Is there a CT60 Demo Drought?
It is nearly the end of another year already, the fifth of this new
millenium. Has anyone noticed time speeding up lately, or is it just me?
Certainly my perceptions have been diddled with, as I find that things which
only seem to have happened yesterday, came and went by years ago!
According to this weird speeded up time logic thing, the CT60 started to
appear in the wild over a couple of years ago, in the summer of 2003. It
doesn't seem to feel that long ago? Then again, it took most Atari people
ten years for them to stop referring to the Falcon '030 as a "new" machine.
Now the CT60 is a fairly revolutionary product, potentially offering many
new possibilities over and above those on a standard Falcon. There was some
debate about the scene splitting into a 'leet' '060 sub-division, and
alienated from the rest, but with further production runs including the
latest CT63, that prospect seems to be receding. There is a steady buzz
about the ongoing hardware development, including the CTCM, EtherNat, and
various graphics add-ons, even if many of these are delayed. There is a
tangible anticipation of something really cool about to happen here.
In contrast, on the software side, the prevailing mood is a library-like
silence. The last year, the first year in which you could reasonably expect
some ground-breaking releases for the CT60, has been underwhelming. This
goes especially for demos.
In the period 2003-04, you could expect a certain amount of hesitation, for
people need time to get to grips with the possibilities, quirks and bugs. In
fact, the activity level for that period was quite promising, and in line
with what people could reasonably expect. So we got an early debut with
Evolution and "1.0", followed by their Chosneck intro, and not to mention a
nice productions from DHS/Ephidrena called "Traal", and of course the
further releases for last years online competition. And I'm forgetting the
tasty preview version of a demo shown at Outline '04, which was set to
establish Evolution as the top group on the CT60.
The following year, 2005, the coders growing pains would be taken care of,
and we could start to expect great things, right?
Well I'm not quite sure what happened, but this year isn't going to be it.
Apart from a handful of valiant 4ktro's from Evil and Earx, and a hint of
good things to come from aRt, there really hasn't been many lifesigns at
all. Even with things like ported software, the activity level has faded a
bit, although there has been a bit of a late revival there. But we have been
very quiet on the CT60 demos in 2005.
At this point, it might be a good idea to ask why.
1. It could be down to lack of participation in an Atari coding party. Some
people might need a major coding party to showcase their latest and best
demo. It could be argued that there hasn't been the criticial mass of people
for one of these in the last few years. This tends to be a side effect of
the lack of time syndrome described a bit later on in this text.
2. Many people who might be considered as natural candidates are not coding
specifically for the CT60. At least not right now. The CT60 was instead
purchased for its utility value, used for things like a faster operation of
3. The killer for any early activity on any platform is the simple sheer
lack of time to create or maintain a project. The demands of real-life get
ever more acute. Time poverty is at the point where existing ST projects
have been heavily delayed by years for some people, let alone starting
anything new on a higher spec accelerator. It is difficult to fit in an
intellectually demanding hobby in a busy lifestyle. This expects you to give
110% at work, and be burned out to passivity in your leisure hours, doing
nothing more demanding than browsing 'Stars in their Bra's' on the internet.
This is probably the single biggest reason of them all for the lack of major
(visible) activity on the CT60.
4. There is a chronic fear of failure among many perfectionists in the
demoscene. This has been discussed previously. There is now a greater
appreciation of what the other mainstream scenes are capable of. For the
newbie '060 coder, there is a pertinent and direct comparison to be made
with the achievements of the Amiga '060 demo's made in recent years. We are
talking of course, about crews like Black Lotus and Ephidrena. Any
transition of the steep learning curve to get to those levels of excellence
is being done behind the scenes and without any early experiments being
shown to the public.
Which leads rather too nicely onto the next point.
5. The general scene secrecy levels are perhaps too good? People want to
understandably guard against excessive hyping of expectation and subsequent
disappointment if there is a delay, but on the other hand, is there perhaps
too much damping down of expectations? This deserves a separate topic, and
more than one viewpoint.
6. General laziness, nuff said! Especially if put together with any, or
indeed all of the other factors.
7. Of course, there are competing attractions such as the 20th anniversary
ST megademo competition. I'm writing this at a time before the entries are
released, but it isn't unreasonable to guess with sixteen separate screens,
plus extra work putting it all together, that quite a bit of the spare
coding time available over the last few months has gone towards this
competition. In this case, I am quite prepared to forgive the neglect of
other parts of the Atari scene (grin!)
So we've identified some of the likely causes of the problem, what can we do
about it now?
One possible solution might be to declare the '060 as officially obsolete.
It should be shouted around the scene that it is a dead parrot, and not
worth the effort. At that point, the Atarian instinct to rally to the
underdog will come into play here, (not to mention the Atarian instinct to
be perverse for the sheer hell of it!) We saw this with the ST demo revival
in 1999. So following the kicked and abused underdog being championed, we
might expect to see some stunning 060 nostalgia productions, where none
existed before just in time for the following spring!
CiH, for the Alive Xmas Special,Nov '05.