2001 AN ARSE
We look back over the last twelve months, of pain and fortune and stuff!
Well, 2001 has been and gone, another twelve months of continued survival
for the Atari scene, indeed it seemed to be thriving in some areas, with
one magical weekend in particular, around Easter time, but more of that
later, as they say. But did Arthur C Clarke get a look in?
Time to find out fellow astronaughties, let's go and see......
A little taste of Garlic..
In the early months, we had Grey, and the Mystic Bytes, in association with
a load of others, promise us a new music production with a difference. The
"difference" turned out to be an add-on diskmag, which I sort of had
advance knowledge about, being asked to cast my 'expert' eye over the
grammatical correctness of a lot of the text. Couldn't tell there was a
supposed expert involved there, could you?
The end result was called 'Chosneck' a huge beast of a download, several
megabytes worth,featuring a superior music compilation with mini demo-effect
strewn autobiographies of the composers scattered throughout. This sat
alongside a tastefully sparse diskmag shell. Highlights of the textual side
included a report from the SV2000 coding party by Matt Smith, a previously
unheard voice, which managed to devote around eighty percent of his report
to the journey,there and back, but not so much to the party itself. Several
more or less revealing interviews with various Polish sceners got in there,
and some strange burbling attempt at morale-raising by yours truly.
It was Falcon only, and needed a full RAM load of 14 Megabytes, which got a
few people worked up, but they quietly went out and got upgraded a short
time later anyway! At the time of writing, the next issue, or more
correctly, the first proper full diskmag version of Chosneck, is keenly
Error in Line Part 2, party to end all parties?
There is a strong claim for EIL Part 2 to be described as the event that
defined the whole of this year. Where else could you see three big Falcon
demos, each of them a big leap in technique and presentation over anything
that had gone by previously, where else was it possible to play 'Pong!'
purely by the sound of your voice!? And there was more still!
Here are those highlights..
Escape, "Hmmm" well what can we say! Suppose I had better make the effort.
Escape proved that there was more to come after Tat's 1997 opus
Sonoluminescenz, with their DSP-bursting 3D masterpiece. 'Hmmm' proved that
top class demos needn't be stuck in development hell for two years, as it
only took five weeks to code (once the 3D engine had been made.)
It also proved that modern demos shouldn't need to run out of ideas and
fizzle out after two minutes. And above all else, it proved there was still
plenty of life in a basic unexpanded 4 Megabyte Falcy! A rare victory to
those people who prefer to proved a point, instead of just moaning about
it! Finally, it can be described as the best kept secret of a scene where
most productions are trail-blazed and perhaps rather too well known about
At the opposite end of the scene spectrum, the Dead Hackers Society were
busy with their Centurbo 2, relegating the DSP to audio playback, but
grabbing the extra Mhz and fast RAM to give us a corker of a big demo. This
was 'Don't Break the Oath'. Notable features included a high level of
quality which justified the extra power, and a soundtrack to die for, in
MP2 form, from Candyman of Cream. Now where is he these days?
The Swedes hadn't finished yet, as T.O.Y.S had a fit of productivity,
showing more top 3D effects, even without a DSP. Their demo, 'Wait', was
based on a type of demo more commonly seen on higher end Amiga and PeeCee
boxes. This worked very well, was over far too quickly, but packed in a lot
of action in its roughly three minutes running time. A post-party
optimised version didn't need that much extra speed, or any extra RAM, so a
demo with state of the art intentions, that was happy on an old style
Falcy. A good end result then.
Before we forget, a very nice demo from Paranoia, Oliver just gets better
with each new release, he looks like a 'Rock Solid' performer now. Also we
were all invited to take a GFA Basic 'Coffeine Overdose', a very good idea
by that third sleepless day at the party!
For the ST,we had 'Odd Stuff' the ultimate French oldschool styled megademo.
This was a leftover from the previous December's STNICCC party, and had the
combined efforts of Sector One and Dune pushing it strongly.It works on the
Falcon too, which was nice of the Frenchies...
A brief glimmer of sunlight on an exposed CD-ROM lights up the 'Fading
Twilight', as the keenly awaited first volume of the ultimate Atari
scene music compilation makes its debut here. Thanks to MC Laser, with
a nice intro coming from Ray of tSCc, who couldn't make it here, but would
have travelled with us if he did!
Undercover magascene is back from the dead! Moondog makes a comeback, where
a year or more of pent-up critical bile makes for a very interesting read!
Guess we'll probably have to wait a year or so before the next one? Start
digging those foxholes now, they simply can't be made deep enough if you
leave it too late!
The Whip-Pong competition, Tam is confirmed as a menace to society, ASCII-
Nation, erm, well some people seemed to like it?
And Felice brushes up close and personal to the Amsterdam Red light
district.. He survives.. The misting up of his spectacles at the sight of
so many bra and pantie clad women provides a sort of 'smokescreen' to
What a lot of stuff here? Well I said this may have defined the whole year!
Anyway, there's still more to come, so read on....
Bytes and Pieces in the Summertime..
The summer ST Megademo competition came about when it seemed that everyone
had been shocked into a state of inactivity by the excellence of the EIL
releases. This timely effort, organised by DHS, got people back into coding
again. Several good entries, DHS seemed to be reprising parts of their
blockbuster 3D EIL release on a basic ST, Escape come out top again with
something new, and the sadly missing from EIL whiz coder, Defjam of
Checkpoint reappears in a welcome fashion for this one.
The French softco Infogrames, take over the Atari rights from Hasbro. They
are promising to do something with these, so it looks like updates and
rehashed cover versions of old classic Atari Corp games combined with
random threats of legal action against assorted Atari enthusiast websites
Gods and Rockets!
At last the Reservoir Gods return! It had been rumoured for a while, and
they had been seen at EIL with an early version of their new game, the
Atari conversion of the Dreamcastastic 'Chu Chu Rocket'. But we had to wait
until November for this one, but were we pleased to see them back on form
again? You betcha! There is more to come quite soon, if Mr Pink is correct,
watch out for the next Alternative Party, early in the new year..
I've got to Falcon Powder my nose!
Another summer moment of madness. The first proper Falcon emulator for the
PeeCee, 'Falcon Powder' was widely discussed. With the recognised talents
of Mr Pink, Griff of EI (or EA) and even Tat tempted to speak his first
words for a long time, this looked like one to go for. But the question is
it, or isn't it? still remains unanswered, with the above people doing
their best to dampen the topic. ("We thought of it after a lot of
drunkeness at the ECTS!")
The real answer is, that yes, it does exist, but not in any vaguely working
form yet, and don't hold your breath...
And the rest of them..
There were other demos in 2001. We finally saw the very delayed beta
release of the sadly defunct Polish group Cobra with their 'Awaken' demo
for the ST. This dated all the way back to the first EIL, two years
previously. About two-thirds there, it showed what might have been. (An
awesome looking, but very slow 3D demo on the ST!)]
There were a hat-trick of smaller but nice releases at the November
Paracon, two of these were from from relatively new people. (Yes, I'm still
counting you as 'new' Ray!) These included the first combined TT/Falcon
production from Ray of tSCc, and something slightly peculiar, which told us
"I am a Troll!" Paranoia was back on form with a neat 96ktro.
And we all know it's Xmas, when the Spice Boys drape tinsel all over their
hairy naked bodies!?!?! Not to mention that the quiescent Wildfire were
back with a brief ALTernative Party invitetro. Is there more to come from
Meanwhile, down at the Atari Scene Skunk Works..
Of course, no year on the Atari scene is complete without its 'work in
progress' never quite making it to release, some of it for a number of
years. Still out there, we saw screenshots of New Beat's softsynth, which
will be "Ace!". This is a relatively new one, so some time to wait yet?
Even Willies Adventures might be getting there sometime, with recent work
put into it? From the reclusive Creamies, their megademo 'Heftig' has had
the coding part virtually completed but it is awaiting the 'design'. It'll
get there one day, then we'll be really surprised!
Nature seem to have got stuck on waiting for their CT60, hopefully that
story will end soon? And we might take a peek at what is hanging around on
the hard drive of Mr Pink sometime, eh?
Births(?) Marriages(??) and Deaths (?!?)
This bit of the end of year review goes all touchy-feely, makes people sit
on soft couches, puts its hand on their knee, and asks about those special
people in their lives! It can happen to the unlikeliest of people, as Grey
announces that he got married "Sorry I've been away for so long!" We hope
it works out better than the marriage of former ace diskmag editor, Rich
Karsmakers, which didn't, better luck next time pal!
Erm, on a closer to home note, a female person with a name beginning with
the letter 'N' renews her interest in the writer of this column! A former
Maggie deputy editor does not find the love of his life whilst in
Amsterdam! (Or maybe he remembered to bring his credit cards and did!?!)
A sort of Phenix from the flames?
A long awaited sign of future life, Rodolphe 'Phenix' Czuba'sCT60 Falcon
'060 accelerator is finally hardware reality as the year closes. The first
prototype is running at last, so order yours now! Various people, including
Nature, Escape, DHS, and soon the Res Gods are on the CT60 developers
list... Quake Atari anyone?? Ah, Patrice Mandin's taking care of that one!
Evil Empire, the XP edition!
Meanwhile, back in the (un)real world, Bill Gates casually fobs off the
court battle with the US government. Hopefully we haven't heard the last of
that? The big news for those deluded fans of Microsoft, was the all new
Windows release, the XP edition. Rumours that you have to submit DNA
samples as part of the onerous registration procedure may not be that far
off the mark? Soon you will pay your Microsoft tax, along with all the
other stuff you have to pay for!
Is it as bug-free and unbeatable as it has been hyped? Well what do you
think, with conversations of the "Is it me, or is that new Windows XP
rather unstable?" variety abounding! Sounds to me like even more reason to
stick with your Atari! Not to mention that for security purposes and data
integrity, you might as well throw all your doors and windows open. And
advertise the fact in "House Breakers Monthly" (4.95 at all good or dubious
newsagents, or order from Future Publishing directly...)
Look to the Future, it's Only Just Begun!
And for the forthcoming year? We see the CT60 land at last and soon after,
surely the first productions tailored to use the extra power? What will the
next DHS demo look like?! A new version of Whip!? At time of writing, there
is an uneasy duality of thought split between an Easter revival of the
Symposium party and something in the summer that ST Survivor might be
planning, to bring the Atari Scene to La Belle France. Early in the new
year, the next Alternative Party, the third in the series,looks like it is
going to be a good 'un! The Reservoir Gods revival is set to continue, as
they are down as attending 3 ALT, a further release is expected (it was
something else they were working on at EIL),and there are tantalising hints
of a major co-operation on the game making front with a well-known French
group. The fruits of this co-operation are expected to hit our screens in
And where will we be? Bringing you all this stuff, as it happens, of
CiH for Alive! Mag, Dec '01