Demo-Scene from yesteryear!

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Moderators: mknott, NickThorpe, lcarlson, Darran@Retro Gamer, MMohammed

Should they do a cover story on this Computer phenomenon

Yes..it would be a great Idea!
36
68%
Nahh...There where good in there day..leave it alone.
11
21%
Maybe..could be good..
6
11%
 
Total votes: 53

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SirClive
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Post by SirClive » Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:36 am

I think a piece on demo coders could be interesting (to be honest I found myself being more interested in this Multiplexing debate than I thought I would be), but unless it is tied to games in some way then I think it belongs in a different mag.
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TMR
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Post by TMR » Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:31 am

hbhzth wrote:Dull? Nah. I think there are more people out there than you think, wanting to read about the more technical side of game-making. I feel you owe it to the future of games developers to give this some attention.
Honestly... i don't think there's much interest in technical matters amongst the readership and certainly it seems to "upset" people when those details are discussed here; writing anything that keeps itself to a niche part of a single format is probably going to be too marginalised for something like Retro Gamer and if it gets general enough to cover lots of platforms, i'd be worried that it'd just turn into an annotated list of routines from demos and games they appeared in...
hbhzth wrote:...but on top of them were RAY OF TRITON TECHNOLOGIES in sprites going up and down. I have it on my old disks somewhere. Think this was early '87.
i know a few demo coders were faking plex routines around then, the hard bit is sorting all the positions per frame and i don't remember seeing more than a couple of demo plex routines that actually do that; i know Ubik's Christmas-themed Asteroids clone was late 1986 and technically a demo because it was released to Compunet, so that'd probably be one of the earliest demo examples.

By the end of 1986, there were quite a few game plex routines, Tony Crowther was using one in TRAP and, although it's not used for recycling the sprites, Sanxion sorts for the upper display to use the sprite priorities for depth.
hbhzth wrote:I would like to leave you with some questions; Who was the first to truly open the borders (games/demos sideborder/topborder)? Was it Sodan or 1001 Crew or FCG (Flash)?
All border opening can be credited to demos originally, but who did what and when is a patchy area - i seem to remember that FCG claimed they'd done it first but not released, which would rule them out (demo records are based on when something is released rather than done). Sideborder use in games is usually limited to presentation though, it isn't as interesting to the average punter as upper/lower.

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TMR
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Post by TMR » Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:36 am

SirClive wrote:I think a piece on demo coders could be interesting (to be honest I found myself being more interested in this Multiplexing debate than I thought I would be), but unless it is tied to games in some way then I think it belongs in a different mag.
That's where i've been struggling to find ideas to be honest... some demo coders went into game code, some routines were taken over as well (Delta and Wizball on the C64 both park their status bars in the upper and lower borders, that's a demo routine) and the idea of sorting objects by Y position and drawing them in order has been used for software sprite routines as far back as the late 1970s i believe, but how this relates to how games play... well, it makes a difference because a lot of games would be noticeably less busy without these routines and play very differently, but i'm not sure how many people would care!

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Post by Japster » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:00 am

Dull? Nah. I think there are more people out there than you think, wanting to read about the more technical side of game-making. I feel you owe it to the future of games developers to give this some attention. And there were many hobby programmers in the C64 community, wanting to read articles like this.
Yep - Was on the forum a while ago, after going through some fantastic demos from some of the newer guys (Crest, Resource, etc), and was AMAZED - My mate and I programmed on the C64 back in the day, and coded in assembler, so being aware of the "limitations" of the 64, for eaxmple, meant that watching "Deus Ex Machina", "Digital Magic", "Soiled Legacy", and others, absolutely blew our minds.... :o

...and I'm talking about NOW - we only re-discovered the (recent) C64 Demo Scene recently, and it's amazing what some of these guys are squeezing out of even the ol' C64 - Stencil vectors, full screen bitmap zooming, Hi-Res interlace graphics (and hi-res NONE-interlaced (visibly at least) graphics, in 100's of perceived colours (on a per pixel basis, not "dithered"), along with some fantastic SID tracks!... - All in all, put it through a decent stereo/TV, and most people can't fail to be impressed even if they only played the games, they HAVE to be able to compare what these guys are doing on the same machines, with the very best effects that they've seen in the games themmselves, and be impressed?! - And on a ONE mhz machine, in the C64's case at least... 8)

Likewise, I know loads of people who couldn't wait to get a copy of the latest demos on C64 and Amiga, and some people here seem to be unaware that another MASSIVE reason to sit and actually WATCH them, was to hear the latest SID/MOD masterpiece from 4MAT, Drax, etc...

I got some old issues of Commodore Force thrown in with a C64 setup that I bought, and was amazed to see that they had an in-depth regular feature on the most impressive demos of that time, and even went into some of the techniques used (even going so far as to provide a sample program showing 100's of different shades/colours on screen at once - Was impressive stuff to me, as a coder at least!

Well, that's my (long0 fourpenneth, but yep - I think a (not so in-depth/dry) look into the demo scene is a fantastic idea!!!


Den.

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Post by Shaun.Bebbington » Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:08 pm

I think TMR is right about such an article being a bit dry - it's a shame that there isn't much of a console demo scene, for obvious reasons. I remember, back in the day, watching some old Amiga demos which were pretty nice, but the best demos I remember seeing were C64 and Speccy demos. Some of the things that can be done with the Speccy's beeper is quite remarkable, but I suppose the credit for that sort of thing is with Tim Follin if I remember correctly.

Perhaps a "killer apps" article would be the closest thing? I mean, the amount of times I loaded up Shadow of the Beast II just to see the intro... that one thing sold the Amiga to me :-) (well, my parents). The actual game would have been alright if it was just a little easier and didn't require you to cheat.

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Post by GarryG » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:54 am

I originally voted that this might be interesting, but after reading the last few posts, I'm erring towards snoozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ fest...

And I program for a living :shock:



Seriously, I think you would really have to watch how this one was done!
Why not visit my ramblings at Garry's Gaming Blog

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TMR
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Post by TMR » Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:39 pm

GarryG wrote:I originally voted that this might be interesting, but after reading the last few posts, I'm erring towards snoozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ fest...

And I program for a living :shock:
That's pretty much been my point... =-)

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hbhzth
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Post by hbhzth » Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:05 pm

Shaun.Bebbington wrote:Some of the things that can be done with the Speccy's beeper is quite remarkable, but I suppose the credit for that sort of thing is with Tim Follin if I remember correctly.
Being a Commodore-man I know about Tim Follins audio wizardy, esp. on C64 and some on Amiga. But on the Speccy I am blank! It would be a great idea for a feature about the Follin Bros; how they made music (and the routines) on the different machines. What they are most proud of, etc. This should be an article that scores high among many readers, as it is multi-format and game-related.

It could spawn an whole series of articles on sound/music in games - who made it - what limitations the different formats/machines had - how much did they earn on a game - I could go on and on and on...

PLZ RG! :idea:

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Post by CraigGrannell » Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:39 pm

hbhzth wrote:PLZ RG! :idea:
Last time I contacted Tim about this, he didn't seem remotely interested. Might be worth another go now, I guess, but don't hold your breath.
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TMR
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Post by TMR » Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:44 pm

CraigGrannell wrote:
hbhzth wrote:PLZ RG! :idea:
Last time I contacted Tim about this, he didn't seem remotely interested. Might be worth another go now, I guess, but don't hold your breath.
We interviewed him for Commodore Zone in the late 1990s, he described the Speccy version of his music routine as sounding "like a vacuum cleaner with nails stuck in it". We laughed a lot, must be said...

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Post by Richard » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:23 pm

An important point missing from this discussion is that many people who were in demogroups were often still students, i.e. they had more time on their hands. Demo's were a good way of killing time and were also a good way of show casing your talents. That is why a significant number of scene people have then been headhunted to go onto write code, music for games, video software, MP3 players, 3rd bench mark software, design graphics chips etc. Thus if anything it is often historically important in terms of seeing where some of these amazing people first started out.

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Post by Kenz » Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:25 pm

hbhzth wrote:Being a Commodore-man I know about Tim Follins audio wizardy, esp. on C64 and some on Amiga. But on the Speccy I am blank!
Why not try one of my retro game music podcasts to hear Tims Speccy music. Show #3 is dedicated to Tim, Show #5 contains some of Tims amazing 48K Speccy tunes and the new Show #7 contains some of his Speccy 128 tunes.

http://www.binaryzone.org/podcast/

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:)
http://www.psytronik.net/ - New games for retro gaming systems!
http://www.binaryzone.org/retrostore/ - Binary Zone Retro Store!
http://psytronik.blogspot.com/ - Psytronik Software Blog now online!

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quantum
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Post by quantum » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:17 am

if anything it is often historically important in terms of seeing where some of these amazing people first started out.
Exactly!

I was a member of a group in the "pc scene" many many years ago and even published an "ok" intro (http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=4566). I also know that some of the more famous coders went on to publish games, such as Tran (Zone 66) and the Future Crew (Max Payne), so a catch up would be very interesting.
I think there are more people out there than you think, wanting to read about the more technical side of game-making
Hopefully that's true, as to truly appreciate demos I think you need understand why certain effects are so difficult to pull off in real-time.[/url]

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hbhzth
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Post by hbhzth » Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:40 am

Hopefully that's true, as to truly appreciate demos I think you need understand why certain effects are so difficult to pull off in real-time.
Understanding the limitations defined by the hardware is vital - yes. Like doing smooth graphics scrolling (in X-Y directions) on PC seemed to be a hard thing to do, because there was no register for moving the screen a pixel a time (right PC-Coders?). Think there was some democoders who made scrollers first, then the technique was 'stolen' and put into games coming out later.

As for myself I used to program ASM on C64 and knows machine language from that perspective. But it is no problem relating to other platforms. Guess most platforms had some kind of demo-scene? I know there was one on C64, Amiga, Atari, Spectrum, PC and others.

I am certain many readers will be pleased to read technical articles now and then, it will be a good alternative to the "normal" ones; often containing short text describing a game, followed by a HUGE picture covering 90% of the 2 page article, often a screenshot of a 200x320 pixel screen enlarged so much that each pixel have the same size like a single pez candy :) anyway it is too much.... Guess it's OK if one read the magazine from afar?

In short: I welcome more text; technical stuff, detailed interviews (But questions like "what's their favorite Dr. Who" and other non-informative stuff which I rather would go on living without knowing). And where are the drug confessions? I have not read any article about programmers admitting offensive substance abuse, which seem to follow 48-hours coding-sessions! he-he... BTW keep up doing large interviews with programmers aka the last Spectrum issue. It was good. Some programming info sneaked into the article. But again, me being a C64 person, it became a bit over the top with speccy stuff in the previous issue of RG. But I let it go, thinking it will be less spectrum in the future, now that RG have covered it so much, with one whole issue dedicated to it. Let it be so, pleeease!

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TMR
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Post by TMR » Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:35 pm

hbhzth wrote:Understanding the limitations defined by the hardware is vital - yes. Like doing smooth graphics scrolling (in X-Y directions) on PC seemed to be a hard thing to do, because there was no register for moving the screen a pixel a time (right PC-Coders?).
There's no way to do that on a lot of machines but they fake it, the issue on earlier PC video cards was more about synchronising the movement of data to the vertical blank; if memory serves, SVGA was the first standard where the programmer could latch onto the vblank and without that sync it's just a matter of setting timers and crossing your fingers, more often than not it won't sync properly and the graphics will tear during the display - how crap that'll look will depend on how consistent the tearing is, ironically it tends to look a bit better if it jumps around the display rather than happening at the same place each frame.

And i bet that if we asked all the RG readers how interesting they found that last paragraph on a scale of 1 to 10 we'd have to wake the majority up first. =-)

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