Review: Static Line #1

Written by Adok

Month of release: July'98
RAR-packed size: 10,295 bytes
Language(s): English
Related URL:
Main editor: coplan/immortal coil
Co-editors: ranger rick, subliminal
Text: darkheat/digitalus, louis gorenfeld, sin, acell, dilvish, setec/immortal coil/nothing
Technical support: draggy

General Information

Static Line was created by Coplan, tracker in Immortal Coil, and several group-mates of his "to carry on the legacy of the late Trax Weekly and Demo News". It is a supposed-to-be-monthly ascii-only magazine, i.e a newsletter, that shall deal with the complete demoscene. Every month Static Line would provide the readers with "several regular columns including a montly song review, software reviews and a column about 3d acceleration and its role in modern demos".

Its first issue came out in late July 1998, to be exact on July 27th. This issue mostly deals with the tracking scene and, with a size of 24 kbyte, it isn't very big yet - only three times as big as this review.

Coplan is currently looking for someone who would like to write a monthly demo review column. The best would be if this person had coding experiences. Furthermore, general support is needed. If anyone outside from the staff wants to contribute with an article from time to time, he shall contact Coplan or one of his assistant editors, Ranger Rick or Subliminal. Their e-mail addresses are available in the inside of Static Line.

Apart from the homepage at the top and the Hornet Archive, you can also get the latest issue of Static Line directly after its release by a mailinglist. Simply send an e-mail message to with "subscribe static_line" in the message text.


The first issue of Static Line features 25 kbyte of text made up by the following eight articles:

        I.     Message From the Editor
        II.    120 FPS -- To 3D Or Not To 3D?
        III    A Lesson On How NOT to Act (Logged from #trax)
        IV.    In Tune -- Zaigamore's "The Swamp"
        V.     Software In Review -- Cubic Player 2 (opencp)
        VI.    Trackers Block:  The Symptoms and the Cure
        VII.   Closing

The "Message From the Editor", the Editorial, comes from the editor, Coplan, of course and summarizes the content of this issue; moreover, it calls for writers, which you have already read in my introduction to this magazine review.

Then the six true articles come. "120 FPS" is a regular column by Darkheat about the recent development in the demos. This issue's column is called "To 3D Or Not To 3D?" and ask the question whether the power of 3D cards should be used in demos. Darkheat's opinion is pro-3D-cards; he states that the games industry couldn't keep up with the demoscene's "phat software rendering engines" and therefore invented the 3D cards. The demoscene should therefore use 3D cards, too, and show what "that 3D cards [...] can *REALLY* do" to "take the industry to a better place, once again". A good and in a professional style written column, though a bit short with a length of only 30 lines. The topic 3D cards could be discussed further in the future.

The next article in the content list is "A Lesson On How NOT to Act (Logged from #trax)" by Setec, which is actually placed in the mag after the next two articles. This 50-lines-IRC-log shows a beginner boasting with his song for Hornet's Music Contest 6, which he wants to enter as Intermediate, and being made fool of by the other people in #trax.

We all know people like this, don't we?

That was the first tracker article, the next one is "In Tune". This column was originally published in TraxWeekly by Coplan. Since the status of TraxWeekly is unknown, as no issue has been released for a couple of months now, Coplan has decided to continue this column in Static Line. "In Tune" presents one music review per issue. This time it's the IT tune "Zaigamore's 'The Swamp'" that gets reviewed. For the first time Coplan writes this column together with SiN; both review the song independent from eachother, first Coplan, who also writes the introduction, then SiN. After the reviews a "Listening Info" follows which tells how the two listened to the song (what player, headphones etc.) and the "Song Information" consisting of title, author, filename, unzipped file size and source (url). This is the longest and most detailed article in Static Line #1.

In "Software In Review" Louis Gorenfeld brings a short and, to my mind, a bit superficial write-up about the so-called "Cubic Player 2", whose actual name is "opencp". All in all this article says nothing more than what new song-formats opencp plays and that it (finally) plays in the background of Windows 95 now.

The last article is "Trackers Block - The Symptoms and the Cure" by Setec, describing the inability to track, an "illness" every tracker has from time to time (and which is the case for every type of artist, also for writers, actually). The article closes with some ways to cure this illness.

Finally, in the "Closing", the involved people are listed as well as addresses where to get Static Line and of course another call for contributors.

In general, the magazine is in a very good English with hardly any noticeable mistakes, which is no wonder as it was made by native English speakers. I can't rate most of the content as I'm no tracker, but from an objective point of view the quality is mainly okay while most articles are a bit short.

Text design

The issue starts with a big "Static Line" ascii logo (80x17) like also in the other newsletters (DemoNews and TraxWeekly). After that first the table of content comes, then the single articles. Each article starts with a headline including title and name of the text; in the headlines, ascii line drawings like "--=--=-" appear, while inside the articles, only text is used. The articles are formatted left-bound with a Left Margin of 3 and a Right Margin of 78. Not always are white spaces between the paragraphs used, but the beginning line of each paragraph is indented by three character-columns. So the text is still well readable.

Okay, let's close the text design part, as it will probably only interest mag editors anyway.

Overall Impression

This premier issue of Static Line is certainly not "the future of the demoscene", like Coplan said in his invitation file, but it is an okay beginning. Let's just hope that Static Line won't have the same fate as dozends of ascii-only magazines before, like Xtravaganza, which was given up due to lack of response and contribution. Since DemoNews is dead and TraxWeekly can be considered dead, too, there is a lot of potential for regular newsletters in the scene. If a newsletter survives the first ten issues, it has been established in the scene. Let's see if Static Line will reach this aim.

In any case the size has to improve: Even the TraxWeekly newsletter, which was really published weekly for some time, had more than 24 kbyte. If Static Line wants to be the sequel to TraxWeekly, it would need to have at least four times as much content as one issue of TraxWeekly. - And what about DemoNews?

- adok^hugi