Pain 2/00 reviewed
A Reading Prophet of Hugi
Fred seemed to be a bit sad that Hugi 18 didn't contain a review of the latest Pain issue. For some reason I don't know (hm, that seems to get a new standard phrase of mine! or show I better say: by accident?) I haven't written much about Pain in Hugi lately, but maybe I should do it, after all Pain has recently made so much progress that it's worth acknowledging it.
Since its issue from late 1999, it has been using a very modern interface, with features like true-type font support, text alignment, anti-aliasing and even a unique rendered 3d scene as an outtro. At the same the articles are also becoming more interesting to me: less local stuff, more about international events, and spiced with a pretty good text layout plus photos. This is quite a difference from the ascii-design that used to be Pain's special style in the past. Still the mag was lately released pretty often, namely bi-monthly, although I should mention that this rule seems to have been broken again: It's end of April 2000, and the latest issue so far, which I'm going to review now, dates back to February. But maybe it's just a matter of a few days.
This is the first issue in the so-called seventh generation of Pain. You ask what this generation stuff is all about? Well, Pain has been existing for a rather long time - it's probably the oldest diskmag still active in the whole scene -, and the generations are meant to indicate changes in the staff and concept. The first generation was in 1993 with Uli and Chicken as main editors, focused on the Swiss demo/artscene. Then the Swiss warez scene took over Pain for one year ("Pain2"), until it was retaken by members of the old crew and the old concept was restored. This started the third generation, which lasted until 1998. In this time Furball got one of the most important characters behind Pain. Lack of time, however, forced him to pass main editorship to Fred of Calodox - the fourth generation. The majority of the readers was already from outside Switzerland, judging from the feedback he received, so he slightly opened the mag to the international scene. Furball and Zpider meanwhile coded a new VBE-based Pain engine, which replaced the old textmode-based one in the summer 1998 issue. Now Pain could be compared to the other mags at the time technically-wise. Fred soon retired from his position, to focus on his studies and other demoscene activities like making graphics for Calodox, and left the maineditorship to Cockroach and Iquito, two other Swiss sceners who had previously been active for the mag "Trip!". This was the fifth generation: Pain focused on the Swiss scene again and got his old local character. Due to problems getting articles Cockroach and Iquito gave up a year later, in the middle of 1999. Fred took over maineditorship again, for a last time as he says, to found the sixth generation of Pain. After a rather long delay, a new issue finally came out, featuring the already mentioned new interface. The sixth generaton lasted for only two issues, then Fred decided that Pain was saved for the while and someone else could take it over. Asc of Nowadays, a Swiss coder and graphician, was chosen. But as he did not have a lot of time at the moment because of his work, a second main editor was chosen to assist him: Unlock of Vantage, who had formerly worked for various C64 demoscene diskmags (and also some non-demoscene ones). He had already been active for Pain for a while, and it seems to be him who is responsible for the latest development of Pain.
In all this time, some characteristic elements of Pain have not changed. For example, the screen layout is still the same: articles on the top, menu on the bottom. You navigate using the keyboard only. And there are still separate corners for Swiss news and rumours, although the mag now has its focus on the worldwide scene. This gives Pain its very special flair.
What about the texts in this issue? The polls and comments on the scene and Pain are funny, as it has often been lately. Probably this is not because of the questions but because of the people who participated: Reading the thoughts and emotions of someone you know at least a bit is surely more interesting and entertaining than if it's a total stranger, even if it's about topics like "winter sports". In the article section, there is a text by Grendel on the Jay Newingham Case - you know, a guy ripped music from respected demoscene musicians and did not only sell it but even claimed to be these sceners. With his professional journalistic knowledge, Grendel has managed to make his article very long (20 kbyte) and still not tiring to read, with many quotes from the sceners and Jay himself. Actually this text was not originally written for Pain, but it was published on the web, to be freely used by diskmags. Pain just had the luck of being the first diskmag to publish the article. But it is well formatted and slightly commented by Unlock. Next comes the article on BeOS by an editor of BeNews (written by Eugenia Loli, or was it Eugiena Loli? both spellings are in it!) which inspired TAD to download this operating system and review it for this Hugi issue.
Several texts, such as Kowboy's The Party 1999 report and Seven's comment on the diskmag scene, were actually intended for other mags like demojournal. They found their way to Pain after Unlock's announcement on csipd that Pain was going to die as they did not have any articles. In fact, as he later admitted, they already had some and this was just a trick to get more. Well, it worked, but it may backfire: Hearing this news, some authors swore never to write anything for Pain any more.
Furthermore, there are a few tutorials (something about pixelling, something about DirectDraw in ASM which actually isn't much more than a few introductionary words to 100kb of sourcecode, and something about copying Amiga disks so that their contents can be used with Amiga emulators on PC), the standard emotional ramblings about the demoscene, its problems and the related lifestyle, some retrospective views on old Pain issues and 14.4 kbps modems, the charts, reviews from CDE and a corner filled with a BBS lists, butrip information, party invitation and the like.
On a special scale exclusively designed for demoscene, two months is a short time for making a diskmag. Regarding this, Pain 2/00 is well done. And I guess one shouldn't expect a lot of fascinating reports from a February issue - in the scene, the most interesting things usually happen in a time ranging from spring to early winter.
Adok/Hugi - 27 Apr 2000