Interview with Sentinel/Excess
Sentinel is the main editor of the C64 diskmag Nitro. Like I talked with RokDaZone in the previous Hugi issue to gain knowledge about the Amiga diskmagscene, I utilizised him for comparing the PC and the C64 diskmagscene.
Let's start with the usual stuff: Tell us about yourself, your group, your activities and functions in the scene and how you actually got to the scene.
My Name is Sascha. I am 26 years old and entered the scene in 1990, when Red Rock and me contacted some people who had their adresses in the diskmag Mamba. After swapping one year independently, we buillt up Black Bolt with some local c64-owners. Everything we did wasn't serious from the beginning, so we let the group die and built up Excess in October of 1991. At that time we got some help from Count Zero of Cyberpunx and Jazzy D of Chromance. The success came with Nitro, first issue released late 1991 at the SCS+DOM-Party at Papenburg/Germany. Steady chartpositions we reached from early 1993 on. In 1994 we managed to enter the Boardscene till the intern problems in mid 1995. I used to be a so called cracker in Excess, but most of that around 300 cracks I did for Excess were trained onefilers and no real cracks. In 1993 I learned a bit assembler to do 2-3 small intro's but mainly I was and I am still the Maineditor of our magazine Nitro. Beside Nitro I update the Excess-Newspage in the net to give steady and reliable information of our group to everyone who is interested in. Spinball is still working on the Official Page, were you can download every Issue of Nitro one day.
As the main editor of Nitro, you are pretty much involved in the C64 diskmagscene. Can you give us a short (or longer) description of the history and development of C64 diskmags?
Everything started in the late 80's with Mags like Sex'n Crime and Scene press. Mamba was the one released regulary on the Commercial Diskmag "Game on" in the early 90's. Later nearly every group had his own diskmag, many groups had two or more. Since 2-3 years the amount of mags is decreasing again. I also must admit, that I donīt know that much about the magscene before 1991. The first diskmags just contained articles for involved sceners. There was no idea to write a mag or chapters for beginners. Some years later the subject piracy was uninterested as the commer- cial gamescene was going down. So the scene and the magazines were open for newcommers. Friend- ship became one of the biggest rules. In the early 90īs there were also a lot of Scene-papermagazines like Bullet proof, Insider and Sunriseīs Milestone, released till the mid 90's.
What does the situation in the C64 diskmagscene look like nowadays? How many diskmags are active? How many well-known mags exist? What are the most popular mags?
There are just around 10 active magazines, which can be called well-known to the whole scene. Mags in Polish and German language are not included. At the moment there are mags like Relax, Domination, Vandalism News and Nitro in the upper part of the magcharts. That are mags which exist since a bunch of years. New mags come and go, but just a few stay till they got a position in the charts. Scene + and the Crest are mags of a newer generation, who will rule the charts one day.
What role do diskmags have in the C64 scene? How are they accepted by the sceners?
For many people mags are the only way to get information out of the scene, example if they are inactive. Mags are the easiest way to publish something without Internet-access and they are one of the few ways to get new people into the scene. All in all diskmags are accepted, but there will be no diskmag without any people against it. Another thing I can say is that the support of the sceners (votes and articles from guest editors) is decreasing very much. Nitro has to fight for filled votesheets, too. The main reason is the loss of official Sheetspreaders.
What does the communication between the diskmag editors look like in general? Is there a lot of competition?
The editors of a diskmag must be in contact to manage the whole organisation (deadline and amount of articles). But I think, you wanted to know if people from different mags are in contact with eachother. Mostly not. Some are supporting other mags with news but most editors just care about the own mag. There was a lot of competition in the past but not anymore.
Tell about the history of your magazine, Nitro. How did it all start? What problems did the staff have at the beginning? How has the mag changed with the time?
Nitro was first released in December 1991 with a simple Notewriter. From Number 2 on we had a real magsystem. We started with Nitro, as it was the chance to release something legal and to get new members with it. When we changed the magsystem first in summer of 1992 (Number 5), we had packed chapters for the first time. With number 9 the outfit was changed again to get a more comfortable system. Outfit v2 (Nitro 5-8) just gave us the chance to put in 8 chapters and not more. In Version 3 we could release as many chapters as a disk can store. The present one is the magsystem we first used on Nitro 17 in autumn of 1994. It also can take as much chapters as a disk can hold. If we get enough chapters, Nitro is two sided (perhaps some of you donīt know, that 5.25" DD-Disks can be used on two sides each 170 Kilobytes) else onesided. The biggest problem was to get a magsystem, as we had no coder in the beginning.
Is it easy to get people write articles for your mag?
No, it is not easy at all. Nowadays it is also difficult to get people out of the own group. Most of the articles are written by the same 3 people, who already wrote the most articles 2 years ago. Next there isn't that much to write about compared to 1993. (scenebased)
What is your opinion about whether diskmags should be released on a regular basis? If yes, which basis would be best?
I don't like so called deadlines. Till number 16 Nitro was released every 2 months. Mostly you are under pressure to get the articles finished, so the textquality goes down and deadlines also can cause trouble.
For what kind of readers should diskmags be created? Should only scene articles be published?
In some sceners' opinion only scene articles should be published, but I think, without non-scene articles the amount of articles is too low for a magazine. Nitro first was written for the whole scene, till we found out, that the so called elite in the early 90īs simply ignored and disliked Nitro. The guys, who made Nitro to the Number 1 Magazine in 1993 mainly were people below the elite or guys from east europe. Very late also wellnown elitesceners admitted to like our magazine, but there are still many guys around, who always said, that we never deserved the Number one spot.
What is your opinion about online magazines?
Onlinemags, where the whole diskmag was put in the net, are a good chance to read mags without a C64. Ex-Sceners can check out what happened to the groups they were in. RRR always does a good job with Relax-online. The other way of online-magazines uses Network. The mag is done by mostly independent editors. There is no real issue but a mag updating itself after uploading the articles or posting the news. The negative side is that everyone can post news without his name. Wrong news are the consequence.
What is your opinion about other media like irc, web-forums or newsgroups?
I don't use the IRC, as I don't have the time for it. You can spend (and you do so) a lot of time there. The other members of Excess make a big use of IRC and ICQ.
Thank you for the interview!
More information about Nitro can be found at the Excess homepage: http://www.st-oneline.de/~ehrenbri/excess.html