Back to the scene: Censor Design

Written by Magic of Nah-Kolor

How Censor Design made a colorful return to the good old Commodore 64!

The road to Censor Design's existence

In 2012 Censor Design reappeared on the Commodore 64. In the period of 1989-1994 this group was very active, especially with their Wonderland demos. But also one of Censor's last Commodore 64 demos called Spasmolytic, 2nd place at The Party 1993, was a really good demo. There was a rather small Commodore 64 demo at The Party 1994 called blabla but that was the last breath of air back in the days. Today Hugi got involved in a friendly talk with Bob and Magnar of Censor Design. Since Bob was also part of Censor back in the 90's we asked him if he could tell us something about the past of Censor Design. Before the comeback in 2012. Who, how and when was Censor Design founded? What is the story that led to the creation of the group Censor Design?

"The core team of Censor has a long story back how the whole tree of madness was built up, I met Psycho, Sensei and Taito at a computer fair back in 1986 if I remember the year correctly and started to talk with them and hang around with them, back then they were in the group Paragon. Half of Censor Design originates from Paragon and the other half, Contring, Euzkera and Swallow, were my neighbours. The road was not straight forward, all of us came from different small groups and friendships with local cpu kids, back in the days computers was something super hot, and the Commodore 64 started slowly to emerge as the choice of computer to have, all others started more or less to get into the shadows", Bob explains and continues: "We started the journey as a local group called the Yankees, but not to be mixed up with the French demo group, we had nothing in common. Our first group which we joined if I remember it correctly was the Agile with Elric as the leader of the group. But in Agile there were several big names like Karl XII, Leader, Syncro,... and more... We were quite active and started to produce demos which with time became better and better, I met Goblin there and after Agile got into a lot of problems with the authorities (known as the VISA card scandal), when several members got involved in this, it became big news in Sweden back then.

Goblin and I got along very well and became best of pals. So it was natural to create a group together and Goblin came up with the group name Light, and several more joined in. Now I know there was a controversy here who created it but as far as I can recall me and Goblin were planning ahead in the background before people could join in. Both of us where still in Agile before we made this step (a big chunk of the Censor team was in Light for example Adrian, Dragon, Contring, Dr.Cool, Euzkera, Psycho, Swallow and Shark) and then our friendship started to shake a little. This led to several members joining Triad but not all of the Censor gang. It was after a Triad meeting which most of us where invited to attend in Bålsta, where also Goblin lived. He wasn't so happy about this and basically got hurt by this, but we also did get an offer to join Triad. I tried to talk over Goblin to join Triad but he refused, and rest of the Censor gang joined Triad. Goblin said we were kicked out and I say we left, depends who you ask :) The problem was that Light back then consisted of us, mainly the Censor gang, unfortunate as this was that was a huge blow for Goblin, but he stood firm and rebuilt the team and managed well - big respects for that, it wasn't my intention to hurt him by that but more and more of the core Censor gang wanted to join in Triad and so did I, we believed in it strongly to be the best choice to do so.

In Triad we met Guran, he was the eldest and had a car! ;) We were still in the age of 16-18-year-old back then with no driving licence, how cool was that! He came and visited us in Stockholm or Södertälje quite often almost every week, and he took us also to his place in Arboga. The real parties begun here!!! We did partying before, but this was the sparking fire.... ;) This is where the magic started with GURAN ;) We had so much fun together so we became a group inside Triad, we started to recruit our old friends from Paragon such as CRT, Sensei, Taito etc. We made demos, cracked, imported, first releases, everything started to go by itself. Poor Jerry didn't any clues what was going on, we didn't care to report. Triad was ours ;) We were the dominant force with in the group. Of course this led to an inevitable conflict with Jerry, I made a co-op with Virgin back then and they released stuff with our name, that was the final straw for Jerry, poor guy, he had to kick me out to prove his point. I fully understand this with today's social behavior, but back then, hehe, we were the power not, Jerry. I don't think he could in his wildest imagination believe that whole Censor Core from one day to another just left and created CENSOR DESIGN!! What a blow, even he trusted Guran..... So this is how Censor Design was born. After that to show Jerry who was in power ;) I took some of the best members that were nurtured from Triad. Eg: Codex, Slaygon & Squelch and Daw. There were even more. Now we where entirely free to do what we wanted and how we wanted with first releases and demos and attending and behaving at parties with no limits... and the rest is history ;)"

Censor Design: coming back in 2012

Knowing the stories that led to founding Censor Design some 25 years ago it's time to focus on the re-birth back in 2012. What process brought Censor Design to get back again actively to the scene in 2012? Bob tells us: "A collegue of mine back then in 2009, I believe now known as Ekoli/Censor, a PC Demo coder specialized in 64kb intros, back then he was following the scene and was very interested, and was the one that showed me Edge of Disgrace on a mobile phone (Youtube stream) once we were out for a beer or dinner. That was like a alarm bell ;) That the Commodore 64 scene was still active, that was my first AHA vision. But also that many people kept the references for the Commodore 64 music as ringtones on their mobiles kept reminding me about the Commodore 64. Morpheus was arranging the back in time in Stockholm, also Sailor archiving my disks, and came across some interesting stuff, Slaygon with his slayradio and the genuine friendship we had in the group, we kept the contact over the years and occasionally took a lunch here and there and our paths crossed again drinking a beer or over dinner...

Some of us showed up on these scene beer meetings. We were around but not actively so to speak. However me and CRT worked together on an assignment and we had during these years tried to do app games. And many times the questions came, can we do anything on a computer? Sadly the discussions ended there as well. During this assignment we tried to organize ourselves with smaller Iphone game projects or other cool stuff, but the spark never really ignited. CRT started to study the Commodore 64 scene more and more... And was watching a lot of demos and was mesmerized by them and a new spark ignited. He said shouldn't we kickstart Censor Design like in the good old days... CRT was on fire ;) I wasn't really all into it in the beginning but we met up with Sensei and Nim on a lunch in Kista (Swedish version of Silicon Valley). This was in beginning of May 2012, when Sensei registered the site and Nim started to do a webpage for it. This was really the start to the whole process.

I was still into my own projects for game developement but nothing special, I would be also leaving on a 2-month holiday and wasn't really interested to dig myself too deep into this yet. I was half-heartedly into it, have seen the sparks before to fade away. CRT was researching the tool chains that existed today for the Commodore 64 but was quite disappointed but noticed quite fast that most things were not properly made, via Java, .NET etc. Compatibility issues platform issues etc. etc. It just didn't fit our needs. CRT decided to make the whole tool chain from scratch and properly in C, he did a working cross assembler with in days to come was very impressive. Even I helped out to test it. We also recruited CRT's IRC buddy because he had a genuine c64 interest and showed that he can code for sure... Before I knew it Lavazza was making several examples which started to amaze me... It seemed after all this spark started to take fire! I started to do an extensive research on the demo scene in May and during my holiday watching YouTube. I even started to experiment with old timing trickery that became the chain zoomer with breakdance girl in Wonderland XI. Believe me by then I needed to relearn everything. But CRT was quick to set up a SVN server website and even a IRC server to communicate with each other due vast distances. CRT for example lived in Montreal, Canada. And most of us in Stockholm area, but the whole point was to make it geographically independent. June came and so did my 2 months of holiday, I wasn't back until the August, now... remember we released Wonderland XI at the X 2012 party only three month later. (About 3 months of work.) During that time a proper demo on our web page was set up, cross asm included a lot of nice custom features that were well needed, new definer tools and libraries were made, I mean CRT worked all summer on these things, Nim even took his holiday and went to visit CRT in Montreal Canada to work on the web site and paint graphics and Lavazza had several working prototypes of demo parts, unfortunately Sensei never returned from his holiday still. The spark has not just fired up, it was a massive fire by now, then I realized ok this is it time to go ALL IN! From August we decided X-2012 was a go... I would like to give CRT the credits for starting up Censor Design, I mean he did every thing and still does the demo parts, he even links the demo, hacked and did the whole our infrastructure, architecture, all the background work to have a proper team set up, he is an expert in that field. I always used to tell him that he plows the road ahead for others to use. But with that nothing could stop us now ;) It was an exciting thrilling period road to X-2012.

Also Magnar of Censor Design gives a look back on that period on 2012 when Censor Design was about to return and how Magnar joined the Censor Design gang! "It all started with great beer meetings I had regular with Pantaloon in Stockholm downtown city. After composing a few SID tracks for Fairlight's C64 demos 'We are New', 'Lash' and 'We are Mature' Pantaloon gave me a head-ups that Fairlight would do a big co-op demo with Office&Prosonix for the forthcoming X2012 party. So I said to Pantaloon that I would really like to also come partying at X2012 – but only if he found me another demo to make music to. That was more or less a joke on my apart, but he got going and talking about this 'Bob' guy and ended each sentence with that Bob dude had all these great effects and you should really meet him", Magnar explains and continues: "So after many more beers, I thought, why not? Maybe this will be my ticket to actually release something at X2012 without having to code myself? So next time I came to Stockholm I got Pantaloon to invite Bob for some serious demo talk. And seriously it became! Bob came with his Iphone loaded with short movie-teasers of his effects, and they looked stunningly nice for being in early beta stages! All Censor Design needed was an musician, he said – and then the deal was settled. That was on 19th of September 2012, with only one month to go before X2012. After that, I was given access to the SVN repository and more or less 24/7 constant IRC chatting in order to get Wonderland XI ready for the X2012 demo competition. So yes; I had no excuse and went to The Netherlands – Had a great time at X2012, even a better time before and after."

After X2012 Censor Design released Legacy (at the World of Commodore 2012), What is the matrix (3th at Datastorm 2013), Sidelined (1st at Gubbdata 2013) and Daah, those acid pills! (a intro for the demo of the year competition which they won) All this before the real work began on Wonderland XII.

Censor Design and the Thrilla in Helsingborg

In 2010 another group made a re-appearence on the scene: Offence & Prosonix! Which in 2012 became one of the biggest competitors of Censor Design for sure! Especially when Offence teamed up with Fairlight. What does Bob think of the Fairlight, Offence & Prosnix collective? Bob: "Offence is a fantastic team with an amazing ability to do a giant production in no time at all. They are highly creative which I admire them for, they always surprise the scene with new ideas, they don't follow other sceners' dogma of amount of plots, vector this or vector that fpp fx etc... noo... They do their own style entirely and that is their greatness. They give the scene a greater variety, which is well needed. They always are a top contender and fights to win. In the graphics department PAL is one of the top artists in the scene and musicwise they have several top musicians there. And ofcourse code with new thinking & creativity fx, they got their own style. One of the toughest teams to beat ;)"

Censor Design with Bob in front challenged Fairlight, Offence & Prosonix for a battle at the main event, the Commodore 64 demo competition at the Baroque Floppy People 2013 party (BFP). BFP was known for the Thrilla of Helsingborg. Hugi asked Bob and Magnar about the highly competitive period which led to a democompo with two of the best demos on the commodore 64 ever. Bob tells us: "After being beaten twice by Offence we needed to challenge them for a proper revenge bout ;) Nobody beats Censor Design without a huge fight ;) Hence the thrilla in Helsingborg. So historically speaking it stands 2-2 between Offence & Censor, except for that we have the plus statistics on all other groups we ever competed against ;) Hmm maybee we might have an un plocked chicken from Samsö 1992 on the otherhand we got the prise money so I consider that as even a greater victory hehe ;)" While Magnar explains: "The thrilla at Baroque Floppy People was a really fun experience. Pal and Yazoo started taunting on csdb with some funny art and comments, and in the end all of both Censor and Offence has worked up to deliver some major demo releases and fight for the first spot in the demo compo. It was a real sweet victory for Censor Design to finally win over the huge team of Offence+Fairlight and beat them square and fair with Wonderland XII." At the end of 2013, PAL of Offence announced the real Thrilla will be at X2014. What will Censor do to win again from Offence and other groups at X2014? Only time will tell ;-)

Oxyron and Datastorm

The next article in this issue of Hugi is about the making of Wonderland XII. But one of the coders of this demo is actually Axis of Oxyron. Oxyron won X2012 with the very great demo called Coma Light 13. How is it possible that Axis is also active in Censor Design? Is there room for such a great coder to be in two of such great groups? Bob comments: "In December one weekend night I got an e-mail from Yazoo and Axis... That they wanted to join Censor Design... I could see that they were drunk as hell and propably were joking around, so I thought it was a prank. But in the end we maintained a discussion and it turned out that was their honest intention to join Censor, well you don't say no to that and besides for them being experts in their fields, they are also wonderful persons. Event though they just won with Comalight #13 and Oxyron stood at the top in the scene. They still remained as members for both Oxyron and Arsenic, this seem to be more and more common in the scene nowadays and we accepted it. The scene is more about friendship than enemies fighting against each other (ehm, generally speaking ;)). This could be seen a way for the scene to be more active, where resources could easily allocate to different projects in case one of the group is inactive for a while. Not being dependent on others if one is only active in the team. It might be a self regulating scene survival mechanism I believe (which results in getting more active in the scene!) Comalight 13 is one of the best demos ever made, no doubt about that, and that could also be a down time for a team after producing something for such a long time and finally it's done and reached #1.."

Datastorm 2014 gave birth to a new huge demo by Offence, Fairlight and Prosonix called "We are all connected". It won the Commodore 64 demo competition. The Serpent demo by Censor Design only placed 5th. How did Bob experience Datastorm 2014? Did Offence&FLT meet their expectations with their winning demo? And what can Bob tell about The Serpent demo? Not exactly the impact Wonderland XII had, no? Bob: "Fairlight, Offence and Prosonix simply kicked major ass ;) About The Serpent demo. It is a very advanced demo but had some minor issues with the flow of the demo, we will most likely fix Serpent as we would liked to have it ;) a redux version ;) there are some missing parts like samples... but still missing and polishing. We were too stressed out and a simple mistake cased some issues for us. we had more to give."

Also Magnar has a sharp opinion about Censor Design's The Serpent demo. "The Serpent demo was never supposed to be as big as it became. Bob really drove that demo forward and included more and more effects to it. However, that also gave us time issues in order to complete the parts and link them together. The demo was made finished during the party and last minute mistakes were doom to happen. So the demo crashed on the big screen when it reached side 2, and that was a really-really hit in the face", Magnar explains and continues: "Since it was rushed, we even discussed to finalize it as a new release after the party. Because we was not happy with the result of it. But then again, done is done - eaten is eaten. Time to move on. X2014 is coming faster than ever!"

Censor Design and the road ahead

And this is where Hugi gives a firm handshake to Magnar and Bob. It's summer 2014, about 2 years ago when it all started to spark for Censor Design. The X party is held again in Oktober 2014 in The Netherlands. Will there be new sparks which light a process towards a new momentum for Censor Design at the X 2014 party? If yes, would this be in the way of Wonderland XIII? Would Censor Design even win? We asked Magnar and Bob to give a small look into these matters and we wish the whole Censor Design crew good luck with all productions yet to come! Magnar: "We are trying to code new things and make something together for X2014. If it will be as big as Wonderland XII, time will show. It's a long summer holiday in between and family also demands attention. After that, it is just some weeks left. We are time optimistics, and that might be our downfall again, as on The Serpent. In that case, we will most likely just release a smaller demo this time rather than a big one. But if things goes easy, we will have a major demo ready." While Bob ends this article in a modest way: "We well see what will happen, X is X ;)"

Links related to this article

Censor Design website
Censor Design Facebook page
Censor Design csdb page
Censor Design - Spasmolytic (1993)
Censor Design - Wonderland X (1993)

Censor Design - Wonderland XI (2012)
Censor Design - What is the Matrix (2013)
Censor Design - Daah, those acid pills! (2013)
Censor Design - Wonderland XII (2013)
Censor Design - The Serpent (2014)