Lapsuus on Amiga:
The making of a winning demo
Saku/Maturefurk, interviewed by Adok
Like in the previous year, Maturefurk made the 1st place in the demo competition at Assembly. With 6257 points, their production, lapsuus (Finnish for "childhood"), had more than 2300 points more than the demo that placed second. The most interesting fact: it's an Amiga demo. I interviewed Saku of Maturefurk for details on the making of this masterpiece.
What was the basic idea behind the demo?
The idea to most of the scenes in the demo was found, when the team was spending an evening at Juha's place, watching the very nice and moody movie called Dark City from a DVD. The strong "noir" of the scenes, play of lights and shadows and overall atmosphere influenced us very much and set the tone of the demo's beginning.
The other ideas that we wanted to include in the demo were some kind of nature scene in the end, room with a pool and some apparent conflict in the middle. This roughly fitted also the Dark City origins: the decay of the city in the beginning, pool, a conflict, destruction and a new start.
However, it was never our intention to make a complete Dark City demo. There are always other factors and motivations which you have to deal during the creation process: sometimes you want to make something just because it is cool, sometimes because that is all you can do, or simply just because you found some old routine that you did not want to waste. I think that this demo should be watched as a independent piece of art and I bet that almost nobody has realized the DC connection on their own.
What also became apparent during the development (for us at least) was the strong feeling of returning to our own lives years ago -- childhood of our computer life so to speak. I started my Amiga career 1987 when I was 13 years old, the others are in that ballpark too. That feeling echoes in the demo mostly in the beginning and in the ending line "Lapsuus on Amiga". Maybe it was not Dark City demo at all, maybe it was depicting decay of Amiga, the conflict between PC, destruction, and then the rebirth... :-) Or maybe it was metaphor of that fight over platforms in our own lives... Or maybe...
Like with any piece of art, once released, it is to be decided by the audience.
Why did you create it for Amiga?
There were several reasons.
One reason was that we wanted to do it once more. Most of the team holds strong Amiga scene history and that is the machine we all started on and made demos. During the off-years, we all have learned a thing or two, and we wanted to see if we could fit that stuff into the limited resources of Amiga. If we would be successful in this, we might be able to look back proudly and think that maybe the last demo we made on Amiga was a friggin' good one... maybe the best ever (at least for us).
One reason was that we wanted to put finally end to the talks that followed both two previous Assembly. In -99 and 2k (PC demos Virhe and Lapsus), there were some accusations from various ignorant people claiming that we were using company resources to make our demos, some even tried to claim that we were using Max Payne technology. This hurt us, because we specially took vacation from our jobs to make this totally on our own. One should know, that Maturefurk uses OpenGL engine on PC (fully coded by Pete and Mikko), whereas 3DMarks and Max Payne use Max-FX, which is purely a Direct3D engine coded by completely different people. If you know enough about 3D stuff, you should notice this difference immediately and also know that there can be no connection in engine code or other code between these two.
For Lapsuus, Petri dig some 10 % of the code from his old reserves and with Mikko, they wrote the rest 90% specially for this demo. Hopefully, with this off-PC demo, people finally believe that it is just us guys doing stuff on our spare time... because it's fun.
What Amiga hardware has been used?
It was coded on Amiga 1200, equipped with 68060 / 50 Mhz accelerator card and 16 MB of memory. We worked hard to get rid of any mid-demo loading pauses and succeeded... the whole demo is loaded in the beginning and every scene is fitted into that 16 MB -- barely :-).
Who was responsible for the individual components?
Petri (formerly known as Aivo of Mellow Chips) and Mikko (formerly known as Kalsu) are our coders. Petri can also be described as our primary driving force -- he is the one who summoned us together yet again and kicked our butts to get the stuff done.
The art side includes four people: Janne, Eetu, Juha and me, Saku. There is also a fifth artist, Timo (also known as Visualize), but he did not do much this year, as he was so busy with his own project. Janne is our Lightwave guru (much of the art was done with LW) and he was responsible for the opening bathroom, the animation of the characters later, as well as the demolishing city. Eetu did all the wonderful nature scenes in the end plus the Venice scene in the beginning. Juha's (formerly known as Asa) main work was the moody staircase in the opening. I did the walzing pool room as well as some director-kinda work in few parts.
Captain (formerly known as Captain :-) is our musician and he made this very fancy and atmospheric tune by the rough written description we provided which included description of what each of the scenes were supposed to be and in what order. Music is always the key to good demo and yet again, this tune binds these scenes together and gives the +100% more feeling.
Maturefurk demo is always a joint venture -- we talk, ask and throw ideas around a lot. Everybody contributes and designs.
As far as I know, all members of maturefurk are professional game developers in their real lives; how did you manage to allocate the time or the production of the demo?
Not quite. Most of us are employees of MadOnion.com, mainly working on the 3D benchmark program 3DMark. In addition to the benchmark goal, 3Dmark has many similarities to a demo. Admittedly there are also some game making qualities, as it should be "the gamers benchmark" -- the last even included a small driving game as a benchmark tool. However, I am the only "true" game developer and have been doing levels, textures and plenty of other design work for Max Payne at MO's next door neighbor Remedy.
Again we took some time off just before the Assembly and spend about four days and nights working only on this. Petri and Mikko had already started some three weeks earlier by coding sometimes at nights. Captain spend a few nights working on music roughly a week before the deadline and it was just ready when we started the final push. Most of the code, design, and all of the gfx were made during the last four day crunch.
Could you describe the special features of lapsuus that cast their spell on the Assembly audience?
While I was there, somebody came over to me and said: "You could have won the animation compo with your demo" :-) I seriously doubt that, but it may give some lead. There were several very good other demos too, but none of them was so animation-like as Lapsuus was. All of our scenes were very recognizable and "real" and no abstract parts were included. The sense of a story, but simultaneously overall dreamlike feeling with a strong main message were probably refreshing (bit like last year's winning demo). Overall design, music, pacing to music, presentation qualities were also thanked by the audience.
When we were making the demo, frankly, we were uncertain if people could nowadays really appreciate Amiga demo. We were mainly doing this for ourselves, but what comes to votes and the compo, we knew, that selecting this great but somewhat old technology was sure to give us some disadvantage (on the other hand, some sympathy too). Till the last moment, we were really unsure if we had shoot ourselves to the leg, so to speak. :-)
A nice touch in the closing ceremonies was the presence of Mr. R. J. Mical. Having him there handing us the prizes and shaking our hands in front of everybody was a memorable moment, as Mr. Mical is one of the original designers of Amiga. He seemed very excited about Amiga still being this much alive - winning Assembly at 2001 and all! :-)
Finally, I'd like to thank all people at Assembly who voted us greet all you people who think that scene is worthwhile. Everybody, let's keep making demos!
On behalf of the team,
Saku of Maturefurk
You can download the demo from: