Review: Amber #1
Written by Adok
Month of release: Jun'99
RAR-packed size: 2,300,400 bytes
Related URL: http://amber.planet-d.net
Main editor: dj regal/tatanka/altair
Code: hey/ttk, pyshtoff/ttk, trsr/bora
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.
Editorials Introduction Hello! Introduction to music corner Creditz Greetz Contact Support us! About Vote-Form ADET - info Scene Our competitions - rules 100 x 100 pixels compo - results Quast '98 report Selection at RH '98 Articles Help to Beginners Rash Virus Let's help beginners Computer maniac? Multi - Group Member Toadies 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 Scenet 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 Bonus Papergirl 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 Jokes
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.