Saturday, 2 January 2021

The Awesomez collection

I am currently putting together a curated collection of games for the Commodore 64, which aims to minimize unnecessary audio-visual clutter during fast-loading. The goal is to have files that can be quickly enjoyed - both on emulators and on real old-school hardware with actual floppy-disks - without any of the digital graffiti usually associated with cracked games.

In order to accomplish this I select what I have dubbed as clean cracks from my personal hoard of software accumulated on disks and tapes during the 80's, and from various collections on the Internet. In December 2020, this process became a lot easier due to StatMat and his excellent “OneLoad 64” project which has produced clean cracks for of A LOT of games that previously didn't have any, as well as documenting it. 

My curation process is as follows:

  • First I decompress the games with "Unp64" in order to remove “decrunch-flashy-stripes” and shave some seconds off the load-time. Afterwards, if the game needs to be packed to fit within the Commodore 64 memory restrictions, "Exomizer" is used to pack the file so that it contains just the game and a blanked out screen that loads the code as fast as possible.

  • I then put the game on a D64 disk-image, with other games that work together as a collection, in addition to extras like: Demos, music rips and loading images (if I can find any that fit the above criteria).

  • The final piece of the puzzle to make the collection fast but also shiny and pretty, is a handy little tool called "Koalalinker" written by Pugsy, that makes it easy to include loading screens for games that don't have them represented elsewhere in the extras.

An example of the final structure looks something like the picture up top, and contains the following:

  • The name of the collection in the disk header, and the years the game came out as the disk-id.
  • Games are placed at the start of the disk.
  • Credits are embedded as locked DEL entries below that, so that they are visible for those who want to see them, but not cluttering up the actual games.
  • If I can find any clean extras, like relevant demos or loader rips, I put them at the end of the disk with a "/three-letter-credit" in the file-name.

A tiny preview of the collection is available at the following link for those who want to check it out and give feedback:

Awesomez collection v0.01 alpha

Enjoy :)

Special thanks to:

  • Per Håkan Sundell (For CCS64)
  • StatMat (for all his work on the OneLoad 64 collection)
  • Style (for DirMaster)
  • Zagon (for Exomizer)
  • iAN CooG (for Unp64)
  • Pugsy (for Koalalinker)
...And the nice people over at the Lemon64 forums for being an awesome community for Commodore 64 related stuff in general.

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