About Me





My name is Jon Woods (some people call me "Jay" but my wife calls me some awful things when she's upset!) and although I am an aeronautical engineer by qualification, nowadays I am a lowly, full-stack web developer (front-end, back-end, design, copywriting, everything - largely thanks to plundering the best nuggets from Stack Overflow rather than having the patience to learn to code via courses).

More relevantly to this website's theme, by lucky haps I am also 6502 programmer and VIC-II graphics designer for the venerable Commodore 64, a machine I fell in love with back when I was a cub in the mid 1980s.

In those days I liked to reverse-engineer machine code from magazine listings (where it was presented as DATA statements within BASIC programs); as I believe Rob Hubbard once said, the C64 is a great computer for sucking you into machine code due to the woeful limitations of its BASIC.

I also drew sprites on grid paper and then worked out the binaries to turn them into life... such were my early nerd-infused forays into C64 creativity.

As time progressed, I started to add small machine code snippets to homebrewed games I wrote in BASIC, just to speed things up.

But I was still a million miles from reaching the dizzying standards of commercial games programmers, a situation not aided by my family's poverty and the consequent absence of proper coding kit; everything I made in those days had to be saved to tape and as for affording an assembler program and a disk drive... forget it.

Undeterred by that state of affairs, I told my father I wanted to be a games coder; alas, he was having none of it and sent me away to learn how aeroplanes work.

Of course, I brought my trusty Breadbox with me, but lost the will to dabble in code and design; instead, I whiled away too much time playing Buggy Boy!

Upon completion of my studies / skiving off lectures, I finally found the time to turn my thoughts to code once again, but by that point the C64 scene was being supplanted by a new generation of consoles.

I persevered, though, and immersed myself in the "straggler community", establishing strong contact with Jason "Kenz" Mackenzie whose Commodore Zone fanzine was filling the aching gap left by the demise of the mainstream Commdore 64 magazines.

It was plain that, notwithstanding such noble efforts as his, the C64's commercial games market was dead by the mid 1990s.

So my motive in creating my abortive parallaxed scrolling shooter which went on to be named Colony was probably based around romanticism and sentimentality, an itch that needed to be scratched because I had wanted such a game for the Commodore 64 since my mid teens.

The game, of course, entered the annals of Games-That-Weren't-dom, abandoned by me and not revived again until almost a quarter of a century later when, like me, many old "Breadheads", possibly hankering for something nostalgic from their youth, seemed to coalesce together into a newly revived retro scene.

Hence my C64 journey has lifted off again as I foray anew into the gaming world, starting with a de facto remake of Colony.

But I don't want to do this alone, so kindly join me as I write about the technical and artistic challenges I face en route to finishing Colony and turning it into a marketable product!



Kodiak in disguise
Kodiak in disguise