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Alive 14
Raytrace Demo
by Prism
A little story

      There once was a crew called "The Pendragons". They originated 
      from France. It was consisted of 3 coders and a few graphic 
      artists and friends. Like any self-respecting demo crew in the 
      late '80s and the early '90s, they did some guest screens here 
      and there. And then they went on to produce a megademo. They 
      baptised it "The lightning demo".

      Now, I'm not sure how well it was received by the public back 
      then, but since it was one of the few demos I've seen on the ST 
      until about 1998 I tend to have a soft spot fot it (yep, no 
      Atari contacts abroad for me, and no Internet until then 
      either). Anyway, it has all the good ingredients for a nice 
      megademo: Intro, Loading screen, Main menu that's a minigame
      (which looks nice in fullscreen :), quite decent screens (these 
      guys weren't afraid to do fullscreens or use soundtracker music 
      or just about anything else), a guest screen to die for
      (codewise and musicwise - especially musicwise, Doclands' tune 
      for the plasma screen is absolutely fantastic!), a reset demo... 
      It even featured some original tunes (as far as I know :), which 
      is a major plus!

      Then, for reasons unknown (at least to me), they decided to 
      split: the 2 coders (that did most of the coding for the 
      Lightning demo) joined the Overlanders, and the rest of them 
      decided to form another crew and they named it Prism.

      Now, as far as I know/remember there has been little output from 
      this group: a couple of guest screens here and there, and then 
      nothing. Until, that is, a few months ago...

Raytrace me beautiful

      As much as I like to see new demos on the ST, this technically 
      isn't a new demo, just a new release. Actually it was finished 
      in '92, but it hasn't seen the light of day till now (Never 
      released? Never spread? Who knows). Anyway, fact is that we have 
      a new demo in our hands. Let's see what's in there...

      On booting the disk we get a introductory text about the demo, 
      credits, contact addresses, etc. One thing we note is that there 
      is a monochrome screen if a proper monitor is detected. We'll 
      get to that later. For now, pressing space brings us to a nice 
      graphic that tells us the demo's name. After another tap on 
      space we get to the main menu of the demo.

      The main menu itself is a very simple one, it just displays the 
      three choices we have and a scroller says some stuff about the 
      demo in the bottom of the screen. Now, the three screens we can 
      select from are just animations that were created using a
      raytracer, rendered in a Spectrum 512-like format and then 
      displayed on-screen. The only thing you can actually do is 
      change the animation speed or exit and select another animation.

      Then there's the reset demo. Another good picture is shown while 
      some vector lines are being around the center of the screen. 
      Actually the same lines are drawn with 3 different colours, as 
      if to create a blurring effect, but they don't follow the 
      leading color exactly. They look like like they're projected or 
      something, creating a visually nice effect (at least nicer than 
      the classic effects of this type). Pressing space gives us the 
      final screen, which is a slow-ish oscilloscope being drawn on-
      screen and a scroller writing the usual things that we get to 
      expect. Also, pressing 'help' brings us a menu where we can 
      control the parameters of the curve being drawn on screen.

      That's it for the color part. Now, let's get mono! Ok, basically 
      we get the same logo we got with the color version on top of the 
      screen (dithered of course), then an oscilloscope (surprise 
      surprise :) but this time you cannot control any parameters of 
      it (as far as I know). Also, some sprites of the crew's name are 
      whizzing about, and the same scroller scrolls along in the 
      bottom of the screen.

The verdict

      Well, apart from the Spectrum display code of the animations and
      the nice wireframe effect on the reset demo, there is nothing
      too interesting about this demo. Anyway, from its title you
      don't expect too much. To be frank, I expected even less than
      what I actually got. The graphics are very good, which is
      expected because Megadeth did them. (he did very good graphics
      on the Lightning demo as well as this one). Musically some Mad
      Max tunes are thrown in there, the scene's favorite choice at
      that era!

      Final verdict: nice try, but outdated (maybe even for '92).

                                                 GGN for Alive, 2006-12-19
Alive 14