Realigning the Azimuth

Adventures in Retro: Coding

I had the opportunity to check out Syntax Party yesterday - one of the few demo parties in Australia, and actually the first such party I’ve ever been to.

Growing up with the C64, I was only tangentially exposed to the demoscene via the occasional demo being highlighted in various magazines. Most of the folks I knew growing up were only into the games side of things - and whilst the demo scene grew out of the cracking/piracy of commerical games, it’s most certainly transcended that to become it’s own unique cultural item.

So, when surrounded by lots of retro coders, what could one do but join in the fun? I could have poked about with some coding on iOS, but there’s definitely more layers getting something working there effects wise. So, I decided to go the retro path & fire up the trusty C64 emulator & start trying to re-teach myself some trusty 6502 assembly language. Besides, it’s how one gets the best speed out of the trusty C64 - and it’s laughable BASIC implementation isn’t the most fun to program with when you actually want to do anything involving graphics & sound ;)

In the end, it was kind of a wash - it’s been 15 or so years since I actually wrote 6502 code, and back then I never got that serious with it (as it primarily a distraction prior to getting serious with my CompSci degree) - it’s been interesting to even have a poke around with something incredibly primitive by comparison. Also try (and fail) to get my head around trying to do 16-bit mathematics on an 8-bit processor.

Good times. Good times indeed. Whilst I was doing the old fashioned way (as much as I could) - using the 6510+ Assembler running on a C64 emulator, I think if I was going to go further, I’d be focusing on trying to it with a cross-development environment. It might have been fun typing out assembly listings on the C64 itself, but to be honest, after getting use to high resolution displays, I much prefer them for coding. Being able to comment code correctly, or even use labels (which is quite important when coding assembly language) on a text screen 40 characters wide was a bit of a dampener to my productivity ;)

Still, I think it did result in a bit of a bug being hit, and I certainly want to go back to do some more C64 coding when I have some bandwidth available, which depending on how things go, will likely be once I’ve finished up & released Pivotus onto the world.