Hugi Fifteen Editorial
Written by Adok
Scene newsgroups are good indicators for what really matters to sceners at the moment. This is the reason why comp.sys.ibm.pc.demos, alt.trebel.*, and the news.scene.org server are among the places a diskmag editor visits daily.
The contents of these newsgroups are nowadays mostly complaints, complaints, and complaints. People complain about this demo not running on their PC, people complain about that demo not satisfying their high expectations. Too big, too slow, too buggy, that's all you hear.
Scene critics are the people who dominate the scene newsgroups at the moment. Of course some of them exaggerate when they claim the scene is in a pitiful state if demos like Yume 2000 are considered the best. And, their criticism of demos can partly also be regarded as appreciation of the creators' work: If they did not like the demos and were not convinced of their makers' high knowledge and artistic abilities, they would not care about improving them anyway. Sparcus of Nostalgia came to a similar conclusion: "The more people complain about a demo, the better it probably is", and suggested creating a star-rating by counting the number of complaints in the newsgroups. So there is no reason to get furious at scene critics, like the makers of Yume 2000 unfortunately did. Take constructive criticism as an opportunity to make your future productions even better. Appreciate it.
A lot of scene critics are right when they complain about compatibility problems with certain demos and intros. As many statements in this and previous issues of Hugi confirm, it is quite a bad habit that sceners create their productions just so that they run on their own PCs and on the compo one. After the party, most of the audience has to wait for a final version until they can enjoy the prod error-free. This can often be several weeks or even months; and if the production has not been successful at the party, it is possible that a full-working version will never be released. No wonder that the demo watchers start complaining.
The huge variety of hardware and software configurations of the IBM PC technology can be advantageous, but in the case of demos it is a drawback. The numerous components are not at all compatible with eachother. When a hardware-dependent routine works on one PC, it is not granted that it will run on the others as well.
A possible solution for this problem is standardized software interfaces such as VESA and DirectX. They provide a way for the programmer to access all supported configurations with the same commands, in this way ensuring more compatibility without the programmer having to make more effort.
VESA has been around for several years, and almost every DOS demo that utilizises modes which are not supported by standard VGA adapters depends on VESA. The problem with VESA is that most recent graphic adapters do not fit it completely. Therefore it is not a real standard anymore. Better chances you have with Windows and DirectX. Every new graphic adapter for PC has to be DirectX-compatible, unless its producers do not care about profit. It is the technology of the future, at least for the next few years.
A good option if you want to port your productions to different platforms more easily is the use of libraries such as OpenPTC. The lately released version 1.0 of OpenPTC and its predecessor, PTC (Prometheus TrueColor), are available for Windows, Java, Linux, and DOS.
Another problem is system requirements. At least in this aspect most of the latest demos are equal to computer games. It is nothing special any more that a demo requires 64 MByte of RAM, a state-of-the-art 3d accelerator card, and a fast CPU. This is totally different from the old days when the philosophy was to achieve the most with average machines. It is all right for me if today's emphasis is on design rather than heavy optimization. But please restrict yourself, there is already the wild compo for productions that rely on expensive equipment.
In his article Scene Standards, Paranoid suggests that all demo coders establish a standard configuration together on which scene productions have to run. Those which do not meet these "standard-scene-specs" shall be stored in different directories in the scene archives.
I personally support this idea and invite all of you to discuss this topic. It will make our scene newsgroups and diskmags more productive and interesting as the readers will see that scene critics are not only able to complain but also help remedy the situation.
A few days after the release of this issue, Hugi will or has celebrated its third anniversary. At this occasion I want to thank the lot of you who helped make Hugi what it is now. You know who you are.
For this issue, I especially want to thank Psykax for proofreading tons of articles, Hellfire for his graphical commitment, and TAD for having been the most active writer this time with almost 220 kbyte of (mostly coding-related) articles. Like the previous issue, Hugi #15 contains 1 mbyte of English and 400 kbyte of German-language articles in total. We tried to pay more attention to the quality of the contents and the design this time. Tell us whether we have succeeded in your opinion.
As we got so many soundtracks, we had to select two tunes for this issue and keep the others in a module pool. They will be used in a future issue of Hugi. Thanks go to the following artists: Aquafresh of Tesko, [C]lef of NoLogic, CoaXCable of Winter in July, Echo of Diffusion and Level-D, Loxley, Makke of Hugi and Trebel, paniq of TDR, Pearl Hunter of The Digital Philosophers, Rhino of Phase^D and TmT, Spin, and Steffo of Cryonics!
If you also want to make a tune for the Hugi module pool, please keep in your mind that we cannot play IT files at the moment. The sound system we currently use only supports XM, S3M, and MOD. However, this might be changed in the future.
With Hugi's entering its fourth year of activity, we thought it would be time to make some slight changes to the structure of the mag. A few columns have already been renamed in this issue, and the interviews section has been replaced by the new corner "Tech Talk". From now on general interest interviews will be published in the Demoscene Forum and those with a special focus in an appropriate section.
Moreover, we are going to re-introduce charts to Hugi as the work on The E-Mag Network's chartsmag has been interrupted. You can find the vote form in the support.sheet attached to this issue (support.txt). Please fill it in and also vote for the five best entries that were sent in for the Hugi Icon Competition. You can find all of them in icons.zip.
When talking about competitions: Although I did not announce a hidden part compo in Hugi #14, some people kept searching for the hidden part and sent us "2bla.txt" when they had finally found it. I think they are worth to be mentioned here, so here comes the list of successful Hugi explorers!
1. Maharaja/NoLogic - 1999/02/24
2. Psychic Symphony - 1999/02/25
3. Griesse - 1999/03/01
4. Told Eye - 1999/03/01
5. tmbinc/dazed - 1999/03/04
6. Dario Phong/PhyMosys - 1999/03/05
7. ile/aardbei - 1999/03/22
8. Guido - 1999/04/13
By the way: Did you know that the Windows version of Hugi #14 has joystick support? Neither did I, until Programmer of UniVerse informed me on it. After reading my fake-review of The Magazine #1, which I had sent to him before it got published, he was so fascinated that he contacted Street Raider and asked him to implement joystick control in his interface, and he did it without telling me. A really nice surprise. Of course the feature also works in this issue, provided you have a joystick with at least four buttons.
Now start reading the mag, and if you have time, search for the hidden part. It is not quite as easy as in the last two issues.
Enjoy your life!
PS: If you ever stumble across a magazine called Schwugi #1: This is a lame fakemag with code that was ripped from Hugi #6, graphics taken from Hugi #12, and music from Legend Design. The author is unknown; several clues point to a certain person but we have no evidence, so we won't mention any suspicions. Anyway, the articles may be good for a laugh. If you happen to bump into that maggy, have fun.