Review: Amber #1

Written by Adok

Month of release: Jun'99
RAR-packed size: 2,300,400 bytes
Language(s): English
Related URL:
Main editor: dj regal/tatanka/altair
Co-editor: misha/tatanka
Code: hey/ttk, pyshtoff/ttk, trsr/bora
Design: misha
Music: lesnik/altair, bigyo/ttk, singer/altair
Text: echo, singer, dave, bzykoo, sammar, kazun, atom, borlot, scaven, deekay, gigant, jason, ural, leda, proton, scyzoryk, tiyo + editors
Translations: blueshade/altair, shredder/aion

This is a premier issue half of the world scene has been excitedly waiting for these past months. As the first entirely English-language diskmag from Poland it should promote the Polish demoscene in the world, be "an interface between the two things" (the Polish scene and the international scene), as Misha puts it, and increase the number of significant non-local disk magazines on PC.

Amber #1 is based on the DOS engine of Total Disaster #Black, coded by HeY of Tatanka. In fact that mag can be considered the predecessor of Amber. Like in TD #Black, all graphics come from HeY's groupmate Misha, and apart from the scene-related articles there is a Bonus corner with various entertaining essays.

In addition to this, the mag is heavily supported by members of Altair, the group in which also the main editor and founder of the diskmag project is in: Dj Regal, formerly main editor of Tankard, a big, mostly not scene but rather sports and lifestyle related Polish diskmag rated high in the charts just after its big 'opponent' Dragon.

Almost all people involved in the first issue of Amber are Poles. Most articles were originally written in Polish and translated to English by BlueShade, Shredder and Regal. As they make different grammar mistakes and prefer different expressions, they have a lot of influence on the style of the articles, so after some time you can say who translated what article without checking out the translator's signature at the end of it. In general the level of English is not perfect in the translated articles due to some clumsy sentences which might only sound good in the Polish originals. But it is certainly better than in Fleur #3.

A common fact applying to most texts an experienced diskmag reader also notices very soon is that they are written on a level of personal speech and rather spontaneously rather than carefully constructed beforehand. Together with the editors' and translators' comments, which have been vastly inserted especially by Shredder, this makes the articles pretty chaotic.

It is also a pity that the font of Amber is extremely small. If you use such a small font please insert at least enough space between the lines and use at least two text-columns, if not even three. The proportion between the width of a text line and the font size is simply too high at the moment.

Okay, let's stop the complaints and really dive into the world of Amber #1, into a world of 450 kbyte of articles, four excellent atmospheric background tunes, aesthetic graphics showing a dolphin as the cover and a beach as the background, and loads of cliparts motivating to continue reading.

Table of contents.

                Introduction to music corner
                Support us!
                About Vote-Form
                ADET - info
                Our competitions - rules
                100 x 100 pixels compo - results
                Quast '98 report
                Selection at RH '98
                Help to Beginners
                Rash Virus
                Let's help beginners
                Computer maniac?
                Multi - Group Member
                Behind the Scenes
                Scene and Prison
                MP3 - a nail to music industry's coffin
                Empty Page #0 - review
                Pijama #2 - review
                Tankard vs Dragon - comparison
                KAME - new gfx tool
                Gravity '98 party report
                Digital Image Processing
                Digital Image Processing; C example
                TEN - introduction
                What's faster?
                Cartoons - gfx tutorial
                Polish PC Scene
                an interview with Byter/Blasphemy
                an interview with KusmuQue
                Inscene '99 party invitation
                Arf!Party '99 results
                Ambience '99 results
                Analogue '99 results
                Gravity '99 results
                Astrosyn '99 results
                Berzan Party #20 results
                Elevator '99 results
                The Gathering '99 results
                Hype '99 results
                ICING '99 results
                Mekka & Symposium 2K - 1 results
                Proxy '99 results
                Spring Break '99 results
                Volcanic Party V results
                The Gatesgate Zone
                Windows 95 is an evil operating system
                Feels psychodelic
                A brief history of ambient - review
                Top 20
                World travellers
                Basic math
                Atomic Bomb
                Women vs. Beer
                Related Homicide in Brazil
                Free Stuff
                Quotes from American courtrooms

The possibly more interesting (because new) stuff for an international demoscener is the articles about the scene situation in Poland, which make up about half of the scene corner (the other half is mainly party results). Unless you understand Polish and read Polish diskmags, Amber #1 is the only way for you to get a picture of it.

A lot of texts are related to old debates about beginners which should be supported on their way into the scene which the international scene had in its early days. On this occasion we also learn about the game magazine CD-Action, which also includes a scene corner and thus has been a resource for hiring new sceners in Poland. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the Polish PC demoscene is one of the biggest in the world; certainly it also has to do with the diligent nature of the Polish people who like working for fun. Anyway, among the elite of the Polish scene this magazine is not very popular for some reasons such as old releases and viruses on the cover CD. After an article in a diskmag this attitude towards CD-Action which the scene had actually benefited much from became common in the whole Polish scene. That's what is criticized in the article "Toadies": the attitude of adapting to "elite" sceners' opinions without thinking.

Polish sceners also ponder a lot on their scene in general. For instance, one Amber author even compares it with a prison, referring to the self-imposed isolation of the scene to the outer world. Another wonders whether computer maniacs like him spend too much time in front of their PCs and care too little about the real world, most of all school. These topics have been much discussed in local Polish magazines but disappeared in international mags long ago. Perhaps this is because scene culture is not too old in Poland yet and the Polish sceners are on an average apparently younger than all sceners in general, at least the people who contribute to diskmags. Anyway, Amber now reintroduces these topics to the world too.

What I found interesting was a pretty long article (seven text-pages) in which the latest issues of the two leading local mags, Tankard and Amber, were compared in detail, revealing that actually only some details are different.

The whole subject is completed by a list of a hundred Polish sceners - not all but probably the most active ones -, some local groups and diskmags, commented by the maintainer of the Polish scene web-site, Ural.

Also in the Scene corner: a coding tutorial on various Digital Image Processing techniques by Dave of PhyMosys from Spain, a Cartoon tutorial showing all the steps how Misha painted his Soroyama-style dragon, and the scene FAQ that is included in all versions of Ghandy's e-mail database Scenet.

Definitely worth reading is the Bonus corner, containing a hardcore lesbian story (be warned, it's not something as harmless as Hugi's "Adult Corner"!), art/music-related articles plus some joke texts. The jokes were taken from the Internet, and ironically this part, being the only one that was not originally written for Amber, is the best of the whole magazine. I personally liked "Basic math" and "World Travellers" most. Here you can find some (according to the introduction) original English quotes from various hotels all over the world. Some examples: A sign in a Rome laundry said, "Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a great time." Or what about this one, found in a Bangkok cleaner? "Drop your trousers here for best results."

To sum it up: Good premier issue. Keep up the technical quality, replace the font and try to get some interesting articles exclusively written for your mag.

- australodok^hugi