Back in the day when I was involved in the demo scene, I was a coder for Haujobb and did some demos / intros for the Amiga1200. Demos are realtime rendered multimedia art. Today most demos are coded in C or even C with some scripting engine, but back in the days it was pure 680×0 assembler. The development took ages — Burning Chrome for example took me about 9 months of work which did not include the development of all effects included. All that work culminated in releasing the demo, usually at a demo party (My trusty old A1200 and me traveled quite some way across europe). If you were lucky, your demo really got one of the first places and you could return home with some fame *cough* and a bit of prize money.
Some time ago I started to capture some of my favourite works as videos to preserve them and finally got around to set them up here in my blog. Burning Chrome
(3rd place at the South Sealand Party 1996)
I still consider this the best demo I made. It shows at least traces of a real concept instead of being mostly focused on effects and tech details — and I still like Mortimer Twang’s music in it.
The name, apart from being ripped off a short story from William Gibson, is related to one of the effects in fact being a coldly burning chrome object.
(2nd place at the Doomsday party 1994)
This one has the fame of being teh first haujobb demo ever. In fact only one intro (Love, Peace & Teddies) predates it. Jammin is a improvised demo without lots of concept behind it. Just some effects, graphics and music thrown together. Even the synchronization with the music is purely accidental.
I was suprised that it was as successful as it was (and it even came close to becoming first at that party).
This was an advertisement for our diskmag Friendchip. A disk mag was something like a magazine on a disk containing articles and demo reviews and in case of Friendchip lots of chip tunes. Friendchip really came into existence, but only had a single issue (Most likely due to the fact that no one liked the friendchip compiler I had written in Amiga E ) This intro is pretty short but very nice presentation wise (Although I don’t know what I thought when I chose the colors of that morphing thing).
Derrick (Ansicol Intro)
This intro was wrapped around a collection of ANSI graphics done by Cyclone (ASCII charset graphics with ANSI color codes meant to be used as login / logoff / headings for BBS systems ). The intro has a very nice chip tune and is also remarkable for being the birthplace of the Haujobb mascot (see top of the post) which has since then found its way into almost every Haujobb production. And it even has a name: The Kopuli (neuter when in German)
Generation X (no video)
(1st Place at the Nexus Party 1995)
This demo, which was my second large demo for Haujobb, at least deserves a (dis-)honorable mention. Formally it was my most successful demo but in fact it was my worst failure.
Being the first part in a series of shamelessly ripped of Book/Short story titles for demos it was meant to be a big demo. I collected better effects, planned better than I did with Jammin and tried to get the thing ready for the next big demo party, which happened to be the Nexus 1995 taking part near Karlsruhe/Germany. I really worked hard on it, including not really sleeping for days, but did not manage to get it done in time. The party had already started and I was still not ready. I was about to give up. Sleep deprived, a few hundred kilometers away from the party place, the code still not ready. Then Jazz called and said that the deadline for demo submissions had been moved due to not enough demos being there and that the organizers would even be willing to accept my entry. Hauke, a friend of mine, volunteered to drive me and Wave the 400km to the party place and did so in a reckless, but timely manner. Generation-X got accepted as entry. Although it was only half finished I thought it would be okay and already planned to release a more polished version of it after the party was over. But then, right in the middle of the competition show, on the big screen, a professional sound system blasting its sound — it crashed. Badly. Guru Meditation error and all. It was really really embarassing. They even started it again. And it crashed again, exactly at the same position. (Turned out the machine it ran on had a funky memory layout which led to the demo overwriting parts of its own code with graphic data. *ouch* ). But the demo nevertheless won the 1st place. Partly due to lack of competition, partly due to good ol’ Haujobb PR.
After the party I was really glad that everything went relatively well and planned to work on the more polished version of Generation-X. The problem was that I just couldn’t. I had written Generation-X in the same style that I had written Jammin – a giant bunch of assembler code with no real structure. While that worked out nicely for a small demo like Jammin, it turned out to be a catastrophe for the more complex Generation-X. Whenever I fixed something here it broke there and vice versa. The project just died a cruel death in my hands and there was really nothing I could do for it besides rewriting it completely (which made no sense for that demo). So I abandoned it — buried the whole project, never released the more polished version. In fact I think there was never an official release of Generation-X besides the version a trader friend of Jazz talked me into giving him. I even lost my copy during a data accident. So if you ever come across it, it’s not the real thing, the real thing died a gruesome death.
There were two positive things coming out of this: First I wrote my own little Demo-OS, allowing the effects to be modularized effectively. And second this taught me more about the need for structure in code than any lecture ever could — I will always remember it as an example of what not to do.