Watching Onedimensional (Atari 8-bit)

Running over last weekend was the latest edition of the Atari-centric Silly Venture party which has spent nearly two decades bringing fans of all things Atari together to party, chat and do demo-ish things; there were some great releases over the various Atari platforms as always, but I found myself drawn to one particularly old school demo which took part in the 16K Atari 8-bit competition. It’s called Onedimensional, was coded by Shadow of Noice and is basically a 1980s-style raster intro which features a four colour logo parked at the top of the screen, a double font scrolling message trundling past at the bottom and industrial quantities of raster bars dancing like nobody is watching between them.

This really couldn’t be described as pushing the Atari 8-bit’s boundaries and Shadow himself commented that it’s a “compo filler” in the scroller, but regular readers will know I love me some raster bars so a new production that does lots of variations on that particular theme is always going to catch my eye. The graphics are reasonable and do what they’re there for – Rocky’s logo is well drawn but part of me wants a teensy bit more colour – whilst the music was composed by Tobikomi (who appears to be a newcomer to the POKEY by the look of it) and is quirky but fun, suiting the on-screen action well especially since all of the effect and logo colour changes have been synchronised to it.

To be honest, I resisted the urge to do something along similar lines to this for about a decade – even when I finally gave in there were excuses like using 256 colours in MD201701 to hide behind rather than just going hell for leather with a no-nonsense, WSYNC-powered colour splitter – because the potential backlash from hardened Atarians to something like that is, quite frankly, terrifying! But Shadow made of sterner stuff than me and ran with it, doing every solid job overall especially when considering the small memory footprint he was working within.

Workprint – November 2018

So my plans for releasing last weekend went… well, badly. Ongoing illness and me never being at my best this time of year aside, the main reason is that my ability to plan ahead is at best negligible and what little “skill” is actually there will often be completely overpowered by industrial quantities of procrastination. Plan A was started but was too ambitious so ran out of steam and the switch to a more realistic Plan B simply arrived too late in the day to be viable. It’s probably telling that my last contribution to X was For Teh Win in 2006 – back when I was more able to pull all-nighters if needed – where the actual workload was smaller since it ran from a single file and I didn’t do the graphics…

It’s not that I didn’t get anything done though because some code was written and indeed linked, so what I’m “planning” to do now is consolidate Plan B and another project that’s been on the back burner for ages into one, easily manageable demo with the intention being to push the results out of the door in time for the C64 competition at Forever next year since there’ll be a joke in there which should hopefully work with that audience… because if you can’t be top of the pops for technical expertise and haven’t really got the conviction to carry off something thematic, try going for the laugh.

Anyone who hasn’t looked at the releases from X’2018 should give them a go, there were twenty one demos and six 4K intros in total (as well as a couple more demos released outside the competitions and a metric bucketload of music and graphics entries) with even the just-for-fun entries like the one from Poo-Brain – only the second C64 release from the newly-minted C64 division of a usually Windows-based group – being enjoyable to watch.

As an unexpected but happy Wednesday morning addendum, I’ve just noticed that the CSDb Intro Creation Competition is back for 2018 as of Monday. The closing date is on the 6th of January 2019 so that’s a solid two months of coding time and participants can enter up to three intros. I’ve thrown my hat into the ring for a couple of previous instances so it’s the well that Macro Sleep, Refix 2017 and Koalatro sprang from as well as C64CD release Clonetro. I think there’s a few existing ideas knocking around amongst my workfiles so, once things are back on a more even keel, I’ll have to start dusting them down to see where I stand.

Watching Starion Intro Remake (C64)

Since it’s the weekend of X’2018, I wanted to take a quick look at something from a previous instalment of that now venerable demo party; Starion Intro Remake by Booze Design is, in a plot twist that should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, a reworking of a Starion intro. The original, which most people seem to remember from Starion’s scrolltext editor – a remarkably useful tool back in ye olde days when we used the painfully clunky approach of typing our scrollers onto the power-up screen before transferring them into memory with a monkitor – was released in the 1980s and features a nicely drawn green logo which swings back and forth whilst being expertly spread out over some raster bars by an FLD routine – it looks suspiciously like this:

Zooming forwards about thirteen years to 2001 and one of the entries into the wild competition at X that year was a remix of the very same intro, this time from HCL of Booze. His version takes the original logo and Laxity’s wonderful music but starts completely from scratch with the code; the FLD has been replaced with something much finer – instead of stretching the character lines apart it can now work on every pixel line – and everything can move through the side borders including the scrolling message and a solitary sprite which now bounces happily around the screen over the logo and raster bars.

The original is for my money at least a classic, not as well known or thought of as the most iconic intros from Triad or Fairlight but still a well executed piece of code with great audio and visuals, so seeing that revamped into the borders and going completely mad with the main effect was fantastic, especially since it begins by copying the movement of Starion’s original before starting to make the strips of logo finer with each pass. It came second in the competition to Padua’s Trilight – another intro remake, this time revamping both of the aforementioned Triad and Fairlight intros and evolving those changes as part of an ongoing narrative – but, whilst that’s a funny demo and has some very solid coding, the Starion Intro Remake has always been the one I go back to from that competition for the logo movement and Laxity’s music.

Here’s a terrible thought though; this remake is now seventeen years old so the distance between its release at X’2001 and now is actually bigger than the gap between it and the original code that it was based on… and if that has you feeling a little old, said original intro turned thirty this year!