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Core Dump - Work In Progress

Episode 63

April 22, 1998 : Memories and Backups

Backing up

I decided yesterday to make a backup of the game. Not that I hadn't done this before, I backup the bulk of it every week, but it was the first time in months (!) that I decided to make a floppy disk backup.

Because, you see, I have a harddisk with three partitions, I usually backup from B: (where the game is developed) to C:. That works quick, and I can use the "archive bit" (using DOS2's XCOPY command) to backup only those files that changed. So, every week I run my "backup" batch file.

But the problem is this: should my harddisk crash (I mean like a headcrash or something) or would the house burn down, I'd have lost two years of work. Brrr. Not a nice thought.

PMARC error?

So I've got this graphics directory, right, and I want to compress the whole lot into some archive. Now I don't know how many files there are in that directory, but there are at least 300... I dunno how PMARC handles this internally, but what the heck. So I type:

pmarc coregfx *.*

Bzzzzt... My NMS 8250 (3.58 Mhz) will take some time to complete this job, so I go and make some tea. Cherry tea, if you must know.

Fifteen minutes later I return to see what's happening. Well, it seems to be okay, still busy compressing files.

Ten minutes later: still going strong.

Ten minutes later: compressing 000F/00EE...


Euh? Still busy? What the **** is going on here? So I check the filenames. These should have been compressed at the beginning (I know the directory order, I use DSORT) but the computer just ran into them now. Obviously something is wrong. Let's wait a bit.

(Half an hour later again, I am running out of tea!)

Well it turned out that the computer was running in circles, going through the whole directory and starting again. I should have noticed this earlier on, because it said "updating" instead of "adding" when compressing files. So it doesn't work! I have two theories about the error, which can be easily verified.

  1. The *.* notation is not working as expected. Error in PMARC. Easy to solve, because I can just list the desired extensions (*.GE5, *.CMP, etc.) and add them seperately.
  2. PMARC handles "over 211 files" or "over 255 files" incorrectly. Well, that would be a shame, and maybe even hard to solve. Again, splitting the "adds" up into seperate extension sessions would easy everything up a bit.

So anyway I didn't have time to make a backup in the end. Maybe tonight or tomorrow. But I need a backup to be able to sleep soundly...

Bringing back memories

I found an old folder that contained stuff that I'd done when I was thirteen or fourteen years old. Really funny! My first machine-code programs, carefully written down, graphics designs, basic programs, the lot.

A little history might be in order. I don't really know dates.

A long time ago there were... a lot of demo-groups. They had these "cool" names. So, little Cas was Zircon. And two of his friends were Cesium-137.
  • CESIUM 137
    Emiel Hensen (Age: 17) and Ron Hensen (14)
    Cas Cremers (14) (that's me!)
They all came from the same village and made music demo's. Sometimes, maybe, a bit of "hacking" (sins of the young). Together they could make bigger stuff, so they founded:
    Ron Hensen [Fast Willy]
    Emiel Hensen [Dr. Venom]
    Cas Cremers [Jiri]
By this time, Emiel had made one game under the CESIUM-137 flag, which had won the first MCCM-game contest. He was working on a second one (DEFCON) for the next contest. Cas had decided he wanted to give it a try as well, but he didn't want to use the "Zircon" name anymore, so he came up with "Parallax". The only reason for the name was to have some name at the intro screen other than "Cas Cremers" for this game, vectron.

Meanwhile, some more demo's were made (the first hacked SCC-music) but when Cas turned out to be first in the contest and Emiel third, some things changed. By then we had teamed up with Jan Jansen (Checkmark) who needed some software. Such as a program for the FM-PAK rom. Oh, I almost forget a good story.

The MCCM contest we entered had a prize pot like this "up to five winners get fl1000,-" and a contract or something. When the results were made public, Eurosoft (who'd sponsored it) said that only the first and second place winner would get 1000 guilders, and the others would only get royalties when published. Obviously, Emiel and Ron weren't pleased, and because they hadn't yet signed any contract, they made a deal with Jan Jansen to sell DEFCON on their own.

Defcon was thus released at the (I believe the very first) Zandvoort MSX fair. that year (I was 15 by then, so Emiel was 18). Released by Jan Jansen. I went with them to the fair. So there we were, happily arranging the DEFCON disks, and whaddaya know, in comes mister van Aacken. He's the Eurosoft "boss".

Van Aacken starts to set up his own place, complete with flyers of the Eurosoft CD-Rom, which "includes the winners of the MCCM contest". Yeah, so that means Vectron, Dr. Archie, and Defcon. Defcon.

But Emiel hadn't signed anything. So we go up to mister van Aacken, and nicely ask if he'd care to remove Defcon from the CD and flyers, because what he is doing is very much illegal, not to mention stupid.

Mister van Aacken now becomes very angry, and runs to his "secretary" to confirm that Emiel hasn't signed anything, and comes back even more displeased. So they all go and sit down somewhere, and van Aacken (having invested in those CD's and flyers and stuff) proposes to pay Emiel fl1000,- and royalties, and will buy off Jan Jansen's disks and stuff. End of story.

End of story? Yes, because mr. van Aacken went on selling his CD's, and we never saw a penny of that. He went bankrupt (or so they say) later.

Back to the main storyline. So, after this the name "Sigma" was still used for any activities concerning demo's and other (Checkmark) stuff, I decided I kinda liked making games. Jan Jansen proposed to release my second game, ARC, and so I did. The rest, as they say, is history.

Anyway, so when I was younger I used to code in machine-language, just typing in HEX codes by hand. We only had a memory editor, and that's how Vectron was made. I once lost a full 16kB of code that I didn't backup, and if that doesn't sound like a lot, try typing in 16.000 hexadecimal bytes. And those bytes were pure code, but I used the situation to redesign the whole game code. But it wasn't funny.

To be honest, when I found out I'd lost the 16kB file I did not talk for fifteen minutes. I just couldn't believe it.

After that, I always made some form of backup.

Snif snif - that really was a truly heroic story

The good old naive days! Well, luckily, I'm not sentimental at all, so I can now forget about it all again and get on with my work: completing Core Dump...

Go on...

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