What is and what has always been the most impressive aspect of the scene?
This is a question that cannot be answered with an official statement as we all possess different opinions. Some may consider the Amiga itself to be the most impressive part of the computer world and the scene as a whole; the fact that it has so much untouched power and possibilities. At one point most of us have compared our machine to the commercially hyped consoles and felt a wave of conceited pride wash over us. Some people maybe impressed by the Amiga's inspiring status, the fact that the whole computer kingdom has the Amiga to thank for many of its advancements. As we observe the latest high budget movies with exciting computer generated gfx one can't help but think of the Amiga and the origins of such techniques. Every PC and Mac user appears to be talking about multitasking as if its a revolutionary break through for the late 90's, but the Amiga was doing it almost 15 years ago using half a megabyte and a 68000 processor.
A lot of what people consider impressive is usually centred around visual effects, be it a rendered animation, a texture mapped dungeon or an attractively pixelled picture. Visuals have been the most used and abused sales method for years, encouraging the public to buy that specific game or even buy a certain computer or console. For many people outside of the scene judging by appearance alone is the only way to judge. They have no idea how the imagery was created and no real desire to know, a game is a game, a demo a demo, if the graphics are good they enhance the experience, regardless of whether they were pixelled, rendered or coded. If the game or demo runs fast then the computer or console is admired for it.
As sceners we are supposed to know better than this. To judge on face value is to undermine the whole intent of the scene. The scene is a collective culture of competitive minded individuals striving to become the best at what they do. A musician for example may witness a demo differently to a coder or gfx artist. A musician will no doubt be paying close attention to the module and the role it plays in the demo, a coder will be looking for ground breaking routines and a gfxer will pay closer attention to design. As they read, diskmag editors maybe judging my writing style in this article, where as others will be paying attention to the content alone. This is because we learn from and inspire each other. An idea is often used again by another scener, but taken a step further, then another step further by another scener.
Because of this we begin to realise individual talent. As scene participants we study the work of others, some of which we are able to advance, others still awe us to this very day. When we realise the difficulty it requires to produce a pixelled image, a 4 channel module or a demo we no longer respect the machine it is running on or the software from which this work was done, but those people able to do it. Most of us have ventured into alternative realms of creativity at one time or another trying our hand at music, gfx or coding until finding our most suitable niche. It is by doing so we can appreciate the effort it takes each individual to make a scene production.
Many people were at one time consumed by the demo propaganda, the small comments that told you the effect was good or a world record. Perhaps it wasn't so impressive to see 10 bobs on screen at one time as it didn't really look very good, but when seeing infinite bobs it became obvious that an advancement had been made and that the coder had excelled beyond the standard expected of him. The visual quality may not be overwhelming, but when considering the innovation and effort required to cheat logic any intelligent person must be impressed. The Amiga is only as powerful as these people choose to make it. The Amiga without a programmer is just a plastic box with chips inside. How is it possible to be impressed by that?
Realising this, an attitude can change from a distant observer into that of an enlightened scener. It is like comparing a painter to a photographer. In most cases a photograph will look much nicer than a painting, but months of paintbrush strokes and careful observation will always outrank a click of a button in the eyes of anyone who's tried these methods. This is the attitude that made the scene what it was.
Unfortunately the scene of late has become a little over commercialised and as this happens we are being influenced by the observers. The little brats that see a rendered intro on a PC game and wonder why the in game gfx don't look the same way. The sort of people that infuriate pixellers by comparing their work to scanned jpegs. These are also the breed of lamers that pick up a joystick while loading a demo, expecting a game. In the earlier days of the scene these below average computer users were in a minority and outcast by those on a higher level, but today in 1998 it appears we are the minority being forced down and out of our very own subculture.
The scene today is getting along by appealing to these observers and the commercial market. By using the highest range of technology, coders are able to make demos that almost compare to the PC and Playstation games that leave so many fools open mouthed with awe. However, this is not at all pleasing to the handful of true sceners that remain, one by one they are becoming less as time pushes onwards. Their skills are considered unimportant by bigheaded lamers that think they know better. They don't understand the satisfaction one can achieve by breaking limits.
Many pixellers have come under fire by mentally impaired comments regarding their work. Often enough we are asked why we bother to pixel. By their logic it makes more sense to buy a flatbed scanner which will do the work for us and achieve a far more realistic end result. Why don't all pixellers do this? For the same reason a runner doesn't drive his car through a marathon or a mountain climber doesn't take a helicopter to the top. Sceners take pride in their work and set themselves goals just like a sports person or artist.
The scene of the future will no longer require a talented person behind the keyboard if attitudes continue this way, everything will be done for us. Maybe charts should be including categories such as: Best Processor, Best paint package, Best scanner or digitiser, Best sound sampler or Best rendering software instead of Best coder, gfxer and musician. In years to come we will certainly have some attractive things to look at, but the whole point of the scene will be lost. When watching the latest scene production think about the effort it took to make it before judging the end result.