The Overlord / Warriors of the Wasteland,
Added on January 24th, 2013 (2559 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Ramy Hardan. I was born in 1974 in Baghdad, Iraq and have been living in Lahnstein, Germany since 1980. I have stayed loyal to coding, acquiring a master's degree in computer science (German Diplom-Informatiker) and running my own small company developing software and helping others to do the same. As a sidenote for those in my profession, my focus is on Model Driven Engineering, database performance and agile development. I'm a Certified Scrum Master, which sounds great but only actually requires two days of listening to a Certified Scrum Trainer and some money.
Apart from the usual male interests, I practise Muay Thai as often as possible and regret not having discovered my passion for it earlier.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I remember starting with The Overlord. I was about 15 then and was probably trying to sound almighty or dangerous. (Overboard, Overload or Overheard would frankly have been better matches). Shortly after that, I settled on Drakkar, simply because my first perfume was Drakkar Noir – great stuff which I have been successfully using ever since.
What group(s) were you in?
Warriors of the Wasteland, Vision (a very short intermezzo) and then Warriors of the Wasteland again.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I have always been a coder, though I sometimes also created graphics when necessary.
How long were you active for?
I can't be completely precise on this one, but I believe it started in 1989 and ended in 1994.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
I met a scener at a computer camp I was attending. The event was a combination of holiday and programming courses, somewhere in Bavaria. I don't recall how or when I joined WOW, though. Throughout the years, I mostly stayed in the background and didn't really connect with the scene beyond the scope of my group, but I was quite active in the group (low coupling, high cohesion: a good design for software by the way). :)
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
I would come home from school with a new demo which I'd swapped in the playground, and play it. If I was excited by it, I'd try to figure out how its effects worked and then try to come up with some innovative code myself. To be honest, this usually took a couple of days.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Although the principle was not my invention, I used code generation as much as possible, beyond the classical use scenario of unfolding loops to save the cycles on the break condition. Remarkably, this approach still dominates my professional career, as I'm using and selling tools for generating code today. Even my master thesis was about model-to-model and model-to-code transformations.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I can't think of a particular scene-related event that made me proud, but generally I tried to deliver good code, show new effects and exceed the expectations of my fellow group members. Insofar as I succeeded in that endeavour, I do feel proud of that.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
There were some great coders whom I admired for their skills, though I forget their names now. Crest and Horizon are the only groups which spring to mind now. Of the few sceners I knew, I particularly liked Einstein (Yves), who was leader of WOW at the time.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
In a philosophical sense, it was the breaking of the borders.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
I attended the Silicon Limited Summer Party in Venlo in the Netherlands in 1991, but that's all.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
For some, it was about competition, recognition and even fame (within that small context). For others, it was about the passion of an artist or engineer (assuming there's a difference) to invent and excel in using the limited tool which was the C64. For most, it was probably a bit of both.
What were the particular highlights for you?
You are really digging holes in my head, but unfortunately, nothing springs to mind.
Any cool stories to share with us?
Well, I wasn't cool back then and only attended one scene party, so I can only share one (questionably cool) story: I coded a little intro for some WOW release and fell in love with my creation so much that I added a time-consuming loop at the end for the benefit of my name in the credits (although the time for unpacking the release would have sufficed for even the most chronic dyslexic to catch my name). The guy who assembled the release discovered my narcissism and called me. He was obviously pissed off, but remained polite on the phone, and I was very embarrassed.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Not until you contacted me out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago, which happily led to this interview.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got my C128D in 1986 or 1987. It still exists today.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
The size and persistence of the scene that grew around it is probably proof enough. With respect to the demos, coding as an end unto itself is a remarkable phenomenon, too. For many, myself included, it laid the foundations for their later profession and is still an influence today. Even now, I sometimes find myself almost chasing cycles again, because they add up to performance problems in applications with thousands of users.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
As soon as I wake up with long hair, glasses, silly clothes and pimples again.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
I want to thank every coder whose code I have ever read and learned from.
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