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Alive 2


It  was  the start of November 2000. The whole Atari scene (to be more precise,
the  whole  16/32 bit Atari scene) was waiting hopefully for a new release from
the  former  UCM  team.  (I  still  remember  myself running from my house to a
neighbour's  (a  very good friend btw), with a disk at hand to receive Exocet's
graphics  and  Milhouse's  music  (because  I  have no Internet connection, no,
scratch that, no phone connection at all!) to be included in the intro.)

After a week's delay the mircle finally happened. It was called Alive. (I don't
want to bore you much more with pompous sentences and long stories, so I'll cut
to the cheese right away)

I  read  with interest CiH's article about 8-bit demos and, having downloaded a
large  quantity  of 8-bit stuff the last couple of months, I ran them the first
moment  I  had  the chance. I remember having seen "Drunken chessboard" before,
and  it  is indeed excellent, but for the other ones I'll have to say that they
aren't  the  best I've seen on the 8-bit. Which is a bit sad, because I thought
Chris would have researched the matter a bit more before writing that article.

So  I  decided  to write this article which contains (in my humble opinion) the
four  best full-disk demos. I must stress out that neither I have a 8-bit Atari
any  more,  nor I have a fast Atari to run Atari800, so the emulator I used was
Atari800Win  v2.6c  (on a PC if you didn't figure it out so far). So, the point
is  that  I  have  no  clue  what  they  will look like on the Atari version of
Atari800,  and  no indication on what speed will they run on. (just find a mate
with a pointlessly fast PC, get a copy of Atari800(Win), and run these demos in
that machine :)

The demos are sorted from #4 down to #1, if you're interested about ratings.

                          "Bitter Reality"by Slight

General  notes:Runs  on  a  simple 800XL. Press Shift to skip any part (since
Space won't work no matter how much you press it :)

Loader:A nice "Loading" graph appears on top of the screen, then the title of
the  screen  in  a  8x8  font, then some large digits of the sectors remaining.
While  unpacking  is  being  done,  a  candle  is  being shown and its flame is
disturbed as if it is left on the open air (quite a nice effect, really).

Introduction:A 3D starfiled of about 35 dots is being shown and at the center
of  the  screen  a one-line text using a 16x16 font displays the credits and so
on. While reading this text (and viewing the demo) that it was written in 1994,
which  goes  to show that serious demo groups existed on this machine some time
ago! A nice Pokey music is being played, and I must say that it's pleasing that
it's   original  (as  well  as all the musics in this demo - to my knowledge at
least),   because   I've  seen too many demos featuring ripped music from games
(kinda reminds our scene a few years ago, right? :-).

Flexible  Square:Ah, here we are, the first eye-dropping effect of this demo!
What   we  have  here,  after  a  small sample is played(!), is a rhombus being
drawn,  but  its  sides are actually splines that move around in 50 fps! And if
you thought that was cool, imagine that with a  filled rhombus! Yes, I know you
must've  seen  that effect before on the ST (a couple  of examples that come to
mind  are  the Vodka demo by Equinox, as well as the  Dreamzone  demo  by  Wild
Boys),  and  on 3D, but this is being done in a machine whose processor runs at
1.77  MHz, and NO hardware tricks  are involved (because they have no mirroring
on the x axis)! And as if that wasn't enough, they included some music bars, as
well  as  some  stars  fading  in and out (but that is acomplished by splitting
PMGS - if you know what I mean here, elsewise just forget it!)

Greetings  Part:A  raytraced  animation is being shown at the top half of the
screen  (some  balls  coming from and going to a Madelbrot set - if you've ever
seen  "Enigma"  by  Phenomena  on the Amiga, you must know exactly what I mean,
prehaps  they've  ripped  that same animation and then converted to XL graphics
format).  The rest of the screen is being taken over by a largish scroller that
after  a  minute starts bouncing all over the place, but this effect is SO easy
to  do  on  the  XL's  hardware.  But  as  this is just a simple screen for the
greetings, it's ok.

Sinus  Worm:A "Wrigley's Spearmint" grab is displayed on screen, then half of
the  screen  is  blanked  for  some other fx to take place (The graphic then is
being  scrolled  up  and  down).  The other fx are: A bit-bending scroller with
mirroring  (and that IS a hardware trick :), some worms (!) crawl along the top
&   bottom  of  the  screen,  and  again  some music bars (btw the music sounds
like SID :). Not a bad screen, but nothing special either.

Rzog  Plazma:Unless I'm missing something here (and I really don't think so),
this  is a simple plasma screen. Now, if you think that's something fairly easy
to  do on an ST, you wouldn't believe how easy it is to do in XL! For those who
don't  know  let  me just tell you this: Hardware palette splits (just like the
Am**a)  &  per  line hardware screen setting (just like...)! But the curves are
nice, so it's worth watching it (for a while).

Partyland:This demo seems to be quite large, but when it depacks it just shows
some music bars on the bottom of the screen with a starfield at the background,
some  mirroring  below,  and  the  main area is taken over by 5 bars that flash
according  to  the music changes. Strange. Could it be an emulation error? (BTW
it  tried running this demo to every other emulator I got, but they failed even
running the demo :)

Filet  Lazma:Another jaw-dropping screen. It uses the above mentioned filler,
but  this time it draws some pretty neat sine curves. At first it seems to be a
DLI effect, but then the 2 curves change formations, which is quite amazing (up
to  a point even for ST standards :) Rzog (the programmer of this screen) tells
that  this  routine  can  fill the entire screen (I think 320x192) under 1 VBL,
which  is  quite  amazing!  (although I think he's cheating, but that's not the
point here)

Dragonbobs:Contains  a  vertical  h-disting scroller (which may be done using
hardware  sprites),  some nice raster bars, and the old infinite sprites trick.
What more can I say?

Farewell:A small screen containing the full credits.

                              "Igor"by Mad Team

General  notes:Side  A  needs a 130XE to run, but to be able to access Side B
you need a 320XE.

Since this is a dentro, I will split the review in 2 parts: Side Aand Side B.

Side  A:  Upon loading, a mouse cursor appears. Then something they call "Atari
Workbench"  appears  (geesh!  They  love  this  desktop  SO  much? Couldn't the
include GEM?). The mouse  moves by itself (wait, where the f**k  are you going?
;-)  to  D1:  and  double clicks that icon. A "window" is then displayed with a
huge  icon,  which  has  the  filename IGOR.COM. Then the mouse moves there and
"double clicks" it. Then the whole screen is blackened, and a "MadTeam" logo is
being  shown, interlaced (I found out that turning Atari800 to full speed while
in full screen eliminates most of the flickering of the interlace. Of course,if
you  have  a fast machine, the demo flys past you very quickly!), while we wait
for  the  main part to load & depack). Then, a moody bass line is played, and a
fire  effect is being shown (Graphics 3, mirrored by hardware on the x axis :).
In  the  middle  of the screen the group's member list is being displayed using
the  same  interlaced  font.  The  music,  being  nicely  synchronised with the
graphics  shown, fades out and fades in as a sphere writing "presents" appears,
which is then morphed to an "Igor" logo (with a nice Pokey sound effect). After
the  fade  out,  there  is  a  sudden  (and  violent?) outbreak in the music (a
techno-like  track)  and the screen is filled with grey squares at random. Then
a  manga  girl  pic  is  shown  (Darn! These manga pics look very nice at every
resolution  &  colour  depth!).  Then the whole screen is turned grey, which we
find out that it's actually a grey polygon, which rotates around the z axis and
zooms  out  at  the  same time, giving toom to  the black background. Then by a
sipmple  "curtain"  effect,  the background is turned green, in which the first
serious  effect is being shown. It's something they call a "Rot Cross" which is
a  3D  object consisting of 2 crosses, which rotate around all axes with motion
blur!  (Don't  forget:  on  a  1.77Mhz machine :-). Then we have a "Blur cube",
 using  the  same  effect  on  2  squares at the same formation as the crosses,
using  the same effect on a brown background. After that an interlaced rendered
picture  appears,  which  is  a sphere on a fractal floor (Wow! Don't all these
rendered  pics  look the same? :). This gives way to a dot tunnel consisting of
quite  a  number  of  dots (although I didn't like it aesthetically). Using the
same  curtain  effect  as  before,  the  background  is truned black, and a guy
resembling Keith from the Prodigy in the "Firestarter" video is bring shown (at
a later point,you'll find out it probably isn't him).Next effect:A fractal-like
background  is  displayed, a naked woman comes out of the left border and stays
there  (which  is done using hardware sprites, as the graphic mode that they're
using doesn't allow more colours), and finally a 3D "asterisk" comes out of the
right border, spinning around all axes with blur motion. Then, with the help of
some  hardware scrolling, we are presented with another volcano-like background
(interlaced), and a 3D pyramid object is being drawn with alpha blending & blur
motion (boy, I never thought I would see these effects on a simple Atari 8-bit!
).  Afterwards,  we  are presented with "A new Atari graphics format", which is
called  "RIP" (don't ask me, I'm just writing down this stuff ;-), and a smaple
picture  is being shown to display the capabilities of this format (interlaced,
as  always).  Then  we have the last effect ("Thank God!" some might say :) for
this side ("Aaaargh!" the same people would add ;-), which is bump mapping with
a  very  large "spotlight". The music then "loses" its BPM and the effect fades
out, to give space to the prompt for.....

Side  B:After  a  spot  of  loading,  the  screen turns blue using a pleasing
horizontal  wave  effect.  Then we are presented with a quite fast zoom rotator
(with  a  couple of members' photos as graphics). Then some stretch is added to
this  effect  with  yet  another  Mad Team member. Then we are presented with a
"Jet"  rotator,  which  looks like (no, is) texture mapped polygons at a pretty
amazing speed. Then the zoom rotator is being shown with some "proper" graphics
(a  drawn 3d cube which spins around the z axis :). Another photo of "Keith" is
being  shown (Down right I saw a logo writing "Rocky". Perhaps it's him?). Then
a  tunnel  effect appears slowly running at an accepatable speed (full screen),
which   gives  gradually way to another "Igor" logo, to be covered with another
tunnel  effect,  but  the  textures  (which  are,  needless to say, the group's
photos  :)  are  twisted around. The previous logo is shown again, and then the
same  tunnel  effect  with (at last!) some proper graphics! Then, yadayadayada,
logo,  yadayadayada,  the  tunnel with proper graphics twisted. (I know, it's a
nice  routine  which runs at a very fast speed, but it's getting boring for you
to  read  ;).  Then...  change  in  palette  (brown-yellow)... tunnel... proper
graphics (oh, what fun are we having :). Then the whole screen is turned white,
which is broken like glass, and the pieces disappear into nothingness, to give
way  to  our  old  pal  "Keith" again (and by the looks of him, he has gained a
couple  of  pounds  ;-).  Thecredits  are  then  shown and the music stops very
synchronously (and pleasing). Some noise is being shown over the text (which is,
of course, hardware sprites). The end.

                            "Asskicker" by Shadows

General   notes:The  main  menu  & outro run on a simple 800XL, but the main
demo  needs a  130XE (and you are missing a whole lotta stuff if you don't have
one  -  or  can't  emulate  one  :)  Also  note  that the main menu is joystick
contolled only (as far as I know).

The   main   part:An   "Asskicker"  logo shows up (which has a shoe print at
the  background  - is it Timberland? :) very briefly, and then it's ass kicking
time! Starting with a zoom rotator. On the left border 3 stripes (green, white,
red)  appear (the polish flag?) while the effect is being shown. It seems to be
a  bit  faster  than  the Mad Team effort. Then comes some zoom-rotate-stretch,
like  the  Igor  demo's (again running faster than Igor). After this effect the
whole  screen  turns  white and a thunder sound effect is being played (ahhh, I
remember  the  days  when I had a 800XL! FOR I=255 TO 0 STEP -1: SOUND 0,I,6,8:
NEXT  I :)))  and  from  that  point  onward  we gather that the demo is music
synchronised. After the sound effect we are being introduced to "Mr. Gouraudni"
(as  they  say in a logo that changes positioning at random), which I think you
might  know  him!  A  3D Gouraud shaded cube appears spinning around all 3 axes
(anybody  remembers  the  loader  of  "Interphase"?  ;)  Then the Gouraud shade
changes  to 3D texture mapping with a very very nice plasma texture (and with a
very  nice  green  palette).  Another  thunder  sfx and some manic sirens and a
graphic  saying  "Milicja"  (sorry, I don't know a single word of Polish! Might
that  mean  "Warning"  or  something  like that?), and then another writing (in
English this time) "Textures". The music now changes to a very rapid techno-like
something  and  another  3D  texture  mapped cube appears, but with 3 different
textures being used. After a while the textures start zooming in and out to add
to  the  cool  effect  (for  a 8 bit machine). Another explosion sfx, and now a
"Doom"  logo  (that PC game by Id that made a LOT of people dump their existing
machines  for  a  PC  :( ) appears (and I believe that the music changes to the
music  of  Doom?).  Then  we are presented to exactly that: A dungeon a-la-Doom
(which is not 3D texture mapping, just in one axis). The field of view is quite
long  (but  this  is due to the fact stated in the previous sentence) and it is
quite  amazing to look at, but this screen is displayed for about 2 min, and it
gets  a  bit boring after a while (So you'd better push the "full speed" button
if  you  can!  Another reason for me to push the "full speed" button is because
the  music  really  pisses  me off! Sorry guys :). Another explosion and we are
transfered  into  the  next effect: Motion blur. To be more precise, some (real
time?) morphing with motion blur. Astonishing! (the only  problem, in my humble
opinion,  is  that  again we have a digitised face instead of a graphic). After
that's  over  with, we are bring informed that the demo finally made a decision
that  it  has  displayed  enough effects without loading anything, so it's high
time  it  did!  Once  the  depacking  is done, we are presented with a 3D torus
eviromentally mapped with a backdrop. If you've seen DHS's UCM #20 intro you'll
certainly know what I'm writing about. This is a bit slow, I'm a bit suspicious
about this effect, because it's the only effect being shown before the credits.
Could  it  be  that  it  is  a pre-rendered animation that is being depacked in
real-time  or is it really a real-time effect? (Mabye Grey, being an ex-Shadows
member,  could  enlighten  us on the subject? Or Konop, the coder of this demo?
Becuase  I'm  not  going  to  start digging into 6502 code after about 10 years
without having a real XL!) In any case it's a pretty nice effect, precalculated
or not, and that's that.

The outro (which is only selected from the main menu):A vertical scroller with
credits & thanks.

There  is also a hidden part to be found which is programmed by Bewesoft (which
is  -was?- quite a force in the decade that passed for the XL). Unfortunately I
can't  help  you finding it, because I've only seen it once in a hacked version
of  this  demo  which loaded the hidden demo from its own menu. What I remember
though  is  some  one-colour  effects,  such  as some circles, 3D-line objects,
stars,  which  were displayed one at the time and then all together, which made
the poor CPU choke a bit.

                             "Overmind"by Slight

General notes:Needs a 800XL at least to work.

The  intro:  The screen fades into black, and after some loading some text with
intelaced  palette  appears  ("A  Year  has passed"). Then a largish one-colour
"Slight"   logo   dances   around   the  screen,  then  some  more  text  ("has
created")  and then a "Overmind" logo appears and a thunder is being shown with
a  thunder  sample played (5-6 times). Then after quite some loading we proceed

The  first  part:Some  text  appears saying that we would be presented with a
realtime  calculated  Sierpinski triangle in one VBL! (Hey! My kind of people ;
-))))).  It  is  actually  a  Sierpinski triangle which is rotated around all 3
axes,  but only about 256 points of it are being shown (selected at random each
frame).  Afterwards,  a  "SLT"  logo  appears  (with  the  aid of some hardware
scrolling).  Then  the  top of the screen is occupied by a flexiscroller, which
claims  an  amazing  1792 individual points scroller! In one VBL! Then a couple
more  wayforms appear, and then before it starts being boring, we are presented
with  another  effect,  which is a vertical scroller disting and stretching per
line (which  might  be a hardware sprites trick by the looks of it - 4x8 font?
Suspicious!).  The  last  effect  for  this  part  is a plasma screen (which is
actually  pretty  large, although a bit blocky), which also serves as a loading
screen for the next part!

The  second  part:A "Slight" logo bounces and finally settles in the bottom of
the  screen,  while in the rest of the screen we see some real-time line tweens
(consisting  of about 32 lines!). Then a wave zooms in, and just when you think
you're  about  to  see  some  more  line  tweens, you're shocked by some spline
tweens!Although  all  tweens  are  being  generated  jsut by one spline, it's
nevertheless  very effective ones and quite pretty (just like the line tweens).
A  huge  Pacman  sprite  then  comes and eats up the "Slight" logo! The part is
over, and the next loading screen appears: Some shade dots.

The third part:Aha, time for some 16-bit effects! Beginning with some vertical
raster  bars (which  btw  are SO easy to code on this machine - as well as the
STE  :))).  After  that some greetings arrive with a quite large font, scolling
rapidly. Then we have a 3D cube (consisting of lines), with a trail fading out,
which  is  after a while morphing into all the usual geometrical shapes. End of
part, and this time the loader is a fire effect (graphics 3 :)

The  fourth part:Hmmm..... pecalculations time! The standard Mandelbrot set is
being  "zoomed"  in  front  of  your eyes, but with a small twist! 5 overlapped
"windows"of that animation are being displayed (of different sizes too!). This
time  the  loader  is...  (shock,  horror!)  just  a  blank  screen which after
depacking, asks you politely to insert side B (while playing a sample). Another
balnk screen for a loader (in the credits, we find out that it was coded by all
Slight members ;-) we are transfered to...

The  fifth  part:A small loader appears out of nowhere! This time it's a very
simple  zoomer  lens.  Now,  a  tunnel  of depth-cued squares appears. Then the
squares  go  haywire  and  decide to start rotating and changing their centres.
After  that  some  lisajou patterns appear, which are clearly mirrored in the x
axis.  What  would  you  expect after that? Some more dots? (I did!) Nope, they
decided  to  show us a roto-stretch-zoomer (small size, but running at 50 fps).
The  next  effect  are  some shadebobs, which, as always, are boring as Hell. 7
zooming  circles appear  next  (always  at 50 fps!) dancing around the screen.
Then  another  very pleasing DLI effect appears: 12 circles zooming in and out,
which  then  start  to distort horizontally! After the trickery, some real hard
code  appears:  A  3D sphere consisting of quite some depth-cued dots. This one
doesn't  quite  reach  the  50  fps mark, but it's quite fast. End of part, and
another plasma loader appears.

The sixth part:The announcement says we're going to witness a voxel landscape,
and  it  then  proceeds  showing  it to us! Now, I've never been quite a fan of
voxels  (I find them a bit blocky in most cases), but they're not bad here (and
also,  stunningly  fast).  Another spinning line cube appears next, which turns
into  hidden-line  shortly  after.  Some shapes after, we're taken to a disting
scrollertelling us that this demo won the demo compo in Orneta '95, which is,
suprisignly enough, the loader screen for the next part.

The  seventh  part:The first effect is basically a 3D texture mapped polygon,
which,  they  claim,  is the first one coded on a 8-bit. Then we have a 3D dice
made  out of small ball sprites, and then a zoomer which is a bit slow, but the
graphic  being  zoomed  is  quite large, so we'll forgive them :). Time for the
next  part,  with a loader that just flashes the text "Stickman's world", which
is what the next part's all about.

The eighth part:It kicks off with an effect seen before in this demo: Realtime
circles whizzing about the screen. And now for "Stickman's world": It's a line
animation featuring a guy who turns on the radio, dances some nice tunes (what
is  it  with The Prodigy anyway?) and then gets a drink from the fridge. It's a
nice  tween.  Note  that I think that it is a direct conversion from a PC 4ktro
whose  name  I  don't  remember.  After  this, it's the final loading screen: a
fountain which springs dots all over the place.

The outtro:Just a vertical scroller which gives the complete credits.

Note  that  there is a 3rd side of this demo featuring even more effects, but I
haven't been able to locate it so far.

Closing note

Yes, I know that you might have some arguments about my list because "Overmind"
doesn't  contain  many  "new school" effects (God, I hate this categorisation),
but the quantity and quality of the effects in "Overmind", as well as the speed
they  run at (mostly 50fps, which is my passion - if you've watched my stuff so
far you'll understand ;-) push it in the top of my list

GGN/KÜA, Jan 2001
                                                         (painted with theAKT)

Alive 2