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Alive 9
dhs online compo!

The Dead Hackers 10th Anniversary Online Competition - Falcon '030 and '060

The  trend  for the more cutting edge Falcon code to be aimed  at  the  CT60
continues,  with two of the entries being made purely for the '060. There is
a good fightback from the '030 camp though, with a killer DSP engine getting
its first public outing, and, erm, something else brings up the rear.

Here we go now...

'Eskimeau Experience'- F060
This  neat  intro from the Dead Hackers Society is the  probable  winner  of
their  own competition!  It is the best designed of all the Falcon  entries.
They  admit that it is not really stretching the CT60,  but we do get a nice
first  proper  use  of  the  latest Ace  tracker  replay  routines.  With  a
combination of this,  and a non-sample based Ace tune,  a new CT60 soundchip
has been invented!

To start,  Timbral's tune kicks in, and a stringy complex solid spline or 3D
knot  is  displayed  spinning around.  There is a slightly  unusual  'visor'
graphic in the foreground which persists for most of the demo.  I guess this
is the view from behind an Eskimeau's parka?!

Transformation  screen  next,  a hand drawn eskimo pointing a camera at  the
viewer,  thanks  to  the ever-versatile Timbral,  and behind him,  a cute 2D
plasma, sort of like a snowstorm, or glacier plasma?

The '060 is good for fiddly and detailed little things too, like a snowflake
pattern  which starts off small sized,  but unfolds out into something  very

We  cry  out for some kicking large 3D stuffs,  and Evil can deny us for  no
longer,  as  a bodacious henge or monolith panorama floats into view.  There
are some seriously big objects here.  You can say that this is the first bit
which shows the '060-ness of this intro.

A  revisit  to  past  DHS  glories  here,  with a  quick  2D  plasma  for  a
transformation. This leads to the demo title picture, a nice little portrait
of  an eskimeau taking some photographic pride in his fishing.  Then  moving
onto the next big set-piece,  which is something like a reflective SNES Mode
7  spinning floorscape,  reflecting a weird 'northern lights' style horizon.
The camera glides between swarms of dots.

The so far lighthearted chippy Timbral tunes suddenly changes mood near  the
end. There is a heavier and more sombre sound. The scene also changes to the
final major 3D set piece. The camera is spinning above a single light source
diamond in an  otherwise very dark room.  This picks out a detailed panorama
in the pool of light. Then the demo fades out, and it's all over.

This  should win the competition,  as a modest but pleasant set-piece with a
good overall theme holding it together.

Now I wonder what DHS are doing for their first BIG demo for CT60?!

Rated at:- 9 out of 10, Just the job!

'Dazed'- F060
The other CT60 entry from Evolution.  Like the DHS one,  was done in a hurry
and  too near the deadline.  This tends to be reflected in the nature of the
end  product.  Deez  also said to me on IRC that he was into "darker  stuff"
recently. And this too, shows in this intro's content.

It certainly starts dark, a soundtrack from 505 kicks in. Evo are also using
the same Ace Tracker replay routine, which is good. Then we finally start to
see something huge,  organic looking,  and vaguely menacing start to appear.
If I was pushed to describe this object to you, it would be something like a
'Turkey thigh-bone,  interpreted by H.R.Giger of Alien fame'.  This is given
the spinny treatment, to show it off as much as possible.

Something  else  equally organic takes over,  continuing the 'boney'  theme.
This constantly splits away from itself, and reforms.

A  change of scenery,  with a grey background and a stream of dots and blobs
spewing  across  it.  These  divide and scatter,  to show  some  beautifully
complex  and languid motion patterns that are in no hurry to leave,  because
the '060 can!

An  alien  eyeball is torn from its skull socket,  and given the blurry  and
harsh overexposure treatment!  A minute of showing this,  and then it is The

'Dazed'  bravely  attempts to be a bit different from the run  of  the  mill
standard intro.  It certainly carries off the "dark" theme well.  It doesn't
work  as  well as Eskimeau Experience in carrying off  a  distinctive  self-
identity,  and to be honest, it feels like a parade of effects that has been
plucked  out  of a bigger demo?  It could have done with a bit more work  to
identify  itself,  even  with  such cliched items,  as a definite start  and
finish point, and some form of title? Deez's style seems to be better suited
to making a bigger demo, rather than a rush-job intro. The Evolution Outline
demo is most keenly awaited, as that preview promised some great things!

Rated at:- 7 out of 10, Technically nice, feels a bit incomplete.

'Moai'- F030
Lonely  but  proud  for  this competition,  the only  standard  Falcon  '030
production comes to us as a joint effort from Mikro, lately of Mystic Bytes,
and XI of Satantronic. The main purpose of this intro is to showcase Mikro's
DSP-based 3D engine.

Firstly  it  might be a good idea to ask what it can run on?  There is  some
debate,  as  the  authors  would prefer us to use some form  of  accelerated
hardware. But in practice, anything from a standard Falcon, right through to
a CT60 with its caches disabled and fast bus and DSP is in with a shout.

In practice,  I found that Moai works well enough on a standard '030, albeit
needing 14MB and an FPU,  and it positively flies on a CT2, which I guess is
the optimal hardware platform!

Starting the demo, and after a lengthy decrunching pause (less so on CT2), a
bit  of  an Easter Island theme kicks off.  A spinning textured  stone  head
dominates  the  centre  screen,  with the title and credits showing  at  the
bottom of the screen.  All this takes place against a misty grey background,
even  to  the extent that the far point of the spinning head  fades  out  of

The grey and misty November theme continues as the camera wanders off down a
steep grassy valley.  This has some slate textured walls, and more mistyness
in  the middle distance.  As far as I am aware,  a mist-capable 3D engine is
not a common technique seen on the Falcon.  I discussed this with Earx,  and
we can only come up with two from memory. These are the game 'Gravon', which
misted,  but  with flat-shaded 3D only,  and the Aggression 128ktro from the
Aggressive Party, which had some texturing. This is the most complex attempt
yet,  and  probably  qualifies this intro as the best Falcon intro  in  this
competition,  technically speaking.  It could even compete decently with the
current early level CT60 stuff?!

Anyway,  back to the demo,  and we get to the end of the valley, with a set-
piece showing off an Easter Island head,  surrounded by columns,  which fade
in and out of the mist as they are spun around.

Then  we  are  abruptly taken to a different location entirely.  This  is  a
church building,  surrounded by its graveyard. You immediately think "Horror
movie setting!" But nothing unpleasant rears its decaying head out from  the
mist, fortunately!

We  resume  our  journey  back down the valley.  The head  puts  in  another
appearance, and then back to the church once more.

There  is  a large change of mood with the endscreen,  with a more  abstract
scene. We are shown a spinning spiny ball, reposing under an organic looking
archway, There is a large change of mood in the music too, which goes off to
being something more ambient than before.  It only remains to press a key to
return to the desktop, but you'd rather not do that?

This is yet another production preceded by a rash of apologies and cries  of
"Too little time" in the readme text.  In this case the intro suffers from a
coders touch on the design,  with a colour scheme that is hit and miss.  I'd
say  "Hit"  with the nicely realised overall grey and misty  November  mood.
They could get a different demo entirely, if opting for the more common blue
skies!  On  the  other hand,  we have to regretfully record a "Miss" in  the
choice of clunky colours and textures for many of the objects. I won't go on
about    the    not-quite    perfect   clipping,    and    brutally    quick
(non)transformations,  as  this  demo *really* was put together in a  hurry.
These things can't be helped with severe time pressure I guess.

However,  this  intro shows great promise,  and I gather that Mikro is still
developing  his DSP engine.  The man himself reckons we've still got more to
look forward to from that direction. Let's hope so!

Rated at:- 9 out of 10, Real effort, technically.

'Charcoal, The Early Years'- F030/STe
And last and leats, err least is this fragrant little item from the doyennes
of demo fakedom, the Dildo Fatwa collective!

It goes back to ASCII basics,  and takes a Chudlike approach to its subject,
reminscent  of  that first Error in Line demo.  'Early Years' is a  suitably
embellished  retelling of a classic anti-piracy advertisment,  which was run
in the computer press of the 1980's.  We mean "Classic", in the same context
as things like "classic symptoms of smallpox"!

This is the most accessible Dildo Fatwa production made so far. System-wise,
it  can run across a wide variety of Atari's,  if somewhat slower on an STe.
The preferred platform is a standard Falcon '030, but it did test ok as high
as  CT60.  This  is  also  the Dildo Fatwa production  which  is  the  least
encumbered  with  obscure  in-jokes about the Atari demo  scene,  which  are
comprehensible only to the author...

COMING SOON - The Dildo Fatwa demo viewers companion guide! "DILDO FATWA FOR
DUMMIES!" All the weirder bits explained?! Well it might happen one day?

The  story is all in this demo,  and briefly,  concerns the misadventures of
two  misguided young people,  who take exception to the practice of  selling
illegally copied software, in an ASCII cartoon strip style of thing...

.------------.           .- - - - - - -.          ______________.
/            / \         /             / \        /             / \
/____________/   \       /_/_/_/_/_/_/_/   \      /_\\\\\\\\\\\\/   \
|            |   | ----- |             |   | ---- |             |   |-----
|_____  .#######.      _______________     |                ________________
|     .### #######.  .' Wow, they've  '.     .--.--.._    .' Hang on, this  '                                                                                                                                            |
'--- .###  ######## (  got Arse Bandits )  .'    (_.  `. (  box looks a bit  )
###  __. ._  )  ' of Zorg!       .'  (______/  '_  ) ' dodgy?          '
{.  ( @ : @)(  / /---------------     :(@) \ (@) \/  / /--------------'
#      \    ) \/                     |    _)     }  |/
'    _\_)_  \                        (   _____   )                 '
\  \_____/  )                        ( (_____) )
)    _    /           .              '__    __'
__/'--_____--|__                      __/  ----  \__
/        v       \                    /              \
/         |        \        .         /  /\         .  \
\   /|    '     |\  \                /  / |         |\  \                                                               |
\  \|    |     | \  \             _/__/  |         | \ /
\  \    '     |  \__\      .     \  /   |======= _-/ /         .
\/ \.........| _)_  \_          /_/    |*******|__|/
.   |_/         .|   \\\ |                |***||****|    .          .
|    _     ||       |                |***||****|
|   | |    |'_______'                |***||****|
|   | |    |                         |***||****|

Technically it is nowhere,  the music is especially lame, but as an animated
sub-Viz comic strip with an acidly satirical bite,  aimed at the anti-piracy
establishment, it just about does the job!

Rated at:- Don't ask!!

CiH, for Alive Mag,Dec '04

Alive 9