News Team Current issue History Online Support Download Forum @Pouet

01 - 02 - SE - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

Alive 10
Adok of Hugi Mag

                         Interview for Alive #10

Many  readers of Alive will be familiar with the subject of this  interview.
'Adok' is the editor of the not totally obscure 'Hugi' diskmag.  This is one
of  the  better known publications for the pc scene.  'Hugi' has had a  huge
reputation,  even being called the "king" of diskmags. Lately though, it has
attracted some contentious debate within that scene.  Now we at Alive try to
get into the mind of the man behind Hugi..

Hiya Adok, could you tell us a bit more about yourself, your real name, date
of  birth,  country  of origin,  and what you do with the non-scene parts of
your life?

My  real  name  is Claus-Dieter Volko.  I'm living and  studying  in  Vienna
(Austria) where I was born on October 8th, 1983. My areas of study are human
medicine and computer science; I'm pursuing two curricula at three different
universities simultaneously.

Could  you  tell  us about your computing history?  Have you always  been  a
(w)intel  fanatic,  or  have  there been other electronic passions  in  your
earlier life?

I  got  my first computer short before my sixth birthday,  i.e.  just  after
starting elementary school.  It was a Commodore 64 with a 1541 floppy.  This
was  the  platform  on which I got introduced to computer  games  and  BASIC
programming.  Then  I  got a couple of video game consoles (Game  Boy,  Mega
Drive, NES, Super NES, Game Gear). I also had an Amiga 500 but didn't use it
much.  I mainly used the C64 from 1989 to about 1992, and then I moved on to
PC where I first programmed using QBasic and later (when I was eleven  years
old) using Borland C++ and Turbo Assembler.

How  did  you  get involved with the demo scene in  the  first  place?  What
motivated you to take an active part in it?

I  started  writing for a German computer magazine  named  PC-Heimwerker  in
1995. This magazine consisted entirely of articles submitted by its readers.
I got in contact (snailmail) with some other people writing there,  and they
sent me diskmags and demos.  Thus I got introduced to the demo scene.  I had
already  heard about it before but had not cared much.  It was diskmags that
attracted me to the scene: I loved reading, writing and sharing thoughts. So
I also began to support some German mags as a writer.

Could you tell us a bit more about Hugi now, its origins and early years?

Soon after getting involved in the diskmag scene,  I got a letter from a 16-
year-old boy (he called himself Kaktus) who wanted to start his own  diskmag
and  was looking for someone to code an interface for him.  So I did it  and
was  made the other of two publishers.  I also took over the editing of  the
magazine.  The  first  issue of Hugendubelexpress,  which was later  renamed
Hugi,  was  released  on  May 25th,  1996.  It contained about 400 KBytes of
articles   on  computer-related  subjects  such  as  hardware,   games   and
programming,  school-stories  and  fiction.  Seven authors had been actively
involved in that issue.

In  its  first two years Hugi had a constant amount of regular  readers  and
contributors  from the German speaking countries and contained  between  300
and 700 kbytes of texts per issue.  Hugi was one of only two active diskmags
in German language: all the others ceased to issue around 1996/1997.

The ninth issue of Hugi was the first that contained an English section with
demoscene-related contents. But the magazine was not promoted enough outside
the German speaking countries and thus remained unnoticed by most sceners.

Hugi grew to become one of the foremost publications in its field,  some say
*the* foremost. Could you tell us about those golden times?

There's  no  doubt  that  Hugi  issues  12  to  19  clearly  dominated   the
international PC diskmag scene. There was no magazine at that time that came
remotely close to the quantity or the quality of the articles in Hugi.

Hugi's  rise  to world domination started when I became the  only  publisher
after  the  tenth issue (April 1998).  I installed the  English,  demoscene-
related  section in Hugi 11 again and collected or wrote plenty of  articles
for  it.  Moreover,  I  did  a  lot  of  advertising  for  the  magazine  on
international  scene  websites and IRC channels.  The effect was  that  Hugi
found a lot of readers all over the world.  With Hugi 12,  the international
section clearly became the major part of the magazine.  Its contents focused
on  demoscene-related subjects following the examples of magazines  such  as
Imphobia (PC) and Generation (Amiga): news, party reports, interviews, scene
philosophy,  coding  tutorials.  Within  a  few weeks,  Hugi became the most
popular  diskmag in the international PC demo scene (place #1 in the  Hornet
Charts).  The quick rise in popularity was partly also due to the first Hugi
Size Coding Competition which I was organizing back then and which attracted
a surprisingly high number of coders to participate (more than eighty).

In the years 1998/1999, we used to have more than 1 MByte of texts per issue
written  by about 50 contributors.  From August 1999 to July 2000,  a weekly
newsletter  was  released  in  addition to  the  magazine.  Thanks  to  HTML
conversion,  Hugi  not  only found readers in the PC scene,  but also in the
Atari,   Amiga  and  C64  scenes,  and  people  from  these  platforms  also
contributed articles.

Lately,  to  say opinions on Hugi are divided rather puts it mildly.  Do you
think that the critics are right in some respects?  On the other hand, where
do you differ from their views?

Times  and  people change.  This affects their work.  It is not difficult to
notice  some  differences between recent issues of Hugi and  the  ones  from
Hugi's  golden  time.  One is that the total number of articles is lower  in
recent  issues  than  in the ones from 1998/1999,  and another is  that  the
number of my articles has diminished,  too. I always used to write about 25%
of the texts in the magazine; nowadays it's just something like 10%. This is
mostly  for the reason that I find it difficult to come up with  new  scene-
related  subjects,  as I've already written so much about so many aspects of
the  scene  in the past.  I'm more of an analyst than a reporter,  I like to
discuss   ambitious  subjects;   introducing  groups  and  their  histories,
reporting about parties,  interviewing people or reviewing productions isn't
really  interesting  for  me.  That's why I write more  about  politics  and
scientific topics nowadays.  Scene philosophy is not something you can write
an unlimited number of articles about.

What's  also changed is that online sites have become stronger,  so it's not
necessary  to provide news for the scene via diskmags any longer.  Hugi used
to  have a big news corner covering almost everything I heard  about  during
the few months since the previous issue.  Nowadays the news corner is small,
containing  only some bits (that's why it's now called "SceneBits") I  found
interesting,  as you can find huge news archives at sites such as
anyway.  Hugi  also  used  to  have a party  calendar,  containing  dates  I
collected  from various sources.  This is no longer necessary either as  the
party  calendar at contains virtually every upcoming  event  (and
all  the  past  events since went online).  In the past,  I  felt
compulsed  to  keep track of all the important things that happened  in  the
scene  in Hugi.  Hugi was also supposed to be a history book so that in  the
future,  people would be able to learn about what the scene was like in some
particular  years.  Nowadays I don't care about that any longer since  there
are other media that fulfill these functions.

It's true that in the past, I actively created the contents of the magazine.
During  holidays,  I  wrote a new article almost every day.  I also spent  a
considerable  amount  of time every day online motivating  people  to  write
articles.  I  don't  have time for that any more since I'm now pursuing  two
studies at three different universities.  [Side note for insiders: 2 studies
+  3 universities = 5 girlfriends :))] I mostly collect the articles  people
send to me,  and only from time to time I actively work on the magazine.  My
focus in life has changed: Hugi isn't the most important thing any more. But
I keep it up since there are people who love reading it. And it's also quite
fun working on the magazine and always a great satisfaction when a new issue
is done.

Some  people  at say that Hugi contains  too  many  articles  not
related to the demo scene.  However,  it is not our attention (and has never
been)  to make a scene-only magazine.  As I've explained in the article "The
Philosophy of Hugi" (published at the Hugi website),  Hugi is supposed to be
a  platform  for  people to present their ideas.  Any area  of  interest  is

One  of  our  recent issues,  the first Special Issue - Coding  Digest,  has
actually been met with a lot of enthusiasm even by people at It's
a  unique issue based on the idea of including all  coding-related  articles
from all past issues in one interface with a search function so that you can
easily retrieve the information you need.  With 4.5 MBytes of articles, this
special issue of Hugi is in fact the largest diskmag ever released for PC.

One observation made to me when discussing issue #30 went along the lines of
"Adok seems to have given up on any idea of quality control, and just prints
anything that comes into his mailbox." How correct is this view?

It  isn't  true:  I  do reject articles when they seem to have no  point.  I
remember  there  was  at least one article submitted for  Hugi  29  which  I
rejected.  But  I'm polite and always tell the authors what they could do to
improve  their articles.  If they finally manage to get the article okay,  I
will publish it.

Some people think you have a "superior" attitude, what do you say to that?

You  being  an  Englishman  know that this  is  a  funny  statement  because
"superior" means "extraordinarily good", so it's something positive. I don't
know  what  my  critics want to accuse me of when they say  that  I  have  a
"superior" attitude.  As a matter of fact I first used this term myself when
I said in a BBS thread that as it happens so often,  sceners acted
arrogantly  towards me when I was just starting to get active in the  scene,
but  then  after  some  time  they stopped  as  they  realized  that  I  was
"superior".  I  considered myself superior because for a long time Hugi  was
clearly superior to any other diskmag in the PC scene.

EP,  his  articles  have provoked what can only be described as an  allergic
reaction, and I've not had any medical training (grin!). What do you think
of the nature and tone of some of the criticism?

It seems like they've got one of his articles from Hugi 29, "How To Save The
Demo Scene",  in the wrong throat,  as we would say in German. (According to
my  dictionary,  a common English expression with the same meaning would be:
They've took one of his articles in the wrong way,  i.e.  misunderstood it.)
Now  he has become such an outcast that it will be difficult for him to  re-
integrate.  Actually  he  tries to compensate for his first article,  but so
far, his attempts have rather increased the opposition to him.

In my opinion,  some of the criticism has been quite rude. But although most
people at are critical towards EP,  there are not only critics but
also  people who enjoyed his articles very much and would like to read  more
from him.

What is EP really like,  from your dealings with him, is he misunderstood by
the rest of the scene?

I've  been in email contact with EP.  He is a guy with a lot of  imagination
who  has  many ideas and communicates them.  He wrote "How To Save The  Demo
Scene"  after  watching  a couple of PC demos after  several  years  of  not
following the scene,  and what he saw was worrying him as it didn't resemble
the  cheerful spirit that was conveyed by the old Atari and Amiga  demos  he
was accustomed to.  EP seriously wanted to help the scene because he thought
that it was in a crisis. Many sceners, however, considered his statements an
insult.  I  think  that he has been misunderstood.  Partly it's also his own
fault that he wrote the article after watching just a few demos,  having had
a wrong impression of the current scene. Later he downloaded many more demos
and discovered that the scene was not in such bad health as he believed.

Could  you tell us a bit more about some of the more notable inhabitants  of
the asylum? The name "Optimus" springs to mind for some reason!

Well,  there  are  some  people  who write a lot at  Optimus  is
certainly  one  of  the most prolific writers.  He has written a  lot  about
personal  things and has made many other poueters mock at him.  IMHO Optimus
is  a  nice and likeable guy.  People have behaved badly towards  him.  It's
rather those people who are so negative about everything who are a nuisance.
But you get used to it after some time and then don't even ignore them.

I  don't  have a detailed knowledge of the pc scene,  but I gather there  is
competition  for Hugi.  Can you give us some info about the rival  diskmags,
and how they compare with Hugi?

There are almost no active diskmags in the international PC scene any  more.
Apart from Hugi,  there's just Pain.  There may be some national diskmags in
local languages,  but they're of course only relevant for the scene in their
countries.  Not even they are large in number,  compared to the situation of
1998.  I know some Polish diskmags also use the Panorama engine, which Chris
Dragan originally coded for Hugi:  it's the best diskmag engine available to
date,  featuring  Windows  and  BeOS executables,  true-type fonts,  one  to
several  text  columns,  a search function,  multiple themes,  buttons,  HTML
export,  and  many things more.  No diskmag generates so many discussions in
the scene as Hugi.

Is  the  Panorama  shell likely to be updated?  I get a  feeling  that  BeOS
support might not be such a priority these days, but a Linux option could be
a cool idea.

There  is a Linux viewer for Hugi by Bonz,  and a member of the Danish  demo
group  IRIS (that releases Eurochart for Amiga) is now porting  Panorama  to

You've got a 10th anniversary next year, any special plans or ideas for this
as yet?

I'm planning to release a Special Edition of Hugi which contains texts about
the  history of Hugi,  descriptions of each issue and several characteristic
articles of each issue. I'm already working on it.

Have  you  ever  been  to  any of the  big  coding  parties,  eg,  Assembly,
Breakpoint, Mekka Symposium? What are your impressions of them?

No,  I haven't. The biggest party I've been to has been Dialogos 2001 (Jena,
Germany).  Other parties I've been to are Core 2001, Fiasko 2000 and several
Austrian scene meetings.  It's nice talking to sceners face to face, but the
sleeping commodities at the party place are usually painful. After returning
home from Core 2001, I spent more than half a day sleeping in my bed.

Ed  comment:- I'd agree with that,  having borne the scars of several coding
parties  and their sleepless nature!  I believe you did go to Breakpoint '05
recently, which is one of the biggest.

What is your all-time favourite demo or scene production, and why?

Diskmags  used to fascinate me in the past,  but there's no scene production
of  any  kind that has fascinated me so much that I'd call  it  my  all-time

I  find that answer interesting,  as most demoscene people see a demo  which
"hooks"  them,  because  it seems to magically push back the limits  of  the
possible  on  their  computer,  or blows their mind from  the  artistry  and
design,  or even both things at once. They get into the demoscene, hoping to
see  this happen again.  Very occasionally,  their wish is granted ;-) I get
the impression from replies to other questions,  that you are motivated by a
love of writing and computers in general.

You've got the right impression. I've never been hooked on a demo, but I had
great  respect of their makers because these people obviously  were  skilled
although they were autodidacts.  I don't remember which was the first demo I
watched.  It  may  have  been  the 4k intro animate by  schwartz  because  I
remember asking myself after watching it: "It's nice, but what's the purpose
of this? There's no interactivity!"

In your view, how has the scene changed since the early days?

Since  the  days  I  joined,  communication has improved  a  lot  using  the
Internet. Never before have sceners from various countries discussed so much
as  they nowadays do on  This makes it easier to get informed  on
people's  opinions.  But  I've  also noticed that many  sceners  are  easily
influencible and tend to follow the opinions of the people who posted before
them like sheep.  So that's maybe a bad side about As a matter of
fact, it isn't that rare that people even vote before downloading!

Ed  comment:-  I noted with some interest the differences between the  early
reactions  to  Hugi issue 30,  where it was thumbed down on Poeut by  reflex
without  even  looking at the issue,   and the later more  considered  views
where they had bothered to read it ;-)

What do you think of the minority platforms, eg, the Atari?

The fact that these platforms have survived until today shows how passionate
their  users are.  I also download Atari diskmags from time to time as  it's
possible to read them on PC using an emulator. Some of them are great.

Are  diskmags  obsolete  in the face of the world  wide  web  and  dedicated
demoscene websites? If not, what can they do that the internet can't?

The  big advantage of diskmags is that they are static.  Once released,  the
magazine  will remain the same and will be stored on servers or  collections
virtually  for  ever (or maybe at least as long as the scene as we  know  it
survives).  In  contrast  to that,  websites change all the time.  While new
contents are being added,  old contents often get removed, and it will often
be  impossible to retrieve it later (unless somebody actively  archives  the
site). Diskmags are made for being archived and read in the future.

In your opinion, what makes a good diskmag?

What  matters  most is contents.  As interests are subjective,  I  recommend
including a wide variety of topics. A good presentation is a bonus.

From your perspective, what attributes make a good diskmag editor?

He  must be very dedicated to his magazine,  actively search for topics that
could be dealt with and try to get good writers.

Where do you see Hugi going in the future?

Hugi  has always been a magazine open for any kind of articles.  The idea of
Hugi is to give people a platform where they can present their ideas. Future
will tell us in which direction Hugi will develop.

Where do you see the demo scene as a whole going in the future?

It's  going  to get more attention from the outside,  as demos are more  and
more  often  presented  at art/culture festivals and  at  computer  graphics
conventions  such as SIGGRAPH.  Hopefully the scene will remain creative and
produce  more  colourful,  cheerful,  funny and less realistic demos:  I'm on
EP's  side regarding dark and depressing demos.  Remember the days when  you
were children and make demos the way you perceived the world back then: new,
exciting and bright. More fantasy! As a matter of fact, Fantasy World by the
Polish demo group Poison (PC) is one of my favourite demos.

And finally, do you have any special message for the readers of Alive?

It seems that this is the last active international diskmag for Atari ST, so
it'd be good if you supported it with your articles.

Thanks for your time!

CiH, collected for Alive Mag,'05.

Alive 10