Interview with Smash
1. Can you tell us about you and your group?
Where do i start? =) I'm in quite a few groups at the moment (as a musician). Beam and Noise are music groups; Noise is probably one of the top 5 musicgroups around today (http://www.noisemusic.org). Beam is also very rocking (http://hybris.home.ml.org/beam).
Nothing is a demogroup that has been around for a year and managed to produce practically.. nothing. Which is a little unfortunate. Tesko is a UK demogroup which was quite big on the Amiga, and is now doing PC stuff, with a lot of very odd ideas going into our forthcoming demos. =)
I've been tracking for 3-4 years on the PC.. I mainly do acidjazz, funk etc now. In fact you might be listening to one of my songs with this mag (maybe). =) If you want any of my stuff email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. What do you think about the progress nowadays in the demoscene?
The scene is in the transition between DOS and whatever comes next. For its own sake, I hope the scene hurries up. There are a lot of very derivative and boring demos around these days, and I think for the scene to survive demos need to get more original and artistic. These days who cares about how many polygons you can get on the screen? We've seen games that look better, there are 3D cards around that do it better - what demos need instead of purely being used to show off some code (not that good code isn't important, it is of course) is to be interesting pieces of art, and care totally about the design. Think big.
As for music.. trackers are now able to produce professional sounds, they have been ever since FT2 appeared. What's holding them back is that the people using them don't have the samples, don't produce their tracks well enough, don't have the skill, don't pay enough attention to processing their samples, etc. Some people want to see reverb, EQ etc as effects built into the tracker, and this would certainly make it easier to make a professional sound, but everything can already be done if people have the file size/memory to use (MP3 helps there), the sample sources, the imagination and talent. However if there are any coders out there who want to do a next generation tracker (with MIDI out, realtime effects like EQ and reverb, the ability to accept new plugins), there's definately the demand.
At the moment it seems to be fashionable to talk about how the scene is dying, how the glory days are long gone, and all that. But that needn't be the case, if people are prepared to change it. If a few skilled people take the lead, get something going, they can show the way, like TBL did with their Win95 versions of their productions. If you don't want the scene to die or don't like how it is now, why not produce something that fits in with the way you'd want it to be - a good party, an original and groundbreaking demo, an amazing piece of music, something great on one of the new formats. Take the lead, other people will follow if they like it. =)
3. Do you think 3D is making a better scene or boring one?
It's how you use the 3D that will decide whether demos are boring or not. There are a lot of sucky 3d demos, true, but there are just as many bad 2d demos. 3d gives the possibility of more "real life" stuff in demos, especially as engines get better. But if all you are going to do with your nice 3d engine is push a few shapes around, whats the point? Tribes and Genocyd were going in the right direction, I think, by trying to tell a short story with it, like a cartoon or something. 3D allows a bit more scope for demo design, and that's a good thing.
4. What do you think about making demos under windows?
I always thought windows demos would suck because windows sucks (of course), but then i saw what TBL did with Stash and Jizz, and that changed my mind. It shows windows demos can be done well if the coders are good enough. And if it means less problems with sound card support, graphics card support, etc.. go for it. TBL showed the only obstacle to doing good demos under windows is the skill of the coder. And I'm sure I've heard the whole "Windows can't do demos" argument a few years ago as "PC can't do demos".. and we can see how that one turned out. It could be quite cool, though, in 3 years when Windows demos are the big thing, to be able to say "I was there at the start, i remember when Stash for Win32 came out", etc. or am I being lame? =)
5. What platform you think supports the demoscene better? Do you think DOS will survive?
As much as I like DOS it's pretty obvious that it won't survive as the main platform for much longer. It'll still be around in the same way the C64 and the Amiga are still used, but for as the main demo platform for the next few years, I'd like it to be Windows. It's not so much a question of whether DOS can be used to make better demos, it's a question of what's the platform most people have, and that will be Windows. It's not ideal, but then many people would say that the PC as a whole isn't either.. We just got to move with the times, and work out ways of overcoming the limits rather than complaining because you can't work the same way as you were used to.
6. What you think about hardware "support" on demos?
I wish all demos and intros would support SB, at least in the final release if not in the party compo version. As for 3DFX cards, I don't own one and I've never seen one so I can't comment. =) Have to wait and see for that issue.
7. Which is/was your favourite party (if you attended one)?
I've never been to one, unfortunately. One of the problems of living in the UK is it costs a lot to get anywhere, and we have no parties here (for now - we're trying to change that). However I hope to be at Wired 98.
8. What is your favourite demo?
Um. Currently Secret Life of Mr Black (orange) for making me laugh, Square (pulse) for being generally great, and recently Squeezed (nomad+bomb). I really loved Paper and Stash, too. And Ninja 2, it has some of the best design in a demo ever.
9. Would you want to contribute to the demoscene with anything?
Of course. If I get the chance I would like to do music for some big demos, and I've done a couple of songs for diskmags. I'd like to do some demo design too. If I get the chance. =)
10. What do you think about diskmags?
They're great. Or at least, they could be. If the mag has a lot of content, and I mean loads of articles, etc, they are often a really great read. It seems like, in the past year now it seems Imphobia is hopelessly delayed and it probably won't be coming out at all (prove me wrong there), a load of decent new mags have appeared. I especially liked Restless 1 and 2. One of the cool things about diskmags is they are a good showcase for musicians and graphicians - if you want to reach lots of people with your work, why not do stuff for diskmags? I hope mags start getting a bit more content though, a lot of the ones I've seen are very thin. And it would be nice if the non-english mags could offer english-translated versions so everyone else can read them too..
11. Are diskmags still necessary?
Yes. There are some things they aren't practical for, like up to date news - mags are often so delayed, and they usually take months to do anyway, so news is often out of date. a good on-line mag (like orange juice or error 404) can handle news much better. And as for charts, we have Hornet Charts now, which are updated regularly, and will have many more votes - diskmag charts can't really compete. But diskmags are better for articles (who wants to stay online reading long articles? some of us have phone bills to pay), and they have all that great music too. =) That depends on people getting writing so they actually have articles to read, though.
It's like saying, are newspapers and magazines still necessary now we have the Internet, TV and radio? Of course they are. Newspapers offer more than just news, which TV and other instant media cover much better anyway. They go in depth, have lots of long articles and interviews, opinions etc. That's the way for diskmags, I think. Forget the often-updated stuff, set up a web page for that.
12. What do you think about other media like irc, newsgroups, online-mags?
I use IRC a lot, it's great fun sometimes, dull as shit other times (depending who's on) and always time consuming and expensive. But it's nearly essential, really - these days so many sceners are on IRC, if you aren't you are missing out. Of the small number of scene newsgroups around, most of them are pretty pointless and full of spam and ads, but it'll be interesting seeing how scene.org's scene-only news server goes (news.scene.org).
I read on-line mags a lot, especially Orange Juice - it's so well presented. They don't usually have much content but as long as they are regularly updated they are great for news in particular. Java seems to be making more things possible in this area, and theoretically it should be possible to do everything a normal diskmag can do in the form of a web mag which has the benefit of being instantly updatable.. but if you are going to do that it would probably be more practical to be read offline (phone bills etc), and you'd end up offering a zip with all the files needed for download - it would just be a normal diskmag except it needs a java viewer to work.
13. What groups do you consider "well-known" and in some way contributed to the scene?
I've got great respect for TBL, they are a bunch of cool guys and their windows demos showed the scene the way for the future, not to mention their great intros. I like Pulse a lot, especially as they got some of the best musicians in the scene (radix, jogeir, scorpik, falcon, etc) - probably the best demogroup around today. I like Bomb's recent demos, they got a real design to them. And you can't forget Orange, FC, etc for shaping the PC scene. And I wish Melon did more, they're great. =)
14. When do you think to release a new demo from your group? (we would like to know :)
It depends on the coders and artists doing something. =) Tesko will have some (very cool and original) productions out quite soon (hopefully around Wired, maybe), and Nothing should have something out at Wired if the aliens return our artists and let them do some 3d. Hey, [advert] if you want any music for your demo or game or need a musician or whatever, email me at email@example.com. =)
15. One last question, what are your favourite music bands? ;)
Has to be Jamiroquai, and the Propellorheads, for much inspiration for my music.