Before starting this review I feel I must apologize to you.
There are two reasons for this and I'd like to enumerate them here.
Firstly, I did the unethical thing (at least it feels like it to me) and read
Moondog's review of delta on UCM. Furthermore, once I saw the low rating Delta
was given, something went "No fair!"inside me. Which leads to the second
reason: Both me and Earx are coders (well, to be fair, Earx is, but I'm not so
sure about myself :). Over the passage of years and endless irc chats, we've
sort of become friends with each other. Every time we meet on irc we'd go like
"Hi, how's the coding?""Oh, it's fine, how's yours?" "Oh, ok, yesterday I did
.... and ...."and so on.
So, what I'm trying to say here is that I feel that this review might be
But, on the other hand, isn't everything we do always even a little bit
biased? So, let's go...
Before even viewing the demo to describe the effects, I went and read
Earx's log again (I read it once before). This is because I wanted to understand
better the atmosphere in which the whole demo was written.
2 years!Do you know what 2 yearsin the making means? Have you ever
participated in the making of a demo? Sometimes it's fun, watching your stuff
running and you go "Wow, did I do that? It looks cool/nice/crap/shitty!!". But
most of the time it ain't. Most of the time it's (for a coder at least) spending
obscure amounts of time in the development environment, typing a lot of code,
assembling it, testing it, debugging it, optimizing it, re-assembling it,
deciding that it's crap, then deciding it's not, then dropping the whole effect,
then coming back to it after 2 weeks to find that everything is ok but spending
lots of time into it made it look crap etc., etc., etc. into infinity. The same
analogy applies to the graphic artists and musicians, and even designers
(although there aren't many people that their function in a group is doing pure
And the bad times don't stop there. You start asking yourself questions,
like: "Oh God, why am I still at it, seeing that I'm hopeless?", "Will people
like it or just laugh at it?", "Why am I not somewhere else doing anything than
this? Other people are having fun at this very moment, while I'm still here,
feeling sad, only to please some lamers that'll probably say 'Good demo!' just
out of courtesy, and then laugh manically at it!"(got a bitcarried away here,
sorry! But please understand that my above sentences are purely hypothetical,
and their sole purpose is to be extreme as to give the feeling of a demo
A small extract from Earx's log about this demo will demonstrate my
point further: "[...] Also it contains the fastest 3d routs so far on std
falcon, but I don't know if people will notice. The bottom line: even if I know
I'm making a satisfactory product for myself and extending my boundaries, I
doubt if people will acknowledge this."
Sometimes it's out of control. Other obligations in life need immediate
attention, and there just isn't enough time to "play with the silly computer"
(I'm sure most of you have heard this statement at least once from your parents
So, for me, every person (or group) that overcomes all these obstacles,
who has enough energy to pull it through until the end, to make something
interesting, is a hero. And if this mythical status has been lost on platforms
like the PC, it's still here on the Atari platform. That's, in a way, the reason
that I always say when something gets released "Welldone!"
Well, Earx is one of the people I'm talking about. And this is his
latest work, so far. Delta. The fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. A demo
divided into three parts: alpha, beta and gamma(the first three letters of the
Greek alphabet). So, if we had to put it into an equation,
Delta= Alpha + Beta+ Gamma
Of course, before I begin describing the (endless) effects, let me
apologize for another small matter: I have, in fact, never seen Delta run on a
real Falcon, so this review will be based on an MPEGed version of it. The specs
of the machine that were used are: Standard (non-accelerated) Falcon, 4MB RAM.
So, let's go.
0. An ASCII-art logo appears while precalculating, along with some configuration
1. The Lineout logo appears in random vertical stripes.
2.The intro selector then plays, which consists of: A wireframe Delta spinning
around leaving its trails as it goes, a text saying "delta", and a friendly
message asking us to press a,b or c, or esc to bugger off! Since we have no
control over MPEG, we just let it press whatever it wants (interactive MPEG,
3.D-Force's module starts playing while the standard credits appear over a
lens-distorting background with a blue texture. Then, the distortions start
getting wilder, rotating, zooming, scrolling, stretching., etc.
4.Some more distortions, this time with a much more peculiarly coloured
5.With the screen not cleared from the previous effect, we are introduced to
the next one. Feedback. 3-D "wireframe" objects made of balls rotate round,
while the screen feedback scrolls towards us. Ace transition! By the way, the
objects are real time tweeningbetween shapes. Cool!
6.Water ripplesis up next, over the blue background used at effect #3 (I
think). The waves used make the effect very pretty indeed.
7.Next effect: interference. Two patterns of red shaded concentric circles
interfere with each other, while they are scrolling around, making another
pleasing effect. Palette changes from red to blue, then to green and finally to
yellow/brown in a most pleasing way.
8.A change in music signifies the change in effect. The weird yellow/purple
texture at effect #4 is used as background, and some translucent metaballs(a
bit slow there Pieter, hehehe :)dance around. After a bit, the background
scrolls as well. Maybe a more specific texture (a logo or something) would do
better justice to this effect?
9.Another violent change in music! And another effect! Z-buffered gouraud balls
move around zooming in and out, then another pair appears in a path symmetrical
with the original to the centre of the screen. Then, another cool feedback. This
time it's away from us, which means that we get millions of smaller copies of
the balls in the background, following the movement of the bigger balls (hmmm...
is this some sexual statement that Pieter does here?? The smaller balls follow
the bigger ones??? :)
10.The original object (one white bigger ball and four red bigger ones - more
sexual innuendos here? ;) then starts bouncingaround a few invisible walls.
11.A voxel shaded terrain. I can't vouch for its quality (the first one I see
on Falcon - even if it's on video), but it sure is damn fast (again, not quite
sure!). The terrain has the freedom to move in and out, rotate around the z and
y axis (y axis limited)
12.A tunnelwith the blue texture from effects #3 and #6. The tunnel's centre
isn't static, but moves around as well. Then a couple of more centres are added,
making it an interfered tunnel. (Damn! I have to see the sources sometime! I
always wanted to know some hints about tunnels! Same for feedback too :)
13.A "flower"-like effectis displayed. I'm not sure how to describe this
effect, but I'll do my best. It looks like a texture (in shades of blue) is
wrapped around different sized petals, that cover a large part of the screen (in
fact, they go way beyond the screen). Looks like a kaleidoscope too.
14.Two horizontal planes that extend into infinity(using the blue texture from
effects #3, #6, #12). The far pixels look more like noise, though. The viewpoint
rotates around, too.
15.A triangle(could pass as a Delta, too ;) with a weird background scrolls
about, and some weird feedbackcreates something like a halo. Love the music
pattern, too :)
16.A weird tunnelappears then with a black-white texture. A message informs us
that we have, in fact, been watching part a. Wow! 18 effects for 1 part only! By
the way: How does a monkey hit space? Does it wave its arms around at random
hitting particles (a fragment of space)? :))
Round-up for part alpha:Nice effects, did not bore me at all (unlike
some other demos that one good effect is being displayed -maybe even with
variations- for a couple of minutes. Boooooring!!!). Maybe more Falcon owners
will find this part passť. On the other hand, I've seen quite some PC demos (old
and new), and their effects usually bore me to tears. But part a didn't bore me
at all. It was quite pleasant, in fact! One thing I would like to see though is
more design. More transitions (like the one in effects #4-#5) could have made it
brilliant. But, as it is, it's "good"!
17. Black, background, sinister music. A pure white 3D Delta object (could pass
as a triangle, too ;) comes scrolling about and zooming. After resting quietly
in the back, it starts casting some sort of halo, which rotates. The music
reaches a (sort of) crescendo. The whole effect starts zoomingtoward us and
18.the Delta object changes into a textured version(black-white texture) and
acquires little brothers! They zoom and rotatetowards us, one after the other.
(the music goes wild! But, unfortunately, not entirely synced - well, I'll blame
this to the MPEG ;). The viewpoint at some point changes, and we see the a
weirdly textured cubethat stands still while the Deltas pass around it.
19.The Deltas disappear magically, leaving the cube alone. The cube obviously
is pissed off at this, so it starts sprouting lightnings! The music fits quite
well with this effect.
20.Some yellow rhombi fade in and outat random points, interfering with each
other. Then, they get more organized, and transform the effect into horizontal
and vertical lines, which leave a trail. The same thing happens once again, with
a grey palette.
21.Another grey tunnelfades in, which gets incrementally very white.
22.Two 3D textured springs (environment mapped), move and rotate about. The
background flashesaccording to the music.
22.An old PC effect, this, but I like it: Concentric rings (environment
mapped?), which start rotating around with different angles and speeds, that
create very nice patterns. The camera jumps in and out in sync with the music
(with something resembling a snare drum :)
23.Some weird 3D shapes(well, I can't give an exact word, but they sort of
remind me of some tacks that they drop on action movies on the road to blow
tires with :), lots of environment mapping, lots of movement (both camera and
, pleasing effect (the shapes even form a pyramid in the end).
24.Another voxel terrain, but this one's distorteda bit, as to give a "globe"
effect. The terrain is not fractal. Instead, it reminds of a huge maze (remember
"The Shining"? :)
25.3 hollow hemispheres(env. mapped) rotating weirdly, while the viewpoint
rotates too! Then one of them is gone, and the two hemispheres face each other,
jumping around, looking like a sphere which has been cut in half.
26.2 gears of different sizes (env. mapped)get together, and start rotating in
sync. The gears have been even designed to work correctly! (equal moduls :). A
shaft is then added to the smaller gear (also called "pinion" gear ;) and in the
background another pair of cooperating gears (of equal size) are added to the
shaft. The last gear has a small Delta in it rotating too. Nice effect! The
camera zooms in at the Delta, and then...
27.... the Delta remains, everything else is replaced by an environment mapped
cube(memories of "Hmmm...." spring here). Everything is rotating wildly.
28.Kaleidoscopetime. The hollow hemispheres are rendered with alpha blending
and environment mapping (maybe! I can't really make out what happens there just
by looking :), and the whole thing is mirrored horizontally and vertically. The
background & palette (as well as the music) are going insane! Then it's the
weird objects' time (from effect #23).
29.The same effect as #22, but this time the rings are replaced with rhombi.
30.An extremely weird object(with the familiar yellow palette) rotates round.
From one viewpoint it looks like a flower, but from another a drill or something
like that! The environment mappingdoes good stuff here!
31.The music softens up, the mood changes. From industrial to more mellow. An
env. mapped ring zoomsin, and Earx uses a render effect(used by Defjam in the
zoomer/rotator on Suretrip, and Evil, and Ray, etc.) to gain more speed and add
a "blurry" effect to the bargain. After the ring disappears, the weird object
from effects #22 and #28 scrolls along.
32.Exactly the same as effect #21(maybe I shouldn't even enumerate this).
33.A big P-Q torusobject is rendered here with environment mapping. The torus
is changing shape, too. As it zooms out, and the music fades out, we realize
that this is, in fact, the end of part beta.
Reflections on part beta:Unlike part alpha, almost the whole of this
part was a bit more "themed". The music played a major role on this, and it
added the energy to support the viewing fx. It had a more natural flow than part
a (which, after part b, looks a bit of a gathering of old fx). Overall: "Very
Gamma (Earx's favorite!)
34. If the music sets the mood (underwater bubbles), then the first effect is
the mood itself! Two starfish over a yellow background appear. What makes this
screen excellent though is that one of the two starfishactually moves into
position (environment mapped) with very natural movement! Well done! Part gamma
couldn't kick off better!
35. The whole screen is zoomeda bit. Then the yellow background disappears. And
then the bump mappingstarts. Clever! Screen is scrollingtoo!
36. Some sea shellsappear and move around, but then along comes a spiral thingy
that upsets them, so they clear off! The spiral thingy, unimpressed at the whole
situation, clears off as well! We then have a closer look at one of the sea
shells (in a "Look mum, I'm on TV"poses :)
37. The music turns more "bubbly", so some distorted bubblesappear.
38. A blue background crashes the bubbles in the middle, and a fractal fern-like
plantstarts moving about, gradually morphinginto a myriad of nice shapes. But,
because it's shy, it zooms out of focus.
39. A weird voxel-like terrainstarts changing itself into a lot of shapes (even
in the shape of a gear!). Too pretty an effect to describe by words!
40. This effect is 3D environment mapped metaballs. Nothing more to say, except
that it's pleasing.
41. After that we have the weird shape from effects #22, #28, #31, without
environment mapping, but some gouraud shadinginstead, and some particles
dancing around it. But then something horrible happens: it learns that its
grandpa died, and zooms out! Fortunately, some of its friends come and save the
day, making it join their circle of dancing! The particles add more to the
general joy! But then something even more horrible happens: The other 3 friends
find out that their grandpas were killed in the same accident! So they all leave
the screen, each one taking different ways. This leaves us with the particles,
that go "Screw this, I'm off to the hookers!" and blows the joint, after a few
minutes of dancing alone!
42. After watching all this madness in the previous scene, we are rewarded with
a very very very nice fire effect(it's not like the standard ones, too). At
this point, the music (by Frequent) gets a bit more dynamic, and... well... I
just... like it!
43. A 3D rhombus-like environment mapped objecttransforms above a scrolling
44. A lot of stars(excellently represented by rendered single pixels!) form a
45. On that effect, I'm a bit unsure. Either it's a standard distorter(with a
blue/purple texture) using a pretty weird distortion, or it's a weird 3D terrain
which rotatesaround. Probably the second, but I wouldn't swear by this.
46. Fractaltime! But before everybody immediately goes to sleep, let me say
that the palette and the tweening path chosen (Julia curves) is simply
excellent, and blends in with the music as well (which, for a while, has gone
asthmatic, breathing deeply). The number of iterations per pixel seem to be low,
but who cares? It looks better this way anyway.
47. My suspicions on effect #45are more confirmed here, because I think it's
the same effect with a different scene (which looks like a jelly-fishattached
to the floor sucking something)
48. "All these worlds are yours". What worlds? A galaxy rotatingis the answer.
But why are they ours? Have we bought them? Have we conquered them? Do the life
forms that (might) live in there agree with that? Is this a sort of occasion to
start a galaxic war between worlds? Pieter, please, be more careful with this
kind of statements next time ;-) Then a more "spirally" galaxy is shown.
G A M E O V E R
Thoughts about part gamma: Well, I understand why Earx says (quite some times)
in his log that part gamma is his favorite. It seems more complete and mature in
comparison to the other two parts. Overall, it's "Ace"!!!
Comments on whole demo: I think that the effects were laid very wisely. In any
case, sorting through 50 effects (why the hell did I only count 48? Maybe Earx
will read this review and send me an e-mail. Sorry Pieter, but I'm running out
of time here!!!) is in no way an easy task or something absolute (any other
person would make a completely different enumeration, I'm sure).
The general idea for this demo (in my opinion) was: a) Give them some
effects, so they'll wake up and then we can have their attention, b) Turn more
aggressive and themed, so they'll get into mood, c) Astonish them with excellent
fx and design (and music), so they'll go totally haywire.And I think, in this
way, that the demo is very successful indeed!
Personally, I've seen a lot of demos. Most of them have a third (or even
half) of Delta's duration. But few can claim that didn't bore me to tears. Most
of them are built under the philosophy, "Oh, I just coded an absolutely
brilliant effect that I can't stop watching! So, let's put it on for 2-3
minutes. That way the crowd will love it too!". And you know what? Most of the
times the aforementioned effect is average. Sometimes it even sucks! And if you
want to watch the full demo there is nothing you can do but sit down and wait!
That makes me pissed off!
Fortunately Earx didn't fall into this trap. The effects come in and out
without boring the viewer, but long enough to register the effect.
If there's one thing that the whole demo suffers though, it's design.
More fade in/out routines or transition effects were needed, and we would have a
pure masterpiece in our hands. But I'm given the impression that Earx doesn't
care about this (oh, yeah, like most coders care about design!)
Bottom line: I like it!Well done Earx and crew! Let's not' forget them!
It's rather rude. So, well done guys!
GGN/K‹A software productions/Alive Team