Wednesday 11th April - The Karl Quappe Overlays: The story behind them
Malban, known for his VIDE Vectrex development environment and more recently
for his games called Release and Karl Quappe, is
one of the long term Vectrex programming wizards supporting the development of new software for the Vectrex. His game Karl Quappe
officially released in September last year was an overhaul of his VFrogger game that he had previously made publically available quite a few years
There are too many enhancements to list here about Karl Quappe, but the most noticeable enhancements over the original VFrogger
include smoother animated vectors, continuous music, and high scores with permanent saving.
A total of sixteen special edition physical copies were sent to various persons in the Vectrex world who had previously supported Malban in his activities.
Because of the scarcity of screen printers able to produce good quality Vectrex overlays, and the success I had had previously with my local
printers I was involved (the go between my printers and Malban) with the production for the first iteration (green) and third iteration (blue) of the Karl Quappe overlays.
At the time I did discuss with Malban about making multi coloured overlays with coloured bands (like YASI) to give the illusion of different
colour for land and water. However, this idea was pushed back because of cost (more colours means more layers and adds cost) and the fact
that not all Vectrex vector displays are perfectly aligned and that the vector graphics could fall behind the wrong colour band.
Malban could have included an onscreen calibration routine in the game, but he feared doing so would add extra CPU cylces during the
actual game play resulting in flickering graphics.
So the final Karl Quappe overlay design went for a 3 colour overlay (shades of green and a white background) including one transparent colour.
Unfortunately, the green colour didnít agree with the overlay material and the colours appeared with fine cracking in the first run of overlays.
Malban went to another screen printer to repeat the printing but these overlays came out foggy. After discussion with my printer, we concluded that for the transparent
part that the yellow ink used to make the green was the culprit. Knowing the excellent quality of the previous Mine Storms overlays which
used blue for the transparent part, we agreed blue made sense for a third iteration of blue Karl Quappe overlays - hey, after all water is blue and frogs love water! These new overlays also included some small modifications
in the final design and the final overlays can considered one of a kind.
You will never be able to get a new limited edition of the Karl Quappe game and overlay outside the set of sixteen that were released but the game
ROM binary is publically available and Packrat will be making a physical release with packaging using different artwork in the coming weeks.
However, I do have a batch remaining of the blue Karl Quappe overlays which I am selling until stocks run out. Price includes postage
and packaging and depends on your location. UK - £10.25, Europe - £11.60, US/Canada/Australia/Japan - £12.20.
You might say I am biased but I do say these Karl Quappe overlays are beautiful and in their final iteration have turned out really well.
If interested to purchase please email email@example.com with your required quantity and your country
Sunday 1st April - Vect-Rex: Full size Vectrex arcade upright cabinet
The collective known as "Guys, Games and Beer" have developed a Vectrex
cabinet ( A Vectrex possibility I have always dreamt about - see my blog
on the build of my own Vectrex cabinet - until now taking a sabbatical) and will be showing it off at the
Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee this April (weekend of 13th-15th).
The system is a full upright cabinet with a 19inch monitor driven by a Vectrex. Jason Kopp aka Arcade Jason provided the inspiration when he
published his activities of repurposing a 19 inch vector arcade monitor for use with a Vectrex.
The most ingenious thing about the Vect-Rex cabinet is how the overlays are changed according to the game being played. This is achieved
by a scrolling overlay. Basically, a number of enlarged overlays have been printed on a roll of transparent sheet. Through markings on
the sheet and use of a light sensing sensor, the roll is advanced in the upward or downward direction on motorised rollers. A button corresponding
to up or down needs to be pressed to advance the roll one overlay at a time.
Thanks "Guys, Games and Beer", youíve given me a push to continue with my VecCab developments and
Saurday 31st March - Busy with delivering overlays
Thanks for the emails from those asking if this website is still alive because there were no updates since January.
All is well but Iíve just been incredibly busy with life
and any time in the Vectrex world has been spent arranging despatch of overlays. Mine Storm is now completely sold out.
I still have some YASI and Karl Quappe overlays remaining. If interested to find out more please click on the "Shop" tab above or
email firstname.lastname@example.org stating type, quantity required and your country.
Wednesday 3rd January - Vectrex overlays back in stock
I've got a selection of new overlays back in stock. This includes YASI, Mine Storm and the generic green overlays
that have been released previously. If interested to find out more please click on the "Shop" tab above or
email email@example.com stating type, quantity required and your country.
Sunday 1st January - Happy New Year! & the usual reflection of the past year
Who would have thought? This website is now in its 10th year! I donít usually keep hobbies going this long! Relative to many others
I came to the Vectex late. I was aware of the Vectrex in the 80ís, but I was a poor school boy who could only drool over the Vectrex
when I first happened upon it in the famous Hamleys toyshop. This was on a once only school trip to London and after that I never saw it again.
Of course the price tag was way out of reach for a school boy who had spent nearly a year saving up his pocket money in order to purchase a ZX81.
Nevertheless, the sight of those glowing Vector graphics stuck in my subconscious mind and a chance encounter seeing a Vectrex
on eBay some 10 years ago re-established my fascination with vector graphics and the Vectrex. The Vectrex is unique and the fact that
it is still being supported by home brewers means that I will continue to update this website with news of the scene and including my own
However, this year, my time has been going into other "real life" activities so I havenít been as active in the Vectrex world as I would've liked to have been.
My VecZogs game is still stuck at 70% complete and I just havenít had time to get back into it to push it towards the finish line. The delays arenít
just because of software but also because of hardware. The game requires RAM and I need special cartridge PCBs manufactured that include
Regular readers will know that I sell overlays and other hardware for the Vectrex too. Last year, new overlay development and progress
was very slow. This was due to my screen printers having all sorts of challenges. This ranged from dodgy inks causing cracking in the finished
overlays, screen printing equipment breaking down, and priority demands changing due to local political elections putting high pressure on
the printers to deliver huge contracts for leaflet producing instead of my small overlay quantities. However, at the end of last year there
has been progress on that front. As I look to the left of my keyboard, I can see new overlay batches waiting to be sold. This includes
YASI, Mine Storm, Generic Green overlays and a batch of overlays I organized for a fellow home brewer. In January I will honour those first
who have contacted me in the past regarding YASI overlays. Once Iím through that list I will start actively advertising on all the usual
Vectrex related forums. Also this year I am doing another run of my AutoFire dongles.
These are 2nd generation produts containing software and
hardware improvements. I anticipate they will be ready in May 2018. If interested in these let me know and I'll put you on the "interested" list.
A big thank you to all who have contacted me in the past year with comments about the website, scores and Vectrex news. With your
feedback I at least know my words are being read by like minded Vectrex fans from around the world. I look forward to sharing my
Vectrex enthusiasm with you this year.