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Interviews with Demosceners & Developers / Interview with Corial / Focus Design
« Last post by 4pLaY on August 31, 2020, 07:37:59 PM »
Hello Corial. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi everyone. My real life name is Sřren Bondrup Rasmussen and I'm 43 years old, which probably means that I have the average age for an Amiga scener. I live in a suburb outside Copenhagen, but I grew up on the Island of Falster, which was a great place to grow up, also in terms of getting in contact with the demoscene many, many years ago.

Outside my scene life, I work as a consultant+developer making frontend/C#/integration and more for a small company. I used to code solutions for Sharepoint Online and Episerver CMS, but I'm having a break from that now, even though I like CMS development. I'm also the father of two boys, and I also enjoy running marathons here in Denmark (and abroad) when the world is not in annoying lockdown. So yeah, not that much sparetime for the scene anymore, but I try to release something every year, and I do my best to still visit the Gerp party, as it is just my cup of party.

When did you get interested in computers and what was your first computer?

Now where did it all begin? I remember getting a c64 at the age of 8, but it was only used for gaming. I did think that those crackintros before the games were fun to look at, and I remember some Ikari and Dynamic Duo intros. But the demoscene slowly came to my attention via my brother, who is nowadays known as Optima, but back then he was a graphician known as The R in Static Bytes. Even though we grew up on an island, there was a fairly large Amiga community. Buck and Elin also from Static Bytes lived very close by, but that's a different story. The first real encounter with the demoscene, which made me feel "what the heck did I just see there?!" was when Optima put on the fabulous Boulder Demo from Tristar. That Tristar logo...those scrolling balls...and that fantastic music. That simply gave me goosebumps. I also remember some Trilogy demodisks and some Kefrens stuff, but it was not until 1991 that I really got hooked. It was when I visited the local party Amiga Summit Convention, which was organized by Static Bytes. I remember that my parents allowed me to visit the party one day, because Optima was one of the organizers. So, I got to see that epic democompetition and still remember the impact that Global Trash left me with.

I had never seen raytracing before, and that spaceship animation looked absolutely smashing! So this was in 1991. At the age of 14, there was an after-school offering that I signed up for. It was an "advanced computer club" held after school in the evening. Others played pool etc, but I was one of the few kids that was interested in computers, and I was thrilled that I was allowed to join it. I had to pursuade some boring adults/teachers, and I simply think they got tired of me in the end and allowed me in. It turned out that Kollaps (Cult and Light) was the teacher in that computerclub, and he became a very important person along with Optima in teaching me how to program the Amiga. I remember many Saturday mornings that I rode my bike 8 km each way to visit Kollaps, and he taught me much  about many things, and his mother always brought us tea and cookies. Great memories! But that "advanced computer club" was important, because really many of us founded Focus Design. That was 1992 and that was a great period of my life (Denmark also won the Euro 1992 in football, and I was also a happy football kid) and I have super fond memories in my backpack from back then. I especially remember a trip to The Party in 1993 where there were about 20 of us going by old and slow trains, and we simply occupied everything. We had our computers and monitors in those really big and unhandy cardboard boxes and we really made many fellow passengers mad, because we took up every available seat...we were kids, we didn't care, because we were on our way to The Party 3!

Can you tell us a bit about the story behind Focus Design?

Focus Design has its roots in that local computerclub. It was founded right there, and most regular attendees in that club joined. Later on we expanded and got members from outside. I think we had a maximum of 15 members at some point, but I could be wrong. We were quite certain that the group should be named Focus, but Kollaps suggested that we should call it Focus Design, and so we decided on that. Our productions didn't really excel in having good design, so maybe we should decide on just Focus. Anyway, time passed, we made some releases, we got members such as Coma and Bigmama, but eventually the members got other interests and other things to do. People went to school elsewhere, and all of a sudden it was just Optima and I who were left. We kind of kept the group alive without releasing anything, but at some point we killed the group. Optima went to Scopex and Haujobb and I was just a hangaround for quite some years. In 2007 we then returned from the grave and began releasing again. More members joined from Hungary, UK, Sweden and Norway, and that is the membercomposition that we have now. But yeah, we are not super active as such anymore, but at least once in a while releases pop up.

Our biggest succes back in the mid nineties must have been the party trilogy, South Sealand Party. It was a Danish summer party that ended up getting great releases such as Love/Virtual Dreams, Phi/Artwork, Chronic/Passion and more.

What Amiga(s) did you have in the past and if you remember, what were the(ir) configuration(s)?

I started out with an unexpanded A500. But as everybody else I upgraded to 1MB and got an extra diskdrive. Then I got a vanilla A1200. First I purchased a 020 card, then a 030 card, until I got my hands on a 060 card. My current Amiga, which really only leaves the cupboard for testing is a 16MB 060. All my productions are made in an emulator and then tested on real hw. Oh btw, I also had A600 a couple of years ago, but I never used it and I therefore gave it to Booster in order to give it a good home with a loving parent.

Do you remember which tools you used back when you started out, and what are you using these days for development?

The tools back then were first Seka assembler and later an early version of AsmOne. The tools today are still somewhat scarce. I use the newest version of AsmOne for writing assembler, which is the only language used in all of our productions. Then I use PicCon for converting graphics into the chunky format, I use The Player (NoName's build) for playing modules, and I use Scout's excellent 8 bitplanes chunky2planar routine. When I need to pack things it's Blueberry's Shrinkler. The emulator I'm using is some older version of Amiga Forever. So no crossplatform development, no C language, no streaming music, no Rocket, and it's a setup I am super happy with, and I don't have plans to change anything really. I thought about prototyping effects in a different language once though, but never really got it going, and now I don't care about it anymore. So the environment is actually very simplistic but it works for me. It's ok that it feels a bit primitive, and is something that is a lot different from the coding/environment you have under your fingers at work. I like doing stuff for the 060, and I will continue to make productions for that target platform as long as I remain active in the Amiga scene. I never got comfortable coding on the A500, so I'll stick with my chunky effects.

Do you have some tips for anyone that might want to start doing Amiga productions in 2020?

Well, luckily some very bright people, such as Bartman and Hannibal, have made some clever toolchains for A500 development. So, if you feel like being very close to the hardware, then there are options. But never, ever skip your tests on real hardware! The Amiga isn't super easy to code really, but nowadays you can find lot of codesnippets etc on Google, and the EAB website should also be a good place to ask questions. Doing c2p based effects is different than banging the hardware as you would do it on the A500. But, if you find sourcecodes from the late 90's PC demos you should have good options for understanding the principles for tunnels, bumpmapping and so on, and how to implement them. And then you need to decide on your preferred programming language. I personally never wrote anything in C, but learning assembler might be quite intimidating, if you haven't had any kind of experience with it before. And be realistic. Getting the first goddamn moving dot on screen is truly a succes. Don't expect that your first effect will necessarily be groundbreaking, or that it will even impress your cat. And really, do it for fun and not for anything else. If your biggest dream is to code an RGB plasma on A500, go right ahead! If the biggest dream is to code a relatively smooth 1x1 pixel water effect on a 060, then do that instead. Oh, and do it for your own fun. There will both be people that will cheer your effort, and others who will express things such as "060 is not a real Amiga!!!... and I can do it better on my unexpanded A500!!!...if I wanted to!!". The feedback on Pouet should not be the only goal for struggling many, many evenings on getting something on the screen.

What would you consider the best production you worked on and why?

The process is very, very important. I would never accept working on a hobbyproject, such as a demo, if it was run like a project at work. So, I tend to find nice equalminded people to work with, who also have scarce sparetime, and who also get tired of the scene from time to time. I have the best chats with Mygg and Optic on FB when we produce demos, and that is the most valued part of it. And then we think that we make some demos that we at least like, and that's the goal of it. A super fun process and an end result that WE like.

But to mention productions... hmm, the tiny intro Leisner was the most important one, as it marked my comeback to the demo scene. Really tough to relearn stuff again, but I was genuinely proud. Be Kool Fool was fun as well, as it was really my own cup of demo. Bad humour but a somewhat good flow. 1992 was personal for me. I loved being a kid in the nineties and I really feel that Optic, Mygg and I felt that it hit the nail in terms of what we wanted to express. But I don't remember all my productions. I have just been super fortunate to work together with some super people, and that's what matters the most for me. I have also enjoyed that I have been able to share the passion with my brother, Optima, and that we have made just a little mark in the Amiga scene history. Oh, and it was honestly also proud moments that I have been fortunate to win a prize both at Mekka/Symposium, Breakpoint and at Revision. Those parties were special for me in the past.

Can you tell us what you consider the best Amiga demos back in the golden years? as well as now

There are so many fantastic demos! Every age had had it's highlights, and it's impossible to choose 🙂. But when I got really interested in the scene, it was demos such as Global Trash, Hardwired, 3d demo, 3d demo 2, Groovy, How to skin a cat, Plastic Passion, Faktory / Virtual Dreams, Pulse / Nerve Axis. And then the big switch came. I really liked everything from Gengis. Origin blew my socks off. Those French were stunning. And everything released by Dr. Skull. Man, such a huge talent. PG also made some fantastic things e.g. Deus ex machina. Oh, too many demos to mention. Klone by DCS. Everything made by Boogeyman/Passion and Scoopex. Fake Electronic Lightshow, Fruitkitchen, Closer/CNCD, Vision/Oxygene (uhh, that soundtrack) and I was fortunate to experience Nexus 7 live, incredible. And the Polka Brothers style was an immediate love. Their demos Twisted, The Prey, Gevalia... yes, my cup of demos! The demo Myster & Tremor/Embassy is also rock solid. And the Loveboat demos!... better stop here.

The demos nowadays... hm, I am a bit torn. I respect everybody who is actually able to make something for the Amiga, be it on the A500 or other configurations. I just have a feeling that we are seeing a lot of productions that are mostly scrollers and logos, without much attention to sync to the music etc. They may very well contain well written code, but without good sync they don't work for me. Fair enough that you can run out of time, we all do, but I am a bit unsure about some of the designs I see in many of today's demos. Having said that, Dodke's demos are superb as they contain the entire package, Loaderror operates on an insane level of awesomeness, and the audiovisual package that Haujobb & Ghostown present is as high end as it gets on the 060, imo. Capsule and Obsolete also make stuff I really enjoy. I always end up rerunning Moods Plateau and Pacif!c demos, and they make me in a good mood. And the totally Unique Software Failure style mezmerizes me 🙂. I surely forget somebody, sorry!

What do you think of the state of the demo scene today?

I have a feeling that there are more releases around. Gerp had 10-11 demos, and Revision Online had about the same I think. So in that sense it's doing good. But of course it's difficult to attract new talents. When you can have a modern framework up an running in an afternoon, and produce your first rotating cube in the evening on a PC, why on Earth would you sweat so much about getting a stable system up and running on a computer that was obsolete 20 years before you were born... And you can't dot your way into anything, crazy. So, the Amiga scene lives because us 40+ year olds keep doing this thing. I would be very surprised if I get to see a demo written by a 20-year old coder the next 3-4 years.

What do you feel you got out of the whole experience of being active in the Amiga demoscene? for example, did it lead you to code professionally in any way?

No doubt that it gave a foundation. But back then it also gave a place to belong to, and I think those nineties were inspiring with many great demos and parties. So it opened up my eyes for computermade visuals, and when I was able to put some pixels on screen programmatically myself, it of course made me want to improve, and probably the most important lessons learned were to "keep trying" and "seek further knowledge". Those abilities are in use most days when working in the IT industri, that never stands still. But to learn to know new people and work together with different nationalities is also an important thing that I somehow learned from the demoscene.

However, it wasn't always cut in stone that programming should turn into a living. For a long time I actually wanted to be a physiotherapist, that's a fun fact that probably noone would have guessed.

Is there anyone you would like to send some greetings to? Or perhaps you have some other last words?

My greetingslists always end up incomplete, even though I try my best. But big hugs to Presence and Rachel for organizing the super cozy Demostue. Hello to the FD guys, Mygg, Esau, the fluffy gentlemen in Pacif!c and Moods Plateau. Blueberry, Psycho, Curt Cool, Cytron, Dalton, Magic, NoName, Dodke, Bonefish, Ramon B5, Hannibal, Kollaps, Stingray and all forgotten this late hour.

Oh, and come to Gerp in Skövde/Sweden when the world becomes less insane again!

That is the end of this interview, thanks for taking the time to do it Corial, I am sure our readers will appreciate it :).
News / DiagROM 1.2.1
« Last post by 4pLaY on August 29, 2020, 08:10:00 PM »
DiagROM, the Amiga Diagnostic tool by John "Chucky/The Gang" Hertell has been updated, to version 1.2.1

The projects also has its own Github.

News / Tiny Bobble
« Last post by 4pLaY on August 29, 2020, 08:04:26 PM »
The demo group Abyss, have released their own Amiga port of the arcade hit Bubble Bobble, named Tiny Bobble.

Some info on the game itself:

Needs an Amiga 500 (PAL) + 512k Mb or better.

The game supports two joysticks for two player mode.
- ESC to exit
- P to pause
Here are some improvements over the original Amiga game that you will find in "Tiny Bobble":
- Needs only a "tiny" 178kb single file (the original needed a full disk)
- 50 fps (instead of 25fps)
- 32 colors (instead of 16)
- 150 items (instead of 40?)
- Original screen height of 224 pixel (was only 200 pixel)
- Almost all sprite animations (had only ~20% of animations)
- Progress Screen (was not available)
- Big Enemies animation every 16th level (was not available)
- Player Two Join animation (was not available)
- Big Score images (was not available)
- Animated Extend screen (was not animated)
- Animated Potion screen (was not animated)
- Animated Intro (was not animated)
- Animated Boss fight (was a still image)
- Multiple endings (had only one ending)      

"Tiny Bobble" is not(!) arcade perfect. It's also easier than in the arcade.
Most scoring mechanisms should work like in the arcade game. There are no
secret rooms.

Direct Download link.
Hello Bifat. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi, my name is Timm, I live in Berlin, I started as a member of TEK in 1991 on the Amiga. I did graphics for a few weeks, then I switched my main profession to coding. I left TEK in about 2004 with my then girlfriend Blue to do Playstation 2 demos as Neoscientists. In 2016 I returned to TEK to do demos on the Amiga again. In 2018 I joined K2 as my second group.

When did you get interested in computers and what was your first computer?

I got interested in computers because my uncle was a construction engineer, and he had a PET in his office. He used a sort of finite elements method to calculate the hulls of nuclear power plants with it. I was promised to be given the PET when it would be taken out of service. Then the C64 came out and seemed more appropriate. It was some kind of a family effort to finance the C64 very early.

What Amiga(s) did you have in the past and if you remember, what were the(ir) configuration(s)?

My first Amiga was an Amiga 500, Kick 1.2, soon with a 1.8mb memory expansion, then I replaced the ROM with Kick 1.3, so I could add an ALF controller and a second-hand 30mb harddisk. In 1990 I got an Amiga 3000, which was extremely expensive. It was an early model shipped with a SuperKickstart disk and very buggy Kick 2.01. Initially it had 6mb RAM, a 210mb SCSI harddisk. This became my main computer for more than 10 years. Over the years Blue and I had about five A3000s altogether, most of them expanded with 68060s, gfx and network cards.

Do you still have any Amiga(s) today? If yes, which ones and what configuration(s)

I have an A500, Rev. 5, Kick 1.2, 0,5mb fake fast, 1084s monitor, no other extensions or modifications. This is my machine for final testing of my stuff for "OCS" compliance. I have another A500 with an ACA500+ and an XSurf500 network module. My main computer for coding is an A600 with 2mb of chipmem and a PCMCIA network adapter. Also I have two A3000s, of which one is in regular use. Also I have an A1200, but only for testing my OCS stuff for AGA compatibility. All Amigas except one are in my network, and I use real disk drives and disks on all Amigas.

Can you tell us how you got involved with the demoscene?

I lived in a small town in Hesse, Germany. In this town there was an uncanny concentration of early computer scene people. Most of them were two or three years older than me. They founded TEK on the C64. I didn't know them at first. In my own grade there was a very active Amiga guy running a BBS since 1987/88 or so. He supplied me with manuals and tools and so I learned C and assembler and did "serious" programming on the Amiga first. In around 1990 I got to know the other scene people in this town, and being among the more proficient, I got nice support from the others and was well integrated when TEK took off on the Amiga. Also noteworthy is that from the same town our C16/Plus4 section originated, with people who were slightly younger than me.

Can you tell us a bit about the story behind your group TEK?

It was founded on the C64 in 1987 by White Wizard, Banana, and Mac and possibly a few others, who were all from this town. From White Knight came a part of its name. TEK was more on the creative side of things, known for great music, funny ideas and weird humor. TEK also did cracks and was very active in swapping, and on the C64, the group went into hibernation due to problems with the police, but reappeared shortly thereafter on the Amiga, when I and a few others joined.  We brought some new, different attitudes into the group, but Banana's and Mac's punk-like, brazen spirit and humor were still alive and continued to shape the group. With Blue I shared some interesting times, as I introduced her to assembler and demo coding on the Amiga, and when she got it, she asked me to join her making demos on the PS2.

Do you remember which tools you used back when you started out, and what are you using these days for development?

Early: Aztec C, Seka, DPaint, AsmOne, Noisetracker, Protracker. Middle ages: DevPac, SAS/C, AsmOne, PPaint, TVPaint, Protracker. Now: Linux, vasm, Lua, PPaint, Protracker, Inkscape, Grafx2. I'm using a toolchain that I mostly wrote myself, plus shell and editor. I use vasm (with a few modifications) for cross-coding, and run the stuff on a real Amiga on fixed addresses using a TCP server. I also wrote a cross cruncher, which later got released as 'Cranker', and I use my own Lua-based macro
language 'DemoPHP'. In DemoPHP I can for example calculate tables and do on-the-fly image processing. My workflow is often that I prototype an effect in Lua, which I then slap into an assembler source.

Do you have some tips for anyone that might want to start doing Amiga productions in 2020?

Yes. I recommend getting a real Amiga and connect it to the network. Then you can work on the real machine using an assembler like AsmOne, or you can use vasm on a PC and start your work directly from a network share, e.g. using smbfs. Use for example an A500/ACA500+, A600, or an A1200. You can use an emulator as an additional tool, but do not code against it primarily. Don't let yourself get distracted by too much framework stuff, IDE integration and PC side peculiarities, that's
beside the point I think.

What would you consider the best production you worked on and why?

Elevation, 2016 slideshow. Here everything just worked perfectly. Artistically and technically it fell into place like never before, thanks to Blue (pictures and texts), Blueberry and TTY (help on compression). It was finished literally on the last day.

Can you tell us what you consider the best Amiga demos back in the golden years? as well as now

There are too many good, underrated, even mostly forgotten works, not only the usual suspects. To give you an idea: Vector Exterminator, Sound Vision, Absolute Inebriation, Boundless Void... I don't want to name recent productions, because they are too fresh to put labels on them, and it might hurt some people if their productions are not mentioned also. There is not the one and only way of making demos, part of the fun is the multitude of formats and approaches. And by the way, I also appreciate Atari ST/STe demos a lot.

What do you think of the state of the demo scene today?

It was in a good shape until the Covid-19 craze, to which most governments reacted in the wrong way. It remains to be seen if we can get back on our feet and what the repercussions are. The parties make little sense without demos, and the demos make little sense without parties. In the long term we are losing people to "getting a life", which is actually an euphemism for something closer to death. But there are also people discovering (or remembering) that making demos and showing them off at international parties might be one of the finest hobbies they'll ever find.

What do you feel you got out of the whole experience of being active in the Amiga demoscene? for example, did it lead you to code professionally in any way?

From the demoscene emerged a certain mindset in me as much as I was attracted to it due to this mindset. Optimization and the desire to try impossible things are deeply engrained into my thinking. I hate wasting resources. I like to spend huge amounts of time and work for all sorts of crazy research, but practicability always wins in the end. This was all very helpful in life. I have been working with computers professionally from a young age, and I never really did something I didn't like.

Is there anyone you would like to send some greetings to? Or perhaps you have some other last words?

Greetings to all. Thank you for keeping the demoscene alive. This especially goes to the organizers of parties. Your work is appreciated, too.

That is the end of this interview, thanks for taking the time to do it Bifat, I am sure our readers will appreciate it :).
News / WinUAE 4.4.0 has been released.
« Last post by 4pLaY on August 15, 2020, 07:59:57 PM »
WinUAE 4.4.0 has been released.

 New features/improvements:

    68000 address and bus error (bus errors are not used in Amiga) stack frames are now 100% accurate, including all undefined behavior like partially updated flags or registers. Last missing part that wasn’t fully accurate previously.
    68010 emulation is now cycle-accurate. Including loop mode.
    68030 MMU emulation simplified and optimized.
    CPU tester detected rare CPU/FPU bugs fixed.
    Multiple CPU tester detected undocumented CPU and FPU (all models) behavior emulated, mainly edge cases that almost never happen normally. More information in detailed changelogs.
    Debugger assembler and disassembler updates and fixes.
    1x-8x CPU multipliers are now also supported in prefetch (more compatible) CPU mode.
    Implemented Paula serial port emulation receive break condition detection support.
    “diskchange rdh0:” can be now used to eject drag&drop mounted directory/file/archive harddrive.
    On screen led floppy leds have brighter border if inserted disk is write protected.
    If 2 light pens/guns enabled and if gun 2 moves, enable only gun 2 crosshair. Previously gun 1 move enabled both crosshairs.
    “Default” filter mode now enables aspect ratio correction and scales to window/screen size only when display size is too large or too small.
    Ignore ncap/winpcap dll version because recent ncap versions have smaller version number than old winpcap versions.
    GUI Reset button now copies current full GUI config to active config, including options that normally can’t be changed on the fly.
    FPU default is back to 64-bit. Very few programs require 80-bit accuracy, it wasn’t worth the speed loss.
    Black borders are not anymore enabled in autoscale center mode.
    Few custom chipset and CIA emulation updates.
    Added easy to use and transparent printf()-like debug logging method for developers.

Bugs fixed:

    If disk read DMA was started without any selected drive(s), it was always emulated in turbo mode.
    Screen capture to clipboard created blank image if 256 color or less RTG mode and capture before filtering was set.
    When ejecting directory filesystem that points to plain file or archive, not all host file handles were closed properly.
    Switching GUI panels left stale entry in internal array, possibly causing random crash after switching panels many times.
    Config file (*.uae) icon is now correct again.

4.3.0 bugs fixed:

    Some RTG to RTG mode resolution switches didn’t resize windowed mode correctly.
    CD32 pad red button didn’t always work as a normal fire button, depending on how it was configured.
    CD32 ROM delay loop patch was skipped. Broke CD32 CD if CPU speed was too fast.

New emulated hardware:

    Hardital Dotto (clone of ICD AdIDE)

Get it here!
News / Smarty And The Nasty Gluttons
« Last post by 4pLaY on August 15, 2020, 07:55:16 PM »
We are most delighted to release the full version of Smarty And The Nasty Gluttons (c) 2020 Eero Tunkelo. The development of the game started back in 1992 but was halted after a few years due to difficulties in finding a publisher for the game – partly related to Commodore losing it’s share of the home computing market.

Approximately 25 years passed and a long hidden preview was cracked and released by Jouni ‘Mr. Spiv’ Korhonen and Eero Tunkelo, the copyright owner. This inspired a gathering and the idea of completely wrapping up the project and releasing a full version in ADF format.

The journey since then has been most incredible and fun. All the source code has been reviewed line by line. Many bugs have been fixed (while some new most likely created) and many features have been either finished or even enhanced. Parts of the code had to be completely re-written.

All the graphics and music were finished already in the nineties. This release also serves as our tribute to the highly talented artists we had the pleasure to work with and their wonderful contribution that we still admire so much.

We are planning to release the source code and related binaries as an open-source project – probably in the autumn of this year. There are also plans to create a purchasable product box including a floppy disk version of the game.
News / Re: Amiga Future Magazine
« Last post by 4pLaY on August 15, 2020, 07:48:57 PM »
Submitted by Andreas Magerl:

The Amiga Future magazine - Issue 146 preview is now available to view online

This is the full colour preview and excerpts of the Amiga Future issue 146 (September/October 2020) can now be viewed online on the Amiga Future website.

Some of the interesting articles in this issue are:

Making Of... Fred's Journey
Review Amicygnix 1.6
Special AmigaOS 3.1.4 - These are our tools

Of course there's so MUCH more actually in the magazine.

Needless to say you often get other versions of software, often what was commercially available, as well as some of the latest try-outs or freely released software applications and games for, hopefully, all of the Amiga type Operating systems, so that's Amiga 'Classic', OS4, MorphOS, and AROS, including some PD software for these systems, all on the Readers' cover CD.

A detailed description of content and excerpts of this current issue can be found at:

The Amiga Future magazine is available as an English and German printed magazine - every issue is available in FULL COLOUR - directly available from the magazine editorial office and also from various other Amiga dealers.

News / [BOOK] DEMOMAKER The Amiga years
« Last post by logone on June 02, 2020, 09:26:18 PM »
Hello guyz,

We have just launched a crowdfunding campaign on The goal of this campaign is to allow the release of our first book on the Amiga demomaker scene "DEMOMAKER The Amiga years". You receive this message because we wish to inform you of this new adventure. This is a beautiful project.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

The project is being funded on the indiegogo website at
Our website:

Our social networks:

You can also go further than financial support, you can also help us to communicate on this project.
There are several possibilities for this:

- Send an email to your friends with a link to the project page

- On social networks, to relay our posts and our project.
Interviews with Demosceners & Developers / Interview with Ham / Software Failure
« Last post by 4pLaY on May 18, 2020, 06:46:48 PM »
Hello Ham. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi, everyone.

My name is Hector, but you probably know me by my scene handle, Ham. I live in Spain. I'm currently in my mid-forties and I’ve been involved in this amazingly crazy world of the computer demoscene since my teenage years.

Time goes fast. Perhaps some of you have seen at least a couple of my demoscene productions, mostly intros but also a few demos, that I have released at some demoparties, in person (as it always should be) or sometimes remotely. Most of them are for my favorite platform which is, of course, the Amiga.

When did you get interested in computers and what was your first computer?

I think I could blame some old Sci-Fi TV series from having infected me with this love for computers when I was a child. I got my first computer in 1987. It was a wonderful Amstrad CPC 464 and it came with some tapes, a few games, a rudimentary word processor an even a drawing program and two manuals. One of them entirely devoted to BASIC. I read both books from cover to cover. Those were great days full of fun and experimentation.

I tried to emulate, coding in this slow BASIC, a few arcade games (with modest success) and I learned a lot by myself during those years. Later I upgraded to the CPC 664, which had a disk drive.

What Amiga(s) did you have in the past and if you remember, what were the(ir) configuration(s)?

My first Amiga computer was an A500 with Kickstart 1.3 and the usual half-megabyte trapdoor expansion. Later I bought a second disk drive, which was very practical when you did not have a HD. Around 1995, I got a vanilla A1200 with Kickstart 3.1 and I upgraded it a few months later with a 3.5" 850Mb IDE HD, a CD-ROM drive, an accelerator board with 030/42Mhz and 4Mb of Fast-RAM. Years later other accelerators came to my A1200, like the 040 (with 16Mb) and finally a 060/50Mhz with 64Mb of fast-RAM, which is currently installed on my AGA machine (another A1200).

I still have my first Amiga (that old A500 continues to work flawlessly to this day) and also an A600 with Kickstart 2.0, CF as HD and a Gotek as disk drive.

Can you tell us how you got involved with the demoscene?

It was a very gradual and almost inevitable process. After a year or two spending my days doing a lot of solitary coding with my first computer and saving my programs on those slow tapes, I got my CPC 664 and got to see some cracktros and demos that came to me along with several pirated games. I remember that I was very impressed by the wizardry of some of those demos like, for example, KKB's First Demo's effects and scrollers. By then I had already managed to write relatively complex programs in BASIC, such as a chess game (which played quite badly but at least complied with all the rules, such as capturing "en passant") and a conversational adventure parser and editor (with simple vector graphics), but I didn't want to get stuck in this limited form of programming. So, I started to focus on learning Z80 machine language. This was a slow process because the information was not very easy to find at that time, but there were books, computer magazines and diskmags (mostly in French) with some good articles. I were already involved with some friends in the local CPC scene, making our own diskmag and swapping stuff, when I began to discover how to mix BASIC and Z80 code.

Anyway, soon I bought an Amiga 500 and forgot about the Amstrad for a while. I went back to BASIC again, but this time it was AMOS Pro, a modern language with procedures, easy access to hardware and a compiler. That was much better and very different from the slow and cumbersome Locomotive BASIC of the Amstrad. I also received a photocopy of a translation into Spanish of the Amiga Hardware Reference Manual that, by then, was circulating among the coders of the Spanish scene and I study it conscientiously. At that time I got some fun too, making crappy music with StarTrekker and later on, ProTracker.

As soon as some of my contacts in the world of the Amstrad CPC began the transition to Amiga, I joined forces with them. That was the beginning of Software Failure. Then, a friend sent me a couple of issues of a new diskmag in Spanish called Fanzine, which was full of articles about the scene. This is how I learned that a demoparty had been held in Spain and that about 30 people had attended. The following year (1993) I started visiting demoparties, meeting at last some of my contacts in person, making new friends, and getting much more involved with the demoscene. Suddenly, It's funny now that I see it retrospectively, in less than half a year I attended both the biggest demoparties so far in Spain, the Southern Party (maybe 250 people) in July and the biggest demoparty so far in the world, The Party, around 3000 people, held in Denmark as you surely know in December. What a blast!

Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the group Software Failure and your part in it in the early days and now?

The group was created around the last quarter of 1992. Darklord, the founder, was also one of my old contacts in the world of the Amstrad CPC. So he told me about this new group as soon as he learned that I had bought an Amiga and I joined immediately. At first I was just an AMOS coder and an aspiring musician, but later I started with 68000 assembler. Anyway, we did just a few prods during the first years and most of them were coded by Darklord, sometimes using the handle Genam, that he had until the summer of 1993. For example, we released a musicdisk called “Musik Rulez” (with some early tunes from Goreboy) and an intro for a diskmag called “Digital Fanzine” that was edited by Future Brain (a group from Barcelona) and mainly focused on manga stuff. A year or so after I joined, Chip, another guy from my city, joined too. The team was small and scattered among several cities, so we used to use long telephone calls as our primary form of communication (which was pretty normal before the internet era) and we could only meet at demoparties one or two times each year. I think the first time most of the team met was at Southern Party II in the summer of 1994.

By that time we joined forces with some members of the group Sepultura and even released a demo with them. Shortly after that, I became the organizer of the group because Darklord left Software Failure and joined Necropolis. That pissed me a little bit but most of Necropolis members were living in Darklord's city, Almería and that made it easier for him being productive and I guess, learning more tricks from Necropolis` old coders, Skynet & Creator. So I understood the allure of joining bigger teams with lots of experienced people (after almost a year in Necropolis, Darklord joined Capsule later). Anyway, our group didn't dissolve and we planned to release more prods sooner or later.

Now I guess I should have released more stuff during those years, cause I coded enough to make a couple of small intros, in assembler, that could have been for Posadas'95 or Euskal IV, but I was driven by the vice of perfectionism and those releases were always postponed. Even if I was committed to be more productive and not going to a demoparty again empty-handed, it was easier said then done, because there was always some bug or something that made the releasing unwise. This is something I regret, because Darklord didn't get to see the resurgence of Software Failure since then, unfortunately, he died in the last quarter of 1996 as a sudden consequence of a diabetic coma. Just remembering this tragedy makes me feel deeply sad even now.

However, months passed while I continued learning and improving. I realized that I already had the skills to make relatively good stuff alone and I started a series of regular releases that I somehow managed to maintain every year since then. Not always for Amiga, I must say, but mostly for Amiga. Later JosSs joined, after we did a co-op demo for the GP2X console that won a BCN Party in 2007. So, nowadays Software Failure is a multiplatform small group, centered on the Amiga. Currently only Chip, JosSs and I are really active.

Do you remember which tools you used back when you started out and what are you using these days for development?

Well, sticking to the Amiga, although I've also made (and will do) some demoscene-related productions for other platforms, the main difference is that nowadays I use a PC to develop for Amiga, while before I only used an Amiga for these purposes. So these days I use VBCC, vasm and vlink for cross-compiling code edited on Notepad++ and then I run the resulting executable within WinUAE or FS-UAE. I also test it on the real thing, because I need to be sure that everything really works. My A1200 has a network card, which is very practical when making fast tests during development, but most of the time I use an emulator and try to minimize the number of tests on my A1200. In the old days I used Devpac to code in 680x0 assembly and then I switched to PhxAss for a while.

Regarding music, when I need to do the music for a demo, nowadays I use Renoise, some VSTs and Audacity, but if I need to do music for an intro (or even a dentro) I generally use that ProTracker 2.3D clone made by 8bitbubsy. Sometimes I create the samples with Renoise and then I convert them to 8VSX using SoX (which allows more flexibility than simply loading WAV samples at 22KHz).

Regarding graphics, I still use some Amiga tools like Personal Paint and Photogenics inside the emulator, but I also like to use some PC tools like GrafX2. And for 3D graphics I created my own tools, first in AMOS on Amiga and later in C++ on PC, but I also use some normal tools such as Wings 3D (great tool that I recommend for modeling and texturing low polygon models). These are more or less my current tools to develop for Amiga and though they are much better than the tools I was using years ago, everything could change in the future, because I will always be willing to improve this sometimes tiresome workflow for something better or faster.

Do you have some tips for anyone that might want to start doing Amiga productions in 2020?

You need to feel motivated because making productions is not easy. You should expect some difficulties and be able to handle a certain level of frustration. The good thing is that nowadays it's relatively easy to start if you get one of those frameworks released by groups like Haujobb or Capsule. Cross-compilation makes the demomaking process easier now than before. Also, you don't need to use assembler for all the things. Though you should learn assembler cause 680x0 machine code is fun anyway!

Use emulators while you are making your demo but don't forget to get a real machine for testing and never rely completely on software emulators or hardware reimplementations (like MIST or Minimig) because they are not always completely accurate in terms of compatibility.

Choose AGA or OCS. They are different platforms even if they have many things in common. If you choose OCS, stick to A500 for compatibility but make sure that your demo can run flawlessly, without graphical or sound issues, on AGA machines (at least check this on an emulator). If you choose AGA, make a demo that can run well on 68060/50MHz maximum and I'll be happy. But I would be even happier if your demo runs on a vanilla A1200! Start easy. Make a small intro before you try to make a full demo.

Anyway, avoid perfectionism because it could be paralyzing. You need to finish your prods and you should not worry if they are not your best. You can always do next one better. Look for inspiration everywhere and preferably outside the demoscene world. Nature, mathematics, art and life are better sources of inspiration than other demos.

What would you consider the best production you have created so far?

I honestly have no idea. Best according to what criteria? In terms of what I learned creating them, it's probably one of my early intros like "Mecanica", "Neuroblasto" or "Brain Overdrive". But if we consider just the overall result, maybe it's some of my recent productions like "Omnimetatheorem" or "Obsolete & Happy". Some people may even argue that my best demo is not even made for Amiga but for GP2X! I would disagree with them, of course. In any case, I hope that my best production (whatever that means) has not been created yet.

Can you tell us what you consider the best Amiga demos back in the golden years? as well as now

Well, one of the best of the golden years (1992) was, to my taste, not a demo but a musicdisk by Sanity called "Jesterday". It's absolutely fantastic! I also recommend another Sanity's production from 1993 (this time it's a demo) called "Arte". This demo is pure delight! There is another great demo from the mid-90s called "Deep - the Psilocybin Mix" by Parallax & CNCD. I will not try to describe this masterpiece, just watch it!

A demo with great design and style is "Klone" by DCS (1999). Also from the late 90s, I recommend "Pulse" by Nerve Axis. In my opinion, it's the best demo from Nerve Axis. Clearly better than "Relic". Perhaps I should point out that much of the best prods from this era were 64K intros. Check all the stuff made by Antibyte/Scoopex (like "Superautodrome 2", for instance) because, regarding code and music, you might find them quite interesting.

Another one, much more recent (2001) is a 64K AGA intro by Nature called "Zeon" that not only has a great tune but also impressive 3D effects in low-res wireframe and flat lighting. Nowadays the Amiga demoscene is perhaps smaller in size but not in quality. There is a lot of great stuff released recently both in OCS/ECS and AGA. For instance, the demos from Revision 2019 released by groups like Ephidrena, Capsule, TEK or Haujobb. And even experimental demos like "Peek" by Spaceballs (Datastorm, 2018) are moving the Amiga's flame forward featuring quite impressive effects made for anaglyphic glasses.

What do you think of the state of the demo scene today?

I can't complain about how things are nowadays. Every month, or every couple of months, you can find new stuff for Amiga released at some demoparty. Or some prod simply released for fun. That's amazing considering how old our platform is. But C64 is older and still kicking. So I feel optimistic.

What do you feel you got out of the whole experience of being active in the Amiga demoscene? for example, did it lead you to code professionally in any way?

Being active in the demoscene brings me much more in the personal realm than the professional one. Of course, demoscene skills are somehow transferable to many technical and artistic jobs but that’s just a collateral benefit and not the main fruit of doing demos. To me, the whole process of creating a demo (or intro) gives great satisfaction, especially if it’s properly finished and released, and makes me push my own limits, learn more things and explore new ideas. Besides, meeting a lot of great people interested in creating demos (on Amiga, PC or whatever) and being able to party with them and share this passion for technology and art is something amazing. Moreover, I consider the “computer demo” as an art form as good and legit as could be a poem, a sonata, a painting, a photograph, a film or any other “classical” art forms. So far, being part of the demoscene has made me grow as an artist, programmer and person. That’s what I get out of the whole experience.

Is there anyone you would like to send some greetings to? Or perhaps you have some other last words?

Greetings to all the people who keep alive the demoscene spirit. They have my admiration, especially those who release new stuff for old machines like the Amiga. Also, big thanks to the nice coders who spend their time making useful demotools like crunchers or trackers. You all are awesome! See you at some demoparty, hopefully soon.

That is the end of this interview, thanks for taking the time to do it Ham, I am sure our readers will appreciate it :).
Software - Applications / Rainbow Arts circa 1988, a Copyright paradise
« Last post by Astrofra on May 05, 2020, 09:29:46 PM »
"A beginning is a very delicate time"

During the whole period of the 1980s, the very first games released on every brand new microcomputer are worthy of interest. They usually represent the feat of having been created by programmers who discovered the machine while trying to deliver rush their games within a tight deadline, even if that means taking liberties with some of the most obvious legal concerns.

In this rush for release , the company Rainbow Arts has come, several times, really close to a blatant evidence of plagiarism. It appears however that the game "The Wall", published in 1988, slipped under the legal radar.

When the first floppy disk boots, the player is welcomed by a sampled loop of rather rare musical quality for a computer game. The arrangement, which is both rich and balanced, draws attention and stands out from the digitized music introductions of this era, specifically composed for video games and usually much more cheesy.

It turns out this is for a good reason: the intro music of The Wall, on Amiga, is sampled from Run like hell by Pink Floyd, taken from the album from which the game borrows its name.

The surprise does not stop there, because during loading, a sample of Phil Collins' Take me home vibrates in the loudspeaker.

Finally, once the game has started, it is another sample of Jann Hammer's Crockett's theme that fills the audio background, barely covered by the sound effects. In 1984, Jann Hammer fully produced the Miami Vice theme on a Fairlight CMI, the first standard of synthesizer/sequencer to feature sampling as the basis for an instrument. This technique would finally appear in 1987 on the Amiga with Ultimate Soundtracker.

How is it possible, in retrospective, that no one noticed so many ocurrences of plagiarism in the very game video game?
It might be that the audio copyright, in 1988, was not a matter at all in the video game industry, nor was it to the Music Majors awareness...

Sample 1: Run like hell (Pink Floyd)

Note that the sample is not played back at the frequency at which it was sampled. The musical extract and the rhythm are therefore a little slower.

Sample 2: Take me home (Phil Collins)

Here too, the replay of the sample is greatly slowed down, which completely changes the rhythm.

Sample 3: Crockett's Theme (Jann Hammer)

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