Interview with The Shark

Published in Domination #11
Performed by Jazzcat

Welcome back to the interview section of Domination once again. With each edition we try and find interesting profiles, legends from the past and new sceners who have made quite a name for themselves. In this issue we have an American scener who has been in the scene for over 10 years. He formed a well known American importing group called International Network of Chaos (INC) and is currently responsible for the net based High Voltage SID Collection project.

Hello David and welcome to the Domination magazine. Let's begin this interview by asking you to describe yourself to the readers, giving any non-scene related facts..

I am 6'3, around 200 lb., and athletically built. I am a Caucasian, 24 years old, and I have brown hair. I have a degree in Computer Science and right now my job requires me to be knowledgeable in nearly every aspect of the field. Thus, I have no true speciality in the area, but I am quite versatile. My residence is Arizona (USA) which is a nice warm state, although it is suffering from early signs of over population. Some hobbies include athletics, music of nearly all varieties (I am quite open minded!), computers, and a general quest for knowledge.

I guess with knowledge you have one of the best resources in computers, the best and only real substitute to books in my opinion. Could you please give the audience a history on when you joined the C64 scene, what groups you have been in, and any highlights in your scene career.

I joined the C64 scene in the mid-80s, and formed a group named International Network of Chaos (INC) in 1987. INC's goal was to specialise with importing wares into the USA. Back then, there was a need for importing due to the lack of a public internet. Plus, modem trading with the USA assured fast spreading for European groups' wares (it beat the postal system!). At first, INC was just a bunch of lamers trying to get started. We continued to work hard accepting our lumps until the big moment arrived. Our first big release was when we acquired Fairlight as exclusive trading partners - the game was 'Predator'. From then on, INC grew stronger and better. We eventually became trading partners with Hotline and Fusion. Fusion's glory was short lived so that didn't amount to much, but Hotline split off into Talent which had a great run.

INC is considered one of the top all time importing groups in the USA due to the amount of quality releases we had. In addition, INC made a science out of NTSC fixing behind the brilliant programming mind of The Mind Slayer.

NTSC fixing was the key to our success. INC also started a textual based magazine named "Chaos Chronicles" in the early '90s. Although my memory is a bit fuzzy at this time, I believe that CC was the first magazine to use a ware based point system for ranking groups as opposed to the flawed voting system.

Towards the end of INC's run, we decided that we wanted more of a challenge than just importing and so we attempted to enter the cracking scene. All in all, we released around 10 USA cracks and over 180 imports spanning over the years 1987 to 1990. I basically left the scene when I became frustrated at the lack of organization that was occurring on the scene, and because of the lack of wares being released. Further, I turned 18 around 1990 which made certain activities a little more risky. And then college started.. Need I say more  :)

Quite interesting David, I myself also quit certain aspects of the scene due to the risk level. Now that the audience has an insight into your past, what are you doing in present times? Do you still work much with computers? and describe what happened after the C64 era for you..

At present, in regards to the C64, I am helping various people archive C64 software and information. I have transferred my entire C64 collection to the PC for such projects. I know you C64 sceners hate to hear this, but the current emulators are getting to be
extremely accurate. But transferring C64 software to the PC benefits both emulator users and C64 users since the software can be extracted back to the C64. Unfortunately, at present, there is no acceptable mass C64 software collection available. HV CDs are a start, but I feel a better collection is necessary. Hopefully someone qualified and competent will take on such a project. I personally feel that archiving all the C64 software is quite important otherwise some of these programs will only become a mere memory.
My personal favourite archive is the High Voltage SIDs Collection (HVSC) which is the ultimate C64 music collection. Clearly there is no bias on my part, even though I helped initiate the collection? ;) HVSC has around 7000 SID titles accurately organized superbly. We estimate that HVSC has around 99 percent of the most requested C64 tunes. Further, we are always adding new tunes. I must admit that I was shocked to see a C64 scene as active as it is right now (we just received the tunes from TP97). For any C64 music fan, the collection is a must. The collection is for both SID emulator users and for C64 users (using Burglar's Real SIDplay tool).
At my post-c64 era, I ended my scene activities in 1990 for good. I determined that what I was doing on the computer was pretty much a waste for me (at that time I wasn't a programmer). Was it really necessary for me to have games 0 days old? So now if I were to ever be a part of any scene, it would be as a demo coder. I am now much more into creativity than wares races. I don't foresee me trying to make a living. Ah yes, the colour of money. I must admit that it is difficult to go to work for 8-10 hours a day, hack away, and then come home to code some more. Right now I have other interests besides programming. I think variety is important.

I know you have had problems with people like GENE and some guys in LEGEND. What’s your opinion on ragging today? compared to the earlier times in the scene?

I have no problem with Gene or Legend. That raggin' was done for fun, although it seemed that Gene was getting a little upset at times. As for how I feel about raggin' today versus the old scene, I recently was interviewed for Scene+'s "The Art of Ragging" section so I think it would be best to read that interview for how I feel about this subject. Nevertheless I'll briefly answer your question in one sentence. Raggin' in the old days was much more brutal since it would often spill over into one's personal life with pranks and even physical confrontations.

I guess THOR would have to be one of the top pranks person, S.W.A.T. teams and sending pizzas around to sceners houses etc... What is your personal definition of lame and elite? Any examples?
Lame - Someone lacking the skills of the surrounding sceners, but claims that he still belongs. Most lamers end up releasing crap that hurts the scene instead of helping. In addition, lamers often give much criticism to the people who actually make the scene what it is. Examples: Light and some tetra-lamer on #c-64 who keeps bullshitting about some "ultimate" C64 CD he plans to put together.

"Wad" is his name. Without Wad though, I would have no entertainment. Due to his compulsive lying, I often make him the victim of some of my mind games. For example, I created a list of Amiga titles that I own, but among the titles I inserted a few fake titles just to see how the lab rat would behave. In the past, he always claims to have "all" the titles on people's warez lists.

I think he lies like this so we won't think he is lame. One of the fake titles on my list was "Naughty Paula". After receiving the list, he continually insists to me that he has the game. He still doesn't know that I made the title up. 8)

Elite - opposite of lame. People who actually contribute worthwhile stuff to the scene.

What was your favourite C64 board and what makes it your favourite?

Wares Galore ran by Jimmy'Z was the best. The reason was that it was not only the ultimate rag BBS, but also the quickest warez BBS. It is amazing to think that A1200 baud BBS with a single line could support so much activity.

What do you think is the biggest difference between an American scener and a European scener?
Well, I don't know enough about today's scene to compare the two. But back in the old scene, it seemed that Euros really pledged their soul to their groups. I am talking about shirts and stickers with their group names on them, over night copy parties, etc. In the USA, the C64 and scene was a hobby, not so much an integral part of our lives.

What annoys you about the scene the most? and if you could change anything what would it be?
Today's scene? The fact that no one seems to be adequately archiving or organizing all of the C64 releases from the past or present. My scene? The lack of an alliance in order to prevent lame acts from occurring. I credit lamers for driving away a ton of good sceners in 1990. The whole scene was in shambles for a spell back then. The problem was that there was no separation from the elite and the lame. When I came up through the ranks, I had to prove myself worthy in order to get on BBSes. Due to a lack of alliance in 1990, everyone did as they please -- no rules were followed. In 1990, lamers who weren't ready for the big times instantly were rubbing shoulders with the best. Their flow of crap releases and lack of respect polluted the scene.

Tell the readers about your experiences with 'Chaos Chronicles'...

CC was started due to FBR's magazine "Influx" constantly screwing INC in the charts. Candyman, the editor for Influx, would call people up and ask, "What's your favourite importing group?" Because of his intimidation, the people on the phone would always mention FBR as one of the tops even when INC tripled their own output. Influx died, btw, after FBR failed to get a release out in the summer of 1988. In fact, INC released every game that particular month believe it or not. How would it look if FBR was still #1 with no releases? :) CC was a good experience, but it died in 1990 due to the lack of participation from fellow sceners. The rules were very clear for the charts, plus the system was very fair. Even the people who hated INC agreed with the charts. In fact, I think that the only reason people d/l'ed the magazine was for the charts since my articles weren't of much value. ;)

What do you think of magazines today, such as Domination, Driven, Propaganda and Relax?

I do not read the magazines of today much. I am not so sure that the number of magazines reflects the amount of activity in the C64 scene. I like that "Driven" is geared to the demo scene which seems to distinguish it from the others. The rest seem to be repeating what each other already reports.

What are the weak and strong factors, in your opinion, of the following groups:

Strong: Horizon
Weak: The rest of the group

Strong: The body odour from non-bathing Quebec citizens
Weak: Their English
Demonix were lamers when I left, so I can't really say much...
Never heard of them...
Strong: Having Aycee lock in contacts with offers of phone sex
Weak: Hell Hacker's biceps

Strong: Brainwashing Legend into thinking that they could NTSC fix properly
Weak: Spinning so many lies that they could never untangle themselves

Strong: I heard Master Kracker later joined them?
Weak: 0.1 percent of their stuff was worth d/l'ing

Note that all of the groups only became famous after I left the scene in 1990.

Who did you regard as the best NTSC fixer ever from America? and what do you think of today's trend of 100 percent fixing due to tiny flicker or one byte bugs?
Without a doubt, Stormbringer of Exodus was the best. As for the trend of people NTSC'ing small little flickers it all depends on how bad the flicker is. If removing some small flicker offers no enhancement to the game play, then I think it is a waste of time. It sounds as if some people are just looking for ways to earn some easy points. Surely their time could be spent on more important tasks?

Something I personally have been trying to preach also your handle, The Shark, where did you get it from and is there any story behind it?

A fascination with the animal. Unfortunately the alias seems to be common enough that others have selected it as well.

The Shark's all-time favourites

Demo: You Make the Call/Shark
Demo group: none
Coder: Changeling/Abyss/FBR
Painter: SIT (he did the title screen for Tetris, for example)
Musician: Rob Hubbard
Fixer: Stormbringer
Import group: INC
Cracking group: ESI
Cracker: Mitch
BBS: Warez Galore
Disk magazine: Commodore Zone! :)
Food: Gene's mom
Drink: Gene's mom's breast milk
Movie: A Fish Called Wanda

What are your chief ambitions in life, what do you hope to do?

Getting a college degree was one of them... The rest I'll keep to myself.

Feel free to give any greetings to scene pals or enemies from past and present...
Greetings to all SID fans, C64 users who keep pushing the machine, and the #c-64 folks!

Thanks for your time David. Any final words?
The pleasure was all mine.