2004 - A year rear view..
Now this is a year I'd like to file in the bin for a specific personal
reason. A reason which I discussed in the editorial for this issue, so I
won't bore you with it again here and now. However, for other people, there
were lots of good things and a few not so great things going on. In my usual
spirit of trying to sum stuff up, here's the inevitable end of year review.
Hero of the year - Let's go straight to the top for those people who deserve
gold stars of achievement to fix on their shirt collars in a MacDonalds
employee of the month fashion to wear with pride. Kudos goes out to those
lovely Outline party organisers, for getting the thing going in the first
place, at a time when we thought there might not be an Easter party at all.
Not to mention the fact that they did an amazing job of running it. I'd give
a runner-up prize to Rodolphe Czuba, for producing a second batch of the
CT60 boards, extending the user-base to more of us.
Twat of the year - Take someone from outside the entertainment software
industry, place them in a position of great responsibility inside something
artistically electronic. Then get them to make a dire purchasing decision on
a middleware company that is more hype than substance. This is, of course,
against the best advices of your subordinates, who do know what they are
talking about. Mistake realised, now drag in some of our most cherished
coders to make good this rather large error, thus wiping out any spare time
they've got for the next six months! Electronic Arts incompetent managers,
this shit flavoured raspberry and lemon surprise is all for you!
Scum of the year - Spammers and spambots, if they didn't exist, we would
all be very happy. Apart from the "normal" email solicitations and ever more
unfeasible begging letters that scum up our inboxes, we're seeing discussion
boards, wiki sites and forums coming under attack from spambots. I followed
a link from one of these once, just out of curiosity. It took me to a
chinese site, written in chinese!! Thank you, that was very useful! The
campaign for relevant spam starts here ;-)
Reasons we're glad we live in a geologically unexciting part of the world -
The Indian Ocean Tsunami, which is really not a joking matter..
Loss of the year (Scene) - Spiral of Oxygene. I'm still no wiser as to what
happened, and I seem to remember a tribute website being set up for him.
Best second chance - This goes to the second batch of CT60 being made. I
guess that almost everyone who wants one, has now actually got one. I don't
think Rodolphe is going to make any more, and mine certainly isn't up for
Demo of the year - There was a good level of activity for this year, but no
really outstanding demo to make us look at the limits of what is possible in
a new light. There were a lot of nice intro's, especially for the start of
the CT60 as a demo platform, and we enjoyed a very good online compo at the
end of the year. The Evolution CT60 demo which was previewed at Outline
could have been a serious contender if it had been finished in time.
Game of the year - There was quite a high level of activity here too,
without anything really outstanding coming though. For the higher end users,
this was the year of the SDL Port. We finally got Wolfenstein, but you
needed a CT60 (with Mint) to play. Where is Ray's port for the non-CT60
cognosti at these days? For everything else, people started to look under
the layers of dust and loose clothing at their old ST hard drives, finding
long-buried treasures of games like 'Bold'. Great things were expected from
the Reservoir Gods this year, but various forms of real-life lameness got
right in the way. Maybe this year?
Badger of the year - The fake demo revival continued this year, with a
strong presence from Dildo Fatwa, following up their ascii-tastic "Bud teh
Chud" from 2003. However, this award goes to the mighty MJJ Productions, who
converted a cool/weird/funny little flash animation to the STe, which
Badger-badgered us throughout the summer!
Application of the Year - Progress in this part of Ataridom was good. We had
the continuing story of Highwire, which was hitting a new version on a
monthly basis at one point! This time though, the winner has to go to
something completely new and out of the blue. This is a new concept (for
Atari at least) picture viewer called zView. Apart from featuring an ultra-
modern look and a thumbnail gallery browser concept, it is to be developed
into a digital camera picture manager for when the Atari-USB interface
project is realised. If it gets that far, and going on the present rate of
progress, I don't see why not, it could well become the application of the
year for 2005 as well!
Hardest worker of the year - What is it with these applications coders? Do
they have any other life, no over-demanding workplace, no impatient partner,
no ruined shell of a house to rebuild?? Anyway a couple of people have been
hyperactively churning out new code from their keyboards. The winner here is
the "look, he's coding so fast, his fingers are a blur!" AltF4. If pushed,
he seems to be able to turn around a new version of Highwire on a monthly
basis. This workrate puts the rest of us to shame! A worthy runner-up is
Zorro, who managed to generate four versions of his new app in about six
Laziest person of the year - Is there any point in trying to gloss this
category with fine detail? Actually this is unfair, as most people are
trying to be active, but are prevented by various factors working against
them. Even people like Deez who call themselves lazy have managed a semi-
decent amount this year. I can't judge people like Ultra as lazy either,
just because they are perfectionists who never release anything. When it
comes down to it, I'm really pushed to think of anyone who could be working
harder than they are, but has taken a self-conscious decision not to...
Party of the year - There is one clear and unambigious winner. This is the
Outline party, which took the best parts of other parties, and blended them
into a mixture that was unique to it. For fun, friendliness, easygoing
relaxation, and sheer enjoyment, Breakpoint '04 had none of these things!
Worthy runner-up's were the Alt Party, and I daresay the Paracon and
Sillyventure '04 should be commemorated here as well.
Alive lifetime achievement award - In an age where there is a plethora of
music making methods, from Protracker, through multichannel, culminating in
the Ace Softsynth, the lamest piece of music hardware ever made, the YM2149
soundchip continues to enjoy a cult following. You would think that after
they learned how to make alternatives to the harsh beepy sound from the
basic soundchip, it would have been quickly forgotten. Well the music didn't
stop with Mad Max. It hasn't even stopped now. In fact the interest in this
poor instrument is greater than ever! There has been yet another new wave of
chipsound composers, and people interested in coding new chiptrackers, or
stonking updates of classic old ones. Out of all parts of the scene, the
'YM-RockerZ' seems to be the healthiest of us all!
Slow burner of the year - They promised much for this year, but we're still
waiting. The Reservoir Gods were going to make 2004 a golden year for
releases. However the Gods were kept out of sight with a cunning combination
of management blue skies and out of the box thinking, to the max, and home
improvements. Maybe this year? In second place, the combined diskmag
production teams shuffle forward guiltily. An annual release date is so
relaxed, it's horizontal!
Stuff we're still waiting for - Loads... Do you have time for a list? Will
Alive run out of sectors first, even with a two-disk issue?? Well there's
(Takes a deep breath) Heftig, Beams, Ace CT60, not to mention Willie's
Adventures. The Aggression 15th anniversary demo, All Res Gods stuff, the
Evolution CT60 demo, this issue of Alive (erm?) I also remember that someone
had some answers to the whereabouts of the mythical 'H2O' game from EKO, but
never got back to us on atari-forum.com!? These are just the ones I can
think of from the top of my head, as I said before, the full list will break
this disk into many tiny pieces!
Stuff presumed lost, but found again - But you shouldn't lose hope, there
were some games which lay on ice, or more correctly, under a pile of old
copies of ST Format in the attic for years. Then the people concerned decide
to have a clear-out and these old games and even the odd demo emerge,
stumbling and blinking into the harsh daylight again. I'm thinking of "Bold"
for one, also there were others.. (One to look out for in 2005) - It looks
like the full version of Willie's Adventures impersonator "Blum" may be on
the way soon!)
Best excuse for low profile in 2004 - "I'm moving house". This mad quest for
extreme home improvement even manages to knock the more familiar office
politics of overwork into second place. To my eyes, moving house is annoying
and stressful, but completed in a relatively short time. But both Sh3 and
Cxt have managed to disappear for months at a time this year, as their
version of "moving house" seems to include physically moving it from one
location to the other, on a brick by brick basis?
Most original excuse for low profile I'd like to see for next year! - "I
moved into a a house which a serial killer lived in. I've been working in
the cellar and keep on digging up more bodies. It really tires me out so I
can't be arsed to switch on my Falcon in the evening!!"
Looking forward to - There's the next Outline party firstly, we've got the
EtherNat coming soon for the CT60. Then we should get some more CT60 stuff
in general. Finally, to keep the wish-list down to a reasonable length, some
of the delayed Res Gods stuff finally appears.
And finally, here's some new years resolutions for 2005 -
2.Get Mint installed, properly, and not that quick bodge Cripplemint thing
which is lurking on my hard drive at the minute..
3.Seriously investigate broadband internet.. It's at the stage where the
economics alone will outperform dialup. Getting EtherNat would be a
terrifically good excuse.
4.Recase the CT60 at some point (sigh!)
5.Upgrade the internal HD storage on the CT2.
6.Keep on going with scene stuffs in general ;-)
7.That's enough new years resolutions!
Happy new year folks, and keep on scening!
CiH, for Alive! Mag,Jan '05..