Goblin / Boonfire,
Added on May 22nd, 2005 (7545 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
I'm Sylvain, born in France on January 1st, 1972. I live in Paris at the moment and I’m working for the government. Back in the day I was living near Geneva on the French border. I like psychedelic trance, snowboarding and travelling.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I think I choose Goblin as my handle after hours of reading fantasy books. The dictionary definition being: "[n] (folklore) a small grotesque supernatural creature that makes trouble for human beings". ;)
What group(s) were you in?
I was in a Swiss group called Boonfire in 1987. Then Antichrist saw some of my cracks and asked me and some of my friends to join Genesis*Project (G*P) who were in cooperation with Fire Eagle at the time. The coop broke up some time later, but I never left G*P.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I was a cracker and modem trader. I started out with mail swapping, and had a nice PO Box in Geneva, but modem and calling cards took over.
How long were you active for?
I was active between 1987 and 1992. I didn't move on to the Amiga and my activity on the C64 became really slow. I stopped using computers until the end of the 1990’s and the arrival of Internet.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
Well, I regularly used to go to the few games shops in Geneva. There I met a few people and we started swapping. Some time later I met some good friends with whom I started Boonfire with, and we started to swap with a lot of foreign people. FGTH and Imagine were two good coders in Boonfire who taught me the basics of programming machine code. After a while we realised that games arrived quite fast to Geneva, so I began to crack and spread our own releases. When Antichrist saw some of them and asked us if we wanted to join G*P, I felt really honoured. I can still remember when I received the letter. :)
After joining G*P, I got a private telephone line and learned about phreaking. American guys began to call me, and the first one to do so was Grimreaper of Exodus, my dear friend! We sent modems to our English members and especially to Punisher on Ireland. I spent many nights transferring tape games with him, and then releasing them for G*P.
I often went to London with my computers because a friends’ mother owned a Bed & Breakfast. We stayed there for free and got all the new games with us when we went home. :)
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
I got up for school and did a quick check on the Bulletin Boards to see if anything new had been released. If it had, I would let the computer transfer it while I was in school. At noon, I called my friend in Geneva to see if anything new had been released in the stores, and if so, I would hitchhike there and pick the stuff up after school. When I got back home, I forgot about homework and started the computer. I would perhaps wait for a call from Punisher or any other supplier, and harass Americans to get AT&T calling cards. I would often crack in the evening, pack everything and start uploading to U.S. BBS's before going to sleep.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
No, I worked with the machine code monitor that came with the Expert Cartridge, and Cruel Cruncher and Level Crueler when crunching.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I'm very proud that the C64 spirit is still alive and that people from the old scene pay respect to it. The C64 scene set a standard and it was there everything began. It's great to be able to find your old work in the various archives 15 years later. :)
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Quite a few, I guess. All the groups and people that were in the scene before me were my heroes simply because they inspired me to do the same thing as they did. I’m thinking of groups like Radwar, Dynamic Duo, The Papillons, ESI, FBR and people like Mr Cursor (greatest coder ever), Strider (famous communist hunter and FLT's father), MWS, Snacky, Antitrack and Powerplant, and not to forget; Ikari for tons of releases. They all had great skills!
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
In my opinion the most amazing stuff coded on the C64 was the FLI routine by Mr Cursor. It's so amazing when you think about all the research that was done to be able to do that stuff. His Timex protection was also one hell of a routine.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
I've been on several copy parties. I remember having a good time at the Dominators party in 1989, and the Horizon party in Norway was nice too. And of course, I've been to the PC Show in London many times which was a cool event with lots of things to steal for a goblin. ;) You could meet lots of groups there too. They were easy to spot as they were hanging around with group T-shirts and stickers.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Friendship and friendly competitions; a sub-culture where people could express their skills.
What were the particular highlights for you?
The highlight for me was of course when I got the offer to join G*P. I can still remember I showed the letter to the few people involved in computers at college. :) The PC Show in 1990 was a highlight too. I met lots of people there, and we spent a crazy week in and out of the show. A special reward goes from me to Hobbit/FLT. ;)
Any cool stories to share with us?
Yes. I went to the PC Show in 1990 where I met Antichrist and the English members of G*P. Dawsy, a hugh English member, broke the Ocean stand so I could steal all the games that were supposed to be released at Christmas. We escaped from Earl's Court to go crack Midnight Resistance, but I had a little break at Trafalgar Square to smoke a joint – and got arrested! A couple of hours later I was out and Midnight Resistance was ready for release. What a day! :) I also stole Cabal from Yankees at the Transcom party in Paris and first released it with a flaming scrolltext. Those guys really wanted to kill me, but as you know, it's not that easy to catch a goblin!
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Yes I'm still in contact with some oldskool dudes: Antichrist, Snacky and Punisher from G*P, Snoop of Tera, and a few people I meet once in a while when on IRC.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
No, unfortunately I don't have it anymore (I use an emulator). I wish I still had it because it was nicely customised with multibank RAMs and a Disk Demon floppy accelerator. I had that hardware that makes the C64 run at 4MHz too. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was very helpful when packing the games I cracked.
I used the C64 for the first time in 1982 at a computer club where my mother worked. I spent lots of time there learning Basic and playing Hunchback. ;) I got my first own computer in 1986 and it was a C128D. I then had up to three more C64’s when I was active.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
I think it's because throughout all its life, the C64 never stoped to amaze us. There were always new routines, more colours, more speed. Coders were fighting to save a cycle or two (which means nothing these days with super GHz speed processors), and it must be special as it's the only machine where rasterlines and scrollers don’t flicker!
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Never. All I do today is to browse though old stuff for nostalgic reasons. I've had my time. :)
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
I want to send greetings to all the oldskool C64 guys, and especially Snoop of Tera, Stinger of Transcom (great editor of CCCP), Grimreaper and Stormbringer of Exodus, MWS of Radwar and the G*P family of course. And to you for reading this interview to the end. ;) We had a great time!
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