A (Not So) Brief History by Antichrist, founder of G*P
In the early 1980s, the company Commodore released an 8-Bit computer, called Commodore 64 or C64. It was the first widely used home-computer, and marked the dawn of the computer-as-gaming-console era. Literally thousands of games were released for the Commodore 64. The games were pretty expensive and usually had a copy-protection. Naturally kids began to crack those protections and copied the games for their friends. Those crackers were regarded as the Robin Hoods of the computer world. They stole from the rich software companies and gave to the poor kids who couldn't afford to buy the latest games. Eventually these crackers joined forces and formed cracking groups. A new sub-culture developed: The cracking scene.
Cracking groups installed small intros in front of their games to let everyone in the scene know that they were the ones who had removed the copy-protection. Each group tried to out-do the other, either by releasing the very first cracked version of a game, or by installing the most trainers (cheat options like invulnerabilty or unlimited lives) in a cracked game. While there were many different cracking groups, only a handful achieved international notoriety. One such group was Genesis*Project.
It's all so long ago, but if my memory doesn't fail me, I got a C64 in 1985. My very first handle was Tron. (I loved that movie! Haha!) I didn't really do much back then though. My pride and joy was a little tool I programmed in Basic, which renamed or scratched files and formatted floppy disks. Besides that I swapped cracked games with other kids at school. Those first cracks back then were released by some of the very oldest groups, like Dynamic Duo and 1001 Crew. After a couple of months I changed my name to The Nauseating Timelord (TNT) and founded Genesis*Project.
Where did I get the name from? Why, Star Trek of course! Genesis Project was the name of the device that created Earth-like conditions on previously uninhabitable planets. Back then every group not only had a fancy name, but a 3-letter abbreviaton that was placed at the end of the file name of each crack. So I added a star inbetween the G and the P, to make it 3 letters. (Pretty stupid, huh?!)
My first two recruitments were The Nasty Ounk and Catman Cracker. They were classmates of mine. Ounk was a great artist, while Catman knew a lot of guys who always got the latest games in our city. Soon everyone at our school was talking about "those cool G*P disks," which always contained the latest games and awesome graffiti-like artwork by Ounk on the disk-covers. After a while our disks were passed on to kids at other schools. And soon every C64 user in the city of Aachen, Germany had heard of Genesis*Project. A lot of kids wanted to join G*P, but I wanted to keep the group as small as possible. I only wanted people in the group who had a special skill or genuine talent. The first member who was not a student at our school was Scrap. Scrap was a programmer, cracker, and graphic designer. And above all, he was a great guy! We became best friends and he tought me how to program Machine Language. Eventually Ounk and Catman grew tired of computer games and pursued other interests. Freddy, a student at yet another school, joined us as a swapper. Scrap, Freddy, and I became the hard core of G*P.
By the end of 1986, G*P's fame had grown past Aachen's city limits and we got our first members from Cologne. Dr.J and another guy (whose name I have forgotten) joined us as crackers and programmers. They never really cracked anything though, and whatever they programmed looked pretty awful. They just had no feel for design. I decided to kick them out of G*P again. They got so upset, that they vowed to beat me up the next time we'd meet at a copy party. They were replaced by two programmers from Denmark, Alf and Spike. They had everything that Dr.J and his friend had lacked... Excellent programming skills and a great feel for colors and design. They created our first demos and a couple of very nice intros. Until then I had programmed all our intros myself. Each of my intros came with a very easy editor, which allowed anyone to modify and customize the intro. I spread those intro editors and they were the very first selfmade G*P programs that were widely circulated in the international scene. Until then, all we had ever spread were games cracked by other groups. Ironically one of the people who loved to use my intro editors was a guy named Thomas/Playboy, who later was one of the founding members of X-Ample, the famous C64 demo and game programming group.
A guy who lived only a couple of minutes away from me had started his own group, called Exact. He came to my house once or twice and we swapped a few games. He was a jerk and his group was really just a bunch of lamers and re-crackers... Except for one member: A kid from Bavaria, using the handle Snacky. When I saw one of his cracks for Exact (I think it was the Flintstones game), I immediately realized his potential. I asked him to join G*P. Finally we had a real cracker! Exact was very upset and started a feud with G*P, which lasted until Exact fell apart.
Snacky's cracks were amazing. His cracked files were much shorter than anyone else's, and they contained so many more trainers and cheat options for each game, that we invented a new term for them. We called his cracks "jewel versions". The term was later adopted by many other cracking groups. Snacky also invented a new method of packing multiple small files into one big file. We called this new technique IFFL, or Interactive Flexible File Linking. I had come up with that name because I didn't quite understand the procedure. Later, when Snacky explained it to me, I wished I had called it File Integration. But by that time it was already too late. Everyone knew Snacky's new technique as IFFL. First a lot of other cracking groups were jealous. They claimed IFFL was a bad idea. But a few months later, when they finally figured out how IFFL worked, they all started releasing IFFL versions. Snacky became known as the #1 * cracker of all time on the C64. A lot of other elite cracking groups were so jealous, that they started talking trash about Snacky. But when Fairlight, one of the groups that had been talking the most trash, programmed the game Rubicon, and Radwar (another old cracking group) aka Digital Marketing was in charge of creating the best copy-protection ever, who did they ask to program the protection? They asked Snacky! When suddenly their own money depended on finding the best cracker, the trash-talking was forgotten, and they came to Snacky.
I edited the FIRST magazine on disk, called Sex'N'Crime. The first shell was programmed by Scrap. Later issues were programmed by other members of G*P. Probably the most famous one was the one programmed by Volker. Sex'N'Crime came out once a month and was distributed at the monthly Venlo Copy Parties in Holland. Sex'N'Crime contained top ten lists for the best cracking groups, the best crackers, etc. And of course it contained all the latest news from the illegal scene. Many times I had bad news to report... Lamers recracking games by removing the intro of the group who had actually cracked a game, and replaced it with their own intro, and stuff like that. Which gained me a lot of enemies. But despite these animosities, Sex'N'Crime became so popular, that it spawned an avalanche of copycats. Suddenly there were dozens of scene mags... But none ever reached the popularity (and notoriety) of Sex'N'Crime.
In 1987, Snacky organized a copy party in Nuernberg. Alf and Spike had come all the way from Denmark and, together with Freddy, spent a week at my house. Then we all took a train down to Nuernberg. It was so much fun that even now, 12 years later, we still speak of it.
For a while G*P teamed up with a dutch group named Fire Eagle. Both groups used intros that featured both names in front of our cracks. Fire Eagle were the first to upload & spread G*P cracks on bulletin boards. These boards, usually called BBS, were located in the States and used by European groups to spread cracks, because it was much easier to hack into the American phone system, than into a European system. After a few months we broke our co- op with Fire Eagle, because the agreement had become pretty one-sided. G*P was doing all the work, while Fire Eagle was getting all the credit, since they were the ones uploading the wares to the boards. After the end of the co- op with G*P, Fire Eagle split up.
G*P was known for solid quality cracks, but more and more people placed emphasis on speed, rather than quality. Suddenly nothing seemed more important than to have a first release - to be the first group to crack a game. Whether the crack was trained, properly cracked or bugged didn't matter, as long as it was the first version on the boards. I ran across a new Swiss group, called Boonfire. Like Exact, Boonfire was kind of lame, except for two members: Goblin, a very fast cracker, and FGTH, a great coder, who was one of the first to program real-time vector-graphics on the C64. I sent Goblin a modem, and although English groups like Talent had a definite advantage in the world of first releases, since they lived in London, the city where most European games were released first, Goblin managed to crack many first releases for G*P. Which was especially impressive, considering that his native Switzerland was usually one of the last countries in Europe to see a new game released in stores.
By 1989 G*P had grown into an internationally famous elite cracking group. We had members in Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, and in the USA. Back then people were so much into the scene that members of elite groups were treated like big celebrities. At copy parties members of elite groups were surrounded by small crowds like movie stars. Almost everyone in the cracking scene was in it for the fun and the fame, not for any financial gain.
Goblin, Dawsy, Scrap, and I met at a big computer expo at London's Earl's Court. We spent three days together and had so much fun, that it's still one of the things I remember best about my scene days. Dawsy taught me how to always get the freshest hamburgers at McDonald's by customizing them in really annoying ways. Haha! Goblin was arrested by the British police for publicly smoking pot on the top stairs of the Trafalgar Square monument. I guess he was used to more liberal laws in Switzerland. Haha! He was released a short while later, and the next day, we were able to snatch a copy of the yet to be released game Midnight Express. We actually had to dismantle a display desk at the expo to get into the computer, which had been locked away, so none could take and copy the game that wasn't going to be released in stores for another few months.
Goblin decided to stay in London for a total of two weeks. During this time he beat every single English group to every single game that came out. And there were PLENTY of new games being released for the expo! Now that he was in the same location as the English crackers, and was not being handicapped by any geographical disadvantage, noone was able to keep up with him.
We started to rely more and more on spreading our wares through American boards. In 1991 The Mystic Cavern, a BBS run by The Sorceress, became our HQ. Previously the board had been the HQ for Contex. It was the HQ for both groups for a little while, until Contex was absorbed into G*P and The Sorceress, Rockstar, Drake, and Janec joined us. The Mystic Cavern was continuously voted among the top 3 boards in all those scene mags that were now being circulated. The Sorceress and I spent a lot of time on the phone with each other, and I visited her in the States a few times. By now the scene had begun to bore me. The C64 was slowly dying. Fewer and fewer games were being released because the software companies concentrated more on the Amiga, the Archimedes (Remember that one? What a dud! Haha!) , and the PC. And instead of cracking games, the groups now spent most of their time trash-talking and feuding with each other. In 1992 I left the C64 scene and moved to the States. The Sorceress and I got married in 1993.
Not to pat myself on the shoulder, but I had always been the backbone of G*P. Without me the group fell apart. L.A. Style and Newscopy tried to keep things together, and even took a few more people into the group, but the glory days of G*P on the C64 were over. There were hardly any new games to be cracked, most of our skilled members quit the scene, and the feeling of unity that had made us almost like a family for so many years was gone.
Meanwhile Snacky switched over to the PC. In 1991, at a small G*P C64 computer party in Cologne, Germany, Snacky met a few guys of a new PC group called Supremacy. After a lot of fun & boozing together, Snacky joined Supremacy, and Supremacy was renamed into Genesis*Project. The founding members of G*P on the PC were: Snacky (G*P/C64), Olga (Supremacy/PC), Widdy (Supremacy/PC), and M-Bob (Supremacy/PC & Legacy/C64). The first two people to join G*P/PC were Axiom (Beastie Boys/C64) and Weasel (Crazy/C64). Check out photos of all these superheroes on the members page. Or see G*P's first PC intro from 1991 [Download: 53kb] by our exceptional coder Olga, featuring the world's first raster timer/split on a PC (will not correctly work on newer machines). But as everyone grew older and real life tasks, like finding a job, began to demand more and more time, G*P on the PC developed from an active cracking group to a social club.
We have all gone our separate ways, but our past together makes us stay in touch. Some of us have become programmers. Raistlin for example was one of the programmers who developed Test Drive 4 and 5 for the Playstation. Alf became a web-site designer and online programmer for a Danish company. Jesper Olsen, one of our musicians from Denmark, is now working for a German software company, developing games for the Playstation. Punisher is a successful DJ in Belfast, and has published several CDs. Guess what the name of his first CD was?! Right... Genesis Project! Scrap now designs graphics for a major advertising company. Snacky has become one of Europe's foremost system technicians. He is constantly flying from one country to another, setting up and maintaining computer networks. If you work with computers in a large European corporation, you may have met Snacky, and don't even know it.
by The Sorceress
I can't remember exactly when I got my first 64 but I had a few of them. I ran a BBS called The Source on the old Ivory program. My name was The Sorceress. I was in a few groups such as Extasy, Censor Design, and Empire. It's hard to remember them all. I was also a HQ for Empire, which was a Canadian Importing/Fixing group (they fixed PAL games so they'd work on NTSC computers). Then I became involved in Genesis*Project. At this point new games were getting fewer and fewer, and when a good game did come out there was a big competition to be the first to release it. I remember Oliver and I on the phone with the Empire guys (Booze, ETN, Tristan, and a few others), rushing them to fix the games and to get them on the boards before the competition got it first. And because we had the best fixing group, we usually did beat the competition.
During this time I was running a C-base program and had renamed the BBS to The Mystic Cavern. I met alot of people while running the BBS. Some were nice and others were less desirable. It was like a soap opera at times and it's funny to think back now about the C64 and the BBSing days with the Internet here.
Well... getting a bit more personal, I did find out that you can get very close to a person when you spend so many hours talking on the phone. (Oliver aka Antichrist) And we never ran out of things to talk about. Because there is a six hour difference between the States and Germany, Oliver would be leaving for work when I was just going to sleep. One day (while I thought he was at work) there was a knock on my door. We had exchanged pictures during the time we knew each other. It was 12am U.S. time. I looked out the window and I thought the person looked like Oliver. I was in my pyjama's! Ack! I thought to myself, "it can't be him. He is in another country working." So I didn't answer the door. I was too nervous! Then about 5 minutes later the phone rang. I picked it up and heard his voice and I didn't hear that beep as you would with an overseas call. I thought I was gonna die!!! The first thing I said was "where are you??" and he said up the block. I RAN into the shower and got dressed. It's not easy talking to someone for over a year and a half on the phone, and then meeting him in person. It's easier meeting in person first and THEN becoming friends. I knew him very well but never yet seen him move or talk in person. To make a very long story short, we met, we felt fine just after a few minutes and he was the same Oliver that I knew and loved. And the first thing I looked at when I met him was his face when he talked. I wondered for so long what he looked like talking and moving. Photographs are good but hearing his voice and seeing it actually coming out of his mouth was a whole other story. To me it was amazing. We had such a great time. The leaving part was very sad but he came back quite a few times until we got married. This was part of my C64 experience! And at the present time, we have two PCs and spend a lot of our time doing our websites and playing our favorite game Rise of Rome. We still have that CPU blood flowing through our veins.
One day while surfing the net we stumbled across a c64 site. Understand that here in the States there is no longer a 64. We were very suprised and decided to look up some old people we knew. We did find a few and got in touch with them and exchanged letters, telling each other what we were doing these days. There were a few good crackers that came with me when we felt it was time to move onto a new group that were more productive. It was like a time warp. My last days on the 64 are almost 8 years ago. Now if you read this story and say to yourself "This can't happen to me." Let me tell you... I didn't think being on the Commodore 64 would change my life in the way that it did but it worked out very well. : ) We are happy. We went from swapping games to sharing our life together.
Well, that's all for now. It's been nice sharing a part of my life with you.