to be a bit of disappointment.

"so much so that I was disappointed in the Compaq 386 that I did have. I mean, you couldn't even use a boring EGA monitor to watch TV with, either!!!"

Yeah I remember that as well. Amiga was simply better than PC around that time and it sure didn't hurt that you could hook it up to essentially any TV you would happen to have nearby.

"Mainly, I was envious of the near-arcade quality game graphics and sounds the Amiga could achieve, with generally better and more diverse titles than those available for the PC between 1987-1990. This explains why I gravitated more toward parser-based (and later point-and-click) adventure games, which seemed to be stock-in-trade for PCs at the time."

Yes, Yes and Yes 😆 The Graphics was topnotch, oh and the Sound... Don't even get me started. Essentially you would purchase an affordable adapter that you simply hooked into the Amiga using the parallel port. Then you just acquired a good music software like "Samplitude" for example and Voila now you have your very own startup music studio without spending a fortune 😉 In my experience Amiga and point-and-click Adventure games went very well together which is why I was surprised a bit by Ron's answer earlier. But that's OK, I'm not bitter

"It wasn't till many years later, especially after reading the 'PC Graphics Black Book' by Mike Abrash, that I discovered that the "boring old" PC was actually a gaming powerhouse just waiting to be unleashed by combining C programming with 'to-the-metal' x86 assembly to put the Intel on a par with 6500-based chips.

I suppose this is easy to see in hindsight.. but no-one - but - no-one could have predicted the rise of the PC as a gaming machine, aided with the advent of 3D-accelerator cards, DirectX/OpenGL 3D APIs, to the GPUs and programmable shader pipelines of today."

That's interesting, I think I'll give a read 🙂

"Although I'm enthusiastic for the graphics technology at our disposal today, a part of me does wish the world (at least on a computer screen) was still as simple as an 8-bit 320x200 pixel adventure. Why did those worlds achieve a level of immersion and reality that, ironically, the current standard of photo-realistic imagery makes difficult to emulate???"

That is a very good question, I generally feel the same 🙂

Brian Goldberg Jun 18, 2021
Ron, if you are geeking out on C64 stuff right now, you should check out the youtube channel "8 bit show and tell" it's all kinds of fun with C64 programming, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3gRBswFkuteshdwMZAQafQ

Conny Torneus Jun 21, 2021
C/C++ Is the way I've been rolling for decades, but seeing articles such as the one you shared from pagetable.com sure brings back fond memories of BASIC/6502ASM.

One of these days I'll dust off my trusty old C64 🙂

Conny Torneus Jun 23, 2021
Just remember when I would "dabble" in BASIC fir the first time. There was no way to have ;comments and so I had write things on paper. Was it the same for you @Ron? Or were you one of those who could easily keep everything in the head? 😄

Conny Torneus Jun 23, 2021
My bad, now I remember. Short "keywords" because it needed to be short and then I had it written down on paper with more information. Can't seem to remember what it was called though...

Ron Gilbert Jun 23, 2021
Commodore BASIC had the REM statement for remarks/comments.  But I quickly discovered that my programs ran faster without them, so I stopped commenting.  Unfortunately a practice that follows me today.

Conny Torneus Jun 23, 2021
That's it! Thank you Ron 🙂 REM statement, now I remember.

It was a friend of mine at the time, convincing me that I should add as little REM remarks/comments as possible, whenever I had a suitable line to add it.

Any kind of REM had an impact on the RAM so yeah it totally makes sense that you skipped it. Although, debugging must have been more painful. Remember that too now... ouch!

I generally tried to find a balance which is why I wrote things on paper while adding some REM statements. Those were the days 🙂

Not using comments at all, even today, isn't all that bad I think Ron.

I use C/C++ and although I generally have a structure of comments I often find myself in situations in which I simply Code without them. Somehow that's how my creativity gets triggered and I keep getting more innovative solutions to my problems 🙂

maxleod Jun 25, 2021
Conny, i would assume that since unlike BASIC, C/C++ is compiled, it doesn't change a thing. Basic is interpreted, C just produce machine code.

Conny Torneus Jun 27, 2021
//* Imagine a workbench, you can either

a) Have it organised so you know where to find your much needed tool after a long period of time.

b) Have it disorganised and now you need to spend time looking for that tool.

That said, sometimes, even beeing "Messy", is a great way to experiment. And no, it doesn't "change a thing" in the end @Maxleod, that's the whole point. *//

Semmelbrösel Jun 30, 2021
Programming the Amiga (its wonderful hardware or within the OS) was such a joy. Gaming on the Amiga was fun too. Graphics looked much nicer than on the C64. It was a big step from the C64 to the Amiga. Same for the sound (although it wasn't perfect). The community was nice too. The Amiga also introduced adventures to me, with a mouse. I was hooked from there on. Hopefully you'll release another fine one. Cheers

Actraiser Cave Jul 01, 2021
Even though you say it's a coincidence, you can't help but relish that each of these characters from The Cave represent the 7 Deadly Sins ala Actraiser 2.
Of course, multiple deadly sins will overlap. It was like that in Actraiser 2, it is here. Here is my theory of which is the MAIN deadly sin for each character (characters for The Twins).

-The Monk=Sloth. Wants to rise to the top RIGHT NOW after his lack of patience begins infuriating him. Kills the Master so he doesn't have to work for his spot.
-The Time Traveler=Envy. Jealous of her co-worker's success rather than congratulating him. Kills his ancestor in order to become the successful one.
-The Adventurer=Gluttony. Spotlight hogger, similar to hogging all the food. Eliminates her allies in order to keep all the spotlight to herself.
-The Twins=Wrath. Hates their parents. Uses any means necessary to kill them.
-The Hillbilly=Lust. Madly in love with a woman, and will do anything to make her his. When that fails, his lust for love becomes a lust for murder!
-The Scientist=Greed. Money, money, money. It's all about the money. Even if it means the end of the world just as long as the money keeps rolling in.
-The Knight=Pride. Worshiped as a hero as he loves the attention he gets. His pride prevents him from telling the truth of stealing a knight's armor, and running away from battle.

Good theories, huh?

Ron Gilbert Jul 01, 2021
These are spot on.

Alex Jul 04, 2021
Hello, I just found this webpage. You are the creator of the best game saga, Death Spank, thanks you for those wonderful games. Are there any chances of a new Death Spank happening? or atleast some similar game?

Ron Gilbert Jul 04, 2021
Unfortunately, like so many of the games I've created, I don't own the IP for DeathSpank any more (stupid business decision where I trusted people I should not have).

Alex Jul 05, 2021
Hmm, I understand. But anyways, you can still create a similar type of game with new characters and scenarios, maybe it's even better, like a "face wash" for a new saga?

I loved Death Spank because of the creativity of the world, the characters, enemies and scenario, also the mix of "puzzle" and "diablo combat" was great.

I'm just giving you ideas that maybe you haven't thought (or maybe you have done already hahaha) because I really loved that saga XD

Conny Torneus Jul 05, 2021
Hmm, I never played Deathspank. It completely went under my radar at the time and now after reading this I really don't feel like playing it 🤨

@Ron, I'm not 100% sure from the top of my head, but please tell me you got the IP of TWP... at least 🤨

Eigendrea Jul 05, 2021
+1 for the DeathSpank, criminally underrated!

Conny Torneus Jul 09, 2021
NES SCUMM, Nintendo censorship and not one, but two NES versions of Maniac Mansion. One of which you couldn't "save" your progress but had to write down a password that was over 100 characters long (imagine doing that with a controller).

Had a weird experience testing Maniac Mansion on the NES for the first time. Fortunately for me it was the version you actually save your progress without noting down passwords. Still, this version is a farcry from the Maniac Mansion most of us know and love.

I understand Tim Shafer was one of the playtesters, but was there any quality control for the NES platform? Were you (@Ron) involved in these ports of Maniac Mansion? Because just playing it feels like it's two completely different games. And what's the NES SCUMM? Did you "work" on that too?

DieSkaarj Jul 09, 2021
I've been trying to compile AOSP (Android Open Source Project) for an old Tegra device for nearly a week now. If only it was still as straight forward.

Conny Torneus Jul 12, 2021
I'm guessing most people in this blog have heard by now that Ken Williams is doing a new "Sierra-on-line Adventure Game"?

Somehow I don't think Ron would appreciate it though, not because it's Sierra, but because apparently it will be in VR, if I recall VR is not Ron's cup of Tea?

I may be sick Jul 13, 2021
VR is great when the design suits VR and the hardware isn't in your way. There are a few games around, which are mind-blowing, especially when you're new to VR and can deal with it. The hardware still needs to improve. It's a matter of time, next gen will offer a far better experience already.

Maico De Blasio Jul 13, 2021
The FAQ at the working website for Ken & Roberta Williams' new game confirms it will be available on all major platforms (PC, Mac etc) as well as a version for VR.

Dale Jul 18, 2021
OMFG how did I not know about graphics basic?!? That's awesome! Reminds me of the new graphics commands that were included with basic v7 on the c128.

Fred Berry Jul 19, 2021

Maico De Blasio Jul 19, 2021
Regarding the fate of the Amiga, one legend is that "DOOM killed Amiga".
A very recent interview with John & Brenda Romero effectively confirms the theory. John Romero himself explained how the PC VGA card could be reconfigured for fast 3D graphics, but there was no equivalent optimisation possible in Amiga hardware.
This meant an Amiga port of DOOM had to be fully implemented in software, which would have slowed the 6502 to a crawl. Keep in mind that John was, and still is, a 6502 assembly language Jedi master. In his words, the Amiga simply wasn't built for 3D.
If gamers wanted to play DOOM, they had to abandon their Amiga for a PC.

Semmelbrösel Jul 19, 2021
Commodore killed the Amiga. They were already done, before it was obvious to the public. The Bizz-People made wrong decisions throughout the years. They did not invest into research and let the team not update the hardware as quickly as they wanted, until it was too late. Amigas were still longer around due to the OS and specifc software.

Conny Torneus Jul 19, 2021
@Maico de Blasio
That was the worst Internet trolling I've seen today... And to what end?

Yes, a lot of people moved to PC because of DOOM. I was one of them, but that was just a Symptom of what most of use Amiga users already knew which was that Commodore was falling apart. With that said, DOOM didn't kill the Amiga, Commodore did that all by themselves... Long before DOOM.

Just the fact that John Romero couldn't have DOOM running on the Amiga was just a sign that Commodore was painfully behind in development.

Curious, although I'm sure John Romero is a 6502 ASM "Jedi" why would he even bother with that on an Amiga? 68000 ASM would be the logical choice

Also you say John & Brenda Romero " effectively confirms the theory that DOOM killed the Amiga " Did he actually say that? The only recent interview with John & Brenda Romero I can think of was with Neil from RMC and I have no recollection of them saying that. They were mostly talking about them " Good Old Days " in programming which I enjoyed listening to.

Fun Fact: I live literally 30 minutes drive from their office in Galway. One of these days I will try getting John's autograph 😀

Maico De Blasio Jul 20, 2021
Yes, we are talking about the same interview. Just to clarify, "DOOM killed Amiga" was obviously just one of a number of contributing factors to Amiga's eventual demise... I suppose I should have made that distinction clearer and didn't intend on upsetting anyone by my comments.
I think you'll find near the end of the hour-long interview, John Romero explains the issues with a DOOM Amiga port exactly as I described in my earlier post.
Again, to be precise, Romero confirmed that DOOM couldn't be ported to Amiga... which I acknowledge is not the same as DOOM "killing" Amiga.
Ron would be pleased to know, however, that even John Romero couldn't finish the Secret of Monkey Island without a call to the hint line!

Conny Torneus Jul 28, 2021
@Maico de Blasio
It's alright, and although I'm sure it's "cooler" to point finger at DOOM as an Amiga killer I find it insulting to all those topclass, "US" based engineers who in the mid 80s were able to not only create a state of the art computer ( I'm looking at you Amiga 500 )but also make it affordable for regular people. They put their heart and soul into that, at least until they had a change of management.

Things would have looked very different for the Amiga if it weren't for those two clowns Mehdi Ali and Irving Gould running Commodore to the ground. Google them up, they didn't just make simple mistakes which can happen to anyone. They just didn't care.

Furthermore I recommend reading the book " From Vultures to Vampires" by David Pleasance.  David had from his UK perspective a very good insight into Commodore and I remember a interview with him talking about a 3D card (long before PC had it) that the Amiga team was developing and knowing what he knows now "if" That card would have been completed it would have changed the gameplay and kept Amiga on the top for years to come. So what happened? Mehdi Ali and Irving Gould happened, they shut down the development and instead tried to get fast cash by recycling previous models etc etc.. Really horrible, and frustrating for the engineers to be in this downward spiral until the end when they were finally layed off 😔

If Commodore would have been operated properly and if the 3D card would have seen the light of day I'm 100% certain that John Romero would have created DOOM for the Amiga and then some. Probably we would even have a better version than the one we got back then. Amiga would have been the dominating computer. 🙂

Unfortunately it was not in the cards...

Lucas Aug 18, 2021
Whenever I feel like Im doing nothing I think, and what is the grumpy doing now? and I get to this blog and think, well Im ok. Thank you!

anon Aug 26, 2021
You could make a post on movies that might've inspired you or your team when working on Monkey Island, such as "Against all flags" and "The Spanish Main". I would find it interesting!

Bill Bringus Aug 31, 2021
Where are you Ron!? No post in the month July and none so far in August. Doing a worry here.

DieSkaarj Aug 31, 2021
How d'you do Ron, Ron? Ron?!?

In seriousness though, I hope you're doing okay, especially at this time!

Ron Gilbert Aug 31, 2021
I'm fine. Busy combined with nothing to say.

DieSkaarj Aug 31, 2021
Hah, happy to hear it. Take care.

Bill Bringus Aug 31, 2021
Good to hear Ron, good to hear. Much worry for nothing ;)

Johan Windh Sep 05, 2021
Thank God. I was getting seriously depressed.

Martinland Sep 05, 2021
Ah, that's a relief; started having second thoughts too...

Gedächtnisspeicher Sep 06, 2021
@Ron Gilbert
How about a screenshot of the game you're working on?

Martinland Sep 06, 2021
:)

Nice try, Gedächtnisspeicher.

Long time! Sep 07, 2021
No update in almost 3 months!

Must be hard at work on that lego colosseum XD

Patrick Sep 08, 2021
Are you okay, Ron?

Johan Windh Sep 10, 2021
@Patrick. The grumpster was OK on Aug 31st. I'm sure he's doing just fine.

Johnny99 Sep 11, 2021
Just replayed Thimbleweed Park. Awesome game. I backed it and bought it on every platform except PlayStation and Android 🙈.
And I just remembered the fantastic days with the devlog and the podcasts. It would be really, really, really (really, really) awesome if you would do something like that again.
That was a very unique experience that brought together so many people, it's really sad that the community died down. I go to the forums every now and then, but it's nothing like the golden days of Thimbleweed Park.

Johan Windh Sep 11, 2021
@Johnny99 I totally missed the launch of the project and thus backing it. This still makes me depressed to this day. I still listen to the podcast now and then, still very enjoyable. Hoping for more future projects which I will NOT miss..

Zak Phoenix McKracken Sep 15, 2021
ping...

Ma Long Sep 16, 2021
... pong

Patrick Sep 18, 2021
ping...

Deckard Sep 18, 2021
Judging by Thimbleweed blog we could guess that maybe Mr. Gilbert is now in that intense period of finishing up the game. You know, when the date is set, everything is in place and it's only go go go from there to the end. And after that some testing, feedback, ironing and bug extermination. I am guessing six more months, maybe four until announcement. And maybe a trailer.

Joe Biden Sep 18, 2021
... pong // returning to the snack

Donaldo Trumpesco Sep 19, 2021
ping...

Willy Clenton Sep 20, 2021
...pong

Herman Toothrot Sep 20, 2021
ping....

aestheticTimeWarper Sep 20, 2021
I come from the future, year 2714. Sorry, I can't reveal which game Ron's working on. But I know what the secret of Monkey Island is.

Bog Bogloroo 6d ago
Thinking about an ICO for a Monkey Island coin: MonkeyZen, MonkeyCoin, ToothrotCoin, GrogCoin, etc. Any name ideas? I like the idea of a ToothrotCoin ICO hedged by fluoride treatments in case the market tanks.

PeevishDave 5d ago
@Bog PieceOfEight

@RonGilbert I'd just wanted to ask you: how did you guys complete the production of The Secret of Monkey Island in just 9 months? holy cow, it's impressive! And with a budget of 200k$ waaaaaat

Ron Gilbert 5d ago
Those are 1989 dollars and just including salaries and not overhead like offices, etc.  As for the 9 months.  We were all young and had no families, but it still amazing me.

The mainly optimistic Allan Alcorn AI 4d ago
... pong

Herman Toothrot 4d ago
We‘re unworthy.... Ping...

PeevishDave 3d ago
@RonGilbert Thanks for the reply!

Gary Mitchell 2d ago
*thinking* ... pong

Conny Torneus 1d ago
Playing some TWP and it got me thinking, what about porting it to Amiga/C64? Looking at it at a glance it can't be that much of an effort, can it @Ron Gilbert? I know you're probably thinking "why would I waste time doing something like that?". But then again, is it really a waste of time? I don't know if you're aware but there is a Huuuge Amiga/c64 community out there and folks make games on those platforms to this day 🙂 I recently started developing some games for own my pleasure for Amiga first hand (will do some for the c64 too soon I think). When I feel confident they're stable enough I'll probably release them. If you feel TWP isn't suited for Amiga/C64 then perhaps I could have a go at the Delores mini game to showcase it can be done 🙃

Men of Low Moral Fiber 4h ago
ping...

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