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Alive 9

Otherwise known as NoCrew's very belated apology for the Ego demo!

The  Atari  scene  encompasses  all levels  of  productivity  from  'Heftig'
upwards.  This is known about and accepted. Some have a special place in our
hearts  for  their  laziness levels,  and NoCrew are considered  to  be  the
daddies of them all!

NoCrew  are an enigma,  wrapped in a riddle,  wrapped inside some very large
Swedes!  They  were  there  with the Dead Hackers in the early days  of  the
Falcon,  showing some activity and future promise.  However, it all declined
into  a  splurge  of Unix dad-dom,  high-end workstations,  and nude  Baltic
swimming expeditions off the Polish coast!

But  totally  unexpectedly,  Noring has been working on a killer Falcon  DSP
demo.  He's been working on it for a number of years, well not literally for
years,  as for a large amount of that time, it has been sitting in a sort of
attic  bound  obscurity.  Anyway,  sufficiently  goaded  on  by  his  fellow
Imponance  Party attendees,  he's finally cobbled together this rather tasty
intro for us.

I  had an interesting time getting it to fire up.  It is advertised as  '060
compatible,  but  it  isn't  fastram  friendly,  as it decided my  CT60  had
insufficient memory to do the job,  even when booting clean.  Switching down
to a lowly 4mb '030 mode didn't help either.  Are some 4mb memory cards more
equal than others?  Next up was my CT2 machine,  with 14mb ST-ram.  With the
CT2 switched down to standard Falcon mode it looked more promising, Stocasto
started to run, but then froze straight away.

This was not looking too good...

It  was the very last thing that I tried which finally did the trick,  which
was  running it in CT2 mode,  then we were really away!  I initially thought
that  the  impressive  turn of speed from this demo really  showed  off  the
potential of that accelerator, but comments from other people who managed to
reproduce the full 50fps experience on their standard Falcons would indicate

The best way of describing the overall Stocasto experience is "Oldskool 3D".
That is, the design and layout is very much based on the olden days ST scene
demos,  and  we're going right back to the days when you walked your cartoon
character  through a huge megademo menu opening doors to different  screens!
But  instead  of wibbly rasters,  sine wave scrolltexts,  and ugly  sprites,
we're getting a full-on DSP screen buster of lovely 3D stuffs!

This  does  not reproduce the full Carebears Cuddly demo  experience,  being
limited to just the one screen. However, it reproduces the 'busy' feel of an
old  time demo screen,  effects cramming to squeeze the last drop out of the
processor, but in this case, the processor happens to be the DSP!

It  builds up gradually,  a crusty looking logo at the bottom of the screen,
then a couple of zooming flowers. A scrolltext made up of a blocky font runs
across  the  screen very rapidly,  then the party special,  a series of very
complex flat-shaded 3D objects takes centre stage. Finally, to fill in those
last little chunks of unused processor time,  a rotating and changing vector
dot screenfill goes on in the background.

There  are  two  different ways of watching this demo.  The first  and  most
appealing is to take in the procession of changing 3D objects. We start with
a  huge  number of cubes being held in a cube pattern,  Similar to  the  EKO
'Papa  was a Bladerunner' demo,  but more cubes and no textures.  The object
procession continues, something with cubes again but more abstract, a fan, a
balloon, and the best of all, a mediaval castle.

No it's not the 'Hmmm' demo, ignore that scrolltext!

There  is  a chippy sounding modfile playing.  NoCrew were considering  some
kind of advanced YM replay but didn't get around to it. The demo goes on for
as  long  as you can stand it,  which is quite a long time.  To say that all
parts  are  silky-smooth does credit to the coder.  The only pity  is,  that
there  isn't more.  This screen looks like it should have been the set-piece
climax for a much bigger demo.

Then  there is the scrolltext.  This is the other way of watching this demo.
If you are concentrating properly on the very fast moving scroller, you will
not really take in any other part of the demo!  The scrolltext contents seem
to express some regret in not doing more with their Atari's. It changes from
English to Swedish halfway through, and you seriously wonder for a moment if
your brain has stopped functioning correctly,  before you realise the nature
of  the  change  in  this fast-paced scrolly world!  With  some  relief,  it
switches back to English, and you even hear from some of the other guests at
the  Imp  Party,  such  as Wiztom,  who is giving himself a kick to get  the
Aggression 15th anniversary demo done!

This final(?) NoCrew experience is short and to the point,  we are impressed
by this sharp burst of oldschool artistry with a modern DSP-powered twist!


Graphics:- 80% - Creaking bitmaps more than compensated for by neat 3D
object design.

Sound:- 70% - Pretty average amigastyle chippy mod, but fits the demo well.

Coding:- 95% - 50fps on standard Falcon, best flatshaded 3D routines ever!
(Better than EKO System at 25 fps..)

Overall:- 85% - A superb oldschool Falcon intro.

CiH, for Alive! Mag,Jan '05

Alive 9