Code Notes – Macrojackmix

Here we are with another Code Notes and, once more, it’s a demo to look at from some bedroom coders based in United Kingdom; to be a little more specific, this time it’s a C64 release from Scotland.


Macrojackmix by Pulse Productions

A Commodore 64 demo released in 1987
Code by Duncan
Graphics by Dave
Music by Sean

As with the GPS who developed the Atari Stars Demo, Pulse Productions were based in Scotland but there is, fortunately, far more information available about them in part because one of the members involved in this particular demo is still working with the C64 some thirty years later. The members all met locally in Edinburgh and published their demos through C64-specific online service Compunet during the 1980s. As with Ash & Dave, some of the members of Pulse Productions also took the knowledge they gained working on 8-bit Commodore computers forwards, going on to develop games commercially with one of the earliest being Euro Soccer on the Amiga[1].

Macrojackmix (C64)The code in this demo isn’t particularly complicated, merely updating the scrolling message at the bottom of the screen in forty character bursts, redefining a block of characters for the diagonal bars that slowly roll upwards and bouncing a hardware sprite constructed face around. The opening of the upper and lower borders is achieved by the same method covered when we looked at Planet Invasion along with the basics of redefining characters to produce motion, whilst the bouncing sprites are merely using half of a sine curve in a similar manner to the bouncing heads in Electric Cafe.

The music was composed with Electrosound, a commercially available package originally published in 1985 by Orpheus and mentioned previously on this very blog; sometimes affectionately referred to as Leccysound, this reasonably simple to use tool and it’s sadly rather inefficient compiler (the support tool that converted tunes for use in the composer’s own programs) have been responsible for some poor “music”[2] and were sometime described in less than glowing terms but, in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing musically, it could produce something decent. And, as with other utilities like Master Composer or Soundmonitor, the more talented composers would learn gain an understanding before either moving on to more flexible utilities or working with bespoke assembly language music drivers.

Looking at it from C64CD’s angle, once again this demo helps to demonstrate that the author’s often repeated claims of needing a feature-laden BASIC to learn programming are wrong; huge numbers of people happily taught themselves and indeed each other with same tools and literature available to him. The notable difference is, as with all of the other examples we’ve covered so far and will be looking at in the future, simply the level of persistence; others simply got on with learning the skills needed to achieve what they were aiming for whilst the author is to this day making weak excuses such as his petulant and often repeated claim of being “useless at maths” which are presumably more for his own benefit than anything else.

[1] Your correspondent played a tiny and insignificant part in the development as well; the company was called Creative Edge and your correspondent, whilst sat in the same Scottish bedroom where the code was being worked on, was asked to transfer their newly-designed logo from a letterhead to the Amiga.

[2] The problem with making a tool to allow anybody to produce music is that… well, it does let anybody produce music including the people who haven’t a clue how to! Your correspondent is thinking of one composer in particular who later fully redeemed himself, but that builds into a story for another time.

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