Saturday, 5 December 2009

Be Selfish

It's funny! When I loaded this WAD, I had the feeling of a double deja vu. I thought I have played this before twice, the second time wondering if I had played this before. For some reason it appeared three times in my hard disk (normally, I download new WADs and put them in a directory, later I delete them or put onto favorites. Now, this one appeared for a third time in my WADs to play dir).

Yet it was so nice that I wasn't bored to play it for a third time. I am even inspired now to continue creating some old levels I started making months ago.

I love Paul Corfiatis levels. They just have the right balance of gameplay, design, architecture and size. Levels with excessive details are interesting, although when you can create atmospheric worlds with more simplistic geometry yet still enough detailed then it's a must. I like minimalistic worlds that inspire me to imagine that I am in there. I like interesting architecture. I also like a kind of gameplay that is not too hard yet it provides enough action. And sometimes few sets of interesting traps. Other WADs overdo it with detail (which is interesting though or nice to look at) and difficulty (this one is not interesting, just annoying).

I've just seen that enough time has passed since I last posted something about a doom wad, yet there are quite more good ones that I should one day review. I just love playing doom wads and especially taking nice pictures of interesting looking spaces and writting reviews about.

Little moods of coding.

Haha, I am in good rare mood for coding!

Funny, especially during the time I was supposed to work for my university assignments and not for personal fun projects. I don't know why I have so much mood for hobbyist coding right now (maybe I should do a demo?) but I hope it keeps that way. And I hope to finish my courseworks too in parallel (although some of them require coding too).

Ok, as you can see in another blog, I just got a dingoo and tried compiling something for it. Although my attention swifted to Wiz. It's funny, I had bought Wiz for months but I didn't tried to develop something on it because there wasn't a proper windows devkit. Later I installed Ubuntu just for that, although I didn't used it. Recently I read somewhere that actually, the older GP2X applications can run directly on Wiz sometimes, if the SDL libs are compiled dynamically. It's so compatible that games like Flesh Charmer just run in Wiz by trying to execute the old GP2X file. And 2x/3x times faster of course. Although the vast majority of GP2X apps are simply compiled statically (there was a problem with dynamically compiled apps, some didn't worked, maybe if you firmware was upgraded, so it was better to have SDL libs inside the executable even though the size was getting bigger for just a simple thing).

Anyways, I found out that the only thing you have to do is to use DevkitGP2X for the old GP2X to compile something with options for dynamically compilation and this will run perfectly on WIZ too (you also have something that is compatible with both the GP2X and the Wiz, wow!). And so I thought, when in the past I avoided getting into burden, that nowadays if I can compile GP2X stuff, it wouldn't be so hard to do it for Wiz too. I then found a devkit in a chinese site that installs a devkit on windows with an example and it does it automatically and also uses DevCPP and dual compilation, one windows that you can see the results on a window and one gp2x, so you could even take some old SDL code from PC, compile and run it properly on windows project and be sure that you could just compile it with gp2x switch and have it ready. It's so portable and easy that it makes me cry! I took a voxel plasma SDL effect I had done on PC and with almost no modification I had a gp2x version in fifteen minutes. Wow!

Then, I got some strange mood to start coding a new rasterizer. I had a discussion with a friend and I decided to start the new one from scratch even if with rasterizers it's scary because they are complex boring beasts. Normally I would avoid coding a new one especially if I lack motivation, but yesterday I had so much mood that I actually started. The focus here is to code carefully and try to make it as simple as possible. Because usually, my last ones were bloated. The very last unreleased version suffered from some bugs and still was big enough even if I wrote stuff in easier way and it was two times faster than the old on PC (haven't tried on GP2X or Wiz though). It also uses a way they say it's bad for the cache but I will just try and benchmark both versions on my Wiz or even GBA. My focus is to carefully make one as simple as possible at first (with only flat shading for the beginning), benchmark what is the best and gradually upgrade it. I want it to be a suitable simplistic and fast as possible rasterizer for old hardware, especially the very slow GBA. I want to make a very simple tiny 3d engine and not the last beast I was trying to make last time (very organised or bloated). Who knows, maybe I'll do a GBA demo with this one..

Ok, going back to? Damn,. I have to do courseworks for university..

Friday, 4 December 2009

About demo limitations

What do I like and what I don't:

  • 256b: They are nice because it's a good opportunity to spare some time on the old good assembly. I used to advocate assembly coding in the past but today there is no way I am doing it again, not on PC, not even in gamepark handhelds, maybe not even on GBA (although I am curious about the speed improvements on the good old slow GBA). I am too lazy. But in 256b intros you have to do it. And usually a simple intro can be coded in 1-3 evenings. Also good for small demo releases. Unfortunately my new Vista don't run the 256b intros anymore and dosbox is too slow for the good ones.

  • 4kb: Also an opportunity to make a fast release if you are lazy to code a big 64k or demo although this time you don't need assembly. With the various frameworks around the web, you can have a simple empty template in 700bytes and start from there. The negative is when size is too restrictive and you end up writting coding in different ways, inlining your function in one big ugly pile of code and generally screwing things up. Just so the compiler and cruncher gives you 20 missing bytes to reach exactly 4096 and not be at 4116 or something. I don't like this. Also, in 256b you have an excuse for not having any music (even a very bad and ugly music is considered a must) but in 4ks it's an additional burden for me. Especially when I have only the gfx and it's already 500 bytes below the limit and I know I can't crunch enough without removing scenes.

  • 64k: The best of the best, even if one needs to work harder to create them and there is no excuse for and not having a music or having a shitty one (although you can just play a nifty chip tune that sounds cool and fits into something like 10kbs or 20 there). The interesting thing there is that there is enough space if you love to do everything procedurally. This is the most interesting part of all those tiny intros in my opinion. In 4ks, even if you did stuff procedurally, you would be very soon sort of space, just by code. But in 64k, you code and code and code stuff and you still can't reach the limit. I haven't code enough of them, maybe just because they need more effort. I have produced 256b and 4ks which I like less than 64ks for the same reason. 64ks is something to check in the future.

  • Source limitations: I haven't seen one in the demoscene but when I was into the quickbasic forums, there were those compos where you had to write stuff fitting in 3 lines of code without semicolons and one had to write bloated pieces of code or reduces all his variables into single letters. I don't like killing my code just for source code size. It makes no sense. But this is just supposed to be a fun or senseless enjoyful competition. Even if it doesn't appeal to me. Also, similar methods are used into squeezing shader code for 4k intros.

  • Graphics limitations: I am mainly thinking of ASCII demos. Each year there is a competition going on and each year I am thinking of maybe entering but I am not even starting to code something. It's fun to watch them but I am not motivated enough to code something like that, because it's just like reducing the resolution into something like 80*50(???) and coding the same effects. (Actually I have a ridiculously slow raytracer that would run perfectly smooth in that res ;) Ok, maybe there is a challenge, trying to do things look cool with text (because it's not just the resolution, it's also the character and color you will choose to shade your graphics differently). Actually, some graphics limitation compos are interesting. There was one at DBF interactive forum where you had to either have blocky pixels or 4 colors only or both, and I even made three entries for it. Sometimes it's fun!

  • Hardware limitations: This is just very interesting to me. Someone will say, what's the meaning of limiting yourself, like when you have a PC, why try to code a raytracer on the C64 or something? Remember, I said before about 256b/4ks, if my extremely tiny programm is 257 bytes, why bothering with 1 byte? It's still extremely tiny and fully procedural so it's getting boring and senseless to kill those few bytes. But there it makes sense. You don't have a hard drive with only 256b free. You have plenty more. If your intro is 300bytes it won't matter for me. Ok, it's only for fun and senseless competition here. But the same doesn't exactly apply on hardware. You have the CPC and you want to work on the CPC and there 4Mhz Z80 is just what you have. Of course you can do the code on the PC, but your focus is to code something for a specific hardware. There is no even point to code it for an emulator that overclocks the machine since you want it to run on the real thing you have home and watch it and be proud of it. Although sometimes it can become too restrictive too. 8bits are too slow and you better code assembly there and their video modes are pretty weird and unfriendly. Opensource handhelds are my favorite hardware limit because they have a middle point of power, not too lame, not too fast, most coming without 3d accelerator, so it's like having an old 486 with 320*240 pixels of glory :)

  • Other limitations:
  • Imagination! Try to make out your own limitations or rules for demos. Shortest scrolltext? Longest maybe? Use a fucked up restricted palette and try to make something good out of it? Make a demo where only additions is allowed and no mul no div no sine no nothing? Make a demo out of a specific simple effect or routine? I would like to hear such compos around. Or maybe create some weird unofficial random rules for a demo I'd like to make and try this out (E.g. throw a D&D dice and determine that I should make a small demo with only plasma, glow and shade bobs, using that specific palette of 32 colors, each part shouldn't be longer than 5 seconds and the music should be a mix between trip hop and polka :)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

My new Dingoo has arrived!


First impressions? Surely it's not as good as the Wiz (but I already knew that and the price is lower anyway) but I am quite happy with the new device. What I like is that in contrast with the Wiz, it's coming with several emulators (GBA, NeoGeo, Capcom System 1,2, NES, Mega Drive, SNES) integrated in the menu and you don't even run the emulators, you just select a rom and it runs directly the same way you would run an application or native game for the machine. It comes with more games seemingly made from the company who made Dingoo, few of them aren't that bad, like a 3d alone in the dark/resident evil style game called 7 days. And the 3d engine is quite good (also, software rendered, no 3d accelerator on the device) and is also used in few more games provided by Dingoo games division.

What might be better than the Wiz is the fact that the battery time is quite nice (7 hours or more) and what additional it has that the Wiz might miss is there is also a radio. A TV-out port is also on the device and even a cable is provided in the box (I am not sure if the wiz has tv-out but it seriously didn't come with the box. Also, what is enjoyful is the vast amount of Chinglish (all your base are belong to us :) both in the manual, website and game menu. Firmware is Fureware, Video is Wideo, also there are two options with funny names, '3D Game' (to run any APP files, from games to applications) and 'Interesting Game' (to run emulator roms). Just funny.

I also tried the official devkit for windows. It uses their own SDK (s2dsdk) that was maybe used for the developing of their own games. It's quite object oriented and I had to use to send pixel objects to the framebuffer which maybe does some inner conversion because a simple rendering proved to be not as fast compare with everything else I have tried. I'd like to see if there is a more low level to access the frame buffer. Many people have moved to Dingux which is a linux port for Dingoo and a lot of released emulators and ports of games require Dingux (which is unfortunate if you haven't installed it yet and you want to run regular Dingoo APP files, you find not many stuff). I had problems with mounting the device in Vista but in an XP laptop it worked just fine. I also had problems updating the firmware (there is an official and an unofficial from homebrew devs, most people prefer the unofficial). I hope Dingux doesn't need a new firmware to be installed..

I also managed to compile something for the Gamepark Wiz under windows. Originally I had installed Ubuntu to compile with the linux devkit (there is no good Wiz Devkit for Windows yet :P) but I gave a modified devkitGP2X a third try under windows and this time I succeeded. I get very good framerates. And it's all SDL. So easy to port!

Saturday, 3 October 2009


I started this post after thinking about simplicity in general. It doesn't have to do with the theme of the blog except when those thoughts escalated in computing. I will start by giving some short examples starting with life and then computers and programming.

I was walking down the road thinking about what I need to buy for household needs (as I am now a foreign student who recently arrived in London) also worrying about things I bought and maybe I will not need at the end or foods that might rot in the fridge. I also tried to understand the reasons I sometimes buy more than I think I need.

One reason is that I very frequently confuse the "must reason" with the "need reason". For example, I first thought I should buy a set of plates and utensils because a house "must" have all the essential. But then I thought, what the hell, I am just a student in a student hall with a shared kitchen. I don't usually cook (even if I should) I just buy something outside or make a sandwich with pure bread and salami. I would just need one of each kind (fork, spoon, knife) and maybe those paper plates (and one plastic bowl for cereal) but not a complete set. I also bought a bread with the thought that I "must" have some bread but now I didn't ate from it at all and I preferred some toast bread I bought later for my sandwiches. It's hard like a stone now and I doubt I will touch it. I didn't thought naturally here about the most practical food I will need but just that I need some bread because a household always needs some bread.

Immediately I started thinking at other aspects of life (not only about buying stuff but also organizing your time and choosing the essential while filtering the things that are a waste of your time) and how the laws of simplicity applied to everything and could also be a great savior of time and could make my life easier. Actually, one grand rule of life or programming simplicity looks very similar to occam's razor. You should avoid what is unnecessary, unneeded, redundant.

I still concentrated on thinking on the reasons to why I want to do something in my life or if it's not necessary to spend time on specific things and concentrate on others that are more close to what I need and less to what they told me I must. Using this tool could be a nice way to review my demoscene and other hobbyist activities and maybe find better solutions that both gives gain in time and happiness.

Yesterday I installed Ubuntu. I almost never have Linux in my system and I get those curious looks and comments. "But you are a geek, how can you not have Linux installed?". This is a "must" motive. I think that some people have Linux just because it's geeky or it's a rebelous thing or they MUST. I have no problem with that. But when they ask me why, I have my answer. I never needed it. Of course, some things in Linux may have the simplicity I am talking about (if you tell me that the linux API is simplier than windows I tend to believe you because the windows API is a mess (although I have just tried to code some MFC applications, I don't know how things are in the core)) but I got used to work fine on windows and it has everything that I need. Why change it (except from curiosity)? So what was the reason I installed it this time? A "need" motive of course :). There is no gamepark wiz devkit released for windows yet. Although till I start a true project on wiz they might have done that already. I just couldn't wait :)

So, the rules of simplicity are helping a lot when you start thinking what you are supposed to need for your computer and what apps you should use and which operations are necessary for a user or even a geek who just wants to do his job and doesn't currently have the curiosity to look deeper. And the most interesting thing is when you try to think about an application you are developing yourself. Or an API you work on to use on your future programs.

I have bumped into the question several times when I tried reusing my own demo framework that I started from scratch since my latest demo Quantum Retrofuture. I am currently trying to redesign some stuff but I think I will have to seriously stop programming for a while, take a piece of paper and a pen and actually ask myself: "If I was scripting my new demo right now how exactly would I want things to work? How would I like to set up shaders, load textures, models, move the camera, sequence the demo parts, time the transitions, call the music player? How simple can my functions and structs (or objects) be so that maybe a programmer newbie could script a demo out of it? How easier can it be for me to reuse this engine to script new demos during a strict deadline? All this simplicity without sacrificing the functionality of course."

Needless to say, currently to load a shader or initialize a texture from an image I have to edit at least three different source files, two header files to enumerate an ID for the shader or texture and the location in the disk and at least one to load and initialize it if not two for the image to texture case. Of course I had organization in mind when I designed this framework and so I had one source file for image loading, one for texture management, etc which is ok but somehow trying to be more organized than you think you can be can be messy sometimes. Maybe if I made a wrapper with simplified functions that did things directly using the non-simplified framework would be a solution but I'd prefer to think more about a new solution from scratch. The same complicated was my newest software rendered that I stopped working on it because of the complexity I wanted to integrate with different source files focused on an hierarchy of 3d meshes connected to objects connected to scenes connected to worlds connected to a screen struct for viewports and all these interconnected with other things. I had a big time of thinking to imagine this one. Maybe I will create from scratch a tiny 3d engine based on simplicity and live the other one for a bigger project (this was originally planned as an engine for GBA or Gamepark demos that need a fast software renderer).

I keep bumping in this question and each time I fix something although a redesign might be needed. I am not into object oriented programming yet, it's all pure C mostly and one question is whether I would need to create some classes and move more towards OOP for my next demo or I could nicely stick with C. Personally I think that with proper planning and having simplicity always in mind, also keep down the keyboard for a while and carefully plan in a piece of paper, a very easy to use demo framework could be feasable in C.

Why complicate things when you can easily make them simple?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Computer magazines and new generations

I am holding a greek computer magazine (PC Master) in my hands which recently celebrated the twenty years since it's initial release. Except from the massive articles on the history of the magazine and the software and hardware technology evolution since 1989, a PDF of the first issue of the magazine is offered in it's DVD. Browsing it's pages brought back a feeling of astonishment and made me wonder how things have changed during the years and the magazines aren't what they used to be.

My astonishment is not on the technological changes but on the shift in contents of the greek (and I suppose foreign too) computer magazines since the beginning of home computing. The phenomenon that I will describe can also be seen in other greek publications like Pixel, User and others (I am just browsing some of them in a forum archive on retromaniax website).

First of all listings. I remember several big listings of programs written in basic for various 8bit computers in Pixel magazine. The only bad thing with these listing was that they were given without explanation and you just had to type them trying to be careful not making any typos or you would get Syntax Error messages (at least on my Amstrad CPC) and not being able to know what the mistake could be (because you wrote the code blindly). Not a good way to learn programming but maybe that's where I got use to type so fast and blindfolded on the keyboard. But the astonishing thing was that the magazine devoted something like 30% (if I am not mistaken) of it's pages on programming listings! Nowadays magazines might spend two pages on visual basic programming (if they bother to have a programming column at all) because they need all the rest for game reviews and what hardware to buy advices. I will get back to this (even if the reason is obvious).

The first issue of PC Master (and the following issues for several years) except from the main articles on news, hardware and game reviews (which didn't take the majority of the pages) had at least three programming articles with a good amount of explained code (at least as much as it possible in few pages) in Basic, Pascal or C and an article explaining some DOS commands among others. The quality of code was more advanced than what you can find today in the two pages visual basic article when a magazine bothers to include one.

What astonished me even more was the column with reader's letters. The vast majority of the readers were asking things about weird DOS commands, batch file making or programming questions. What astonished me was the quality of the readers. Many of them were people experimenting with their computer. Compare this with a common type of letters in the same magazine after twenty years: "Hello, I have just installed Crysis but it's too slow on my GF8600. Should I get a GTX?". If it's not about games then it's something stupid like "Hi dood, I liekd your H4CK TH3 PL4N3T column. Ona day I wanna be the best haxor in teh world! Greetinx, Cyberg0d!!1". Oh yes, I have just noticed that they have a new column called "Hack the Planet". But no columns trying to revive the old good programming curiosity..

What is the thing that changed? It's rather obvious. First of all remember that the people who had a computer and spent hours with it in the past were mostly geeks. Computers were not mainstream, it wasn't everyone's business. The majority of the readers were more than gamers. Many of them might have started from the early 80s when most of the 8bit home micros of the time were coming with basic at boot. It was inevitable that out of curiosity someone would try to code something in basic and there were even big chapters in the manuals that came with the machines, dedicated in basic programming, system calls and maybe even assembly. Later on the PC, the environment was a boring black screen and sometimes you even had to change your CONFIG.SYS manually to get that desired free memory for running a specific game. Still, an operating system not attractive to the majority of the people.

And when computer graphics became more attractive, the operating system more classy and internet was a commonality, that was the moment where what consisted a computer user changed. Actually nothing has changed from the side of the geeks and hobby programmers. They still exist, you can find even exceptions of younger people getting interested in real programming instead of just playing WOW. What has changed is the majority of the readers. Today, most of the people who have a PC and spend hours in front of it are playing games, watching movies or youtube videos, surfing the net, updating their facebook status, downloading MP3s or just composing a document in word. Most of the people who might install a compiler and write a programm for a while are doing it in their studies or job. And only very few of them are also doing it as a hobby. It's quite logical that in our modern days where the majority who is interested in computers prefer the mainstream and fun stuff instead of programming, that the magazines of the same era will prefer to cover the same subjects that will motivate most people to read them.

So, the shift of the subjects covered in the new magazines compared to the ones two decades ago, mirror the change in quality of the majority of the people that own a computer. Also, the very few true programming geeks (that are lost in the swarm) do not need to read a magazine for their needs since they can find everything on the internet. Hobbyist programmers that remind me of that good old feeling of the old times, do exist in underground communities like the demoscene, linux, homebrew console developers and other communities. I just felt for a while an awe reading that first issue of 1989 and then a disappointment. But it's to be expected..

p.s. Another subject that I would like to write next time is about programming and the youth. Is it harder for the new generations to get dragged into programming than in the past? Is it odd that whenever I have a conversation with students of informatics here in Thessaloniki, most of them confess that they dislike programming? (even those who have taken their diploma). Or that (as a friend told me) most males are bragging that they are great hackers while they know shit about programming? But this phenomenon is to be analyzed in another post..

Monday, 17 August 2009

Little drafts of coding

I had fallen in the deadliest coding inactivity ever. Since my last demo on Breakpoint (that was April or May I think?). But it was a bit of relief from the obsession of coding demos for a while. Although I wasn't in the mood for coding anything else. Though I was making some applications for university studies and other stuff that occupied my time anyways. Funny thing is that between my hobby activities, job and private java lessons to a student, the last one was surprisingly the best coding activity I had. Yep, my job is 70% about picking up phones and teaching or supporting users of our applications and only 30% about coding. Make that 5% because the rest 25% is spend from my side on slashdot, pouet, youtube and blogs.

I got a little inspiration lately. I opened Shader Designer and made a Plasma. LOL! It's always plasma for a start for me. To stretch my coding muscles and remember what I didn't touch for more than three months :). It's nice that with such programms as shader designer you can play with little shaders for fun and then be inspired to open the compiler and try something more serious.

Well it's still 2D. I am eager though to go on 3D. I have some inspiration to try and see how the old 2D software effects will look like on shaders and what kind of difficulties I will go through. I already tried plasma, polar plasma, radial blur and box filter, fractals, etc (those on my first shader demo).

I retried plasma and here I solved some mysteries I had about something. When I wrote the first shader demo it was very slow even in GeForce7 cards. And then I remember masterpieces like Lifeforce claim to be written on a GeForce5600 and running fine on my Radeon 9600 pro. I was wondering, if I write some plasma with only three sines per pixel added and it gets 30fps on my Radeon (when I did the quantum retrofuture demo I didn't had this old card, I had an HD3650 and so I didn't bump into much optimization issues). Which is ok but thinking about the heavy shaders use on demos like lifeforce I wondered how they could do shader demos on such old cards? I also tried something simple: Will the old techniques (sine precalculations, look up tables, etc) give an improvement here? I only had to generate the precalcs and load them in 1D textures. And they did. I got 300fps for the plasma and I got improvements in polar plasma effects too. Of course when running the same tests in modern hardware I notice that there is no difference there. 700fps for both realtime sine version and precalced sine version. So, I solved this mystery question I had, would lut and stuff from the past help to optimize 2d effect shaders for old accelerators? It was even fun to pass a big precalc lut for angles for the polar effect in one 8bit color channel of the texture and then see it's not enough (256 angles only for a big resolution, ugly angle steps) and then pass it as 16bit in two color channels and combined them in the shader for one angle value. Fun oldschool shader stuff :)

I also tried to do the 2d bump mapping and it works like charm but with things like fire effect (and hopefully soon the water effect) there are some strange errors (it doesn't just burn but the blur moves outwards the screen in perspective like a feedback effect and makes some ugly blurry rectangles) that I am not sure why they are happening just right now.

But after the 2d effects I am curious to final move in more serious shader coding on 3d objects, try the simple stuff first (envmap, phong, bump) and thing of more interesting shaders. Who knows, maybe I am working a new shader demo soon. For a little while I was into serious thoughts of cleaning up the code on my last demo framework, improving some things here and there and start working on a new demo. Even though my demo motivation is not very high right now.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The hermit and the stars

I am sitting here outside my hotel room watching the stars. The view from the mountain is magnificent. I am one and a half kilometer away from the place where I have to work the next days. I came here by foot, following the road in the dark. Magnificent view of the stars where there are very few lights. Just one think I am wondering about. Where the hell is the milky way? I see a faint thing. I have read somewhere that it's very hard to see it clear in the modern civilization where the places are full of city lights. I have seen some photos (which I am not sure if they are illustrations or the real thing) where it looks magnificent. Where can I see it like this? How far away from the lights should I go?

Someone would say that I am far away from civilization. Someone else would joke that I am still not far away from it because I am just writting this in a laptop. Although there is no internet, nowhere here. The village has something like twelve buildings and maybe thirty people are living here. Some dreamy ethereal music is playing in my laptop while I am sitting outside alone, watching high for the stars as I am writting this (blind writting ftw :). As I am intentionally creating some kind of wannabe romanticism one thing comes in my mind.


p.s. I am wondering what has became of this blog and where is it leading. So far I like my posts. It's just that 90% of them have to do with my despise of the modern hacking culture. Which has totally something to do with the main inspiration that initially made me open this blog. My dislike of some mainstream aspects in the computer world accompanied by some kind of romantic feeling about the old times when things were just starting and were pure. The modern hacker seeks a target to attack just because it's trendy to deface websites and write a manifest or do anything stupid. Not many people understand the programming creativity of hobbyist communities and these same people speak of the best words about how they adore hackers who do stupid acts. Although I may be too obsessed with this anti-"hacking" thing (it shows) and I am thinking to shift to other subjects that still have to do with the good old things and how they have changed. And keep that romanticism (Don't take it seriously (I don't), just flow into it and dream :)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

A lot of goodies!

A lot of 8bit goodies were released since the last time (and it's actually only oldschool stuff that I can watch on my PC recently). A good surprise was a new multipart CPC demo, Pheelone from No Recess. Another one of his releases that mix C with assembly in the slow CPC, yet it produces an impressive result of a kind of demo we rarely see on the CPC. There are some nice effects (smooth vector balls, wireframe 3d) and some slow ones yet never seen before (rotating scroller) and a big ammount of spacey graphics. The interesting thing is that most of the effects are in front of a background. The usual thing in the past was your background to be a black (blue, purple, whatever) screen that is a free area for the incoming effect. And it's interesting because I think it will be more CPU consuming to also have to update the background. It was already a pain to make an effect run smooth enough in not so small area assuming the next frame erases the previous. Especially impressive in chunky effects (rotoscroller, weird distorting thing). The music is also quite nice and this demo has the right kind of feeling that I like (no newschool noizy stuff but dreamy old/midschool design with pleasant gfx and sound). Finally a new demo on the CPC that I can enjoy.

Now the real fun was the tons of releases at LCP2009 demoparty in Sweden. The first four winners are already quite good and there are at least two or three others that are worth to watch.

First we have Andropolis by Booze Design and Instinct a quite nice small release after their last (Booze's) masterpiece Edge of Disgrace, well not exactly small because it's still a well sized demo, only compared to their bigger stuff. The presentation and flow are really nice, the graphics and sound are good and there are few specific effects that I truly enjoyed, like the smooth rotating diagonal image splitter (you have to see the demo to understand what I mean :) and an impressive polygon 3d engine (moving inside rooms with stairs and structures, although slow) at the end. And yet there are the usual zoomer/twister parts in there. The rotating chessboards were also impressive and the best I have seen so far. It's truly a good release!

Then it's time for Resource with Still Ready. A nice C64ish theme, very very well presented, some nifty logos and newschool chunky effects, good ideas. Although at first I admit I was expecting more (most of the chunky effects seemed ugly or hard to notice but that's because I was running them in an emulator and a big PC screen) but the more I watch this demo the more I appreciate it. It certainly has style. The effects even if chunky, they are quite smooth and modern. There are twisting polar effects, tunnels with moving plasma both in a strange resolution with half dots that makes it a big dark, then 4x4 color bump mapping (the best and smoothest I have seen), polar distorted 4x4 bitmap (again smooth and nicely done). The code is tight. The style is good.

Third on the list is 3deh by Oxyron. I am very happy that Oxyron are back and they have certainly their own style. Maybe it feels a bit oldschool (although with new 3d effects at speeds and quality never seen before), maybe there is not much of the newschool design several people are begging for but I prefer these kind of demos where the highlight is the single good looking and smooth running effect. When it's 3d polygons, glenz vectors, dot/bob records and such kind of stuff it becomes a very interesting watch for me. I have to admit that the interrupting screen between the real parts with the nice 3d bobs took a bit too long and I had to press Alt+W on the emulator to move further. It's not a demo for newschool design aware demofreaks. It's for people who love coder porn (although there is enough of it in the other more well designed demos of this competition). Also it's clear that the demo shows to be something like a reminiscent of the golden Oxyron era especially the Coma Light series (something reminds me that in the music, something in the parts (shadow on the plane, now a plane as a mirror :)). I enjoyed ever part, from mirror plane and big glenz to the nice smooth 3d star scroller (I love star scollers =) in the intro. Even the style of the gfx are into my liking (I love the picture on the screenshot). More Oxyron please!

The music of the 4th on the list, Artillery by Shape, is stored in my USB MP3 stick from now on. It's simple sweeeeeeeetttt!!! The same sweet it is as Archmage's graphics here (a lot of his old ones are reused here). Is it maybe something more like an art disk than a demo (ARTillery)? There are still some kind of chunky effects, especially mixed with the images in as similar way as another demo at last X that used the same Archmage's graphics with the girl at different stages. It's still a demo and at the same time a slideshow of Archmage's past works I guess. The beginning with the falling tetris pieces is also truly original especially matching the sweet beginning of the music. There is also a nice twister in this demo. I really enjoy watching it especially for the music and the gfx.

Last but not least, at the 6th place we have 12 years later by Miracles from a group I haven't even heard before (I am gonna download their best oldies and watch them out of curiosity) which has nice smooth effects but in my favorite resolution (not chunky big pixels or dithered modes but pure pixel effects) and they are smooth enough for the size I think. Maybe not something new but well done and pleasing. If it wasn't only for the ugly colors. But still as a fun of coder's stuff I can personally enjoy this one.

I wouldn't be able to close this post without mentioning a new Crest release. Crest Slide Story is not a demo but an artdisk. Although the interesting thing here is that it introduces you to yet another new video mode on the C64. They call it MUFLI which stands for Multicolor Underlined(?) FLI. I can't find right now where I read that but there were also several confusing explanations and since I am not into these image trickery and new video mode stuff I can't speak more about it. The interesting thing is that I remember some of the graphics to be 160x200 interlaced (with lot'sa flickering :) masterpieces and now they managed to convert them into 320x200 non flickering images with full 16 colors. Like the amazing image in the screenshot. I am really impressed that even in 2009 some C64 coders still discover new video modes or music tricks. I would normally think that hardware tricks have reached their limits (especially in the C64 scene) and only more newschool software rendered effects are open to innovation and optimizations but things like this constantly disprove me. It's great when the scene is so innovative and still trips into new undiscovered ground.

I'd only like to notice that the 5th and 8th places might also be interesting to some. It's Faux Visage from Panda Design and Allen mussen machina from K2. They are more on the minimalistic side of demos, not my cup of taste but some people have written positive reviews for them too so I mention them here.

It was a very interesting scenewise week. I am waiting for releases from the next parties now (Euskal, Evoke, Assembly, etc). There are also a few not extraordinary but nice PC releases that I watched in a netcafe recently, from Solskogen or some older parties and even few Speccy ones (I predict they won't be so great but let's better check before talking :P) and I promise I will write something about them soonish..

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Recent demos

I am not very demoactive these days and sometimes not even bother to watch demos. Most of the recent VIP demos failed because I am back in time with an old motherboard with an Athlon at 1.5Ghz and my Radeon 9600 (the new Radeon didn't even managed to cooperate well with this old piece of hardware). However it's not the main reason I do not watch recent demos. First of all I was kinda off, busy with other things, not wishing to bother with the demoscene (not hating it, just having no mood), then it's a dead period anyways. I think I will be off for more than 3 months (since the last time I visited Breakpoint) because I deliberately wish to shift to other activities.

Another problem is that I actually self-banned myself from Pouet (by changing my password to something quite random that I don't even remember it and then forgetting the whole incident the next day) so even if I see a good demo that I feel like writing something about it it's not possible, let alone if I ever did a new demo I wouldn't be able to upload it (although with my lack of motivation and wish for change to a different field (game developing?) I doubt that time will be any soon). Anyways the good thing with that is that it makes more sense now to write things about recent demos I liked in this blog. Thus it will be more active. Writing a stupid review lost in hundreds of reviews and silly comments on Pouet was easier but less inspiring that writing something about one or two good stuff in here.

Of course the demos that I could see in my old crap PC and I would like the most are a good bunch of oldschool 8bit or 16bit demos. The first one is an Atari STe release by MJJ Prod and while it's a small release with only two effects, both of them are good enough and are accompanied with some kind of story and atmospheric graphics. I think it has something to do with the Matrix but since it is a bit of cliche and I care about the effects anyways, I don't even remember what it is exactly. The effects are a smooth scroller mapped on a 3d surface with green dots like some old kind of computer monitor of terminal, very effective to the atmosphere. The other one is a smooth fullscreen zoomer of various images that have something to do with the story. A nice surprise for the STe. Get it here.

And then there was that screenshot on a new Pouet prod. A gameboy monochrome demo! Not only I didn't expect a new gameboy demo but feared I would be not satisfied by them recently. There were some recent jumalauta (and from another group too) stuff which are not bad yet for some reasons I forgot them, maybe because I am not as much fun of their newschool in your face style with ugly chunky effects. But 20y by Snorpung just has all the fun I need! Oldschool style with both hardware based effects (kefren bars, twisters, distorters (ok, not sure if the last two are hardware based here)) and cpu based effects (polygons, 3d dots), great music, smooth transitions, nice graphics and an end upscroller to give you the creds and greets (yes, I want this!). It's made to celebrate the 20 years since the release of the original gameboy. A very nice tribute! (Since this demo might fuck up in most emulators, it's better that you watch the video at the pouet link in the comments).

That's all for now. I have yet to see some recent modern PC demos, there are few interesting 4ks, maybe a demo or two and there are also the dihalt entries for spectrum (although I don't expect something extraordinary). There are many things I might have missed although no major release. Maybe I would see some of the modern PC demos in a netcafe a day that makes up for the mood. I just hate going to youtube for the 4ks.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Cracker --- goes good with cheese, smoked oysters and possible caviar.

I just read that line and cracked in laughter :)

Finally some random forum in the web where someone addresses the predictable "hacker not cracker" argument and most people bring it to some good jokes, actually saying who cares how they are called, the fight for the meaning of the word "hacker" is lost and all those people are idiots anyways. Yep, the majority in that message board just didn't cared and cracked some nice jokes about it.

Why can't you find other places like this on the net? Maybe they were so pissed off by seeing their favorite community site crumble to nothing that just wanted to punch in the face anyone who comes with the silly "crackers not hackers" argument? Seriously I was positively surprised that the majority there addressed the definition and ethics problem differently that in several other sites. This usually doesn't happen!

As I address it in a post at the same forum thread, once the hackers where the programmers and hardware gurus but today the term has changed and nobody can do something for that. When you create a new term "cracker" to differentiate from the programmers, most people still understand "hackers" as the good security breakers and "crackers" as the bad security breakers. The myth perpetuates and now if some stupid person breaks uninvited in a computer and does anything questionable (even a simple website defacing is not ethical in my opinion) he claims to be a hacker (the good guy) and not a cracker. But as I said, it's like saying "I am a hero, not an asshole". Who would say otherwise?

I am currently reading a classic book by Steven Levy, Hackers, heroes of the computer revolution (1984). There are the early computer programmers of the sixties, the hardware gurus who build home computers and the early game developers and software copy protection crackers presented in this book. No mention of anything resembling the modern media definition at all. But today, saying "hackers" we mostly mean the later. And that thing is that has to be demystified or else more people on the net will create senseless havoc and even think they are heroes by doing that. We have to show them that it's not ethical, it's not justified and it's not the right spirit.

I even started programming at a very late age where the meaning had already shifted. I never called myself a hacker, it's demeaning. I called myself a programmer, coder, demoscener or geek. Maybe that's because I simply don't care for the preservation of the old definition of the term because it existed several years before my time. But there are tons of great hobbyist and underground programmers just being creative in the old sense with the "hacking spirit" as described in the book. Not calling ourselves hackers doesn't change the fact that some of us will always show signs of the creative spirit, the insight, the programming enthousiasm, the cleverness in computers, science, arts or any human discipline for all ages to come. We just don't need yet another idiotic definition, some kind of honorable title to mask our true intentions and justify questionable acts. We are what we do and we do what we are.

Apparently 45.652 people get it on the internet..

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Garbage on the web

It always makes me mad.
I like the feeling of being off-line. Away from the junk.
It can still be fun if you like to be in control of your computer.
Programming little things and little machines. The real thing.
Real and respectable computing. Alone.

I received another one of those emails. Someone I knew send it to me. He probably didn't know and he thought it was the right thing to do. Microsoft and IBM said one of the most dangerous computer virii is on the loose. Even CNN had that story! The virus can burst you hard disk in flames. It can also steal your email and your id. They warn you to close your PC the following days. Maybe it will be better to do so with that pyramid email shit floating around. Sigh...

It's common. It's nothing to be angry about. Pyramid emails. Stupid hypes. Annoying Spam and pop ups. Pseudohackers spreading virii and defacing websites. Stupid flaming and hip websites. Boring social community sites. Internet for the masses.

I recently heard the word "darknet". I immediately fell in love with the concept. A private network for the few ones. Maybe it's a bit elitish. Maybe someone can't easilly get into. I don't even know where do they exist and how they look like. I wish I knew more about computer networks. Although they remind me the old times of BBS. I never had the luck to join one though. It was past my time. Maybe some people are still running them for the nostalgy. Private networks. Somehow it's appealing that besides the all well known internet there are some unreachable places out there. There is something in the concept that is so inspiring till the mass discovers it and it becomes mainstream and spoiled. But who is the mass anyways? I might be a part of the mass too :P

I heard another even more appealing word . It's called "off-line".

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Antisocial, a demo in Javascript satirizing social networks.

I purely enjoy the message of this demo. I never liked social networks at all.

Friday, 5 June 2009

What have you done during Duke Nukem Forever's development time?

It must be few years back since I first read The Duke Nukem Forever List. It strikes you with awe when you think of how many things have happened during that time. Of course, twelve years is a long period for everyone and thinking where I was in 1997 and where I am now that the DNF project is over strikes me with awe too.

In 1997 I was a teenager without much computing experience and then I had a dream to become a great programmer or something like that. It was some kind of obsession like "I don't wanna be the average joe chasing behind chicks and going to disco or something but I won't to become some great scientist or legendary programmer or anything". Which didn't exactly worked that way. Then in 1998-9 I learned about the demoscene and spend whole ten years with it (might have released more than fourty demos and other scene related stuff), I also took 8 years to graduate from a university (twice the normal years), went to the greek army between 2006-2008 (it's obligatory here), I worked on three different jobs (in one of them I even participated in the development of a our own released casual game, Crazy Space) and now I am almost turning thirty.

If you compare what you have done in this part of your lifetime and how things have changed it's going to strike you. Another question not asked though is which things took or still taking longer than duke nukem forever?

Hard to give an answer to this right now, not because there is nothing there but because I am too lazy to do some research. I could only think of something in my own lair, especially demoscene related projects on the Amstrad CPC, one of the most inactive and lazy scenes ever. Palatine demo surely beats the crap out of DNF and maybe ASIC inside demo from Futurs about which I can't find a starting date but probably it's almost as old as Palatine. Long awaited CPC productions that were either finally released or are still in production yet their time length is shorter than DNF must be Demoizart (I think the oldest and best imho part of it started in 1996, could be surely be released as separate small demo back then and beat the past I think) and of course our own Ovation 6 diskmag (preview here). I think it was 2000 when we first released this preview and maybe it never sees the light. Maybe releasing a teaser of it as Ovation Forever would be a nice parody to do, yet I think I am even too lazy to do that. Since I speak about diskmags and 8bits, I remember another one that I have even written some articles (It's over 8 years! I might hate my writting by now :) but it goes through the same destiny as Ovation. Subliminal Extacy #4 for ZX Spectrum. Last but not least, 4096 colors a demo for which I did some gfx (later used in my A step beyond CPC demo) and might never see the light (except from the preview).

Now, I started wondering which were my demo projects longest in development. And how this affected things. I think I know which they are and they were actually my best works in the scene. But that's maybe a subject to discuss in another post.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I never understood 'hacking' and I never will

When I was at puberty I made this insane thought: I had to become a great programmer to distinguish myself from the average joe operating a computer.

Maybe it was my lack of self-esteem and general feeling of misfit at school that forced me to take that decision. I believe this is one of the forces (and one of the curses) behind trying to become a master of any art there is. The quest for fame and honor.

At first I was bothered with school exams that were needed to be selected at a university, that didn't left me much time for seeking this dream. I didn't do much back then but the thought kept breeding in my mind. Later, as I became a student at the university and got an internet connection in the university lab I discovered the first traces of the demoscene community. I had already seen some demos from an old magazine CD several months ago but didn't know anyone near my place being involved in the community. It was the time I made my first attempts at democoding, spent a lot of hours in the computer rooms happily communicating with other people interested in demos and also managed to be absorbed so much that I totally fucked up my studies for the next eight years :)

I really don't remember much about the so called 'hacking' trend at the time, I actually don't remember that this thing ever attracted me. Maybe I have heard something about it even before I started having this dream of becoming a good programmer. Everyone knew about it from the movies. Even if I could not imagine at that time how one could possibly invade in a foreign computer without 'touching' it, this activity never inspired me. Maybe my initial interests were focused on graphics programming and not computer security penetrating.

For someone seeking fame and honor desperately, it should be a number one choice. Everybody said great words about 'hackers' and the whole thing had become a myth. Of course most of them were thinking of 'hackers' as portrayed by the mass media. But it never touched me! I am not sure why but one reason might be that at that time I found the actions and attitude of the so called 'hackers' quite dumb.

During that time (it was 1998-9) there existed a greek 'hacking' site, (It's history now). I remember that I was posting a lot of ugly texts in it's forums concerning my view on this 'hacking' trend. Even then, when I was a lame programmer (making 2d stars and scrollers in quickbasic :P) and didn't know much about computers, I could not feel any respect or reason for what 'hackers' did. It was neither impressive nor creative. I still don't know why it never touched me, I still haven't answered to myself why I always hated it.

So, I knew about the so called 'hacking' community. I knew about their web pranks, their 133t attitude and the whole myth revolving around them. Fame and honor was also a factor that motivated me to start learning programming and make demos. But I never shifted my activities into 'hacking', the supposedly ultra-cool computer activity which would be ideal to gain fame and honor.

I was misunderstood. I tried to show several times that what can be accumulated in the term 'hacker' as people understand it today (security penetrating/malicious software/coolness, attitude, trends and the myth) is not to be respected. And they were replying that I am recycling the opinion of the mass-media or that the are good respected 'hackers' or that I am clueless. But all I wanted to blame was the modern so called 'hacking' community and it's false reasons. I didn't know that the term was also attributed to underground hobbyist and clever programmers who were the respected ones and had nothing to do with modern 'hacking'.

Later as I became more involved in the demoscene community I started an endless race of programming more and more demos with the wish to become famous in the scene. While it was a kind of attitude that became an obsession and almost destroyed the fun behind demomaking, it was also a motivating factor that brought me were I am today. But as long as I wrote the next line of code, as long as I coded a new effect or released yet another demo, it felt like I was putting my brain into creating something that I can later watch and be happy of my achievement. If I was given a magic lamp that would instantly create a great demo and make me famous in the scene then it would mean nothing to me. I wouldn't feel any honor, I wouldn't appreciate myself at all.

I had to put a great effort and create something, either it was a demo or a game or an application or anything. This was a bliss, especially if it involved some insane optimization techniques or a crazy idea of my own (later, I even dwelved into z80 assembly and coded some nice demos for the 8bit Amstrad CPC). There was hacking spirit (with the old meaning of programming cleverness) in it and I could totally perceive that feeling. I was inspired by unconventional coding tricks that could be used to optimize computer graphics in such old and slow computers. The same inspiration to find crazy tricks to optimize or code new 'impossible' effects could occure even in modern PC demos (It's not about the vast processing power but the spirit).

I mean, I have been involved in low level programming for years, wrote several lines of assembly and C code, I have created a lot of demos where many people wish they could do the same and even if initially I was struck by the same fame virus that you use to see in the people who wish they can be 'hackers', I loved programming and creativity and I could never understand the other side. I observed and lived the feeling of finishing another piece of code that does something clever, I have created a lot of demos to satisfy my need to be special, my road was somewhere between this obsession of becoming a well known good programmer and learning some real programming in a such creative and unknown community as the demoscene but I never understood the so called 'hackers'. They were just seeking ways to penetrate security so that they make cool internet pranks and become famous for nothing, while I was trying to create something because of my interest in become better at programming (even if one of my initial motivations was fame too). Such a gap between me and them..

I mean, even at the beginning when I was a newbie in programming I still didn't understand their motives and attitude. The so called respect was about the programming ingenuity and hobbyist underground of the old definition which I later persued. When I present some of the demos I created to computer illiterate friends, many of them are not impressed and they ask me the dumb question: "That's boring. Can you 'hack' instead?". That says it all!

Good programmers and clever people with a conscience don't call themselves 'hackers'. I am sorry, the H-word has died for me. It's only used to denote something I cannot feel respect for.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Demoscenes and mainstream

After posting the previous article about the demoscene, I remember and rechecked something else and interesting or scary thoughts popped in my mind.

What happens if something like the demoscene reaches the mainstream? What could be the common misinterpretations from the average joe? Could there be some dangerous ones? Which elements worked out well as a connection bridge between the one who can understand it deeply and the common person who hasn't heard about it before?

Currently there is a kinda funny term misrepresentation floating around the web, which is most probably harmless (even though the idea that such a mistake can be passed so easilly by the majority without anyone inside the scene being able to correct this, scares me). Several people, are mistakenly calling the demos as 'demoscenes'. Phrases like these are floating around blogs and forums right now: "Hey, have you seen the demoscenes I sent you?", "The Debris demoscene is only 170k", "The demoscenes are wonderful graphical programms of small size".

Just for the records, the programms are called demos, people! Demoscene is the community of people creating them. There is no such a thing as 'demoscenes' (in plurar). Learn that!

Now, as long as the meaning of demos hasn't changed (people are still impressed by the realtime graphics and the small size of some of them) there is no alert that there will ever be a wrong interpretation of the essence of the scene as we know it. It's maybe not that important if people are calling them demoscenes or megascenes or whatever. It's just that chill on my spine when I think about the power of the mass especially through the internet. Even if the term 'demoscenes' is wrong, if I now visit every forum or blog that misuses the term and clearly state the mistake for all, there will still be people around the globe calling them demoscenes. I am powerless over the influence of several people using the wrong term.

Let's examine also some more facts. Why 'demoscenes'? I even remember the time several years backs when I met some other greek people interested in the scene, one of them being a good coder and knows the difference between the terms, although the very first time I explained him about demoscene and those wonderful programms called demos, he somehow used the wrong term and also called them 'demoscenes'. He even face-slapped himself then (lol, not exactly) for spreading the whole mistaken term to every other people in his village who never had heard about demos before. I never made this mistake when I explained demos to him or in some of my articles about the demoscene. Why was he confused the first time? What drives people to prefer 'demoscenes' over 'demos'?

A simple answer. When people speak of 'demos', a misunderstanding is happening because the same term exists as in demos of games or commercial software (limited, time-trial versions, etc). Maybe the people, not exactly intentionally, but to avoid confusion they have to speak of them with another similar term. And
'demoscenes' could be what jumped easier in their mind. I am not sure but I think that this is one important factor. Which of course was a problem even in the 80s but it's only recently when I saw the new lame term 'demoscenes' circulating around the internet. Maybe that's because the demoscene and it's productions became more known through the internet only recently. In this one, efforts for scene outreach (which one I am watching with a positive eye), big companies being interested in the demoscene and of course kkrieger helped it to happen. It's quite interesting for me to see where this path leads.

I once described this recent phenomenon as the good mainstream. Big companies, siggraph, software houses, conferences at demoparties, demos digged, game sites with a demoscene section, maybe this is something good for me when I mention my involvement in the demoscene on my CV and suddenly the computer world outside the scene appreciates it. But what about the scene itself? The good thing here is that demos are becoming mainstream to the computer literate outside the scene who is not exactly the average joe. The average joe speaks of hacking as seen in the movies and he is of course thinking of security breaking (which he finds ultracool), not programming (which he finds boring). The scene is about programming realtime graphics, pixeling/3d modelling, writting music and generally being purely creative with a computer instead of playing games or dreaming of hacking the pentagon :P. This is why even with this shift to the commercial computer world, the inner notion of demos and demomaking will never change.

At the moment, I am not sure whether this shift might change the scene in other ways (some people think it will miss it's underground spirit but I don't believe so). Nevertheless, I think I am exactly tripping at the point in time where such a shift could occure. And it is interesting to me to observe and analyze what happens. To see an important computer community dramatically changing (or possibly not) through history and make my own conclusions while living this history. I can stare and see how is it possible for something to change so much (if it ever does) as something similar happened with the 'hackers' notion but I wasn't there living in the historic times to actually observe the change. Interesting times for the demoscene.

Another point. A primary element that currently is making the demos interesting in the eyes of non-scene people around the internet is that of size. Currently, the most blog/forum posts describing the demos (and even calling them wrongly 'demoscenes') give mostly as examples the small and tiny sized ones, namely 4k or 64k intros. Of course. People cannot be impressed by the realtime graphics notion. Demos are traditionally non-interactive and the big ones that weight several megabytes could be mistaken for videos so they would be just plain boring (even if video captures of such image clearness and resolution would need hundreds of megabytes, not only 10-20MBs). Only a tiny sized file of something less than 64k displaying smooth crystal clear visuals and sound would make the average joe being impressed. Most people keeps in mind only the <64k category when refering to demos. Another problem I see here is that year by year the size of the traditional demos is growing up. People are also posting demos at youtube. If the video capture (even as a low quality divx rather than the crystal clear realtime rendered frames) reaches the size of the executable demos then what's the point? Will there be a schism? Most probably not because sceners appreciate the traditional demo category as they can relate to the fact that it's still an executable producing realtime graphics. But what about the mainstream who just discovered demos as impressive tiny sized executables?

Only time will tell. It will be interesting to me to observe any possible (good or bad) transformation through the years. How will the scene be in 2020 or 2050?

Digital canvas

I have a cupboard with a lot of drawers in my sleeping room. On the top of it lies an old C64 monitor and the 1541 drive. Their cables are connected and the C64 lies inside one of the drawers. It's a funny thing, opening your drawers searching for clothes and finding the one with the C64 inside :)

I had a rare feeling one day I switched on my C64, ran a demo and stared at the pixels. Such a low res wide picture elements with only a very specific minimal color pallete, my eyes being able to separate them one by one and yet see the whole picture, lines of assembly code being able to say which of each to lit on with the specific color value, mathematical algorithms or few simple rules that describe what to draw for each picture element. I saw the whole image, I felt it, something that cannot be described by logic but it's a feeling of art and simplicity.

And then I understood. I understood why I can enjoy watching demos in even the slowest machine with the most minimalistic graphics. Why it doesn't make a difference to me whether it's 2bit in 160*200 or 32bit in 1024*768 resolution. I see the difference between how I feel and interact with a computer than the average joe who can't enjoy using or programming in his computer if it's not high tech.

I understand that for me the computer is like a digital canvas. I only need a framebuffer no matter how few the pixels and the colors and a simple programming language to speak with the computer and describe the minimal rules and basic algorithms needed to display something nice in the screen. I have a deep feeling of the connection of the mathematical input and the visual output and I could so much enjoy it even in a calculator.

I can also understand for another time what's so special with the demoscene. Why should I just do my thing and not cry out whether the scene is dead or whether I am not active enough. I have this feeling which cannot be described easilly. This total relation of the algorithmic simplicity and the computer screen, being provided with the least screen elements possible (the pixels) and just being creative and imaginative with them. I can understand demos.

Demoscene is something that will never became as destructively mainstream as what happening with the whole notion of hacking (it's meaning being transformed from pure programming leasure and ingenuity to the lame notion of security breaking). It just lacks the elements needed for the transformation pathway to reach the average joe. Most people find it meaningless and boring while also not ...illegal/cool enough (as in modern "hacking"). It's not for the many and it will never be. It is for those who can understand the inner magic and don't need high-tech and uber-trendy or destructively cool to appreciate.

Those who can also appreciate and actually enjoy oldschool demos, except from modern graphics that everyone can normally relate to, are meaned to get this special feeling. The demoscene is one of the greatest jewels of true mental/visual communication with a computer no matter how old. I can understand it when I watch another demo and I can actually "feel" the demo.

Friday, 15 May 2009

About this blog

I could explain what this blog is about. Even if it's just another blog. Some of the things I am writting here could be expressed in another blog of mine. It just popped up in my head to open this one in an instant. Hopefully it doesn't fail to the category of the blogs that after a while I feel compeled to close. I won't let this happen..

One of the things that I really hate is when some beliefs I feel they are wrong, become so popular through mouth to mouth, that when you try to debunk them nobody listens to you and you even sound like an outcast, you even feel it's a taboo to speak otherwise. Of course, I would sound like an idiot if I just claimed that MY idea is right and yours is wrong. I try to keep an open mind. But there are some ideas so flawed up that you think it's not possible that most people accept them and yet they are so blatantly wrong that you want to SCREAM! Such is the power of common opinion that anything, no matter how stupid, can be supported and finally be accepted as the sole truth by the mass. And then you hear the same ideas from even the experts. It doesn't matter if Einstein said it or the average Joe!

And yet I have become so good in feeling that aura, that essence of when someone transfers a meme and says the phrase "Isn't that so?" and the other person is compelled to just nod his head because he is not left of any choice or there is a feeling of common connection, that he agrees with what all agree and that only makes the thoughts expressed to sound as true facts while they aren't always so. That feeling of common consceous. I can't explain that yet. But I can feel the power that makes even not exactly the right ideas dominate. But who can define what is right and what is wrong anyways?

I can't. Not only I am not so confident but I also try to be a little openminded. Or is openminded another excuse for the real fact that I don't want to be such a wuss? I like it when people are brave enough to say what even myself can't sometimes say. When the political correctness or politeness don't stop their way. Does it mean that they are always right? No. But they have to say something because usually nobody says something like that, because it is taboo or nobody should say so. Their opinion is more interesting to me because it's rare, because it's something you are not used to hear around you.

Normally, the things about human society or popular and taboo ideas on various subject would make it to my old blog. This one is more about the things I want to say having to do with computers and the community. These ones that nobody says or it's a taboo to say. Or to show up some popular opinions on computing which in my opinions are kinda wrong yet widely accepted.

One of them is for example the whole confusion/myth behind hackers (as portrayed on tv) and how much confusing it gets. I have written a lot of articles about it in the past. And there are a lot more that I want to write. Some people do seem to say something, like that hackers are creative and not destructive, that they should be called crackers, etc. but there is a point that even their sayings are not enough or they are still making some mistakes or their words are still not the same as what they might be thinking. It's such a confusing yet challenging subject for my constant struggle with the power of such common beliefs. Expect a lot of articles on this one.

Sometimes I feel like a hermit. But then I imagine a lonely guy in the corner feeling the same things as me and yet he thinks I am a dumbass just like the rest. I know. Maybe I am looking like the same people I speak about to the eyes of other hermits. But nobody is perfect.

Everyone hates the phone

It seems to me that everyone hates the phone. Not just at work. But even here, why do they? I should ask them. I get a little anxious with phones but nobody else says this is the reason. But maybe nobody confirms that because it sounds a little wousy.

Do you remember the time when mobile phones were not in everyone's possesion? I can't remember this one. It feels strange. How the hell would someone reach me if I was out in the city? How did I managed to meet my friends? Maybe I don't remember that because I didn't have any friends at that age or I didn't went to the cafeteria or something. But it feels strange. What if I reached a particular point of meet and my friend didn't arrived? Phonebooths? Not sure..

Doesn't it annoy you when you don't want to be interrupted and you are interrupted? When there is no moment of silence? Sometimes I just close my phone and others expect me to have it switched on all the time. It might even sound strange to them. But they never asked me about it.

I might be in great pleasure closing the damn thing! But sometimes in anxiety in case someone calls me for something important. But I know I can, I know I can simply ignore the important thing. It might prove not that important or if it is sooooo important then he might reach me through other means. Or he might call again.

Should I throw the 300 baud modem away? No connection to the outside world? But I do somehow want it. Maybe only the good sites. Maybe the old usenet. Maybe the places where other people with old computers meet. Not the crap popular majority.

But you see, we are slaves of ourselves. I would throw the damn phone if I could. I would stay offline if I really wanted. Maybe this needs a different zen of thought.

My dream

I become a hermit.
I travel to the mountains.
I am living in an old woden house.
I grow up my own food.

I have there an old XT.
With 8 inch disks.
And a 300 baud modem.
And a hercules graphics adapter.
And a green computer screen.

And I forget about the shitty mainstream world of computers.
Of pseudohackers.
Of gadgetmasters.
Of computer superstars and wannabees.
And politically correct computer heros.

I have a dream.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Not coding

I am not coding a line these days. I wanted to start making a game. I am occupied by some other things I need to finish this week and I also got a job. Also, when not doing these, I am watching tv series or lame UFO documentaries or even playing eye of the beholder. I am not going to code any time soon. Even though I get abstract ideas of things I'd like to code while I get bored at job.

The spikeball below looks very ugly. It's not much better in my demo. I didn't liked my demo. I don't care.

Who knows when I am going to code a new demo and what would that be (I am thinking of some oldschool platforms again). Although I am doing this for ten years. I just figured this out. And the game or other abstract ideas I'd like to try coding..

I am waiting for the summer. I'll be a little more free and have fun. Maybe with coding, maybe with just gaming and being lazy. Whatever..

Eye of the Beholder 1 - Speedrun

If you have played the game (I have finished it several times), this is an amazing and very funny speed run!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Hey there mr.spikey ball!

LULZ! Just a lousy screenshot of some 3d generated geometry of my incoming demo. Of course this has to be textured, shaded, etc. It won't be like in the screenshot.

Unfortunately I was too busy the last week because I was occupied by some preparation seminars for a job (the good news here is that there is a high possibility that I get a new job right after breakpoint) and a lot of other things (learning french, teaching on private lessons, etc). So, I haven't done much since the last post. The finished parts are still only two which means that I have to rush for the remaining five days. My brother is also trying to make the music for the demo just right as we speak. But I think the demo will be submitted to the BP09 demo compo, although the final quality really depends on the limited time and my motivation. Certain ideas will or will not make it into the demo and other parts may not be as complete as I was planning at first. At least I will be there at the party and try to enjoy my time.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Referrer ballz!

This is so cool!!!

I am wondering if by having this link here or someone clicking on it, it goes there or it needs a certain amount of hits? I am also wondering what will happen if there are a lot of balls touching :)

p.s. Lol, I just had a feeling of Deja Vu. Like I remember I have posted the same thing with referrer balls and the screenshot or like I have seen it in my dream that I have posted this right now. Wow!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Little teaser

Work on the shaders demo for BP09 is going well. This will be the second part but the final won't look exactly like the picture (I hope). It's not finished yet. I tried here to give an impression of the superposition from quantum theory. The demo will have references to quantum physics and retro feeling at some parts. It just occurred in my mind to have such a mixed theme. I won't reveal any more till the demo is released at the party :)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Satisfactions and dissapointments in my democoding activities

4k is almost ready to ship! As a remote entry for Numerica demoparty.

87 bytes to wipe out. It's one of the few projects I enjoyed a bit. Maybe because it was easy to code in OpenGL and produce something that looks neat. Or because I enjoyed generating 3 textures and few polygons and have a final result that is satisfying to myself (concerning the effort and result). Maybe it's mediocre compared to the good ones (fewer parts that I wanted, shitty music, few ugly artifacts) but I don't bother about that. It's only important I am satisfied from what I do (and there are many factors that play a role in that) in the scene and this one is of the few times.

And now I am saying that, I think I'd like to make a list and consider which of my creations satisfied me or disappointed me during their creation and why? There was that incident some days ago at pouet where I expressed the usual stuff and wondered if I should be making demos or not. Then few days later I get good feelings by working on this 4k and even think it's gonna get fun to compete with the other entries and watch it realtime from the streaming. What's the fuck with me and my shifting moods anyways? Maybe I should just stop if I don't feel very well with a particular demo project and work on the ones that offers some satisfaction. There are times I get positive feelings from demoscene activities even if quite less than the negative ones. Maybe I should just regulate my emotions or shift activities when it doesn't go very well. Let's examine which where the ones with negative or positive feelings and why.

Let's see some demos from my Demology list at Pouet, starting from the past till today.

  • The Poor Freak (July 1999): It's too far back in time to think about. In away I have positive feelings but that's because it's my first. I remember I had a great lust then to release my first demo ever and the time was a bit hard though, I was small, I needed a time space when my parents wouldn't be at home to annoy me why I spent so much time on the computer, so that I feel free enough and not anxious to code this one. I got this space, it was summer and I was just returning on holidays (I had all time in my mind when to finish the holidays and go back to code this one and finally release it). I wouldn't say anxiety makes democoding satisfactory, but I don't remember. It was the start of all evil though, being anxious to finish the demo with the pressure against it from my parents and being sad for not being able to work freely on my coding dreams (I had that passion from that very first time). However I don't remember sadness or dissatisfaction from finishing that very first thing in struggle. Maybe I was too young and the negative feelings were not inside me yet. Also notice, even the title and the scrolltexts express that whole anguish I got for years from wishing to code something good and having my parents not letting me freely. Scrolltexts in some of my early demos are landmarks of my psyche at that time and shadows of my current psychology. (Also, I got some positive reviews in quickbasic sites, which made me even more happy)

  • Into The Fight (April 2001): Ugh! Even the title is something I hate. This is a good example of a good demo as a result (for quickbasic scene standards of course) with more negative feelings though. Remember, it's not the result but the equation of result and struggle to finish it that gives the final mark on the scale of how happy or unhappy I am with making demos. I can see that by remembering the times I did those demos and how I felt after. I was struggling trying to finish this with the same anxious thought, my parents arguing with me to stop doing this. And it was only my second big demo. How would I make really good ones after if that attitude went on? A lot of struggle went on to finish this one in time too. My first deadline. There was a competition called Qlympics 2000 in some website. There was a demo category. I wanted to do this. I really won the time race but with a lot of struggle and oppresion from my side. To discover that the site was a farce or something, or there was never a qlympics competition and no replies from the site admin or something (I wasn't the only one to fall into this trap though). The irony! (I just sent it to another compo later). I also made another mistake. I liked the C64 demos with noters explaining the effects and giving messages and so I spent most of the demo time (20-25 days) to write the noter text and only 5 days in a haste to connect the effects into the actual demo! Why the fuck did I do that??? (I even painted 88 fonts with my sprite editor quickbasic programm :). When I started it, I couldn't stop. I said I had to have a noter. I had seen I am loosing the race but I couldn't stop. I insisted. The text is around 250kb!!!!!!! (And don't speak about the lousy elastic boring to read writer). I realized it later and froze. I did won the deadline race, people liked my demo, but too much sorrow, too much oppresion with this one. And even the texts explain a lot of my sorrow (and my affection for demoscene girls at that time :). A great example of one of my most oppresive, sad works on the demoscene. Regardless the result, it didn't deserve that struggle. My psyche was at worse.

  • Atsou by Nasty Bugs (September 2001): The texts are growing big after each list item, I didn't expected it and don't want too much text but there are big stories to say. This one is the first time I get the satisfaction of watching my entry in the big screen at a demoparty. Mostly negative than positive feelings though. The same anxiety, not so much struggle, I was just learning C and a whole month was spent to finish this shit. Bad Sector helped me to connect the parts into an actual demo (but no music unfortunately) in a haste (he even had a headache after that :P) and we just had the nice opportunity to watch it in the big screen. Some struggle for lame result. Also disappointments..

  • Kefrens256 (January 2002): A good experience. For an online 256b compo. When the effort required is small (tiny intros coded in 1-2 evenings) then it's easier to enjoy it. And it was even my first, I had that idea of VGA hardware trickery and translucent bars (how have I chosen this for my first, in some aspects tricky hardware trick concept instead of a regular pixel effect for starters?) and succeeded making it work while at first I thought I would fail. My very first try at X86 assembly and ended up good. I have possible feelings from most of my tiny intro attempts because of little effort and nice results.

  • My two wilds at React 2002: My most disappointing time at a party ever. It was just right the moment something started going really wrong inside me, concerning my passion to make something good, my struggle, the obstacles, my anxiety and all. A landmark in time where my negativity really started growing on me. The first time I have those deep thoughts and sorrow about what the hell I am doing in the demoscene and why things don't work well. This is the very first time. I planned to do something good in the compo, brought nothing (I even was trying to partycode and finish my first CPC demo but of course that would be a bit impossible at few evenings under the noise). But instead I couldn't finish anything. And only released those lame demos that didn't make it to the demo compo but the wild compo (and finished last). I was also sad about other things, maybe didn't felt very well or confident with people there. I don't want to blame anyone, just trying to explain my psyche there. My worst party experience ever (not because of the party but because of my total disappointment with the scene and everything at that time)

  • Deedlines Sax (June 2002): A nice example of a creation with mostly positive feelings. Good for the quickbasic standards, ended 2nd(iirc?) in a nice quickbasic compo, not considering the quality of nice effects and my first 3d code, it also took me two good weeks of pure fun and no struggling. Did I have a clearer mind at that time? Did I not encounter negative attitude from my parents? A little period of positive energy? (I'll start to believe in astrology or other new age crap now :PPP). For some reasons I could not explain this one had a really really good flow of creativity (and I even still enjoy watching it :)

  • A Step Beyond (April 2003): The biggest milestone considering my dreams and my psyche. My first CPC demo. A lot lot struggle. Writing Z80 assembly for like 12 hours per day in a period of almost a month. Having unrealistic big dreams of a good demo in something like a trackmo style (not menus and separate scroller parts like most CPC demos) and I fuckin did it, and it was very very very unrealistic to bet on such a project at that time. I can't believe that my very fuckin first CPC demo (and a very first time I write something big in assembly, not just tiny intros) was that huge (for my newbie experience) thing. It hurted watching myself burning in front of my computer trying to finish this one while my parents worrying. I said to my mother to understand me and that I know now that this demo passion kills me, but I want to make a really good demo in order to persuade myself that I have reached my milestone in the scene and take a break. I would make this demo and then stop. Did I really? (Of course I didn't thought about ending forever but for a while) My mother would say no. I even organized a CPC demo compo at ReAct2003 where this demo was going to be showed (but since it was the only entry, it competed at the wild compo). And I had to show some CPC graphics and music entries too. I even got anxious about the entries. Organizers didn't left me a time window at first or we were bad at communication. It was done harshly with my angry, anxious, disappointed. And I'll tell you the secret after so many years I didn't ever told to the participants till today. There was never real voting. There was no time, I hadn't communicated well with organizers to make the net vote for the CPC entries too (and they didn't bother asking me or I didn't bother telling them, also I didn't planned well or knew) so after showing the entries, in my anger I shouted: "Who liked the banana graphic the most?", counted harshly the cheers and thought ah ok, what the fuck? "Who liked the first music?" People shouted me, me, the moody music, the happy music, the banana picture, no the alien picture. And I just made an estimation. That's how lamely I have gathered the votes. But I should have known it's for fun (although don't bother asking me for organizing, I suck at this :P). But then I think back on A Step Beyond. Biggest milestone on my whole psyche and mood shifting in the scene. However the result is good (and I can just think of it as feat) and I got very positive responds from the CPC scene. Imagine a new guy, his first CPC demo, and not be a lame scroller but this. Others release fifteen lame CPC demos before doing a milestone half of this. How have I allowed myself with my inexperience and early struggle at home to produce something like this? But I tell you, in overall value concerning sadness and joy, it's a bit more at joy (because of the feat) but around the middle. More positive points with deedlines sax or even a simple 256b intro than this. Good example of how one of my best demos doesn't give me much positive feelings regardless the result. Also, notice the electronic notes (with a noter C64 alike, coded by another scener) and the same passionate, desperate big texts that revealed my psyche around that time (how many times did I say the word psyche?))

  • My 0a000h 2004 releases: Tiny intros, easy joy. Also, the first time I release so many different things in a demoparty, the first foreign demoparty outside greece where I release something and have the fun to watch it on big screen, the first time to get a 1st place even with such a tiny intro and few contestants. The funniest thing is that while my joy was very positive with these releases, I was the opposite at the demoparty. I didn't even had a mood for drinking (which I always do at demoparties) and I just sat there with my computer playing quickbasic games! How crazy is that? Even the demoparty has stories of fun for me (like trying to carry alone a whole computer AND monitor from Karlsruhe to the party place). First time I bring my computer on a demoparty. And I met some nice people there too. Good response for my intros from Pouet reviews too (not that it matters much if I have purely enjoyed it and there was no struggle)

  • O.T.I.N.A.N.E. (May 2004): No fear of sorrow here. It was the first time I watched someone else being anxious for releasing his first demo the same way as I was at my very first demoparty with Atsou. Now, I was the helper so I had no sorrow just pure fun. The demo was so lame but it wasn't me to blame. I didn't even had the slightest anxiety. But I was happy that mentor released his first demo ever and I was there to help. Notice that the title reminds of my recent Otinanum farce. The root is OTI NANE, OTI NA EINAI, it could be translated to "Whatever it is" or something I like to call whateverism. How it doesn't affect you when you are just an external beholder of someone else's struggle to finish his first work..

  • Livetro (August 2004): My first C64 demo. Not a very important creation to analyze concerning the level of sorrow/joy. But there might be just some points here. First time to work with a team outside Greece. I remember some struggle with a lame bug (which was just a tiny jump of my DYCP scroll, only important to fix because of my perfection). Mediocre production, people being used to my pixel manipulation effects from CPC and expecting more. It was just a first release to show that Anubis is alive (but only then :). Nothing interesting. Good experience with C64 coding. Different kind of assembly programming than what I am used to on CPC and Z80. I think the joy/sorrow levels are at best mediocre. Neither too much negative or positive feelings. Not needed to be listed here but maybe a little milestone in my scene life.

  • My Pixelshow 2005 entries (A demo, a 256b intro and a wild): Mostly positive feelings. First time I release so many things at a demoparty and all are quite nice in terms of quality (and what I can do at the time). My first OpenGL demo even connected all together very nicely at the demoparty. Good successful partycoding even if under pressure (but like the one at home but that of time). Crazy wild people loved. Feels like a comeback of myself and a time of love for the scene. Good feelings.

  • Keftedes (October 2005): Mostly positive even if under a bit of anxiety. I think I had a fight with my parents at that time and I couldn't even bother sitting at home coding and them watching me without switching the power off and making a big mess. I wanted to finish this demo so this bad situation nerved me a bit. I did finished it at Antitec's house (all night coding in a laptop with shitty keys, great fun :). Production reminds me of the nice flow similar to Deedlines Sax in this one (although with a bit more nerve). I also finished part of it and an SDL port at a netcafe :). Keftedes is for the Keftales effect at the end. I always found the Keftales name strange and Keftedes means meatball in greek :). Also, the only entry at AAPs Freebasic demo compo, strange feeling, nobody bothered really to finish his demo, just me sitting alone in front of my computer and spending my time for something vain. But good times! (expect the bad atmosphere at home right that time)

  • X-Kore (March 2006): An example of a demo without much struggle (I think there was some frustration though) but giving me a feeling of dissatisfaction because of result. It's just the opposite example. Good code, lame design and converted gfx. I was very dissatisfied by some lame 1kb entry and unfinished gfx for the demoparty in the same DSK archive though. At least after so many years I felt I have released something on the CPC scene. Never do the same mistake with hasted releases though except if I won't care. But here I did. No other entry at the Forever CPC compo, so I felt the same way as the Keftedes demo, being alone struggling to code for vanity when noone else cares, although now the big fun was missing.

  • Led Blur (July 2006): A demo with good fun, a long but balanced effort (and no sorrow), that ended so well. From all my creations, my favorite demo, it's really the kind of flow of parts and oldschool flavor I really had in mind, one that I even enjoy to watch again and again. So many experience I got with that too (first 3d engine with polygons, first time to code in gcc, to have a makefile, first time to code for a handheld (GP32), to have to optimize my code like I was in a 486 with slow floating point, a lot of ports (by my friend Nuclear), etc). And then, at the worst time in the greek army, I get quite happy by learning this even have been nominated for a scene award. Me? Scene award? Impossible. It's when you make a demo and you just think it's mediocre (it was in terms of design) but you can't appreciate it as clearly as all the other people who watch it for the first time. The making of this took a very nice path and even the result was satisfactory. I should be aiming for more positive demomaking experiences like this with good results in the future. A positive milestone, just few weeks before I have to leave for the greek army and all hell breaks loose :P

  • Creep Tea (August 2006)
  • : A GP2X demo for an online competition. Easy to make, no much struggle, and ok looking for the short time it took. Not as good as Led Blur in terms of completeness but ok flow without disappointments. Just the last demo before leaving for the army. It's even the first time I win any kind of money (300$) from demomaking. Which I received in paypal and lost by something strange with my account for reasons I don't know yet and won't bother to learn (ouch).

  • 3 hours demo (December 2006) I did this demo while at the army. People thought it's funny that I am so obsessed with demomaking that I even find time inside the oppresive environment at the army (I did it in an office instead of working. In a haste. Now that's a feat :). No good feelings though. Lame demo but maybe my mood was down because of the army environment.

  • re-re-recycle (May 2007): Good flow, good feelings. Also, another time I have the good rare luck to have a demo already finished at home, not having to struggle with partycoding or anything but enjoying my time at the partyplace. (Good memories from that party too. Some nice people I met). The flow was good too. Newschool effects, GP2X experience (using the second CPU for an OGG replayer, mmuhack, etc), kinda slow for GP2X though. But finished and nicely combined with the music my brother wrote. Btw, that was between my army time, almost. I took 6 months release from my army duty for personal reasons. Like it was time to get back to democoding, in the positive way even.

  • Primary Star 2007 invitation (August 2007): First time I code an invitation for a demoparty. I almost forgot this because it wasn't on my Pouet list I am just looking (I will add now). It means something to me because of another (3rd? 4th? nth?) bad dissatisfaction from my side. Since my last C64 demo, I wanted to code something more than scrollers and sprites and char effects. I wanted to show I am capable to produced something a bit more interesting on this machine. Maybe just a tiny more interesting. I wasn't thinking of a huge think, just one nice effect for the invitation that is nothing of the usual. I was thinking of a little rubber bar with plasma (imagine the animated plasma on the surface of 3d bars from Krill but not on X-rotator but on rubber bars). Nice idea, doable, I was thinking this effect would go left right and reveal the invitation texts. Then I changed my mind, thought of something else, because I was struggling with something. Then back again. A month have past with nothing in my hands. It would be lame to not finish the invitation for the party and expose the organizers. So I finished this lame thing. I don't even remember how it took so long to finally reach this one (and being in a struggle). At least there was a positive response from C64 sceners at Pouet and elsewhere. Like they understood my sorrow then and told me to not worry. Notice also which of my productions in technical terms match which sorrow/joy levels. It's an important statistic to understand a problem and maybe at which side of demomaking I need to focus most to have joy. 8bit productions in assembly language usually get me the negative feeling. Assembly is fun and I like the feeling of writting some lines that work. But the effort! The hard effort needed most of the times lead me into finishing bad things under great pressure. But I love the idea of coding assembly for 8bits, although the struggle and dedication needed kills me. My least bad experience was maybe with a step beyond, which was still a very hard pressured experience I would never do that way again, but at least I produced a feat, something to think in awe and be fulfilled I achieved that at that time! Quickbasic was ok (not much people to appreciate your demo but pure fun), X86 tiny assembly coding was fine (VGA is easy, messed up nonlinear videorams on 8bits or even 16bits are cumbersome), even software rendering (something I am very well used to and doesn't look so hard or frightening to me as it would look to others) was fine and especially enjoyful in hardware that are neither too slow nor too fast and people can appreciate (GP32, GP2X, I can now consider NDS and maybe GBA in my future coding plans). Fun software rendering demos, with what I call midschool effects (something between oldschool and newschool, go figure :). OpenGL is cool too. Tiny 4k intros in C are a nice way to easily release something too. I don't know about assembly in 4k. I think it's the right way with modern 4k intros but maybe a bit harder for me. I might try once. Handheld demos with midschool software rendering effects was the most joyful level for me. I'd only wish I could also code an 8bit demo (CPC preferably) one day without that struggle and sorrow. All these comparisons though is a nice view of where I should move for less struggle and more fun in democoding though. Would that mean I would never code for 8bit again? No, I wouldn't like that. But I would do only if I resolve my bad psyche against that first..

  • Voxreen (July 2008): Last one for today? Too much text in the previous entry also. Good work, one week of code, initially wanted to code another demo but the time was not enough. I didn't even thought I would change my plans and succeed to release this. My first 64k too. What I like in tiny size intros or 64k intros most and what I find interesting is the algorithms to generate texture, 3d data, etc. I like the whole idea that everything is described by mathematics and not as raw data (well, in 64k a lot of things can still be in raw or compressed data though and it's nice to see a well painted logo for once in 64ks) I would be looking more into intro coding in the future, especially 4k and 64k. First time to participate in a big demoparty with 5000 viewers and to win a nice 3rd place with good prize money (I lost my plane to Spain before and I had to pay additional money to buy one, so this prize saved my ass :P). It was the time I stared (for the nth time of course :) with the mood shifting and thought I loved the scene so much (I should seriously stop doing this, I mean not the love but the mood changes :). I like the colorful nature of the demo and the (low quality :) voxel routine, even though for some strange reasons, I do not enjoy watching this demo of mine. Not much variation of effects that I can enjoy I guess? Even with the nice (ugly?) colors and music tune I love, I can't enjoy watching this demo as much as most of my demos. I don't know why. It would be sounding too lame if I told you that I did it for the money (and maybe I feel so, indifferent for the demo itself), so I won't tell you that (oops :)

  • Otinanum productions (beginning of 2009): Shame on me. And no comments.

Phew, that was big! It's a nice timeline of some of my most important releases and my thoughts on how they affected me and how I felt at that time. Good for a comparison of which elements, which tech, which times brought me joy or sorrow and know at which direction to head on if I want to receive more happiness than sorrow from my demoscene activities. And I must say that I should stop the mood swings because it makes me feel so ridiculous but all I say is a joke because I know that the cycle never ends.

Next time I should do a list of all the demoparties I visited and the joy/sorrow levels and reasons. Another insight, not on demomaking but how I felt at times with the demoscene community itself.