Saturday, 30 August 2008

CPC nostalgy 2

I wonder why I named my first entry cpc nostalgy and not something like CPC ribbons alike or CPC curves or new CPC code or something? So this will be number 2 but the title might not be oh well..

I will just post another screenshot here and maybe take a long time till I post another preview. It would spoil the thrill of the demo if I was about posting preview shots all the time.

This one is my attempt to try something like antialiasing (or WU pixels Mode 0 where only DY counts for one up and one down pixel, but DX takes no part in the filter). It looks ugly at some places but I still wouldn't think I would make something like antialiasing so easilly on the CPC. It's just the fractional part of Y and some look up table (or not even that but you get the example). Oh,. and forget the bad thing with the lines stopping after some X in some parts. It's not a bug, just some rendering going looping and out of vram but not checking..

Maybe oneday I will leave CPC and also try making that OpenGL framework I was talking about. Mmm,. I wish I could make both at the same time :P

NV scene releases

I thought it was time for me to buy a new PC. Most demos wouldn't even start in my old Radeon 9600 these days or being too slow to enjoy. The timing was good but useless, since I learned too late that there was something called demobox. I am wondering now, would it motivate me so much that I would have made a new accelerated demo or 4k that wouldn't suck so much? Or would I just take the demobox and say goodbye? I don't know about me, but it really worked in a way for the rest of the scene. This year we had an assembly party empty of demos and all effort went into nvscene. 15 demos and 19 4ks, where several of them are quite decent is quite good for the american scene. Even amateur sceners who got a demobox evolved. Some are skeptical though about such a motive, how it presses you to finish the damn demo because you have to and how fun it isn't. And I don't think it will ever become a trend in the scene.

Normally this post would use half of it's text for praising Andromeda. Well, it wasn't just Andromeda but Orb and gloom too. But it was the Andromeda kind of demos since their first attempt on PC done much better and more impressively this time. What can I say? You know, there are most demos today which have 1-2 (if real) effects, several 3d scenes with tons of alpha images and noise to cover something that doesn't look as nice when naked. Ok, andromeda demos also use some noise effects and blending but only in the appropriate places and the effect/scene alone looks great and is the highlight of each part. I am not sure how to describe it. It's like the old style brought up into the new tech. When other good demos have plenty of 3d scene and the effect of the demo in the last parts, this one has at least three effects that stand on it's own, and also the music, sync and presentation is simply perfect! Awesomeness in everything!!! I was really wondering what they will bring after Noumenon and I think that Stargazer fulfilled my expectations were.

So, after this (over?)praise of the 1st place at the demo compo, let's move to the rest. I will try to be shorter here so that this post will not get 40 pages long. I am thinking about the half 3rd position right now. The ASD demo. It's like a sequel of Metamorphosis but maybe better or bigger. It doesn't have that gloomy or melancholic feeling of the first, the music is kind different, maybe happier, maybe weird with some silly greek lyrics that,. I am not sure but I laugh everytime I reach the part where the lyrics start. I will watch this demo few more times again. The other half 3rd place was the XPLSV demo. For some reasons I really like the colors even though they are too bright or too coder's. I don't care, I like them and the style is pure demostyle with some nice blob and other effects (I have to see it again to remember which were them :) and energetic music. I like this demo. More demos similar to this style at NV scene were proton by science & black maiden, maybe but not exactly Ersatz by Limp Ninja (I adore the 3d blobs effect) and maybe also visage by Nah Kolor. Other nice classic demos you should watch are rarefaction by Youth Uprising, life on air by SystemK (a japanishe group that improves), echoes by Anadune and yin by Brainstorm. I think most of the demos had something to show.

And the demos I have forgotten to talk about are the 2nd place by Plastik which has impressive visuals as usual (ahh,. that bugs are creepy :P), is simply state of the art, but for me it fails to give me what Stargazer and few others in the compo do. But I still adore it and it will make a nice benchmark on my friend's PC. Binary alchemy by northern dragons (5th place) has a nice pencil cross hatch rendering (long time since I have seen a demo based on some artistic rendering) but it's getting a bit boring after a while. Still I like that they try to experiment with something. And moove! by fresh!mindworkz was a nice attempt (with some original ideas for effects) to bring state of the art style demos back on PC, although the soundtrack and movement is not energetic as in the old Amiga demos of this kind. More red bull is missing in this one but I adore the idea and I would still watch it (for the girl? :). I am also happy to see Extrait's best effort at demomaking although some ugly 3d scenes and the too annoying camera movements ruined most of the experience. And the guideline demo was a funny joke. As if they have chosen the colors intentionally. And yes, I have forgotten to check on the music box :P

I will write less about the 4ks here. Because it's kinda lame linking every demo up there and I can't manage doing the same for the 4ks. Just have a look at the pouet page with results and link for each of them. The 1st place was really great at the video. It was dark, atmospheric, into your face. It needs Vista and steals some sounds from it they say. I purely enjoyed The TBC intro again with it's great music and visuals and Photo race 2 is an interesting experiment at raytracing with the GPU (it even has caustics!) even though the framerate jumps at times. From the rest I really liked Kybernetic by Still effectwise and I am happy to see Lord Graga from the GBA making his first attempt at 4k coding on PC (although this one ate up all memory on the PC at some netcafe and forced me to reboot :P). Astra has stars (even though they should be glowing or something), statics was nice, eco was nice, solitude was nice, ok,. you get the point, everything was nice, not spectacular but nice. Spectacular were the 1st, 2nd and maybe 3rd position. Ok, maybe not everything was nice, maybe I am exagerating (I am the guy who has one of the highest thumbs up percentage on Pouet, shame to me for not being objective and just happily praise everything that makes me happier in the demoworld :P) but what the fuck. Surely it was a great compo!

And yet again, Stargazer. You know, now that my PC doesn't run most demos I resort to videos. I download and watch the video once and then delete it. I never keep videos of demos because it doesn't make sense. But with stargazer it was the first time I wanted to download the video and keep it in my HD at least till I buy a new PC that can run this baby. Andromeda saved the scene for another time and this is not senseless praising or because of the name, I really felt like that again after watching this demo for the nth time. Maybe taste (because I am surprised to see anyone thumbing this down at Pouet) but that's it. I adore this group!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Urban Brawl (aka Action Doom 2)

I wasn't even expecting this! Long time ago, a massive work of art that turned Doom into a classic action game was released. It was heavily inspired by Metal Slug and Contra and there were a lot of great surprises here and there. Even different paths to follow in the game, secret weapons and funny easter eggs and graphical reference to movies/games or anything. The ammount of graphics and scripting should be hellish and everything was very well presented. This wasn't doom, this was action doom! :)

Suddenly, I get informed that something new is out. I never expected of a sequel. When you do such a work on the first one, you usually retire from the scene or something. Very very happily I downloaded the demo (which even doesn't need the original doom wad) and ran it on my computer. It was different than expected, this time not an action game, but a beat'em up with a cartoonish look, some cutscenes and voice acting that reminds me of Max Payne and being inspired from various beat'em ups, mostly the punisher, maybe Streets of Rage and Final Fight too. What I liked in this sequel (or prequel, since it's taking place several years before the timeline of the first) in comparison with the original, is that it's not extremely hard. It's playable, fun, easier and smaller (except if you buy the full game). And there are still a lot of surprises there! I think I am having much more fun with this one than the first.

As you start in your room, fires ablaze around the building. You can grab a pistol from the drawer, a bottle of jack daniel's (which you need to drink first before using it as a weapon) or a fire exstinguisher (and hell knows how many more secrets I have missed ;). You go out in the city and various ugly dudes are waiting for you. Punksters, pimps, bitches, gangsters, fat dudes or emo's (That one was hilarious for me, because here in greece the news talk all the time about emo's vs trendies and how easilly they get beaten by everyone. Here in the game they are the most weak characters for another time, is it a funny coincidence or was it intentional? :). You have in your disposition every kind of brutal weapon you always wanted to get and beat the crap out of something, like pipes, chains, peg with nail, baseball bat, french keys, big hammer, knifes, bottles, billiard sticks and way more I am surely I have missed. You can break trashcans, piles of tires, smoking cans, etc where you find food, weapons or money. It's really the game for the young hooligan inside you :)

There are a lot of places to visit that are classic in most beat em up's. Dark alleys, subways, bars, a bridge (this reminded me street's of rage 2) and of course elevators which the stop and more dudes are coming in each floor (another very classic thing in most beat em up's). And the high building with the rich boss at the end (although the demo does not reach the very end I guess). Also funny stuff like a casino where you can even play poker or jackpot (hell of a scripting!), rotate the roulette, smash vending machines and get cola and chips. And there is a secret with action which reminds me of kill bill. And the two pink girl ninjas that always annoyed me in streets of rage. And more surprises, way more!

And I am missing more because I haven't bought the full game. Support the developers because they deserve it! (You get Action Doom 1 and more stuff too for only 9,99$). This is a hell of a great work! And plays well and much easier than their first.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

CPC nostalgy

What I was doing these days was, coding the CPC, playing some old CPC games, drinking tequila, more coding, more tequila, dreaming of CPC, coding the CPC, playing some old games and coding the CPC.

It was good. I am working on a demo but I really wish to code a game next time. For some reasons I am really obsessed, really dreaming of coding some games for the CPC. I won't be thinking of the state of the art all the time, at least the first 2-3 titles will be simple stuff focused on gameplay and decent speed. I mean, I will prefer to have small sprites and no tens of tricks and big sprites and the controls to work well and smooth. Maybe I'll have some cpu time to add some nice mode 1 rasters or something. Anyways,. I have two simple games in my mind as first developing plans.

Whatever, what I coded was not exactly a new effect (what I have now is the mathematics for drawing curves) but something I will be using with various ways, the main routine of the demo. The screenshot is an ugly representation that it just works (almost). But the most important code was some functions that help me to build new objects with data structures, providing things like adding new objects in an array, iterating through each object, taking care of memory or the max limit of objects, etc. Things that make coding much easier. I couldn't believe that I would create something that tries to look like C/C++.

Well, not exactly. There are a lot of things to be done (maybe some real memory allocation functions which split the memory in 256b blocks and a table to tell me which are reserved and which not, maybe more). But it just happened. As I code, I ask myself how some things would be written nicer, more organized or more practical for further use. And I just come into this. It's great, it will make game developing on CPC in the future much more nicer, but now I will continue with the demo and maybe leave that part and concentrate more on the effects.

But it's nice that I am building such a system. I'd really like to see how this makes life easier in game and demo development. Of course if I had to write, e.g. a dot record, I wouldn't make a call for the next object in the array list for each dot. But I would rather write an ugly unrolled code specifically for the effect. But for more general stuff that don't need much speed, this is great!

Till next week I will try to make the curves look nicer (maybe with something like WU pixels from a precalculated table) and maybe I'll need to start messing around with CRTC hardware for this demo. It's getting harder and more challenging. I am hoping to finish the demo in maybe 3 months, because I'll be coding for other things soon too, but most probably it will take some more time. At least I am coding. And happily! :)

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Love the scene.. was reviving. To finish a demo that doesn't suck too much (a 64k intro actually :P) and present it at a demoparty with lot's of people.

I have more than a year since I last finished a good demowork. The same long time applies since I last visited a demoparty. Yep, somewhere between the army period, a mediocre slow and ugly demo for GP2X, still with new effects I enjoyed coding, and two nicer GP32/GP2X in August 2006 a month before visiting the greek army. Two years of some kind of inactivity, two years that many things have changed (finished studies, army, got a job, etc.). I have done more things that I feel like during this period.

I am enthusiastic for the scene again. It's not just an aftereffect from visiting Euskal. It's not just because I was there in the prize ceremony with four thousand people around me, getting some kind of scene medal and praise. Maybe it's these factors too. But I think I am changing. The demoscene is not a reason for my sometimes unbalanced mental condition. I think I am able manage to regulate my emotions more now. There might be more times in the future where I hit the blues, I know, but I am able to struggle for a bit, accept it and then revive back. The demoscene is good, it is creative, I even persuaded myself that it's better at the end to code something (even if a random thing) for 1-2 hours than play games for the rest of the day. Of course when I want to relax I can leave myself take some day off from my hobby, but moderation works better and I try to remember that it's worth it. Demomaking is worth it. Slowly coding sometimes because of the job but worth it.

So, I am back!

I already have in mind what I will be coding next. There is a lot of unfinished code and a lot of projects and ideas. Currently I should be starting my new CPC demo and hopefully here I have support from two over enthusiastic and active greek sceners at the time. I shouldn't miss this! Unfortunately more dedication is really needed to write assembly for an old platform especially now I might work for 2-3 hours at times. Opening a C compiler for few hours in the evening to write a new effect for fun or experiment with unreleased sources is possible and might give me feedback on the screen easily. Assembly, especially on an old 8bit, might not give me any feedback that evening and I may feel that my evening was spent without getting something. I am slow with it and spend time figuring out how the hell the videoram or char memory works and why I see black or everything crashes (the last time I tried to code something on C64, I had to read docs again just to remember how the complex screen or char ram works). So it's really hard but I do think possibly for the CPC demo with these dudes. I wish I can also find an opportunity window to start writting my first good C64 demo. Not something extreme, just few midschool pixel effects to show that I can do it.

CPC and C64. Assembly. CPC maybe soon, C64 maybe later. Both need a lot of dedication for several hours per day, not few evening hours after the job. C projects work better for the latter.

So, about C projects. I think it's time to get into 3d acceleration again. Some people argue that I am choosing the wrong hardware for software rendering, I am also thinking that maybe I could create some neat things in OpenGL and pixel shaders. I should try! I am already planning to start coding a new demo framework with just the basic things (hopefully also a demo scripting engine to make my life easy). Lately I am more into coding little frameworks and organizing my code snippets into bigger things and I even really enjoy it. In the past, each new demo was a unique ugly code just for the demo. Now I am more organized and I am trying to do it this way so that it will help me in the future. The big thing is OpenGL framework now. I will be just evolving my latest framework and 3d engine from the software rendering world into the new accelerated one. Each time I write a new demo I notice some things I could be doing different. I want to give time to myself. Maybe I'll release something small in between (4k/64k?), maybe not, but for the big OpenGL demo I am planning for Breakpoint the next year. I might be visiting. 8 months. A lot of time..

And then there are various C projects lying around. My evolving framework, more organized software 3d engine I just checked now after several months, little coding for gamepark (GP32/GP2X) or nintendo devices (NDS/GBA). More little projects that stand around or will come in my mind. Unfinished X86 asm tiny intro. A lame abandoned attempt to code a X86 emulator in C. Some little game experiment. Maybe flash. Little fun with DBF interactive competitions. Maybe I start with 68000 AtariST. 386 demo. Quickbasic code. Evolving my just started engines (raycaster, raytracer, voxel). Lot's of ideas I have in mind. The small stuff that come and go. You'd be telling me that I should concentrate on one or two things. But I am doing so. I have one or two plans in mind (CPC demo maybe soon or maybe not, OpenGL framework and demo till Breakpoint) that I will primarily focus on, and the new prescription that seems to work = when I hopelessly procrastinate with the primary goals, switch to coding for any of these small ideas you currently have in mind and wish to code at the time for fun. It works because it makes me happy and maybe motivates me to work tomorrow. Instead of procrastinating with games, procrastinate with smaller projects you find more fun than deadlines, and at least you have plenty of random code left in your HD that you might find handy in the future. And being content with still being creative even if not working for the primary goals!

I love the scene. I even love code even if it is a bastard sometimes :)

p.s. And till the next crush, I think I can handle it...