ONLINE > RECOLLECTION issue 1 > Crackers or Crackers???
Crackers or Crackers???

I have been watching the 64 scene very closely for many years now, and I think it is about time some things were explained to the so called 'newcomers' to the scene.

First, it is an insult to the C64 in general to say we have an active cracking scene, by that I mean active so far as new games are concerned. The total rubbish being released by so called groups like 'Blazon' and 'Lap Dancers' etc. is a total insult to the C64. Have these guys never looked back at older games, surely if they had they would not even attempt to release the dirt they release. There are other groups too who just want to look like they are doing something constructive, I say to you, you are doing far more damage to the C64's reputation that you think.

Cracking means cracking a commercial game, and I can probably count on one hand how many of these games were released in the past five years. Has it never occurred to you that a lot of people are new to the C64 scene due to the hype on the Internet, if this is what they are seeing as C64 releases, I for one would not blame them for ridiculing the C64 as a games machine.

I see too that a lot of so called 'would be's' are ridiculing the oldie cracking groups, groups like Nostalgia, Onslaught Antiques, Hokuto Force and Remember, I say you are doing this because you would not know where to start on 99% of the games released by these groups. Hokuto Force had a sticky beginning, but they got sorted and now release some very nice wares. I'm a member of Remember, and to all you little upstarts I say this, we are NOT re-cracking, every single release we have done over the years has come from either an original disk or tape, which is not re-cracking. A number of the games we released did not work as originals, and Jack Alien and Hok have re-coded them so that they are now playable, this is no mean task, some of these games took over a year to complete. We do not go shouting the odds, if you had been on the C64 scene for as long as I have you should be able to see at a glance exactly what is happening.

As for re-cracking, it means only one thing on the 64 scene, a re-crack is a stolen crack done by someone else, then released by a totally different group as their own crack, back in the 80's that was an unforgivable act, it did happen yes, but the re-crackers suffered, and to this day people do not forget. You could not even take a cracked game and train it only for personal purposes, if you released it you were still a re-cracker.

What I see these days is not even cracking, most of it is simply 'intro linking', probably the easiest task of all, if that is called cracking, than I want no part of it. Many year ago and not all that long ago the Americans did this as an easy way to get a first release, the rules then being that whatever hit the American boards first was a first release choose how bad a release it was. In more recent years this type of 'cracking' was outlawed, the game had to be level packed and cracked properly to be counted as a genuine release.

S.E.U.C.K games were also banned from the charts some 10 or more years ago, but I still see them being released, what sort of world are you guys living in?. I also get sick of previews being released some as 100% previews, I ask, what is a 100% preview?

I know a lot of you have cashed in on games made by Richard Bayliss, I have nothing against Richard, but the formula and format of his games hardly ever changes, they are not great games, but if he enjoys programming them, then that is his business, but I have to say again, these are not commercial games, and 'freebees' are not considered as cracks that warrant a place in the charts. I noticed that even most of these were not even cracked, just intro linked.

Spare a thought and go back to the old days, days where it was a pleasure to crack a game, full price or budget, it was a challenge, but it gave satisfaction. I live in the UK, disk based games were not always available and games had to be parted from the tape loaders most of the time. Sometimes this could take hours depending on the tape loader, you were in fact cracking the loader not the game, that was life.

I suppose the whole object of cracking in those days was to get the first release of any commercial you could lay your hands on, but that was the tip of the iceberg. Once the game was cracked you had to find some fixing group, mainly in America to make sure the game worked in NTSC format, this meant mainly a bit of re-coding, once this was done the game went onto the American BBS's, if you were first then you had a first release, but believe me, an hour or in some cases minutes could make a big difference as to getting a 'first' or a failure.

Over the years there were a lot of changes, in the early days you formed an exclusive arrangement with an American group, meaning that you could only export to one particular group, and you could only import from that group, the main reason for this was that the Americans supplied 'calling cards' whereby you could call the boards for free, so European groups formed alliances with the most prolific card suppliers. In more recent years this practice ceased as some of the larger US groups quit the C64 scene, though a few remained faithful, North East Importers being one of the last big groups in the US to continue this practice. They also operated as North East Crackers to get their cracks into Europe, though the games scene in the US was at a very low ebb at that time.

Importing games was another big thing on the 64, it was not just a case of downloading a game, the game had to be fixed again, this time from NTSC to PAL, PAL being the European system, so in Europe we had PAL fixers too. At this stage I have to say that all games did not need fixing, quite a lot would work quite well on both systems. There was always a problem with 'flickering' on both systems mainly on the intros and this was never totally solved.

In recent years NTSC C64's have been acquired by Europeans, so most recent cracks were fixed as they were cracked making life much easier, as a result, most of the oldie cracks done of late automatically work on American C64's. Maybe as well as I do not think there is a fixing group anywhere in the US, though I will stand corrected on this.

I have been around the C64 scene for almost 20 years now, cracking for most of that time, I do not consider myself as a member of the elite crackers, maybe it is because I stuck it out so long, but I have enough experience to recognise a real cracker from a fake one, and I am more than convinced that there are a lot of fakes out there bringing down the reputation of the C64. Things have not moved on, they have gone back, that is if you can ever remember releases being as pathetic as they are now. I do not know the origin of Blazon, Lap Dancers or the other 'would be's', but I say to you, if you want to continue doing what you are doing, then keep the wares to yourself, we do not want them, they discredit the C64 and all who were good enough to put the C64 into what probably was and still is to a certain degree the best computer scene ever.

This scene has seen many changes over the years, first it was games in total basic, then intro linking followed by real cracking, then came training, then mega training, now mega training with docs, albeit the final one only came with oldie cracking. Now the old art of mail trading is almost dead as the PC is a more convenient way of getting hold of C64 wares, that is sad, but we have to move with the times, like it or not. I know I lost a host of friends when mail trading went on the decline, these I miss more than the actual deed of mail trading, that is the sad part for me. Secondly, I miss all the old crackers who were around in the late 80's people who were respected purely because they could almost make the C64 talk. As ever, the problem was the lack of commercial games, when these ceased to exist they left in droves and who can blame them. My last big serious group was 'Avantgarde' we quit the scene because the games available to crack were total rubbish, hence 'Remember' was formed as we thought that would be far more useful to the scene as a whole. For all those who call and mock all the 'oldie' groups I say again, when you are fit to lace our boots we could even take you onboard, all these groups have a big following around the World, without us there would be no cracking charts and no games worth playing. It is time for you to accept that you are wasting your time, I still mail trade with around 10 people, you know what, they always ask me NOT to send any of the new cracks, I wonder why?

Finally, I stress that most of this is pointed towards people who are posting utter rubbish onto the Internet, by that I mean so called games and adverse comments about groups cracking old wares, a bit of common sense would not go amiss.

Derbyshire Ram/Remember.