The Prophet of Development
Do you remember the times when Windows was regarded as lame and making demos for Windows a heretic act? Do you remember the endless discussions in Imphobia about Windows 95 and if it may become a platform for demos?
Even in 1998, when technologies like DirectX existed that sped up graphics processing under Windows, the majority of the demoscene remained skeptic of this operating system. There was hardly any demo that did not run under DOS. It was regarded as something special, if it not even unnecessary that Hugi provided interfaces both for DOS and Win32. Even in Hugi #15 from May 1999 there were still articles in which the pros and cons of the platforms were carefully discussed.
Now the situation has changed. Change has come so rapidly that I'm astonished by it. Even 4k intros are now mostly written for Windows. Meanwhile it is the DOS coders who are often no longer regarded as real coders.
Perhaps the new compos for 3d-accelerated demos were one of the reason for the sudden reorientation. It isn't easy to use 3d hardware under DOS after all. Also, Windows NT and its sequel Windows 2000 have become widespread among the scene. Most DOS programs are incompatible with these new operating systems.
Finally Windows-based technologies have grown up, and so has the scene, too. Instead of ignoring technological development and retreating in the underground, the scene is again on the forefront of embracing and extending the latest technological developments, such as OpenGL and new 3D chips. Long-time sceners have become more realistic, more professional and more innovative. Again they are demos that beat games technologically.
Split of the scene
It is possible that the people still working only with DOS will one day become a separate scene, comparable to the Amiga or the C64 scene. Also, the small but growing Linux demoscene might separate from the Windows mainstream. So far their leading coders such as Skal have been releasing their demos for various platforms. Now you can often read in Amiga diskmags that the last die-hard Amiga freaks who really hate the "peecee" and Windows might eventually move to Linux. Linux, after all, supports various types of processors and is free.
Design over code
Already a rather long time ago the term "design" popped up in PC diskmags. With the use of 3d accelerators, which reduces the time invested in developing, implementing and optimizing effect algorithms, the factor code has lost its dominating position concerning the value of a demo. Effects are no longer that interesting, most of them have been seen a hundred times before.
Among the hard core of sceners, demos with extraordinary design seem to be their new faible. Often it is demos and intros with either really weird or just too regular colours and shapes that arouse a lot of feedback and prove successful in scene charts. A recent example is Zden's demo Metamorf, in which images of factories are distorted and morphed. Replay and the Danish Design of Blasphemy and Purple are also widely liked - even though some Replay demos, which require a Pentium, could have been implemented for 386 technology.
Yet it is often visualized stories that are more appreciated by the party audience. Moai by Nomad is an example of this. When you watch them the first time, they are very impressive, not only for sceners. But after several times they may get boring, which is why they are not kept in the memory of the scene for long. An exception is The Fulcrum by Matrix because of its artistic perfection.
MP3 vs. Tracking
Finally, this has been the topic of so many articles in the past year that I will not further comment it. It seems as if the MP3 technology is now accepted by the majority of sceners. If a demo does not include a real MP3, it is likely to use an MO3, a normal module with MP3-compressed samples.
Another question is if it's just to use commercial soundtracks in demos, as seen in several otherwise top demos like State of the mind, Shad II and VIP2. It is certainly unfair to take part in compos with unauthorized third-party material. Whether people release demos with ripped music for fun, is their problem, but it's unfair to win a prize at a compo with a demo containing ripped music, while people who tried to compose their music themselves went home with empty hands.
"The scene is changing." I do not know the origin of this sentence - it must have been in one of the many "The scene is not dying" articles. But it's certainly true. There will always be oldskool ghettoes, but the mainstream of the scene is developing. During 1996-1998 it seemed that the scene would no longer develop as fast as the computer industry, but this as well appears to have changed by now.
Progress means change to the better. What change to the better means, depends on values. Values themselves change in the course of time. New values are created to justify that the changes have been progress.
Adok/Hugi - 24 Aug 2000