Tutorial: Hexadecimal

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Hexadecimal is a numeral system commonly used by computers. For example, when showing information from its memory in low-level programming languages such as C++ or even assembly language. In other words, whenever you get really close to the metal.

But it’s not just used in programming languages. Some software editors may also visualize all the data in hexadecimal values to present the information. This could be because of displaying a chunk of memory or a hard disk sector, or because you are editing data at a level where it just makes more sense due to the way the individual bits of these numbers are grouped by the hardware registers of a computer.

We humans are used to base 10 numbers. We are so used to it that explaining how to count from 0 to 9 then from 10 to 19 seems so very obvious. But for a computer, base 16 makes a lot more sense. Here you are counting from 0 to 9, continuing with A to F for values 10 to 15, then only bumping to 10 at that point. At this point, 10 means 16. It can be confusing, so low-level programmers added a designation to clearly differentiate hexadecimal from decimal. This can vary depending on the language and the origin. In old home computers, hexadecimal 10 is typically shown as $10. In C and C++, it is shown as 0x10.

But why does it make sense to use base 16 instead of base 10?

You Do Not Talk About SID Club

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Having been part of the big demo scene on the Commodore 64 in the 80’s, coding a popular music editor and making music on it, I’ve been entangled in this hobby for years before taking a break for decades and then returning to make both more music as well as a web site to play SID music.

Craving to keep myself updated on this very specific hobby, I’ve been scouring through lots of web sites, editors, players and social media every day to find interesting news, and some of this has even been used to good effect at my site. At one point I even considered adding a WordPress blog to this site with SID news presented as blog posts – and maybe even allow guest posts for other SID aficionados to write.

But as the years went by since my comeback, I have been repeatedly disappointed by the lack of buzz going on in this area. Considering how many really skilled composers there are hacking away at the SID chip these days, it’s astounding how little they actually talk about it.

In fact, it’s a tendency that eventually caused me to kill my WordPress plans entirely.

Grumpy Owl: Annoying Sounds of the Night

I live in an apartment right next to a street with shops, a café, a small meadow with trees – in short, a little bit of everything. When sleeping with an open window on hot nights, I’m sometimes awakened by the annoying sounds of the night.

This is my attempt at rating these sounds.

  1. A pair of magpies going KEKEKEKEKEKEKE (probably because some cat found their nest)
  2. A blackbird singing aggravatingly close to my window
  3. A group of night owl teenagers talking very loudly sitting outside the café across the street
  4. Two cats decide they hate each other and of course it has to happen just below my window
  5. One of the largest trucks on the planet (certainly one of the loudest) driving by
  6. A depressed woman that hates everything about life and everyone needs to hear about it
  7. That one rapper walking by while reciting one of his favorite songs
  8. A strange crow that sounds like it swallowed a laser gun
  9. A wood pigeon in a tree repeating the Forbidden Forest jingle

Never Alone

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Developer: Upper One Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle

This was a cute puzzle platform game with a small Eskimo girl and a white fox. It sometimes felt like it was inspired by both ICO and Limbo. It could be played either as a true co-operation game, or single player by alternating the two characters. The latter worked well enough on its own.

The game itself was a side-scrolling puzzle platform in very convincing icy landscapes with a cold blizzard sometimes delivering gusts of wind that made it necessary to crouch down. Jumping and climbing was very easy for a while, in fact so much that it felt like it almost belonged in the facile adventure genre.

It didn’t last – it became plenty challenging.

Without spoiling too much, I was fleeing an ice bear on several occasions, a bad guy throwing fireballs, there were cooperation puzzles, even swimming through tunnels. The girl soon got hold of a bola to throw at targets – like ice to break it down or fragile wooden boards – which was also the only use of the mouse to aim her arm in the direction she wanted to hit. Everything else were keys only.

The Story of DeepSID

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It’s funny how it can sometimes feel like you’ve had your proudest creation behind you.

Maybe it was the time in the 80’s with the editor and the C64 tunes. The couple of maps I created for Half-Life. Or the years where I became overly obsessed with PC games and I fell off the face of the Earth for a few years. Then I created a games checklist-and-database called GameDeed and thought, I might actually have a web site that might steal some of the thunder from The BackLoggery and HowLongToBeat. Was I on the way to my proudest creation yet? No, not really.

GameDeed turned out to be a resounding fiasco.

GameDeed

Nevertheless, GameDeed was still very important and I don’t regret the time I spent coding it. I learned so much about web development from it that later benefit DeepSID. Before GameDeed I made a few static web sites and even my own theme for WordPress, but none of that would have prepared me for the monster site that DeepSID would eventually evolve into.

Layers of Fear

Developer: Bloober Team | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Horror

This game was a mixed bag. It had a lot of clichés and was really too repetitive, but it was also pretty and atmospheric. It had enough of the latter to see my through to the end – about 3½ hours later.

It was a horror adventure that took place in a dark and of course haunted mansion. There were enough opening doors to mock it as being a door opening simulator, and it was also not very original. It reminded me of other horror adventures such as e.g. Outlast and even used the popular interactive gimmick of dragging the mouse to open doors and drawers.

It was quite linear and frequently used the trick of changing the rooms and hallways. There were too many jump scares and ghostly transformations, while actual puzzles were easy and far apart. This, together with the linear nature of the game with no real dying, made it feel like a haunted funfair attraction.

And it had an abundance of almost pitch black rooms.

What I did like about it was the idea of having to find six objects, each time returning to a small atelier to continue a painting with this object. The protagonist, which was a man barely visible in blurry mirrors, had a limp and walked to the rhythm of a heartbeat. After a stretch of uninspired hallways I also found a set piece in the office that suddenly turned into a vertical challenge hunting down ringing telephones.

This part even gave me vertigo – it was unexpected and made it worth persevering.

7/10

Event[0]

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Developer: Ocelot Society | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

That was a really cool game. Sure, it was pretty short – I completed it in about 2½ hours – but it was also very atmospheric and often fascinating. And to think I’ve postponed playing it for the longest time because I heard rumors about having to deal with a psychopathic computer AI. It made it sound like an excruciating experience. Like masochism – or sadism – however which way you want to look at it.

But it wasn’t like that at all.

Instead it was a sweet first person adventure where I sometimes had to talk to the computer AI, Kaizen-85, using oldskool terminals, in order to make it open doors, show logs, or move an elevator for me. It could get a little stubborn a few times, but it was friendly and usually approved of my request. That being said, I did decide to roleplay a very friendly and forthcoming attitude. Lots of asking using the magic word.

Gemini: Heroes Reborn

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Developer: Phosphor Games | Released: 2016 | Genre: FPS, Adventure

Time for something I haven’t played in a while – an FPS. The ironic part is the third letter in the abbreviation as there wasn’t much shooter about it on my part. Sure, I had powers, but I still missed a rifle like crazy.

The game took place in the Heroes universe but was its own story. I played Cassandra, a young girl entering an abandoned structure together with a male friend. Soon they discovered it wasn’t that abandoned after all. Her friend was kidnapped by a couple of soldiers, Cassandra discovered she had time shifting powers, and off I went searching for her friend – as well as some information about her past.

It was one of those game with powers getting more diversified and powerful as the 15 levels went by. In the beginning I could only shift between two time periods – the past (2008) where the facility was new and undamaged, and now (2014) where it was in ruins. Think Soul Reaver, only without any color filtering. Also, time shifting was not possible if the location was inside solid stone in the other time period.