Diflex / Level 99, Strike Force, 711, The Wanderer Group, Elite, Lords of Sonics, X-Ample Architectures
Added on May 1st, 2004 (8951 views)

Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Markus Schneider. I am 33 and I was born in a place near Hannover, Germany on November 3rd, 1970. I still live in the same city and I also have my own company here. We are doing network projects, database and website development and various hardware stuff. I'm collecting all kinds of film music because it's the music I listen to in my spare time. I'm usually with my family which consists of my wife, my son, two horses and a dog.

What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I had several handles but I can only remember the latter: Diflex. It was quite popular to have an “X” in your handle at the time.

What group(s) were you in?
Level 99, Strike Force, 711, The Wanderer Group and Elite (which consisted of the most well-known hackers, crackers and phreakers from several countries). I was also in commercial groups like Lords of Sonics, which consisted of Jens Blidon and me, and in 1989, I joined X-Ample and shared my music player with them. 90 percent of the X-Ample music player is identical to my own one.

What roles have you fulfilled?
I only coded intros and made some SIDs, nothing spectacular.

How long were you active for?
From 1983 to 1993 and I started with commercial things in 1988. Many people don't know that I was primarily a game coder and not a musician in my active days. I programmed about 15 games up until 1993, but most of them are unknown. :D It was impossible to make a living out of just writing music if you weren't signed to one of the big software companies. So in order to be able to write music, I programmed games.

Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
I started in some small unknown groups, and I coded intros and wrote the music for them. I used to buy C64 stuff from a group called Level 99. I sent them unused disks, they copied stuff on them and I paid for it. One day I put my latest intro on one of the unused disks. Level 99 immediately gave me a call when they saw it – and tata – I was a musician in my first big group. As there hadn't been many musicians in Germany who had their own music player, I later got in contact with almost everybody in the scene.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
First off, it was never a typical day, it was a typical night. I started to work at about 19.00 and stopped at 07.00 in the morning. When the sunlight popped up, I went to bed. I used to work with a friend of mine who made nearly all graphics for my games: Thomas Bechert. We loved to work when it was dark outside and we drank tons of Coke and eat pizza, chips and all that stuff I can't eat today, because it makes me fat. :-)

Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Yep, my music player was especially designed for my needs. I was the first one to integrate an automatic echo routine. Before that routine existed, I had to write every single note with lower volume into the code. The routine itself was very easy. You just had to write 20,6 and the routine repeated the note in the same speed six times lowering the volume with 20 steps. Funny that I still remember this stuff of no importance. :-)

Further on, my vibrato routine used half the CPU time compared to other players. The vibrato code always used the most CPU time of the whole player. Lots of people tried to reduce the time in their players, but many kept the Hubbard code as well. I changed it and made it more inexact but still audible and it saved a lot of time. Later the JCH player did the same thing and I think even better. By the way, I have to agree to what Barry Leitch said in his interview. 90 percent of the music players were based on Rob Hubbard's techniques (even the player by Charles Deenen from Maniacs of Noise). Most people just optimized it and invented more tricks.

When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
Well, proud may be the wrong word, but I'm still glad I was a part of the C64 scene.

Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Regarding the scene, it started with Dynamic Duo who cracked everything before it was released in the stores. But this “scene thinking” stopped immediately when I became a part of the scene myself, so my heroes back then were Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway. I bought games just because they had their music in them. I ripped the music from a game and then sold it without even playing it.

What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Opening of the side-border by 1001 Crew! Pirates and Barbarian – my all time favourite games. Finally, Rob Hubbard's music player.

Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yes, a lot. I regularly went to the Venlo meetings (this was a meeting point for all sceners). I went to a copy-party in Denmark where I met some nice people. I went to the ECTS in 1988 and 1989 with some other people as we had become involved in the commercial side of the C64.

In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
A big community you could be a small part of and even a hero for others.

What were the particular highlights for you?
I love all demos from my old mate Mr. Cursor, Scoop, Beyond Force and the Think Twice series by The Judges. My favourite event was Back in Time 5 where I met a lot of cool people. It was great to be in the same room with so many original C64 composers! This will probably never happen again and it's quite interesting that it happened 15 years after the golden era of the C64.

Any cool stories to share with us?
Check out the other questions!

Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Yes, with some of them. Mostly with my friends from X-Ample, Thomas Detert and some others. It was a real surprise when I was at Back in Time Live Germany and some old friends – Speedcracker and ZAZ from TWG – came through the door. We hadn't seen each other for about 12 years! They read about the event and saw my name in the guest-list, so they drove 300 km to meet me. That's cool, isn't it!?

When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got it in 1983 from my aunt – who had escaped from East Germany – and she payed for it with money she got from the West German State. This is something I'll never forget! All four C64's I've ever owned are still here but only one with a defected SID works. :-(

Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
To be honest, I don't think that it was the C64 itself that was special, rather it was the young people in this world-wide community called the scene. At that time it was quite special to have friends in England, Scotland, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and so on, since there was no real-time communication.

When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Well, that could be fun, but to be honest, I don't think it'll ever happen (maybe if you put a gun to my head :-)).

Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Thanks for your interest. Keep supporting.

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