Saturday, 18 January 2020

The C64 Microcomputer

The C64 Microcomputer! I didn't get it for Christmas, but it's close enough...

The first physical impressions are good: it weighs more than you'd expect for something that is basically an empty box. The keyboard has a nice enough feel although it is a bit clunky and gives a somewhat "hollow" sound. I wouldn't know how pristine C64 keyboard might have felt straight out of factory gates.

Connect it to the wall with Micro-USB style power connector, connect to TV via HDMI. Insert the included joystick using one of the four USB connectors and you can go. The cables are all included.

(The box I think will be used for storing a real C64. A plastic dust cover is included.)

A few seconds after turning the power on, the computer boots into the games carousel mode. So it should be very easy to use. Select a game and play your emulated C64 classics.

Your own software? Simply insert a USB memory stick and if it has d64 files in it, it will be listed in the media menu. Then run the first file on the disk by using one button, or do the LOAD "*",8,1 manually from BASIC in the "Classic" mode. So it couldn't really be much easier.

All the menus are accessible from the one special button on the joystick, which is a surprisingly handy addition to the emulation environment. Whether this means you need to have the joystick connected all the time I'm not yet sure.

The menus are clear and have pretty much all the options you'd expect from a consumer-oriented box, but not much more.

The computer can be made to boot directly to BASIC ("Classic Mode"). From the power on it takes roughly 15-20 seconds. But the subsequent resetting & loading new games etc. does not need this time at all. Games when launched from the carousel take only seconds.

The games and music run too fast, and this was NOT fixed by just changing the PAL/NTSC mode. I am guessing that the television goes to 60Hz mode and it is not for some reason able to use 50Hz, as The C64 gave no boot option for it, as stated in the manual.

Edit: Turns out The C64 decides this for itself, if the TV video mode has not been yet initialized. I did a factory reset, turned the TV on properly before The C64, and I got the 50hz/60hz question after boot.

This is a pity as the very same TV is able to show a real C64 image via SVideo! I tried to fiddle the crappy menus of this fairly old Philips flatscreen TV but to no avail. Although the image appears to be 720p video format and the TV should be able to handle in 50hz, it doesn't do it.

So I am still somewhat willing to blame the TV instead of The C64 here.

Which brings me to the slight real omissions. There's no Composite connection so I'm stuck with the HDMI. Also no separate audio jack. For someone else these might not be a problem at all, but the composite video would have been a really, really good feature.

Scrolling seemed to be smooth and tearless whenever needed, but I'd have to make some more definite tests before giving my final verdict on that. I had no problems with the games included.

With the Competition Prof-esque joystick I could not really experience much lag with the games, until I really focused on the issue.

Oh, by the way the software offers a variety of aspect ratio/display blur modes so you can get the screen look correct on a widescreen TV.

The keyboard was good enough for typing the above small code snippet, even in the somewhat cramped conditions I had. The shift lock key does not lock physically, but the state is visually indicated in the screen corner. The run/stop + restore combo works.

The keyboard and the PETSCII markings on it are things that clearly elevate this product above a common emulator. The keyboard responsiveness is maybe not as immediate as one could hope, in terms of time between keypresses and the characters appearing on the screen. But at least no typing got lost in the process.

There are two extra fire buttons on the joystick and the 4 extra control buttons. As mentioned, one of them accesses the emulator menu. Funnily, two of them map to Y and N keys and the third to return. Possibly these can be remapped.

My immediate verdict is on the positive side, even if I had some hiccups here. Unlike with some retro products, I don't get the impression this is a cash-grab. It's within a reasonable price and tries to cater to the slightly more advanced users and not just games players.

Yes, for the price you could get a second-hand real C64, but getting all the needed peripherals would likely make it more expensive.

I might get back later with more detailed examination of the features, such as the VIC-20 mode, cartridge files, different displays and the more advanced file-naming and setting options.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020


Recapping the year 2019 for me, concentrating on the blog angle but as usual some other observations too.

Programming, developing

Again, Multipaint was revised into 2019 version and the inclusion of pull-down menus and file safety makes it much more robust program.

The new ULAplus mode took a lot of time to make, fortunately it was also quite an interesting task to work with. It's not even finished, as it's not obvious how it ought to work.

An entry to the competition celebrating the original compopic
I've come to a point where I get some sort of message about Multipaint nearly every other week. Mostly these are good pointers towards bugs and bad program behavior. Sometimes I get feature and platform requests that I simply don't feel are within the scope of Multipaint, or don't fit to what I intended the software to be.

It's not likely I can or want to make Multipaint fit everybody's workflow, nor will it cover every possible platform. After all I made it for myself to make some ZX Spectrum pictures, everything else sort of grew out of it.

Problems with certain Mac/Java versions still persist, and in the future I can hopefully address these a bit more.

It's now one year after the Commodore 64 Digiloi game release!

The web accolades include "9.9 after 63 votes on CSDb" and "mentioned in an 8-bit Guy video", but I also noted there were print reviews of the game.

As an author of the game, a part of me says "wow, my game is reviewed in a magazine!" Another part of me says that we're really living a weird LARP of 1980s conditions, with different people playing the role of game developers, software houses, magazine publishers, reviewers and it's not always clear whether this all really serves the same purpose as back in the day.

Computer magazines, they still exist
Retro Gamer magazine from Future Publishing was the most "real" magazine (200+ issues, found from newsstands) to feature the game and they had about 2/3 page review, with the pleasant score of 86.

The English version of the K&A magazine not only featured the game on a tape but gave a full spread for the review. Acknowledging some of the problems the reviewer is still mostly positive about it and figures some of the deficiencies could be seen as virtues too.

The Zzap!! annual came later, and although the text is rather positive, they dissected it pretty thoroughly and dealt the rather rough score of 44%.

Jukka O. Kauppinen, a Finnish game journalist legend made a review for the Retro Rewind magazine in his inimitable gonzo style. The Digiloi review goes back and forth from an overview of PETSCII games, reviewing a couple of other PETSCII games in the meantime, and even includes a short comment on the actual game, finally landing on "thumbs up".

Apart from the reviews, I've also read many comments and discussions about the game. It seems more strongly to me now that many are prepared to champion a game they have not really tried that much, or at all.

I tried my best to make it work as a game, but again, as with Multipaint, I made something I'd prefer to play myself. I'm not that keen to play a new C64 game for more than a few minutes at a time or am just happy to see a video about it.

I couldn't find it in me to make another game yet, only the tiny Nine Rings demo showcases some improvements over the Digiloi routines. A scrolling game could be made with the same approach, but that might not be wise from a game design standpoint. At least I have slowly upgraded my 8-bit developing techniques, and perhaps something comes out of this eventually.

The Fall of Rome
The beginning of the year was a bit slow for Commodore 64 graphics, but I made it up in the end with releasing a bunch of new PETSCII images and the bitmap at the top.

My renewed interest into PETSCII was mostly thanks to the new Facebook group PETSCII World, check it out!

Back in Videoland
The major retro hardware acquisition of the year was the Atari Falcon. Updating the hard disk to an SD card reader and transferring software over to the computer was more interesting than doing anything with it really.

So, as a side-effect I got to learn more about Unix and Unix/Linux shells and writing shell scripts. It goes to show that if one gets intensely involved with retro platforms, apart from the intrinsic fun they can also result in learning that may be useful for today.

(I recall that figuring out Panasonic JR200 tape format in 2011 and the QL disk format in 2017 resulted in some practical "computer science" knowledge. Perhaps I'll save these reflections for the 10th anniversary blogpost.)

Speaking of QL, although I also bought the Sinclair QL Super Gold Card clone, it didn't result in that much new QL tinkering. I'm starting to suspect the 16/32 bit generation is just not worth the effort for me.

On another note, Unix-descendants seem to have taken over about everything in the roughly 50 years of their existence, so in the long run learning something about it may be a good investment into the future. I am also slowly building some more server, web scripting, programming and network expertise.

On the more physical side, I've continued building cases and boxes for devices, sometimes out of some perceived "need" but also simply for enjoyment. I also often need new tools for the next work stage, and the collection is growing. This is also going to some direction that I'm not yet quite aware of, possibly instead of casing old computers I'll try to build some Arduino thingy.

Games, Films, Books, TV

I have persisted with chess, with 1000 online games behind me at Lichess, not to speak some over the board games in beginner tournaments and even one park tournament, all in which I performed rather poorly. No obvious breakthrough in play skill has arrived. Although my online rating has improved overall, it seems my play quality suffers nearer the darker season and from other stresses a bit too randomly. A blog post about these experiences is in gestation...

As usual, I read a bunch of science fiction books which I also hope to review in a blog post in near future. The most important might be the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons, a 1990s kind of sci-fi rife with ideas that found re-use in Matrix and even as late as Insterstellar.

To me 2019 was not too memorable in terms of new films and TV. But at least we got to the end of the Star Wars saga, at least from a certain point of view. The technical oomph of Star Wars is somewhat diminished as it has become the movie standard these days, but at least the promise of nine films was fulfilled and I enjoyed this final ride. The new trilogy had perhaps less solid story trajectory in it, as they were rather isolated stories with a fragmented plot.

We had a full year without Doctor Who, but she's coming back real soon.

I hardly ever play the latest games. I finally saw myself through Portal 2, and completing Half Life 2 every few years appears to have become a ritual. But it seems I'm getting closer to the zero moment, especially now that my computer has processor, GPU and SSD updates. It almost feels I've spent more time tuning the thing than actually doing anything with it. Well, can't always be "productive." Completing Everspace took a chunk out of summer, Inside was a short but pleasant spiritual successor to Limbo and Broforce was a nice piece of 2D action candy.

And that's about the most kills I can achieve!
The Long Dark, Virginia and Firewatch introduced me to the 'walking simulator' genre, something that I thought wouldn't care much about but as the games are short they can be rather pleasant. in the browser was nice end-of-the-year snack but after the addictive 50v50 mode was removed (a temporary event) I found going back to the solo mode less appealing.

In 2019, Proton was the key to making Linux a proper gaming platform. I could launch complex games like Elite Dangerous and Prey, but did not really find the time and energy to get into these.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

VNC, ssh, remote, Android, n00b

For the most part I've found ssh enough for connecting over home network, for file transfer purposes. But sometimes it's just helpful to share the screen, keyboard and mouse remotely.

Not every resource is on the same computer, and in the case of physical drives it might not even be desirable. I need to use Processing on the Mac, but it does not properly compile applications over the command line in the way I'd want to, and making Handbrake crunch a video from a drive that only exists on that other computer is a bit handier when you can see what's going on.

Of course on occasions I could just switch the display to show the other computer but then I'd still need to switch between two mice and keyboards.

So, VNC (Virtual Network Computing) screen sharing to the rescue. This needs the viewer software to view the other computer screen, and a server on that other computer that 'feeds' the screen to the viewer.

I used RealVNC's viewer to get the easiest results. With the Mini Mac, the VNC server was built-in and could be activated by ticking one box in the settings.

With Linux computers I found some hurdles, which on one hand might seem surprising, but perhaps really not. Whereas VNC viewer from RealVNC can be recommended, I did not go for the server, as it requires a subscription.

Being a newbie in this, I guess some protocols don't quite fit each other so it's not always obvious which server works with which viewer. Messing with TigerVNC did not produce the results I wanted, although it probably should do the work. Some Linux Mint versions have vino, but it is no longer part of the Mint install since 19, and I'm not sure I ever got that working either.

So, x11vnc as the server. Not sure if all the above solutions actually rely on it in the end somehow, but at least by using this simplest advice I could also connect the Linux Mints together. I rebooted the computer to get the server properly working.

It gets meta as I edit the blog post locally and have an eye on Handbrake converting video on the other computer. VNC viewer interface in the middle keeps track of past connections.
After this the computers can co-operate within the home network without additional hassle.

The Mac may whine a bit about a missing keyboard, but as you input something this will go away.

The keyboard mapping is one thing I've not yet figured out well, as even rather simple characters like _ and @ can be difficult to achieve straightaway, at least when using a Linux to get over to the Mac.

Predictably, video over VNC is not such a bright idea but is kind of doable, at least for the purposes of checking the contents. I encountered a hiccup when using VLC video player, trying to bring up the context menu with right mouse button shut down the screen sharing server. Hmm...

Playing 3D games is even less useful, but I just had to have a go at Tomb Raider from 2013. It was obviously very choppy even in a resized window, but what made it finally unplayable was that the relative mouse motion was not correctly interpreted.

For a while the silly me thought I need to use the IP address for the connections, but the computer hostnames do just as well and better, as the address can change.

Out of curiosity I also checked the situation for the Android Galaxy phone, as the VNC viewer is also available there as an app and works ok. Doing this the other way might be interesting but at first glance at least it seems to be a bit trickier to get the server running on the Galaxy. Arguably the VNC viewer over Android could work as an elaborate remote controller for another computer.

Other Android stuff

Speaking of remotes, the Android app remote Unified Remote (and the download for the corresponding server on Linux) DOES act as a remote way for moving the mouse pointer. I paid a little fee to get rid of the ads and it does seem to work as promised. This might reasonably work as a remote control for that laptop sitting next to the TV.

These softwares don't look very appealing, but you're not supposed to look at them, really.
After somewhat clunkily enabling the server as a browser app (!?) the movement on the Android touchscreen are transported to mouse movements on the target computer. There are also other functionalities such as launching software etc, but I'm not going over that stuff now.

As a hilarious experiment I could use the remote to hover the mouse pointer over to the VNC viewer window, to control the computer where the unified remote server is NOT running.

Somewhat against my expectations, the Unified Remote could not work reliably by having the server directly over the computer where the VNC server is also running. The pointer would fidget somewhat but would not move. Oh, well.

When it comes to having ssh over the Android phone, there is apparently a solution for accessing the Android system directly via cable and the developer mode. But for my purposes I have found it enough to be able to access the phone through wifi and ready-made Android helper apps.

Left: SSHelper server running on Android. Right: Termius, using tiv on another machine to display a png over the command line.
Termius acts as a simple terminal on the Android so you could access your computer with it (after enabling the ssh server obviously), whereas SSHelper is more comprehensive. I suppose it is a minimal linux-within-linux, as it sets up a small server on the Android, complete with a set of useful command line tools such as busybox.

Both have a kind of 'virtual' mapping of the Android filesystem so you can copy photos etc using scp  from the command line, and I had some success with remotely opening the folders through caja too. Nano on SSHelper together with Apple Bluetooth keyboard might be the closest to having a reasonable text editor on the phone.

Just something more

On another remotely related note, the Terminal Image Viewer tiv (from here) is quite good at displaying bitmaps over the command line terminal itself, using unicode blocks and colours to best effect.

A Big Fat ANSI Deal
Sadly it's not able to accommodate for a terminal wider than 80 characters. That might have helped reproduce 8-bit graphics and PETSCII jpgs rather faithfully... again, it's ok for checking a bitmap over the terminal.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Crafting chesspieces

Barleycorn is a common name for a highly ornamented, tall red and white chessmen, elevated on an urn-like pedestal.

One might think the name 'barleycorn' has something to do with the tallness or shape of the pieces, but apparently it refers to the decorative barleycorn leaf motif found on them. So whether a set without the decoration is truly a barleycorn chess set I can't say. But it's a handy keyword for searching a certain type and I'll use the word here loosely to describe mine.

I've longed for something like this, but barleycorns are quite expensive (200 EUR easily for a modest, complete set) so I started thinking whether I somehow could build my own, even if it wouldn't be as decorative.

I don't have a lathe. The main idea was that the pieces could be created by fitting ready-made parts around a central stick, like beads in a string. Visiting a few hobby shops, I looked for ready-made wooden parts that could help in this.

First phase

After I discovered a part that would work as the base for all pieces, I was already more optimistic. I felt a larger set would be more forgiving for inaccuracies, so I chose a 35mm base. As barleycorns tend to be placed much more tightly than any FIDE regulations now say,  a 50mm squared board should be good for these.

I didn't give much consideration to finding larger bases for the King and the Queen although it is clearly a feature of the barleycorns and most chess sets.

Is it a chesspiece or a sci-fi rocket? Here the barrel is cut and filed out of a cube.
I bought a bunch of the ready-made wooden parts I could find from hobby shops, trying to figure out how they might be used together.

After having a pool of parts, it was time to scavenge more definite images of barleycorn-type chessmen from the internet. I did not seek to replicate any one set in particular, instead I picked features from different sets that I liked.

Of course it was important that the details could be recreated with my parts pool. It was a relief to find out not all barleycorns are especially decorative and I could take that as a guideline.

I needed to ensure the 16 pawns would not require much manual work. I'm happy to note this stage was quite successful, as the pawns are the simplest part of a barleycorn set in any case.

Left: a nearly complete queen, Right: demonstrating the stick-system 
Each pawn and piece has a narrow stick as a central axis. This meant drilling parts that didn't yet have holes in them. Especially the pedestal part required some care as it's not easy to drill into a convex end.

All the collars needed drilling too, finding the dead center was a bit tricky. The small brittle pieces break easily when drilling. For the tiniest collars I just had to patiently drill 1-millimeter pilot holes before making the 2,5 mm holes.

Sample of the parts pool. Note the absence of holes in many of the parts.
In the beginning I made many mistakes, often compounding so that some pawns were unacceptable and had to be remade. Poorly supported parts may move as a result of the glue drying process, which I also forgot to check.

I built a drilling jig out of a wooden block which helped in getting the holes more accurate. This became necessary as I noted I really have only so many bases and 32 perfectly drilled bases are needed.

One trouble I had that there really were no parts for inverted curves (e.g. the "scotia" in antique pillars). I emulated these by using a combination of different collar pieces.

With all the easy labor behind me, I begun work on the knight horse-heads. Here wood putty was somewhat useful as the shapes could not be cut very precisely. I was not overtly happy with the knights, but I needed to make progress on this most difficult part before my enthusiasm runs out.

And run out it did. After I finished the four knights and whittled one bishop head, it took a better part of a year before I could find it in me to continue with the set.

Carving the bishop-heads. The white colour is from gesso primer.

Second phase

With renewed zeal, I sat down and whittled the 3 missing bishop heads and started planning the rooks. Here I drew more accurate sketches, because I had lost the sense of the project and the proportions. The rook designs had been previously unsolved, but I had decided they ought to be elevated. (Less common in barleycorn sets but it has been done).

The drawings were useful in finding the proportions for the rook although in the end I improvised some choices.

The tall rooks ought to go without pedestal really.
Instead of forming the rooks out of solid wooden blocks (my first plan) it struck me that with a proper cutting tool I could create the rooks out of 4mm plywood circular plates.

I had seen such a tool a while ago and now I bought it. It's meant for cutting holes into drywalls and the like, so the cut-out is not really the intended product. But it worked well enough with the power drill and the 4mm plywood. The resulting edges were somewhat torn, but filing and sanding them together I got them quite smooth in the end.

I tested each plate size to find out what my options are and then redrew a rook design on a millimeter paper using this knowledge. Only the center part would be cut out of the solid blocks. Cutting dozens of plates was a bit boring, but likeable procedure.

Measuring plates. The leaflet only supplies the hole inside dimensions!
With this tool the central drill was 6mm fixed diameter. This was helpful for gluing the plates together around a 6mm drill bit, but as the 6mm hole was not suitable for the narrow central stick, I also needed "converter" parts. I won't explain this in more detail.

I used the plate-approach for creating the royal pieces too. I was unhappy with my earliest ideas (see the first picture) and chose to do a simple straight barrel that probably looks better.

The outcome

There is something cartoonish about the designs, especially the rooks are very huge, much larger than the base they are standing on. This is not something I've seen in any set, as the rooks usually are not elevated, and when they are they certainly do not exceed the base dimensions.

So I could also make some original choices. Possibly I also felt this cartoon approach gives the set more character than a failed attempt at copying some existing design.

I did not plan the whole set before looking at it all together so it was fortunate the pieces work together as well as they do. But even during the process I could match certain pieces to work together, so it was not all done blindly.

The set is not especially heavy. The king and queen are sufficiently weighty, but the pawns and other pieces are somewhat light and unbalanced. I could help that little with leveling the base bottoms a bit.

Board supplied by Marq, a nice fit.
Small amounts of pieces in plastic bags turned out to be quite expensive in total, so it's very likely I could have instead bought a somewhat battered antique barleycorn set off eBay with the sums! Well, it's more interesting to try to make your own.

There is still some painting to do, and I'll do more close-ups when the finishing has been done.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

C=key adapter 3.0a quick look

About a year ago, I had a go at rigging an Arduino to work as a PS/2 adapter. That adapter is working, but the software needed patching. I got it into semi-decent state but it still leaves a lot to be desired. (Shift+cursor keys etc work a bit randomly.)

In the meantime, I also ordered this ready-made solution from Retro Innovations, the C=key 3.0A.

Apart from modest soldering skill you will need some sense in building electronics, as the (not included) instructions need some deciphering. But if you follow them step-to-step precisely it should come out good. I guess you can also order them soldered. I perhaps wanted to avoid having the PS/2 connector positioned, but as it turns out it was a better idea to use that part anyway.

The board has provisions for both female & male 20-pin connector. I could have avoided soldering the other part in, had I given it a bit more thought.

Because there was a capacitor in the way, I could not fit the board directly on the C64. So I went for a long-ish drive cable. I once found a bunch of these from a flea market.

Bonus points for including proper holes in the board for easy attachment in your own projects. I'm not yet sure where I'll use this.

The adapter worked at the first attempt. My impressions were that this is much smoother and bug-free than that DIY board.

But it turns out this C=key adapter is not without problems either.

Although the key mapping felt great at first, I soon found the cursor keys did not work. Then I learned I need to change the keymapping style. I can enter the "menu" by pressing CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE.


1. C64 Symbolic
2. C64 Positional
3. C128 Symbolic
4. C128 Positional

(CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE exits the menu.)

Using selection 1. (C64 Positional) the cursor keys started working and all keys are mapped according to the PC keyboard. ...according to an US keyboard, that is. Sigh! So the keys work but everything is in an alien place.

While testing the keyboard I sometimes came up with gibberish. I also managed to get the adapter locked quite easily, which often followed from pressing Return, but other keys too. Using the CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE combo a few times the adapter recovered.

The site does say "This is still considered a project, not a complete product. I’ll try to help with issues, but it’s still a work in progress."

I did clean the adapter up and wiggled the cables a bit and got a better response out of it. Who knows, it might be my soldering and construction was a bit botched. I'll have to make sure the board and the cable do not move when pressing the keys.

These were of course the very initial responses to this adapter, and further examination should reveal how well it works in the long run. Possibly, a PS/2 to C64 keyboard adapter is a device that simply cannot be made to work 100% reliably and in a satisfying way, but this is already quite good.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

MO28UO mouse

This MO28UO is an IBM-branded mouse from early 2000s I suppose. Looking around it may have been sold as Lenovo-branded too. Certainly it would fit the Thinkpad colour theme...

Although I like the slightly old-school weight and speed of the mouse, I noted the wheel is prone to mis-interpret the direction.

I opened the mouse and took some images.

The scroll wheel is not based on an optical coupler, so the wheel doesn't have holes. The axle had accumulated some dirt and hairs, which I removed.

I didn't expect it to matter much in this case.

The wheel part is simply lying on top of the wheel button switch, which might already be a source of some problems.

After cleaning, the wheel might have improved slightly but I suspect the mechanism is simply not that good to begin with, or it has become worn out.

Although a tactile/audible response from the wheel is a good thing, this one's a bit too noisy for my tastes.

So I guess I'll abandon this mouse...

Monday, 28 October 2019

PETSCII processes

Looking at my stash of unfinished and experimental PETSCII character art files, I found some Digiloi work-in-progress materials I had forgotten.

Here's a screen where the main character was fleshed out:

The nice thing about this image is that I've collected the versions in a chronological order, from left to right.

As can be seen, the first attempt is ridiculously stupid and a 1980s BASIC game might have been forgiven for having such a crude shape in it.

I guess the solitary guy is the one where I felt I'd "got it", although as can be seen it's still some way off. Note also the sketching of background graphics.

This is a frame from an animation where I drew the running frames over a scrolling floor. Using Marq's PETSCII editor it's quite easy to do animation.

Not sure if I ever planned to do a scrolling game, it may simply be the animation loop was easier to test this way.

I also can't remember if the one in the middle is an alternative design based on the one on the left, or the other way round.

That laser shape was on for quite a while before I saw it would not work over a background.

I think the huge gun finishes the character, it's part of the character really. Parts of the previous designs went into the bad guy graphics.

Here are the original "sprites" for the main character, which I thought were finished. In the end I never used a "stand-still" frame in the game.

However, testing the player character over a background, it did not quite work. I changed the colour to green which stands out better against a dark-ish background. Then the tiny details and rounding had to go too, because they would generate ugly black outlines.

This snapshot from an early build shows the problem. Even the finished game has some black outlines.

I also found some extra background tiles, most of which did not find their place in the game:

Another background-related image shows the "running in a dark forest" idea that sort of defines the first moments of the game.

As this is an early build, the graphics routines are tested over a static PETSCII drawing. When I moved over to tile-based rooms, I had to compromise with the trees and the style became quite different.

Although this is just a test, I also toyed with the idea of beginning the game with a bunch of these guys running alongside the player, then disappearing "somewhere." I guess it would have been simply confusing.

So there it is, everything I could find!