Demo-Scene from yesteryear!

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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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Post by Antiriad2097 » Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:51 pm

8.5 ;)
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Post by hbhzth » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:52 pm

TMR wrote: 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. =-)
I guess that depends upon how it is written - like reading the above I agree; few would appreciate it. But then again, there are ways to write things and make it easy & understandable for most to read. I do not think you had that in mind when typing that, but hey, you got the info over to me - I'll give you that - even if it was a bit cryptic. Words can be so easily misunderstood or have double meanings. But there comes the image into its right place, besides the article, supporting the text, explaining what the words may have problems elaborate. Like screenshots of your 'tearing' effect, making it more easy for novice users to understand.

As for PC's there are the time before SVGA & 3D cards, before & after, like night and day in the sense on what one could do gamewise. And the crossover from DOS to Windows, with it's DirectX programming. But if you ask me, that is essentially what we have today and should not be part of RG, as it is not RETRO - yet! Agree anyone?

I know for a fact that Commodore machines like C64, C128, Amiga series, all had hardware support for moving the screen - the PC didn't, some machines had sprites - PC didn't. As for Mac I do not know. Help anyone. The Amiga also had something called "Bobs" that was a kind of sprite, which I think was 'invented' in the demoscene. Not to forget the MOD-tracker which spawned a whole new community of hobby music-makers, of some went pro later. There is so much to take hold of... Please mr. RG-journalist - write! About the pioneer computer users.

The ones that got hold of the hardware first, and started to tweak around with it, learn how to use it, those who got bored of playing games, wanted to make something come alive on screen, move around, change color, whatever. And the desire to share this with others, not only for them selves. Viola - the demo scene was born!

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Post by TMR » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:02 pm

hbhzth wrote:I guess that depends upon how it is written - like reading the above I agree; few would appreciate it. But then again, there are ways to write things and make it easy & understandable for most to read.
Not without cutting out the bulk of the detail; i'd never write a paragraph like that for an RG article because it'd never get published i'm sure of it... i'd have to say "before VGA, most scrolling games didn't work very well because of the hardware" which sort of explains things but doesn't really... i mean, if that's what you want fine but it's hardly a technical article at that level.
hbhzth wrote:I know for a fact that Commodore machines like C64, C128, Amiga series, all had hardware support for moving the screen - the PC didn't, some machines had sprites - PC didn't.
The ST didn't have either of those, neither did the CPC, Spectrum or BBC but they still managed smooth scrolling with various degrees of success from title to title.
hbhzth wrote:As for Mac I do not know. Help anyone.
Nope, the pointer may have been a lone hardware sprite but i'd be surprised; no hardware scroll.
hbhzth wrote:The Amiga also had something called "Bobs" that was a kind of sprite, which I think was 'invented' in the demoscene.
BOBs (or Blitter OBjects, sometimes Blitter Object Blocks) were generated, as the name suggests, using the blitter and any Amiga programmer worth his assembler had to know how to handle them. i think BOB was even official Commodore terminology in the same way that the C64 officially has MOBs (Moveable Object Blocks) rather than sprites.
hbhzth wrote:The ones that got hold of the hardware first, and started to tweak around with it, learn how to use it, those who got bored of playing games, wanted to make something come alive on screen, move around, change color, whatever. And the desire to share this with others, not only for them selves. Viola - the demo scene was born!
Actually, that's not really how the demo scene was born... it's a lot more complex and certainly less fluffy and happy than that!

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:51 pm

TMR wrote:The ST didn't have either of those, neither did the CPC, Spectrum or BBC but they still managed smooth scrolling with various degrees of success from title to title.
The early STs could scroll smoothly vertically by simply changing the start adress of the screen area. You could lay out your map 'off screen' and scroll the screen area up and down very simply. Horizontal scrolling required a lot of work in software due to the way screen addressing worked, with it working in 4 word blocks, 1 word for each 16 pixels of each screen layer. Hence, the bulk of horizontal scrollers resorted to block scrolling.

STE solved the problem with its new hardware, so you could use the blitter to shift things on pixel boundaries.

{At least that's how I remember it)
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Post by TMR » Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:01 pm

Antiriad2097 wrote:The early STs could scroll smoothly vertically by simply changing the start adress of the screen area. You could lay out your map 'off screen' and scroll the screen area up and down very simply.
That kind of scrolling is relatively simple but it's still a pain in the arse keeping the software sprites in sync with it... and that's the point, it's still a lot more fiddly than having hardware scroll and sprites.

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Post by Greyfox » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:14 pm

this has now turned into a Computer hardware debate...bottom line....should RG cover the demoscene? lol

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:36 am

TMR wrote:
Antiriad2097 wrote:The early STs could scroll smoothly vertically by simply changing the start adress of the screen area. You could lay out your map 'off screen' and scroll the screen area up and down very simply.
That kind of scrolling is relatively simple but it's still a pain in the arse keeping the software sprites in sync with it... and that's the point, it's still a lot more fiddly than having hardware scroll and sprites.
Fair enough, I'll take your word for it. ST is the only system I've done stuff like this on so I don't have much to compare on a practical level.
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Post by quantum » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:31 am

hbhzth wrote: As for PC's there are the time before SVGA & 3D cards, before & after, like night and day in the sense on what one could do gamewise. And the crossover from DOS to Windows, with it's DirectX programming. But if you ask me, that is essentially what we have today and should not be part of RG, as it is not RETRO - yet! Agree anyone?
Yes in the DOS days developers wrote directly to "the hardware", which is why it was such a pain in the arse to get some demos/games running on different PCs.

I think it'll be tricky to bring the game side of the demo scene out in the article. However, as some have already discussed, it could talk about cracktros and bring back many fond memories ;-)

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Post by hbhzth » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:44 am

quantum wrote:I think it'll be tricky to bring the game side of the demo scene out in the article. However, as some have already discussed, it could talk about cracktros and bring back many fond memories ;-)
Yeah. There were many famous and nice intros. One C64 group I would like to mention was the intros by SCG (Scouse Cracking Group). Those were very professionally done, like sensing if it was run on PAL or NTSC computer and adjusting timings/interrupt to be stable on both, checked if you had 64 or 128, fading things in/out - not just splashing things onto the screen, and much more which I can not go into here. They were pro's. Nice design too.

But there were also countless others; good and memorable intros, from all over the world. I made a collection at one time, linking about 15 intros into one file. And who does not remember the intros by Eagle Soft, with their US imports to Europe?

Besides that crackers also often included trainer functions in their releases, some quite detailed and good, like Omega Supreme's (Shadows/Rawhead) LAST NINJA 2 crack+trainer; it had several screens with stuff you could turn on/off, making it easy playing the game (which was difficult at times), opening up for exploring the game. Last Ninja 2 was huge. That trainer enhanced the game experience for a lot of people, who normally would not get very far without it. Perhaps a feature on the best trainers? :D

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Post by TMR » Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:24 am

hbhzth wrote:Yeah. There were many famous and nice intros. One C64 group I would like to mention was the intros by SCG (Scouse Cracking Group). Those were very professionally done, like sensing if it was run on PAL or NTSC computer and adjusting timings/interrupt to be stable on both, checked if you had 64 or 128, fading things in/out - not just splashing things onto the screen, and much more which I can not go into here.
The Scousers intros that people mostly remember were nicking bits from Morpheus by Andrew Braybrook; the particular style of bias relief on the logo, the ideas for system detection (well, the C64 has a register that says if it's PAL or NTSC but it's not totally reliable so some more recent detections use a "belt and braces" approach and double check), the font in the case of the one in the screenshot below and i'd not be surprised if the multiplex code wasn't Braybrook's too;

Image
(Image courtesy of http://intros.c64.org/)

From Alleykat onwards, Braybrook's code sniffed at the system and by the time Uridium Plus was released it was able to re-time itself for PAL or NTSC and would shunt a C128 into 2MHz mode in the upper and lower borders to get more work done during flyback. In this case the coders doing the intros weren't pros, just taking their lead off the pros.
hbhzth wrote:Perhaps a feature on the best trainers? :D
Oh don't go there... seriously, the minute you get into which is the best trainer menu all hell breaks loose because there was no standard to trainers for a long time and some games that were technically +8 or so ended up claiming +22 or something daft by double or even triple training!

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Post by TMR » Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:32 am

Antiriad2097 wrote:
TMR wrote:That kind of scrolling is relatively simple but it's still a pain in the arse keeping the software sprites in sync with it... and that's the point, it's still a lot more fiddly than having hardware scroll and sprites.
Fair enough, I'll take your word for it. ST is the only system I've done stuff like this on so I don't have much to compare on a practical level.
Well, think about having one object on the screen on an ST; when the scroll moves down a scanline it has to be removed from the bitmap, moved up a scanline and redrawn in order to counter that shift otherwise it just travels with the scrolling so the soft sprite routine is constantly beavering away and trying to work out where each line of the object is. When using this system, does the ST screen RAM "wrap around" or do you get two blocks of screen RAM one "above" the other?

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:58 am

Its not wrap around, the ST just addresses whichever area of memory you tell it to as a continous block.

If you put data into memory in the correct positions to equate to a screen width, you can have it as 'tall' as you like and scroll up and down at will - the screen address is just a window across that memory. Makes it easy to have several screens in height for a map so you don't worry about drawing a background once its been created, though that obviously comes with a big hit to available memory.

In the experiments I had, I'd just add one row of tiles (for ease, 16x16) to either end depending on scroll direction, then when I reached a 16 pixel 'borderline' I'd blit the lot back/forward in memory in one hit to keep the screen area within controlled boundaries in the available memory.

I can see how you'd have a problem with software sprites though. I worked round that by building the map offscreen, blitting it to a drawing area then dumping any foreground graphics onto that. This meant I never had to repair any holes I'd made in the background. If you double buffer the drawing area/screen memory position you get a smooth update. It does mean there's no cheating and only drawing things that have moved, so a full redraw is needed every cycle.

I doubt that's a particularly efficient method of coding, but it was fast enough for my tinkering.
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Post by hbhzth » Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:16 pm

TMR wrote:The Scousers intros that people mostly remember were nicking bits from Morpheus by Andrew Braybrook; the particular style of bias relief on the logo, the ideas for system detection (well, the C64 has a register that says if it's PAL or NTSC but it's not totally reliable so some more recent detections use a "belt and braces" approach and double check), the font in the case of the one in the screenshot below and i'd not be surprised if the multiplex code wasn't Braybrook's too;
I know about what you say with the PAL/NTSC thing, but still, that does not account for implementing the timing raster IRQ with colorbars, multiplexers, borderstuff, etc. That needs to be coded into whatever you make; using lookups into tables or whatever.

Their logo was the same in most their intros & demos and actually started out as a pure character based logo (using C= key and SHIFT to make ASCI logotypes). The one in the picture had a biased 3D look and was in either multicolor characterset or sprites. Perhaps inspired by some other graphics, but not ripped.

I do not agree that this is their most known intro, as this one is one of the early ones. I do not recall they used it that much, probably very few releases. Later they used colorbars going around the logo, behind and infront of it in a sinus. That one was used A LOT in their 'glory days'.

I'll give you that they took the charset for the scroll from Braybook's game. In demos & intros character sets & fonts were often borrowed, but always credited to wherever one took it (sometimes well known graphics artists made logos & fronts for different groups).

The font is probably the only thing that they 'borrowed' from him. As for their code, I have personally checked it in MC monitor; both demos & intros - and SCG are not the type of people 'ripping' code, I promise...

As for multiplexers, every decent programmer had his own version of that routine. It is a well known thing in demos, competing for having good or special multiplexer routines. This was a early one, I think.
TMR wrote:In this case the coders doing the intros weren't pros, just taking their lead off the pros.


That is a statement I will not agree upon, in this case and others. Many demomakers & intromakers were pros, some ending up making games later or doing both. Hey, even game makers made demos too - compunet is a good example of that. I have many examples there.

The 'serious' groups used selfmade intros, perhaps there were cases of lamers reusing code & stealing or re-cracking - whatever - but pro crackers were skilled programmers too, making their intros in TURBO ASSEMBLY as they had to be compact & short, being able to fit them into different memory parts, etc.

From my knowledge to programmers as a group, most turbo assembler users were decent coders and did not rely on stealing their code. It is a thing of honor, I guess. Of, course, in the early years who have not learned from looking through other people's code, getting ideas, and learning the trade, as it were? I still often freeze up demos or games and peek into the code - looking what style of programming the different programmers use. It is easy to see if there is creative use, or not.

I am a fan of 'beautiful code'. And in that case, some of the most creative and decent programming I have seen in demos and intros, SCG was one of the better (they had one REALLY good programmer and several other members that were ok) ones.

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Post by SirClive » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:17 am

hbhzth wrote:Perhaps a feature on the best trainers? :D
Gola, definately Gola.

or Hi Tec.
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Post by psj3809 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:51 am

SirClive wrote:I have pretty much no interest in the demo scene. Scrolling messages and music and the likes didn't do it for me.

Now a feature about shareware games on the 16 bits or the illegal 'menu discs' would be interesting.

Infact, I would be REALLY interested in someone tracking down the Pompey Pirates or Medway Boys and getting the lowdown.
Totally agree with Sir Clive. I was impressed by the intros to many cracked games and i did have a few disks with demo stuff on but back then I was solely into games and might have thought 'hmmm thats impressive' but then 5 seconds later formatting the disk so i could put a game on it.

Be great to talk to the Pompey Pirates or Medway Boys though. The demos were impressive but i was solely into games.

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