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       --------   WHAT 'OLD' SCENERS THINK OF THE CURRENT SCENE  -------

    Before we start  diving into  another  article mixed with  various people's
thoughts, I'd like to say  that 'old'  does  NOT  mean 'antiques' or is  in any
disrespectful. This is  the  only adjective I could think to 'target' long time
sceners who were mostly active on ATARI for its first decade. I also avoided to
call them 'former' sceners since most if not all of them are still active.

   Here and there we've had  raging talks on IRC or via  messages posted on DHS
and lately the release of the record  breaking screen by The Spice Boys created
a huge thread of responses of all  kinds. Of course  this intro  was meant as a
joke and most of us took it  as such. Still some  of our  beloved 'old' sceners
felt attacked and mocked. I'm aware that they  don't  _really_ like  our modern
demos which can't run fx in 1 vbl. Sure I'd love to see 1 VBL mapped tunnels or
env. mapped  objects  but  it is  just  impossible ! Does it  make  our  effort
worthless ? I don't think so as we're trying new things and I LOVE these demos.
That doesn't stop me from loving older productions  like VIRTUAL ESCAPE (not so
old release wise ok :) demos from DUNE, HEMOROIDS, SYNERGY and so many others !

   To clear things up and  balance things  right, I've decided  to mail some of
these 'old' sceners  and asked  them to rate 'new  school' stuff. There will be
slashing tonight, but I don't care as this is called Freedom Of Speech ! Btw as
I write this, I've already sent some mails and  had few answers back but I hope
that decent number of  these 'old' sceners  will grab this chance  to kick some
youngsters butts :) Btw, I gave them -as a guideline- two questions you'll find
below :

Dbug said : 

1. what is YOUR definition of a demo ? (content, requirement, whatever)

Whaou, that is  some question, that even today most people are still not ok
with the definition. Some will say that  this is the computer equivalent of
"pushing the limits", some others will say this  is the computer equivalent
of "video clips", some other will say this is art, some thing it's a way to
deliver underground messages, ...

On an Atari ST, C64, or Oric, we  can definitively say that a demo HAS to push
the limits... and that  on  the  PC the  technological demos made  by 3D chips
makers and 3D engine creators are generaly far ahead technically speaking than
the demo scene so this is not the case here.

In summary I would say that for me a demo is something that has no particular
interest or purpose, but  that most computer  geeks will look  anyway because
that's cool :)

The fact it's correctly coded, has  nice graphics, good music, has impressive
effects, and  fits in 1kb are _implementation_  details, the things that will
make you think  it's a good or bad  demo. This means  there is  absolutely no
imposed  contents in  a  demo. You  do  not  need  to  put 3D cubes, rasters,
greetings, credits or anything else to make a demo. If I push it, I would say
that the visualisation pluggins of WinAmp are kind of single effects demos.

Perhaps that the only requirement is that it has to run in real time, and
should work correctly in non interractive mode.

2. do you like or dislike ST modern demos and why ? What we call modern demos 
are of course demos released back in the late nineties up to now. We can't call 
great demos like Virtual  Escape  a  modern  demo tho :) Examples  of ST modern 
demos are Sweetie/DHS, Do Things / Cream,  Suretrip/ Checkpoint, Breath/ Mystic 

I managed to find sweety, do things and suretrip, but was unable to locale
"breath", so I will not comment on that one.

Some basic facts first.
* The "do things" has a  very nice chunky to  plannar code, and some nice
tunnels and plasmas, but well, I think it's borring even if it looks it's
running @50z.

* The "sweety" is a  really nice one. It has nice  logos and pictures, the
musics rules, variety in effects is a plus. The freedirection tunnel, bump
mapping, the final ray traced logo is quite nice. I like it.

* The "suretrip" is  for  me in  the same  category  than "sweety", but  looks
technicaly a little bit better. Unfortunately I think that the colors basically
are... hum... well :) I give a special mention to the oldskool/newschool mix in
the part with the vertical raster made  scrappy scrollers incrusted in the dark
parts of the tunel, nice idea. The rotozoom is great also.

Now if I have to compare old and new demo I think there is a first distinction
to make: I will base the comparison on the _effects_ not on the _organisation_
of the demo. Traditional ST demos had menus, and each demo was a single effect
screen that fit in the memory  of a 520 STF. New  style demos (trackmos ?) are
simple effects linked together by transitions, are are loaded from disk on the
fly, or require a 2mb atari to run.

Ok, concerning  the  effects. The  oldskool  motto was "it has to fit  a 160256
clock cycles", so all effects have to be @50hz, and it was not supposed to work
on something else than a 8mhz 68000 on a STF/STE  machine. New school demos are
working on almost all the range of atari machines, from the  STF to the Falcon,
so it  means  that some  effects have  to be coded  differently on  some of the
machines (I guess it, because I do  not think  that the  fullscreen part of the
suretrip was made  using  the "fullscreen" register  of the falcon on the atari
ste :)), so it means some more work.

Now we have settled the basic "conceptional" differences, we can analyse what
the result is quality wise :

On the old scene, we had  logos, scrolls, programmed  fullscreen  and  hardware
scrolling, lots of raster based effects, no one use the system, most interrupts
were disabled, and we also used a  lot of  preshifted  things to  deal with the
bitplan  problems  and so  beeing able to  move things at the maximum speed. We
were also  using  a  lot  of things at  the  same  time  using  bitplan tricks,
redefined partial color  palettes localised to some parts of the screen, and so
on... result is  generally  screens with  lots of overdraw lots of  colors, and
moving things everywhere.

New demo scene generaly use "chunky 2 planar" routines, that eat a lot of clock
cycles. The  result is  that  it's  possible  to  achieve  complex  pixel based
effects, but it will not fill a 320x200 pixels screen, so in general we get 2x2
pixels on a reduced screen  if  the one  vbl  speed  is the  objective. Another
consequence, is that in general those  demos are  less colorfull  that old one,
simply because it's hard  to put  rasters to add  colors to a  free directional
tunel or blob (metaballs) effect...

In conclusion, all I can say is that this is  not a "better/worse" relationship
that exist between new and old style demos, because there are very _different_.
I think the  best of  both  worlds can be  reached, by mixing when possible two
different kinds of effects on  the screen. Some examples ? Well, you can make a
c2p based effect appear in the  middle of two graphics using raster to increase
the number of colors. This way you have  more colors on screen, it only takes a
little bit more cpu time, and it reduce the size of the infamous black border I
saw in most new school demos.

Another example: do you  remember the old moving carpets effects, the one with
mountains scrolling in the background ? You could  do the same kind of effect,
but replacing the  carpet by a perspective  projected picture using the c2p on
two bitplans, and adding other things on the top (3D vector balls ?) using the
two remaining bitplans... that's simply an idea.

Basicaly, what's is bothering me, is that since the c2p things appeared on the
demo  scene, people  stopped  using  what the  hardware was  offering. No more
rasters, no more hardware scrolling or split  line effects. The poor  68000 is
alone to do most of  the thing, and  since the music  department moved  to SID
sound, it's even worse (for the cpu).

Personally, for the future I would ditch the STF machines, considering that the
STE is the lowest common  denominator, so no  more STF color  palettes, and you
are sure that all those machines are  able to play digisound, can have hardware
scrolling, they have all a blitter.

Sorry for the long post :)

Dbug^Defence Force (was Dbug II^NeXT)


Cih wrote :

I'm one of those rare people who has stuck with the scene both  when it is
"new", and also back when it was fresh and young, and too new to be called

The thing that makes both old and  new scene cool, isn't the dry and technical
coding  side  to  the  argument. Apart  from  those  strange    people  called
coders(grin!) who truthfully gives a f*ck whether a particular screen is drawn
in a single VBL or not? The  constant factor that  has kept me  interested all
this time from the  first days  of the  B.I.G demo, to  the most  recent limit
smashing brainblaster, is an elusive quality in seen only in a few exceptional
demos, which I would describe as the "Hey Wow! factor."

When you say "Hey Wow!" on first seeing a demo, you know that  you have just
enjoyed something very special, no matter what era it comes from. "Hey Wow!"
means that  some serious technical and/or  aesthetic limit breaking has been
going on. The height-bar of excellence has been  cranked up several notches,
daring the next crew coming  along to "beat 'dis!" So  it was with the Union
demo, the  first 'proper' multipart  demo, and  so on to  the Cuddly demo's,
where the humble STfm was taken to the  heights of contemporary Amiga demos.
It goes right  through, many years later, to the likes of the Checkpoint EIL
demo and  the 'Hmm' demo at  the other  end of our story, taking  in a whole
load of Lost Boys and Lost Blubb, somewhere in the middle.

The real secret of the long life and continuing appeal of the demo scene, is
the eternal hope, occasionally realised, of that  next "Hey Wow!" production
coming along, which lives in the hearts and minds of the members of the demo
scene community. I think that  the  arbitrary  division  into 'old and 'new'
needn't  apply, as both  sides  have  had  their  fair  share  of  thrilling
productions. After all, limits are always there to  be broken, it's just the
methods that change over the years.

"What is your definition of a demo?"

Hit me with the hard ones  first mate ! A "demo" can be called accurately a
"demonstration" of the audio and  visual capabilities of  a computer, often
intended to give the effect of exceeding the 'official' capabilities of the
target machine. It can possibly be considered as the ultimate technical and
aesthetic act of expression possible when exclusively using the computer as
the medium of delivery.

In my own view, getting the stuff to the screen and your ears in a pleasing
and  exciting manner is  the important bit. *How*  people choose  to do it,
technically speaking, is up  to them. I don't really  have any criticism to
make of a  coder  who chooses 'x' newschool  over 'y' oldschool  method, or
vice-versa. Life is too  short to  be hemmed in  by self-made restrictions.
(Which is how I also feel about a lot of  other things, not necessarily all
computing related!)

"How do you like or dislike new stuff and why?"

Oh I really like the newschool stuff ! I like it  for various reasons. First
part is to do  with our coders  being able to  keep up  comfortably with the
mainstream  people  on the  PeeCee and  Amiga, especially  with the  more 3D
related  productions. Any  reasonable  emulation of  the demos  made  on the
mainstream machines is  praiseworthy from  the point of view  that the other
people have much more powerful hardware, vastly faster cpu's, *and* graphics
cards with firmware boosters, and we (mostly) don't.

The second big reason is  to do with  the idea of  continual progress in the
art of demo-making. Most people who are into  demo-watching and  demo making
look for that rare  and difficult  to get "wow!" moment. This is when a demo
comes up with something genuinely new, or  with an unprecedented standard of
craftsmanship, or even  both of  these. We all went "wow!" when we first sat
through the 'Hmmm demo' at the second EIL, and ancient pie-encrusted sceners
like myself  remember the first time that  they  set eyes on the Spreadpoint
Screen in the venerable and legendary 'Cuddly  demos', by those 1989 (or was
that 1898?) school people, TCB. Now I'd  call that a moment of equal but not
greater "wow-ness".

A favourite party trick of mine, for some time after, was to show people the
Spreadpoint screen, and  watch their jaws  drop in  amazement  when the many
lines of text scrolled into view. Worked every time, that did !

The  whole point of  demo making  is to  improve on  what went  before, both
aesthetically, and  technically. (Remember  "Beat 'dis!"??) It may  get to a
point where the bleeding edge is commonplace onscreen, and creating new demo
effects holds no interest, but I think we've still got some way to go here.

So with "new" stuff, I'm all in favour, it implies people are still interested
in the subject, and passionate enough to make code for it. Same goes for those
folk who want to make the perfect oldschool demo too. Maximum  respect goes to
you all !

Grazey wrote :

I still prefer the old scene, mainly because in those days there seemed to
be more innovation. This was probably due to the fact  that computer demos
as an art form were in their  infancy. I started in the demo scene in 1983
on the Commodore 64 in those days a simple Koala 16 colour picture of King
Tutankhamun  with a 1  colour scroller  seemed amazing. Then as the months
went  by  coders came  up with  techniques  never  dreamt  of  before e.g.
Multi-plexed  sprites, full  screens, rasters, sampled  music, etc. People
were pushing the boundaries back with each new release.

The  early  days  of  the ST  continued  the  trend, with  Alyssa  & The  Union
pioneering  amazing visual and  sonic  effects. A lot of the wizardry I admired
related to things ST specific, such  border removal, sync  scrolling and making
the Yamaha sound chip produce  semi-decent music. To be honest most of the more
general stuff was ripped (ideas not code!) from the Amiga. It was at about this
time that  new techniques  dried up. Also the  coders un-written rule of making
things run in a frame  ceased too with coders copying ideas  from more powerful
machines such as the A1200, PC and to some extent Falcon.

I admit that  design  has  improved  dramatically  but  nearly all  effects are
re-hashes  of old  ideas, albeit  with  added  bells and  whistles. I  probably
prefer the  current scene for it's  friendship which  is down  to the  birth of
the  internet. But  demo-wise  there's just  not  the  same "wow"  factor  when
loading up modern  productions, I feel the  same with games by the way... Maybe
it's me getting old! but nostalgia is a strange beast! I should crank up my C64
and view Circlesque or  watch an  episode of Space 1999 and then realise what a
pile of crap it all was.


Alive 6