DEMOSCENE ★ CPC IN THE YEAR 2001 by optimus/dirty_minds ★

PROLOGUE

Hallo! Optimus is here not knowing how to start again :P I am weak, absolutelly tired, making a strong diet (Yeah! You will see me much thiner in photos of me from the upcoming ReAct party when they will come out, than how I was in Digital Nexus ;) having nothing else to do in my life these days rather than reading for my fucking exams (Only escapes beeing my own thoughts, dreams, a lonely love, my beloved Strange-Egnarts mag, making plans for my future scene activities coming right after exams, a rare Internet activity, few rare emails, e.t.c..) beeing totally insane and chaotic with my life, and not beeing able to let my mind flow in order to write this fuckin article! Anyways. I will be much better after my exams since there will be lot's of action, upcoming greek parties, fun again and a possible job as a PC programmer too (Is the current default message in Pouet oneliner, just another crazy synchronity of this strange reality?) a good thing for me, only hoping to not disturb me that much from my scene activities. Anyways..

I have just written my first paragraph (Which is a fragment of my own personal life, just as always, what else would you except from Optimus?) and I am just afraid to claim that this will be the smallest article you have ever read from me. (Actually the smallest articles I have right now in my HD are about 20kb. You will hardly find something smaller than that! =) I am just afraid because I have just started the first paragraph, and it's not the first time I was feeling it will be small, but had seen the opposite been prooven at the end! How do I succeed to do that?!? Anyways,. the reason why I wanted to claim that, is because the year 2001 was not that good for the CPC demoscene. If there wasn't any Backtro from any guy called Overflow, then I don't think I would find something special to write about the year 2001 and CPC. But still, I may have the mood to write you about some other things and the future plans for 2002 instead. (And you know,. on the CPC scene, we use to have too many plans but not so much productions! :) Another funny thing about the CPC scene btw, is that people have a tendency to jump over deadlines ;) Just a joke my friend Overflow told me through email!) Hmm, first paragraph about Optimus life, second about the possible size of this article (Hey, but it flows to the main subject: CPC!) Anyways..

THE CPC PRODUCTIONS IN 2001

Hmm, I guess that every paragraph of mine ends up with the word "Anyways". Don't start talking about it now, and why the s at the end! Anyways.. ;) Let's stop da fuckin thing and move on to the most important CPC demo of 2001. I am just browsing my article about CPC in the year 2000 in another window, and reading about the future(aka past now :) It was writting about a possible comeback of Overflow, the famous coder of the old french team Logon System. He is the coder of various heavy hardware based demoparts like S&Koh or the famous Shadow of the Beast parallax scroller. And thus he came back again on CPC, releasing his Backtro, a 2 heavy parts demo, great and overscan visually, a totally technical thing, absolutelly innovative at everything (even in sound!) for the sleepy CPC scene!!! I like when these things happen in CPC, something entirelly new and original coming out of nothing to break the ice of the inactive CPC scene..

Actually I already knew Overflow's plans about the effects in his backtro, as we kept and still keep contacting frequently through email, thus I was already aware of how were the things I was seeing on my CPC monitor possible. But I was really impressed by the work that had to be put to make something like this! It's just perfect, a big monster, one effect using every CPC resource possible, bringing both the soft and hard code at it's limit!!!

Both parts are about tunnels and wormholes. I love the first part beeing a technical masterpiece and the second part for the great looking wormhole (In non blocky resolution) and especially the musical output. But let's talk first about the first one. It outputs some blocky tunnels and wormholes, but smooth and running at 50hz and overscan. The pixel blocks are around 1byte width and 4 pixels height (It's 2*4 pixels in Mode0(160*200*16colors)) but the problem is that the CPC Videoram is not organized in pixel blocks like in Spectrum, C64 or any other 8bit I know. So it's not easy for CPC coders to output big pixel blocks fast (And since CPC vram is 16kb in size!). What Overflow did, is to only output one fourth of the screen (Just the 1st line of each pixel block) and then scale*4 via hardware! A new way for CPCists to output full screen effects scaled, like the ones the C64 and Speccy coders did with their tilebased Vram??? Yes,. but it seems perhaps hard to implement. Overflow had another problem. Still,. the vram is 24bytes in size in overscan. He had to output 6kb of this (Because the others are produced automatically with scaling). But still! He calculated that there are roughly 3.3Nops (3.3 Nops is around 13 tacts for any Speccy guy out there :) free for each pixel block to calculate and output his tunnel. Several other tricks are here to help, like pregenerated code (of course :) and delta packing. And there is more to come! I like that he uses page flipping (Actually +3 sets of diferrent precalculations I guess, as I am thinking it of..) to make the animation smoother for this kind of precalculated mapping effects! Even the music has an innovation too! YM converted digidrums as he exactly told me.

And the 2nd part? A better resolution wormhole moved with colorcycling + pageflipping! Colorcycling? Lame,. could someone say. But the pageflipping for the rotation of the wormhole makes the whole thing looking great! What an idea!!! And the music of this part, my favorite piece of this part! It is supposed to be a SID player or something on CPC. He told me that some other people had done a SID player on AtariSt much better than his own. It sounds so great anyways, too C64ish I guess! :) Amazing!

Yey! I felt several things after watching this demo for 1st, 2nd and 3rd time. Too much innovations in one file, too much CPC specific hard code + optimized to the end softcode, really amazing things I had enough time to see on my CPC. I really liked it! It's technically great and too innovative for our times. Reminded me of the old times.. and it's one of the few times that I see something looking much neater visually and technically than in C64 or Speccy demos. I think that the tunnels are much smoother, faster and nicer from any other 8bit demo I have ever seen (But I may be wrong, ok? Don't bite me :) due to the fact of the nice CPC pallete too..

You can download the demo here: Backtro. It's so advanced technically that it fuxx up with almost every CPC emulator possible. Try it with Caprice32, Winape32 and Arnold. I think something of them may work. You can run also the second part from the diskette too, this may run much easier on emuls. Overflow had also problems with the track loader (He did so that music would continue playing while loading the next part) So you are also allowed to load the parts separatelly from the disk..

But let's move on before this article becomes a review for Overflow's Backtro. I think I will be very brief for the rest of the prods now (Overflow's intro definitelly catched up our attention for this year) There are not that much. I can count around 10+ releases for 2001, funny (But ok, silly since the CPC scene is much smaller and sleepy than the other ones..) to compare them with the C64 ones that I found on Vandalism News 37 issue. Hehe :) These are Ofe demo 1,2,3, 2 Plisken prods (One slideshow and the other I forgot, but nothing important at all..) Iron Demo 3, Boxon 4 diskmag, Heat and Simply the Bests! Not forgetting the CPC participations in 8bit minigame competition organized by Raww Arse (http://demo.raww.net/minigame/) There was also several CPC activity on the net and lot's of plans (But no prods?) but I will talk about these a bit later, ok?

I will discribe now a bit about the prods. Da Boxon 4 mag, an incomplete release done in a hurry (Probably to get rid of current code and move on to new projects?) it seems unfinished. The intro is nice with hardware cooper (kefren) bars, I like it, even if I have seen this effect some times before on CPC nicer done (Although this one had nice colors) There are 8 articles there, most written in French except Asm and Interview. The mag is displayed in a usual way we used to see from French sceners. Each article is a diferrent hardware screen with it's own gfx, effects and a writer. A not finished production released just to get rid of it and move to better skies (I hope! :)

Download here: Boxon4_diskmag.

Others? Next is Eliot's latest CPC+ demo, Simply the Bests! Hmm, I think I should code something for that platform too in the future. I simple love the cool pallete and extended capabilities of it (Hardware sprites, ASIC, DMA sound chip, e.t.c..) Another nice hardware screen in here with cool colors in the background (Which fade nicely through diferrent color gradients) and cool gfx from Slyder (Beeing the most active CPC gfxist this year) Eliot told me that there is a scroller done with hardware sprites in this demo too, but I think that no emulator displays it and I haven't a real CPC to have a look at the scrolltext.

Download here: Simply_the_Bests!

AMSTRAD CPC | DEMOSCENE Review2001 | http://cpcrulez.fr

Next production is from Germany. Inactive coder Odiesoft found the mood to code something on Klassentreffen CPC meeting. It is just one effect doing various things (As you may have noticed, most CPC demos are onescreeners, showing just one effect at it's best,. they are a lonely coder's work most time. You will hardly find any design trackmo demos on CPC,. hmm I wish to find the time to do some myself in the future :) this must be the first attempt to do a fire effect on CPC. A nice software routine (It's a bit slow though,. but I am not sure if I can do better with my own fire routine I am currently working on :) with a bit blocky pixels (1 byte width, 2 pixels high aka 2*2 pixels in Mode0) and 3 pallete sets (Green, Color and Plus. Green is ideal since there is a nice gradient for the fire, Plus does it great with it's cool pallete. The screenshot is from Plus version) Hmm,. I have just noticed that the Plus version has also a better match done with hardware sprites and some sparks too. Anyways,. a nice effect from the inactive Odiesoft. (Glad to see you back sometimes! :)

Get it from here: Heat

Few more remaining. A funny thing is that the productions from important groups that all people were waiting, are still not out, but most CPC prods are released by single persons, especially new and newbie ones on the CPC, like OFE's (An unidentified french scener (UFS :) about whom everyone is wondering. People say it may be a joke of another scener) demos, Plissken productions, or latest Iron Demos. Most of them are hardware onescreeners, some of them seem to fuck up with emulators, and I don't remember if I ever ran them in my real CPC. Little1, Ofe demo 2 and 3 by OFE, Plissken slideshow and another one I don't remember and Iron Demo 3. Iron Demos are all for CPC+, accompanied with Slyders cool gfx. I had problem to run some of Iron's demo in a CPC+ emulator and I don't own a CPC+ yet. OFEs are also a bit complicated to run well through emuls, except Little1. Plissken will run easilly since they have no special code upon them. Anyways,. I am bored to find links for them for the moment but there will be some on my CPC Demoscene site, whenever I will be free to update it..

I beleive these are the news about CPC demos in 2001, and the most important are the ones I have talked most I beleive. I hope I didn't forgot anything else. I will talk a bit about CPC on the net now..

CPC ON THE NET

It seems sometimes that the CPC is more active on the net, rather than in the machine itself. But let's see some new and interesting sites that have opened this year. First of all a new English CPC mag called CPC Oxygen. (http://www.cpcoxygen.pro.ie/) I have read today the first 2 issues through the web and enjoyed several of it's articles. It's a nice new try to have an online mag in English language online, with interesting articles about the CPC (Found more interesting the ones about EZ80 and CPCNG. Yeah! A new powerfull CPC, 100% compatible to the old CPC models, 50 times faster with new gfx and sound capabilities, is been planned since some time. Read more about it in both issues!) and I am thinking I should try to write some articles for it too. The issues are kinda small, but I beleive this will change if there will be more support in the future..

Other French mags which I haven't looked at, are http://www.tototeseb.com/ and http://site.voila.fr/cpcfanzine. A nice thing is that this mag organized a minimalistic "compo" (Well not exactly compo since there is no deadline) called Deulinges. CPC Coders try to do their best in 2 lines (512bytes) of Basic code on demoeffects. Lot's of precalculation time and then voala! :) You will find deulinges here: http://phenixinformatique.free.fr/cpcfanzine/deulignes.htm Oh, and don't forget also to have a look at http://phenixinformatique.free.fr/ the CPC portal of 2001 (Only in French again :P) and also it's section here: http://phenixinformatique.free.fr/news8/index.php3 having to do with news on the CPC demoscene. I find interesting news here about the plans of the French demogroups. Use your babelfish :)

I am only wondering what happened with the CPC portal that was planned by Juggler. http://www.cpcc.de. I have enough time to visit it and haven't heard any news on our sleepy mailinglist. I leave it for you. As for Roudoudou's CPC scene Url redirection page. I think there will be an update in the future as I remember from my contacts. http://www.cpcscene.com. And don't forget to visit my CPC Demoscene page (http://cpc-demoscene.paraknowya.com) even if I will be propably inactive with my webprojects for few months. Last but not least, http://www.genesis8bit.com for more additional CPC news in English language.

Almost forgot! Another new thing for the CPC on the net, was that the famous graphics site Gfx-Zone (http://gfxzone.planet-d.net/) has opened a theme gallery concerning CPC graphics! (They have opened also a Speccy theme gallery too there btw!) But I found more news now! :) Let's get rid of em! First my small webspace containing all CPC demos converted in friendly DSK emulator disk image! (And not raw files, as several of them in CPC ftps) http://users.auth.gr/mkargas/cpcScene_Demos. However they take too much space not leaving me space for my other webpages. I think I will move them in another server (If not ftp.lip6.fr by discussing it with the administrator, then probably in a directory in paraknowya's server. Hmm,. another new at 2001 is that my CPC Demoscene page has changed server..) Whatever you found in ftp.lip6.fr in raw files, and bored to transfer inside an empty DSK, you can find it in pure DSK format, all converted from me! (Woha! What a painfull job...) Also don't forget to check Unofficial Amstrad CPC resource (http://andercheran.aiind.upv.es/~amstrad) maintained by Kev Thacker, which has changed a lot. All the software and hardware docs you were searching about CPC are there! (Btw,. Kev Thacker has released 2 previews of his CPC+ demos containing my own graphics, you will find them in downloads section) Last but not least, my greek demoscene site. It has a section about CPC scene in greece too (http://users.auth.gr/mkargas/grscene) Phew.. that's all!

2002?

Several productions were expected from well known French groups, but nothing was released. Perhaps some of them will see the light at this year. I can name some of them here:
From Futur's: SoundplayerNG (I think soundchip..), Quasar 20 (diskmag), SoundtrackerDMA (Tracker), Stormlord+(game), ASIC Inside slideshow preview (Slideshow of their awated CPC+ demo).

From Overlanders: Madram's demo, Croco Channel 99, Lacrymo by Candy

From Arkos: DemoIzArt (I have heard that the next deadline will be for Summer. The parts are finished but they need to be connected now. The Arkos website may be updated soon with screenshots of the megademo which is done in cooperation with Mortel)

Others: One demo by Romain, another one by AST (High Technology), OFE, Plissken demos. Eliot is doing less and less CPC. Overflow is taking care of his baby (Congrats Ovf :)
Oh, and don't forget the plans of another German coder, Prodatron (http://www.prodatron.de) about a new OS he is currently developing called SymbOS. I have too much time since I last checked his page. http://62.26.220.31/symbos.asp

I may have forgotten other sceners that may plan something too. As for me? Weelll.. I want to continue working on my first CPC demo feauturing various software effects and parts connected to each other with transmitions, without the music to stop. A diferrent kind of demos we rarely see on CPC. I am planning various effects like fire, sphere mapping, interfearence circles, our older plasmas improved, some interlace and I hope more (Although,. if it's needed, I may release a smaller demo than what I was dreaming of, in order to wake up a bit the CPC scene more early. I don't want to finish my demo for 2004 :P) A very few work has been done till now (But my CPC was off for months sometimes..) and I hope to finish as sooner as I can (Other demo projects and a possible job kills my CPC activities..) As for Ovation6 and the Dirty Minds group? I want to take care of'em a bit later, after I finish with my current demo and generally be more free with all my other activities too. For several reasons, we stopped working for Ovation issue 6, but I will not let this happen, cause I had great dreams about this issue (We had more than 30 cool articles to write + a great interface with code by Antitec and cool gfx by Rex. It's a pitty to let it go..) Dirty Minds became stronger, we have now Rex, a good graphist, in our team (Which I met on Digital Nexus 2001, cool guy!) and Sice from England, who used to send me lot's of music he tracked on CPC for his own leisure. (Some of them beeing nice conversion of C64 musics!) It's a pity to let Dirty Minds and our future projects flow in the void, at a time when we become stronger and had great mood for releasing something new! (But something fucked up in the middle as always :P) And I am planning to rework on the Dirty Minds homepage and maintain it myself, placing it somewhere in my university webspace. Then I have other cool plans flowing in my mind..

One of them is about outcomers on the CPC. I truly beleive that newcomers from strong and active scenes, from other countries rather than the current CPC ones, will be the key to help the CPC scene become stronger. A tiny CPC scene in the corner, totally cutted of from the outside demoscene world is weak. But I feel it that if there is some better connection with all the demoscene world outside the CPC, it will help the CPC to become stronger again! That's why it is my main politic to inform people about our little sleepy scene, to make these connections stronger and make them interested for CPC demos. I am feeling lonely with a sleepy underground scene unknown to the outside world, but preety diferrent if I know that some guys from C64, Speccy, or anything else have a look and even participate in our little scene! Fortunatelly I am a crazy scener who enjoys to have a look at various scene products in every freakin machine out there, and having contact with several other sceners except from CPC too. I beleive I have the connections, and lately I get contacted from several people either from Speccy, CPC, Amiga and Atari, beeing curious about the CPC demoscene, some of them even thinking to get started with. The thing that made me rethinking it again, was when I was contacted by various Speccy sceners, most coming from eastern Europe (Russia, Czech republic, e.t.c..) There was a lot of interest, someone thought of showing CPC demos in Forever party, someone else asked me about a CPC article for Speccy mag, some others asking me questions about assemblers, gfx and music programms, e.t.c. A good thing, since ZX Spectrum has a Z80 like CPC too. I had also contact through Irc or email from C64 sceners coming from Finland, Latvia and other countries, asking me about CPC again! I don't know what's going out now with my contacters, I think I will remember to contact them back again oneday to stay close. (Hmm,. it seems like I represent the main diplomat (or PR alternatively!) of the CPC demoscene, it's crazy! Everybody out of CPC searches for me and my page to ask for CPC.

It was really funny for me when someone asked me on #CPC channel "Are you Optimus/Dirty Minds, the leader of the CPC scene?" =) But all these things gave me an idea. Perhaps a small website, attached on my CPC one. Having to do with basic infos of what is needed to watch some demos and join the CPC scene. Basic infos (emuls, tools, assemblers, trackers, gfx progs, sites with news, contact, current condition of the scene, what real hardware they will need + how to attach a 3,5" drive, e.t.c..) to make it easier for newcomers to join the CPC! Something like that,. only problem beeing, that I hope to find some more time to work for that too. I have already done a good job by trying to write things about CPC in diskmags, sites, e.t.c.. and reach other sceners about that, but I have to go on with something more. Slowly slowly we will see more countries (This means a more international CPC scene perhaps?) and stronger active groups (With more quality prods I beleive, since there is more competition coming out from bigger scenes than in CPC) coming on the CPC, making a connection with the CPC scene together, increasing the activity and mood of the CPC sceners around the globe! At least that's what I am thinking, and I think it's important to make on more stop on my CPC outreach projects to achieve that..

Phew.. I think I will stop now. I hope I haven't forgot anything else. I hope that the year 2002 will be better for the CPC. Most important things for me is to finish my first CPC demo and check out this CPC outreach plan (And keep contact with the guys) and after that to take care of Ovation6 and the Dirty Minds group. We shouldn't stop it right now! I can see a good future for the CPC demoscene and I will try to do anything for that! (I take it too much patriotic :) Most important thing I am waiting this year must be DemoIzArt from Arkos team. And of course any other additional activity from the lazy CPC sceners :)
P.S. I lied! This article is bigger than year2000. Just 1 or 2kb bigger =)

PAIN 2002 by optimus/dirty minds

★ LICENCE: FREEWARE
★ ANNÉE: 2002
★ AUTEUR: OPTIMUS

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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.