Party - Euro meeting '92 (Amstrad Cent Pour Cent)European Demo Party '92 (CPC Attack!)
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All the gen on the second European Demo party from our man in France, ChaRleyTroniC.

The first European Demo Party, a meeting of the top demo-writing talent from all over Europe, was held at Black Mission s house (in Germany) during July 1991. Such an event couldn't just be a one-off, and so plans were made for a second meeting, this time in France, in the last weekend of July 1992. The place: a medium-sized hall in Reims, north-east France. Your intrepid correspondent set out from the heart of England on a 36-hour trek to get there. Rule one: never use French railways if you can help it...

The French scene, obviously, was very well represented. Logon System were present en masse, as were various members of Paradox, 5KB, fanzine editors, and representatives of other groups. Many members of the German scene were also present, such as Cadjo Clan, HJT, and a particularly strong contingent from Beng! Switzerland's only three demo-writers (Asterix, TMP and Warlock) turned up, as did Elmsoft (from Austria): unlike last year, nobody from Denmark or Norway made an appearance, but Britain was represented for the first time.

Everybody present was issued with a smart, laser-printed badge, proclaiming their pseudonym and the group to which they belonged. This made putting faces to the famous names seen in many a demo much easier. In addition, many people wore specially designed T-shirts, ranging from those with simply a name written on in ink, to the spectacular works of art on Logon System's clothes. By the end of the meeting, a few previously blank T-shirts had also been decorated with the signatures or logos of everyone present.

There wasn't an incredible number of new demos released at the meeting. A few, such as the Castle Demo (produced a week earlier at a German meeting) surfaced, but, in general, previews (such as that of the 5KB demo 3) were thicker on the ground. One interesting snippet of information is that Logon System (the French coding team), programmers of the famous The Demo", are working on "The Demo 2", and the "Shadow of the Beast", part of which (by Overflow) was on display for a short time to the general amazement of everyone. Parallax effects? Colours and modes mixed together on one screen? You got it!

This isn't to say that new releases weren't to be found, though. A music demo by Weee!, probably the most famous CPC musician, was on display - the difference being that it used the DMA sound features of the CPC Plus for superb effects, such as a sample of the words "Cadjo Clan" in a

deep Mid-Atlantic voice. The sound features of the Plus may be less obvious than the graphics features, but something like this shows that they are just as much of an improvement. Weee! also promised a sound-tracker (music editing program: see the article last month) for the Plus range to use the DMA feature.

Staying on the subject of music, a sound-tracker for the standard CPC range was on display, written by BSC. "Sound-Trakker" has a host of amazing features, such as the ability to compile decent length tunes down to only 4k of executable code, its support for hardware envelopes, and the feature for generating "arpeggio" effects so that a chord of two or more notes is heard on one channel: undoubtedly the best CPC sound-tracker available. CPC Attack! will be the first to bring you more news when it hits these shores. At this meeting, as well as the last, Pang -the console game where you have to shoot floating balls, splitting them into smaller ones which must also be hit - was a favourite with everyone. This year, though, it was overshadowed by the launch of "Zap't'Balls - The Advanced Edition", a follow-up to the PD game "Zap't'Balls", by Austria's Elmsoft Game Service. A Pang clone, the Advanced Edition is almost certainly the best game ever written for the CPC. That's right, the CPC, not the Plus! Amazing sprite techniques and special effects programming (ever wanted to see the Amiga Juggler on your CPC?) combine with superbly effective gameplay to bring a real stunner of a game. Again, when it arrives in Britain, CPC Attack! will bring you more details. The hardware at the meeting was a matter of great interest. There were 22 computers in all: obviously the majority were CPCs (and a few Plus machines), but there wasn't also the odd Amiga, ST and even a Megadrive, which were used for playing shoot'em'ups and ogling 16-bit demos (to which CPC demos are getting ever closer). Of course, to us, the CPCs are the most interesting machines, and this was true at the meeting as never before. If you thought you knew what a CPC looked like, take a look at these beauties. A bright white machine, covered in graffiti? No problem. Or how about BMC's 6128 (although you could barely tell the difference), a conventional design - for a PC! Three units, a keyboard, a CPU unit (with four disk drives), and a monitor. The CPU was plastered with numerous switches, for drive switching and the like and sideways ROMs were an essential part of the design as well.

In contrast to these German machines, the French computers were much less adventurous. Even a ROM-board was a rare sight from the land which has brought us many of the best CPC demos ever produced, the main add-ons being dkTronics 64k expansions (for the 464s), second disk drives (unlike on our side of the Channel, the French go in for 5.25 drives much more than 3.5 ones), and the infamous Le Hacker cartridge, a French version of Siren Software's Hackit. In conjunction with the French assembler "DAMS", Le Hacker provided a standard French coding tool which had the advantage of never requiring reloading - a quick flick on for Le Hacker, reset, and DAMS is ready to be entered by a simple CALL from Le Hacker. The assembly time makes even the de luxe British combination of Protext and Maxam 1.5 look a little bit sick. Bv the way, before you start flooding the CPC Attack! offices with demands about how to get hold of DAMS, brace yourself: it's no longer in production... Any 6128 owners out there looking to upgrade to a more powerful machine, such as an Amiga perhaps? Forget it. Thanks to a technological breakthrough by a German firm, it's now possible to upgrade from a normal CPC 6128 to a 6128 Plus, requiring only a GX4000 (which can be picked up pretty cheaply these days) as a donor for the ASIC brain chip. There's no difference between this and a "real" CPC Plus (except that you don't get the speakers in the monitor), and to prove it, a number of cartridges were up and running at the meeting, together with a short BASIC demo of the extra colours in operation. The only problem? As ever, the price: £150 is the charge for this service. When keen bargain-hunters can pick up 6128 Plus machines with colour monitors for around £200, the price of the upgrade (added to the price of a GX4000) looks a little less keen. However, it remains an interesting upgrade path, and another smack in the face (ouch) for those who said that, like accessing the Plus's extra features from outside a cartridge, it couldn't be done.

Beavering over a steaming 6128 in the corner were French fanzine bigwigs Neofyt and Zalko, who (with help from Niki, the organiser, and your correspondent) were working on the official fanzine from the meeting. This contains a list of the people present at the meeting, together with a short comment (French and English translations) from everyone. Most people paid tribute to Niki's undoubtedly excellent organisation, not forgetting those (particularly amongst Logon System) who praised the virtues of hard rock music. One problem: how do you translate "Doom Metal" into French?

Finally, the meeting was also a good place for the assorted coders to let their hair down, stuff themselves silly with the plentiful French sticks, crisps and (of course) Coca-Cola, and engage in various lunatic acts. One word of warning: if you're travelling in France at the end of July next year, and you see a Renault 5 heading your way, with people waving out the windows, swerving all over the road, it might be advisable to pull over and wait until it's passed...


★ YEAR: 1992 (25 et 26 juillet)

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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.