Interview with hedning
Published in Vandalism News #59
Performed by Jonatan "Macx" FG
There is a new menace in scenetown. With over 80 credits since his appearance two years ago and as an attendee on all recent events in Northern Europe, this fellow whom calls himself hedning is someone having it coming being scrutinised in the pages of this magazine. Hedning means heathen in Swedish and he is a nice chap that came over for some coffee and whisky early in the month, and in the weeks of May 2012 that followed, the interview was conducted in what data geezers like us refer to as cyberspace.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF. WHERE DO YOU LIVE, WITH WHOM, WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
Hi! hedning of Genesis Project. Born in southern Sweden (Skaane) in 1978, where I still live. I have a fiancÚ and a daughter. I teach history of literature and history. I also write reviews and have had one book published.
INTERESTING! WHAT WAS THE BOOK ABOUT?
It's a book about and of a fin-de-siecle Swedish poet. When writing my master degree thesis I found an unknown manuscript by this guy, and decided to publish it. I succeeded after two years of handwriting analysis and detective work. I added a huge amount of comments and wrote a gigantic foreword, so it's serious shit.
ARE YOU A HEATHEN?
Well, I am not a religious person, but I am very fascinated by the cultural and historical aspect of antique religions. And I have been very critical to the Christian way of trying to crush every religion/culture they find throughout history.
YOU HAVE QUITE RECENTLY MADE A COMEBACK INTO THE SCENE, BUT WHEN DID YOU FIRST COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE SCENE, AND HOW?
I got my first C64 in 1986. I was just 8 years old, and I remember that I collected those fascinating intros and some demos at least before 1988. The first demo memories that stuck was Bring me Edelgas by Masters' Design Group (1989) and Acid by CFA+SHAPE (1989), though. Crack intros by Mr.Z and Fairlight stuck in memory earlier. I had no direct contact with the scene back then. I was a kid, and I enjoyed the fruits of the scene. As many kids my age did, I traded tapes at the school yard, but that's it. Me and a friend joined up in a swapping group that we called PAD, and I used the handle Mr.Marvel. We just did some swapping, and actually painted demos on paper at school. None of us could code or anything, so that activity was quite cute. My first real scene experience was after I moved to a village 30 KM from where I was born. I bought an Atari ST, and organized copy parties, made graphics and joined up with other geeks in quasilame totally unknown groups (The Crazy Cowboys, The Mosquitos). I called BBS's and swapped a lot on that machine. We made a demo or two, and almost finished a game (Elite style game). I must have been about 12-14 then. I remember I enjoyed the war with the Amiga kids, and I made some modules too, mocking a local Amiga owner (Bornie). Then it was PC. I went to Hackerence in Harnosand, Sweden in 1995. I kept my C64, though, and I remember I built an X1541-cable and downloaded some C64-demos from that time. I was quite shocked that the C64 scene was still alive in 95. I remember I downloaded Skaaneland by Fairlight. Then I decided never to sell or throw away my C64. It has been with me since 86.
IS THE OLD TRUSTY STILL IN YOUR FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE?
Of course it is. Commodore for life.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS OF DOING ATARI STUFF AGAIN AND/OR SPUR THOSE ATARI FOLK INTO ACTION?
Genesis Project is a multi platform group, and I know some members already have some graphics and stuff made for Atari. We'll see what happens. My main focus is the C64, though. I do try to encourage retired Atari sceners to come back. I had some success with a friend of mine, Red Fox of SYNC. He actually began to fix old releases. I hope he will get hooked again.
WHAT DID YOU DO BACK THEN?
I didn't do much on the C64 before 2008. Some graphics, and organised local copy parties. I can't say I did anything but enjoyed the fruits of the scene. On the Atari ST I did more, and I collected demos and had contacts all over Sweden, but when I was about 17-18 my focus changed into literature, history and philosophy.
WHAT OTHER FIELDS OF INTEREST DO YOU HAVE?
Well. It's literature, especially fin-de-siecle poetry, and history. Also philosophy, archaeology and art. I collect books as well, beside my pretty recent interest in collecting Commodore hw and sw.
HOW COME YOU DECIDED TO RETURN?
As I told you I kept my C64, and from time to time I got it up and running by nostalgic reasons. In 2009 I got my daughter and moved back to the south of Sweden. By some reason I downloaded a lot of new C64 productions, but it was M&M's Disappear that struck me. It was arty, fresh and awesome. With a cover of Boards of Canada! I started hanging around in C64 forums, and bought more and more hardware. First everything retro, but after a short while mostly Commodore. Then I decided, as an isolated Dad in a new town, to actually visit a party. So I went to Datastorm 2010. By myself. I announced that there were 3 seats available in my car, and I found myself in my car with Oxidy/Fairlight and Itch/Triad. The trip to Datastorm 2010 was very interesting. Oxidy told me of the scene legacy, and I decided to give graphics a try again. I also experienced the fantastic people of the scene, and it felt like coming home. Sixx asked me to join G*P as a graphician, and I was of course very proud to be part of the comeback of G*P - one of the legendary groups.
DID YOU KNOW OF THE SCENE MEANWHILE, AND KEEP TRACK OF THINGS?
No. Not before 2008. Sometimes I downloaded a demo or so, but I mostly listened to SID's and Nectarine Demo Scene Radio. I have been in love with the SID since 1986.
WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE SCENE WHEN YOU CAME BACK?
I was shocked. I thought that the Atari ST or the Amiga scene would be half dead and the C64 scene totally dead. I was right about Atari/Amiga. The C64 scene is a true survivor! It made me very happy. I was also very impressed by the newer demos. I remember I screamed and jumped around in the flat when I successfully transferred Edge of Disgrace to my C64 and watched it. I also forced my fiancÚ to watch it.
WHAT DID SHE SAY ABOUT IT AND DOES SHE APPROVE OF YOUR MANIA?
She looked like she saw an insect. My hardware collection goes under the codename "old trash", but at the same time she sees how happy I am when I am buried in it, so she accept that it exists.
YOU ARE THE CURRENT MASTER OF ORIGINAL SUPPLY? HOW DO YOU DO AND WHAT IS YOUR DRIVE?
Well. There are roughly three types of interesting releases: Old forgotten games, old forgotten magazine games and newly produced games (commercial or not). As a collector of mostly HW, I sometimes get bags of old games. I sell them and reinvest in old forgotten games that I find on eBay and other places, mostly on the internet. It is important that my hobby cost me nothing. I also have some other sources (people) for older games. The magazine games are mostly crap, but if you spend hours and hours playing through them, you sometime find a nice game that is worthy a release. I don't really care about who published the game from the beginning - is the game good enough we will make a nice package out of it. If it's an old forgotten/unknown game (not a magazine game) we may also release it for preservation purposes, even if the game is not very exciting. The most exciting cracks are of course the newly produced ones. There you have to stay up all night, grab, crack and spread fast as hell like in the 80ies. My drive is my respect and love for the G*P legacy and the sceners still active. I hope I am a part of revitalising the C64 scene.
WHAT ORIGINALS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF HAVING DUG UP?
When it comes to older games it's probably Lincoln. I had a hard time translating the docs from German, and the original was hard to find as well. Also Xyphus was a hard one to get, and of course my first supply: Kami-Kaze. I will never get rid of that tape! When it comes to magazine games, it's just one: Night Raid, an Ahoy! game that was lost in space and never published. Newer games that were fun to have a first release on are Space Lords, Panic Analogue and Chang's Adventure.
CAN THIS ACTIVITY SEEN AS PART OF YOUR OTHER INTERESTS IN LIFE?
I like the preserving and archaeology aspect of it, yes. And of course to nurture the C64 scene. That can be connected to my view of preserving and respecting the past to be able to move forward. Tradition is regeneration.
HAS THIS NEWLY SPURRED ACTIVITY IN THE RELEASE/WARES-SCENE CAUSED ANY DEBATE?
Of course. Onslaught was the main actor for a (too?) long time before G*P came back. It was obvious in 2011 that our comeback spurred the release activity, and also the tension between groups. Also other groups came back, and I hope we in that way help the scene forward. There has been some discussions about release standards, and it's no secret that G*P want our WHQ The Hidden to be counted as a first release BBS, and revive the BBS activity at the expense of ftp's or web based databases.
CAN YOU BE SPECIFIC WHEN IT COMES TO THE TENSIONS YOU ARE MENTIONING?
Well. There has been some moaning about our Loadstar, Compute! and Ahoy! releases. I never understand the problem releasing those, and it was never a problem back in the day either. Of course we don't release whatever we find - the games have to be nice enough. I don't care about the source of the game, as long it's a good one.
WHAT HAS BEEN SAID OF RELEASE STANDARDS AND WHAT IS THE G*P VIEW ON THINGS?
When I talked to Zyron about the release standards we concluded that it is confusing to use + for two different things. A "+" means a trainer, right? This is one of the oldest standards. Writing "+1" is just redundant. So if you have an untrained crack with, let's say docs, people tend to write "+D" (meaning "and docs" or "with docs"), which is confusing because there is no trainer, even if the release states "+". Therefore we wanted another letter to be short for "and" - and guess what! There is one already! &! It is not a new idea either. It has been used to separate trainers from other add-ons and includes before. Most commonly "&HI" when only a hiscore-saver was added, by f.e. Remember. We have tried it for a while now, in for example Battlefront &D. We wanted a discussion about it, and we'll see how it all ends.
IS ANYONE DISAGREEING?
There is not much of a discussion, sadly enough. It seems like discussions these days need to go through a self declared moderator, or firewall, to be a little harsh, which is annoying and stupid. All active groups need to be able to talk to each other freely without going through a censor/editor. Nuff said about that.
YOU ARE ALSO A GRAPHICIAN. WHEN DID YOU START OUT PIXELLING AND WHAT/WHO ARE YOUR SOURCES OF INSPIRATION?
I must confess that I still just experimenting. I am very impressed and inspired by the masters: Mermaid, Joe, Archmage, Veto and so on. All of them with their different technique and approach. I started on the Atari ST a little, making logos and so on, but I must say I just do graphics these days if I feel like it. There is no need to use my pictures in G*P when we have our excellent Mermaid, Redcrab, Uka and illm.
WHAT PIECES ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I enjoyed making "Ruined" and "Conservafish". And the font that was used in the So Retro demo and G*P Plasma intro.
A WHILE BACK AT THE CSDb FORUM, THERE WAS A DEBATE ON PIXELLING VS CONVERTING, WHERE YOU SIDED WITH MERMAID. CAN YOU TELL US OF THAT EPISODE?
Do you mean the discussion about Veto's Double screen compo? Yeah. As I was saying there: I believe that compos through history were organized to promote originality and technical skill (the scene is obsessed by elite thinking, and competition, as we all know - that's a main part of the fun), and should also keep on doing that. Therefore it made me disappointed to see converts and wiring in a compo. Or with the words of Mermaid: "if people want to copy instead of making something of their own, fine, but entering the copies in a competition, not so fine".
THE DISCUSSION BECAME FIERCE ANYHOW, AND THIS WAS EARLY IN YOUR SCENE-CAREER. ARE YOU A PUGNACIOUS PERSON?
No, I don't think so. But when debating something I believe in, I do not yield.
TELL US OF THE GUBBDATA MANIFESTO.
There are two manifestos, both dealing with the Swedish word "Gubbdata" (Old Geezer Data). One, The Gubbdata Manifesto, written by me together with you (Macx) and published in Vandalism News, and The Gubbdata Release Manifesto which is a pure G*P release innovation. The first one is the fruit of one year of intense discussions with the goal to pinpoint the role of grey-haired C64 sceners of today in form of shorter more or less humouristic aphorisms. Of course we were after the truth and inner (sometimes denied) conservatism that live in preserving the wonderful C64 scene that we love and honour. The Gubbdata Release Manifesto is a principle where G*P release a slow paced game suitable for many hours, sometimes days, to complete - preferably war strategy games. The games have to be somewhat dusty and rusty, but still enjoyable if played when drinking cognac and smoking fine pipe tobacco. G*P also remain strict when it comes to quality - all documentation are added to a Gubbdata Release, scanned and on disk. The game can be a first release, but if it is not, it will be the first complete proper release of the game.
THE GUBBDATA MANIFESTO WAS PUBLISHED IN VN#56 AND IS WELL KNOWN TO THE AUDIENCE. WHERE CAN THE GUBBDATA RELEASE MANIFESTO BE READ AND WHAT DOES IT SAY MORE SPECIFICALLY?
The release manifesto is added to every Gubbdata release, on disk. In short, it states: A Gubbdata Release is a G*P concept brought to all grumpy old geezers out there who rather spend days in front of the C64, slowly planning the next move, than running around like a frikkin' hamster on drugs in brain dead modern games of today.
TELL US OF THE CONTEMPORARY GENESIS PROJECT. IS IT A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL OR A NEW GROUP?
It's a rebuilt group, but rebuilt as a continuation of the original and blessed by Antichrist. Members like Sixx, HJE, Widdy and L.A.Style are of course links to the past, and some of them never quit G*P officially, even if the group was announced dead in 1995. Jucke, who never quit G*P, boldly held the banner of G*P until 2010, when G*P consisted of him, Sixx and MagerValp, organising Datastorm 2010. As in the 90ies it's mainly a Scandinavian group nowadays, at least on the C64.
WHO IS IN CHARGE IN G*P, HOW IS THE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS BUILT UP, AND WHY IS JUCKE LET OUT?
Sixx and I are organisers, but there is no hard whipping involved. We nurture this organic group. The communications work on many levels. We have a forum, e-mail newsletters, IRC and Sixx, who tend to call up people if needed. I don't understand what you mean with Jucke being "let out"? I know Jucke left the group to focus on Judas just before I joined. Jucke is a very important link to the past.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING, C64-WISE, IN FIVE YEARS AND WHAT WILL G*P BE RELEASING?
I will keep on what I do now, because it's really fun and interesting. I am much into preserving C64 originals, and I am spending a lot of time trying to find old scene releases. There is more than five years work only there for me. I have about 1500 disk to go through. I think I uploaded about 400 demos, cracks and so on to CSDb in 1.5 years. I also hope to get more time experimenting with C64 graphics. G*P will keep on releasing and serve the public with quality cracks and demos.
YOU WOULD NOT BE KEEN ON MAKING ANY PREDICTIONS ON THE FUTURE OF C64-PARTIES?
Hard one. But I bet most of us have better economy than we had back in the days, but maybe less free time, which makes bigger parties like X and Datastorm perfect for a lot of us. X is really awesome, because people have time to plan their big ass productions for two years. I think there will be fewer, but bigger, big parties, and more local smaller meetings, like I try to do with the Gubbdata party. But we'll see.
PARTIES/MEETINGS ARE IMPORTANT THOUGH?
Parties are the social glue of the scene. We need them, and we need the compos.
WHAT GAMES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FOLLOWED UP OR CONVERTED, AND WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE GAMES ON THIS OLD MACHINE?
I would like to see Pinball Dreams and Civilization finished and some Lucasart games converted. If they could do Zak McKracken someone could try to port Monkey Island f.e. Especially now with modern solutions like the EasyFlash are widely available. My favourite games are Pirates!, Defender of the Crown, Maniac Mansion and Boulderdash. I also enjoy newer games, especially Knight'n Grail, Fairy Well, Panic Analogue and the superb conversion of Prince of Persia. TRSI makes great stuff too.
PLEASE LIST YOUR TOP FIVE DEMOS OF ALL TIME AND EXPOUND?
Edge of Disgrace by Booze Design was really mindblowing when I saw it for the first time. It still is. I know very little about tech-tech and coding, but I was very, very impressed by the design, music and effects. I still have the SIDs on a CD in my car. Second must be 2011 - A Press Space Odyssey. Offence is on fire these days, and the narrative and design there worked very well. And they like scrollers, which is a very, very good thing. Deus Ex Machina by Crest/Oxyron is also freakingly good, and one of my favourites when I crawled back to the C64. We are New by Fairlight also kicks ass. I still have the feeling I had on X2010 when I watch it. And 1991 by Booze Design. Wow. It's really hard to make a list. There are so many great demos and demo makers out there, but these ones pops up in my head right now.
WILL THE SCENE ACTIVITIES RISE WHEN THE KIDS GET OLDER AND MORE SO, WHEN WE RETIRE?
I really hope so! I have phantasies about a retirement home for sceners. Copy party every weekend and data every day - if we get lucky we will be senile enough to experience every demo effect for the first time every weekend. ;)
ANY FINAL WORDS?
Keep scening. C64 was the first scene platform, and will be the last. And watch out for our new homepage. And one more thing: Make sure to call the G*P WHQ on the-hidden.hopto.org.