Hugi Magazine #33: MP3 Power

Hugi #33 header graphic

CPC in the year 2006 (Michael Kargas aka Optimus/Dirty minds)

Strange dreams

Hey doc, something is quite wrong with me! I have been constantly dreaming of coding great CPC demos with the most impressive effects ever. Simple stuff like rotozoomers, bump mappers, wolfenstein engines, voxel landscapes and polygon engines. Needless to say, they were all really big, good looking and stunning oneframers! Everything made a sense while I was dreaming and I even learned some insane coding tricks during the process, though everytime I woke up I thought "No, that's not gonna work so fast! Not even at 24 MHz!!!" or "Isn't that another cheap ripoff from a PC demo?". Though, it doesn't matter. What matters is that those were dreams and I urge to bring them back to reality! Doctor, I am getting sick for missing my beloved CPC!!! The same way that wacko fans of my favorite greek team claim that they are getting psychotic with ARIS and need to visit a shrink to talk about their incurable condition! And my dream becomes a nightmare when I figure out that I can't release the friggin demo because I miss the proper graphics..

Really! (Except the fact that I miss the graphics (that was a joke), because in my dreams I can both code, paint and sing perfectly ;P)

Since the time I joined the greek army, forgot the scene for a month or so, remembered Pouet later, but missed creativity without a proper PC and the stupid schedule here, I had some strange dreams about the demoscene. Well, I always have dreams about the demoscene. But the strangest thing is that most of my recent scene dreams were either having to do with watching impossible CPC demos or coding them myself. I really like the screens I watch! It feels very possible when you dream but not when you wake up. My mind clears up(?) and then I shout "NO! The highres phong environment mapped 7800 polygon object you've just seen is definitely not gonna run at 50fps on the CPC, not even in your dreams! (NOT :)". Amazing stuff I assure you ;)

So, it's like my consciousness has something to tell me. And since I dreamed again of a new CPC demo yesterday night, I got all the motivation to write this article and remember what I was missing.

Well, actually I had totally forgotten there is a CPC scene until I suddenly remembered that the year 2006 has recently left the building and so there is a little article I was supposed to be writing each year. And that article is always a nice way to think back and stare at the future. I truly enjoy writing it! So will I do this year..

The Demos

There were no big titles this year but that doesn't matter to me. I've learned to not be a thirsty demo consumer and to not expect anything. I just liked the fact that there were still new CPC demos released in 2006 (and new blood too!), regardless if they didn't contain 7800 phong environment mapped polygons ;P

My favorite shit must be Climax-G and Seminoizin. Special bonus goes to the sprite record attempt still going on (Maurice aime les bobs(26), Boules&Bits(42)), Fatality still releasing cracktros on the CPC, the Parasite cracktro of Backtro and Pulkomandy's Musicdisk which is the first production of a newcomer. Honorable mentions to the rest, like Demoniak's animations (Elgato, Juggler, Horrific slideshow), the ZeMeeting2006 invitation and Amstrad Expo 2006 demo. Oh, I think I've almost forgot the thing I finished in a hurry for the Forever2006 CPC democompo, X-Kore. I forgot it so much that I even didn't put it on the list or took a screenshot of it originally. That doesn't have to do with the demo quality though rather than the fact that I didn't have to remember it (while I was anxious to not forget anything else), since it was my demo the year that past and thus I was never going to forget putting it to the list. Which I almost did for that reason alone :PPP

I really like the way I write this article. I type whatever comes in my mind. There is no plan, just the joy of writing without any restrictions! It wouldn't work the same way if I was writing for a newspaper ;P

And so I'll stfu and go on with my favorite part. Commenting on some of the demos. Let's start with my favorite shit..

I truly enjoy demos which go on with some nice, funny or motivating texts to read. That's with demos like the midline process, demoizart and all the scrollers/writers that send nice greetings to me ;). Well, actually, after rewatching some CPC demos I reached to the conclusion that this feature exists in way more demos than I thought. It's just that it was in French and so I couldn't actually read and enjoy it :P. Nevertheless, the review is about Climax-G which, apart from it's great looking green monitor graphics, gave me the same feeling I once received while watching the end of the midline process. Not just because they are greeting me (that comes a long way, so I've probably enjoyed the previous texts to stay), but just for the funny comments (I hope I've got them all except the inside jokes ;). So, to get back to the review, this is a slideshow of converted pics, either in interlace or not, just like the first Climax demo but this time using the green monitor. My oculist approves it. No harm for the eyes this time. :) And then again, the CAT trick and starting screens really astonished me by its originality to show something different according to your monitor. And that's just a game of colors, not a monitor detection routine! Try to change between the green and color screen through your emulator to see what happens! Needless to say, I really love the originality that is still here, regardless if the whole slideshow is written in basic. Bravo!

(And now I am going to close the notepad, read Strange Egnarts and take a nap.)

And then, here I am again, after days of PC coding, senseless Doom gaming and laziness :P

Seminoizin. Another demo (and the last one of the year that past) to stare at some capabilities of the CPC+. And mostly a very well designed, short, in your face intro, that is something quite rare for the CPC. Semilanceata is known for those nice CPC+ demos which are based mostly on the design and graphics of it, rather than the effect, even though there are some interesting effects nicely put here. It's kinda funny to see noisy vertical bars moving like hellish shit or that really designish screen in the screenshot that might be with this article, which makes a clever use of split rasters to show off some crazy rotating chessboard tiles, shaded with the CPC+ palette and their wildness accompanied by the sampled music sounding pretty well by the assistance of CPC+ hardware sound capabilities. A very cool presentation, even if short, quite different than anything I've seen on the CPC before. This little demo is actually an advertisement of the CPC radio from Go look at it!

Some early surprises of the year were the Parasites demo (which is actually.. a cracktro of Backtro :) and the early activity of Fatality which I almost forgot I was missing lately. And the sprite records too (at least, the first one came into release too early this year, among with the other nice surprises).

I rather like the pretty nice starting intro of Parasites. I think it's a long time since I've seen something from Madram, since this seems to be coded by him according to the really nicely done writer (letters jumping to their original positions). I remember reading in the scrolltext of his latest demo that he is going to stop democoding for a little while and try some painting or tracking instead. I then wished him good luck because it's a dream of mine too to try to get better at something different, even though coding is still bringing me back. Nevertheless, it's nice to see him back in a small intro which is rather nicely designed (I love the grid transparency and the colors of it) and I simple love it. :) As for the so called "cracktro" (I like the joke! Is anybody going to crack OVF's Shadow of the Beast preview so that it's being displayed perfectly on my CRTC1 CPC?! ;) it's actually Backtro with the graphics that Beb didn't finish in time before, it's just some different textures for those tunnel effects, some of them I like more. Nothing new, and the newest thing here is the nice intro screen :)

And yet, there were some nice cracktros released from games I haven't played before on the CPC (and I didn't bother to play them much this time too ;) from Fatality, the finest Finnish (and the only) crackers on the CPC (and the only. Or? Channy? Oh noes.. ;). It's a funny and "senseless" (What is senseless? And what is meaningful?) activity on the CPC, I expressed my (possitive) surprise in my previous article for the year 2005 before, you can read more there, all I'd say is that it's cool there are people from other countries on the CPC, at first I thought Fatality on the CPC was the same as the Speccy group with the same name, but no, they have no connection as I assume (except if it's just a different division and they don't tell us, but I still haven't found any connection. It's funny that in their scrolltexts they say they are afraid to show up because the Finnish police would chase the CPC crackers out there. ;) All I want to say is WTF and KTHXBYE, though I wonder if they are still alive and active for 2007 (maybe a demo or their own game or tool?), because their latest cracktro of Ramparts was released in March iirc and I've just figured out that some 10 months have passed since then. Nevertheless, it's not that important but somehow I'd like to know more about these dudes and who they are really (Any connection with older cracking or demo groups in the past on any other platform?). It's not so common that suddenly a new group on CPC appears, from a country I didn't know it had some sort of CPC scene, and they even crack CPC games, in 2005!!! I like the strangeness of the multiverse sometimes.. (Oh, and the multiverse just told me that it approves the possibility that some other people could be hiding behind this group, being a joke like OFE's demos, though the same multiverse approves the possibility that strange things and even stranger newcomers can suddenly surprise the CPC scene, and enough with this multiverse crap anyways which the multiverse approves though because the multiverse surrounds everything!

After writing more retardated mumble jumble in order to get some text fitting the size of my screenshot, I guess I should start writing quite some more so that I have more text for the next screenshots (How stupid is my writing anyways ;P). Ugh!

And so I will talk about my big surprise with the sprite record going on. At first I thought nobody should take up the challenge because the CPC is lazy, though not so lazy as it seems, for oldschool onescreeners like these. And it was only me who didn't take up the challenge or rather I did take it up but never released my code because it was unfinished. But I was happy I could generate some unrolled codes for sprites and cleaning that worked well. I was at 22 sprites then and without music or scroller (and the cleaning was black, not the tiled background in all those demos). And since I was fed up with my code I quit. But I have still something nice that could be used for vectorballs or other stuff..

So, after Ramlaid's first attempt at displaying 20 sprites (16*16 balls in Mode 1 (4 colors)), there came Megachur (which is a newcomer, or iidrcw some old guy who came back to the CPC again, whatever he is a comer :) with 26 balls and a much nicer gfx display (did anyone said fecal colours? ;). My job was getting harder (if I ever was going to get into the mood starting coding from scratch or messing with my old sprite code once again) but still possible till Hicks came into play. There is no reference of the number of balls in the scrolltext (they are just TOO MANY), though I've counted them to be 42 (and that's a nice number! :). Impossible? I recently noticed that his balls (not those! ;) are placed in quite a smaller place than the other demos and so this might favor the clearing routine. What he might be doing, reminds me of the tricks on the AtariST records, though there the balls are quite too much to fit a big screen and still make this trick useful. But here, since they are quite few, it should work when the balls are displayed in a smaller area. So, recently I thought that with a bit of fantasy and a little more cheating, I guess it's possible to break the record another time. A simple idea? Just show a blank white screen and claim that you've just displayed 1024 bobs. When they ask you where the bobs are, tell them that you don't care about how they look, plain white bobs would do the job too as you care more about coding than design!!! Simple and neat as that! ;) (I had a year or so to watch F.A.K.E. by the Obsessed Maniacs. Mmm, gotta check the neat tricks displayed there again! =)

I guess the challenge will end till someone decides to release the unlimited bobs! (NOT! :)

X-kore. It was so nice to have released something new from my side, but also too painful. I get the feeling that demomaking is such a struggle and it's just not a good idea to release your code in a hurried demo (which I then called just a preview to hide the fact that it is supposed to be a true(ly lame) release ;P). Nevertheless, I don't care much about that (I have said the same phrase thrice..) and so I'll go on writing some more about it. I just wanted to support the Forever2006 CPC competition. It was nice for me to see an all 8bit demoparty supporting the CPC too. And there will be another one this year which I doubt I can support with a new CPC demo (because of my army duty and absence from a CPC computer at the place or lack of creativity at all) but I'll see about it. Though, I don't want to be rushed this time. Oh, I was talking about the demo. It just displays an early preview of a tiny portion of what my X-stretcher CPC algorithm can do. It's something that was inspired from the stretchers on the C-64. If it had better graphics (this one had converted gfx from Doom, it's a tradition ;), an actual design and some more movement on the screen than a staticly rotated box on the screen, it could have rocked. But it's (except of the routine) plain boring for me too. And rather ugly and buggy. Though it's nice for having finished it in a week or so (but the main routines were done a year ago). At the end, it displays a fast radial plasma in pixel resolution too (first on the CPC?). I will reuse these routines in vastly more ways for a true CPC demo one day. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to show off that I am still coding on the CPC and supporting the Forever competitions. But somehow I got that ugly feeling that I struggled to release a shit. I don't care about spoiling the effects, because I can show quite new varieties of effects with the same engine and so I haven't harashed much of it. Maybe it was a good idea. Though, I'll probably avoid more to hurry any releases in the future if possible. Maybe I'd prefer to code nicely designed onescreeners with a single but cool effect if ever being in a hurry to support a compo again and leave the trackmos for my own pace in the future without any deadline. Maybe I could code something for the next Forever too with this in thought (I'll see). Each release of mine gives me a useful lesson, maybe it's me who is just a slow learner..

Ok, I'll just say a few things for the honorable mentions (that means, the rest of the shit out there ;P). Demoniak has released some animation demos and I enjoyed the Juggler because it's a conversion of the classic from Amiga, Elgato was kinda slow (and I didn't know this animation before to be astonished, even if it's another classic in an old Amiga demo) and Horrific is actually a slideshow of converted, I guess, pics of zombies and horror movies in general. Not anything important to watch and the nicest part for me is that spider animation at the beginning. Then, we've got two other releases about which I haven't said anything. The one with the most content is Amstrad Expo 2005 demo, so I'll start with the ZM2006 invitation demo instead to get finished with its review easily. It's just a simple text displayer in a white screen which invites us to come to Ze Meeting 2006, also featuring a stylish picture of a bruished Grimmy. Nice. :) And so, the Amstrad Expo 2005 gives you several parts having to do with eggs (I guess it was the theme of yet another competition at the party?), like some intriguing screens that seem to offer dialogues between eggs with ingenious inside jokes about some French sceners that I could either understand or not but I definitely won't this time because they are all written in French. Then, unlimited eggs, some egg games that I found rather clumsy to play and other stuff I might not remember right now. What I enjoyed most in this demo is the strange color design of the menu that changes each time you get back to it (something that I didn't notice the day I first watched this demo, but only after several months since its release :P).

And then, while I thought I was about to finish the demo reviews of this article, I totally forgot that I was about to forget (duh) yet another little release. Pulkomandy is a newcomer on the CPC and he released his first musicdisk which is actually coded in basic but I don't care much about this because it features some nice covers of various musics from C64 games, Amiga demos or any other reference I might not be able to figure out and generally I don't care if it's written in basic or assembly rather than a new dude came into the CPC and actually released something. I wish him to get further into the depths of Z80 coding soon and release some true shit!

While checking the CPC Wiki once again (which has been greatly improved and maybe I should share my time to contribute some stuff), I stumbled upon what seems like the last CPC demo of 2006. Released on 31st of December, it definitely is. I wasn't aware of it, either because it's not submitted on Pouet or because it's nowhere else at CPC scene or Genesis8bit news sites yet. It's the X-mas demo 2006 by Hermol, probably his first demo? It features a big raster scroller behind a Santa Claus picture, a writer with greetings and cute xmas music. Nice for a start!

The Rest

Maybe I am just getting bored (the demo time is over) and so I'll finish with this article soon. Less has happened in the non-demo area (that means, games, tools, apps, hardware and just about everything else) this year than the year 2005, which was rather productive in that aspect. That's good for me because I won't have to write much and hopefully I will finish writing this article and get back to the rest of my activities, though it's not good for the CPC, nevertheless I don't care much.. (Ugh! STFU!!! KTHXBYE)

SymbOS is still alive. Well, I don't hear much about it lately, still waiting for some cool apps for it to be released, there are some discussion and secret development going around it, though I am not much aware about. Something that is not CPC news but is quite impressive, is the fact that some random dude took the source code (under permission of course) and ported it for the MSX and did that quite fast I guess. And suddenly I get those gorgeous looking screenshots of SymbOS running on MSX, displaying images, video and various apps that look quite better than CPC because of the use of 16 colors in a resolution similar to the one where the CPC uses only 4 (or the highres 512*512 with 4 colors, with a faster speed on window redrawing because of some kind of thing called the VDP graphic-co-processor of the MSX as I read somewhere!). It looks neat in screenshots and maybe when I'll manage to use an MSX emulator and learn how to run some of its stuff (I haven't even watched its demos in the emulator), I'll try to have a look at it.

What is interesting to me, is either the Symbiface II (mouse ports, IDE HD interface, more RAM and ROM and other features for extensive use with SymbOS) or the true shit, so called CPC TREX. That thing is some kind of board which is compatible with the old CPC but has additional features like a turbo mode that runs the Z80 at 24 MHz and also stuff the Symbiface has too but I don't remember them atm (I have written about all these in the previous article on the year 2005, so go read them because I am bored to repeat them here (and after all, those were released in 2005 and not the previous year)).

What is new is that the latest version of the Winape32 emulator; it now supports the Symbiface. That means I can try SymbOS from the emulator with my mouse or even let SymbOS mount on my PC HD and stream videos as it could happen on the real thing. And more stuff are included too! Finally, I can have a slight idea of how it feels like having these pieces of hardware, maybe I should order some when possible..

And yet another new thing concerning SymbOS, is the release of SymSnap, which allows you to load emulator snap files (SNA) into the real CPC and execute them. Cool even if I haven't tested it yet, but I am sure that it works :)

I have seen some screenshots of new SymbOS apps being developed. A pacman game and a word processor actually. I guess I'll spend most of my time on using the first app, even though the second one seems impressive :)

Needless to say that some great CPC tools that appeared in 2005, like CPCdiskXP or ConvimgCPC, were still updated with new versions and more features in 2006 and I DO care much about that :)

FutureOS 8 has been released. I haven't checked it much but (copying from a CPC news site), the new features are support of the Real-Time-Clock and the PS/2 Mouse of the Symbiface. (Further the system has been rewritten in some parts, to make it lighter and get place for IDE support, which will be added in System .9.) And that's to show you what a big copycat I can be (and without a shame) when I am getting bored and want to get rid of my shit ;P

Oh, Future View IV is finally released! Breaking another record, that of the biggest inteview ever. Guess who is being interviewed this time! =) (Also, don't forget to check my article on CPC demo effect ideas in the same issue!). Oh,. you have to first know how to load the FutureOS ROMs in some emulator and actually run programms from the emulator to be able to read this magazine. Just so you know. If you need any assistance let me know.. (Common, I know that you want to read my gorgeous interview now ;)

TFM btw and another guy (was it Tolkin? I don't recall well..) are also working on various other stuff, especially Gerelakos, the Zelda style RPG we are all waiting for like crazy.

And few words about CPC and the internet: New things that rock and which you definitely have to check are The CPC Wiki, The new redesigned CPC scene website (also featuring a cool oneliner and CPC relay radio!) and the website of the creators of some classic CPC games like Fruity Frank, Galaxia and other interesting stuff I didn't know before: Steve and Sean Wallis CPC games. The funny thing is that their main website features some other political or conspiracy texts on shit I like to read, like the fact that we are doomed by reptiloids disguished as famous politicians or celebrities, TEH SHIT MAN I TELL YOU!!! (Seriously now, I love to read such strange shit no matter if I believe them or not, oh and the multiverse definitelly approves it ;). Also, that guy rulez even though that has nothing to do with the CPC. Maybe a port of Naprola on SymbOS when it's out? TEH SHIT!!! (I just like the fact that several parts of the article would be easilly cut off from it if that was written for a regular magazine (not because of censorship but retardation and simply being offtopic) and I especially like the fact that this is actually not written for a regular magazine. (Hey, ed! Don't wipe my text!!! ;))

Optimus/Dirty Minds