Adventurer #14
30 июня 2003

Scene - Democoders Questionnarie: best zx demo.

<b>Scene</b> - Democoders Questionnarie: best zx demo.
Democoders Questionnarie

Many of us have their own favouri-
te speccy demos: Forever, Shit
For Brains, Dogma, Refresh... - I
can proceed with the names but eve-
rybody knows the first places of
charts. Each of us finds something
special in every particular demo,
trying to perceive the atmosphere
created by authors of the work.
These impressions become deeper if
you have your own experience of be-
ing a creator. Today I've decided
to ask some questions to the pe-
ople, devoted themselves to demoma-
king. Honestly, this idea was ta-
ken by me from C64 zine Attitude,
where Cactus/Oxyron made a sur-
vey amongst the C64 democoders.
I wanted to know the anwers on the
same questions from speccy co-
ders. So, this is a list of coders
I could seize:

Flying/Digital Reality     
Poisoned Cyberjack/Triebkraft

And here are the questions:

1. What effect and in what demo
impressed you most of all?

2. What fx is the best of yours?

3. What is your favourite speccy

And now read the answers, I think
it is interesting not only for me.

1. What effect and in what demo
impressed you most of all?

Flying> Shock megademo from
Ethanol Software Inc. (ESI), the
part with the moving chessboard.
It is the most impressive effect
I've ever seen for sure (conside-
ring only single effects). I remem-
ber that shock I had when I saw it
for the first time. I stared at
that chessboard for a long time.
This shock became greater when I
discovered the control keys... :)

CJ> It's hard to say at once... Ma-
ny of demos impressed me much du-
ring different periods of time
Vibrations, Illusion, Trashe, Con-
dommed, Power Up, Shit For
Brains, Rage, Spirius, Refresh,
Insane, Jam, Napalm, Dogma,
Tryptomine Dreams, The Loop - he-
re are the most outstanding ones.
The strongest emotions caused Ref-
resh, there was no 3D on
Spectrum before this demo... The
most impressive effect, I think,
texturemapping with phong from Na-
palm. I couldn't believe that it
is possible on Spectrum. Besides,
my Profi worked at 170% of speed
in turbo mode, so it looked fine
:) The techniques used in modern
demos are more powerful now,
but... it doesn't amaze me much :(
So let's talk about the last centu-
ries' effects.

Vivid> To be honest, usually ef-
fect impress me up to the moment
when I understand how it was done
and make it better. So I have to
see the code level higher than
I've reached. For example, i had
saw the mirror rotator in GOA and
Refresh, then in Tryptomine Dream
I made it in multicolour at
fullscreen. Then voxels from In-
sane - I made the same in multico-
lour in 3 ints. Phong from Napalm
I made the analogue in Tryptomine
Dream. And then 3D I realized in
multicolour in Stellar Contour.

Mandelbrot Fractal Zooming in the
old pc demo Crystal Dreams-2.
I made the same in multicolour on
Spectrum. Show me the effect made
on Spectrum and I will make it
better. The thing that i want to
make but I don't know how to reali-
ze it to work fast is 3D bump
(remember the cube from Refresh).
It could be possible to make it
with isometric surface if Z80 had
a higher productivity. I think it
would be too slow even with Flat
shading, not only TMap.

sq> Aha. As I understand, impressi-
ve in code? Hm, honestly, i never
thought of it, so I can't say
anything about any single effect.
I think the whole demo must
impress, not the single effects,
and if you like one effect and
don't like another from the same
demo - it is not right, perhaps.
What I can remember just now, is
tmap+phong from Napalm -the ef-
fect with eye 'pulled' on a candy.
Visually, I like toruses very
much, that's why I like gouraud
mapped torus from Refresh, phong
mapped torus from Voodoo and a to-
rus from Life Forms. Also I like
zoomer from Melange - looks lo-
vely. Recently released effects -
a flower on a blank white screen
from Inbetween. If talking about
non_chunks effects, I like multico-
lour by Vivid, very beautiful. His
Doom from Stellar Contour is so-
mething outstanding! But with all
my love to chunks, I think that
it's time to make non-chunks
demos. However, don't listen to
me, do what you like! Else, every-
body will use white background and
over a year it will bother everybo-
dy as it was with chunks :)

Fyrex> I like many things equally,
so it's hard to choose one,...
perhaps, the most technically
impressive are the multicolour ef-
fects from the latest Brainwave
demo, Stellar Contour, as I re-
member. I'm not a multicolour fan,
but it looks funny there.

Rom&Fux> Env from Refresh.

D-Art> Sometimes ago I was wonde-
red by voxel Mars from Over The
Top, I've never seen the most rea-
listic effect on Speccy.

Mad_rain> The tunnel from
YES1997. I've never seen so-
mething like that before. Very in-
teresting algorithm.

Gasman> Probably the voxel
landscape from 3SC's Insane
(and later in Higher State). Usu-
ally, demo effects don't just get
invented - they borrow ideas from
earlier demos, expanding on them,
slowly evolving and pushing the bo-
undaries a bit further. (For
example, the famous multicolour
part in Shock was just a develop-
ment from a similar effect in NMI
3.) But this time, Baze and As-
tex brought us a completely new ef-
fect, with all the possible tricks
and tweaks already in place. It
zooms, it spins, it has suspension
bridges... and yet, as far as I
can remember, this was the first
time I'd ever seen real, fast, so-
lid 3D on the Speccy.

It's been copied several times by
different  coders  (myself
included...) but never so well as
the original. It's especially
impressive when you remember that
1995-96 was a lull in the
Spectrum's life, with Exodus being
perhaps the only real innovators,
and 3SC were still a new, relative-
ly unknown group.

2. What fx is the best of yours?

Flying> It's hard to say... I
ought to separate programming from
the exterior beauty to answer the
question. Moreover, the last thing
is the desert of our (me and Arty)
cooperation, cos the look of the
effects from our demos was mainly
Arty's contribution.

However, I need to say, that usual-
ly i'm not pleased with the quali-
ty of my programming over the
month since it has been done alre-
ady (maybe somebody has the same
feelings). And the code i reckon
as the best code of myself usually
is not in effects, but in the in-
ner programm organization. So, I
like Jam in a way it's organized
on the level of sources, and so
the Scenergy. If talking about the
difficuilty of effects' code, I
should mention my 512 bytes intro
released at CAFe'2002 with the
most perfect code that I ever
made. I can say it for sure, that
it's the almost only work that is
optimized in it's size :) Visually
(without noticing the code) I like
very much: jumping crystall in 7th
Reality; polygonal heart illumina-
ted by the lamp and morphings in
the end of Binary Love; final ani-
mation in Forever (though I don't
like to discuss Forever as the set
of effects, it was planned and rea-
lized as a whole and so it must be
taken as complete product);
another crystall in CC'999 invita-
tion dentro; animation with dan-
cing Arty and 'dotty medusa' in
Jam, and of course, I think, our
best intro from Doom pre-release
(with dots, originally by Qu-

CJ> The most powerful thing among
_released_ effects is my
3D-engine (Harm, Pneuma). I
don't like to boast, however, it
is faster for about 30% than that,
made by Sair00s, in the same con-
ditions, but it's capabilities are
much lesser. For example, it has
Gourad-shading for 15 tacts aga-
inst standart in 26. I can't pick
out any single effect, because the
modern techniques (chunks, 3D) are
commonly based on an engine. The
most powerful _unreleased_ stuff -
the engine of the game called Bom-
berman, which was being made by
me and GD/4D. Maybe someday it
will be finished (???).

Vivid> The first part of Stellar
Contour - multicolour 'Wolf-kind'
engine. The main feature is multi-
colour and 16 fps. But Alone Coder
gave an idea how to improve it up
to 25 fps - to trace not every co-
lumn of rays, but every second co-
lumn and then to interpolate it.

sq> Oops, I've made nothing by my-
self, i'm always stealing the ef-
fects :)) As people say :)) He-he.
Really, the best effect of mine
is, of course, 3D from Summermilk.
By the way, i'll tell you a
secret: actually, it's not slow,
but fast enough. The reason why it
is slowed down is the background -
they are beind drawn too clumsy.
Mmm... does anybody understand
what I mean?

Fyrex> I have nothing of this kind

Rom&Fux> 3d engine (not released

D-Art> It's hard to say. I try do
not make lame effects at all. When
i'll finish Oxygen - you'll see.

Mad_rain> In Livingstone 2
intro (as I remember the name of
the game) with something dropping
on a text. It's not too diffi-
cuilt, but looks funny.

Gasman> The reflecting lake in Lo-
sing Victoria. It was originally
inspired by the Java applet that's
used on loads of websites, but the
idea of doing it on the Spectrum
was an instant leap of the imagina-
tion that I could only make by
thinking about coding, design and
graphics all at once. The same is
probably true about the act of co-
ding it and putting it in the demo
everything was done by myself, wor-
king from one vision (including
drawing the picture, which is usu-
ally my weak point...), so it pro-
bably turned out much better than
if it had been a group effort. Co-
ding it was a big gamble - until
the final bytes of code were
there, I didn't know whether it wo-
uld look realistic, or whether the-
re would be enough processor time
for it to work. Luckily it did,
and my weeks of coding and pixel-
ling weren't wasted...

However, being fortunate enough to
present this at Assembly is what
makes this truly memorable for me.
The applause it got from a stadium
full of thousands of sceners is so-
mething I'll never forget (even if
the applause was started by Antti,
the other Spectrum fan at the
party ;-) )

3. What is your favourite speccy

Flying> Certainly, Shit 4 Brainz
by Progress. There's nothing more
astonishing that this demo.
Though, there are a lot of good
speccy demos, which are amazing
in different ways: one has really
tough code (demos by RST7,
Exploder, Sair00s, Vivid), one has
outstanding design (4D, E-Mage
and many others), one has the
strongest psychological affection
(as latest, The Loop and Summer-
milk). I don't forget Shock mega-
demo, Echology and some others -
the classics. But all this demos
look weaker than S4B for me, which
contains every element of a good
demo. One can disagree, but it's
my constant opinion since seeing
this demo at Enlight'97.

CJ> Condommed by E-Mage -
that's for sure!!! It was a real
shock for me at that time - wonder-
ful music, exellent design and, of
course, code. Actually, even then
the effects seemed to be not so
difficuilt - now i'm still convin-
ced in this, although their beauty
is not the way they were made, but
in originality and a brilliant syn-
chronization with music. Techni-
cally, I like not the effects, I
like the details multiloader (the
first one working fine), it's fix
for different machines (i hate
'Pentagon only' !!!), and of cour-
se digital samples in music!!!
unforgettable and incomparable

Now I know this demo by memory,
though I watch it from time to
time - just to relax and to remem-
ber those good old days :)

Vivid> Hard to say. The reason is
that I have several favourite
demos. It's, of course, Placebo's
demos - Dogma, Lifeforms and
Inbetween. Sair00s's code at that
time was the level that everybody
had try to reach.

I like demos by Exploder - Power
Up, Action, Refresh. This demos
have no pauses and almost ideal

sq> Condommed. It is still asto-
nishing. Perhaps, somebody doesn't
know, that KVA was 15 when he ma-
de it with Rum (and, btw, 14 when
he made Trashe :) but it's not the
point. I think there are no such
demos on Spectrum, which had that
fine combination of story, code
and design. And the soundtrack, i
think, is of the best tracks on
Speccy, moreover, I reckon music
the main thing in demo.

Fyrex> Dogma. Good effects,
graphics, the story and so on.
With comparison to Shit For Bra-
ins - even then it had poor ef-
fects, hackneyed theme, that was
socially bored already. Anamnesis
looks fine too, but it's good to
watch it for no more than 3 times.

Rom&Fux> Condommed by E-Mage

D-Art> It's hard to choose only
one demo. I've seen nothing good
for years. From the old ones
Power Up.

Mad_rain> Dies Irae - classic,
very beautiful and nice demo. So-
mething like this I long for nowa-

Gasman> Shit 4 Brains - probably
the most influential ZX demo ever.
One of the first trackmos on the
Speccy, and certainly the one that
inspired all trackmos after it...
the Second Reality of the
Spectrum scene? I think so. Even
today, it's hard to find a demo
which combines visuals and music
quite so well as this one - that's
certainly something I always try
to achieve in my demos. Putting to-
gether 5 minutes of fast-paced ef-
fects to match the soundtrack must
have taken an immense amount of

The ending effects are, to me, one
of the great moments of Speccy his-
tory - the drums come to a stop,
leaving behind an echoing melody
as atmospheric as any Tim Follin
composition, as we plunge into the
whirlpool... truly breathtaking,
especially on a party bigscreen.

"We think it's enough"... it certa-
inly is.

elph> So, that's it. I think every-
body noticed, that a best effect
and a best demo are different con-
ceptions, standing far away from
each other even for those, who ma-
de the art out of CODE.

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