is an Electronics Engineer in Belgium, and hobbyist programmer
of the Vectrex. He has been programming on the Vectrex for over
three years, and has four (count 'em -1,2,3,4)
games nearing completion & release!
It is always good and motivating to hear that someone else is
trying to keep the classics alive and kicking...
That's the GDG mission! Glad you share it, too!
It is an honor for me to participate.
MT> What is your history as a game player, and as a game programmer?
KT> History as a game-player: Hmmmmm...
where could I start ? Maybe at the age of 11 years in the spring
of 1982, I know, I was not an early bird in video-games, but I
do remember that my first experience on an arcade-machine was
DONKEY-KONG and FROGGER at the bar of the local
bus-station were I had to wait for the bus taking me to school..
Years went by, but I always went to that bar for playing arcades...
A lot of classics arrived and left that place, From GYRUSS
to SLAP_FIGHT (Does anyone remember this one?), From KUNG-FU-MASTER
to DOUBLE_DRAGON, From 1942 to TIGER_HELI,
From HYPER_OLYMPICS to KONAMI_GT........ Anyway,
this bar was a very good learning-school from the period of 1982
until 1990, until I finished High School...
During my stay at the university, I have to be honest, it became
a little bit quiet with video-games, but that all changed in the
winter of 1993... When MORTAL KOMBAT came to the European
Continent !! I have to confess, I was really addicted to that
game, so much even that I could not live will all those portations
to megadrive, SNES and even PC.. So, I decided to buy the original
arcade machine of MK1 a few years later for a cheap price
But still, My love is also going to all that arcade-blockbusters
of the 80's.... No 3D, no passwords, no cheats, just play it !!!
History as a programmer: Back in the 80's, I never had any money
to buy a Game-Console or Home-Computer, Never had any C64,ATARI,
Amiga, VECTREX,.. It just started when I finished University (that
was also the place were I began to enjoy assembler-programming)
and I wanted to do some game-programming...
But I did not know which platform to choose, till I came to the
VECTREX... One of my friends had once a VECTREX and we had many
hours of fun on that machine,... I also saw that the available
games on the VECTREX were so less, that it was an ideal platform
to port some good old classics to it.. And Yes, of course, the
VECTREX is full assembler- programmable and as You might know,
I really love assembler-programming !! So, when a good old friend
of me made himself online on the WWW, we tried (for fun) to search
for some VECTREX-related-topics.. I was really amazed about all
the things I found that first night on the internet... From Binaries
to source-codes of the executable... I realized at that moment
that VECTREX-programming could begin!!
MT> Any humorous, or disastrous, game related stories you would
like to share?
KT> Yeh, I just won from
Shang-Tsung on MK1 for the first time and as soon as the
end-story + the 2 nice pictures of Raiden were about to appear,
Current fell out in the luna-park...Oh Plueeeeaaassse !!
MT> Although you started Vector Patrol first,
it seems that Vectrexians has come closer to completion?
In what order do you see completion of the four titles in production?
1) VECTREXIANS 98% finished
2) VECTOR PATROL
What has been your typical time donated to each project?
A lot... Really, I'm a slow guy, for VECTOR-PATROL, I spent
almost a year. also VECTREXIANS (that was started somewhere in
may 1999) is still not 100% done. You have to know that , next
to VECTREX-programming, I am very busy with my work as an employee,
and as a husband !!! I would say that I can program +- 0.5 hours
per day on the VECTREX and I would need +- 8 to 10 months for
programming one game.. Slowwwwwww isn't it ?
When can we expect your new titles to become available, especially
always hoped to bring out VECTOR-PATROL and VECTREXIANS
together on 1 cartridge.. So, As soon as VECTREXIANS is
completed, I HAVE to finalize VECTOR PATROL for the First
Cartridge... And hereby we arrive to the worst part of me : I'm
a real slow guy in programming.. I really am.. I need my time
to think about the concepts, and the programming itself, and for
me, a game is never finished.. (I really have to admit that I
cannot understand how all those other VECTREX-programmers out
there can develop so fast and efficient the one game after the
Which game required the most clever programming and technical
VECTOR PATROL, No, VECTREXIANS,... eh... VECTREXIANS,
Yeah, that was really pushing to the outer limits of VECTREX-programming..
MT> You have been programming on the Vectrex
for over 3 years. Other than your current games (Vector Patrol,
Vectrexians, Vectruss, and Vectorion) Have you created any other
demos, simpler games, tools, tests, et cetera?
The first game I started was a very simplified version of VECTOR
PATROL.. However, after 4 months of programming, I was not
satisfied with many concepts of my programming. So, I skipped
this game for a while and started with developing VECTRUSS..
And hereby we arrive to the second worst part of me : I'm quickly
tired of programming on one game (maybe due to the fact that I
spent months over one game, I need sometimes some changes in live,
can You imagine ?) At the moment that VECTRUSS was for
85% finished, I was tired also of this game and at those days
I did some small tryouts for a BATTLEZONE-clone and an
But never made any demo's nor simpler games nor tools...
MT> Vectrexians is based on Galaxians, Vector
Patrol is based on Moon Patrol, Vectruss is based on Gyruss, what
is Vectorion based on, or is it entirely original?
VECTORION will be based on the arcade called "EXERION":
a space shoot em up which has a very unique behavior : The players-ship
is moving with a momentum over the screen, so it's not that easy
to hit or even more, to avoid the attacking enemy-waves...
Which is your personal favorite, and why?
Favorites of the original : STAR CASTLE.. why? it's simple
but so addicting !!! Favorites of my own games : I don't want
to be arrogant, but I can say that I'm really proud about VECTREXIANS..
Only on the technical point of view..
MT> From your Vectrexian demo, it is apparent
that you know a few tricks about displaying extra vectors without
the added flicker. Do you have a particular technique, like the
scanline technique in Atari 2600 games, that reduce redraw and
I spent weeks in finding the most shortest way to draw an alien
(but not the smallest, on the level of code-space).. I discovered
that the fastest way to draw an image is to reduce the scale-factor
to its minimal, and not to use a look-up-table for the vectors,
but to use a macro to draw one line... So "loop-unrolling" like
Chris Salomon has called it +"List to Code Conversion" as I would
call it. Again, I experimented a lot with the sequence of instructions
that were fed to the VIA-chip of the VECTREX to draw 1 line..
Here and there I could find some optimalizations..
Also, as Chris Salomon already found out in my code, I used a
so called "arbiter"-routine, who is called at idle-moments (like
in a move-pen-d routine while waiting till T1 has timed out: instead
of doing a waiting loop, the arbiter uses the time to do some
game calculations, like collision-detections, position-updates,etc..)
Anyway, for those who are really interested in this topic.. I
will make the source-code available in the future...
Are these games going to be available individually, or as a multi-cart?
For the moment, my strategy is : 2 games per cart.
Deal Games would like to thank John for taking time out of his
to grace us with his wit and wisdom -- THANKS John!
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