Lizard / Legion Design,
Added on July 20th, 2008 (5251 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
Hi there! I am Magnar Harestad, born on the 24th of October in 1974. I grew up in a small city called Stavanger in Norway, and I spent many hours in front of the good old Commodore computers back then. When I turned 20, I moved to Oslo to work for an IT-company for a couple of years before moving to Sweden in the summer of 2000. I now live with my wife and two kids in a house near the ocean in the Southern parts of Sweden.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
Oh, I had many handles, but the one that stuck was Lizard. I didn’t know anyone else using that handle and I found it mysterious as lizards can be from tiny small and colourful to big and poisonous.
What group(s) were you in?
On the C64, I was in Legion Design, Reflex, and Megastyle Incorporated/Productions. On the Amiga, I was in Andromeda, Spaceballs, Noiseless, Lemon, Offence Design, The Silents and The Black Lotus.
What roles have you fulfilled?
In the beginning, I was both a coder and a gfx artist, and I made some small demos on the C64. I also tried to be a swapper but wasn't very successful at it as I was too lazy to reply to all the sendings I got. When I turned 16, I found most coders being way better than me in all aspects of coding vector routines, lightning and textures effects etc., so I spent more and more time composing music and having nice chats with the great friends I made within the demo scene community, both through snailmail, internet e-mails and later through my own Bulletin Board System (BBS) called Noiseless. I think that it's the music productions I made that people still remember me by.
How long were you active for?
I think I started coding back in 1986. I'm still active and I try to comply whenever someone asks for something.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
My first attempt on making a demo was when I was about 12 years old. At that time, I really didn’t have a clue about anything. I just knew that I could write hexadecimal numbers in a specific order and that I would get a scroll or a rastersplit as a result. I coded like this in my Fastloader cartridge and I learned what others did mostly by analysing chumps of memory. The great thing about the C64 was that it had a very small amount of memory and that people usually placed their code at the same memory location. Meaning, the music player or the fancy routine I’d just witnessed, would be available at memory location $1000, $2000, $4000, etc.
My first programming result was first shown in a Legion Design demo which resulted in me meeting with the Irongods team. We teamed up for a while but I moved on to Reflex fairly quickly. In Reflex, I made another demo together with PowerPlay in Stavanger and Wax+Pee from Oslo came to visit me before the 1990 Bergen party. At that party, Megastyle Incorporated asked me to join and I gladly accepted as I enjoyed all the long letters and conversations with Roy, Rune and Ruben. My mom was a bit mad about the telephone bills...
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
I usually had my friend Glenn Jacobsen following me home after school. He was the one that provided me with the latest productions from others. After watching stunning demos, we went outside and to play some soccer. Later in the evenings, I usually sat alone in front of the computer and started on something; it was either a new routine, graphic or a piece of new music. This was when I was in 7-9th grade (age 13-15). It was all about having fun combined with eating pizza, drinking coke, and some ruined joysticks after hours of IK+, Fist 2, and all the sport games.
When I reached college, I found my coding skills a bit limited and started to compose music instead. It was very creative, and I also joined a local band where I played different synthesizers.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
I was very fond of fractals and mathematic rendered 2D graphic effects. I was very early with making own CPU calculated stone, wind, water and fire effects as textures or simply demo effects. I also made a lot of own graphic tools for the C64, like a sprite editor and a fullscreen picture compression routine similar to the GIF format. I was very engaged in using illegal instructions in the CPU to achieve optimised machine code and bypass ordinary assembly commands. I also started on a music routine and editor, but got too lazy for it and got stuck in Geir Tjelta's editor instead. His ideas and design were really nice and I learned a lot from him back then.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I think I'm most proud of all the good friends I got and that I managed to become very known in the demo scene without that much to show for afterwards. I released a couple of tunes, but most of my work never got used in demos or games. It was spread to coders or music friends, and I guess they liked it and gave me some respect in return.
I'm also very proud of arranging The Gathering 1995 party in Stavanger. The price tag was over half a million Norwegian kroner (approx €50.000), and I put myself as head responsible for it at the age of 20. Together with five others with no previous experience on arranging a public event, we managed to do it well. It was five days of very hard work without sleep. The courage to go through with it was based on my love to the community, and the event gave me a useful life experience in how to (and how not to) run big events.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
There were many people I grew fond of, and in some aspects even looked up to. I did adore Maniacs of Noise for their excellent music, I was very impressed with Geir Tjelta and some of his work for Moz(IC)art, I enjoyed listening to Tip and Mantronix Enigma demo song, and there were others that in one way or another affected me in my own creativity.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
To me, the music. Music made with the SID chip is just great, and my respect goes to everyone that spent hours, days and years on composing and/or writing the music editors.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yes, I did attend most of the parties that was arranged in Scandinavia. My mother was very worried about me travelling to all these different places, but it was great fun! I was for example present on all The Party and The Gathering parties during 1990-95.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
To me, the scene was all about being creative and sharing these beautiful productions and imaginations with all your friends. Also the nice community, meetings and conversations.
What were the particular highlights for you?
Releasing my first demos for Legion Design and Reflex, all the music I did in the Moz(IC)art editor, arranging The Gathering 1995 party, contributing with music to the Amiga Music-disk Mirror from Andromeda, RAW disk magazines, plus some TBL demos, releasing the game Hyperion on the Amiga through Offence Design, climbing the best musician charts in disk magazines, and finally some of the music for the party competitions.
Any cool stories to share with us?
Many of the trips to the parties were damn crazy! I remember the sleepovers in different schools and sport halls very well. All the drama between Panoramic Design and Shape/Full Force – and not to forget – the police incident with a certain letter involved. Some guys took the scene very serious, but myself I always looked upon it as a hobby that gave a lot of fun in return.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Yes, quite many through Facebook, MSN, and e-mail. For example Omega Supreme/PD, Tony/Shape, Rotteroy/Crocket/MSI, old Legion Design friends, etc.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got it back in 1986, I think. I loved fiddling about in BASIC doing small programs! I still have a couple of C64's laying around. I bought a whole lot from an old school that was going to trash them. Some work and I do have plans of compiling MP3 versions of all my old C64 music someday. I think only 3-4 songs exists out of the 100+ I made.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Well, not really, but it's still the most sold home computer. The community grew really big, and being famous in it did give me a lot of odd looks from thousand of others when walking around at parties, etc. No females though. :)
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
I have quite a lot of old floppies with source code of nice and unreleased routines, but I doubt they ever will be released. If anyone asks me to contribute to a nostalgic demo either as coder or musician, I might join in on it though.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Look me up on either Facebook, MySpace or www.harestad.info.
back to the list of available interviews