Wasted Years


All events portrayed in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to real scenarios are purely coincidental. Antibyte, Fishwave, Lazur and Made appear courtesy of Scoopex and Bomb tm.

Jason settled in front of his Amiga, a half consumed glass of Coke beside him and an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts. Wondering what he should do with his time he clicked the Protracker icon and sat back as it loaded. His darkened room, influenced by the monitor screen, flickered as his favourite and most utilized program emerged before him. A few minutes passed as Jason gulped down the rest of his drink and sat pondering his next move. 'Maybe my old mods will inspire me', he thought to himself as he opened his module drawer. A range of music he had composed from 1990 to 1997 filled the screen. Over 200 files varying from chip tunes, funky guitar renditions and his more recent techno and jungle attempts.

From all of his years in the scene composing, only 3 of these modules had ever been used or released. One of which was wasted in an unknown and un-rated Amos diskmagazine by a friend of his, another was among a line of chip music for a 40k chip pack and he released his favourite module into a party competition the previous year, reaching a lousy 27th of 60 places. As always the audience voted for the biggest name in the competition despite the fact that this module consisted of a few looping samples played in backing to an over paced drum riff. His group had promised him a starring role in a music demo as soon as they found an active coder willing to join the group, but 4 years after this promise had been made he was still waiting. His group also had plans for a diskmagazine, a demo and many other wonderful projects, but nothing ever materialised from this redundant hype. Jason had considered leaving the group hoping to find an active team that would make use of his efforts, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. The members of the group he had been a part of since joining the scene were by now considered his best friends and to turn his back on them for recognition and fame would be low. Instead he decided to prolong his membership until they got off the ground.

Jason watched, analysing every pitch and pace of his newest, in progress module. He was happy with it, but couldn't be bothered finishing it. He couldn't see the purpose. It wouldn't get used and would only be heard by his group mates. All of his most recent modules lay incomplete, the result of a sudden burst of inspiration that lasted all of an hour or so before the task became tedious. Jason loaded another module, the most popular amongst his group mates. As the module began to play he reached over for his cigarettes, slid one out of the packet and slipped it into his mouth. He flicked his lighter and ignited the cigarette, inhaling a deep puff of smoke before reclining back into his chair. Jason could be amongst the 20 best musicians in the scene and he knew it, but how could he secure votes if no one could witness his talent. 'Damn it!' he whispered to his empty room and decided it was time he spread some of his modules and got a second opinion. The suspicion that his group mates were praising him for friendship reasons had always teased his ego. He reset his computer and logged onto the internet. On entering IRC he received no greets from fellow Amiga sceners and sat dormant while watching sentences roll up his AmIRC window. Finally he drew forth the courage to type on the channel:

>Does anyone want to hear my modules?

The channel activity continued oblivious or perhaps ignorant to his question. He opened YAM to check for any email. Every day and every few hours of a weekend he hoped to find an email announcing pleasing news of a new coder or even that his group had died. At least if they were declared dead he could move on without offending any of his friends. When his new mail downloaded he felt a flux of excitement race through his body. A mail from his group leader with the heading "Good News!!!". He began reading the mail:

Hi Jason,

Good news mate, we have got a new coder! He codes in Blitz Basic, but he has offered to code the music demo for you! I showed him your modules and he wanted to join straight away. He thinks you are a god! hehe.

Can you make about 3 more tunes and we can get him to code the music disk for you. I can ask Ian to make the gfx for you if you want?

CU l8r..


-----------Friendship Rools!--------------

Jason punched the air in a spasm of excitement. At last it looked like he was going to make a name for himself. So what if it will be made in Blitz Basic, it's better than nothing at all. Jason switched to his IRC window where he noticed someone had requested him to send one of his modules. Realising he should keep his best modules for the music demo he decided to send one of his older ones. He began the DCC send and sat back watching everybody talking amongst themselves. When the DCC had finished he asked the guy what he thought. To which he replied:

'Wow! You are an excellent musician! What group are you in?'

Jason, thrilled to be the subject of a compliment from a complete stranger, leaned forward over the keys and began telling him about his group and the plans they have. He finished typing and the stranger replied with a rather flattering offer:

'Have you thought about joining a more known and more active group? We could really use your music and we are always releasing quality demos and intros. Your talent is being wasted.'

Just then the stranger changed his handle from Ant/Away to Antibyte and Jason realised who he was talking to.

'Are you Antibyte of Scoopex??', he asked.

He felt a rush of pride wash over him. He had been praised by one of the best coders around and been offered a position in the oldest and one of the most popular groups in the scene.

'Yep, that's me. I'm working on my new intro for the Party 7. Scx will release a demo and Made has asked us to release his new slideshow too, probably as a Scx and Bomb Co-production. And of course Seenpoint is a Scoopex release now too. We could use your music. So.. want to join?'

Scenario 1:

An offer of joining Scoopex? It was his ambition to become a member of a well known group, but joining Scoopex exceeded all of his scene desires. Jason thought about it.

'Well, the worst thing that could happen is that they never use my modules, but that's exactly the same predicament I'm in right now. At least if I joined I would have Scoopex to my name and plenty of own group releases to spread.' Jason summed up the offer logically, taking into consideration the pros and cons of each situation.

'What about my friends? The music disk could be great too, but I can't trust that it would actually get finished this time. I'm sure they would understand, that's why we are in the scene, to progress. If they can't accept my decision and don't want me to go anywhere in the scene, they're not as friendly as I thought they were.'

His decision was made. He replied to Antibyte with positive enthusiasm:

'Are you serious about me joining Scx? I am very interested if you would accept me.'

Antibyte answered back within seconds:

'Sure I am, can you send me some more of your modules? I have to discuss it with the other members, but if all your modules are this good you're in. :)'

Jason immediately jumped into action, piling the DCC send window with his modules. The module Antibyte had originally heard was quite old and certainly not his best work so the chances of these modules impressing him were really promising.

Once the modules had finished sending Antibyte asked for Jason's email address:

'Can I have your email address so that I can contact you. I've just been listening to mod.Perfectworld and it's one of the best modules I've ever heard!'

Jason replied, thanking him for the compliments and the offer and gave him his email address. He would not inform his current group of his departure until everything was confirmed, but Jason was beaming with satisfaction realising he was only days away from joining the best of the best.

A week passed and Jason hadn't heard anything from Antibyte. He was beginning to think he dreamt the whole thing. He had made his best ever module within this week, most likely the result of his new found motivation. He was desperate to send it to his new Scoopex comrades, if they would accept him.

The weekend had arrived and Jason decided to have an optimistic look to see if he had received any email. When he logged onto the server he was delighted to see a message with the subject "Welcome into Scx". He flailed his arms around in the air and began reading the email:

Hello Jason.

Sorry for my delay in replying to you, I have been quite busy coding lately. My new intro is nearly ready, I just wanted to ask you if I could use one of your modules. I sent most of your mods to my Scx friends and they all want you in the group! I also sent them to Fishwave, main editor of Seenpoint who would like to use them in future issues.

I must go now because I still have a lot of work to do on my intro. I will send you a preview very soon. Keep up the good work.


***Generations Ahead***

Not only had Jason been accepted into the legendary Scoopex, but his modules were already being put to use. He quickly replied to Antibyte, thanking him for accepting him into the group and for putting his music to use. He attached his latest module to the email and sent it. Now it was time to inform his old group that he was leaving:

Hi John,

I'm sorry, but I have a bit of bad news. I have had an offer of joining Scoopex and decided to take them up on it. It does mean I have to leave our group, but I hope this won't affect our friendship. It's great to hear you have a new coder and if you ever need any music I'll be happy to do it, but I think it's time for me to move on.



-Friendship rules!-

Jason logged off the Internet and set about composing another module. He now felt like he was part of the scene and not just a spectator. He received a preview of Antibyte's intro a week later, which was the best he had ever seen. It even had one of his modules playing, which stimulated Jason's ego so much that he couldn't stop grinning for 15 minutes! He also received a friendly reply from his old group leader, which read:

Hi Jason,

I'm sorry to see you leave the group, but I understand your reasons. We were only meant to be a stepping stone into the scene and I assure you if I had an offer of joining Scoopex I would snap it up in a second. You are a great musician and deserve credit for your work, I'm just sorry we couldn't give you that opportunity.

Our new coder seems to be more interested in utilities than in scene releases so it would have taken him ages to code a music demo.

I must admit something to you too. I have bought a PC and sold my Amiga. It was something I wanted to do for ages, but I was just waiting for some activity from our Amiga side.

I hope we will always be friends and we can stay in touch. Good luck in Scx.


--Friendship Rools!---

This email comforted him, he had imagined the worst scenario arising when he left the group and expected to lose a lot of friends, but John even insinuated that he too felt shackled by the group and was happy to have the freedom to buy a PC and move on.

A few weeks later the intro was released at The Party 7, achieving 1st place. Scoopex had also won the demo competition with an outstanding demo featuring one of Jason's modules for the end part. Seenpoint was also released, and as promised, Jason's music was there! As the months rolled by every chart mag rated him between 5th and 8th place. In 1998 Scoopex released more issues of Seenpoint and more intros continuing to use Jason's music. Towards Summer he found himself ranked between 3rd and 5th place in the charts. His friends in Scoopex were also entering his work into music competitions where he often placed within a prize spot and even came 1st on a couple of occasions. Jason didn't want any money, he offered it to whoever entered his modules into the competition to cover their ticket expense, he just wanted the appreciation and the glory that had been due for 8 years.

Come Autumn, Scoopex could see Jason was a very popular musician and was turning out up to 5 modules per week. They decided it was time he got a music demo to his name. Antibyte contacted a few of the lesser known Scoopex coders and asked them if they could write a music selector while he coded an introduction routine. Lazur offered to create title pictures and logos and Made, who still enjoyed working with Scoopex, was asked if he would be willing to design the music selector. Once these plans were confirmed Jason was notified. He could not believe his good fortune. He was going to be taking a leading role along side the most respected names in the scene!

In a matter of 2 months the music demo was ready for release. 3mb of Jason's finest modules in addition to the fabulous code and gfx made it the single most impressive music demo of all time! It went straight to the top of the music demo charts and Jason was now alternating between 1st and 2nd place in the musician category.

Jason's scene life was going brilliantly and Antibyte even suggested a follow up to his music disk for 1999. Every time Jason entered #amigascne he was greeted by everyone active in the channel. He was being praised from all directions and was always been asked to do music for magazines and demos. He had achieved more than he ever thought possible. Jason finally ended his scene life when he was offered a contract to work for a major software house, but he was able to leave the scene knowing he had fulfilled and even surpassed his wildest ambitions and left something behind for people to remember him by.

Scenario 2:

Jason couldn't believe it. He was talking to Antibyte and being asked to join Scoopex, a dream come true. He realised he had the opportunity to be among the elite of the scene from this day, but what about the loyalty to his friends? He would have a music demo released soon and he would make a name for himself and his group once it was complete. He and his group mates had always concluded emails with the cliche "Friendship Rules!", but at this moment he was contemplating ditching that motto for the sake of fame. He couldn't compromise his morals and risk losing his friends. Jason replied to Antibyte's offer:

'I'm sorry. I would love to join, but I can't leave my group. We are really good friends and I've known them for nearly 8 years. Thanks for the offer.'

That night Jason rolled around in bed finding it difficult to sleep. When he joined the scene he had always looked up to Scoopex and admired their great releases aspiring to be accepted into a group like theirs one day. He was so disappointed with his decision, but managed to console himself with the thought of the music demo that was going to be released. He rested comfortably before finally drifting off to sleep.

The following day he sat in front of Protracker, his eyes and ears focused to their maximum potential. The announcement of their new coder and the up coming music demo had inspired him and bearing in mind Antibyte's comments he was sure the scene would be impressed by his release. By the end of the day Jason had composed a melodic masterpiece to rival the workings of Jogier and Virgill. The following day Jason did the same, another great tune to add to his collection. The whole weekend had been dedicated to his new found inspiration. At 1.30 am Monday morning he logged onto the Internet and emailed his new creations to his group mates feeling very pleased with himself.

A month had passed and Jason had made another 5 modules, each better than the last. He continued to email them to his group leader, who passed them onto the new coder. One evening Jason checked his email to find a new message with an attached file. Adrenaline began pumping through his veins. Could it be a preview of the music demo? or maybe even the complete source code? Jason speculated many possibilities as he downloaded the email.

Hi Jason,

John here. I thought I would mail you the latest preview from our new coder. It's a workbench utility that lets you search for keywords through a directory of Ascii txt files. It looks like we will have a nice little release very soon, then I'll ask him to start on the music demo.


-----------Friendship Rools!--------------

"A fucking search utility??!" Jason hissed angrily to himself careful not to let his parents hear him. He was furious! He had been told he would see a preview of his music demo last week and now it looks like the coder hadn't even started it. This had annoyed him, but he was able to wait another month until this stupid utility was finished. Maybe it would give him chance to make another module or two. He wanted everything to be perfect so he decided he would use the time updating and re-sampling his older modules giving them a 1997 face lift.

3 months passed and nobody had heard from the coder. Jason had lost his inspiration to make any more modules and spent less time with the scene. He checked his email every evening, but they were all filled with general chat without a mention of his music demo. The scene progressed around him, Scoopex had released 3 great intros and a demo, all of which won the parties they were entered into and experienced overwhelming adoration from diskmag critics. He was really beginning to regret his decision of turning down Antibyte's offer now.

1997 had reached its end and still there had been no indication of the coder being active, let alone finishing Jason's music demo. Scene music had moved on since Jason had last composed, 4 channels had become a thing of the past, even Amiga demos started to show preference to 8-32 channel modules. Perhaps Jason's music demo wouldn't be such a success in 1998 as it would have been when it was originally promised to him. The lack of motivation had lead to a lack of activity and he knew he was no longer capable of his old quality. Almost 6 months had passed since he'd last used Protracker. He'd been hanging on waiting, hoping and wishing for all of this time, but he knew by now the project was a lost cause.

Spring turned to Summer and Summer into Winter and Jason spent his computer time playing games. He didn't like to watch demos and read diskmags much these days as he felt like a complete outsider to the scene. All of his old contacts had quit and his group had gone from 20 members down to 5, all of which were inactive apart from sending email. However, the group leader simply refused to let it die. One day in the middle of February Jason retrieved an email from his group leader that really infuriated him:

Hello friends,

I have decided to sell my Amiga and buy a PC. I think the Amiga scene is dying and the only option now is to join the PC scene. But don't worry, I'm not going to close the group, I will continue to be active, send emails and keep the friendship with all members.

Keep sending me all your modules and gfx because I can still see them on my PC.



PS. We have a PC musician who is interested in joining our group!

-----------Friendship Rools!--------------

Jason felt as though he had been made a fool of. He turned down the offer of joining Scoopex and all the fame that would accompany the move so that he could help his group out and one day get them into the charts. Now the leader had turned his back on him and left the Amiga side of the group to sort themselves out. Not only this, he was still refusing to let go of the group and let the members move on. By now Jason wasn't really interested in moving onto another group, he just wanted his year's worth of modules released so that he could quit the scene having made a name for himself, to justify his efforts. Unfortunately this wasn't going to happen. There was no coder to make it happen. What bedevilled Jason even more was the postscript sentence, the fact that John was enrolling another musician despite the fact they STILL had no active coders. 'Another sucker being lead on by false promises.' Jason thought. He had considered uploading his modules to the Aminet on many occasions, but it felt so degrading. He saw so many unknown musicians without any talent uploading their half an hour efforts by the meg load and didn't want to be one of those people. He had always pictured his music playing behind some great gfx or some nice demo routines, not from Hippoplayer, Octamed or Protracker, that was the whole reason he involved himself with the demo scene!

The day came when Jason had lost all desire to be a part of the scene. He was sick of being let down by lazy people breaking their commitments and not having the decency to tell him. Email was becoming a rarity now, he was bored watching demos and he no longer composed modules. There was no point to his scene existence any longer so he concluded it was time to pack the Amiga in its box and lock it away in the attic. From this day he was no longer a scener, a musician or even a computer user, just plain old Jason Smith, another face in the street. Over 20 mb of modules and 8 years of work just locked away in his attic for no one to hear or appreciate. What could he have achieved in those wasted years?

The End.

This little tale for those who haven't guessed, is intended to highlight the problems many talented individuals face in the scene today. I'm sure this little scenario is quite familiar to many of us. Change is hard for some people and leaving behind a group of friends that you have known for many years feels wrong. However, we cannot progress in the scene unless someone will help us to realise our ambitions, and if our current groups are inactive there is no point being a member. There are many groups that require active coders, gfxers and musicians and many mags that could use articles, it's a case of everyone helping each other out. During my time in the scene I have encountered some extremely talented people, some of which could make it very high in the charts if their talent was exposed, but they remained members of inactive groups and never got that opportunity. As the Amiga scene gets smaller groups are losing their active members and the scene is dying, we need to pull together. Sooner or later our friendship crews will crumble too leaving us with the option of joining another group or quitting the scene. Instead of waiting for one's group to finish a diskmagazine why not support another, more regular magazine? Before we realise it, our motivation will be gone and we will be left with years of hard work locked away in our attic.


Ed.: Ever wondered what the Jason story was Sane praised in the Writers on Writers Amiga edition we published in Hugi 19? Now you know it. Like some of Wade's other articles, this story had been published in an Amiga mag before Wade sent it to us. We decided to re-publish it nevertheless aware of the fact that only a minority of our readers also have an Amiga themselves. The topic is also valid for the PC scene though no group is dominating here as TBL, Scoopex and Haujobb were on Amiga, since we have a larger pool of people. (Adok)