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Alive 4

We look back over the last twelve months, of pain and fortune and stuff!

Well,  2001 has been and gone,  another twelve months of continued survival 
for  the Atari scene,  indeed it seemed to be thriving in some areas,  with 
one  magical  weekend in particular,  around Easter time,  but more of that 
later, as they say. But did Arthur C Clarke get a look in? 

Time to find out fellow astronaughties, let's go and see...... 

A little taste of Garlic..
In the early months, we had Grey, and the Mystic Bytes, in association with
a load of others,  promise us a new music production with a difference. The
"difference"  turned  out  to be an add-on diskmag,  which I  sort  of  had
advance  knowledge  about,  being  asked to cast my 'expert' eye  over  the
grammatical  correctness  of a lot of the text.  Couldn't tell there was  a
supposed expert involved there, could you?

The  end  result was called 'Chosneck' a huge beast of a download,  several
megabytes worth,featuring a superior music compilation with mini demo-effect
strewn  autobiographies of  the composers  scattered  throughout.  This sat
alongside a tastefully sparse diskmag shell. Highlights of the textual side
included a report  from the SV2000 coding party by Matt Smith, a previously
unheard voice, which  managed to devote around eighty percent of his report
to the journey,there and back, but not so much to the party itself. Several
more or less revealing interviews with various Polish sceners got in there,
and some strange burbling attempt at morale-raising by yours truly.

It was Falcon only, and needed a full RAM load of 14 Megabytes, which got a
few  people worked up,  but they quietly went out and got upgraded a  short
time  later  anyway!  At  the  time of writing,  the next  issue,  or  more
correctly,  the  first  proper full diskmag version of Chosneck,  is keenly

Error in Line Part 2, party to end all parties?
There  is a strong claim for EIL Part 2 to be described as the  event  that
defined  the whole of this year.  Where else could you see three big Falcon
demos,  each of them a big leap in technique and presentation over anything
that  had  gone by previously,  where else was it possible to play  'Pong!'
purely by the sound of your voice!? And there was more still!

Here are those highlights..

Escape,  "Hmmm" well what can we say! Suppose I had better make the effort. 
Escape  proved  that  there  was  more  to  come  after  Tat's  1997   opus
Sonoluminescenz, with their DSP-bursting 3D masterpiece. 'Hmmm' proved that
top  class demos needn't be stuck in development hell for two years,  as it
only took five weeks to code (once the 3D engine had been made.)

It  also  proved that modern demos shouldn't need to run out of  ideas  and
fizzle out after two minutes. And above all else, it proved there was still
plenty  of life in a basic unexpanded 4 Megabyte Falcy!  A rare victory  to
those  people who prefer to proved a point,  instead of just moaning  about
it!  Finally,  it can be described as the best kept secret of a scene where
most  productions are trail-blazed and perhaps rather too well known  about
in advance.

At  the opposite end of the scene spectrum,  the Dead Hackers Society  were
busy  with  their  Centurbo 2,  relegating the DSP to audio  playback,  but
grabbing the extra Mhz and fast RAM to give us a corker of a big demo. This
was  'Don't  Break  the Oath'.  Notable features included a high  level  of
quality  which justified the extra power,  and a soundtrack to die for,  in
MP2 form, from Candyman of Cream. Now where is he these days?

The  Swedes  hadn't  finished yet,  as T.O.Y.S had a fit  of  productivity,
showing more top 3D effects,  even without a DSP.  Their demo, 'Wait', was
based  on a type of demo more commonly seen on higher end Amiga and  PeeCee
boxes. This worked very well, was over far too quickly, but packed in a lot
of  action  in  its  roughly  three  minutes  running  time.  A  post-party
optimised version didn't need that much extra speed, or any extra RAM, so a
demo  with  state  of the art intentions,  that was happy on an  old  style
Falcy. A good end result then.

Before  we forget, a very nice demo from Paranoia,  Oliver just gets better
with each new release,  he looks like a 'Rock Solid' performer now. Also we
were all invited to take a GFA Basic 'Coffeine Overdose',  a very good idea
by that third sleepless day at the party!

For the ST,we had 'Odd Stuff' the ultimate French oldschool styled megademo.
This was a leftover from the previous December's STNICCC party, and had the
combined efforts of Sector One and Dune pushing it strongly.It works on the
Falcon too, which was nice of the Frenchies...

A  brief  glimmer of sunlight on  an exposed  CD-ROM lights  up the 'Fading 
Twilight', as the  keenly  awaited  first  volume  of  the  ultimate  Atari
scene  music compilation  makes  its debut here.  Thanks to MC Laser,  with
a nice intro coming from Ray of tSCc,  who couldn't make it here, but would
have travelled with us if he did!

Undercover magascene is back from the dead! Moondog makes a comeback, where
a year or more of pent-up critical bile makes for a very interesting  read!
Guess  we'll probably have to wait a year or so before the next one?  Start
digging  those foxholes now,  they simply can't be made deep enough if  you
leave it too late!

The Whip-Pong competition,  Tam is confirmed as a menace to society, ASCII-
Nation, erm, well some people seemed to like it?

And  Felice  brushes  up  close and personal to  the  Amsterdam  Red  light
district..  He survives..  The misting up of his spectacles at the sight of
so  many  bra  and pantie clad women provides a sort  of  'smokescreen'  to
escape under!

What a lot of stuff here? Well I said this may have defined the whole year!
Anyway, there's still more to come, so read on....

Bytes and Pieces in the Summertime..
The summer ST Megademo competition came about when it seemed that  everyone
had  been shocked into a state of inactivity by the excellence of  the  EIL
releases. This timely effort, organised by DHS, got people back into coding
again.  Several  good  entries,  DHS seemed to be reprising parts of  their
blockbuster  3D EIL release on a basic ST,  Escape come out top again  with
something  new,  and  the  sadly  missing from EIL whiz  coder, Defjam  of
Checkpoint reappears in a welcome fashion for this one.

Fuji Lover?
The French softco Infogrames,  take over the Atari rights from Hasbro. They
are  promising  to do something with these,  so it looks like  updates  and
rehashed  cover  versions  of old classic Atari Corp  games  combined  with
random  threats of legal action against assorted Atari enthusiast  websites

Gods and Rockets!
At  last the Reservoir Gods return!  It had been rumoured for a while,  and
they  had  been seen at EIL with an early version of their  new  game,  the
Atari conversion of the Dreamcastastic 'Chu Chu Rocket'. But we had to wait
until  November for this one,  but were we pleased to see them back on form
again? You betcha! There is more to come quite soon, if Mr Pink is correct,
watch out for the next Alternative Party, early in the new year..

I've got to Falcon Powder my nose!
Another summer moment of madness.  The first proper Falcon emulator for the
PeeCee,  'Falcon Powder' was widely discussed.  With the recognised talents
of  Mr  Pink,  Griff of EI (or EA) and even Tat tempted to speak his  first
words for a long time,  this looked like one to go for. But the question is
it,  or  isn't  it?  still remains unanswered,  with the above people doing
their  best  to  dampen  the  topic.  ("We thought of it  after  a  lot  of
drunkeness at the ECTS!")

The real answer is, that yes, it does exist, but not in any vaguely working
form yet, and don't hold your breath...

And the rest of them..
There  were  other  demos in 2001.  We finally saw the  very  delayed  beta
release  of the sadly defunct Polish group Cobra with their 'Awaken'  demo
for  the  ST.  This  dated  all the way back to the first  EIL,  two  years
previously.  About  two-thirds  there,  it showed what might have been. (An
awesome looking, but very slow 3D demo on the ST!)]

There  were  a  hat-trick  of smaller but nice  releases  at  the  November
Paracon, two of these were from from relatively new people. (Yes, I'm still
counting  you  as 'new' Ray!) These included the first  combined  TT/Falcon
production from Ray of tSCc, and something slightly peculiar, which told us
"I am a Troll!" Paranoia was back on form with a neat 96ktro.

And we all know it's Xmas,  when the Spice Boys drape tinsel all over their
hairy  naked  bodies!?!?!  Not to mention that the quiescent Wildfire  were
back  with a brief ALTernative Party invitetro.  Is there more to come from
them soon?

Meanwhile, down at the Atari Scene Skunk Works..
Of  course,  no  year on the Atari scene is complete without its  'work  in
progress'  never  quite making it to release,  some of it for a  number  of
years.  Still out there,  we saw screenshots of New Beat's softsynth, which
will  be  "Ace!".  This is a relatively new one,  so some time to wait yet?
Even  Willies Adventures might be getting there sometime,  with recent work
put into it?  From the reclusive Creamies,  their megademo 'Heftig' has had
the coding part virtually completed but it is awaiting the 'design'.  It'll
get there one day, then we'll be really surprised!

Nature  seem  to have got stuck on waiting for their CT60,  hopefully  that
story will end soon?  And we might take a peek at what is hanging around on
the hard drive of Mr Pink sometime, eh?

Births(?) Marriages(??) and Deaths (?!?)
This bit of the end of year review goes all touchy-feely,  makes people sit
on soft couches,  puts its hand on their knee, and asks about those special
people in their lives!  It can happen to the unlikeliest of people, as Grey
announces  that he got married "Sorry I've been away for so long!" We  hope
it  works out better than the marriage of former ace diskmag  editor, Rich 
Karsmakers, which didn't, better luck next time pal!

Erm,  on a closer to home note,  a female person with a name beginning with
the  letter 'N' renews her interest in the writer of this column!  A former
Maggie  deputy  editor  does  not  find the love  of  his  life  whilst  in
Amsterdam! (Or maybe he remembered to bring his credit cards and did!?!)

A  sort  of  Phenix from the flames?
A  long awaited sign of future life,  Rodolphe 'Phenix' Czuba'sCT60 Falcon 
'060 accelerator is finally hardware reality as the year closes.  The first
prototype is running at last, so order yours now! Various people, including
Nature,  Escape,  DHS,  and  soon  the  Res Gods are on the CT60 developers
list... Quake Atari anyone?? Ah, Patrice Mandin's taking care of that one!

Evil Empire, the XP edition!
Meanwhile,  back  in  the (un)real world,  Bill Gates casually fobs off the
court battle with the US government. Hopefully we haven't heard the last of
that?  The  big  news for those deluded fans of Microsoft,  was the all new
Windows  release,  the  XP  edition.  Rumours that you have to  submit  DNA
samples  as part of the onerous registration procedure may not be that  far
off  the  mark?  Soon you will pay your Microsoft tax,  along with all  the
other stuff you have to pay for!

Is  it  as bug-free and unbeatable as it has been hyped?  Well what do  you
think,  with  conversations  of  the "Is it me,  or is that new Windows  XP 
rather unstable?" variety abounding!  Sounds to me like even more reason to
stick with your Atari!  Not to mention that  for security purposes and data
integrity,  you  might as well  throw  all your doors and windows open. And
advertise the fact in "House Breakers Monthly" (4.95 at all good or dubious
newsagents, or order from Future Publishing directly...)

Look to the Future, it's Only Just Begun!
And for the forthcoming year?  We see the CT60 land at last and soon after,
surely the first productions tailored to use the extra power? What will the
next DHS demo look like?! A new version of Whip!? At time of writing, there
is an uneasy duality  of thought split  between an  Easter  revival  of the
Symposium  party  and something  in the  summer that  ST Survivor  might be
planning,  to bring the  Atari Scene to  La Belle France.  Early in the new
year, the next Alternative Party,  the third in the series,looks like it is
going to be a good 'un!  The Reservoir Gods revival is set to continue,  as
they  are  down as attending  3 ALT,  a further release is expected (it was
something else they were working on at EIL),and there are tantalising hints
of  a  major co-operation on the game making front with a well-known French
group.  The fruits of this co-operation are expected  to hit our screens in

And  where  will  we be?  Bringing you all this stuff,  as it  happens,  of

CiH for Alive! Mag, Dec '01

Alive 4