Interviews



Interview with Mason

Published in Vandalism News #39
Performed by Vengeance


Well people requested privately too me another great and known cracker to be interviewed so we bring you Mason, anyone that knows my own riddled history with his group will know its strange for me, but credit where credit is due. Mason has been an awesome cracker over many years and I honestly think apart from Crossfire's activity in Motiv8 he held the crew together with his quality versions.

Many an elite has mentioned it and many will again sit back enjoy and get to know, MASON from MOTIV8.


V)
First of all hi Mason, introduce yourself to our readers and let us a know a little bit about yourself...

M)
Hi I don’t know how much there is to say about myself. I have been active since 1983 and I think I'm one of the few people  which people don't know so much about. I got quite different skills on the c64 as I can code (even got demo parts to finish – also did some special intros), crack, lead groups and doing hardware stuff.


V)
You have been in the scene a number of years and been involved in a few different groups over the years like Mechanix 2124, Unicess, and Image. Please give us a complete history for you from what group you started in and when...

M)
My story in the scene is a little bit special as in the first years I mostly were the team behind others. I studied loaders and protections to help for our official crackers. At that point I didn’t have much interest in doing the cracks. In those 5 years I were helping some people in different groups under some funny nicks.

In 1988 our main cracker decided to go to Amiga and we were quite in trouble as they didn't know who should continue cracking. They were asking me and I didn't like the idea. Then we tried out some other crackers and found out they couldn't do it. So they came back to me again to do it. I decided to say yes, but shortly after the other people quit and then Crossfire (known as EXORY) and I decided to start Unicess.

There were a lot of people in the group, but mostly it was Invisible Man, Exory and me who released all the stuff. All the stuff about Unicess and Exory started to make noise, Exory left and I was trying to find out if Exory had recracked that Transcom game. And the result - he didn’t. He got the tape from Italy where the producers took the crack from Transcom froze it and put it on tape.

Invisible Man, MZK, Tecon and me decided to rebuild Miracle. Miracle were doing good and we did some nice cracks there (like we did in Unicess), but another problem was coming up.

My radio program became so big success that I had to use all the time planning the shows. Miracle people decided to slow down as others had to for studying. In the period I was doing shows I just cracked the games for Miracle, so there’s actually a lot of Miracle releases that only got sent to 2-3 people. One year later, I was going to stop the shows as my health couldn’t handle working 70 hours besides studying and cracking, so it changed to only 2-3 shows per week. Crossfire and I talked a lot still and he asked if I wanted to join Acrise as they needed a cracker to handle nasty protections. I can't remember what my first were for Acrise, but I think it was Sysiphus 2, which were using Mr. Cursor's disk protection. Some chaos happened in Acrise about who were leading the group, so Crossfire and I decided to leave together with some other people to form Image.

It was funny to do that return as we did some nice cracks with a lot of trainers. I remember Augie Dog+5M and Spacegun +8. Crossfire and me didn't always agree on how the end result should be for the group, so I decided to live Image and then rebuilt Unicess.

Most of the people in the scene didn't know Unicess and didn't really know me, so people where shocked by seeing the cracks which Unicess released. Ray joined as the other cracker and we really did a lot of stuff. My time got attacked again by the media business and Crossfire and Fate were rather hooked doing Epic as we should get more originals and more swappers. I decided to close down Unicess and the others were rather pissed about that and didn't join Epic.

We got some more nice cracks done by us again, but Crossfire went to the army and the group fell apart. I shouldn’t go to the army as we used the nice rule about paying for losing me and the media business wanted a rather high value of money for letting me go. I left Epic and put out some cracks under Archaos just to keep myself in business. One day Tecon and Zephyr called me and suggested we should do some cracks for Mechanix 2124. I think the first crack I did in Mechanix was Street Fighter 2, which was spread nicely around the globe. (I know that after I started to see d64's from people’s disk collections and can see  that they got my version).

In Mechanix 2124 we also had Iceball, how also did a lot of nice cracks with me. Crossfire got home from the army and decided to start a new group. It was called Motiv 8. Motiv 8 were rather good and there was room for doing a lot of nice cracks still. At that time I also decided to do Motiv 8 on PC (which still exists) and I used most of my time on that. Deal were still that I looked on the nasty ones for Crossfire, but since Iceball were active too then he got a lot of cracks done. (In a period he lived in the same time as Crossfire and me).



V)
What first got you interested in cracking games on the c64? and why? Do you think you would have ever become a legal scener if you hadn’t found cracking first?

M)
I wasn't only cracking. I was also coding and I actually did some quite nice stuff. It was a quite funny way I got into cracking as my friend were trying to crack some lame loader with a boot loader. I said hmm and set down and looked at it. Later that day it was transferred to disk. 2 days later he came to my place again rather angry and threw the tape in front of me and said it was impossible to crack. The loader was rather tricky but I managed to get it cracked. After that he came and asked me if I wanted to study all those protections as he also had problems with the disk originals. I said yes, just he guaranteed he didn't say I cracked it.

Besides that I was coding a lot of stuff, mostly to learn more assembler. I have to skip the coding a lot and concentrate on the protections as they got more and more interesting stuff.


V)
You have been involved in many groups with Crossfire (otherwise known as Exory/Holocaust), over the years Crossfire had quite some problems with different people in the scene, has this ever caused yourself any problems with any other scener? Did you ever wish people would just leave him alone?

M)
I never had any problems with Crossfire’s enemies. People knew I was a good cracker and as I used some special routines and a special way to think when doing loaders then people knew it was my own stuff. In other ways I know people who looked a lot on my loaders and I could hang out some lamers on that. Also some trainers which I done were made by adding extra code to make it possible. In a mystic way it ended up in other versions too. I haven't seen those version to now, so I couldn't really mention it to the scene back then.

About Crossfire and the story about recracking. I still haven't seen any proof on it and I know the game which were supposed to be a recrack of  a Transcom game were actually a frozen copy sent out on an Italian tape.


V)
What do you think of the standards of today’s cracks? Do you think crackers should concentrate on doing better versions of old games just like the oldie styled groups instead of wasting there time with the new releases? or a bit of both?

M)
I like both the new releases and the old releases. The new releases should concentrate on finding old stuff which haven't been released by game companies, but also new stuff is welcome. Just most of the new stuff is public domain.

About doing the better versions, I think it’s nice to see what people do, but I think some of the groups just do a release to do it. If you go find the best quality version from back then and compare to some of the releases now, there is some who is worse trained than the old ones. Still it's fun for people to do, so why stop them? Another point to mention is that people should remember that the more time you put into a release the better you can make it. I can easily beat some of my own cracks if I wanted to, I just have to use more time on them.



V)
Is Motiv8 ever going to be active again on C64? Will Crossfire ever do anything again? and is Motiv8 dead?

M)
I can't say if Motiv8 will do anything again on C64, but I don't think the chances are big. I use time on the archive and there ain't really much time besides that. I don't think Crossfire will be active again as he's also busy with real life stuff. Motiv8 is not dead as it still exists on PC and we never decided to kill it on C64.


V)
Who would you respect as the best crackers you have seen on the C64? Please give a brief explanation on why you think the chosen people are the best...

M)
You guys know these lists are hard to make when you have been in the scene for such a long time, but here is the ones I can remember:

Mr. Zeropage/TLC - A very good cracker back in the 80s. He did a lot of PAL fixing USA games and he replaced loaders, put the files on disk and did a lot of quality work. Take his work on games like Alternate Reality, Portal, Aliens, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mach, Skate or Die, The Games and I could mention more.

Mr.Z & Janitor/Triad - I put them together here to make the list a little shorter. Both of them were good crackers and they did a fantastic job. Let's start with Janitor who was in Relax before he joined Triad. He did games like Taipan, Last Ninja 1 (which was damn hard to crack back then) and Roadrunner for Relax, but in Triad he did a lot of games like Mr.Z did. Try to look at his version of Skyfox (which was a US import where he removed the password checker), Outrun (which were short as hell and actually did what re-release groups do nowadays), which he did for Triad. The other cracker who did a great job for Triad was Mr.Z. He did games like World Games, Championship Wrestling, Dragon's Lair 2 and Last Ninja. I could mention more cracks from both guys, but the list would be very long.


Strider, Gollum & Bacchus/Fairlight - Both guys did great cracks for Fairlight. Everyone have seen games like Three Musketeers, Taipan, Last Ninja 3, Last Ninja 2,Terminator 2 and a lot more. I still think Last Ninja 3 was the shortest version done by Gollum & Bacchus.

I have to mention Bacchus also as he is known for doing short cracks and it not only depends on their short intro. His nice work on James Pond: Robocod is worth to remember.

Doc/Legend - One of the best crackers also. He did a lot of great cartridge cracks and he was also good with disk protections and tape protections. Have a look at Another World and you know what I mean about disk protection. Try to look at a game like Toki, which was a nice cartridge game.

Sauron/Illusion - The other Illusion could definitely deserve to be mentioned too, but Sauron's work was special. He was an expert in tape loaders and could get them cracked very fast. Take for example Flimbo's Quest which used a new loader system. In a very fast speed he got the game cracked and trained without bugs. You can also find a lot of other great Illusion cracks done by him, but also by the other Illusion crackers.

Omegaman/TCS - This guy I would mention as one of UK's best crackers ever. The TCS cracks were great work and he was also one of  the few would could do Last Ninja. He were doing all the stuff in a great way before a lot of other guys could do it. He also did neat trainers and nice editors into the game.

Weetibix/SCG - This guy could also do some great cracks. Take his nice work he did on Hawkeye, where he actually fixed the game so it could run on a Commodore 128. Also to mention his nice crack of Vindicator and his PAL fix of Summer Edition.

Hok & Crisp/ACTION - They did a lot of good cracks for Action, but Crisp were also the guy behind betaskip copy protection which were used on some Commodore 64 games. Take a look at some of their games like Rainbow Islands, New Zealand Story, Labyrinth, Never Ending Story 2 and more could be named.

Weasel/CRAZY - Weasel has been in other groups, but I would still say Crazy is his group. Weasel did a lot of cracks for Crazy (+Lotus), also the hard protected ones. Besides that he had a function as importer+PAL fixer and he also did a lot of nice work there.

Antitrack/COSMOS&711&LEGEND - One of the best crackers if you ask me. He won the paperback write competition which MWS/RADWAR did, but also did some nice cracks. Check B-Bobs, Shadow Of The Beast, Operation Thunderbolt and there’s more to look at.

Powerplant/LEGEND - This guy were also a good cracker, but he also had to rush some titles to make sure they were first. He did some nice cartridge cracks for Legend, but also other good games were done by him.

Snacky/GENESIS PROJECT - The inventor of the Jewel and also the inventor of IFFL. Snacky did a lot of hard protected games and filled it with a lot of trainers. He cracked games like Rubicon and Logo, which were damn hard to crack. Also his list of quality cracks is long.

Hendy/ZENITH  & DCS - This is one of the guys who never got the success he deserved. He did a lot of nice quality cracks for both Zenith and DCS and he did some really nice versions of the games. Did you ever see his Tusker crack? New Zealand Story and many others to mention.

C&C/HOTLINE (ED - Alf and Gaap/BML) - those 2 guys were the guys who actually made a respectable comeback with Hotline after Sledge and Silver Surfer got other things to do. Those 2 guys first did their loaders, level-packers, and intros and put them on their cracks. Some of them were cartridge games and hard protected.

Rockstar/CONTEX&EXTASY&VICTIMS - The Finnish cracker has always been known as a good cracker. Sadly he forgot that and rushed a few titles out, but still he also took care of the hard protected games.

God & Syndicate/DYNAMIX&VICTIMS - Also 2 great guys in cracking we already knew Syndicate work in the Beastie Boys, but both of them were doing nice cracks in Dynamix and Victims. They had no problems with the hard protected games too.

Unknow/TRASCOM - This guy is a legend too. Did most of the cracks for Transcom and you can also find Transcom cracks which he were known to have nasty protections. Besides the tape-loaders he were also a genius on disk protections.

Megasnail/NATO - Also one of the great crackers from UK, but also known for his way to discuss with people. Nato were one of the groups in UK which were known for doing working cracks and also the hard protected cracks worked.

I could surely mention some more, but you know about remembering old scene people. Its hard.


V)
Have you ever called the boards back in the day? and what do you think of the general 1st release scene? the people in it and the discussions on the boards about points for games?

M)
I only used to go to BBSes when I were visiting Crossfire. The BBS scene never said anything to me, but I wish I had used some time on importing and PAL fixing some more US games as a lot of them could also use a crack. Most of the US games were crappy cracked and they could surely need work. This is an idea for the re-release groups. The points never said anything to me. I did my version as I like to do it and then people could care about the points. I know Reactor which I did for Motiv8 got points, but that was because my version actually worked and was NTSC fixed.


V)
Do you think NTSC fixing is still important in today's market? Is it important for us to still be fixing games for the Americans or should we just make whatever is available, available as soon as possible to other sceners using PAL c64s?

M)
I don't care about first releases at all, but the rules is that a first release is a first release when its fixed, so its still needed. It was like we wanted all the US games to get fixed when they came out. We just can't remove it because we don't gain anything out of it.



V)
What is the hardest game you have worked on? And what crack by any other past or present cracker have you seen that has been most impressive?

M)
Hmmm there were some but not many. Rodland was nasty as hell. A lot of stuff needed to be reset to crack the tape version. Otherwise I would say some of the nasty US protections. There is a lot of work I like and I mentioned some of it earlier. So the readers can read it there.


V)
What do you think is the biggest difference between an American scener and a European scener?

M)
An American scener cares about boards and first releases and doesn't care about quality versions. A European scener cares more about getting a good version of the game that works and got a lot of trainers. Also they are known for having a lot of mail contacts.


V)
Have you ever been to some scene parties? if so, which ones and was there ever any highlight you can remember at a party or at a Venlo meeting even?

M)
I haven't really been to many copy parties. I never had the time to do it as I was working during the holidays and weekends. But I have been on a Venlo meeting back then. Mostly as the unknown guy as I wasn't main cracker as explained earlier.


V)
Which C64 disk magazines have you read over the years? What have been your favourite mags and what do you expect a magazine to deliver?

M)
Never read so many disk magazines. Mostly read Sex'n'Crime as it was one of the first. I did my own magazine with Exory called Popcorn. Later on I started to read Gamers Guide as I started on my project. Remember I haven't been very active in the scene officially. People mostly knew about me, because other members in the group spread my work. I had like 10-20 contacts which were close scene friends.



V)
Obviously you would of made quite some scene friends over the years, is there anyone you would like to greet or anyone you may have lost contact with over the years that you might be looking for?

M)
I could mention a lot of people here and I could forget a lot of people here. Better say hi to all the sceners and if you got your old disks contact me on c64heaven@nospam.gmail.com, so we can find out how to transfer them.


V)
You always seem to be chasing every collection possible for C64 related wares even a 100 different versions of the same game crack, is there a reason behind it, like you might put all available versions online some day or is it just for personal requirements?

M)
The collection will be online on my site - http://www.c64heaven.com where you can download my list of what I have sorted into the collection. On the site I also replace the games so people there can see the different versions. From the logos I can see people choose their version and it's not the same. Right now I'm sorting d64 images transferred files all the time I can and I work on doing the database for the site, so more information can be stored when people view it.

I hope everyone can help on this project. I'm trying to find cracks from every group, but right now there is some special ones I work on. It's cracks from Triad, Action, Genesis Project, Manowar (also imports), Sphinx (also imports), 711, Illusion and the list could continue. There is nothing that doesn't get added here. The files have to work - it means no disk errors and you can actually run the program.


V)
What do you say to sceners that have not yet converted their collections to the PC, do you urge them to do it sooner rather than later?

M)
I usually tell people how important it is to save our history and that people should do it soon as the magnetism doesn't last forever on the disks. Some people use the excuse that there is already one version of the game online and others is not needed. Sad they
say that as they are just letting the history fade away. I also talked to people who doesn't have their disks any longer and they miss their old cracks and the scene was a big part of their life. It's sad to see people who doesn't care about it when they used so many hours. This was not just a hobby. This was a lifestyle.


V)
If you could change one thing in the history of the Commodore 64, what would it be?

M)
I wish we had cared about collecting all the cracks when they were done and I wish Commodore had finished their Commodore 65 and put it into the market. If they did that it would have been a sure goodbye to the Amiga, but I think Commodore would have been alive today in the computer business doing strong consoles.


V)
Thanks for the interview, its been an honour to take up some of your time, is there any parting words you would like to leave our readers with?

M)
Not much to say except get started to transfer disks. If you know friends who got disks. Either borrow them and transfer or make a deal with Slator or me about us transferring your disks or your friend’s disks. All this could lead to a better collection and a better way to show our history.

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