|★ DEMOSCENE ★ CPC IN THE YEAR 2004 THE TRADITIONAL REVIEW by Michael Kargas aka Optimus/Dirty minds ★|
Written for HUGi ?? and released at ??/??/2005
In this one, I was about to decide whether this will be my last or not. It's the fifth in the row, wow! I have originally started the series after reading an article in Pain, entitled "C64 in the year 2000" (I think there was a 2000 retrospection about the PC too). But then I was the only one who decided to keep with this each year. And now it's funny. As I write somewhere else, I am wondering how much will I keep with this (I don't have any reason to stop this, takes just few evenings a year). Will there be a CPC scene in the year 2018 so that I will be able to write one of these? ;)
Empty thoughts are coming in my mind, concerning CPC and the year that left us. Months ago, I was wondering about this article. I decided it should be my last. At the beginning I used the excuse that the CPC scene was more dead than ever. In another way though, I just wanted to avoid having to write this retrospection each year (Why? I don't think it's too much of a work and after all not many things are happening there to record!). However, my viewport on the CPC has changed to something more optimistic and independent, which I will analyze at the end of this article. The year is emptySo, even fewer demo releases reached us the year that passed. At least, there is always one special demo that makes it worth. Impressive projects happened in the OS and hardware deépartment. Many plans postponed for 2005. And a positive change of view for me.
The demos of 2004 are: Ze Meeting 2003, DemoIzFart, Garcimor aime les balls, First step, The Midline Process, Improvized Halloween contest 2004 and anything I may have forgotten. The year had started with ZM03, which is a compilation of the demos in the Semilanceata contest at the meeting. Dirty Minds had their own part too (Hey, I had totally forgotten that, having in mind that our only gem this year is a bouncing pixel in 256 bytes ;-).
Later, when I returned back stoned from BP04 to Karlsruhe, a message in the french CPC mailinglist announced the release of DemoIzArt (The long awaited megademo and blah blah). It caught me in the leeks (as we say in Greece, some "I don't care if they will get it" translation), cause it was teh other one with the F =). But that was one of the good jokes. As for the true DemoIzArt, rumors say that it's pretty possible to be released as it is before this article gets published, at least if everything goes on well. You will know it already..
Later on, garcimor aime less balls by Ramlaid was another surprise, not much of a demo but one thing that I was planning to start first (and Atc and others). The sprite record contest! You probably already know about the one on the AtariSt (Leonard gets high, Leonard gets pretty high, Leonard takes more weed, Leonard gets bored and offers money and secret cheat code ;). CPC does 20 for the moment. Balls on 16*16 pixels area in Mode 1 (4 colors), 96 bytes width screen, a scroller and YM tune. I've tried to code my reply, and it's curently something like 22 balls without background, scroller and music. 1) If I continue I will get less than the current record. (Except if I cheat :) 2) I was pretty tired and angry with my buggy code generation for the background after 1 week of creativity boost, and now the project freezed. Then I looked at Ramlaid's code with Debugger and discovered that I should have made some things different (This means, from scratch ;P). And I also still don't understand why INC L works in 96byte mode (I might not know my CRTC well). I was working very well for more than one week (Had a year to code so much Z80) and then I got dissapointed because I have a half-finished thing that I doubt I can manage to release. Anyway, with some ideas upon Ramlaid's code and some cheating, one can manage more I think. 25 would be good, 30 would be impossible. Wanna try yourself? I have abandoned my own tries :(
Then we have First Step and Improvized Halloween contest demos. The first one is a sympathetic demo from Spain (by Zona Neutra). It's a rare thing to see a demo from outside of France these days, so I watched it with pretty much interest. It's good that it tries to be a demo that goes along with the cute music, with the only problem that you can notice small pauses between part switching. There are many effects to see, like the flickering dots, an attempt for something that wants to be unlimited bobs, tunnel animations of 3 pages, fire and some I forget. Nice for a first step. Halloween demo has a nice screen with a cool XOR effect and then there are some joke animations in French (The first seems funny, pity I can't read what is it about) and few other parts. The Revival part has some nice stuff going on and I laughed on the Climax 2 joke.
Demo of the year is probably "The Midline Process". Right when I thought there is nothing new coming on the CPC. I had to see such an innovative demo (in terms of code and originality) since the release of Backtro. An animation of 3d scenes with flat polygons (in 4*4 pixel blocks), directly loading from disk while music goes on playing. There is some clever syncing at some points with the truly original music (exclusively written in StarkOS). The animation takes 2 disks and it's about 2400 frames. And then there is the end part with some clever and funny texts to read in English. Great! Targhan has made his own FDC routine, in order to load from the disk while doing other things and is planning to release an SDK one day for everyone who wants to code his trackmo on the CPC. That's great news!
The return of the OSIt was a long time ago (In 2001?) when Prodatron of Symbiosis came back to the scene. An ambitious project had started but then freezed for 3 years! SymbOS is back again!!! This is an operating system that wants to look like Windows. I have seen video previews and it seems almost as smooth as GEM! A big percentage of the development is over and Prodatron is planning to release a preview very early this year. I have also seen some videos of SYMBiFACE in action (It is an IDE interface for CPC and supplies also a PS/2 mouse connector, a real time clock and a 32 Kb ROM). Videos of Matrix and Troy were sent from a HD to the CPC screen, allowing to play fullscreen Mode 1 (16kb, 4 colors) video at 8fps! The movie player is using the SymbOS-FAT16/32 driver which can load files at a speed of 140KB/s from a IDE HD harddisc up to 128GB. There is a meeting early this January in Germany, where SymbOS will be presented (along with other stuff).
I have also heard that Kevin Thacker has porter the Contiki OS on the CPC. I wasn't able to run it, possibly because it needs a ROM. You can get it at http://andercheran.aiind.upv.es/~amstrad/download.html.
Some other hardware projects: An Amstrad CPC 464 core has been developed on the C-ONE. I have seen screenshots of it but of course wasn't there to have a true look at it. I am also wondering what's going on with the CPCNG project. I will be interested in both the C-ONE and the CPCNG in the distant future.
Antitec is back! He has been working on the CPC Booster+ which is now ready. Several pieces have already been shipped and I have got mine too (exchanged for a TV-Modulator ;). Unfortunately, I didn't have the time nor the space in my desk to connect my CPC with the PC and start crossdeveloping experiments. Antitec has presented me a lot of its functions and I think it rocks =) You can find some info and documentation somewhere in here:
Last but not least, there are two new utilities that make life easier. CPC_T v3.1 which I am already using for crunching my monstrous unrolled codes. Another CPC utility is WriteDSK v1.0 which I haven't managed to test yet (Because there is no space for my CPC anymore :P) but seems to be a pretty useful thing. It can read a PC disk on the CPC, load a DSK file and transfer it to a CPC disk. New disk utils is a must, because I am already fed-up with some old ones which are incompatible with modern PCs and OSes. I'd like to see something similar to StarCommander for the CPC, but I think I have asked for this times before (Why am I not coding it myself?).
LinksI think I have to mention some links before I finish. New sceners'websites that have been updated are http://www.odiesoft.de/ (He has finally released his rare demo parts) and http://www.ramlaid.com/ (Something new has happened here too). A whole new page has opened for Starkos (Sounds like an OS but it's a tracker) here: http://www.julien-nevo.com/starkos/ Arkos website has been updated too (Finally!) http://www.cpcscene.com/ is lurking in the shadows (Haven't found time to check the ftp yet). And the Overlanders site (http://overlanders.planet-d.net/) had something new to show us too (Some demo previews or old stuff). You can finally visit two new interesting sites (http://www.amstradcpc.info/ and http://www.actk.fr.fm/ - Amstrad CPC toolkit). And I have to update my own website too.. ;P
Am I active or not?The scene is dead. The scene is not. Who is active nowadays? Who cares?!
Lately, due to aftereffects from Pouet humiliation, a C64 demo and some boring exams, I had a lot of things to think about. I was tired, bored, meditating (I am constantly using this word. Am I some kind of monk?! ;). Now I am more clear and optimistic (But always tempted to whine about my life and fuck with Pouet again. (AAA REE MIRLA!!!)). Near October my mind was clear (It was exactly the time and similar feelings when I posted the journal about dreams in optimus6128.deviantart.com) and I just started doing what I love to. Creativity should be clean, not bounded into our worries, anxiety, complex, negative feelings. I just tried to forget Pouet, what I want from people, what they want from me, what's the meaning of all this. I had creativity mood for some weeks. I started learning SDL or TinyPTC and then I decided to start with the sprite record contest. Which killed me (even if I was proud of my unrolled code generations) because I am at 70% and lost. No release after so much work kills my psychology, but that's another story for another article. Then, I also prepared many other effects like twirl (Or swirl?) and X-zoom which is ready now too. But I understood that as long as I was active, the CPC was alive! I preety enjoyed Z80, only hoping I can bring out something in 2005 because that's another necessary thing. I originally wanted to release something before 2005 but I should have consulted Murphy's handbook first ;P
And then I thought. Other people are currently working on something and I am not aware about that. The CPC is active for them as long as they switch on the dark grey box and do something (Even when they watch some oldies). At rare times, pure creativity (clean, without admixtures) works, so why arguing whether the scene is dead or not? Why arguing about scrollers or trackmos since anything that gets released is something new? (I released shit too!)
I was working on something for a while without caring whether 2004 was hot or not (I was only caring about finally releasing something, after getting tired for the 2 creative weeks unfortunatelly :P). And then I can understand that CPC is a pretty unmotivating place, I can understand about delayed projects (look at us). I can understand because this year things are hotter for me unfortunatelly. Real life gets me (I just want to find a job and slowly slowly moving out of here. I don't know about the university diploma, it sucks! I will move along before that..) and demoscene takes a second priority here. Pity, because I want to do more in it (In 2005, I'd love to finish one or two of my CPC projects, finish a second C64 demo and start working on some secret PC projects. I am also hot with Doom2 WAD editing lately, which is nicer than coding ;). Pity, but now that my life eats the demoscene. Not that of a family (Hello OVF :), school, university, job, career, girlfriend but that of a bad psychology and being stuck inside a fucked up family. I tried once, I tried twice, not the proper time for demoscene. So, even if I wish, I don't promise anything. In the worst case, perhaps another year will go on without any CPC release from me. But I do understand and I do understand that the same happens with other sceners and I do only count on pure creativity at times. Plain effects and no releases like Roudoudou? ;). At least I'll send you previews if so..
And then, hopes are pretty high for DemoIzArt in the early 2005, more sceners have tried to finish their demo for 2004, SymbOS is coming out for sure, so I believe we have a lot to see in the new year. Also, when the next issue of FutureMag comes out, get it to read my stupidly big interview and an interesting article about various coding ideas I might not find the chance to ever code (But the core of the mighty X-zoom routine is already finished!).
Who knows, I may try out something with OV6 too. Pity..
Don't hear me. I keep optimistic ;/. Happy new year for you and the CPC!!! =)
Pain diskmag by optimus/dirty minds