Review: Armor of Gods #4
Written by Adok
Month of release: July'98
RAR-packed size: 1,608,990 bytes
Language(s): English, Russian
Related URL: ftp://ftp.beit-eli.gov.il/Incoming/ten/
Main editor: programmer/unv
Design: made/bomb, greenpix7/unv, danny, orome
Music: tangerine/t-rex, xhale
Text: manwe/sands, virago/level-d, warhawk/t-rex, jazztiz/kfmf, noob saibot/t-rex, tangerine/t-rex, programmer/unv, dr.yes/orange juice, trouble, and many texts from the e-mag network.
This issue of Armor of Gods is called "Reborn". This name describes the mag well.
Armor of Gods was originally started in 1997 as a "monthly diskmag project" for the Russian scene. It was in Russian language and brought mostly tutorials and articles to recruit new sceners. However, it wasn't very popular in Russia. Therefore after the third issue of AOG, which was released in October 1997, no further issue followed for the first while.
In April 1998, Programmer got the job as the main editor of AOG, and the work on a new issue of AOG started. Warhawk, the former main editor, concentrated on coding, while Programmer was mainly responsible for the organizing and editing tasks.
Originally AOG #4 was already planned to be released in May 1998, but due to several reasons it was delayed till July 1998. In the meantime Programmer had founded The E-Mag Network. This is a network of various diskmags, local and international ones, for the editors to communicate, exchange articles and work on mag projects together. The communication between the editors works by a mailinglist. Originally this Network, also called [TEN], was supposed to create a united diskmag made by all the other popular disk magazines' editors. But it hasn't come so far yet. It's mostly used for exchanging articles at the moment. The rules are simple: If you need articles for your mag, you can take them from the [TEN] mailinglist. But don't forget to post articles yourself to the [TEN] mailinglist, when you have any. Otherwise you will be kicked out of [TEN].
Programmer himself has made a lot of advantage of this article exchanging network. When AOG #4 was released in the middle of July 1998, it turned out to have English-language articles in the majority, with almost all of them originating from The E-Mag Network. This issue can really be considered as a rebirth, as it has actually nothing to do with the old Armor of Gods magazine. But AOG #4 also has a Russian-language part, which is slightly, but only slightly smaller than the English part. This Russian-language part has the topic "how to make demoparty" and consists of self-made articles (staff and the Russian readers) only plus the translations of some English articles.
The work on the next issue of AOG has already started, but the release date isn't fixed yet; I expect the new issue to be ready in 3-5 months.
The Armor of Gods interface accepts four command line parameters, three documented and one undocumented. -setup explains itself, -1 switches to the scroll mode for fast computers (highly recommended, elseway the scrolling flickers a lot!), and -2 is antiscroll mode. The undocumented parameter leads to the hidden part. It's -wojtek and displays a little picture with birthday greetings to Unreal/Pulse. That is Programmer's response to the -programmer command line parameter in the Pulse-demo Sunflower. Afterwards the actual mag starts.
At first the mag initializes itself. If you don't have a vesa2.0-compatible graphic card you will be kicked out of the mag immediately after this initialization routine. Installing UniVBE helps. Moreover, if you run the mag under Windows, you will get a warning that the code cannot be properly synchronised with the graphic output. You can start AOG nevertheless but I wouldn't recommend it to you because first, it flickers like hell, and secondly, it hangs up after some time.
If everything works okay, the mag switches to a 640x480 HiColor mode and displays the title picture, which is nothing else than the picture CELIA by Made/Bomb, placed 15th at The Party 1997. Smoothly, this picture gets erased from the screen, and the top and the bottom part of the AOG mainmenu gfx scroll in from the screen edge. Great transition, in my opinion!
The AOG mainmenu itself is divided into three parts, like in Imphobia: The part on the top of the screen contains the AOG logo, in the middle there is the text window with the background gfx and on the bottom there are some more gfx and, instead of a status bar, the name of the current article.
Now let's come to the control. AOG is mostly controlled by mouse, the keyboard can only be used for scrolling in the articles but not in the mainmenu. You select an article from the mainmenu by klicking on its name with the right mouse button and scroll by moving the mouse to the left or right screen edge. The right mouse button exits the current article or, in the mainmenu, the whole mag. That's very much the same as in Imphobia. To get into the music menu, you have to move the mouse cursor to the bottom edge of the screen, which reminds me of Autark. Then a small and nicely-looking music menu gets displayed. It looks like a rectangle and contains the buttons "stop", "play", "select tune 1", "select tune 2", like we know them from stereoes, a stereo-system-style display, a volume control and the name of the current tune. If you move the mouse upwards, this music menu vanishes again.
The design of the text windows is very much like in Imphobia: the text window is split into two columns, each of a width of 38 characters and a height of 15 lines. If you scroll backwards and forwards, however, it always scrolls by two columns to the left or to the right (the same as if you answer the question "Do you want to force a FULL (80 columns) scrolly?" in the Imphobia set-up menu with yes).
Only in the mainmenu more than one text-colour is used. The font in the articles themselves is single-colour. But, the interface supports the possibility of embedding pictures into the text, which is used in some articles.
After leaving the mainmenu, the mag exits and displays an ending ascii before returning to the dos-prompt.
As already stated, the interface was coded by Warhawk of T-Rex. It uses MIDAS v 1.1.2 by Sahara Surfers as the music system. The background gfx comes from Greenpix7 of UniVerse, a talented graphician from Russia.
About the text-design: There are some annoying mistakes. For example, in the main menu there is a section-headline on the bottom of the left column, and the first article-headline of this section is displayed in the right column. In the articles itself things like this occur too. I even spotted a headline-in-between on the bottom of the left column and its underlines in the right column. There are also some tables which would have easily fitted into one column but are split into two columns. That makes reading harder and is really bad text-design. On the other hand, the pictures which were inserted into some articles make the texts more lively and contribute a lot to the atmosphere of the mag.
AOG #4 is divided into three sections, the International Section, the Russian Section and some "Interesting Stuff" at the end of the mag (in English). These sections are divided into several sub-sections. Here is a list of the articles and the origin of the articles unless they have been written originally for AOG.
INTERNATIONAL Main Editorial Scene News, Rumors Party Quast Party Invitation Takeover '98 Party Report YALP'98 Report [from Pain] Takeover '98 Results The Gathering '98 Results Mekka & Symposium '98 Results Abduction '98 Results Articles How to make the best demos [from Coders F/X News] E-Mag Creation FAQ [actually the mags.faq from Hugi] Tips for IT>>XM Conversion [from Coders F/X News] LTP2 Party Organizing Friendly Sceners - ARF People Friendly Sceners 2?! The Utopians Diskmagscene Today [from Hugi] Interviews Virago GooRoo Amusic [translated from Russian] Charts (TOP 10) Demogroups Graphicians Composers Coders Demos Hardware Soundcards Review [from Coders F/X News] Nonsense Purple Skies [from Coders F/X News] The Preacher [from Coders F/X News] Short Story [from Coders F/X News] Some Jokes [from the TEN mailinglist] RUSSIAN Main Editorial Scene News SoundStorm '98 Note Articles About the UniVerse group Demoparties in Russia [split into three articles] LTP 2 Organizing [translated from English] SoundStorm '98 Report SoundStorm '98 Reviews ARF People [translated from English] About RU.HRG.SCENE Music Introduction Trackers and MIDI Music Scene in Russia Interviews Sheinar/Forsaken Virago GooRoo Amusic Coders Corner Vesa Tutorial [2 parts] Charts (TOP 10) Russian Demogroups Russian Graphicians Russian Composers Russian Coders Russian Demos Nonsense DTBROS INTERESTING STUFF Advertisements TEN Information Credits Voters List Greetings
As you see most English articles come from the Coders F/X BBS Newsletter. All in all AOG #4 contains 500 KByte of articles (according to the file_id.diz). 38 people contributed to the charts, mostly Russians.
Moreover, AOG #4 contains a Graphics Gallery with the pictures "Angelic Particles" by Danny and Louie, "Trapped" by Orome, and "Just another Story" by Orome. What motives do you expect they have? Right, hand-pixelled uncompletely dressed women.
The news sections are small. The international news have mostly been gathered from the votesheets and are sorted by the people who have sent them. In total there are about three columns of international news. The Russian news section is larger. There is also a nice feature: After each news Programmer has added a value in percent indicating how probable it is that this news is true.
What else is in AOG #4? Well, there are lots of spelling errors in the non-[TEN] English articles and the mainmenu ("Mekka and Symphosium"), and some party-results that use the Windows charset were not adjusted to DOS ascii.
Moreover, attached to the mag, there is a zip-file which contains an example program to the Russian Vesa tutorial by Warhawk.
From the technical standpoint Armor of Gods #4 is great. And in contrast to DefCoN or Total Disaster, which are technically also great, Armor doesn't lack international content. 500 KByte is a large text-size compared to other PC diskmags of today.
Still AOG would have lacked content if there hadn't been The E-Mag Network. It isn't bad to use articles from [TEN] at the beginning to create a good premier issue and establish the mag in the scene. However, the big point is: establishing the mag in the scene. AOG is not very well known in the scene yet as you can see if you take a look at the Hornet Charts or the Hugi Charts. If AOG won't get enough articles for its next issue and will depend on [TEN] articles again, that will be a development into the wrong direction. AOG is a [TEN] member diskmag like all the others and not a collection of [TEN] articles, right?
My advice to the AOG staff: Make more advertisement for your mag, get your mag into the charts, and get people to write for it! The last thing is certainly the hardest. But if your mag is well-known and good - and AOG #4 definitly is not a bad mag - people will come and write articles by themselves. Then you won't depend on [TEN] articles any more and can continue your mag, perhaps becoming one of the best international diskmags on the PC scene today.
What advantage does Armor of Gods #4 have for the reader? To answer this question, we have to divide the potential AOG readers into three groups:
a. For those people who are not familar with the diskmag scene it's certainly great to get an overview of articles published in various mags by reading AOG #4; for those people, AOG has a lot of content.
b. Those people who know the diskmag scene, on the other hand, won't have that much fun with the English section of AOG because they already know most articles.
c. The third group are the people who understand Russian. In contrast to the others they can read some original articles which have not been published in any other mag.
Groups a and c are the groups where AOG could find readers most easily. So if you belong to one of these groups, get AOG #4! You might like it.