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After eight month of designing, coding, and composing Dune and Sector One
finally decided to release the demo which ranked 3rd at the EIL2003 ST demo
competition. Of course we speak of Fantasia, which was maybe the most awaited
demo in 2003. Some "anonymous" Atari users couldn't even wait for the real
Fantasia and coded a fake demo which showed some of the effects in a somewhat
hideous and ludicrous way.
Late on an almost perfect Christmas Eve where, unlike most other years, Santa
seemed to have been lucky with his choice of presents, an additional present
appeared at http://sectorone.atari.org/ while the dune site at http://www.dune
-design.com/ showed nothing but a well designed logo.
Thanks to my DSL connection the disk image was transferred in zero time, and
after I had written the MSA image to a real disk, I put it into my STE and
powered the machine up.
Almost immediately the screen fades to black and with a short delay a black
vector rectangle is turning and shrinking to show the copy instructions in front
of a two planes, multidirectional scrolling, blue background. There is no sound
but the humming of the disk-drive yet. After a short while the black rectangle
comes back and covers the screen. Deja vu? Has anyone said Big Demo? Yes of
course this screen is Chuck's way to pay homage to the "Best in Galaxy" demo of
The screen is turning to a dark purple and finally the speakers start pumping
with a SID cover of Big Alec's "Killer". Some ugly, misshaped vector object is
twisting and turning and after a flashlight fading, a golden dune logo, with a
teddy bear beside it, appears on the screen.
A light purple one planed balloon is falling down from above. It hits the logo
which starts to swing nicely up and down. The balloon itself shows some kind of
pudding effect, wobbling its way down the left side of the screen. I am sad to
notice that it didn't clip out of the screen but just vanishes when the screen
is fading out. A bit more sense (or was it time?) for details would have been
nice here but I guess most people won't even notice this minor glitch.
Now the word "presents" is scrolling up the screen, while a transparent, two
plane vector pyramid is entering from the right and leaving the screen on the
left side. Did I say enter and leave? Well actually the vector object seems to
be on screen almost all the time since you can see that it is not clipping but
crushed on the screens borders. At least Chuck seems to have a serious clipping
problem here, maybe some more hours to debug the screen would have helped.
Perhaps some and.l #$FFFEFFFE on the right border and some more and.l #$7FFF7FFF
on the left border would have removed the visual evidence :).
The screen fades to blue and shows a very well drawn NEOchrome raster picture,
which shows a winter landscape by night and a beautiful fairytale moon above the
fantasia logo. The inscription reads "Fantasia a winter Tale". If you want to
get a real impression better watch the demo.
I don't know how many kilometres of tunnel flight have already been travelled on
Atari computers, the following part will add some more. After showing the title
screen the colours fade back to the dark purple from the beginning and the
compulsive tunnel effect is opening up, while some one planed letters reading
"Dream just goes on!" are flying up to the middle of the screen. Maybe they
don't like complete sentences in France or they have translated the sentence
from Japanese via babelfish :).
However the tunnel keeps moving and after a while it's faded out smoothly.
Beside the grammar, this is an almost perfect screen with very smooth
All of the sudden the screen turns dark green and a cleanly rendered, pony
tailed, cartoon girl is bouncing in from above, while the SID-medley changes to
Mad Max "Astaroth Game Over" tune. The cartoon girl is holding a sign which
reads "Hi!" and beside the girl you find the Text "Back on Track Again ... Dune
surprise(s) you with: Fantasia!!" First presented at the Error in Line 2003".
With a short delay, which allows reading the text, the screen fades to black and
some yellowish-brown trail lines appear on screen while dark clouds with a dune
logo crawl in from below at the far right side of the screen. The "fireflies"
(or "stars" referring to Chuck) seem to have the ability to vanish and reappear
somewhere else on the screen which spoils the effect a bit. Reliable sources
claim that the vanishing and reappearing happens to be a clipping effect on the
z-axis. However the screen still looks very nice. After a while it fades to dark
purple and puts you...
BACK TO (OLD)
A bouncing penguin logo is announcing "This is old school" and after bouncing
out and fading to black a massive four plane Dune Logo flies in from the bottom
of the screen and the music changes to Mad Max "Wings of Death - Level 4". The
Letters of the logo are as usually perfectly designed with a nice choice of
purple and yellow colours.
G S P R I T E S
(WHO SAID OMEGA?)
Soon afterwards the Dune logo disassembles into its four 64x64 pixel letters,
which move independently across the screen. This means we have at least three
"real" - perhaps generated - sprites and maybe one "moved" one, even if I doubt
it would be necessary to cheat that much with only four letters :).
It seems Dune made a lucky choice with their crew name. The same effect with a
name like Sector 1 would have been a bit trickier.
The sprites fly around the screen for some time and rebuild the Dune logo, this
time centred on the screen. The rebuilding is done by simply switching to linear
vectors, which looks a bit odd compared to the nice curves before. An "inertia
based" movement would have looked a lot better. Anyway, after rearranging the
letters all sprites move smoothly into the same place at the centre of the
screen and blend over into a white 64x64 pixel square.
The white square begins to move and turns into a vector cube, which starts
spinning on the screen for a few seconds, only to be blasted away into hundreds
of one pixel dots which fly out of the screen at top speed. Even if the effect
is rather simple it's a nice idea and it looks very cool.
The screen fades back to dark purple and another logo is scrolling up the
screen. It shows another penguin, with some blue background and some snow flakes
and reads "This is new school". Then a little ufo-sprite in James Pond style is
crossing the screen from the top right to the top left. Just to return a few
seconds later, trying to escape a following rocket. The ufo sprites manages to
fly out of the screen just before the rocket would have hit it and the screen
turns black again.
THROW THE DICE...
Just when the screen fades to black, a mapped cube comes in, followed by another
three of them. Here we go: Four mapped cubes on screen while Rob Hubbard's "IK+"
is pumping. The cubes are turning and after a while only one cube will remain on
screen. Again reliable sources reveal that Corbeau used several different
rendering qualities on the four cubes which are dynamically switched to
camouflage the cheat and to speed things up a bit. A really nice effect, but you
won't expect 50 Hz here.
TORUS IN FRONT OF
The remaining cube is rotating and zooming in until one face is filling the
screen with a golden snake on a blue background. The Music is changing to Mad
Max "Atomix" and a golden torus is falling down and starts bumping and turning.
The whole effect looks a lot like specular lighting to me, but again well
informed sources told me it is environment mapping instead.
As soon as the torus has left the screen, the big textured cube starts spinning.
Then it is zoomed out and begins to dist in all three axes. Meanwhile the Music
changes to Mad Max "Oh Crikey wot a scorcher Main Menu".
Suddenly the small disting cube is replaced with a big one, filling nearly the
entire screen, wobbling around. The transition between them wasn't what I would
call smooth but who cares? While the wobbling cube is displayed the music
changes two times, first to Mad Max "Life's a Bitch Beat Nick" theme then to the
"Chambers of Shaolin" title tune.
CUBE INSIDE A
Finally the torus and the cube are shown together. The cube seems to be stuck
inside the torus, however this sequence has either a very strange design or a
lot of ugly z-clipping or z-sorting problems :). And while we mention the
"clipping", it seems to be done by averaging the z-value and either drawing or
completely skipping whole faces, which speeds things up for sure but doesn't
look too nice.
Overall I have to admit that the cube-screens are looking very good, despite the
missing faces on the last one. Lucky enough Corbeau shares the same opinion, so
I guess I can still travel to France without much fear :).
This synth animation was generated by MIC while the coding was done by ST Ghost.
After some delay the animation is faded in very smoothly. Afterwards a text is
scrolling up in the lower part of the screen. This is realized as a 320x16 pixel
sized sprite. (If you don't believe it, take a look at the yellow wireframe, it
disappears behind the text.) The animation mainly shows stars and circles that
rotate on some black torus which has got some wireframe squares circling around
it. The whole animation is played at full frame rate and looks rather nice. Just
before the screen starts fading out, the text is flying out of the bottom of the
The next screen is a 4x4 pixel rotozoomer in one vbl. Well done I would say if I
hadn't seen the previews, which used a somewhat bigger screen area. Maybe Mic
could have drawn a smaller logo to allow the effect to be more impressive :).
Well the screen looks nice and it obeys the "one frame rule". I think Frost has
done a very good job on it. I can't wait to see him code on STE again. (Please
note that my opinion on this screen might be enhanced for some reasons :)
MIRROR, MIRROR ON
What have we got here? Another distorted cube is entering the screen, but this
time without the mapping. As soon as the cube becomes "solid" a moving mirror
appears and throws back the image of the rotating cube from several positions
and angles. Of course this effect isn't exactly what you would call brand new,
but it looks pretty nice and it fits the demo very well.
With a radical change in the musical background, which reminds me somehow of
"Monster Business", a very simple screen says "Time for credits". The three
words fly in nice arcs over the screen which gives overall a very pretty visual
effect even if it isn't very spectacular from a technical point of view.
While this screen is displayed it's about time to think about entering the
hidden screen. As Leonard / Oxygene posted on DHS BBS the secret code for the
hidden screen consists of eight letters, which have to be typed one by one in
special screens of the demo. Since there are several keywords working I chose
"XTRBRRB1" here, which is in fact not the original keyword. Just type an "X"
while the screen is still displayed and you will have only seven more keystrokes
Soon afterwards the credits show up in form of another stunning NEOchrome
raster-picture, which displays the names of all guys who were involved in the
making of fantasia. Golden letters reside beside three very nicely drawn
characters. In detail they show a man wearing an Aztec death mask or something
similar, a slimy, green, ball shaped monster and a pony tailed girl. It seems
Mic got a hidden obsession for pony tails :) While looking at this marvellous
graphics type "T" to master the next step on your way to enter the hidden
After the credits have faded out, the words "Big heart (or love) to" are flying
over the screen in a nice arc. Now its time to type "R" to go on with the
When the text is gone, another stunning work of art demands to type a "B" to
complete the 1st half of the access code. Mic's picture shows a small Monster
and a "Firedevil" plus a Sector one Logo. Again it looks very much like a
NEOchrome raster picture because you can still guess where the palettes are
switched. However Mic surely is THE graphics-wizard. I am deeply impressed.
When the one plane vector shuriken appears on screen don't forget to type "R"
again. I wonder if Chuck has got the idea from his namesake "Chuck Norris" who
might have used Shurikens a lot in some of his martial arts movies :). Whether
this is the case or not, the screen looks nice but again not really technically
The mad circle effect is rather old and has been seen a lot of times. It had
even an appearance in the famous Odd Stuff demo. The Odd Stuff screen was coded
by Frost while this one is redone by Chuck. Beside the new code he used
different graphics, which look like rays that interfere with each other (instead
of circles). Again one planed objects are used to get the nice colour effect
when overlapping each other.
Press another "R" now to get closer to your aim to see the hidden screen.
This nice looking dot effect, which shows expanding circles, stars, squares and
triangles consisting of single dots, demands for the last "B" of our access
code. I haven't counted the number of dots per figure but the screen looks
rather nice and fits the mood of the demo. Well done Chuck.
When the spinning disc with the small balls appears on screen make sure to press
"1" on the numeric pad to complete the sequence for the hidden screen. The
hidden screen won't be shown immediately its inserted just before the credits.
This screen, which is called the spiral balls, is really nice. Apart from the
spinning floor the tiny blue balls move smoothly at top frame rate and even the
curves are nicely done.
WHAT? A DIST?
ST Ghost strikes again. Some strange distorter - which reminds me a lot of the
one we have already seen in Odd Stuff - is deforming an enlarged picture in
several not describable ways. Like in Odd Stuff, every other line has been left
blank to keep the effect possible in one frame.
The last picture which is displayed before either the end screen or the hidden
screen is loaded shows three comic characters. Apparently there seems to be a
boy accompanied by two girls. Each of the little characters is holding up a
little sign with some inscription which reads "What a dist". It's the same
picture that was used in the distorter screen but now you are able to watch it
as a whole. Again the graphic is top league like you would expect it from Mic.
The hidden screen shows a 1x1 pixel 4 planes rotozoomer coded by ST Ghost.
Additional credits have to go to Mad Max for the chiptune and to Edo for
graphics. The textures used on this screen show two jpop-idols named Misono Koda
and Hamasaki Ayumi and are nicely pixeled. If you want to get rid of the blur
you can press F10 to toggle it.
The so called end text is not what you would call technically impressive but
it's a nice end for the demo. Playing another nice tune from DMA it slowly
scrolls lot of greetings and even additional credits accompanied by some well
designed sprites which alternate every time and fly through the screen from
Yes, Fantasia has a few ugly glitches here and there and all of them could have
been avoided by using more time on the demo. Especially since Fantasia is much
more about design than about cutting edge technology I would have expected
meticulous monitoring of details, which didn't occur all the time. For a perfect
design you won't need just good ideas but proper craftsmanship too, especially
on details. However this is not about whacking the coders, it's more about
trying to achieve perfect design in a demo. The "Fantasia crew" failed to notice
some tiny details, and that keeps Fantasia from being perfect. A bit more time
and the next attempt might be successful.
But can we really blame them? To be honest, everybody wanted to see that demo
out a lot of time earlier and I am thinking the result is still great. Most of
the demo is running in one frame except for those parts where you wouldn't
expect it anyway. If you are looking for a well designed demo that doesn't need
to act up with technological leadership, Fantasia is the right choice for sure.
Most people will simply love it and I guess a lot of them haven't even noticed
the small things I wrote about. Thanks to Chuck, Frost, ST Ghost, Corbeau, Mic
and DMA for giving us this fine demo. Keep up the good work and take your time
on the next project.
2003-12-29 Cyclone / X-Troll