Written by Jazzcat
Firstly, what is classed as a "crack"?
There are several ways to define it and several interpretations that have led to heated discussions with no
conclusion. In order to have some peace of mind we just have to accept things loosely.
A crack is a modification to the original game, but it can also be seen as "cracking" the protection or as they said
in the old days "breaking" the protection (e.g. Gamename was Broken by XYZ). The term is quite loose, as the
majority of games do not need to have protection removed but need to be modified (trained) instead. A "crack" maybe
seen as something complex involving the removal of hardcore protection, trainer protection, trainer installation,
bug removal, PAL/NTSC fixing and finally "first releasing" (being first with a certain game before any other group),
or it may just be that the game is "released" with a few trainers and docs and required no protection removal at
all. Either way, a group or individual messing around with things is considered a crack, if you do not like it,
trying messing with three decades of C64 release tradition.
The naming convention on C64 (follow the rules or follow the exit sign)
The original international standard (file naming of cracks) was using only +, ++, +++ etc against the filename and
was agreed upon during the Danish Gold Copy Party 1987 back on the 26th of July 1987. Prior to this, there was no
agreed method and everyone was just doing their own thing. The standard was signed by council members of the
following groups: 1001 Crew, Danish Gold, Fairlight, Raw Deal Incorporated, Triad, Yeti-Factories, this meeting was
chaired and signed off by Ixion/Triad and MSL/Danish Gold.
The naming standard has seen changes, particularly in the late eighties where numbers were introduced against the +,
symbolising the trainer amount in a more refined way (e.g. +1, +5 etc). Whilst there is a general standard, even
today, some people still do their own thing. Some of the symbols that should be mentioned:
! = Picture
# = Instructions
% = Intro
& = Music
E = Editor included but also meaning English translation
Despite the convention and the rules that have dust settled upon their pixels, some guys still try to have their own
influence or say in the matter and because of this I have made this little list, showing the acceptable way to do
- = Game Preview
F = PAL/NTSC fixed (also as "fix" or by CSDb sceners as [PAL/NTSC])
D = Documentation or "docs" included
P = Game Passwords listed
H = Hi-score saver installed (also as HI, HIGH or HS) - only mentioned if the game itself does not have a saver
M = Mega trainer - initiated by a key stroke in-game (e.g. level skip)
G = Symbolises more than one key initiating in-game trainer
T = Translation of text or graphics into English (or from English to another language)
S = Solution
R = REU support
I = IDE64 fixed
100% = When no other cracked version works properly, a fix of another group or individuals crack or fixing an error in an own release
101% = If the first fix still has flaws this can continue (e.g. 102%, 103% until finally done right)
Gamename+1 (one trainer, e.g. infinite lives)
Gamename+1D (one trainer, documentation included)
Gamename+D (documentation only)
Gamename+5MD (five trainers, in-game key trainer e.g. level skip, documentation)
Gamename+5FMDTP (five trainers, PAL/NTSC fixed, in-game key trainer, documentation, translation and passwords included)
Written and revised by Jazzcat, Taper & The Vengeance
The List is a chart based on games released into the C64 scene, otherwise known as "first releases".
This chart has been in use since 1990 and it has been used to encourage competition and stimulate activity. The original rules were devised in magazines such as Shock, Mamba and Corruption. These were then modernised in the next wave of disk magazines like The Pulse, Domination, Propaganda and Relax as well as Vandalism News. The rules that follow are revised for the current scene-climate and are based on the rules revised by Psychobilly (then in RSI) and Jazzcat (then in Legend). With these rules we have tried very hard to make a perfect compromise between obtaining points and recognition of being first with a game and also delivering a satisfactory level of quality. The competition may not be like it was years ago but we feel that first releases still deserve the reward of points and still deserve the limelight of recognition.
Tradition is respected and preserved.
Separate first releasing and NTSC fixing
If someone first releases a PAL (or NTSC) only game, they get the first release points for doing just that, releasing it as first. If another group PAL/NTSC fixes the same game after the "first release", they will NOT take away the points of the first release, but instead still get fixing points, as that is all they have really done, NTSC fix, the real first release came earlier.
If the fix is bugging or is not identical on both PAL and NTSC formats the releasing group only get 1 point. If the fix is 100% on both C64 formats, they receive 3 points, regardless of the game quality. The single format (PAL or NTSC only) true 'first release' receives points fitting to the game type (2 - 5) as well as the game quality points (0.1 - 0.9).
Why does the PAL release get less than the NTSC/PAL release?
Because the FIXING group put in extra effort, which should be recognised. As a note: if the FIX is extremely bad, even to the point of causing fatal crashes, it will not be awarded any points.
To maintain a quality level in NTSC/PAL fixing we have kept the 100% rule. If a group AAA does a 95% fix and group BBB does a 100% fix, then BBB get the points and AAA does not get awarded anything. However AAA will always keep the points until a 100% fix is released.
This rule only applies to complete games, previews do not need to be NTSC fixed, however nothing is wrong with doing so either.
Fixing does not mean fixing the music either. Whilst it is great that the music is fixed for both NTSC and PAL formats, it is not considered necessary and nor has it ever been.
NTSC/PAL fixing and bug fixing time-frame
The old rules gave a group 6 months to release a 100% NTSC fix of a PAL only or non-100% working crack (e.g. bugged crack, trainer or something introduced by the cracker or a in-game bug not addressed in the original first release). In modern times, the C64 game has moved up a level in graphic formats and loader routines, which has made NTSC fixing more into RECODING and general bug fixing a lot more difficult, which of course results in more time needed. Now groups have a total of 12 months exactly from the first release or non-100% NTSC/PAL fix to do a 100% NTSC or bug fix and claim the points.
Training and Packing
UPDATE 01.01.2018: In the years leading up to 2003, there was some releases that were questionable with no trainers. We wanted to influence the cracking culture with an emphasis on increased quality so a rule was introduced that all games that require training, improving or packing would be the only ones counted. Then on the 1st of April 2016, the trainer rule was dropped. Time has shown that was a bad decision, with some groups making quick releases to get points. So, as of the 1st of January 2018, the rule has been re-added.
The below rule has now been updated to the following, maintaining the discretional right of The List author with majority consultation of others to discount a release.
- Trainer(s) are required for first releases from 01.01.2018 onwards, of course if the game requires them. We will also keep an eye out for the cheap +1 trainer followed up by the same group doing +3 or so (points over quality is not good! and if I notice any nonsense I will not award points!).
- Packing is still required (e.g. level packing of a multi file game if needed).
Definition and recommendation
- The definition of a first release is that a game is released which has never been available before to the public in a cracked format (e.g. trained, cracked by a cracking group). The actual age of the game is considered irrelevant, just as long as it has never been released.
We recommend all NTSC checking to be done on a proper NTSC C64 and NTSC monitor. Emulators are helpful, but real hardware and the success of testing on real hardware is all that matters. If the game does not work in an emulator, but does on real hardware, then generally the emulator application needs to be adjusted, not the code on the real machine.
The 24 hour rule
This applies when two or more groups who either 'first release' the same game simultaneously. Or two or more groups NTSC/PAL fix the same game and release it simultaneously.
The group uploading to the majority of official sites within 24 hours of the initial first release or NTSC/PAL import will receive the points. The groups that fail in this do not receive RE-RELEASE points, however, if the game is released 24 hours after the official first release or NTSC/PAL import, then it will receive RE-RELEASE points deducted.
When a group uploads a title into the site's incoming/games/new/www directory that had already been released before. The group have 5 points deducted from their total. If group AAA first release a game, and over 24 hours later group BBB release the same game, then BBB gets minus points, if group CCC release the same game again, then they get minus seven points. RE-RE-RELEASING has to be dealt with in a harsh way and WILL be.
A different, enhanced or official version of a game that was released before. Normally it is the official version made by the producer themselves. Sales Versions differ from the original in ways such as extra levels, intro sequence and other enhancements. This includes previews also. They will only receive one point for something special. However if the Sales Version is extremely different from the original release, it will receive full first release or NTSC/PAL import points.
Games that are released in any other language other than ENGLISH will not receive any points. This only applies to full games. If a game is translated it receives an extra point on the top of the first release or NTSC/PAL import points. If the game also has graphics which were redrawn from another language into the ENGLISH language, this will also get an extra point. Some games may contain some small amount of non-English text, this could be in an external file to the game. If the text is considered not necessary to play the game properly, then it does not need to be translated.
Releases that are not counted
No points or minus points are awarded for games made in publically available game creators such as SEUCK, SEUCK Redux, GAC, GAC+, D42 Adventure System, Racing Destruction Kit etc.
No points or minus points are awarded for games using the basic and compiled basic languages. If the game is over 50% made in machine language but contains some basic files or routines, it still gets points. Utilities are not awarded any points or deducted any points.
If the game original uses a track/sector loader, it is the cracker group's responsibility to replace the loader. Having a T/S was not acceptable in the old times and nor is it today! This includes using a track/sector loader in place of a file-copyable structure (IFFL is an exception). Failure to change the loader results in your release not being awarded points. This rule was introduced in 2003 and only impacts releases made by groups after that year.
If your crack is not supported on stock C64/C128 (e.g. requires SCPU, Flash8, EasyFlash, REU only etc) then it will be awarded no points.
When two or more groups are in a permanent cooperation. Their releases/points will be listed in one section only. If two or more groups are not in a permanent cooperation. Their releases/points will be listed in the group section of each participating group. Unlike other magazines, we do not divide points for cooperation cracks and award full points to all groups participating.
- PREVIEWS If a group releases a preview, no NTSC/PAL fixing, level packing or training is considered necessary. If a second preview of the same game is released by the same group who released the earlier preview, it will only be awarded points if there are noticeable changes in the preview.
A maximum of a Version 3 preview is counted, beyond this no points are awarded. This is to stop groups who have almost the full game or are in fact making the game themselves, creating more advanced previews just to obtain points.
- PD/SHAREWARE/FREEWARE A game that is available from the author or distributor free of charge, or publically available on the internet or via mail order.
- BUDGET A game that is distributed on the COVER DISK of a magazine or offered in a game pack with several other games at a low price. For example, Commodore Free, Commodore Scene etc. It is also common for budget games to be offered at much lower prices than the FULL PRICE category, generally this is a reflection on the game quality, but this is also not always the case.
- FULL PRICE Games that are offered for $12 US or more (i.e. Knight'n'Grail Premium Edition), or have professional boxed packaging with manuals. This is a much rarer category to come across these days but it is still evident.
The point system
- Previews: 0.0 to 0.9 points on a scale of game quality
- PD/Shareware/Freeware: 2 points
- Budget: 3 points
- Full Price: 5 points
- NTSC/PAL Import: 3 points
- Non-100% NTSC/PAL Import: 1 point
- Text translation: 1 point
- GFX redrawn translation: 1 point
- Re-Released full game: -5 points
- Re-Re-Released full game: -7 points
- Re-Released game preview: -1 point
- Bug in game that are not in original: -1 point
- Game quality points: x.0 to x.9 points
Note: Double trainers do not receive minus points, however they are still considered lame. This is when a group claims that the game is say PLUS 4. The game is for example a two player game and the trainers give "infinite energy player one" and "infinite energy player two", this is only one trainer, not two.
A point for something special can awarded at editor's discretion, whether it be the cracking group going to considerable effort outside the normal requirements or if the game itself that is released is outside the normal standard for some reason (these are just examples as there is many possibilities for this category).
Uploading a first release - which sites are counted?
First releases and NTSC importing is only counted if uploaded to one or the majority of the following scene sites. Note, if one of the sites is down, we will use CSDb as the third site.
- Antidote - telnet://antidote.triad.se (Port: 64128)
- Reflections - telnet://reflections.servebbs.com (Port: 64128)
- The Hidden - telnet://the-hidden.hopto.org (Port: 64128)
To be part of the petscii old world, where C*Base mods are divine, make sure to grab CGTerm, proudly sponsored by AT&T (USA Direct).
Of course not everyone was happy with these rules when they were suggested to them and were allowed to become involved in the reconstruction of the first release and NTSC/PAL importing laws. We do not look down upon these people, as most would know, C64 sceners have many different views on what should be the right way to do something.
With these rules we have tried to make them as fair as possible. We have tried very hard to make a perfect compromise between obtaining points and recognition of being first with a game and also delivering a satisfactory quality level with both the game itself and the work done by the first releasing or NTSC/PAL importing groups.
Please note, we ignore the "first release" rules on CSDb (at least those in context to the typical web-scener). For the *REAL* rules of the scene, the history and the first release chart from 1991 to present, do not settle for a watered down version lacking experience, substance and background, accept no limits and use this site.
Written by Jazzcat
The List, also known as the release chart, was a central point to many of the elite disk magazines from back in the day and it was designed to encourage competition and stimulate activity. Whilst the concept of a "first release" has co-existed since the commercial birth of the C64, a point based system/monthly list/chart did not come into existence until the Mamba magazine invented the concept in May 1990. The reason for a point system was to encourage competition and stimulate activity and with this system further rules were needed.
The original law was refined in disk mags such as Shock, Mamba, Propaganda and Magascene. These were then modernised in the next wave of disk magazines like The Pulse, Domination, Vandalism News, Relax and The Crest.
The architects of these rules have so far been Peter (Mamba), Illusionist (Shock), Bod (Shock), Narc (Shock), Antichrist (Propaganda), Psychobilly (The Pulse, Magascene, Propaganda), Jazzcat (Domination, Vandalism News, The Pulse), Deff (Relax, Propaganda), Marc (Relax, Propaganda), Dodger (The Crest), Crossfire (The Pulse), Count Zero (The Pulse, Propaganda) and most recently Didi (Game Corner).
The rules have been revised quite a few times, some mags approached the subject and tried to take exclusive ownership of it, whilst the method that eventually lasted the test of time was a consensus between all publications (all elite magazines sharing the same set of rules).
Today, the rules are still followed, with Vandalism News being the only magazine to continually report on what happens in the world of 'first releases' since the 1990s.
For those of you wanting to check further detail on the rules and those magazines that decided to publish them (earlier, they were only located on the elite BBS only), I have made a zip containing all of the rules and their revisions.
Click on the image below to download and learn.