News Team Current issue History Online Support Download Forum @Pouet

01 - 02 - SE - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

Alive 6
                              The MJJ incident
                        How Sprites Spoil the Scene
           a recipe to flood a BBS with demotivation and ignorance

The internet is without  a doubt  a marvellous  invention. It connects everyone
with  everyone else,  across  countries, continents  and  borders and  it gives
people like us a chance to exchange software, hints and opinions throughout the
world. Especially the  exchange of  opinions is  something that  several people
have a severe problem with.

Now picture the following. A very old-school french  wiz-coder named Leonard is
hooked on producing more  non-masked 2-bitplane  sprites on  screen than anyone
else - that's fine with me. Certainly, i can't beat his records and if it's fun
for him - who am i to argue.

Then the  Spiceboys come  up saying  that they  can beat Leonard's  record - as
usual with a blinking eye - and while  Leonard says that the Spiceboys bent the
rules a little to achieve the amount of sprites, he smiles and says he accepted
the challenge. That doesn't prevent one  so for uninvolved  german from jumping
at the  Spiceboys, saying that they  cheated, that they're not according to the
rules and that they certainly didn't beat Leonard's record.

Now, it's kind of hard to argue about whether the Spiceboys did or did not beat
Leonard's  record. The  so-called rules  of this competition  have been done by
people that left the scene a long  time ago and  certainly won't  care anymore.
Besides that, both screens  depend a lot on code-generation and  precalculation
of all possibilities - and the  more precalculation is  done, the less realtime
there is, and the less realtime there is, the more the resulting screen becomes
like an animation.

But that's not  what I wanted  to argue about. What I wanted  to argue about is
the way the DHS BBS was flooded with angry contributions by someone who was not
involved at all, who neither released a sprite record screen until now nor will
do so in  the next  coupled of  years  but who  somehow decided  to defend  all
old-school coders and their work from anything and anyone who might ask for the
sense in their doings.

However, it certainly  kept the people  busy arguing on the DHS BBS and IRC for
quite a while - if we had as much lines of source-code as we had bulletin board
entries, we'd certainly see a multipart demo by now.

Let's do a little time-warp.

There once was a famous group named MJJ Prod. I still remember the first time I
ever  downloaded  something  from   an  ftp-server  from  the  directory  named
/pub/atari/gfx_demos/  and it was called  Anomaly by MJJ Prod. To be discovered
later were great demos such as Mostly Harmless or Canari by MJJ Prod. All these
demos featured excellent technique, design and had a unique feeling of an "easy
approach" to making demos - you saw that  the MJJ crew  obviously enjoyed  what
they were doing.

By the time, MJJ Prod. vanished, too. Their latest production known to me was
"Canari", a  rather  small but  very  impressive  little demo  presented on a
Gigafun party. After that, MJJ Prod. was to be considered silent.

Now, MJJ tries a  return with  slightly varied  members. While Fel'x seemed  to
have belonged  to MJJ  Prod. Right from  the start, several  others have joined
that weren't very famous until now. And by now they have released for example a
slideshow presenting the work of famous  MJJ graphicians, including high-colour
pictures  converted to  16 colours  by the famous Floyd-Steinberg, and  a music
player with several already known modules.

Now that isn't exactly the quality  of MJJ Prod. that  people are used  to. But
obviously, they go wild if  you tell them. Moondog  has tried in a rather - for
his own  standards - mild way and even insisted on not wanting to offend anyone
- No use. The  people in  MJJ Prod. As today try to  both live on the hype that
people still connect to the name MJJ  without actually  being able to feed that

Once again, the DHS BBS was being abused for a bloody revenge on moondog with a
rather pointless result. While the people in or next to MJJ Prod. kept slapping
their backs for  being such a great  crew, more or  less the whole  rest of the
Atari scene expressed rather critical opinions about the later MJJ releases.

At this  point, it  might  be  interesting  to see  that these  two topics have
resulted in far more lines of written text on the DHS BBS than the announcement
of parties (ParaCon 4, EIL #3) or the discussion of  releases (UMD, Invitros) -
if people  were that active  when writing for  one of the  diskmagazines, there
wouldn't be so large delays between the releases for sure.

But why do people spend so  much time defending themselves against a presumable
attack by a diskmagazine editor who is known to have a strong connection to the
past  rather than  the  present and who  is not  really  famous for  being very
cheerful in  general - and who  even did  try to find  a very  balanced view on
everything thigs time ?

Why does someone, who is not  involved in  current demo  releases nor  has been
involved in nor will be involved vividly defend the rules of a competition that
has run out  about  10 years  ago  against something  that was more  meant as a
wind-up  and didn't insult  anyone badly - At least  not the  one the  joke was
aimed at ?

Whatever the reasons are - they're pointless. The discussions around the topics
above are senseless and instead of spending a lot of time arguing why a certain
product was hot or not, maybe people  should invest more  time into  developing
better products ?

It's not  easy to  criticise. There's a  large difference between  just saying
"this sucks" and carefully distinguishing what of a demo or game is good, what
is bad, how it can be improved and what people expected of it.

But in both discussion mentioned above, it's obvious  that certain people might
also have to learn how to handle critics. By just feeling insulted, calling the
critic names and ignoring all  attempts to make the best out of it, no one will
feel better either.

So, dear Atari scene, here's the resume of this article : You have the critics
you always  wanted to have : Trying to be balanced, objective and also give an
idea of how it might be done better next time. Now certain people of the scene
should learn how to handle critics.


Alive 6