Interview with Seffren/NO!
An Interviewing Prophet of Hugi
Introduce yourself to the readers - who are you, what do you do, where do you live?
Im Søren Groth - scenewise known as Seffren (that's Seffren, not Saffron ;)). I've been living in denmark for all my 23 years. During the last couple of years I've been a sysadmin/IT technician for a living, while I have been trying to build up a game-development company. I have been involved in the scene since 91-92 doing various things: code, pixel art, web design, ansi/ascii and a few bad modules. :) These days I only code and pixel though.
What are the differences in the organization of a game-development company and a demogroup? Or maybe should I ask, what do they have in common? I really don't know if these things are really comparable, please explain it to me and all the curious readers. :) Can one rely on one's scene contacts in order to recruit people for a game-development company?
The biggest difference to me is that demo development is usually (sadly) a coder's thing. I.e., the coder does not only code the demo, he/she also designs it, pick music/graphics, etc. A game is (should) be made according to a design, where everything is balanced towards the final product. This makes the programmer(s) less important and the designer(s) much more vital. This requires more leadership than a demogroup does, there must be someone to make sure everything goes as planned. In fact, a game development crew could be compared to a warez group, with leaders, division leaders and hardworking lowranking people.
One of the reasons for me to quit defacto 2 was loyalty. When doing serious projects such as a game, you must be able to trust everyone 100%. A couple of the main people joined another group and played it both ways, so I chose to quit and restart with people that I believe in.
One question those among us like me who don't have a computer-related job (or not yet) is, how much time do you have for your computer-related hobbies like the demoscene? When you get home in the evening after a day in front of the computer, do you still have the motivation to switch on your pc and code or pixel? Or is it possible for you to do some scene-related activities during work, in the idling periods? :)
Due to the nature of my work it's quite varied. Some days I don't use a pc at all, but install new machines, repair components, lay out cables, or drink coffee all day. Days with 8 hours of monitor radiance do decrease the motivation though, but usually I end up coding/pixeling anyways. ;) On an average day I'm a scener for 2-3 hours at work and another 2-3 hours when I get home.
You have recently left Defacto 2 and founded a new demogroup called "NO!". What's the profile of the group and what are your plans with it?
One of the ideas behind No! is based on being a group in the right sense. In the scene today too many groups only release intros and demos because they can win money at parties with that. In the past groups released all kinds of productions; slideshows, musicdisks, diskmags, etc etc.. Our current projects include a tracker (nhx) and a deluxe paint clone for windows. Do you see xxxxxx do that? I thought so. Regarding demos/intros all I see today is 3d productions with all kinds of experimental noise music and photoshopped blur graphics. In my oppinion demos/intros should be designed by all members together, not individually as it seems most groups do these days. This leads to the other main idea behind No! We are all friends and decide things together. This is also the reason that we (I) have rejected some people that asked to join. We are not closed for new members, but you must grow into the group, become one of us.
You are working on a Windows tracker called NHX for the AHX (Abyss' Highest eXperience) format, which has its origin on the Amiga. What's the special qualities of this format, what makes it different from other tracker formats?
I think it's wrong to compare ahx to any pc tracker. Mainly because its aim is to produce SID like music. Theres is no samples involved but instead it uses a software based synth. The fact that it sounds like a SID is a great quality for oldskool people. Other factors make this tracker quite unique though; the fileformat is highly compact and the replayer is reasonably simple, allowing a tiny player. It also features a special pattern system allowing you to reuse tracks in multiple patterns, using the same or different pitch. This saves both tracking time and diskspace. All in all it's a great program which deserves to be preserved on the pc.
Which advice would you give to people new to the scene who want to start coding demos themselves?
First of all I think it's important to learn a programming language as thoroughly as possible, without a solid base you will constantly get your mind of the effect/engine/etc while looking for a function name.. Secondly it's very important to have at least some level of computer understanding; even with api's such as directx it's important that you know what is going on behind the curtain. For learning it is also a good idea to find a few people or a group to exchange ideas/code with, even if you don't release anything. Working together always speeds up things. For motivation/self-confidence reasons I will NOT recommend any newbies to ask for advise on irc, at least until you have been around a bit and know who are the nice guys and who are the not-so-nice. There is way too many people that ditch newbies before they even get a chance. None mentioned, none forgotten.
What types of articles should a diskmag publish most in your opinion?
I think it's important that a mag caters for all aspects of the scene; News, interviews, design, coding, art, music... I wouldn't mind seeing a mag that took up themed issues, such as focusing on one relevant subject or another. You might say that it would only interest some people but I think every scener is interested in every aspect, at least to some degree.
Seffren & Adok - 21 Mar 2000