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Sam Heald was a popular assembly programmer for the Z80 calculators, with over 2,000,000 file downloads on ticalc.org. He was also a founding member of the well regarded group known as Void Productions.
During the late 90's and early 2000's, Sam released a myriad of quality assembly games across the Z80 range, as well as significantly contributing to the community by porting other programmers' games between calculators.
In February 1999, he co-founded Void Productions with Derrick Ward.
- Baseball '99
- BoulderDash (porter)
- BlackJack (porter)
- Dying Eyes (porter)
- FrAWgGuts (porter)
- Galaxian (porter)
- Pacman '99 (porter)
- The Legend of Zelda (co-author)
- ZTetris (porter)
- List of their important milestones (date joined TI community, important programs, etc.)
- List of the URLs their site has used
In 1999 after the TI-83+ was released, Sam received many negative emails regarding the availability & compatibility of his games for the TI-83+. On 19th October 1999, his response to this was posted on ticalc.org, as follows:
(Taken from ticalc.org news article, which can be viewed here)
As the instigator of the 83+ "boycott", I wish that you would please post my response as you have posted Ahmed's. I'm typing it now, so if there are any gross gramatical errors, please fix them. [I changed a few spelling/grammatical errors, but otherwise the original intent of the article was not changed in any way. -ed.]
The "Boycott" is over
Okay, as you all have now heard, I was planning to boycott the 83+ community. TCPA got themselves involved (rather complicatedly), and now the whole thing seems rather pointless. Ahmed, fed up with the TI scene as a whole, is taking a vacation, so to speak. Therefore, I'm dissolving the 83+ boycott before it starts. It has become obvious that the whole process will be more effort than the 83+ community is worth (in my opinion). I apologize to all those infuriated and all those sympathetic with my cause whom I have disappointed. I never did give a public account of my reasonings. Here is a small summary:
Why [were we] upset with [the] 83+ community?
The flames had gotten out of control after the Ztetris mishap. Admittedly, Ahmed made a huge mistake, but that is no excuse. I hadn't been mailbombed since my AOL days over 4 years ago! The magnitude of hatemail increased sharply. Then, as if the Ztetris release was some indication that I had entered the 83+ realm, I start receiving many many port requests.
Usually, they are complimentary. People like your game and want to play it, yes? Not these, these requests were more like demands as if my free time is their god-given right. Sorry - no. The newbie 83+ questions were also getting ridiculous. "What's ION? Where's ION? How do I use ION? How do I send XXXX to my calculator? I sent the .83p version and it doesn't work." These weren't as courteous, either. "I downloaded your program. You're a *censored* liar, because it doesn't work."
Frequently in the past, I received newbie email, requests, and criticisms, and never before has it bothered me. But the sheer magnitude and attitude of the 83+ community caused me to make an exception to my tolerance.
My "boycott" was just a silly means to an end. I want merely to raise awareness in the TI community about the problem of programmer respect. I understand that the TI community is made mostly of "immature teenagers", so I don't expect much. But keeping that in mind, I realized that if I simply wrote a TI-Files editorial or a ticalc.org news article, nothing good would happen. The same morons who send me hatemail would reply to the articles and laugh (see the ticalc.org article about Mario 83). [You can find that here. -ed.]
By holding a temporary boycott (probably lasting 4-8 weeks from D-Day), the issue would be forced to the forefront. Many people appreciate my work, but they act not quite as vocally as the disrespectful ones, so they do not stand out. Those that do appreciate surely prefer my time and efforts to be placed elsewhere (Zelda), not wasting literally hours responding to the vocal garbage of idiots. Many people would dislike the policy, but with anger and tension comes the need for resolution. That's essentially the purpose of any boycott. Agitate the violators until the point of collapse. My intentions were not that sinister. If I was not going to end the boycott, why would I bother making the 83+ port work? I could have simply altered the header and recompile it. Ahmed liked the idea (he, too, suffered 83+ indecency, perhaps more than I), and he signed on.
Why I did choose this method?
People can't request ports if they've already been made.
1/2 of 83+ owners send the wrong file anyway.
If the 83+ versions don't work, don't release them. Don't call it a boycott, call it "extended beta-testing."
The presence of exclusion is more emphatic and effective than mere absence. Out of sight, out of mind; so to speak.
I had some other reasons for this method (instead of a boycott), The fourth reason was the primary one. 1 through 3 were meant to agitate the 83+ [users]. With agitation comes awareness, then comes resolution.
My plan was simple:
Release 15-30 Void Productions to 83 ION on one day. The sheer magnitude will bring the topic to the surface. Never before had Ahmed or I ever used our "mini-monopoly" on 82/83 games for our own cause.
Exclude the source codes and .8xp versions (and tell why).
Include a screenshot of the 83+ version to prove that it works.
Post an article regarding respect in the TI community on a major TI site.
Wait. How long depended on the TI scene's reaction to the article. I would have been forced to wait at least a month just to show the severity of the problem and my own dedication to the cause (if I folded early, nothing would be resolved).
Once the time has come (depends on reaction to article/boycott), I release 20-30 ION games with the 83+ version and source code. I'm happy because my issue has been somewhat addressed, and the 83+ community is happy because they just tripled their game selection in one day. Ideally, everybody would win.
So, that's that. I hope the limited exposure that my "plan" received will have some effect on the respect given to authors. It seemed most "gamers" were extremely agitated with me, and most "programmers" were very sympathetic to the cause. So I guess for a "boycott" that wasn't, it was fairly successful.
Whether I'm going to release any ION versions of Void games to the public is, as of yet, undecided. I haven't made any of the conversions, yet, so it depends on whether or not I feel the effort to be worth the time. I would rather (as I'm sure most would agree) work on Zelda TI-8X. I might be releasing a new demo of that soon.