Foreword by STS : having read the POSH review in UCM24 I've just thought of
a small correction that need be done. Tho I gave the gfx entered at EIL3 to
Defjam, he couldn't use it in the "final" version of POSH - due to lack of
space... Therefore my name should *NOT* be included in the credits of this
awesome demo I'm afraid :) Get back to the review now.
Have you ever wondered why big demos (1 disk or more) are hard to come
across on STs these days? Demos these days are small in size, come as a single
file (no custom formats) and usually contain a small amount of fx (sometimes as
small as 1).
The answer to this question is simple, if you think back about a decade.
Then we had a scene blooming with new talents of all categories. Demo groups
were much bigger in size than now. To get a megademo done for a crew of 2-3
coders and a couple of graphic artists wasn't that difficult: if each coder did
3-4 screens, the graphic artists drew the gfx for the screens and the musicians
composed the music (or, easier still, somebody ripped Mad Max music), plus some
guest screens and a main menu and a loader, then bingo! you had a megademo in 6
months. But what happens if the crews get to the bare minimum in man power?
Then, the time schedule gets quite bigger.
Also, consider that most fx have been done to death. People have gotten
sick and tired to watch the same stuff, only "with more rasters, pixels and a
soundtrack routine". That's where innovation comes to play. Due to the public
getting more and more demanding, coders have to come up with new ideas all the
time to please it.
So, with all these facts taken under consideration, a coder (usually the
driving force of a demo) these days has to squeeze his mind to find new effects,
code some early versions, get some graphics for the artist(s), combine them with
the fx, optimize the fx, do some design, recode some fx, leave some fx out, code
new fx, re-design, debug, argue with other crew members etc. I'm not even
touching the subject of morale (after the Nth time he sees an effect he gets
sick of it, he doesn't like the framerate, or the music, or the gfx, drops the
project, after a few months gets back to it to find that there was nothing wrong
with it, trying to finish it, etc.).
(Of course, this is just my interpretation of things. I don't claim to
be an expert of other people's lives and the way they live them. It's just that
I've observed most of these with myself.)
Let's consider now Posh. It was probably started after Suretrip was
released (in 1999), planned for STNICC2000, then announced as dropped, then
released at EIL2003. As I always say: Well done guys for getting it done in the
Now, for the actual review (if anybody read and hasn't gone to bed
Right from the start, the demo gets interesting. Booting from floppy
(custom loaders rule!) some rectangular portions of the white background fade to
black to spell a blocky "Loading" graphic. Great! I like a demo which has you
waiting while staring at a white (or black for that matter) border.
While loading a sample is played, but not any sample. It starts with a
scream and a voice (Malcolm X?) is heard on top of a bass and hi-hatch saying:
"Tolerance, ignorance, obedience. Who gave them the right to judge what color is
right, what color is wrong? Who gave them the right to judge what nationality,
whatever that is. We all bleed the same, cry the same, laugh the same. Time we
take it back to the basics." (sample, as we're told in the end is from a group
called 'Headcrash' - sorry, never heard of them). The voice, as well as the rest
sounds very aggressive. As the last phrase is spoken, a rotating and growing
black square fills the screen with black, and the border fades to black. Well,
here in Greece we have a phrase that fits exactly to what was witnessed here:
"He scored a goal from the locker room"!!! Unbelievably original!!!
The demo continues just as aggressive. A logo of the crew appears
(horizontal lines scrolling from the right or left to the center without a
recognizable pattern), and then the name of the demo appears in speedy bump
mapping! By the way, the music adds to the aggression of the demo too.
Then, the three people involved (Defjam, Five'O'Five, Modmate) have
their logos moving around erratically. A short while after, the logos disappear
from screen, the background fades to white, which becomes a rectangle swinging
about, getting bigger and smaller, and then covering the whole screen again.
We then have a text-mode like plasma, but with pretty dither and nice
colours. After that a weird pic fades in (no, I don't dare speculate on what it
represents, but it's cool anyway :). And then an effect featured in Suretrip as
well: 4 bitplane distortions with weird lenses that change constantly (as I seem
to recall Suretrip's slower and had a smaller window - this one's 320x200 c2p).
After that comes a pic, but with a cool display routine. Imagine the
picture being cut in 16x16 pixel blocks, which rotate and move into place. A
very good effect indeed (especially to me, as I'm a freak about appearance
effects :)) I've noticed some abnormalities on this effect though, but more of
that later. Now, that logo didn't exactly fill the screen, so what could fill
it? A fire effect involving a 3D rectangle spinning around maybe? Well, yes,
that might do! Defjam must really like the fire fx, as he puts one on (nearly)
all his productions!
Some more distortions follow (for a short while this time though), and
then another cool appear fx. It looks like some invisible brushed give apply
small dabs to the monitor and the dab becomes a part of the pic. Lovely, and it
reminded me of the game Exile's introduction (I guess many will say "What?"
here!) Background colour fades between some colours, then into black, then some
blocky water ripples make their way into our screen.
After that we are being informed that we are about to watch a non-
precalculated, 128 faced, free light sourced, real illuminated, (not environment
mapped!), shaded in something that looks like phong, realtime, doughnut! Defjam
already made a joke in EIL 99 about the Shadows demo having a pre-rendered
doughnut, and from there he built on the idea to materialize a real doughnut on
a plain ST. Guess what, he did it :) And with background pictures on too! Top
stuff! Of course, due to the c2p it's blocky, but I don't complain here! Any
complaints from others? By the way, the pictures fade out and in quite cool!
And, saving the best for last, the last background is simply (!) a shrinker,
which means that it takes a frame, shrinks it in half resulting in 4 more
doughnuts, then another shrink and then another (well, it's not the way it's
done, but you get the idea I hope!).
A big textured tunnel is up next, moving and rotating wildly. Another
nice pic fades in and out, and then it's z-buffer spheres time! The spheres are
done in the text-mode manner, and this shows a lot when the spheres intersect.
Then we get to the heavy stuff, and this is more enforced by a module
playing in the background instead of SID sound. Firstly, we have some fractal
fern-like plant growing and rotating, which is quite pleasant and NOT the
standard static fractal screens.
Then the action gets heavier. A remix of the well known module by Jester
of Sanity is played, while a red-white checkered board rotates and zooms. It
looks a bit slow, but the reason for that is revealed when the red-white blocks
change into full-blown textures. Then, just to increase our pain, Defjam
increases the border size! Yep, that's right, a full screen roto-zoomer with
module playing!!!!! And if that wasn't enough, the screen starts distorting as
well!. Just one word: AWESOME!!!! I think I've witnessed one of the best
fullscreens ever (if not the best!)
After that, what else is to show but... the end... has not been reached
yet! (I don't know, that's what the logo said!) We have a Doom-like engine, with
the variation that some of the textures are a bit weird! Well, you don't get
textures as rotating Fuji logos, bump mapped fuji logos, tunnels (!), plasma
(!!) every day! It's a bit blocky, but when a C64 scener starts telling you
about his demo scene, maybe this will make him shut up! (well, according to
Defjam the effect was lifted from a C64 demo, but who cares?)
Finally (phew!), the last effect is a girl called Jasmine smoking a
cigarette and smoke going up. The end. A vertical scroller and a bit bending
checkpoint logo wait patiently until you press reset or switch off.
Now, before the sum up I'd like to point out that out of interest I
downloaded and watched Mathematica By Reflex (on emulator, I have to admit) just
to get a taste of what Defjam was trying to do. I found Defjam's adaptation
better (of course :) but Reflex had a bit more limited hardware to work on.
What can be written as a sum up? This is one of those sporadic times
that something this good comes along and sets a new standard in ST demos. Not so
much in design, but for speed and effects. It's true that it's mostly a very
technical demo (the routines must've been optimized to the extreme, no question
about it), but it's very good at being just that. Some of its effects will be
discussed still in the distant future and will be considered 'classic' (in my
humble opinion, as always).
Put it another way, extraordinary code, brilliant graphics, out-of-this-
world music. This is a demo that you must show to a PC scener when he/she starts
blabbing about his/hers new cpu, graphics card, music card etc. shouting "Eat
dis!". A must see!
GGN/KÜA software productions/Alive Team
P.S. Unlike other articles, where I used Bugaboo, STEem was used to take the
snapshots (so people won't go telling that I'm a ripper :). The conversion to
.pi1, alas, was not as straightforward as it appeared, as no PC program (yes,
even XnView) could do it. So I had to code my own conversion program (BMP->PI1).
Sorry to the creators of the demo for any graphical glitches, as from one point
onward I got too bored to fix it.