Some Weird Ideas for Demo's!
It's blue-skies thinking out of your box time!
Ok, it's time for some general 'off-the-wallness' here, where we try to
stretch your brains to come up with some new ideas for demo stylee
productions which might hopefully be a little bit different.
DISCLAIMER 1 - I'm a fairly sheltered sort, with only a limited idea of
what's been done on other platforms. So if something I suggest has already
been done elsewhere, then feel free to let me know, but not by shouting
please ;-) I don't think there's too much danger of that happening though,
at a conservative estimate, about 95% of demos are unoriginal anyway!
DISCLAIMER 2 - If anything I suggest is clearly technically impossible to do
from an informed coders point of view, then again, feel free to rebut away
in the next issue. At the same time, I might ask, why not? It's a challenge
to break the limits you know!
DISCLAIMER 3 - Enough already! Can we get on with the rest of the article
1. "3-D Interactive demo", or return of the megademo main menu, in 3D! Done
with 'Ooh Crikey Wot a Scorcher!' in oldschool days, I'm vain enough to
think that was down to a casually overheard remark I made when I was hanging
around with Sammy Joe in the early Maggie days. Now the original flat-shaded
scenario could be updated with lovely complex 3D and textures and stuff.
Suitability:- Any Falcon, or decently coded newschool ST effects. Would be
better with intensive DSP code or a CT60 class machine of course.
2. "Hyper-interactive" - First person perspective fully tricked 3-D engine,
if you get close to scene, parts of it come alive, say putting head in/near
a pool of water. This is an enhanced version of the first idea above, but
even more 'interactive', as if it is closer to how a real 3-D world
behaves, rather than going through a door or portal in the classic megademo.
Suitability - This is really a CT60 suggestion in the waiting, for the level
of detail needed.
3. "Multi-machine demo", which runs an identical demo, effects-wise, off the
same disk or data/program file, whether on the ST or Falcon, but with
'better' versions of the graphics and sound for the Falcon. This might be
difficult to achieve from a size-limiting point of view, so you effectively
get a 96ktro value production, on a 720k disk if you're not careful with the
data size of the two sets of graphics ;-) - Or else try an on the fly
dithering/reduction for the ST mode?? - And what about any differences
between ST and STe palettes, catering for generally non-scene hardware like
TT etc? Memory serves there were one or two demos which bootloaded from FDD,
and ran slightly different versions according to the target hardware, one
with STFM vs STe colours, and another from Hydroxid which featured modfile
music when it was running on a F030, rather than chipzik on an ST. This idea
expands on that.
Suitability - Any machine, or EVERY machine, as the name implies!
4. "Mono-mental" - How about using the little-used ST-Mono mode for a fancy
hi-res textured 3-D demo. I'd need a coders input whether this is a good
idea, saving anything over the standard low-res modes in terms of polygon
pushing. The aim is to get common demo effects running at a higher than
normal resolution. It would need a patient artist or good dithering
technique to come up with suitable graphics. Would automatically manage a
dark and moody look if that is what is being looked for.
Suitability - The idea is mostly aimed at a CT60, but what do you think are
the chances for a hi-res demo of this sort on an'ordinary' Falcon?
5. "Tron-World" - A progression from the hi-res idea. This was inspired on
seeing the 'GlowbotWars' game at the Outline '06 party. How about loads of
hi-res vector stuffs onscreen at any one time, you could keep it mono, or
have a mad vector acid trip with lots of colours!
Suitability - Depends how far you want to go with the idea, depends how well
your target machine supports a decently smooth hi-res vector engine.
6. "Totally Memory-challenged" - A new form of size-limiting. Fed up with
people complaining how stuff is only made for 14mb, and won't run on 4mb
Falcons. Well how about making a demo which will run in 1mb on a Falcy!!
There were a few Falcons issued with this low amount of memory. I even
ordered one of those initially, intending to upgrade as and when I could,
but I got a 4mb in the end. The idea is for this to run on a hypothetical
1mb Falcon with no hard drive, on sale for five years at 500ukp, and
latterly (unsurprisingly at that price) hidden away in the stockroom of
Ralph Kotecha's Computer Hypermarket, in Wellingborough Northants. It is
possible to 'simulate' a 1mb machine, with a little memory configurator
program called 'Figgy'. Take that, you sloppy wasteful 4 meg lamers!
Plus, you've still got the 96k of DSP ram to play with!!
The trick is NOT to use warmed-over ST or STe code, and you have to
prominently display the 'Falcon-ness' of your 1mb proddy, ideally with
truecolour, and possibly DSP code too. Whether it actually runs from floppy
or not, is entirely up to you, but don't rule out oldschoolish tricks like
auto-booting to free up more memory.
Suitability - Standard Falcon, you would be taking the piss doing this with
a CT60 really!
7. "Text-mode demo" - A couple of years ago, I say my first 'text-mode' demo
competition at the ALT Party. this used the chunky ANSI PeeCee text-mode in
some fairly decent lo-res demos, imitating a number of new and oldschool
genre's using a fairly humble host machine. You might like something similar
for Atari, but I guess the total lack of an ANSI chunky mode might not help.
The end result might be a bit too Dildo Fatwa! Even that is done by cheating
anyway, and not a 'pure' hack into the ascii depths as some people might
think. Sorry for destroying your illusions. I guess it would be a fair bit
of work to create something like that from scratch on Atari, and totally
defeating the original purpose of trying to create advanced demo effects
economically on a limited machine.
Suitability - A great big wide open question, might be a total blind alley?
Informed opinions welcomed!
8. "Rewind and enjoy" - Simply stated, you have a fairly standard but
enjoyable demo. You like a specific scene so much, you don't want to wait to
rerun the whole demo again, but you use the 'Fast rewind' button on a
control panel below the onscreen window where the demo is taking place to
rewind to that favoured spot. Or else fast-forward over that embarrassing
greets and dedications screen where you are referred to by your 'other'
scene nick of "Hairyarse" ! This idea is not totally original, as the
Reservoir Gods did a cunning fake version of this idea in "Mind Rewind". Of
course, this would assume that everything needs to be loaded into memory to
start with, so imposing some sort of upper size limit on the demo as a
Suitability - All and any...
So how did you like that lot then? Does anyone else have any strange notion
of the sort of thing which they might like to code into a demo that can beat
these ideas? How feasible or not do you think these suggestions are anyway?
Don't hold back, drop us an email and share with us for the next issue!
CiH, For Alive Mag, June '06..