News + Updates
It's all about Tape Loaders
Disk to Tape Extra (1994+)
This piece of C64 history started it all. It was a simple disk/tape
transfer program by DoSoft, which allowed you to transfer your games
from your 1541 disk drive and then store it to a tape with a high speed
fast loaded. I used to use this quite a lot when I was saving my own
work from the disk drive and transferring it all to tape for my school
friends and college mates to check out at the time. This program was
released on a Megatronix public domain disk (Disk Utilities 1 I think
IRQ Tape Loader (2003-2005) by Laze Ristoski
I did not really use this loader much, as it was just too much of a
long process and was very awkward to master programs to tape, due to my
clumsiness entering wrong parameters, etc. This turbo loader allowed
you to load a program with a screen turned off with thin white stripes.
First play music and then display a loading picture. The only
disadvantage to this loader source was that it was bugged and programs
that used this loader did not seem to work on CCS64. The boot took a
while to load up due to the number of blocks.
The only game I remember which was using this tape loader system on was
Grid Zone. I showed an example of this game using the loader, but
Cronosoft got back to me about the problems of getting thing on to
tape, so I let them use Spectacular Copier. Sadly I don't have the .tap
version of this game using Laze's loader, but if I still had it, I
would have included it.
This was a tape loader system, written by Paulie Hughes. And the
fantastic fact about this loader was that it was originally used by
Ocean Software. The author of this great loader had released the
source code for the loader to Games that Weren't and eventually
uploaded the source code on to his web site. The author made this
source code as public domain and I was granted permission to use the
loader source for various game projects of mine - Many of which were
released FREE. The good thing about it was the nostalgic loading
stripes and the ability to play loading music, etc. The drawback
for me using this though was to split files to fit the loader's memory
- and that sometimes failed. Thankfully Paul helped me out a few times,
getting started with the loader. And I got there at the end.
Freeload was used on a few of my old game projects, such as Cronosoft's
release of Balloonacy and Balloonacy 2, as well as Grid Zone Remix.
That was the way I remember it. I also remember mastering Stranded by
Kev Thacker, with his loading picture and I created the Cronosoft
loader tune. When I first used Freeload, the tape loader used the
standard Cyberload colour cycle bars. This version was used for
Stranded and Sub Hunter and probably a few others. Eventually I
modified Freeload to do cool stuff with my later releases, by adding
some thin lines that changed colour while loading each block of data.
Those two loaders were used in 2008-2009 for Sub Duel and Bomb Chase
Good old Sub Hunter, using the
I do remember updating the Freeload standard turbo loader to make it
work like an IRQ tape loader. Where the loader could play music and
display a loading picture then load the game - without having to split
the runnable program into parts - unlike the previous versions of
Freeload. I also noticed how loading time differed as well. The version
which I implemented into the original source loaded much faster and
could still play loading music and display a picture. This version was
also easier to master to tape as less files could be transferred to
And Bomb Chase 2009 Edition using
Freeload, but with thin stripes changing colour per block loaded
TND (Dance-A-Load) Loader version #1
noticed that recently I have been making .tap (Tape image) versions of
my games and also some of Anthony Burns' latest games. Well, I thought
I tell you a little more about this fab tape loader to you. I was
playing around with the tape loader source by Martin Piper (Available
from http://codebase64.org). I
liked his loader source a lot, and I was given permission to change it
and use it how
I want. Martin's loader was just like any Cyber
load or Freeload loader (The same cyberload colours). So I wanted to
create a pretty original idea
for a tape loader. Behold the Dance-A-Load.
A strange and interesting little loader which uses the Martyload
source, but code had been extended to give me the ability to place
music at $1000-$2000, a loading picture from $2000-$3F40 and also after
loading the game (Which is relocated to $4000) the loader will
automatically relocate the game to $0801 and run the Exomizer or
Martin's compression decrunch address (SYS 2061).
First of all, the normal KERNAL loader will search for the program on
tape. Once found, the screen will clear and display the filename in
white text on the top left corner.
The boot up screen
After a few seconds (or after you pushed spacebar) loading will appear
at the bottom of the screen and the screen is switched off. After the
screen is switched off and loading. The first turbo CIA routine will
display a plain black screen with black and white lines around it.
Unlike the Martyload loader, this piece of code will not cycle through
different colours. Just plain black + white stripes. I used to use the
plain black screen with nothing happening, but it would have made
people thing that the program was not loading.
The tape turbo kicking in
After a few seconds after loading through the Turbo CIA routine, the
loader will then activate another special loader, which is the Turbo
IRQ CIA loader. The loader starts with a scrolling message in the
middle of the screen with a nice colour shade amongst some of the
characters. The loader then uses black border with thinner stripes. The
stripes are some kind of indicator. When the lines are active and are
just one colour (or the screen is still black) the tape is searching
for data to load. After the data has been found, the stripes will flash
using the pulsating colour effect. If there is a load error detected.
The border will constantly flash with multicolour, exactly the same way
as the Martyload loader did.
The scroll text with flashing stripes
After a short while loading, The music (Dance-A-Load) will start to
play in the background, although I can change the music whenever I feel
like it - as long as it is not garage, hip hop or bassline (It is
probably impossible to do that on a C64 anyway), lol. After loading
music will come the TND Loader pic. (A picture
converted using my own Vidcom2TNDPIC converter).
Ugly loading picture
After a while after displaying the picture, coming to the end of the
tune (If it is Dance-A-Load), the music will fade out and after a short
while after loading has finished. The screen will turn off and then the
game data gets relocated from $4000+ right to the BASIC area $0801+
then will execute the decruncher. Various decrunchers use different
behaviours, so don't worry about flashy borders, plain black screen,
silly noise, etc. Most of the time I use Exomizer for compressing files
and use no effect at all :o)
Decruncher - can you tell what it is
And then .... The game :)
The Visiload tribute loader (2009)
When I was mastering The Wild Bunch for Psytronik Software. I was
requested a loader that was based on the loader, which Firebird
Software originally used, but add some music (The Journey) to it while
loading. So I based the IRQ turbo source (by Martin) on that particular
loader and tested it with Balloonacy.
The loader started with a blank screen, then multi colour stripes
appear - Music plays in the background and then the loading picture
comes on. After the main program loaded, the data was relocated and
then decrunched. Anyway, a later version of the same loader was used
for some of the Sideways SEUCK compo winners. :o)
Main bootup of the Fake Visiloader :o)
A tribute to Bleepload (2009)
While I was still mucking around with Martin's tape loader source, I
thought it would be interesting to do a loader lookalike based on the
Bleep Load loader. So after editing the loader's code, I came up with
this. I originally created the fake Bleepload loader for The Wild
Bunch, but used Balloonacy for this experimental loader.
The Blue Firebird
Still yet another Firebird loader idea for The Wild Bunch game.
I used the source yet again to make yet another classic blue loader by
slowing down the turbo loader and draw the picture in the style of the
original Firebird blue loader.
Master Pro V1.0 (February
This was the new version of the Dance-A-Load tape loader, which I
implemented using Martin Piper's IRQ tape loader open source. This was
a simple utility that allowed you to choose the type of loader scheme
that you wanted and also set up the loader music parameters. The
utility could allow you to write loading scroll texts and gave you
options for whether or not you wanted loader noise, a flashing sprite
to indicate loading and whether or not you wanted to save a tape master
of your work on to a disk (so after SYS49152 it executes) or whether to
master to tape straight away - bypassing the save routine. :o)
Left - Main menu, Right - Example of
a tape loading Sharkz 2
If you would like to master your games from disk to tape with this
loader, you can download the tape mastering utility for the C64 from
the link below.
Tape Master Pro V1.0
MooTilation Game Tape Loader - (March
While I was playing around with Martin's tape loader source, I come
across an idea which was to try and write a small loader game. Well,
this loader did the trick. Inside the main IRQ interrupt some
additional interrupts were executed making a loader game to work.
MooTilation was a loader game in which you had a tank at the bottom of
the screen. And your mission was to save the cows from the alien ships.
To do this, you had to shoot at the enemies that swooped along. The
only trouble is that you didn't know which alien craft would go down
and capture a cow. The game was fast paced as well. Once both cows were
mutilated (or moo-tilated) the game was over. To get this loader to
allow you to play the game longer, the baud rate of saving each file
that uses this loader was slowed down to average speed (#$C0). To help
the gamer see how much time there was left to load a program, I added a
loader counter to it. This loader was first used on Mutilator. As well
as display loading stripes, this loader made noise until after the game
loader decrunched and the music kicked in.
Above - Turbo boot loading and
decrunching, second picture - loader's front end, bottom - game in
action while loading main program future.
Thunder Load (June 2010)
This was a sort of experimental tape loader I was playing around
with. Yet again it uses Martin's turbo tape loader source. I based this
tape turbo loader on WildSave, well - the flashy border stuff of
course. However the loader itself is LESS ROUGH compared to the
original Wildsave loader. (I had a C2N tape deck that loads most tapes
but does not work on any tapes that use the WildSave loaders. This
loader worked perfectly and was MUCH Stable as well. Unlike
Dance-A-Load, the recording speed of the turbo was set to #$90, and
loading time was ever so fast. The loader starts with a blank screen,
then a scroll text with music and loading picture, etc. I first used
this tape loader on Silo 64 by S.Sternberger to see how well it works :)
Thunderload V3 (October/Novemeber 2010)
Well then, Thunderload V3? What was that like? Basically, it's
similar to the version above, except for that this version had a little
extra feature, which Martin Piper added on to the loader. It has a very
intelligent Load Error detection routine. If an error occured, the
screen turns red with an error message on screen (Except for if there's
a loading picture, you get just a red border. You then have to rewind a
little then press play (Instead of having to reboot your Commodore 64).
Awesome features. Martin and I even implemented some other loader
schemes. Here's what they are:
- Open Border loader (IRQ Loader using the open borders and only the
side borders have the loading stripes).
- Novaload style (Looks like the flashing Novaload, but it uses IRQ
routines to play music, etc)
- Wildsave look-a-like (Wildsave style stripes with a smooth scroll
text at the bottom)
- NEW for 2011 - The crazy CRL sprite loader (Download and see
Stormbird from the TND Contributor's page for example)
2011 - HAPPY BLOCKS
Another loader game was produced in 2011, which was used for a
few contributor's games that had now loading picture. The loader was of
course Happy Blocks. So what is Happy Blocks? Happy Blocks is a Public
Domain loader game based on a PC flash game I played on FaceBook called
"Block Dodge". The player is placed at the bottom of the screen and has
to dodge the blocks which start coming towards you at a set speed. The
longer you survive playing the loader game, the blocks start moving
down faster, until the maximum speed has been reached. No lives were
invoved in this game. You just had to keep playing, until a program
loaded. Most versions of the Happy Blocks tape loader uses a bacl
border with thin loading stripes. Sometimes I changed the loader scheme
just for fun. Rumour has it that people found this loader game to be
one of my best loader games for the C64 :) How strange was that?
January 2012 - Tape Master Pro V2.0
To mark the new year of
2012. I launched Tape Master Pro V2.0. A tape mastering tool, which
masters a game to tape with an IRQ loader, that displays a short scroll
text, then draw a picture to the screen (like an Ocean Loader) as well
as play music. TMP V2 had a series of additional options. Some of which
included selecting the tape turbo speed of the tape loader. The concept
of the tape loader system was literally the same as the first TMP, but
instead, the loader had extra features. A load error detection, which
worked similar to Super Pavloda (If load error found, border goes red,
rewind a bit then play again). I did leave a couple of mistakes, which
were fixed in May 2012 with TMP V2.1. Scroll text speed could be
altered. There was even a huge choice of the loading colour schemes,
including the AND / ORA flashy border mode (Inspired by the Cruncher AB
decrunch effect choice). Loading noise was disabled and scroll text
lies at the bottom of the screen.
Tape Master Pro V2.1 was more recommended compared to V2.0, because of
I made a bad header in the boot loader (where the black border +
background should have been included). The bad header displayed an
illegal char on screen (See Ron Rong's Pong Tape Version for example).
The loader still worked fine. V2.1 repaired the bug and made one or two
October 2012 - Thunderload Series Six
Near to the end of 2012,
I created a new loader system, using "Tapetool Build" by Martin Piper.
The IRQ tape loader was modified and I ended up with something
completely different. A huge scroll text with one of my own charsets.
Music and also scrolling sprites. The loader even had a tape counter.
The scroll text in the loader was mainly to tell you about the game
itself or advertise anything new C64 related by RGCD or Psytronik
Software, etc. In March 2013, the tape loader was given a new addition
in which Spacebar can be pressed to decrunch the game - so the tape
loader can continue playing the music or scrolling the text message.
Now and then I alter the tape loader stripes scheme. Most versions use
either a black/blue loading stripes scheme or the black border with
cycling thin stripes.
January 2013 - Square Pit
Back in 2007 I launched a game called "Square Pit". I
decided to (during my week off work) convert the game into a loader
game. Well, the idea worked. Square Pit is a game in which you have to
pick small squares and avoid being captured by the other squares. At
the moment, this loader has only been used on "Assembloids" tape
version. However, it will appear quite often soon on future large games
(Which don't fit the Series 6 loader). :)
February 2013 - Mini Clock Loader
This was originally made
for my own personal use to build a .tap of some of the full single file
games that were released on to the internet. Eventually it got used on
all entry submissions for the SEUCK Compo 2013. Mainly because I didn't
wish to play around with typing too much scroll text for the SEUCK
compo on the Series Six loader. This loader system was inspired by the
Commodore Format loader. Yep, Rasterload. This loader uses a clock at
the bottom left of the screen. Unlike Rasterload, this tape loader
consists of thin loading stripes, and flashing ':' between the numbers.
This loader is mainly built for any programs that are TOO BIG to fit
the other loaders I adapted from Martin Piper's turbo tape source.
I wanna make a loader. What shall I
To make a tape loader, you need plenty of patience and ideas.
Martin Piper's tape turbo source will help you get started. Then the
additional implementation is entirely up to you to work out for
yourself. There are two different versions of Martin Piper's source
code, which you could use. There's the version that will generate a
.prg image and you master to tape via a C64 emulator or C64. Or there
is 'Tape Tool Build V2.0.3 which allows you to build your tape in full
- Instructions included. Visit http://www.wellytop.com/c64.html
to check out the sources and try making your own tape loaders :)