Interview with MacGyver

Published in Vandalism News #40
Performed by Jazzcat

I'm happy to present to you one of the most active and enthusiastic sceners of current times. MacGyver is one of the key elements behind successful projects such as the C64 News Portal and Protovision.

His dedication even shows in this very production, he had many sleepless nights to provide much of the news in this edition (especially in The Market).

Welcome to the magazine! Please introduce yourself to the readers...

My real name is Milo and I'm 24 years old. In the C64 scene I used to be a swapper in which I was active until the late 90's. Nowadays I do organizing and all kinds of support - mostly in Protovision and DMAgic's I also try to help with various new C64 related projects, which can be software, hardware, parties etc. That is, if I find the project fascinating, if I actually CAN support it and if I find the time.

You are heavily involved in the development of new games on the C64 through the German company Protovision. Could you please tell us a bit about the current projects such as Metal Dust, Enforcer II, Reel Fishing and Hockey Mania. Also about the future projects?

Well, "company" is a tricky term actually. Protovision is a group of devoted C64 enthusiasts working together under the one label. We try to be as professional as we can. Anyhow, money doesn't grow on trees - so people need to keep in mind that all our members have jobs, studies and other personal life issues to take care of as first priority. Any money we make with Protovision is  used to cover various costs. Shipping, internet, phone and travelling to meetings isn't free and is just a few examples on a long list of expenditures. We are not intending to make profits.

Now I will reveal a few details about some of our projects:

METAL DUST started as a project by Big User. At that time it had converted/digitized MODs from the Amiga as the game music and was running on a Flash 8 accelerator card. Unfortunately that card turned out to be an unsafe botch, so the project was put on ice for some time. When CMD released their SuperCPU, the idea started to pick up again, with the intention of making the game for the newly available and much more stable expansion card. Sometime later, Chester took over the programming duties, so Big User could concentrate on doing graphics and collecting ideas. The game engine had to be completely recoded several times. When I got to know Welle:Erdball, I asked them to compose some exclusive music for the game and they agreed. The attention of the two main creators was taken away by some family issues for a while (e.g. Chester got married). Currently the strategy of the last end-boss is being discussed as well as the intro, outro and title screen.

The game is going to be finished in 2004, as matters stand.

There is not much news on the 2D shooter for the standard C64 - ENFORCER II. The coder Andrea (creator of It's Magic 1 & 2) is very busy with his studies. Hopefully he will have more time to program after his current exams.

REEL FISHING (fishing simulation, based on the Amiga game with the same name) was also laying dormant last month. The programmer, Courage, got married in summer, but he even used his honeymoon to do studies for Reel Fishing. ;) Back at home, he is highly motivated to continue work on it.

PAC IT is an innovative Pac Man style game with many unusual extras and a lot of playing modes. In August, the coder Jak T Rip went abroad for the next few months for studying. The graphicians will hopefully finish the last run of graphics soon.

HOCKEY MANIA is an Ice Hockey game, once again done by Big User. It can be played with up to 4 people using the Protovision 4-player-interface. The game itself is finished. I'm now supposed to complete the instructions. Fortunately I found a print shop that will produce the hard copies a few days ago. The game should be ready for shipping sometime later this year.

A new game project of Protovision's is called WOR WIZARDS. Big User was working on it in secrecy for quite a while. Well, that isn’t a big surprise, since that is the way Big User often works. ;) The idea was to create a "Wizard of Wor" style game for
4 players. It was known to us that there is some way to connect together 2 C64s locally. Franz Kotirra was so kind to support us by coding the serial network part.

If both C64s are equipped with a 4-player interface, up to 8 people can play the game together! As Welle:Erdball is known for loving "Wizard of Wor", they kindly did the title music. It is unsure who's going to be doing the in-game music and sound effects. The in-game graphics are in the minimalistic style of the original game. It will be released in the first quarter of  2004. The Wor Wizards are currently honing their shooting ability. :-)

How did you enter the game-production team and what inspired you to do so?

Protovision was founded by ThunderBlade and Big User in 1996. ThunderBlade is one of my two older brothers and we both got to know Big User around 1994 (through the German magazine 64'er). They all liked the idea of a powerful development team. I supported this thought from the beginning with my ideas and visions. ThunderBlade and I first met Jak T Rip at The Party 1996. After we all got to know each other better he then joined us.

And even today, there are still people creating new C64 games and people who want new C64 games. I always wanted to have one big organisation for that. Protovision - in the beginning it was but a thought...

Nowadays most of the spare time of ThunderBlade and Jak T Rip is being taken away by real life issues. Luckily we found Poison/TLD, first as a webmaster and now he even helps with the distribution. Jak T Rip and me are now the leaders and organizers with some great help from Poison and ThunderBlade.

How do you feel about the cracking scene and the crackers who release C64 games?

Most of us got their first C64 to play games. There were so many and we wanted many more too and as cheap and fast as possible. That work until around 1993/1994, when there was still some commercial market for C64 games.

Cracking in its original meaning (the removal of copy protection) almost completely died around that time. Crackers always used to "cut off their nose to spite their face" as by cracking games, the companies left the C64, so there were fewer games to crack.

Times changed. Most crackers are gone and some might even have a job in today's computer business. On C64 there are only a few people buying new games. What the so called crackers of today do is only what was deemed as 'additional work' in the past: adding trainers, bug fixing (when needed), packing and spreading. As long as the games are freely available, no one actually gets seriously hurt. As soon as a game creator asks for a fee for his efforts, I'd better support him for still doing something on a commercially dead system. I don't like the thought of back-stabbing them instead. People who still do that will hurt the creator and in the end everyone will lose. I think cracking on the C64 today is somewhat immature and childish, especially when people use fake labels. Those people could do better and cooperate with the game creators in assisting with improving the games ready to be released.

Cracking old games is another story.

What do you think is the difference between games made in the 80s and 90s and the new games on the different platforms today?

Most game ideas were either born on the C64 or Amiga. Other, more "advanced" platforms were at first only imitating these concepts - sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes in an improved way. It took quite a while until new and innovative game concepts appeared on different platforms. DOOM did its part for the triumphal procession of the PC as a platform. From then on, many game concepts were (re)done in 3D, it didn't matter if the respective concept actually made sense in 3D or not.

Cadaver's BOFH is a good example of a 3D concept being realized in 2D. The last years there has been a 3D blitz which outlasted itself by now.

Today's games are very realistic and play with one's adrenaline. New game concepts like the god games, gigantic role playing games like Ultima online and strategy games such as Sim City 3000 implicate the player into their own world. Many people play games via the internet or on gigantic LAN parties. I think this is doubtful and I hope people don't get lost too deep in these virtual worlds.

Could you please tell us when you first entered the scene and what has happened from then until current times?

I entered the scene in late 1992 with the handle "Batman" and started swapping. ThunderBlade's game collection was a good start for that. :-) One of my first contacts was Courage (today a member of Protovision), I think he had some different handle at that time. In 1993, I renamed to MacGyver and founded a small group called The Phoenix Foundation (TPF). Members were Courage, Desperado, Sly and me. There was one more guy, but he was a real lamer and fortunately he disappeared as fast as he had appeared. Desperado quit the C64 scene unfortunately. In 1994 the 3 of us agreed to join the group formed by my brother, The Airwolf-Team. My first scene party was the Tribute 1994, which I visited with some group members and Mr. Rossmoeller (distributor of the Flash 8). The AWT was kind of a mastermind group. Some of the "ruling" cracking groups of that time didn't like AWT. Probably they were afraid that in a scene like the AWT viewed it, there wouldn't be a place for them anymore. In the beginning of 1995, the group couldn't stand all the pressure anymore and broke up. I joined Fairlight for a while. Unfortunately the old Swedish members didn't have much time and motivation for the C64 activity. Protovision was founded and meanwhile became something many people were hoping that Cherry Soft should have been some years earlier. Also DMAgic was born, released 3 small demos and started working on a new disk mag. Also, was built and today it's well established.

What is happened with your new disk magazine called DAWN for DMAgic?

We were planning to do it and we still are - but WHEN is uncertain. The project slowed down due to personal
reasons (new studies, new work, etc.).

Magazines have influenced the scene for quite a while now. How would you describe the "ideal" magazine? Describe your favourite magazines and why they're your favourite...

Certainly there have been a LOT of magazines for the C64 over the years, both on disk and paper. At a few points, with mags its like with girls: What's inside should matter most, nevertheless we all look at the "looks" mainly. And of course its always a matter of taste and opinions on what is "ideal. I respect all the work people put into their magazines over the years. Some editors seemed to be very proud of themselves and called themselves "Scene Journalists". This sounds very billowed in my ears and a few of those people misused their magazines as a speaking tube for certain "Elite" groups, to push each other.

My favourite magazines managed to combine well established chapters with new and innovative ones. Also, they had a decent outfit, leaving a good overall impression.

MacGyver's all-time favourites:

Demo: Insomnia, Refugee, Access Denied II: Reflection, Eiger, Sonic/Triumwyrat
Demo group: Resource, Nipson, Reflex, FairLight, Triad
Game: Newcomer, Mayhem in Monsterland, Lemmings
Game label: Electronic Arts, System 3, Thalamus (including Apex), Rainbow Arts, Ocean
Coder: Manfred Trenz, John Rowlands, Graham, Hollowman, Kjell Nordbo
Graphician: Jailbird, Poison, Dane, Poison
Musician: Thomas Detert, Pri, Jeff, MHD, TBB
Disk magazine: Driven, Immortal Flash, Metal Force,
Ingenious Brain, Premium (yes, I DO like Domination and Vandalism as well, but who needs arse-licking? ;))

What is your view on the demo scene and the way that C64 demos have evolved?

I guess the first demos were inspired by the crack intros, as most people got a C64 to play games, and not to ONLY watch demos. :) Demos were and are a very important element for the C64. Quality- and quantity-wise, there were some ups and downs of course. Many people though that all that was possible to do on a C64 was done in the early nineties. :-) Really astonishing how much has happened since then, with many new school demo effects, new graphic formats and fine pieces of C64 hardware. With C64 demos it's different than with demos on the PC, where you just use another one with a better CPU, graphic- and soundcard every few years. On the C64, you once get a SuperCPU, plug it in and get 20x the normal speed - if you want to. :-)

What do you think is the most important thing for demos on C64? Design? technical achievement? How should a demo be created to get the best results?

Depends if we have a demo that just wants to show off code, tell a story or both. In my opinion design should be the first in any case, or at least the very first aspects that should matter the most. Even great coded demo parts don't have their full effect when you e.g. don't do nice fading effects. The best result is not only gained with good coding, graphics and music, but more with the way of their combination.

Ever been involved in any big disagreements or wars in the scene?

I surely have, but that was many years ago. I doubt anyone would care about them anymore - including me, the people I might have disagreements with and the VN readers of course. There were, are and always will be people being peculiar, in some way and more or less extreme - especially in the C64 scene. If anyone of these few people feels spoken to: you are free to contact me so we can have a good laugh about those old times.

What do you think would be the differences (if any) between demo, game and cracker people on the C64? Is there any differences?

Sure there are... Demo and game people are mostly creating. Some demo people are not too interested in games, same with game people in demos. Only a few crackers are also able to create something on their own.

Which scene parties have you been to and what ones do you remember the most?

* TRIBUTE 1994
* most German easter parties from 1996 on (including SYMPOSIUM 1996, MEKKA & SYMPOSIUM and BREAKPOINT)
* a few THE PARTYs
* some PLUSH meetings/parties
* all WILLOW parties
* most FOREVER parties
* some OUT OF ORDERIA parties
* a few X parties
* all VISION parties
* Back In Time Live Germany and a number of private meetings/parties. If you want a more detailed list, you can check C64 Scene Database -

What are your hobbies outside the scene? How would you describe an average day of your life?

Apart from computers, my hobbies outside basically are music, travelling around Germany (either to visit concerts, friends or both) and hobby philosophy/psychology. I started to go to school again a few months back, to get a higher diploma. School will be in the late afternoon/early evening for the first couple of months. So I have to place anything else I want/need to do around this time frame. This includes stuff like shopping and of course scene activities.

What release impressed you most on the C64?

There were quite a few of course, but THE ONE must be Enhanced Newcomer - for sure. Some releases from the past were demos like ELDORADO/ORIGO and SPIRITUAL DREAMS/SPIRIT. The shoot 'em up HERMETIC was cool with it's AGSB, just hardly playable. :-) The same people later did the game COMPLEX, a "faked" Doom - I really liked that one.

Until 1993, the best cruncher was "Cruel Cruncher" for a long time. It was really impressing when Skyflash was the one to beat it, first with THE Cruncher AB and later Byteboiler.

What is your view on the internet and how it has changed the way that scenes operate?

At the time when the internet became more popular, many C64 sceners started using it. Most learned to use it as a tool for fast and effective exchange of data and information. Some kept doing C64 related things, even especially with the internet side. For others, the internet brought a drift off to other interests than the C64. If you use the internet as a tool, you shouldn't forget about what you were going to use it for in the first place.

Quite a few people come back from the 16 and 32 bit machines to the Commodore 64. What do you think is the main reason that people keep paying attention to the C64? What has it got that other computers don't have? A 'soul'? A better scene?

Many people who had a C64 in the eighties now maybe have a job and girlfriend or wife. But they all remember about the "good old times", and some get a C64 again. And a few of those even keep using it and accept the fact that some might call them crazy.

What are your future goals and ambitions in and out of the computer world?

In: basically keep on doing what I did these last months. Organising Protovision,, visiting parties and meetings and some more stuff. I think I actually reached something as an 'organizer', even without being a coder, graphician or musician. Out: successfully complete school.

In AND out: for me and my surroundings - examine the happenings, analyse what actually goes wrong and try to work on that.

Please feel free to send any greetings to anyone you know...

Groups: My group-mates in Protovision & DMAgic; all people involved in any Protovision products (including
the crews around Enhanced Newcomer, Covert BitOps, IDE64, GO64!, Lotek64, Retro Replay and the others - Padua, Welle:Erdball, Willow, FairLight, Triad, Plush, No Name, Out of Order, The Stock, The Dreams, 64ever, Crest, Oxyron, Dienstagstreff, Bones Park, Resource, Focus, Remember, Nostalgia, Onslaught Antiques, Virtual Dimension, Cascade, Digital Talk, Shrine, Spiders-Crew, Smash Designs, People of Liberty,
Warriors Of the Wasteland.

Individuals: TMR, Steppe, Bugjam, Franky, Commander, Mr.Museum, StreeTuff, Benson, Dalezy, Mermaid, ILM, Vogue, Thunder.Bird, SilverFox, Magnate, Thomas & Thomas of X-Ample Architectures (Thomas Detert and Thomas Heinrich), CJ Rayne, Greg Nacu, Jolz, Arny, Airfish, Blender, Panther & Hermes of Cosmos Designs, Argus Designs, Bob/Censor, Franz Kotirra, Gaelyne Gasson, Fzool, Drake, Silverstar, Nafocom, Yoho, Matthes, Iron Man, Pentagon, C64 Doc, HCL, Hollowman, Gizmo/Farbrausch, Holy Moses, Mason, Firefox, Bzyk, Kjell Nordbo, Taxim, Vickey/Greenroom, Kim Lemon, The Master, MWS, AVH, Katakis, Majikeyric, GM Big B, Cactus, Svan, dosoo, Sabbit, Stormfront, The Pro, New Design, Sentinel, Creb, Truss, Wideload, Wyndex, Shaun Bebbington, Sta, Winni, Funxilla, Exile, Ron van Schaik, Brainstorm.

In general: A person I used to swap with and/or had great times with at parties. These people are of course welcome to (re)contact me via Email.

Thanks for your time Milo, any last words for our audience?

Keep supporting the C64 - as you wish, as you feel, as you can. Keep real - to others and to yourself. Be there for people you would call your friends. Many people play mind games, which is okay in general. But done do it to such an extent... Well, it's okay as long as they play fair and everyone involved knows the rules... But there are borders for what is still is okay and what is not anymore.

ACTUALLY we COULD all get along with each other. IF we could try and care more and take some time for each other. If we would be on the same frequency. And if we would make some efforts to respond to someone without the common distance being the standard in our society.

Raise your hat, whenever you experience celebrity, especially when you didn't expect it at that very moment. Yeah, IF that was the case... *sigh*. This will most probably never become true in this way but couldn't we at least try to get any closer to realise this? That would RAISE SOME HOPES in any case.

Life is a challenge, and I'm ready to take it. Are you?