Backstage with ASD - Navis Speaks Out!

Written by Magic of Nah-Kolor

Exclusive: Navis speaks about ASD's whereabouts, ASD's next demos, Euskal & NVscene demo parties and much more!

A new big ASD demo coming soon?

The last big demo by Andromeda Software Developement (ASD) was called Spin and was released at the Assembly 2011. After that release 'only' a somewhat smaller demo by ASD was released at the Euskal party 2012 (Mito Chondrio) and another one at Euskal 2013 (Violent Nature). It seems that ASD and Navis have reached quite a non-productive period in their big history. How does Navis look back on the last 2-3 years of his life? "The past 2-3 years of my life were years of enormous changes. My work has multiplied and so have my family commitments. I'm now involved in a quite a few projects in computer graphics, imaging and intelligence and a lot of my time and effort goes into them", Navis explains and continues: "Having said that, I still believe that you can always make time for things you love. I also don't have a computer any more at home! Not a single one (except a few laptops, iphones and an attic full of old hardware). This has brought some much needed family peace into my life. My computer desk has now been replaced by an upright piano."

Reading back what Navis just explained about how busy his life has become Hugi wondered what ASD stands for in 2014 and onwards. Is a big ASD demo project like LifeForce, Rupture, Animal Attraction or Happiness is around the Bend something that belongs to the past now? Has ASD passed its expiration date? We confronted Navis with all these questions. Navis: "I was planning a bigger demo for 2014 but, for reasons beyond my control, I keep postponing it! I have finished about 40 seconds of that demo, and I am looking forward to continuing. I also have a couple of ideas, one of which I should make into a demo for my traditional visit to Euskal. I miss making demos the way I used to, but there is nothing really stopping me from doing it again in the future. Neither me nor my friends at ASD are done with small or big demos; it is just that we are also lucky to be able to use our creativity for actual paid work. Work has become hobby and vice-versa. I do miss some of the esoteric things about making a large demo: the freedom, the quiet hours of the morning, the satisfaction of progressing a few seconds every day, the discovery of new effects, thinking of the party and the after-party. But there are other things that I also find very stressful: not knowing what you're doing, experiments that fail, the drop of temperature when it is 3am and the central heating has shut down. Or repeating yourself, and in our case it is quite easy (and tempting!). Getting older, I find it harder to commit to much larger (and, up to an extend, pointless) projects but this might just be the state of mind I'm in at the very moment. Maybe it will come back, maybe not. Regardless, I'm happy where I am at the moment; life is good."

Regarding the demoscene, it's perhaps a good idea to let Navis shine his light on how he looks back on the last 2-3 years of demoscene productions. Were there any demos that made a big impression on Navis? What release(s) perhaps motivated Navis to work harder and push new boundries on ASD productions? Or perhaps Navis thinks that the demoscene is in decay?

Navis comments: "Well, no release has motivated me to work harder because I haven't been working hard at all! I don't feel obliged to 'answer' to other groups, and the boundaries I want to push are definitely not in order to compete better with others. To answer your first question, these days I look forward to watching new Fairlight PC productions and those amazing new 'second generation' raymarching 4ks. I watch everything that comes out (on all platforms) and I visit the website Pouet every single day. Is the demoscene in decay? I cannot tell because I haven't been to Breakpoint for some years now. (It's called Revision since 2011 -ed) I think that only there you can get a feeling of how well things are going. But does it matter? As long as there are computers there will be people writing crazy stuff for them. And that's good enough for me. I've been watching this space for 22 years now, and it is a fascinating culture with ups and downs. OK, it is not 1995 or 2002, but who knows what the future may bring? I remain positive."

Euskal and NVscene

Navis seems to be a regular visitor of the Euskal party (next to his many visits to Assembly). What makes Euskal so special for Navis to return to it almost every year? We asked Navis and he answered: "Off the top of my head: It is very easy to get to it. An easy flight, next to airport. It is also easy to travel while being there: great metro system, buses to airport running all day/night. Also, the summer in Spain! Visit the beach! The food! And, finally, a few friends that I see there year after year. It's all very unassuming and has its moments... unknown amongst unknowns. You may have guessed that I see this party as a place to have holidays 'far from the madding crowd'. I may get tired of it eventually, but I count my years by visits to this place. I miss the other parties too, but I can only get there with a big demo. At Euskal, nobody expects anything, so less stress and less sleepless nights the weeks before the event."

Since there will also be an Euskal party in 2014, we wondered whether Navis is planning to go there as well. Does Navis already have something in mind to deliver there at the demo compo? "Yes I'm planning and yes I have something in mind (quite a fun idea). This time it will run on plain vanilla opengl as last time we had a hellish time to make this work on the compo machine!!" Navis explains but quickly adds: "But if you don't see me at Euskal then that doesn't mean I don't love you any more! I may have ran out of time or it may be that it clashes with my summer holidays."

As mentioned earlier in this aricle the ASD demos Mito Chondrio and Violent Nature were released at Euskal 2012 and 2013 respectively. What was the idea/concept behind these two demos? We asked Navis if he could tell something about this. And he told us an interesting story: "Both demos are about something personal that I haven't publicized and which has to do with health. Mito Chondrio and Violent Nature follow a simple pattern of attack and mutation. Mito is, maybe, about chemicals, drugs that attack a mutation, maybe cancer, maybe something else. Violent Nature is either on microscopic (molecules, protozoa) or macroscopic (planet size abstract structures). I changed my mind many times on whether it would be black on white or white on black (it took weeks to decide). Black on white background would definitely be microscopic. But as it is now, the scale of things remains unknown. The pattern that I described makes it easy to work on progression, in the same way it is easy to make a demo like Rupture: just follow an avatar through 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 'levels' of a game. I enjoyed making Violent Nature much more than Mito. Once the idea was formed, it was a straightforward process of putting together the tech, the music (thanks ps!) and colors. But with Mito, it was a more traditional demo, of the kind of demos I think I'm done with (or am I?)."

The weekend before this article was made, NVscene 2014 had been held. Wasn't it tempting for ASD to deliver a demo again just like in 2008? And what did Navis think of the NVscene 2014 PC/Android democompo and its releases? "I wasn't really tempted to go to NVscene again, although I think I was asked to consider it. Doing it once was an amazing experience but I believe it is time for others to take the stage and talk about making demos or whatever they fancy. I also didn't have much time outside work and family", Navis explains and continues: "I watched the compo, and I thought it was adequate - even enjoyable. The original Nvscene had, overall, more interesting productions - remember Stargazer? Into the pink? And that amazing 4k 'Texas' by Keyboarders? I quite enjoyed Fairlight's demo for Android. Some nice ideas there, and, as always, top notch technology. All in all I hope that the newcomers had a good time in San Jose and NVidia repeats the show - maybe in another 6 years! I might give it a go once again."


Earlier we talked with Navis about what perhaps could be the next big ASD demo of which approx. 40 seconds are finished. How will ASD renew and re-invent itself for this demo? Happiness is around the bend had a look and feel as Lifeforce. The (many) special effects from ASD demos like Dreamchild, Planet Risk and Iconoclast are somehow different. What can Navis tell you, our readers, about the new big ASD demo to be released in the future? Navis: "I cannot say how or if we will (or need to) re-invent anything. But let's say that I'm not the biggest fan of large ASD demos myself. If somebody asks me 'show me what you do' I will show Rupture, or Violent Nature or Metamorphosis (which, by the way, is by far our best demo in my opinion - probably the only time everything just works without any need to explain or add/remove anything). I have had this opinion for many years now (past Lifeforce) and it will only get 'worse' for some of our traditional fans, or 'better' for some others. No matter what we do, it will have some reason to exist. I can't do

any more demos just for showing effects and polycounts ala Iconoclast. I have some new toys to play with and although I think we have the technology and quite possibly we could do a better 'Lifeforce' or a better 'Happiness', I just don't see the point any more. Life moves on, Art moves on, the demoscene has moved on."

Hugi wants to thank Navis for his time and patience on this article. When we wanted to start with it Navis was in Israel. And when he got back real life sometimes was so busy the article was on hold for some time. To conclude Hugi was curious about what Navis could tell about ASD in the last few years but also future wise which hasn't been told yet. Perhap's some anecdotes spring to mind? Does Navis have some future goals or plans to share? And what about about the whereabouts of the other active ASD members? We virtually gave Navis the keyboard entirely for himself. "I don't want to make plans for the future because I feel really bad when I promise something and do not deliver it. Even with the advent of new platforms (Unity/Android) and ways to view/interact with the hardware (Oculus Rift) I still much prefer the traditional non-interactive 2D PC demo platform and I will definitely not move away from it. I just don't care enough for anything else, this platform gives me enough freedom and tools to make me feel free to do what I want to do", Navis explains and concludes: "ASD: all happy, still in very many different countries. These days we're split between UK, Greece and Holland with 3 members now living back in Athens - quite convenient! I'm still the only dad and full time husband but I hope Amusic does something soon to pass his excellent composing genes to the next generations."

ASD Euskal Demo Update!

A few days before the release of this new issue Hugi talked to Navis again. Exclusively for you, our readers, we present a screenshot of a new forthcoming demo by ASD. We learned it's from the demo Navis plans to release at the Euskal 2014 party. But why didn't Navis send a screenshot of the earlier mentioned 'big' ASD demo? "There is no screenshot for the bigger demo as 1) I have lost the sources, or actually I decided to delete it and write it again, and 2) it is in my head, so..." Navis explains and continues: "I never look back, only forward. I'm indifferent to past projects, what's done is done." With that cleared up, what will be the butterfly effect this time around in the new demo? We write this because the screenshot features a butterfly among other things. The screenshot will follow now with a short description by Navis.

"This is a screenshot from our demo for Euskal. It's a screenshot of the demo running. My hand is drawing it. It's weird but looks good and is fun. What is being drawn is a mystery waiting for Euskal ;)"

We hope you get hungry even more now and hope you enjoy the full demo soon. Euskal is held from the 24th till the 27th of July 2014.

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