Biography of Minesnake author Joachim Froholt
I first got into computers and games when my uncle gave me his old Sharp MZ-80A at some point in the eighties. I don’t think he ever suspected how much of an impact that seemingly benign gift would have on me. It was love at first sight, and although I only had three proper games for it, I was absolutely spellbound by the whole computing experience. Later on my parents helped me buy a Commodore 64 on a trip to Sweden, and from then on gaming and general computer usage was my number one hobby.
It eventually became my job, too, as I more or less stumbled into a position as a staff writer and games reviewer for the Norwegian games website Gamer.no. The dream job, one could say, and I stayed there for over a decade before winding up at a general tech site for a while. These days, I’m trying to get my own gaming site off the ground – not easy in this age of social media, so obviously I’m hoping that creating what must surely be the number one hit for the Sharp MZ-80A of 2016 is going to bring in loads of cash. Yeah, well. It’s been fun, anyway. 🙂
My other main hobby is what we Norwegians call «friluftsliv». Hiking, geocaching, finding cool places to make a fire and cook a meal, or even something as simple as listening to a podcast or an audiobook for an hour in the middle of the woods … sometimes alone, sometimes with a like-minded friend. Other than that I’m a pretty normal guy who likes dark beer and sports on TV. Winter sports, of course.
Interview with Minesnake author Joachim Froholt
How were you introduced to the 80A and did you have any computers before this?
The Sharp MZ-80A was my first computer. My uncle who visited from another part of the country brought it with him, because he had bought a new computer (probably a “proper” PC) and thought I’d be interested. This was in the eighties, so nothing was thrown away even if it was outdated – as long as it still worked, someone could probably use it. I hadn’t really thought about computers before, and had absolutely no experience with them before he brought me the Sharp. But I was instantly hooked!
Did you have a favourite 80A game?
Technically not, because it turns out that my favourite games were actually created for the MZ-700, but worked on the MZ-80A as well. Of those, I think Land Escape is my favourite – you have to cross a scrolling, random landscape full of dangers, and the game offers a surprising amount of variety.
Were you inclined to write any games or programs yourself when you first owned the machine?
I tried, but I was probably too young. I didn’t understand much English at the time. My first programming experience was when I typed in a small program from the manual, which printed a seemingly infinite series of numbers on screen. A really simple program, but I was completely awe-struck by what happened. I remember leaving the computer on while we were away to see how far it could count.
What was your first experience of the MZ-80A?
I remember quite vividly the day after my uncle first set up the machine for me. Everyone else went away on some errand or other, but I wanted to stay at home and use the computer. Unfortunately, I could not remember how to load programs from tape, and it was so frustrating to have the computer in front of me, and not being able to figure out how to use it! And when I finally managed to load something, it was a game I hadn’t tried and didn’t know how to play…
Things soon got better, though. All in all, I had a great time with my MZ-80A, and it introduced me to the wonderful world of computing. Without it, I might have completely missed out on the Commodore 64 and Amiga, and all those great games from the eighties and nineties.
What would you like to achieve in modern times with the MZ-80A?
It’s mostly about having fun, I love modern puzzle games such as Spacechem and Infinifactory, and programming BASIC is just another form of puzzle, really. You have a bunch of predetermined tools (commands), and something you want to achieve, and then you figure out how to use those tools to achieve what you want. Very addictive once you get past the initial hurdle.
I’m not skilled enough to push the limits of the computer, but I think it’s a fun challenge to see if I can create games which can be enjoyed in 2016 using a computer from 1982 and a programming language that was invented in the sixties. Plus, I really like the Sharp, and I’d love to see a more active homebrew scene for it. Maybe my games can inspire others to start making games?
Do you have anything new you are working on that you can tell us about?
I’m working on a dungeon crawler which uses some pretty cool ideas I came up with for drawing graphics for the monsters, as well as generating a maze-like play area and representing it on screen. It actually turns out that making a game like this in BASIC, and with limited memory (especially if the finished game is to be compiled, like Minesnake was), is really kind of tricky. But in a fun way.
Oh, and I have a ton of ideas for Minesnake 2. The original was started before I got access to the excellent BASIC compiler by Uwe Maxim, so many of my ideas had to be dropped as they slowed the game down too much. That’s no longer a problem.
Joachim’s site can be found here
|07/02/17 : Minesnake has proven very popular, thanks so much to everyone who gave support. Work continues on Joachim’s Dungeon Crawler game and coding on my demo has now officially started.|
|25/12/16 : Merry Christmas!!! Our first homebrew release is now available. Please find out more about it here|
|20/12/16 : Artwork for the cassette version of the new release is due to be received today so hopefully in the next few days we should be able to get the first Sharpworks release up on the site.|
|12/12/16 : The day is nearly here! Big announcement on our new release very soon. For now, here is a quick teaser advert for it showing some pre-release screens from the game.
New Sharpworks author Joachim Froholt presents a new twist in the tale of the classic Snake game.
|07/12/16 : Great news : We should be able to announce our very first homebrew release this month!! This will be a main game plus a couple of other bonus games included with it. More news very soon.|
|01/12/16 : Storyboard for the graphics demo is almost finished now and this month will see work starting (and progressing) on the assembly code for the graphics demo.|
|13/11/16 : This month I am working on what I believe might be the first MZ-80A demo (I’ve yet to see one). I’m beginning by writing a storyboard for the demo so I have a clear idea where it’s headed. I’m roughly halfway through that and will keep posting updates in this new homebrew news section here as I go.|
|12/11/16 : We have a number of projects that various Sharpworks programmers are working on at the moment including a RPG / Dungeon-crawler, an update of the ‘Snake’ type of game, various shoot-em-ups and a racing game (into-the-screen racing). We’ll have some screenshots up here soon.|
|17/08/16 : We’re very pleased to announce the start of our new homebrew software label for the MZ-80A called Sharpworks. Expect to see news here of the various projects we are working on.|