Atari at Pouet!
Reflections on Atari in the Wider Demoscene...
We're back with another issue of Alive, the lucky 13th, and I'm writing this
article with the awareness that we're likely to get a wider audience than
the usual favourable Atariscne crowd.
So what's prompting this sudden excursion into stage-fright then, CiH?
Well, there are a lot more people taking an interest in our comfortable and
enclosed little world. If you care to take a look at the 'Prods' section of
Pouet.net for any recent issue of Alive mag, you might find that we've
picked up quite a few interested people who we don't recall being long-term
Atarians! Or at least they didn't tell us yet?
There has been an Atari presence on Pouet.net for a long time now of course,
but you tended to get the sense that it ran in a parallel fashion to the
mainstream, being there, but not really touching the rest of the Pouet
asylum in an intimate fashion, so to speak (ooh err missus!) This reflected
how we and the mainstream demo scene had diverged historically. Episodes,
such as the Mekka Symposium '02 party seemed to confirm this distance, but
in the last twelve months or so, something amazing has happened, something I
didn't ever expect.
The barriers between the Atari scene and the rest have disappeared!
So how did this happen?
There has been a possibly belated recognition that the Atari demoscene has a
valid place in the history and heritage of the demoscene as a whole. The
early part of 2005 saw the crusty but still great 'Cuddly Demo's' suddenly
pick up a lot of favourable feedback on Pouet from all kinds of people. It
had made the coveted 'Coup De Cour', which is bloody good going for a
minority platform. It seems, at last, the cries of "Atari is the Lamer!"
back from the olden days of Amiga scene rivalry, and which had coloured
people's perspectives since, were finally dying down.
But this process didn't happen on its own, it needed some help along the
way. There are certain dedicated individuals who did a lot to reduce the
distance, being happily involved in both the Atari and mainstream demo
scenes. One such person is Havoc. I remember staying with him at the time of
the Mekka 2002 debacle, and he was of the opinion even then, that there were
plenty of cool and worthwhile people in the mainstream scene. He persisted
in this view, establishing himself as a prominent figure on the mainstream
side, but still finding the time for us, to organise such goodies as the
This culminated, of course, in the recent Outline '06 party, which managed
to combine the Atari and mainstream demo scenes in one venue, and without
bitter tears and recriminations on either side! You could say this latest
edition of Outline was a roaring success, and it looks likely to be
repeated. Apart from Havoc, we also have the rest of the combined organiser
team, such as Earx, Tinker, Skrebbel, Shifter, Okkie, and anyone else I left
out here to thank for helping it all run nicely. As for the party as a
whole, apart from long-established pre-existing friendships, there was a bit
of clannishness, as each scene tended to stick to the people they knew, but
there were a lot of new contacts made, (Hi Gina!) And this will get much
easier with future parties.
It's not just a people thing though, as many Atari productions have been
getting a wider audience as well. I think the breakthrough came with the
release of the 'Beams' demo in March of last year, which attracted a lot
more attention than there were active Atarians lurking on Pouet! A lot of
people were motivated to check it out, who I suspect had never set eyes on a
Falcon prod before...
I come to my next hero, in the never-ending mission to bring a better and
closer understanding between the different parts of the scene. That is, Evil
of DHS, who made Beams, and many other Atari prods more universally
available, in the form of an uploaded video grab. This made it easy for
people without a Falcon to finally see what we've been on about all these
years! In this way too, the first fruits of the CT60 demoscene have been
made more easily accessible to the majority of people who haven't got a CT60
to run them on.
The next prod to really make a big impression, was Ray of tSCc's release of
'Wolfenstein 3D' for the Atari ST. This fulfilled a very long term Atarian
dream, to have this Doom grandaddy Peecee game working on the ST. It also
attracted a huge wave of positive feedback from all sorts of people, not all
of them intimately connected to the Atariscene either. And for this, we have
the miracle of decent emulation of the ST, as this is a game, and simply
watching a video won't do!
Of course, there are some people who managed to raise the profile of Atari
in the wider scene, but not in the way we would really want! Ironic applause
is extended to 'TBC' or The Beasts Crew, whose stubbornly oldskool approach
to intro making tested everyone's sense of humour in 2005!
But to make up for this, we had a couple of cool prods which attracted some
audience comment from other parts of the scene at the end of that year,
namely the delayed from Outline '05 'Pacemaker' demo (STe) from Paradox, and
the megmighty 20 year anniversary combined megademo, which managed to blast
from the past, but seem strangely up to date and contemporary in places as
After a short intermission, we're coming up to date now. There was a spate
of recent Falcon and CT60 productions, such as 'Supernatural' from
Evolution, the DHS 2006 Outline invitro, the Chosneck Supplement, with added
'Menace' demo! Not so mention some decent Outline '06 entries as well. The
non-Atarian's who happened by, were impressed by these as well.
And I hate to come over all egotistical, so we'll keep this bit to a
minimum. From recent Prod listings featuring the Alive mag, we seem to be
getting our share of happy vibes from the wider scene as well! Thanks guys!
I wonder if there will be scope for more creatively combined efforts? I hear
mutterings of some people considering extending their creative talents in
our direction. For example, Kalms of TBL takes an interest in the happenings
of the CT60 demo scene, which is closely related to the Amiga '060 scene. On
a less exalted level, I've been known to lend the odd typing finger in the
direction of the Hugi Diskmag. It would be great to see some fresh blood
coming in to our scene, or even some Atari ports of killer prods would be
In conclusion, the seemingly impossible has happened, the Atari scene has
come back closer to the mainstream, after a decade-long diverging trend! It
could get closer still, there's nothing to lose, and a lot to gain!
CiH, for Alive Mag, June '06..