Area536 :: Rebooted

Oct 27, 2023 - 3 minute read - C64 gamedev

Massive hiatus, NAS crash from hell

To borrow the words of the greatest hero of all time who never was, Samwise Gamgee: I’m back! And it’s been quite a ride this past month. Let’s stick with the project and surrounding computer stuff for now.

Shortly before the last journal entry my NAS server started acting up and disks began failing. Before simply replacing them, I started wondering about my homelab setup. There was (yes, was) a 9U rack in our attic with a NAS and some assorted old hardware in there. None of it was a proper fit, nothing ever worked right and stuff had been breaking left and right for years.

Now if the budget had been there for a big fat hobby like this, things may have looked different. But they don’t. So I did some paper napkin calculations and figured out that the power bill alone ran up far into the hundreds of Euros per year, and that’s not counting any investment in replacement hardware, the annoying noise or the space that this stuff takes up.

I made a calculation in which I deprecated the existing set- up, added power cost, replacement investment as had been done over the past few years, and the conclusion was simple: scrap it! Rent a box at Hetzner and be done with it. So I did. And as I’m finally wrapping up the last bit of backups from Hetzner back to the attic, where one lonely last remnant of my lab remains, I’m back on the Larry project.

I also installed OpenBSD on my laptop as that seems to be the most laptop-friendly BSD out there right now. Arch Linux was getting on my nerves. So far things are looking good. The laptop runs hotter than with Linux or with FreeBSD but at least I get a BSD and proper WiFi working on here. To my surprise I also get a fully working Gnome desktop, Libreoffice, Terraform, LATEX and everything else I’d gotten used to like Inkscape, Gimp and my other authoring tools. The only thing missing is VSCode, but I’m not all that attached to that anyway.

Updates on Larry

As I was busy moving terabytes of data from my attic to the Hetzner DC in Finland I also spent a lot of time coding on Larry from my laptop. A lot of progress was made on the core and scene separation of concerns. As I had built a working proof of concept of the graphical aspect of a scene already when I was still building a disk-based game, I decided to focus on the other parts now first.

The most important part of this game is the player’s ability to type in text commands and have Larry respond to those in a timely and sensible manner. That is a surprisingly tall order for a computer as underpowered as a C64. More on the subject of the screen editor and processing the player’s commands in a later post.

Another foundational aspect of the game is dialogue mode: the game provides a lot of textual feedback to the player through all sorts of witty (and not so witty) text. We need a way for the game to display this text. A later post will focus on how the dialog routines work and integrate between core and scene respectively.