UPDATE 24-April-2017: Andreas has informed us that the Kickstarter has been cancelled!
The Commodore 64 was our first true love in gaming and computing. The beautiful C64 invokes great memories from decades ago, with memories feeling so vivid that they seem like they happened just yesterday!
Nostalgia is truly intoxicating, especially when meeting fellow C64 lovers like Andreas Wallström. If you don’t know who Andreas is, then this interview will give you an insight into Andreas’ passions and great dedication he has towards the fabled C64. We have been following Andreas for a while on social media and constantly refer to his awesome C64.com site. Once we found out that Andreas had a C64 book on Kickstarter, we took note as his book is unlike other C64 books we have seen or read before.
We managed to grab Andreas to tell us a bit more about himself, his passions and of course, his new C64 tome.
AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hello Andreas, thank you for your time to do this interview. Before we delve into your wonderful projects, tell us about yourself – when did you start gaming and/or dabbling with gaming systems and computers?
Andreas Wallström [AW]: My name is Andreas Wallström. I’m a 43 year old father, graphic designer, photographer, drummer and a massive Commodore 64 fan. Some time at the beginning of the 1980’s, my father brought home the ColecoVision, so that was the first machine I started with. But in 1984, dad brought home the C64, a 1541 disk drive, a 1530 tape deck, a MPS 801 printer and five Mastertronic games. That was the start of my love affair with the greatest machine of all time – which changed my life forever.
ARG: When did you discover the Commodore 64 and what was it about the C64 that got you hooked on this 8-bit micro?
AW: I got hooked pretty quickly. I was only allowed to use the C64 during weekends at first, but like the sneaky little bastard that I was, I brought friends home during lunch breaks to play games like H.E.R.O., Snoopy and Spy Hunter. Dad and I undertook a BASIC course in 1985, but that didn’t really spark my interest. The programming exercises were mainly aimed at an older audience, but I was still happy to just be near the machine. I got really hooked when I first saw crack intros (cracktros) and demos. I was very impressed when I saw text scrolling on screen for the first time!
ARG: Is the C64 your only love or do you have other computers, consoles or systems you like to use and play on?
AW: I play games and watch demos on three machines: The C64, the Amiga and the Mega Drive. I never owned a Mega Drive back in the day, but I love the games on it. Favourite games on these other two machines would be; on the Amiga: Pirates!, Defender of the Crown, Beach Volley, King of Chicago, Super Cars and Another World. On the Mega Drive, they are: Sonic the Hedgehog II, Castle of Illusion and The Lion King.
ARG: As you are a graphic designer and photographer by trade, did the C64 (or other systems) play a part in your choice of vocation?
AW: It certainly did. My grandmother was a painter, so designing things runs in the blood. I started drawing logos and fonts on the C64 when I was 14 years old, so that was the start of my self-education in the field of digital graphics. I constantly thank the creators of the C64 and the people that inspired me along the way because it’s thanks to them that I have the job that I have today.
ARG: Your website, c64.com is a treasure trove of information on the C64 (we constantly use it!) which has been around for almost 20 years! What made you start this site? And, do you have outside (contributors) that assist you with it?
AW: C64.COM was started by my friends Creeper/Flash Inc and Jordan/Antic. I helped out in the beginning but wanted to do a different kind of C64 homepage, so I started C64hq.com. After a few years working apart, I suggested that we’d join forces again to create one cool site together. That was in 2006 if I remember correctly. The reason why both sites were started was simply because the undying love for the C64. We’re a small team and would love more contributors, so if anyone is interested, please apply!
ARG: Let’s get to your latest project, the Commodore 64: For the Love Of A Machine book, which is currently seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter – could you tell us a bit more about this project and what people can expect from the finished product?
AW: Since I have something of an obsession with the C64, I thought it would be a great idea to design a beautiful coffee-table book that celebrates the world’s most popular computer. People can expect a 224 pages hardback book filled to the brim with C64 nostalgia. There will be interviews with Al Charpentier who was VP of Engineering at Commodore during the creation of the C64 and he also created the VIC-II graphics chip. I have also done an interview with Bob Yannes who created the SID chip and he was one of two engineers that put the C64 together. We got a lot to thank this man, and trust me when I say, without Yannes, there would be no C64!
Apart from these guys, there are in-depth interviews with the likes of Chris Hüelsbeck, Ben Daglish and Fred Gray. People can expect an interview with programmer John Twiddy who programmed The Last Ninja. Something I’m also very proud of are the game commentaries from people that created many of the games that we love. And hey, did I mention the scans of Rob Hubbard’s original music notes? Rob wrote the music to games like Sanxion, Thing on a Spring, Crazy Comets, and Spellbound to name a few. For the first time ever, people are given the chance to gain insight into how he used to compose his famous C64 tunes.
ARG: You have managed to get interviews with some big names from Commodore and the gaming community – was this a difficult process? How did you go about securing interviews with big names like Al Charpentier and Bob Yannes for instance?
AW: You know, for some reason I’d like to torture myself by pursuing people, knowing how hard it is to find people that have said no to others. The interview with Mr.Z/Triad for instance was particularly challenging – It took me three years to get a ‘yes’ from him and then it took eight years to finish the interview! Obviously, the interview was started way before I started thinking of doing a book, but you get an idea what I’m willing to go through. Regarding how I secured interviews with Al and Bob, well, I’ll have to keep that myself for now, let’s just say that being in the scene since 1987 helped a lot. Oh yeah, persistence helps too.
ARG: What sets this C64 book apart from others?
AW: The interviews for sure. You won’t find current interviews anywhere with people like Bob Yannes, Mr.Z/Triad and Dave Collier who programmed games like Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Green Beret and Hyper Sports. This is the first time he’s talking to anyone about the good old C64 days. The Rob Hubbard scripts of course make this book stand out too. I’m also putting focus on women in games which I haven’t seen in any other books. The book will also include professional photography and photos from old copy-parties and meetings that have not been seen before. I take great pride in this and I will make sure the book has a really eye-catching design.
ARG: The pledge tiers are all enticing and we are struggling to pick just one – they all look good! Got any tips on which one we should go for?
AW: How about the associate producer one? *smiles* I would really recommend to get the physical book together with a poster from Dave Rowe and/or Steinar Lund. They’re going to look great on any wall!
ARG: Before we let you go, do you have an all-time favourite C64 game and chiptune?
AW: The impossible question and despite the figure skating events in Winter Games, that would be my favourite game. When it comes to music, one tune I always love to listen to is the main tune in Krakout by Ben Daglish. It’s fast paced, it’s jolly and the melodies are second to none!
Like all good things, even an interview must come to an end. We honestly could’ve asked Andreas another hundred questions, which he would have happily answered, but we thought we’d better let him go to concentrate on his upcoming book. As we say our goodbyes, we are left quite confident that Andreas’ book will be something quite special, for all fans! If you want to back Andreas’ C64 book, head over to Kickstarter now.