Interviews



Interview with Vizz

Published in Vandalism News #36
Performed by Jazzcat


Empire were one of the well known importing, cracking and NTSC fixing groups from North America. Here we have of the main members for you to be entertained by, Vizz did a lot of NTSC fixing, of both games and even demos.



J)
Welcome to the pages of Vandalism News. Please introduce yourself to the readers.

V)
Hi!

My name is Frank, also known as Vizz. I'm a 27 years old father trying to keep in touch with my fellows on the C64 and PC scene...  :)


J)
Could you tell us a bit about your C64 history, what groups have you been in and the main events of your career on the c64?

V)
I started on the C64 like most of the ppl, playing games and watching demos using my datasette...

The day I wanted to do more on this machine is when I saw a demo crash and realised that I could type on the screen while the music was still playing. Made me realise that there's a lot more to it than just "basic" programs.  :)

The first group I joined was TSC (The Spell Casters). Back then, I didn't know much about machine language but still tried to do intros and stuff (I used to work with The Zapper! already).

Then, I met my good buddy Booze, when he was running "Prosoft" (which I joined). That’s when I got coding tips and made much better intros already. Booze was already into fixing demos and games.

When I first heard of Empire and the huge task of fixing games, that's when I realised I really wanted to do this. So I became a member of Empire, fixing games/demos and coding intros (to keep my creativity up).

After a few years with Empire, I then tried other things in joining other groups such as Myriad and Second Dimension. I was mostly into fixing demos but never got the time for it unfortunately.

I don't really have any highlights to talk about. It is mostly the usual: conference calls with tons of people, meeting a few of the guys and being able to fix games/demos that other's couldn't fix. :) (It happened with Methodos).


J)
What were the days of Empire like? get into any arguments or wars with others due to the heavy competition back in the good old days? (I remember you guys had some problems with Demonix for example)

V)
Well, days with Empire were like this: getting calls at 5AM in the morning because of the time zone difference. People didn't think I would be sleeping at this time...  :P Yes, we had lots of fights with other fixing groups. Demonix were among those we hated pretty much.  :) But that was back then.

The funniest thing about those fights was when another fixing group would release something lame, we would refix them under the label "Burp"... :) Now that was the good times... hehehehe

I had verbal fights with a few of those fixers back then especially because I thought I had it all (what else?). I was wrong but it was still fun.  :)



J)
Which did you find the most difficult to do, coding the intros or NTSC fixing or warez running?

V)
Well, fixing demos was the hardest thing as we mostly didn't know what the demos looked like often. Games, well... they were just not well coded. Demos, there was simply too much things on the screen to fit on the NTSC machine. Intros were just plain fun for me.  :) Finding creative ways to express myself.  I think I have been able to do neat things but I have also done one of the worst things too: trying to make a demo (and releasing a demo preview!)


J)
I remember that, "Demo Preview/Empire" :) What boards did you call and did you know many H/P dudes?

V)
I didn't call that many boards then. And I sincerely don't remember the names (probably written somewhere in agenda's I still have. Phone numbers I have kept for years now!) BTW... BBS I was usually on: Divine Ultimatum owned by Chameleon (Empire HQ at one time).. :) That "Shade" coder was StreetKiller :)


J)
Did you prefer UCBBS, C*Base, Ivory BBS or what type of BBS mod?

V)
C*Base was fun. But the BBS I liked more (and that was not spread much) was The Zapper's BBS. It used to have everything.


J)
Please name your all-time favourites:

V)
My favourite demo group was Censor. Especially the Wonderland series :)
Favourite demo: Wonderland IX (I haven't seen the X unfortunately). I tried to fix it and was almost done but lost my disks (bad disks god damn it!) so I just didn't restart.
Programmer: I don't really have one.  :)  Most demo programmers were better than I was so... ;)
Musician: Reverb and Sequencer used to be my favourites for sure. Danko and Reyn Ouwehand are also a strong pick.  :)  (Let's not forget Jeroen Tel)
Graphician: Decoy Design was a very good friend of mine and I just always loved his stuff.
Game: Crazy Cars III was very decent. And Empire fixed it too.  ;)
Cracker: Woah, now, that's a very good question. And I don't have an answer for it unfortunately.
Cracker group: I never paid attention to which group we were receiving cracks from. Illusion was very good at it for all I recall.
Fixer: Well, Booze was the guy.:)
Fixing group: I thought then that Empire was the best. What a question.  ;)
BBS: no comment.



J)
Still in contact with Booze, Tristan, Rich or any of the others?

V)
Well, last I heard of Tristan, he was doing time in some prison. ;) Booze, I'm still trying to recontact him but he's a difficult person to reach. As for Rich and Extremist, well, lost track of them. There are a few ex-members that I still have contact with: The Zapper!, Black Cat (he wasn't there for long though).


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

V)
Methodos was probably the toughest I worked on. Impressive cracks? Hmm, not that I was into it but there were a lot of difficult games to crack that Empire had to fix then. Just look at all the releases we had. ;)


J)
Who do you think is the biggest lamer in the C64 scene?

V)
Hehehehehe, the guy who has done a game using my very own music and that has not greeted me for it! :P


J)
What's your opinion on the terms of lame and elite back in the 80s and early 90s?

V)
Lame was basically anything that wasn't even worth mentioning. Games/demos/people not worth to live! :) Elite, mostly those that were among the people I talked to or simply just love watching their releases.



J)
The differences between a NTSC and PAL scener, what are they for you?

V)
The differences were mostly that on PAL were most of the better demos and games and that it was an active scene. NTSC was more of fixing wannabe demos (though Shade was a good demo group and the coder was very decent). As I see it today even, the PAL scene is still active compared to NTSC (or so I think).


J)
Ever had any problems with the phone companies? like the bastards in AT&T security, local cops etc?

V)
Oh ho... yes I did. One pretty bill I got for 1 (I MEAN ONE!!) phone call that lasted 6 hours. That was enough for me to stop hacking the phone company.. ;)


J)
What is your reaction when I tell you that the scene is still alive in some aspects?

V)
I find it rather surprising to see it alive and "well". Though I realise that it's just a lovely machine that my heart would never let go of. :)



J)
Do you still own a C64 and your disks stashed away some where?

V)
Of course. Anyone who loves being nostalgic MUST keep his stuff. I lost a lot through time but still have some left. Even bought a 1571 2 years ago even though I knew I wasn't going to play a lot with my C64.


J)
Ever thought about doing some things on C64 again just for fun?

V)
Well yeah. As a matter of fact I will be doing an intro soon. It will give me a kick. I still have my old tools that made it good to work on the commie.



J)
Cool stuff! Well, here is your chance to send some greets...

V)
Well, I'd like to salute the scene as it seems to still have things to do and won't die! :) Special greetings to dear friends: Motley, Sequencer, Jeroen Tel, Decoy Design, Booze, Rich, The Zapper!, Intruder, Black Cat (Impress now!) and all I may have forgotten. It's nice to have a rich past on this powerful little machine. ;)

Thanks to new friends I met on #c-64 lately (remember, we're in 2001!!! I haven't been on the C64 scene for more than 7 years!)

Thanks to you for this interview. :)


J)
Do you have any last comments?

V)
For those I may have offended back then: "Hey, we were all young and stupid... I know I was!" :) And if there's something you can keep from the C64 scene, KEEP IT! It's always nice to have a look at stuff we once did. ;)


Signed,

Vizz/Empire.

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