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Wednesday: Commodores are back

Wednesday 16/07/2003A quiet day in the office -- why, did you think we went home after the sports day? -- marked only by quiet groans.

Wednesday 16/07/2003
A quiet day in the office -- why, did you think we went home after the sports day? -- marked only by quiet groans. Whether this is the after-effects of the evening or a reaction to yet another set of digital camera pics getting uploaded to the work server, I cannot tell. The best news today is that eight bit refuses to die. Yet another company -- I make it around the fifth -- has decided to take the Commodore 64 brand and see if it can squeeze some more juice out of the ancient elephant. Ironstone has licensed the brand from the current owners, Tulip, and will be creating a portal together with a slightly changed logo that it has some hope of legally controlling. Sensibly, the company says it won't be trying to shut down the fan sites -- which have, after all, acted as a life support machine so far -- but will be going after high street and other vendors who ship emulators and games packages for profit. You have to admire their courage, but there's clearly some money to be made on the back of what is almost open-source products and it might as well be someone with an interest in the brand. There's still a niche here. One of the best things about ancient home computers was that you -- yes you, there in the bedroom -- could write a pretty nifty game for them by yourself in a reasonable time. You can't do that with a PS/2, but you can still do it, easier than ever, on an ordinary PC with an emulator. In the bad old days, it took ages writing stuff by hand and saving it on tape -- now we have hard disks and great editors. Nothing better to write a Spectrum game on than a 2GHz Pentium 4. A good game on an old platform will still find many thousands of eager players, and although the money to be made there is fairly minimal you can bet your bottom C15 cassette that if you make a splash with the fans you'll find a big company eager to port your pet onto current consoles. Fame awaits. Get to it.