Charles Deenen / Maniacs of Noise
Added on July 14th, 2010 (8796 views)

Hello and welcome! Please introduce yourself to anyone who may not know you.
I'm Charles Deenen, co-founder of Maniacs of Noise and Scoop.

How did you first get started with computers in general and the C64 in particular?
I grew up in the Netherlands and around 1983, I attempted to create audio on a computer for the first time. That was the era of the Commodore PET so I tried to get tolerable sound out of a single-beep machine, and oh my, that didn't go so well. *LOL* Soon after acquiring the C64, I started to make music/graphic demos which we showed/traded at the monthly computer meetings in Venlo – through which I met Jeroen Tel. We wanted to make our own music, and wrote a music driver. This led to us having the "odd" idea that maybe we could make money doing this, you know, maybe just enough to pay for some gum and floppy disks. We travelled as young teenagers, all dressed up, to the European computer show in London where Hewson gave us our first paid gig. Apparently, they liked what we did and this led to many more jobs from a wide range of companies. Initially, I mainly provided sound effects, but soon had to delve into doing music as well. I knew nothing about music. I knew that a C major sounded OK after a D minor, but that's about it. However, the first music I wrote wasn't bad, and so I started doing more.

Tell us how your career in games started. Did you submit sample work to various games companies in order to procure jobs, or did jobs come to you?
Hewson Consultants gave us our first gig with Battle Valley after we'd presented our work at the computer show. After that, I submitted work to several other game companies in the world, and we got contracts from many of them. Several game companies found us through so called scene demos in which we usually put our phone number and/or address. The gaming industry was small so it was easy to find one another.

What attracted you to the C64 as a development platform? In your opinion, was it as special as we like to think it was?
It had fancy lights and made better sound than just "beep beep." :) Plus, it was affordable. I think it was the only computer that teenagers could afford and have real fun with. The C64 had a good combo of CPU, graphics and sound, and that made it very popular.

What C64 games did you work on? Please be as detailed as possible.
It seems I don't have a full list anymore. If I need a list, I usually look at other websites which seem to keep much better track of it. This is the list of the most known C64 ones, but there are more.

2400 AD (Sound effects, not published)
After the War (Music and sound effects)
Afterburner (Sound effects)
Alloyrun (Sound effects, not published)
Aspar Grand Prix Master (Sound effects)
Astro Marine Corps (Music and sound effects)
B.A.T. (Music and sound effects)
Back to the Future 3 (Music and music conversion)
Battle Valley (Sound effects)
Cybernoid (Sound effects)
Cybernoid 2 (Sound effects)
Dan Dare 3 (Sound effects)
Double Dragon (Music conversion and sound effects)
Eliminator (Sound effects)
F1 Simulator (Music)
Gaplus (Sound effects)
G.I. Hero (Sound effects, not published)
Golden Axe (Sound effects)
Hotrod (Sound effects)
Iron Lord (Sound effects)
Kinetix (Sound effects)
Lord of the Rings (Music)
Mantalos (Music)
Mr. Heli (Music)
Myth (Sound effects)
Narco Police (Sound effects)
Navy Moves (Sound effects)
Nighthunter (Sound effects)
Rubicon (Sound effects)
Satan (Music and sound effects)
Savage (Sound effects)
Scout (Sound effects)
Soldier of Light (Music conversion and sound effects)
Tintin on the Moon (Sound effects)
Turbo Outrun (Sound effects)
Zamzara (Music and sound effects)
Zynon (Music, not published)

What companies did you work for, either in-house or freelance, and in what capacity?
In-house: Interplay as Audio Director, Shiny Entertainment as Audio Director, and Electronic Arts as Senior Audio Director. Freelance on C64/Amiga/Atari ST working for (not a complete list, just the ones I remember): Hewson, Firebird, Dynamix, U.S. Gold, Probe Software, Interplay, and 21st Century Entertainment.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Remember that I was young. I still went to school during the first years, so those days usually looked like this: 6 AM: I got up and did my homework. 7.30 AM: Went to school. 4 PM: Got out of school. 5-11 PM: Worked on the music and sound effects. 1-3 AM: Was on party lines in the US. After I left school in 1988, I pretty much worked 18 hours a day.

When you were assigned to a game, how much time did you usually have to complete your work?
We were only paid $200-$1000, and so we worked on them for two to six days. Sometimes we only had two days to compose the music and do the sound effects, but we managed that too. :)

What tools, development kits, etc. did you use, and did you create any yourself to fulfil a need?
Turbo Assembler, baby! Turbo Assembler... and that was it.

Were there any games you worked on which never saw the light of day?
2400 AD never got released, but I think all the others were.

Which game are you most proud of, which was the most fun to do, which became a real challenge, and which ended up giving you the biggest headache?
Wow, you're asking me to remember this after 20 years. :) I think I had the most fun working on the Dynamix games After the War and AMC. F1 Simulator gave me a headache. The company who contracted me, wanted me to rip off a certain song, and I did, but it caused quite a bit of concern. Some companies only gave us six to eight kilobyte of memory for music and sound effects. Those naturally became a challenge.

If you had the chance to edit your CV of past games, which ones would you add, edit or remove?
That's a nightmare I don't want to think about! :)

Are there any particular games you would have liked to have worked on or converted from arcade?
None that I can recall.

Did you get much of a chance to play games as well as create them? Any favourites?
Oh yes, of course. I remember playing Rambo quite a bit.

What games did you feel were appalling and you could have done better, given the chance?
None that I can recall.

Was there a particular programmer, artist and/or musician who influenced you and possibly inspired some of your own work, or did inspiration come from somewhere else?
During that time, Jean Michel Jarre was an inspiration.

Please share some memories from the old days! (Like something a colleague did or said, your time on the demo scene, crackers stealing development disks, going to computer shows, etc.).
I remember the meetings in Venlo and Nijmegen. Those were really fun and I still remember all the good friends I made during that time. We used to copy dozens of floppies. The most fun was when the electricity went out and somewhere around 200 C64's powered off. The second fun thing was the nightly calls from the US. They called virtually every night and we had these 10+ people party lines going. Man, I was sleepy. :)

What made you eventually stop creating games for the C64?
The C64 was dying and no contracts were coming in. The Amiga was taking over.

What are you up to these days?

Thank you for helping us preserve an important part of computer and gaming history! Do you have any parting comments with which to leave a final impression on our readers? Feel free to greet anyone you know.
I'll always remember the fond memories and all the friends I made. I still have my C64 in a box, bit I'm thinking about giving it away to somebody who really wants it.

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