(The not so minor stuff!)
Outline '04 has many pleasant memories for me. Included in those, are the
competition entries that were shown. Some were even subsequently released!
Whilst we are waiting for the completed Evo CT60 demo, and Clogged Up,
here's some reviews of those entries that were actually released.
'Tral' (Falcon CT60)
We firstly come to 'Tral', a CT60 64k intro which was donated from outside
the party, by the combined forces of Dead Hackers Society and Ephidrena.
The title name 'Tral', means slave in Norse, (as in "Enthrall", to enslave!)
and was intended to reflect a wintery vikingesque theme. It certainly starts
with a title sequence that chills you with a good pixellated version of the
harsh cold northerly lands. In the distance, a mountain range broods, whilst
thin clouds rush towards the viewer, these are reflected on the ground
below. The group names 'Ephidrena' and 'Dead Hackers' fade in and out.
We are told that the demo is called, with the title tucked discreetly behind
a semi transparent glass-like spinning object, one of those things which
can't decide whether it is a torus or a polygon
We keep the colour-muted and wintery theme, with a bare black leaf-shorn
tree in the foreground, and many spinny crystals whirling and tumbing behind
it. At this point you start to ask what the coders are taking in their
There is a stringy three-dimensional mucus interlude in the mid-part,
sandwiched uneasily between the tri-dee stuff. Then we are onto the final
major part, which consists of the return of the indecisive semi-torus, which
is somewhat less transparent than before, but a hell of a lot more blurry.
There is a rushing 'something' going past it in the background, then the
lights go on, and we fade up to the end part. The last bit is a scrolling
infoscreen with a silhouetted female of shapely aspect.
The overall design is kept to rigourously, with a less garish and more
grown-up 'serious' colour scheme in force. It is so pastel-shaded and
wintery, I start feeling a strong need for some vibrant colour, in some
winter sunshine starvation related sensation? Actually, we could start the
campaign for an '060 colourshock demo right here? It doesn't have to be
horribly clashing "coders colours", but something bright and lively for a
change. Too much darkness and faded colours gets to be like watching the
news after a while ;-)
But that small matter aside, Tral holds up very well to current high
standards of production. And so it should, involving a large job lot of
people from both Ephidrena and DHS.
Yes there was music, with Frequent of Ephidrena coming up with Zixaq to come
up with a killer tune.
Tral was a pleasant surprise, as Evil and co managed to make a major
contribution to the party, even whilst not being there. We wonder what
they've got planned for this year, and hope to see them there this time
Rated at:- 8 out of 10, a perfect and compact taster for future glories.
'Stone Tower' (ST and Falcon)
Earx is back, and he's showing some of his 3D expertise on the ST now.
Actually, this was quite an old project, which looks like it has been lying
dormant for some time. An immediate clue to its historic origins comes with
the 'Fun' label. The readme file goes into more detail, as this was
originally started five years ago, at time of writing, and was intended as
an intro for Undercover issue 15! For a couple of years, it sat around
neglected and bug-ridden, whilst Earx got on with bigger and better things
on the Falcon.
But lately, he rediscovered the will to finish it, enlisted the help of a
nice Frenchman and some other friends, and the end result we all got to see
at the Outline '04 party.
As the readme makes it clear, this demo is equally at home on the ST(e) or
Falcon. The underlying code is generously quick, as certain parts zoom past
very quickly on the '030. It sort of runs on CT60 too, but at slideshow
speed in that case.
It starts with a neat fade-in, and an effect which can best be described as
like falling down into a well, or indeed, falling down the inside of the
tower! Moss-covered bricks are grouped around to form the cunning illusion.
This fades out nicely, and we are taken to an elegant greetings screen. The
names of various crews are shown on the left and right hand side of a hand-
drawn tower in turn, which is itself rippling in the reflective water layer
below, for all the world like it is a newly discovered hidden screen from
the Union demo, of years past fame!
There is a zoom-through transformation bit, very quickly concluded on the
Falcon, which takes the viewer down into the dungeons for a Wolfenstein
walk-through. The walls are textured, move very quickly on the Falcon, and
the floor and ceiling are subtly rastered to give an illusion of shading and
We soon leave these, to the final credits screen, and a strangely familiar
naked lady, drawn by Havoc, and propped up by a 'POD' logo. Now, 'Poets of
Decay', wonder whatever happened to them, they went off for a bit? ;-)
Lots of familiar names to make this happen, Earx of course, then Havoc, and
a strong presence from the Germans, with Moondog graphically adding and MC
Laser on the soundchip. Lately, ST Survivor was added to the pile of people
doing stuff for this intro.
You will see this intro on the same disk as UCM 25.
Rated at:- 9 out of 10, a perfectly put together superior ST intro.
We saw this one in the Wild competition, courtesy of STe fanatics and
sometime Commodore emulator coders, Paradox.
Hires is simply a picture slideshow for the STe, but what a slideshow!
"We found the cheat to switch to god mode..." Paradox proudly announce.
It's not just a plain system legal affair, limited to sixteen colours. It
isn't even anything made by Doug Little, in a Photochrome colour bending and
stretching style. It is safe to say that this production is probably
inspired by Mr Little's earlier achievements though...
What this little demo does, is to take the art of the possible up a notch or
three on the 'humble' STe, to stretch the screen display, not only to a
possible 14000 colours onscreen out of a palette of 29,791, but also to a
resolution of 640 x 400!
Atari Corp did have thoughts in that direction with the original design of
the ST, but only managed to get to two colours ;-)
The slideshow is presented in a vertically scrolling virtual screen
procession of photographs. The material is carefully selected to show off
the hi-res nature of the subject matter. As interlacing techniques are used,
there is some degree of flicker, but not horribly so. You do have the option
of pausing the scroll for a steadier picture view, and there is enough
processor time left for the YM soundchip to get involved with 505.
The pictures generally work well. There is a particularly good mountain
range in Austria, there to show off the extra pixels onscreen, pictures of
wildlife, and holiday destinations also feature strongly. According to the
coders, there is still room for improvement, so we should get a future
version with even more colours to hand and any small display bugs kicked
out?! I wouldn't be surprised to see this turn up in a future full demo
release by Paradox, especially for a title screen or something else that
requires lots of gorgeous colours but not much movement.
It would be nice to see a generic version of the displayer working
standalone with any suitably converted pictures, but apparently it takes a
long time to convert the pictures to the format used for this demo.
Anyway, Paradox are to be congratulated on their oldschool screen busting
approach to the colourful art!
Rated at:- 7 out of 10, once again, the limits are stretched and burst!
CiH, for Alive Mag,Feb '05.