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Alive 14
                     A Year in the Rearview - 2006

So  what  has  gone on over the past year,  how has 2006 matched up  to  the
expectations of Atari lovers?  Well the news is a bit mixed,  not as good as
hoped for in some areas, but still plenty of nice stuff going on regardless.

The  traditional gathering at the big Easter party suffered a  decline  this
year.  The Noise party only attracted a relatively small number of visitors,
in spite of deserving more support. This continued a downward trend over the
past  few years,  and the idea of an Easter party must be seriously in doubt
by  now?  However  there was better news for the late Spring period  as  the
Outline party was revived as a summer party, and enjoyed some success with a
multi-scene combined approach.

Nothing much happened until Easter,  demo-wise,  but then the under-attended
Noise  party  had  one  surprise,  with the final and  finished  version  of
Evolution's   very   long  awaited  for  the  past  two  years   CT60   demo
'Supernatural'.  This was the first full-sized demo for the CT60,  and not a
minute  too  soon!  Another  Falcon '030 production from  the  Mystic  Bytes
narrowly  failed to make it for that party.  But we will hear more about  it
later on.

And May was a memorable month,  as the Dead Hackers Society rewarded us with
quite  a good CT60-based invitro for Outline,  to go with the less  hardware
intensive  ST-based one from Lineout.  Also the Chosneck Supplement  diskmag
was released. I remember a lot of activity around the Easter period for that
one, being personally caught up in the creation process myself! This Falcon-
specific diskmag had reached another issue,  and had as its "intro",  a full
length  demo called "Menace".  This was the delayed production intended  for
the  Noise Party,  but only a little late after all.  A lot of this work was
down to Mikro, who's name will be mentioned again later in this text! Menace
wasn't  a  CT60 demo,  but instead made great use of a stock Falcon and  its
extra-special bits such as the DSP, and was in the upper echelons of classic
demos for the Falcon.

Outline also produced a healthy splurge of releases, as well as being a very
cool and relaxed party in general. It was *Very* cool if you were one of the
people  sleeping  in  the teepee's!  Apart from another CT60  production,  a
96ktro  from  DHS called 'The Genocidal',  there was also a neat 4ktro  from
gwEm,  lots  of  little  productions  from the likes  of  Paradize  and  MJJ
productions. We also got a chip-music bonanza from Cyclone, and even another
fake,  erm,  demo  from  a notorious fake crew!  Not forgetting a neat 96ktro
from Paradox a hatful of bootsector intro's, and even a few "for the hell of
it!"  life-signs  from Defjam,  who incidentally gave us a look at some  new
stuff  he's  working  on right now,  which sort of looks like it  will  take
Checkpoint to the next level when it's done!

There  was  also an appearance by the ever more reclusive and hard  to  find
Reservoir Gods,  and a game was released by them, but one without Mr Pink in
charge  or  any input from him.  This was the comedic card game  '#atariscne
card  battle  ex  plus  alpha'.  At this point in time,  it is a  very  open
question  as  to whether we will see anything much of  the  Reservoir  God's
anytime soon?

The  'No  Fragments' and 'Fading Twilight' CD compilation  series  continued
their tireless mission to collect everything going and reached issues 7  and
11 respectively.

Summer deepened, and it seems to have turned out that downgrading the Easter
party concept only delayed the inevitable big demo releases that were coming
for this year,  as the Commodore-centric "Big Floppy People Party' in Sweden
was  treated  to  the DHS tour-de-force,  their first full-sized  CT60  demo
called "Derealization"!  This lived up to its billing, and added to what was
turning into a very productive year for the Dead Hackers.

When Derealization was released,  it was finally becoming the year where the
'060 Falcon was finally breaking through properly into the Atari mainstream.
Two  demos and two intro's may not be a big deal to most other  scenes,  but
compared with the barreness that had come before,  it seemed like a big deal
to  us.  Which makes me wonder what would have happened if all of these  had
been released at a single (Easter) party along with the Chosneck  Supplement
and Menace demo.  I think we would have been comparing it, not unfavourably,
with the great Error in Line parties in the last few years?

Just to add to the mood of wellbeing,  there was even a revival of the long-
absent  'FalcAmp' project,  the MP3 player had been improved and reworked to
v.1.2. All we need is a new verson of Flaysid to appear!

There  was  additional  support for fans of the Falcon  '030,  as  long-term
"industry"  veterans,  Dbug got busy with a new range of HD-installable  and
Falcon compatible versions of many classic ST games.  I might add that Virus
(Zarch as was) already ran just fine on a Falcy,  even the boot disk worked,
as I remember it being the first thing that I got running back in '93 when I
first  got the machine!  With their efforts,  a new (or older) generation of
Falcon owners were able to revisit such classics as Starglider II in 16 mhz,
when it wasn't a slow game on the ST anyway!

The  next noteworthy events,  were the release of the previous issue of this
diskmag,  followed by the latest instalment of YM Warriors, "Warptyme". This
returned  to  a more conventional format than before,  but with  tunes  that
really pounded the humble YM into bloodied fragments!

The Bits club started to reappear too,  ah well,  into every scene, a little
rain must fall.

We had a complete surprise next,  which was a completed game from some early
Falcon  pioneers,  a crew called 'Opium'.  This game was an Eliminator clone
called 'Rave',  but most definitely for the Falcon, including classic 'coder
colours',  which  fit this mid-nineties creation rather well!  It is all the
more remarkable because I don't remember Opium doing any major  productions,
or  pre-announcing  anything  like this?  What next?  A Doom-clone from  the

As  we head into Autumn,  or the global warming version of extended  summer,
Mikro  pulled  out a nice surprise for fans of ported famous games,  in  the
form of a CT60-optimised version of Quake. This was taken from Amiga, rather
than  PeeCee sources,  and ran quicker than the previous Doom-ports!  We now
had *three* versions of Quake for the CT60, from the original Patrice Mandin
port,  through the 040-inspired 'Doug-Quake' from Douglas Little a long time
ago. This second version didn't perform too badly with my CT60 last year, as
I  remember.  Now  we  have this extra version from Mikro,  so a  degree  of
overkill possibly? Time for game porters to move on from Quake now ;-) Still
Mikro had another major project on the way.

There  was  a  stream  of smaller releases,  a couple of  games  'Znax'  and
'Nuclear  Waste Dump' from Paradize appeared,  a lost diskmag intro from the
mid-nineties  reappeared,  courtesy  of a lost crew called "Psychosis",  who
produced  a  nice Amiga-ripped slideshow back then and not  much  else.  The
diskmag  the  intro  was  intended  for,  was  the  'Falcon  Owners  Group'.
Interestingly, the author in subsequent postings on talked about a
Falcon-specific diskmag shell which had never been used?!

gwEm  stepped  in  for an end of year competition,  when he released  a  new
MaxyMizer  chiptracker version,  the condition being that the authors had to
use  that  tracker.  At the time of writing,  we're awaiting the results  of
that,  but  gwEm  was moved to tell the world that he had some of  the  best
music for this competition that 505 had ever made.

DHS  rounded  up  a  productive year,  with a little  invitro  for  the  ST,
announcing  the Fiskeboda Coding Konvention.  (Which was sadly cancelled due
to  lack of numbers.) None of which denigrated this intro and its  neat  ST-
based transparency effects.

Mikro then came back with something even more interesting than a Quake port.
This was the game 'Duke Nukem',  a PeeCee classic which came after Doom, and
expanded  on it,  which in turn supplied a lot of inspiration to the  Falcon
game  'Running'.  Now  at last,  we had a fully playable version of the game
which was better than Doom, and less murky looking than Quake!

As Xmas approached,  the traditionally held Paracon party managed to attract
a  healthy  number of visitors for a small party,  expecially compared  with
Noise Party.  There was one known (to date) release, 'Poker Square' from the
prolific Paradize Software.

There  were other things going on,  as early in the year,  Peter Persson aka
'PeP'  had a fit of porting over several emulators of other systems  to  the
Atari. We already had Frodo (C64) from the year before, but he went and gave
us working emulators for VCS 2600 (a bit buggy), Lynx (The evergreen Handy),
and a rather good Sega Master System/Gamegear emulator. There was even an ST
emulator 'Castaway' ported across.  Lately, this seems to have dried up, and
I'd be interested to see if Peter has anything more planned.

The most exciting news for the end of the year is that the long yearned  and
long delayed effort to get a Falcon '030 emulation working on other  systems
seems  to be paying off at last.  Thothy announced he was working on  Falcon
emulation  in a new version of Hatari.  There were screenshots which already
promised a level of compatibility above that of Aranym!  Even better, a pre-
CVS build of Hatari 0.9.1 turned up, and I was able to test this in time for
this  issue of Alive.  If Thothy maintains the momentum,  then a good Falcon
'030 emulation is not so far away.

We  might also spend a little bit of time to ask what has not turned up  for
this  year.  We are still awaiting the forever in development 'Heftig' demo,
still  under endless polishing and tweaking from Ultra.  The Aggression 15th
anniversary  demo  is  still  in limbo too.  Also it is  unlikely  that  the
Reservoir  Gods  will be back among us soon,  as the distraction factor  has
reached  an  all-time high in that quarter.  I might add that there  haven't
been  too  many  Ethernats made yet (yes I did get mine,  but  I've  yet  to
install it,  as there has been very slow progress on the USB support,  which
is  what I'm interested in),  there is no Supervidel and slow progress  with
the  CTPCI.  I  hope that next year will see some positive movements on  the
hardware projects.

There  is more new hardware in the pipeline.  Jookie of Satantronic has  got
busy  with  a new MMC/SDram-based storage system for the  ST  called  'Satan
disk'. This promises to provide a pretty damn cool hard disk replacement for
the  ST!  Of  longer term interest is the possibility of New  Coldfire-based
hardware.  "Rugged  Style",  formerly  aRt,  has  got  hold  of  a  coldfire
evaluation  board,  and reckons he could make a pretty cool Atari compatible
out  of it.  The new machine will be called 'Opsrey'.  The reaction has been
mixed, but this is bearing in mind all the promises made and broken before!

I'll end with some questions for next year.

After  the  Dead Hackers and Evolution,  where is the next CT60 demo  coming

Come to think, what about the next F030 demo?

After Quake and Duke, what next for abandonware porting?

Will the CTPCI/Supervidel/Netus Bee/Satandisk arrive?  Two out of four would
be pretty good!

Is there any future in Coldfire, or is it another folorn hope?

Do  something  with  your existing set-up now,  or wait until the  next  new
promised hardware?

What cool fixes are next from D-Bug?

How far will the Hatari Falcon emulation get?

And finally, will the Bits Club discover "design"!?

Ok, that's all for this year!

                                                   CiH,for Alive Mag,Dec '06.
Alive 14