|★ DEMOSCENE ★ CPC IN THE YEAR 2002 : THE TRADITIONAL REVIEW by Michael Kargas aka Optimus/Dirty minds ★|
I was walking yesterday with Antitec/Dirty Minds outside in Thessaloniki in the night, discussing various things having to do with our boring lives. The ball took the CPC scene. (WTF?!? At the beginning my mind was stuck desperatelly to find the appropriate phrase, but it failed, and so I made a free translation of a greek quote =) Except from our worthless lifes, we wondered if anything is running in the CPC (It's a part of our lifes afterall!). At that time I realised that I had to start writing (traditionally anymore) my article for the first 2003 PAiN issue. (Codename XX03 or something ;)
So, what happened in the CPC scene in 2002? I was mainly waiting for megademos like DemoIzArt, writing tons of text for Ovation issue 6 which I don't know when da hell it will be released, got fucked up with both my exams and my diet and then got inactive because of real life. The scene was sleepy till then, most of the real surprises came mainly after Summer though, as something had to be released before 2002 to fill the gap in the scene and my article ;P. I can count around 15 releases this year. The demos that left me good impressions were TAF, Fantasy, 232425 and Crocochannel. The biggest surprise for me was to see Antitec producing and programming for his new CPC hardware called CPC Booster out of nothing in a time he was inactive and bored. Generally the most good CPC activity came at the second half of 2002, even if me and Peter were feeling unmotivated and worried about the CPC scene (for some strange reasons) at that night walk..
THE CPC PRODUCTIONS IN 2002
I guess I have to start from the 4 demos I mentioned above and the most early of them. Tire au Flan (TAF), a small demo by Overlanders, one and a half year after their masterpiece Ecole Buissoniere. It's a pitty that non-CPC sceners won't be able to watch it, since there is no such a thing like emufixx0r cracking group on the CPC ;P Only the intro screen runs from an emulator, which consists of two nicely blended rasters upon a picture and some credits. But it's not the bread! (Another lamely translated greek quote :) There are two routines that change from each to each other. Some weird fullscreen colorfull unidentified effects coming out from too many blended vertical hardware bars, coded by Shap. And the most dots on CPC routine by Madram. It's a pitty I can't use an emulator, to get some snapshots of Madram's effect in order to count the number of dots, one by one. (I know I am very technically crazy! :) The demo shows endlessly both of these routines in various shapes and colors. An impressive technically demo. But why do people hate emulators so much?
The next one is Fantasy. Semilanceata is a new CPC group, coming from the ashes of Da Boxon Team. It is a CPC+ demo, you know,. the one with the amazing pallete (for an 8bit), hardware sprites and raster IRQs (Hmm, it's exactly the capabilities that the plain CPC lacked in comparison to the C64, except from the pallete of course ;). Many CPC coders were coding demos for the plus lately. Anyway, what I liked in this demo is that it was very diferrent than the usual demos we have seen on CPC. It's more like a story full of gfx and text, without any complex effects (but the raster animated background, spotlight and big sprite were still kinda nice to watch, especially with these great colors!). Nice work, I am happily expecting new demos from this new group..
The last ones came out at surprisingly the same time, in a sleepy and unmotivating period for me. 232425 is coded by various people, like Eliot, Romain and Iron. It contains four parts. Nice to see one more of the few CPC software plasma routines in the first part. It looks kinda slow in comparison with the "to be released one day in one demo" sources I have in my HD. I had the same idea for the cool fade out transitions but didn't put down my ass to code it. The next part is a very nice hardware part by Eliot. The big Mode1 scrolling photo of CPC sceners and a skeleton monster is superb! The third part made me wondering. A supposly bump mapping(?) routine in a very small and blocky area (10*10 chars). It's a shame. I am not sure why this thing was released. And the last part has first a nice picture of a girl fasten in a pole and a writer/text displayer in French, and after pressing space there comes a big fire effect upon the gfx. I am not sure if it's real or animation, but it doesn't look that much like a real fire/blur algorithm, though it still seems random to me, like there is an algorithm inside. No matter it is nice combined with the gfx. At this part, I hear for the first time, CPC conversions of Amiga classics like Desert Dreams and Elysium. Wow! I converted them to YM and listening right now!
And then Crocochannel. Another release by Madram of Overlanders and other CPC sceners (Eliot, Epsilon, Iron). It was supposed to be another long delayed demo done to celebrate the Crocochannel meetings or something. The demo starts with a superb designed menu, my favoritest screen! The gfx rulez and there are 3 nice effects displayed. A big vertical scroller deformed by a glass, some small wireframe 3d objects (precalculated?) at the upper right corner and a nice writer, with a nice dithered effect inside and similar fades too. It's really good, both graphically, designwise and technically! In the menu, we get some news about Madram's future plans too. This demo seems to be his last, till someone else decides to code something better. Madram seems to be a coder that loves competition, a thing that you can hardly get from the lazy CPC scene. Just see his part for this demo! Surpassing an old small sized distortion routine in The Demo. Now we can see a much larger in X area with a neat distorted scroller (Software? Hmm.. preety fast if then!). This part is accompianed by some nice gfx and animations too. It's a pitty this may be the last effect I may see from Madram, but I have better to start producing myself instead of waiting everything from an ubercoder :) The other parts are nice hardware screens by Eliot and Iron (That olympic challenge joke was a very wild idea! I was tipping on the keyboard like insane, just to eat on more part!), usual things I may have seen before. Epsilon's part is a small screen with a pong game played by the CPU vs again the CPU :)
I am only wondering if some keys referred in the background work. I thought I could play too. Other than that, this part didn't left me any feelings. Superb demo, especially because of Madram's part. Hehe,. I wish I wasn't so lazy, to bring you some competition. It would be fun then but times are not good for me, to be able to code masterpieces..
Other than that, we have seen Plissken first demos (Plissken ASM demo and demonoel), Atoz demo (Nice gfx and sine dots), an april joke demo called Citron, a 10 years delayed demo, GPA2K2 (from 1992! It's never too late to release that stuff ;) and Christmas 2001 by Catloc & JFMC, the Brothers team (Brothers? How so? But I thought they were
Seems to be the only greek team except us that tries to stay alive. The also released Tree issue 2, in Greek and English. Other diskmags realeased btw are Quasar20 (A hasted release, featuring some alternative previews of Overflow backtro code and an interview of himself in French. If someone could translate that..) and FutureView for FutureOS. The latest is a nice try for a new german/english mag, from the only active CPC scener in Germany, TFM of FutureSoft. The bad thing is that it is coded for FutureOS only, an interesting OS that he was working upon for years. I got lately the 4 ROM files from TFM himself and the dsk of the diskmag and tried to run it. At the beginning I found the GUI of the OS a little complicated but I succeeded.
Today, I had problems again in latest WinAPE emulator, because it always crashes and the mouse cursor of the OS was painting buggily the screen. Anyways,. if I had time, I would love to find out some hardware ROMs to put on my real CPC and use the OS from there. Seems preety good, especially when having to do with disk operations..
I wouldn't like to forget mentioning some more random news which are a bit of important. First the 8bit minigame competition, organized by raww arse. The results of this years competition are here. We have got 3 CPC entries, one of which got the 3rd place. Kiloroid by Brian Watson. This was really good and impressive for 1kb! An addictive asteroid game with linevector sprites. Other entries were Block Invasion 1k, again by Brain Watson (Seems to be preety active in this and previous year compo), a playable space invaders game with blocks instead of monsters. Both preety impressive for 1kb. The last entry is Island by Witek Burkiewicz (Hmm,. a Polish scener on CPC) which has nice gfx/map drawing algorithm but not so playable. You have to bet in luck to win. I guess I should find some time to code something simple too, if there will be a new competition there..
Other news? First, the 3.50 version of the Caprice32 emulator has been released. It was at least one year since I was waiting for the new windows Cap32 emulator. Now it's more complete, has fullscreen, speed disaster and nice speed for my current system. Though, it's not so compatible with many special hardware demos like other emuls are, more compatible than it's previous versions though. Other programms released, that I wanted to mention, is Graphic Wizard, a cool PC utility for transfering gfx to the CPC format and pallete. You can find that at ONE's site..
Minor news about what happens in the net. I am glad to see the online webzine CPC Oxygen frequently released, having reached the 9th issue. http://cpcscene.dynnds.org seems to be an alternative FTP featuring CPC files. Btw. I have read lately that ftp.lip6.fr had lost it's files. Now, some of the CPC scene files have been uploaded to the ftp again but many are missing. I guess it's time to search of how can I upload my own DSK formats demo collection in the ftp, to ask some permission from the ftp owners or anything needed. I 'd like also to mention that www.odiesoft.de CPC section has been updated. It features descriptions of never seen before parts from Odiesoft. Many of them were secret parts in the Divine Megademo and I didn't knew that. Others were never released. Odiesoft would released the disks with his previews in his site but I am still waiting.
A new interesting French site is http://8bit.at/cpc. It's all in French but the most interesting part for me are the various democoding sources from ACPC and other sources too. Very important to forget, Semilanceata is organizing a CPC democompo with deadline at 1st Mai. Their site is now translated to English! And latest, my CPC Demoscene site, which is still inactive and I won't bother with it, can currently be reached at http://users.auth.gr/mkargas/cpcscene, since paraknowya servers were down for ages. I am thinking to get some space for the CPC demosite at planet-d.net, cause I will loose my university account in Summer. But later, I don't have time now for my abandoned sites. At least I put them in this mirror so that their old data will be viewable again..
I have left the best for the end. It was November or December, when Antitec got crazy and started working for the CPC again! He was obsessed with a brand new idea he wanted to start with. To make his first hardware for CPC! The thing that CPC was missing, was a serial interface port. It connects your machine with the outside world. (other computers having a serial, modem, etc) That's the main feature of the CPC Booster, except from others that are implemented or are planned in a future update. Yes, the CPC Booster can be updated from the CPC, with an update programm that uploads data into the EPROM. Antitec has already posted one update in the Dirty Minds site and also a DSK with the first version of a terminal programm which I have seen working with a PC terminal. He also demonstrated other things to me, like connecting through a modem, transfering files from the PC to the CPC and more. He plans to do other things with this hardware in the future, like sound digitizer, hardware sprites (Wow! If we could only find a way to make the card output fast to the Videoram. Perhaps we could even do triangle rasterizer routines and more for the CPC :) but the most usefull is the serial connection now. I haven't got a CPC Booster myself yet, no time to test it now but I have crazy dreams in my mind for the future :) Some users already bought a CPC Booster from Peter (it costs 50 Euros, kinda expensive for me, but the hardware and work needed to produce one card isn't much lower than that), One wrote a programm which uses a linux box in a terminal window on the CPC (Whatever the hell that means, cause I am not aware of Linux, it definitelly sounds impressive =)) with the help of CPC Booster. The capabilities of this thing are endless! How about an html browser, irc or mail client, using CPC/IP by connecting a modem to the CPC Booster? Would be crazy to see the CPC be connected to the net! Hehe, Peter does miracles when he wakes up and get motivated for the CPC again :)
Several productions were expected that weren't unfortunatelly released. The most precious for me was a big demo called DemoIzArt, prepared by Arkos and Mortel. (Some say on the CPC that megademos are killing the scene, but it maybe worth the wait). Arkos members told me they wanted to release it before 2003. It's at least 90% percent finished. Latest news from Targhan were about his tracker that he wants to release at January of 2003. I got a preview of it and it's interesting, though I didn't had the time to search it more through and it was beta. Let's wait for the final and see. I beleive their demo will be definitelly released in this year too. Possibilities are high for that, higher than to release my own demo :) Other than that, I don't know what happened with Prodatron, a great German coder who returned back to the CPC and was already working on SymbOS, a windows like GUI/OS for the CPC. I think Futurs have many unreleased long awaited big projects to work upon (SoundtrackerDMA, Asic Inside, more..). I am not hearing anything about Kev Thackers CPC+ demos. And who knows what else. Not that I say that we should be pressing ourself to be more active on the CPC (Afteralls we are doing it just for fun and (almost?) nothing else!), but I am just explaining what the usual situation inside the CPC scene is. A bit sad, but true, if there is not that much motivation in this small scene to make up the mood of beeing creative again or if real life matters kills some of us..
As for my plans, I am not sure if I am fully infected by the virus of our little scene, but better don't beleive to what I say no matter if I will start now :) My plans are first to start connecting my parts for my 1st CPC demo which I plan to finish for ReAct2003 (happening inside 18-20 of April) or Semilanceata's compo if anything prooves wrong with my 1st deadline. I have few effects (plasma, fire and variations of them), can code few additional transisions, writers and connection code and am willing to release a trackmo style demo. Unfortunatelly I was too lazy to code more effects and the ones that I will use, have already been seen in official or unofficial previews. I have already coded some basic functions (sine generation, vram precalculating, pallete functions, unrolled loops generator and a bit more) and tried some more things necessary in order to connect all the stuff in a such style of demo (Which is very rare on the CPC) but there is still some work to do, cause it's harder to connect effects at the same memory organised in memory, do transitions, some little design and make them work all together. The remaining code might be not that much but I am not sure how easy it will be for me. I already got some nice interlaced pics and the main music from Sice, so it's my part now. But it's going well and I am getting used more with Z80 assembly as I am trying to do all the job myself..
It's my first CPC demo ever and my first hard work on assembly, so it will be a step beyond for me. After that, I will be more fluent with Z80 asm, I will have many ready old functions to use, coding will be easier and funnier after I get over the first obstacles and see a work of mine released. Can't wait the time and I hope real life won't put me down inactive again during this period. After that, we have to take care of regular things, like releasing Ovation 6 (For next Summer? Hehehe.. it will be more than one year, since I last wrote an article for this mag ;P) and perhaps taking care a bit of my websites and the CPC Outreach Project. And who knows what else? I have crazy ideas to test in the CPC Booster, utils for the CPC (Does anyone wants an |lace drawer? Uhm,. an idea I was just thinking inside my exams, but forget it! ;), more demos, some games, a wolfenstein engine,. but hey, hey, hey Optimus!!! Get finished with the few ones that you have to do now and let your mind free of anything else! You are tiring myself :(
I finished this article inside January, exams period, one of my lamest times, doing not my thing, dreaming of my future scene projects without beeing able to code anything. To start thinking of big crazy unrealistic plans without sitting my ass down to create anything, is energy loss and it tires me as it gets worse. It's called vainglory I think. Hmm,. reminds me of the CPC scene with it's numérous "in the plans" projects we never saw :P Let's hope that the current year will proove more productive for myself and my CPC friends. Time will tell..
Pain fev/2003 by optimus/dirty minds
CPCrulez[Content Management System]
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.