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DoctorSpuds

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  1. DoctorSpuds
    I managed to snag something rather unexpected on a recent thrifting trip: A positively ancient Shoebox Cassette Recorder. How old you ask? If I read the dates correctly then about 49 years old. But that's not all! The cassette mechanism itself appears to be based on Philips earliest portable mechanism that appeared on the EL3300 from 1964. This beauty is the GE M8440A and you can see everything it has to offer with the briefest glance. The only reason I picked it up was due to how old it looked and because I've never seen play controls that are literally just a single lever and waves the play head around.

    Unsurprisingly it didn't work. The belts have dried up so I'm using rubber bands in the interim, and one of the wires to the play head has snapped. But with a little bit of TLC and bodging I have it up and partially running. The amount of wow and flutter is pretty astonishing and it plays a bit slow. That being said, it sounds about on par with modern cassette mechanisms, and the fact that the sound is coming out of something that really looks the part, and was probably meant for dictation, is just completely charming. 
     
    I also took a moment to make an illustration of it.

    I also got some period correct(ish) music recorded from it. It's incredibly cursed.
    Is You Is.mp3
  2. DoctorSpuds
    I’ve always liked vintage HiFi, ever since I was a kid and had absolutely no idea what it was. Recently I’ve taken up refurbishing and selling old HiFi equipment, a ‘flipper’ in fewer words. I’m scooping up untested stuff that’s been left on the side of the road, or being sold at garage sales or that have been donated to local thrift stores, and I’ve found some excellent pieces of kit. From some gorgeous Polk Audio bookshelf speakers to a late 80’s Turntable, CD Player, Twin Tape deck, abomination from Fisher, I’ve seen some nice stuff, and stuck my fingers in some nasty places.
     
    I’m no stranger to what time does to the belts of a Cassette Mechanism, they eventually decide that they’ve had enough with being a single, solid, entity and melt back into the oil they came from. It’s a mess. Today I almost met my match when it came to a particularly pretty tape deck with a particularly nasty player.
    I picked up a matching pair of equipment, a Pioneer SX-4 Stereo Receiver and its accompanying tape deck, a Pioneer CT-3. They’re quite eye-grabbing, with a color I’ve never seen HiFi take on before, beige. They look like holdovers from the 1970’s, even though they’re from ’81. The Stereo works thankfully, no bad caps and the knobs weren’t even crackly, the tape deck was another story.
     
    It didn’t work, no big surprise, and upon further inspection I saw that the play button had snapped and fallen into the machine, at least it was still there. Let me just say this, I am not a professional, I am not an engineer, I am not a technician, I am just a kid with an unhealthy interest in vintage electronics, so when I say I rather bungled things is an understatement. The belts had perished, in a big way too. It was fairly clear this guy had been sitting in storage for a long time and when the previous owner had decided to turn it on for the first time in 30 years the near liquefied belts decided to say adios and go flying off, splattering wherever they pleased.
     
    It was a mess, maybe even a travesty depending on how you choose to define the word. Looking online I couldn’t find any official belt kits for this model of player, it doesn’t seem to be a remarkably popular machine. So… I made due.
     
    The first order of business what to fix the play button, which was a shambles, it was stuck in a small space which the rest of the buttons what was wholly inaccessible. So, I unfastened the entire tape mechanism from the chassis. This involved removing the door, which is screwed on with four tiny screws and as soon as it’s free you have to deal with the hinges flopping loosely around and falling out since they’re held in place entirely by the piece you just removed. Next is removing the matte black plastic piece from the front since it hides a screw or two you need to remove in order to mode the mechanism, there was also another hidden behind the door just for good measure. One you get those bits away you have free access to shift the mechanism about as you please, but be careful there’s still a load of wires to be cautious of and the power supply is worryingly close.
     
    After getting the play button back in place I had the joy of putting everything back together again. At the time I wrote off the thing as a lost cause and just wanted in good outward shape for some crazy person to clean up and repair later, but it seems I’m both fickle, and stubborn, and maybe a bit stupid. So, after I had put everything back together I decided to clean the mechanism or the belt remnants. An hour or so later, after poking with screwdrivers, dabbing with q-tips, and rubbing with rags and paper towels I finally have most of the evil gunge off of the mechanism. But I have no belts, so I used the next best thing, rubber bands.
    Pioneer seems to have put in an extraordinary amount of effort to make replacing the belts yourself has difficult as possible. Two of the three belts were no issue to replace since they were in the open air with nothing to prevent easy rethreading. The main drive wheel was another matter entirely, it was pretty much sealed in, sandwiched between the main tape drive and a metal portion of the chassis that made it impossible, at a glance to replace the belt without disassembling the entire mechanism. But, after a few minutes of angry staring you can just make out the most infinitesimal of gaps between the wheel and the chassis. You can try to get a belt around the wheel all day but you’ll never manage to do it, not without being able to get it through that infinitesimal gap, and the only way to do that was to pull it through by force. Now, there is a small plastic bracket clipped into the chassis, probably to catch the belt in case it slips off, that makes it near impossible the thread the belt from the top, you just can’t get any force to get the belt through.
     
    You have to go through the bottom. There is a flap of metal, specifically machined onto the bottom of the main body, directly underneath the main drive wheel, giving you limited access to the mechanism inside. You have to feed the belt up through the bottom of the machine and then pull it upwards and try to squeeze it through the gap in order to get the damn thing onto the wheel.
     
    But I did it, and holy fuck it works perfectly! Using standard size rubber bands out of a bulk bag the machine plays at the proper speed and with zero noticeable wow or flutter. I know that this is a temporary fix since the rubber bands will perish eventually, but that fact that I now know the sizes that make it work and how to replace them I don’t think it’ll be too much of an issue.
    Was this more trouble than it was worth? Yes. Was I stupid for doing this? Probably, but holy hell was I lucky. I’m pretty sure I did just about everything wrong in this scenario but still wound up at the best outcome.  
     
    Small plug: I do sell stuff on craigslist so if you're in the Portland, Oregon area and are looking for a new vintage stereo, speakers, or a hifi repair project (I have a few that are beyond my help), drop me a line.  I also sell more novelty items like CD changers.
  3. DoctorSpuds
    My cheap desktop sound system has gained two new members!
     
    I recently gave in to temptation and took a grand tour around the handful of antique malls and junk shops in and around Portland to get a general vibe on which ones I should keep an eye on in future. A few of them piqued my interest even though I didn’t wind up buying anything. One thing I did encounter more than a few times on my tour were old Realistic brand speakers, all for a bit more than I’d like to pay for them, especially untested as they were. Opportunity came-a-knocking though in the most unlikely of places however. Since my parents were in town we decided to take a long weekend up to Long Beach in Washington with my sister and the dog. I of course, being the type of person to relish being surrounded with junk, looked up every antique/junk store on the island. I found the motherlode!
     
    The North Coast Antique Mall, such a place has only ever existed in my wildest fantasies, but now it exists! On the outside it looks to be a dilapidated warehouse and when you enter you aren’t treated to a much better impression. Mountains of what could liberally described as ‘stuff’ is arranged in a pseudo-labyrinth in a relatively unfinished part of the building before you get to the front door. It was here where I found The Boys. Upon entering the store however your opinion of the place will immediately change from one of apprehension to one of amazement.
     
    A maze, an actual one this time, of antiques. At least 40,000 square feet encompassing floor, wall, and ceiling. It feels like a massive scavenger hunt, where anything goes and a flashlight is a necessity. Toys, clothes, movies, music, decorations, art, everything was there. Need a wall phone from 1898? They had three of them. Need a wind up phonograph that actually still works? They had one. Need a bartop touchscreen CRT casino arcade machine? Yup. A brassier from 1957, yup. At least 70 pairs of cowboy boot? Try a hundred. Everywhere you turn is a new nook to poke your head in, with at least four different flavors of dust to tickle your sinuses with and more, so much more.
     
    You could spend at minimum four days picking through everything but I only had a couple hours, but boy did I make the most of them. Ultimately I only grabbed The Boys.
     
    It was like they were following me, Realistic Minimus-7 speakers, at just about every store I went to. Relics from a bygone era when budget bookshelf speakers were made from solid metal, actually sounded good, and Radioshack was a major player in the tech industry. It was 10 dollars for the pair and at that price I couldn’t pass them up, all the other prices I’d seen were two to five times that price.
     
    I’d only looked up reviews of the speakers after I’d bought them and only then realized what a following Realistic brand speakers from this time had. Rich and stalwart were the two words that seemed to describe these things best which was interesting since my Klipsch Satellites are very cold sounding, favoring the high end and giving a nice amount of sparkle to the treble. I was very excited to test The Boys out.
     
    So how do they sound? Well, on their own they are indeed very rich sounding, to the point of getting a bit woofy on bassier tracks, which is a bit of a problem since I listen to predominately EDM music. The sound is by no means bad, the separation between instruments is quite good and the high end is fair, very warm speakers. But my stereo can output to two pairs of speakers at once at the expense of a bit of volume, and each pair specializes in opposite sides of the sound spectrum, the Klipsch’s on the high end and the Realistic’s on the low end. So how is it when they’re played together?
     
    Well, words can describe the feeling I got the first time I listened to the two at the same time but it would be easier to say I just giggled and made an evil little smile. The soundscape is immense, with the low end bass seeming to blast from the center with the high end dancing around the edges of your hearing.

    Here’s how they’re arranged on my desk, the deep, rich, Realistics are on either side of my monitor with the sparkly Klipsches placed higher up. On the rare occasion where I turn on my subwoofer it just feels like you’re enveloped in sound. I’ve used a few songs to test the overall sensation of just how these speakers sound and oh boy does it do them justice, even if they aren’t the highest quality tracks.
     
    These are just a few of the songs I’ve used. You’ve definitely heard of some of them but a few might not be on your radar.
     
    One of the most varied songs I’ve used is Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman’ and the separation is excellent. The hi-hats and underlying guitar riffs seem to be coming exclusively from the Klipsches while the piano and vocals seem to coming from the Realistics. The clapping potion in the middle of the song is amazing, it’s like you can actually point to where they’re coming from. Stellar. Another song is called ‘Quasi Motion’ from Kevin Macleod. It’s a bouncy instrumental with a handful of instruments, predominately percussion, with a guitar and bass keeping a background riff going and a high pitched woodwind instrument carrying the melody. The instrument separation is again excellent. The percussion is wonderfully layered not staying exclusively in the center of the soundstage which for the percussion interlude in the middle of the song simply enhances it more. A very catchy song and definitely my favorite from Macleod. ‘All Along the Watchtower’, specifically the Hendrix version. It becomes ascended. The stereo mix, though annoying to listen to with headphones, truly shines here. The three portions of the music, left, right, and center, all mix together and give a feeling of surround sound. Crisp, clear, catchy, a classic! Here’s an odd one, ‘Mantra’ from the group Material. It starts as a very atmospheric song, with low drones but quickly morphs into a calming experimental rock song with distant percussion a clear central bassline and some jazzy saxophone and clarinet running circles around you. A smooth, calming, song with just the barest hint of malice hanging around in the background sounds and drones. ‘Assassin’ by Bill Laswell. A chunky and percussive song that evokes images of the desert. The droning strings feel as if they’re echoing from the back of the room while the bassline feels like its right in your face. So many elements dance across the speakers that you get an excellent surround sensation. The percussion break in this song is otherworldly.  
    So long instrumentals, we’re talking EDM now.
     
    One of my favorite EDM tracks to listen to is from a niche genre of hardcore EDM known at Frenchcore. ‘Up & Down’ by Boro Szypcioro hangs out an unusual amount in the high end for a song of this genre which normally is meant to flatten the waveform with the amount of sub bass present. The lyrics and frantic piano stay remarkably separate from the chunk monster bassline keeping the song from getting muddy. ‘Voodoo’ by Noisia. I’ve only just recently heard of these guys but oh man is their stuff phenomenal. These guys make the EDM equivalent of Death Metal and it’s pretty much a love or hate affair. This song is dark, it’s low, and it’s chunky, with gobs upon gobs of rough bass dominating the center. That doesn’t mean the high end is ignored, actually there’s plenty of representation, in the percussion of all things. The hi-hats and distant bass warbles just tickle your ears and really complete the experience. ‘MDMA’, specifically the Remix by Australian DJ S3RL. This rave song flits between spats of low end and high end with some elements juggling themselves between the inside and outside of the soundstage. The addition of the vocals make the song poppy and almost hypnotic. This is without a doubt my favorite song from S3RL and he’s got some serious bangers if you’re a fan of rave music. Coming out of left field a bit is ‘Ukigumo’ from Japanese musician Hige Driver. Ukigumo is a fast paced chiptune track with an unexpectedly epic melody and a real sense of scale. The instrumentation chosen is original sounding and lives rent-free in my head at all times. The separation is lesser with this song than with the previous two since much of the song lives in the mid-range and low end, but the arpeggios dance wonderfully from either side of the soundstage. This song is actually my go-to to test the quality of speakers as the arpeggios and higher end portions of the song are absent on weaker/cheaper speakers. Another Aussie DJ, SCNDL, is here as well with his song ‘Tombstone’. This percussive and gloomy EDM track has a catchy melody that initially takes you a bit off guard. Coupled with the thunderous yet smooth beat and ¾ timing it is a very unique song that I’ve listened to hundreds of times over. The soundstage, especially with the echoing slightly plucked melody, really make this song a treat to the ears.  A veteran of the electronic music scene The Crystal Method has to make an appearance with their song ‘Weapons of Mass Distortion’. This song is a blend of electronic and heavy metal rock with a driving bassline and heavy percussion all set beneath a distorted guitar that just seems to come from everywhere. The amount of energy this song generates is immense evoking apocalyptic and dystopian imagery.  And lastly, even though I could keep going of forever, is a little ditty known as ‘The Flute Tune’ by J-Cut. This goofy song’s main melody is a really catchy flute tune, hence the name, with incredibly aggressive drum and bass tracks underneath it. It really is a song best to experienced first hand if only for how strange it is, but goddamn if that melody isn’t an earworm.
  4. DoctorSpuds
    While I will sometimes jump to spend too much money on something I don’t really need, I’m generally a ‘cheap bastard’. I won’t usually spend a lot of money on something as long as it’s good enough. Nowhere is my cheapness more evident than in my audio setup. Let me just say this, I am not an audiophile, I think the lengths some people will go to and the amounts they pay for the smallest jump in audio quality is utterly strange, especially when they’re not in the situation to make such investments.
    Now, my current setup is a ramshackle mix of equipment from all over the place. Let’s start with the heart of it all. My stereo is a 1984 JVC R-K200 Digital Synthesizer and Stereo Receiver, whilst it can put out some serious volume it’s also crusty as hell. It runs too hot in the summer, the power supply buzzes, and the radio is weak. The headphone jack is too noisy to use and half the time if you press any of the buttons the right channel will cut out and you have to gently finger the buttons to make it reappear again, but it works, and for 25 bucks that’s good enough.
     
    For those interested in the stats:

     
    For audio playback I have an autoreverse ‘twin’ cassette deck. It’s an Onkyo R1 TA-RW303 and I believe it was found in a garage. It had leaves in the cassette mechanism and was full of spiders but the belts are excellent and it has no noticeable wow or flutter, in fact this piece of junk is better than my previous three decks which all had speed issues. The big problem with this guy is that the ‘B’ deck is unusable. The mechs work great but as the motor heats up it begins to splice in static that makes it impossible to listen to. It also records this static onto tapes so I can’t make anymore mixtapes, how sad. But deck ‘A’ plays and it plays good and for 20 bucks that all I can really ask for.
     
    Speakers, now these aren’t the sorts of things you cheap out on. You can have the best stereo on the planet but if you use it with bunk speakers it’s greatness is a moot point. Bad speakers make bad sounds. Of course I cheaped out on my speakers! I found these lads for a grand total of 10 bucks for the pair, and this is where I got luckiest, forget the amazing garage deck these things make that look like crap.
     
    I got two Klipsch’s for five bucks each. To be specific they’re satellite speakers for Klipsch’s most recent Quintet Speaker system. The reason these guys flew under the radar is because they are some of the saddest looking speakers Klipsch has ever made. They’re small they’re unassuming and if it wasn’t for that tiny Klipsch badge on the easily destroyed speaker grille you’d have no idea what they were. I suspect that most stores would treat these little guys similarly to the store I got my pair from. Either they’re glanced over because they’re small and look kinda crappy, like a bunch of those budget surround systems from the early 2000’s, or they’re priced down because even though they’re Klipsch’s they’re not their fancy/higher end speakers or it’s not a complete set. But the sound, what do they sound like? I’ve been kinda trashing how they look so can they make up for that in the sound?
     
    Well… Yes, oh my shit yes! Just the two I have provide a better surround experience than the Bose system my parents dumped on me. The separation of the audio levels is unbelievable, even on muddier EDM or hair metal tracks with a lot of mids and bass the two don’t blend and homogenize. The treble is incredibly crisp, vocals are incredible, and with some EQ tweaking, mainly further boosting the treble and mid-level bass, they sound just heavenly.

    Some sounds just seems to roll over you whilst others feel like they’re sitting directly in front of you, the sounds of crowds and even echoes in tracks just feel enormous. The only weak point for these guys is the sub bass, it’s weak. Now looking at my EQ you’ll see that I basically killed the already limited sub bass, but that’s for a reason. I live in an apartment, and as with most apartments the things separating me from my neighbors are particle board and balsa wood so I can’t have really heavy bass on all the time. Lowering the 32k zone still leaves enough so that I’m not missing anything in the music, kick drums and lower basslines are still represented wonderfully but not so much that my neighbors can participate in my listening. So before I rattle on about bass I’ll just say this. Klipsch Quintet 5 Satellite speakers: Incredible, good noise separation, crisp, great soundscape, with some basic EQ tweaking they are unbeatable for any genre of music. Alright, time for bass.
     
    The last thing an apartment dweller like myself needs is a big stinky subwoofer, which is why I’m always confused when I see people move in and they have a big stinky subwoofer in tow. The Bose system that’s in the living room has a woofer and I have it turned all the way down because the last thing my neighbors need is to listen to my music along with me. Whenever I see a subwoofer I immediately think ‘noise complaint’ because that’s all its gonna net you. Now, I do actually own a subwoofer, but I had to be considerate in what I purchased. It couldn’t be something I put on the floor; it would rattle my downstairs neighbor’s ceiling with some of the tracks I listen to. I need something small, with an unconventional form factor to allow easy when not in use. Folks I found something that fits those criteria perfectly, and it’s from 1995. Those old enough to really be into Sega back in the day may remember seeing the Aura Interactor on clearance in stores, well they made a general use version that can hook up to computers and TV’s.
     
    Yes, a novelty subwoofer from 1995 is my solution. The bass is pumped directly into my back not letting it dissipate through the building and I can lower the levels so that I can comfortably hear/feel it without annoying anyone. I usually have it turned off but for a few select songs I’ll switch it on, otherwise I just use it like a conventional back cushion for my computer chair. It can still pump out some massive bass though and you can get some serious volume from it without distortion. Due to them being a novelty you can find them on Ebay for relatively cheap and I’d say their performance rivals that of name-brand woofers that go for double or triple the money.
     
    So in total I paid 135 dollars for my entire setup: 25 for the stereo, 20 for the cassette deck, 10 for the speakers and 80 for the subwoofer. Now, you probably won’t find comparable prices for those online, especially the speakers, that was just plain luck. Interact cushions have actually dropped in price if you don’t mind a preowned one; I’m seeing a few on Ebay for 50 to 60 bucks. The Cassette Deck is entirely subjective, I know most folks would rather have a turntable and it looks like the model of deck I have is slightly desirable but in its current condition I think the price was fair. And besides, there are so many decks out there that going after a specific model is rather futile. The stereo is hovering around the 50 dollar range online and shipping probably won’t be very fun. As for the speakers I think the value for money is incredible, even at Ebay prices, each speaker is easily worth 100 dollars loose, which is awesome since the whole system can still be found for around 550 dollars from some retailers.
     
    So, I’m curious, now that I’ve talked for way too long about my setup, what’s yours look like? Do you even have one?  Is it vintage? Modern? Are you a headphone user? Whaddaya rockin’?
     
    I need to know
  5. DoctorSpuds
    Ladies and gentleman… I have returned, and today I’m going to be doing something a little different. A little while back I played ‘Story Machine’ by Spinnaker Software for the C64, and it was probably the greatest thing I ever experienced as a player and peruser of retro videogames. Today I will not be reviewing the gameplay, sounds and graphics; I will be doing something else. The game has a story generator and I’ll be transcribing five stories for all of you today. I’ll include screenshots if you don’t believe some of these really happened.
     
     
    Story #1.
    FLOWERS ZOT HOUSES SOON.
    SOMETIMES THE HOUSE WALKS.
    THE END.
     
    Story #2.
    THIS BOY KISSES ROCKS LATER.
    NEAR THE DOGS TREES NOW DANCE.
    THE BOY HOPS SOMETIMES.
    THESE DOGS DANCE
    THE END.
     
    Story #3.
    NOW HOUSES DANCE.
    FLOWERS HOP LATER.
    BUMPUSES ZOT LATER.
    FLOWERS NEAR THESE BOYS HOP TO FENCES NEAR THIS…
    (the computer was unable to complete this story, it confused itself.)
     
    Story #4.
    APPLES JUMP SOMETIMES
    THE APPLES WALK.
    FENCES DANCE TO STORES SOON.
    TREES KISS SOME APPLES NEAR THE STORES.
    THE END.
     
    Story #5.
    FLOWERS NEAR THE CATS NOW SING.
    BUMPUSES SOMETIMES KISS BOXES.
    SOMETIMES THESE CATS WALK.
    SOME BOXES KISS THESE FLOWERS SOMETIMES.
    THE END.
     
    Okay… I’m absolutely speechless. This software produces some of the weirdest and nonsensical crap I’ve ever seen. I don’t even understand how kids in the 80’s could have gleaned any education value from this at all, though this was most likely meant for entertainment purposes, which it is... Very. Today it is one of the most entertaining pieces of media I’ve ever seen, the amount of times my jaw hit the floor is comparable to the amount of frozen pizzas I’ve eaten in my lifetime. C64 collectors NEED to own this game, if only for the sheer ridiculousness of it. Compared to some stories I've seen these are tame, if you get the chance plug this game in and grab some popcorn because shit is gonna get weird.
     
  6. DoctorSpuds
    Whoa shit! It’s been over a year since I last posted a 2600 review. Where does the time go?
     
    Looking back on it I really have been distracted. I wrote two books that I have deemed unpublishable, a small library of short stories pertaining to said scrapped books, and am now neck deep in another one that I actually hope to work into a publishable form, fingers crossed.
     
    But, I think it’s been long enough since I reviewed a game, at least one for the 2600. Something a bit special, and quite possibly the last 2600 game I’m ever gonna buy ‘cause my collection’s big enough already and my wallet cannot afford another expenditure of this type.
     
    Now it may surprise some to learn that Q-Bert for the Atari 2600 is not in fact the only, or the best, Q-Bert game on the system, that dubious honor goes to a much lesser known game from a far lesser known company, at the very least lesser known for this particular system. Now most people have heard of First Star Software from the legendary Boulder Dash, available in some form or another on every computational device currently known to humans, and probably a fair few that aren’t. If the name Boulder Dash doesn’t ring a bell then maybe the Spy vs. Spy series of games’ll make it chime?
     
    Yeah, these guys have a reputation for making top notch games, and it’s one they’ve maintained as they’re still around today, resting on their laurels and putting out the occasional Boulder Dash title on Steam. But among that library of gems you’ll find an oddity, an unassuming grey box with what looks like a bunch of squares on the front and a highly conspicuous exclamation point.
     
    Yeah it’s Boing! and no I will not be using the exclamation point, Word will have an aneurism.
     
    I’m gonna spill the beans right now and just say that Boing is a splendid little game that gets the formula right and much like the 2600 port of Q-Bert, puts gameplay at the forefront and lets everything else fall to the wayside to be filled in later.
     
    The graphics are pretty much the bare minimum while still managing to be semi-impressive on the technical side of things. When you boot up the game you shall see a bunch of lines, a ball, and some nasty boogins that will no doubt be your opponent in your quest for points. Even though the color schemes you get give the graphics a little pizzazz it won’t be winning any beauty awards, even by 2600 standards this game is bordering on sparse, at least until you start playing.

    The start screen, beware the boogins, he'll kill ya!
    Since this is a Q-Bert ‘clone’ it follows the same basic premise: Touch all the squares and don’t die doing it. In your path is the boogins, who I have named Paul as his proper name ‘the Bubble Eater’ doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Paul’s entire goal in his short digital life is to inconvenience, malice, and eventually murder you, and your goal is to fill in all the squares whilst depriving Paul of his sole source of joy, killing you. Seeking to kill both you and Paul are the Pins that will occasionally and randomly fall from the topmost tiles and make their way straight to the bottom, no detours. If the Pins hit you then that’s a life lost and if they hit Paul he’ll wind up with a concussion and a few seconds for you to not worry about him.
     
    Since the Pins fall from the topmost tiles I’d advise you to fill those in first, it’ll save you some headache because you don’t want to have to deal with them and Paul at the same time.
     
    Now, there are a few reasons why I think this is superior when compared with Q-Bert and it mostly comes down to these two points: You don’t have to tilt your controller due to this game not being isometric, and you move fast as hell, and pretty soon Paul moves fast as hell.
     
    This game is quick right off the bat and basically presents everything it has to offer immediately. You will only ever deal with the Pins and Paul, there will be no surprise enemies in the coming levels only Paul getting smarter and faster, the pins getting more numerous, and the order of tiles needing to be filled in being changed. It’s a game of reflexive problem solving and fast reaction times and holy hell use a Sega pad for this, a standard 2600 Joystick won’t last long with this one, it’ll be crunchy in no time.
     
    Now don’t think for a moment that this game isn’t forgiving, it is, it really is, if you’re lucky. First off you start with a whole bunch of lives, five to be precise, which is two entire lives more than the standard. And second, unlike the 2600 Q-Bert, Boing has both you and Paul being animated jumping across the tiles which means you can jump through each other if you both jump at the same time which makes for some serious cheek clenching but still gives you an out if you're desperate. In the 2600 Q-Bert the enemies simply appeared on the next tile which made for some cheap feeling death, with Boing you have a chance to get out of the way at the very least.
     
    Boing is simply a splendid experience, the gameplay is rock solid, the tunes it plays are well done and easy on the ears, and the graphics, while plain, are still impressive on the technical side. Unfortunately the whole thing will be seriously tainted when you realize how expensive this game is. There are two cartridge variations of this game, one in a Xonox style cartridge with the odd mushroom tip that makes storing it a nightmare and another in a far plainer cartridge that I believe is unique to this game. The Xonox style cartridge seems to be valued higher based on the asking prices I’ve seen but both styles still sell for around the same amounts.
     
    For the privilege of playing Boing on a legitimate cartridge you’re gonna have to shell out anywhere from 80 to 100 dollars for a loose cart, and just forget about trying to get one CIB (Unless you have a thousand bucks that insulted you somehow). I know that’s a high price but for a game that is currently ranked at an eight out of ten on the AtariAge rarity scale that’s almost a bargain. This game is sitting amongst such infamous royalty as Halloween from Wizard, Death Trap from Avalon Hill, Smurfs Save the Day from Coleco, and the legendary Diagnostic Cartridge™©® from Atari. I’d say it’s in good company.
     
    Definitely a Collector’s Zone item for sure, but if you have a Harmony Cart or an UNO Cart then it should definitely be at the top of your list to play.
     
    Also this isn't a return to form, this is just an out of the blue thing for fun, don't expect many more reviews from me.
  7. DoctorSpuds
    The worst thing I ever bought… Well that’s a pretty easy answer for me.
     
    Before I say what it is, I first want to justify myself, because this is a pretty stupid thing to buy in the first place. I had just gotten my tax return in and I was feeling expensive and impulsive, and I really wanted an item that I could show off and perhaps have to act as a conversation starter. I knew it was going to be a reproduction cart of some sort, but it had to be even better, a repro cart and box, now that would be perfect! I went to the ‘best’ place for repro carts, Etsy, because that’s where all the cool custom stuff was. As I sifted through all of the overpriced junk I found a store atari4you who seemed to be in the business of making reproductions. From the pictures everything looked good, they were a bit far away but I assumed it was just to show off the other stuff he had for sale (RED FLAG #1). After a bit of browsing I found it, a reproduction copy of X-Man, perfect! Then I saw the price (RED FLAG #2)… But I bought it anyway. I had no clue how stupid I was until I got the game about a week later.
     
    This thing is one of the biggest pieces of shit I’ve ever seen. No joke, this is just awful.
     
    I got it in with several other packages that day and my excitement was boiling over, I saved it for last since it was the biggest order, but there was already something wrong. It was shipped in a bubble mailer (RED FLAG #3)… at the price I paid it should have been in a well packed box, at least. I tore open the top and… oh god, what is this thing?!? Just by looking at the top flap, or was it the bottom? It doesn’t matter since X-Man was pasted on it, and the quality of the printing was absolute trash. The edges were fuzzy and pixilated as if it was resized from a much smaller image, but this was nothing compared to the rest of the box. The box art, dear lord the box art, it is an absolute travesty. Everything has a soft fuzzy edge, the colors are off, and the “X-MAN” itself is splotchy and gross looking, this really struck me as odd since all of the text was pretty clear and sharp indicating a fairly high quality printer while all of the images look like they were copied from a 256X256 jpeg. Also there was a strange dark streak across the bottom of the box art, I would quickly learn what that was from, and it wasn’t the printer. I was aghast at how terrible it was, and then I opened the box to see the cartridge nestled inside.
     
    In the sale pictures a Spectravision style cartridge was used, but clearly that is only for show since the cart I got was a standard Atari Style cart with an admittedly high quality printed label, this is blatant false advertising as I was under the impression that I was going to get the cartridge and box that were shown in the picture. Honestly I was surprised that the cartridge actually played X-Man at all, I was expecting it to play Combat with the quality I was receiving.
     
    The manual I got was of similarly low quality to the box, and it was at this point where I figured out why.
     
    To my knowledge there are no high quality scans of X-Man available anywhere. The only scan of any quality is that of a still sealed copy that you can find on Atarimania, but since it’s still shrink wrapped it has a bunch of reflections that would make copying it impossible. As you can guess this guy used the Atarimania scan, and did his best to photoshop all of the reflections out, but he just couldn’t get those large reflections out. The back of the box is completely custom, and until recently I though he did a half decent job until I looked a bit closer and found that he misspelled the word random as ‘ramdom’ twice and somehow let an upside-down question mark ‘¿’ slip in as well as some extraneous capital letters, he also neglected to insert any of the copyright information. I don’t know where he got the Gamex logo but it looks poorly cropped and the silver bar doesn’t even wrap around the sides, despite it being quite easy to do so with photoshop.
     
    This is by far the worst attempt at reproducing a game box I’ve ever seen, and it really brings up the question of “if there weren’t any good scans of the box, why even try to rip it off?” I really should have done my research before buying this thing and now it stands as a testament to my stupidity and why I will never buy from this seller again. I paid 90 dollars for this, making it the most expensive game I’ve ever bought and is most certainly the worst thing I’ve ever bought with my own money, ever.
     
    I’m also very dubious of the seller themselves, as they clearly knew this was a terrible product and tried to cover it up with clever lighting obscuring the most glaring details, like the terrible art. Also the fact that the description says this game “works great & looks great” is a total lie.  But the worst thing is that I’m convinced he has used a bot to inflate his 5 star reviews. Every ‘review’ is five stars and all say the same thing “Great item and service. Thanks very much!” all are from the same day from the same person who created their account seven days before they left the reviews. It is feasible that this person created their account and bought eight items, totaling around 600 dollars, all on the same day and received them a week later then just copy/pasted the same feedback eight times, or they are a bot. As far as I’m concerned this Etsy store is a total scam, the cheapest thing they have for sale is a repro of Gauntlet for 35 dollars where the picture of the front is so zoomed out you can’t even make out any concrete details on the label, but the picture of the back of the cartridge is nice and close so you can make out that nice texture on the plastic.
     
    Stay as far away from this fucking shit as possible, and if you want to get your own repro cartridges, you can just use AtariAge’s for 25 bucks you can get any game with any label you want. Don’t be tempted by this sham, I was and it was probably the stupidest mistake I ever made with my money.
     
    Here are a few pictures comparing mine with Atarimania's. See if you can find the similarities and differences.
    The Fronts:

     
    The Backs:

     
    Some details with the macro mode on my camera. Yes it is that fuzzy in person.

     
    Here is the listing that suckered me in:

     
    The reviews:

     
    How the game and box are shown in the listing:

     
    This shit is positively criminal. Never buy from this guy, ever, you're just wasting money.
  8. DoctorSpuds
    For the past month and a half I have been furiously writing a sequel to my first story. I finished it several days ago and it is now live on the site!
    Currently it is just a first draft, its rough around the edges but I feel it gets the story across.
    Now I'm just gonna focus on shorter stories because juggling over 25 named characters gets really exhausting and I just want to do something simple for a while.
    I wrote the story with almost no roadmap, I just knew where the story started and where it ended with everything in between comprising entirely of improv, I think it turned out rather well for what it is.
    http://alcadon.home.blog/alcadon-2-the-citadel/
    As for the first book it's still in a constant state of editing limbo, I keep finding more and more spelling or grammatical errors that prevent me from wanting to put it up on Amazon. I'd also like to figure out how to get a print version so that may delay things further.
    (These are just stats for future reference cause I love editing on the fly and ruing the final word count)
    Started: May 16 2020 Finished: June 23 2020 Final Word Count: 104,829
     
  9. DoctorSpuds
    If you're confused as to what the heck this is then give my website a look, it'll explain it far better than I ever could.
     
    The one part that always scared me when I was writing my story was and, to an extent, still is the character design. I'm not an artist, I won't even pretend. I have a decent grasp of the fundamentals from a large amount of doodling I did in high-school and my brief, dismal, experience in art college, but I think I'm improving. The old adage 'practice makes perfect' is true and I think I've improved most of the designs quite a bit, to the extent that I find most of the old designs to be embarrassing by comparison. Now I just need to figure out how to draw bodies and we'll really be in business, probably gonna have to use a bunch of references until it finally clicks. 
    For those interested here are a few side-by-sides.
    Death: No, that's not Batman, it was mostly an exercise in shading.
    Ellie: I think just about anything looks better than that piece of asparagus.
    Ghost: More of a redraw to get the shading down, I actually like the original design quite a bit.
    Inferno: If you look real close at the original you'll see that I forgot to add in his shoulder muscles and did a horrible job drawing them in, I like the spiky aesthetic though.
    Kid: I used a reference for the chest and decided that perhaps I can't quite draw hair yet so braids'll have to do.
    Medusa: What can I say except that's quite an improvement. I still can't draw faces though.
    Pestilence: This one was unfortunately botched, I totally screwed up the 'hair' design which added an excellent movement to the design, I'll have to work on that later. Otherwise it was mostly shading.
    Pixia: Damn that first one is ugly, the redraw is definitely far less cartoon-y and looks a bit like Helena Bonham Carter stuck her finger in an electrical outlet, which isn't a bad thing.
    War: The old one looks like some sort of fungal growth you'd be distressed to find in your basement and the redraw looks like he'd be named Chad.
    Unfortunately a large amount of the nuance in the shading has been lost in the scanning process, the scanner I'm using is an actual hunk of garbage. In-person the pencil strokes (I'm using a basic mechanical pencil to draw these) blend together and give the drawings a far smoother look. I might have to see about getting a new, higher quality, scanner.
     
  10. DoctorSpuds
    Alright! The second draft has been completed.
    I'm very happy with this one, but it has grown in length. Just a smidgen.
    The first draft was approximately 95,500 words, that's a good length for a sci-fi novel.
    The second draft is 137,500 words long...
    It's longer than Return of the King. Part Two alone is longer than all but two of the Chronicles of Narnia books...
    And to be fair the one book contains roughly two books worth of plot, honestly it's laid out a bit like a TV show, I don't know if that's a good thing or not.
    It is long... but I don't think it gets very long winded.
    Most of what I've done is expand upon scenes, add emotion and movement to the characters and elaborate upon more vague elements of the plot.
    Frankly this could all be chalked up to an incredibly long character development project.
    It's still not done though. I will need to go back and retcon some of the geography, this is a real place with real landmarks that actually exist, it shouldn't be too extensive though.
    As it is now -bar the geographical shuffling- it's done.
    If you want to read it then I'll provide links below. As it is now you can read the entire book for free.
    Alcadon Home Page
     
  11. DoctorSpuds
    Alright! I've finished parts one through three. I am worded out and just want to go to sleep.
    The epilogue, which is basically just me having fun, will be an absolute cakewalk.
    I've updated the website so all three parts, bar the epilogue are posted.
    If you wanna read them them just follow the links.
    Home Page
    Part One
    Part Two
    Part Three
    I'm so tired...
  12. DoctorSpuds
    Alright so it's a Tournament 2000 by Unisonic, on its own that's not very interesting but stay with me here.
    The box is unlike any other I've seen, it's most certainly not a standard Unisonic box.
    The thing is completely unbranded and it looks like the thing was printed with ink rollers. 
    The console itself is the only thing that says Unisonic on it and the serial number is pretty high so maybe it was a budget thing to cut costs?
    Frankly its weird and cool and I'm happy to have it despite it being another Pong console.
    If anybody knows anything about this then feel free to let me know.

  13. DoctorSpuds
    Links at the bottom:
     
    Alright so the second draft is going very well, I've completed the rewrites of parts one and two and am currently starting part three. I’m using the first draft as a basic template from which to work off of and am simply working my way through it adding, removing, and elaborating. I haven’t really touched the dialogue as I’m pretty happy with it. Right now I think it would be fair to call the second draft ‘the extended edition’ because I’m adding over 1000 words per chapter fairly effortlessly.
     
    As a note: if you are actually going to try and read my story I must warn you… Expediency is not my forte, a lot of stuff happens in this story. As it is now, part one and part two could be considered a book of their own, but there is a part three that wraps everything up and an epilogue that caps everything off. As it is now, the story is around 127k words long, (From the 95K of the first draft, oof) with more being added. This book is essentially two books written alongside each other that cannot be separated and to do so would leave both feeling stilted, rushed, and awkward. Frankly it’s laid out much like a TV show, with each chapter acting as an episode and each part acting like a season. (who knows, maybe I should talk to Netflix.)
     
    Part one needed a lot of work, I had absolutely no roadmap when I was writing it and was bouncing four or five plot ideas throughout it willy-nilly and honestly none of them stuck so there were a bunch of allusions to things that were never going to happen (It was a sea of Chekhov's Guns that were never taken off the wall). That has been cleaned up and is now an adequate introduction to the story and beginning of the plot. Several characters are given more page-time and are introduced earlier, scenes have been extended to give better context and I’ve really been trying to put an emphasis on the tone and actions of a character over using the word ‘said’ a thousand times (I’m still working on this so it might be a bit stilted in places.) All in all it was an exercise in continuity, either with having subsequent parts reference it more often, or write in story elements that are referenced later on that had no actual buildup. (Again, I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote the first part.)
     
    Part two had very little story that needed tweaking, though there was a bit, it was mostly just trying to give the characters character. Unfortunately it’s still pretty evident who is considered a main character based on how in-depth I go with them, some of them have their moments but I have a lot of side-characters who are rather glossed over. To be fair, I did do this to myself, I am juggling over 20 named characters and I can’t dedicate time to all of them, though I did try to give them a basic veneer of personality. I also had way too much fun writing the climax of part two.
     
    The dialogue/prose balance: I like writing dialogue and I like writing prose, though I lean more towards writing dialogue. I only use walls of text when the story calls for it, with either of the aforementioned, when there is absolutely no ability to inject speech and even then I’ll try to use the thoughts of a character to break things up. I’d rather move a story through the movements of a character coupled with them having a conversation with another. There is a lot of talking, and one could easily argue, a lot of unnecessary talking. It breaks up the walls of text and keeps everybody moving around, and I think it helps the story move faster overall.
     
    I am not writing this using conventional means, I am ignoring almost every bit of writing advice I come across in favor of doing my own thing. To be honest this is probably a bad thing. I’m trying to avoid commonly used tropes, despite my entire story being supported by them, because the real world doesn’t actually work like that, usually. Not every character has to grow as a person and change themselves, not every villain is irredeemable and not every villain is apparent from the start (Not every villain is a villain). Not every protagonist has to have a fatal flaw, sometimes they just have bad luck and they take it in stride. People can change, but they don’t have to.
     
    I’m sure if I find a publisher (big if), I’ll have to change almost everything about the story, which is why I’m putting the thing on Amazon first, but at the moment all of my work is free on my website. The second drafts for parts one and two are posted and in a readable state, though there are typos. I intend on going back through the whole book when I’m finished with text-to-speech software to catch typos (It works surprisingly well) and when I’ve done that I’ll do a blanket edit fixing all the typos and slashing extraneous/overused word (lot of those too).
     
    I don’t have a deadline for when this’ll be finished but I’m getting there. Wish me luck.
     
    Links:
    Site:
    Part One:
    Part Two:
  14. DoctorSpuds
    Man, I hate to do the cliché thing of calling the thing I’m reviewing ‘terrible’ right off the bat, but seriously, the RCA Studio II might just be the most woeful games console I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Just a warning, my Google-Fu is pretty weak for this console in particular, mainly because there isn’t a whole lot that exists on it, and because it was disco-ed so quickly.
     
    I got lucky recently. At my local game store he gets all sorts of weird crap in, and by weird I mean rare. I walk in a couple days back and what do I see sitting on the counter… an RCA Studio II, in the box, with six minty CIB games, with an original shipping box (for the games) from RCA in NC to a woman here in Madison. I threw out a number for shits and giggles (130$) and he immediately said yes. Now I own a boxed RCA studio II (Matching SN’s) with over half of the North American library, woo! I knew what I was getting into when I bought it, I know it’s a terrible system but… y’know, bragging rights? I decided to pull DSRT out of its pseudo retirement to review this sucker. So without further ado…
     

     
    The Studio II was RCA’s answer to the Fairchild Channel F, and subsequently the Atari VCS, but wound up being obsolete right out the gate. Just about every part of this machine can be criticized and detracted in some way, from the games, to the packaging the console comes in, to the console itself. Let’s simply start with the console.
     
    Right out the gate the specs don’t seem too bad, but then you take a look at the video chip and well:
     
    RCA CDP1861 "Pixie" video chip, 64x32, monochrome graphics.
     
    Oh dear… that’s not good, and the sound?
     
    An internal speaker capable of making simple beeping noises…
     
    Oh dear again.
     
    I’m pretty sure Magnavox was offering Dedicated Consoles with higher graphical and sound fidelity than this several years prior, by 1977 most bargain bin Pong consoles came with color.
    The console itself is a sturdy slab of beige plastic with a faceplate of burnished beige metal with ‘Studio II’ emblazoned on it. Immediately one will notice the two numerical keypads on either side of the unit, we’ll get to those later. I will admit that the build quality is fantastic, with the plastic shell being nearly half a centimeter thick, not a chance of it creaking in your hands. The keypad buttons are also extremely nice to use, they’re using rubber domes (I think) but you still get a satisfying dull click when you press down. But here’s the bad part of it all… it’s ugly, absolutely downright hideous. The entire thing is two-tone beige with chrome highlights, it reminds of the inside of a Winnebago, it is completely lacking any sort of style or visual appeal. The 2600 had the outlandish ridges and the soft angular design, the Channel F looked like and 8-track player, the Intellivision had the woodgrain coupled with the gold for the classy high-class charm. The Studio II looks like something you’d see in a school computer room or a church basement, or a daycare, it has no sharp edges so the kids can’t hurt themselves on it and it can survive being thrown into a wall. It’s positively dismal.
     
    Speaking of dismal, how about the packaging? The word unappealing comes to mind first and foremost. Any good game packaging has one of three things or a combination if the company is feeling ambitious: Pictures of the games, pictures of people playing the games (and having fun), and eye-catching artwork to draw in the eye of potential customers. The Studio II has one of those things, pictures of the 5 built-in ‘games’ (two could be classified as games, one is a tech demo, one is a drawing program, and the other is math), but you’d be forgiven for thinking they are just quick artists interpretations, there’s no way they could look that bad. They do, the artists renditions actually look better. There is also actual drawn artwork on the box. I know I’m not the pinnacle of artistic ability but these look like crap. Whoever they got to paint this stuff could draw a racecar but couldn’t draw a person’s face to save their life. The family sitting around watching, not playing, watching, a static image of some poorly drawn houses look so dissatisfied and disgusted that it’s almost hilarious. The woman is actually drawing her chin into her neck in disgust and the man is thousand-yard-staring into oblivion. Captain archer is playing bowling! And his face is falling off!Even the fairly clinical Sears Telegames system boxes were more appealing than this! Actually! No! RCA did have better artwork! It’s on the Owner’s manual! How else could they screw this up!?
     

     
    Well it looks like Atari got the inspiration for the initial 5200 from these guys because there is only one cord running out of the system. You could tear this thing apart looking for a power jack but you’ll never find one. The power and video use the same cord, which means if you lost the special AV switchbox made specifically for this console then you can’t play it. Because the system itself is also the controller that means that the cord running from it is very long, to account for the tiny cord meant to go from the switchbox to the TV, which means packing the system up is a hassle because the thing is, no joke, fifteen feet long and stiff as hell. You can also search the console for a power button but you’ll also not be able to find one, why? Because the AV switchbox is also the power switch! Which means you’d better have it in an easy to reach place otherwise you won’t be able to use the system! This is despicable, and the main reason why the Studio II is not worth owning today. If that switchbox breaks then you are sunk, if the cord from the console frays or snaps, you’re sunk, if one of the prongs from the switchbox frays or snaps then you’re sunk! This sort of innovation is an absolute hindrance as it makes the overall unit fragile and unwieldy to use in any sort of capacity, not that you’d really want to since almost half of the games are educational!
     
    Here is a list of the entire NA game library that I took straight from Wikipedia, I’ll also throw in my two cents on the ‘games as well’
     
    1.       18V400|TV Arcade I: Space War: You guide a missile from a static point to hit slowly moving enemies, boring.
    2.       18V401|TV Arcade II: Fun with Numbers: Fuck no. The Parker Brothers Merlin does this better
    3.       18V402|TV Arcade III: Tennis/Squash: Non-analogue Pong with a hilariously thin game field, boring and barely works as the ball will ricochet off of nothing.
    4.       18V403|TV Arcade IV: Baseball: The game in its most abstract form, it mostly plays itself.
    5.       18V404|TV Arcade Series: Speedway/Tag: Brilliantly boring, an insult to racing games. Getting a 2600 and Indy 500 is probably cheaper.
    6.       18V405|TV Arcade Series: Gunfighter/Moonship Battle: Atari used this exact fourmula to make Outlaw, but did it better. Moonship battle may not be classifiable as a game, Imagine Space War but without that fluid motion or gravity.
    7.       18V500|TV School House I: Learning, it came with quiz books! It’s quiz software!
    8.       18V501|TV School House II: Math Fun: More learning but with math!
    9.       18V600|TV Casino I: Blackjack: How about not.
    10.     18V601|TV Casino Series: TV Bingo: Pixelated Bingo, bring your own cards and chips. 
    11.     18V700|TV Mystic Series: Biorhythm: Pseudoscience mumbo jumbo, just play Taboo the Sixth Sense on NES if you want to waste your time in such a fashion.
     
    Honestly the American library just blows, most of the games are not in fact games, they’re just learning software or things you could do without the need of a game console. At least overseas they got Pinball and Star Wars which are arguably more entertaining than anything we got over here.
     
    If it isn’t obvious, this thing did not sell well, not in the slightest. RCA estimated that they sold between 53-64k units total, with puts it in as a strong contender for rarest home videogame console, at least in North America. I know the Amiga CD32 is the current title holder but the Studio II is probably in the top ten. This damn thing is so forgotten that not a single ‘game’s journalism’ site that has posted a ‘most obscure’ or ‘worst ever’ console list even has it listed. The Studio II has been completely forgotten to time and you know what, that’s definitely for the best.
  15. DoctorSpuds
    I swiftly came to the realization that in my eagerness to get my shit out there I neglected to elaborate on something:
    The first draft is done, the bare bones of the story have been put in place and that talk about publishers was me totally jumping the gun. Excitement got the better of me.
    The second draft won't be a total rewrite, but I will be working on fleshing out several other characters, adding life and vibrancy to the environments and elaborating on rushed scenes that may leave the reader wanting.You could see the characters but you couldn't see the world they were living in, I hope to change that. A large amount of the dialogue will be kept intact as well as many scenes that I'm just happy with as they are. Most of the rewriting will take place in parts one and two because I frankly had no idea what I was doing, part three is a bit better written but it can no doubt be improved.
     
    I won't be updating the site with these changes until the entire thing is finished and I've proofread it several times to fix the inevitable grammatical and spelling errors. Though I'd be more than willing to send out PDF's for those who really want to view the changes. (Probably not many of you, let's be fair here.)
  16. DoctorSpuds
    I finally finished it!
    I hope to self publish it on Amazon soon, after extensive proofreading, and I'll also be looking for a publisher eventually.
    You can view it for free, in it's entirety, right now, at the dedicated website.
    alcadon.home.blog
     
  17. DoctorSpuds
    Welcome to the world of Alcadon!
    If you want everything in a more convenient form factor just visit the official website!
    Chances are if you're on this page you clicked the "What the heck is this?" link at the beginning of the chapter I posted.
     
    How about I clear a few things up for you:
    Alcadon is a fictitious land set on Earth, far in the future. So far that humanity won't be around to fact check.
    Everything I post is considered a rough draft and is subject to change on a whim. Also, grammar is pretty rough.
    I intend to release the story I've written chapter by chapter, one or two a week, it depends on the length of said chapter. I have completed a good chunk of the initial story but am not finished yet. I do intend to expand beyond the initial story as well.
    I hope to one day get the story in good enough shape to release on Amazon as an Ebook. If that day does come... well, we'll get to that when it comes.
     
    Before you start reading the story there is a bit of required reading so things don't get confusing.
    (For the sake of keeping everything easy to navigate I'll just put them in quote windows so you know when the topic changes, and can minimize for quick navigation)
     
    Here's the setup to the world:
    That's the setup. But there's a little bit more. Unlike today, the land of Alcadon is home to several different races of people. Here's a brief overview of the peoples of Alcadon from the perspective of somebody who lives there, Doctor Lawrence R. Tryel, he sounds very reliable.
    For the sake of simple browsing I'll include portraits of the Indra separately. Several will be revealed as the story goes on
     
    Maps are nice, here, have one:
    As I release more of the story I'll add links to each chapter in this quote box here. Each chapter will also have a link leading back here for those who have no clue what any of this is.
     
  18. DoctorSpuds
    Over the past couple of days I've been working on an official website for my writing project, something a bit more streamlined than AtariAge.
     
    Give it a look! https://alcadon.home.blog/
     
    It currently has the entirety of Part One and Part Two posted with Part Three on the way. 
    I will still post the story chapter by chapter here on AtariAge for those who want to take their time.
    Also I'm so sorry but the website doesn't have a Dark Mode.
  19. DoctorSpuds
    Thank you AMD for automatically updating the registry of my video drivers to the version before. Completely screwing up my screen and forcing me to manually update the registry with the proper driver versions whilst my screen is strobing, which meant I had to first find the drivers, find the version of those drivers, find the registry for those drivers and manually updating them there. Even after fixing the drivers the screen is still screwed up which means I have to daisy chain adaptors so I can use the weirdo proprietary Sony connector which I just so happen to have the proper adaptor for.
     
    In the end I came out on top since I’m getting full VGA (Actually it's RGB, I'm just bad at words) now versus the stripped back palette (Limited RGB) I had earlier but still. That’s wack yo.
     
    If you’re wondering I’m using an ancient Sony SDM-P232W monitor. The resolution still holds up and it’s built like a tank.

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