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Alive 2
STS's part

  Here it comes at last : the second issue of aLiVe! I have to admit I was
inactive for a while and now we have too many articles. As a matter of fact
this issue is about half the size it was a couple of hours ago. The removed
articles and eil2 reviews will be found in a special issue that should be out
by the end of the week so check it out fellows ! I'm a bit tired now and since
Chris wrote quite a long editorial, I'm gonna let him entertain you while I'm
putting the final touches to this issue.


               CiH's *Barely* Alive! post-EIL editorial Bit!

          WARNING! This text has been thrown together in a hurry!

It's the day after the party, well a couple of days after, and I'm unpacking
my  bags,  boggling  at  the activity levels on the DHS  site  and  bulletin
boards,  not  to  mention the size of some of the demo downloads.  (But hey,
quality doesn't come cheap!) And Sebastien asked for me to write my part  of
the editorial for this second issue of Alive!

So here I am...

The  big  Easter coding parties over the years have always  shown  the  next
major  steps  that  are being taken in Atari demo  making.  The  competition
viewing screens acting like a crystal ball for what we're going to be seeing
more of over the next year or so. So why not consider the following...

We  start  our tale in 1993,  with the first Fried Bits Party.  Not the most
obvious  place to illustrate the point perhaps,  but the first decent Multi-
part demo 'Warum', kicked out by those brilliant Austrian Falconeers, Lazer,
came along.  By 1994,  at the second Fried Bits,  rewarmed versions of Warum
were  being  churned out quite routinely by the rank and  file  groups,  but
Lazer  were  still leading the pack with the first  really  heavy-duty  epic
megademo  for the Falcon called 'Ungto' (Alright,  'Autowaschen Verboten' if
you  insist!) From this,  you can possibly see where some of the inspiration
for the hard disk breaking 'Obnoxious' megademo came from a year later!? The
1994  Fried  Bits was also notable for the Mugwumps  'Psychedelic  Knockout'
trance  demo,  which  had design repercussions of its own a year later,  and
more of which shortly!

1995,  and  the ever so memorable third Fried Bits party came,  with a whole
new level of ambition and professionalism in Falcon demo design.  Lazer took
the  Mugwumps multimedia idea to new heights,  and the 'Lost Blubb' demo  is
still a classic,  providing demo entertainment to the unitiated, even today.
Meanwhile,  EKO  and Avena were taking great interest in the complex art  of
making  3-D  worlds.  The DSP on the Falcon was the next place  where  great
things were expected,  with EKO taking the lead here, with their wonderfully
smooth flat-shaded but multi-faceted alternate realities.

Things stagnated a bit in the following year,  the Symposium '96 was notable
for a falling away in the number of 'big' demos, but here, the trend was for
more  excitement in smaller packages,  where the first really good 4k intros
were seen. We fondly recall Lazer's last outing in a 3-D space in 4K, not to
mention a strong wireframe presence from tSCc, and of course, the 'Crash and
burn in hell' Godtro from those cold and cheerless christian coders Spirits.
This  set  the  scene  for future 4K  releases  of  ever  greater  ambition,
culminating in a lot of full demo scale productions in the latter 1990's.

Around  this time,  a lot of the old crews swept themselves away.  The Atari
scene  was navel-gazing,  instead of paying close attention to its monitors,
and was concerned it was 'dying'.  It took another lone coding hero, Tat, at
the Easter Siliconvention '97 party,  to snap them out of their stupor, with
the  first really convincing DSP-based 3-D demo with added textures to  make
it to release.  I am, of course, talking about 'Sonoluminescenz'. These were
the  new  heights to which the rest of the scene had to aspire  to  overtake
now! Were they up to it?

They  ducked  the  challenge for a bit.  1998 saw the interesting,  but  not
traditional  Easter  Alternative  party in snowy  Finland,  where  the  main
interest was for an obscure 8-Bit system called MSX (which could kick a fair
bit  of ass itself to be fair!) One of the people who ducked  the  challenge
was  Tat  himself,  who announced his retirement from the scene in 1998.  It
would seem that the best early chance of challenging the supremacy of 'Sono'
had gone, we would have to wait a while for the rest to catch up.

In  1999,  the  first Error in Line party saw that there was still a lot  of
active  Atari  sceners out there.  For this party,  the "humble" ST was  the
recipient of the best demos. From the hands of Defjam of Checkpoint, who was
practically the only coder working on the ST at a Falcon-dominated Symposium
'96, came the greatest ST megademo since the 1993 'Froggies over the Fence'.
Most  of  the  other better demos were written for the ST  too,  the  Falcon
getting  some fair to reasonable productions,  but seeming to stand still on
this occasion.

Last  year saw a shift of interest to Poland,  where the SV2000 didn't quite
manage to live up to its potential.  The releases were interesting and had a
lot  of potential to really rock,  but suffered from a tendency to be  half-
finished,  and  for  their coders to give up in mid-code.  Was this the real
death  of the Atari scene?  But straws were in the wind,  with Sqward of the
Mystic Bytes showing it was still possible to push the limits of the Falcon,
and  Mind Design to start using some new techniques such as MP2  replay  and
accelerator hardware.

But now, the second Error in Line proves that 2001 is a GREAT year for Atari
demos!  People who were quiet for years suddenly spoke out with their latest
releases.  The  greatest surprise of the party,  was the brain-blasting DSP-
bending  tour-de-force  by Escape,  which even overshadowed the monster  3-D
productions  from  the  Swedish side of the scene!  The future has  two  co-
existing possibilities, one of which shows total mastery of the basic Falcon
hardware,  and  the  other making better use of expanded hardware.  The only
concern  is the currrent low state of ST releases (although they  got  their
own  great  megademo from the best that the oldschool French  scene  had  to
offer !) EIL part 2 was surely the revenge of the Falcon!

We  know  what  is expected for the next time,  greater quality,  ever  more
kicking  effects,  more  DSP 3-D,  even better music.  The challenge has been
set, as always, BEAT DIS!

The Atari scene rises from the dead once again, may it still have many
years left in it!!

 CiH  - For Alive! Mag - April 2001.

Alive 2