Interview with RokDaZone/Endzeit

Done via e-mail by Adok/Hugi

RokDaZone is the main editor of the Amiga diskmag Generation. I decided to interview him about the situation of the Amiga diskmagscene and its differences to the PC.

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.

The old story: A young boy gets a computer for X-mas and in his hunt for cracked games (those were the days) he came across intros and fell in love with idea to participate somehow. I actually got my Amiga 500 - and with it my first computer which I still own besides my A4000 - in X-mas 1988 and soon started to use the first tracker system ever to compose: "The Ultimate Soundtracker V1.0".

By now I am 25 years old and still in the Scene. Besides being main-editor I am organiser of Endzeit. This group has just been formed by Damion (technical main-ed for Generation), after our former group Artwork (could be known also in the PC-Scene) fell apart. From time to time I am still into tracking, but else when it comes to music I prefer Midi. Apart from scene I am student of psychology and work for a Mercedes-Benz-related company as telephone-marketeer and webdesigner.

As the main editor of Generation, you are pretty much involved in the Amiga diskmagscene. Can you give us a short (or longer) description of the history and development of Amiga diskmags?

We have to be aware that actually diskmags evolved from scrollers in old C64 demos. Also on Amiga, the first way for masscommunication were these scrollwritings and not seldomly, scrolltexts expanded to a length of 50+ kbyte. Still this was by far unsatisfying and so the first mag popped up which was (afaik) "Cracker Journal". Very limited in its functions, it only was a mere slideshow and the articles had no ASCII-source but were typed in directly into a graphicprogram and saved as IFF-data. Under regard that those were the times of 700kb floppy disks and only rudimentary packing algorhythms, you might get the picture about the amount of articles in there. Several other projects followed up in 1988 and 1989 such as "News On Tour" by Red Sector (who later became TRSI), but it needed another year until "Zine" broke all barriers and set new standards for diskmags - a wave of dying diskmags followed.

"Zine" for the first time had real tabloid character and introduced yellowpress to the Amiga. Then the big battle between "Stolen Data" (for which I became hq), "Zine" and "R.A.W." began. "R.A.W." won in 1991, "Stolen Data" made it to the second and "Zine" died short after. When "Stolen Data" died in 1992, I joined "R.A.W." and saw a new second placed mag, which also never managed to beat "R.A.W." in the charts: "Upstream" was the name.

Important to mention surely "Abnormalia" the Italian based magazine under Macno from 1992. Macno was eccentric but also a genious in writing. His narrative skills are still unbeaten and for two glorious years, the absolute core of writers (including me as co-editor, pardon) worked for it. Macno introduced writingtechniques and -style to the writingguild which so far rather published on a personal speech level.

Lord Helmet - mained for "R.A.W." - broke any rules of tact and nicety and put success to the throne. He was a professional, but didn't survive the fight against Hydra/Andromeda, leader of probably the best Amiga-group ever. When Helmet accused him to be the "Stalin of the Scene", he found the wrong foe in Hydra, who intelectually and rigorously knocked him out. "R.A.W." lateron had a revival in 1995 and changed main-editor, but was laid to rest in 1996, after one of its ex-coeditors pulled "R.A.W." from the first place in the charts with his mag "R.O.M." after 3 years of constantly being number one. This guy should be known in the PC-Scene: It's Mop who also wrote for Imphobia.

At The Party'95 I took over the former messagebox Generation and integrated a magpart together with the original maineditor Damion. The magpart grew, the messagesection died and nowadays, Generation holds the second place in its second year, while "R.O.M." still holds the first place. Another mag which shouldn't be forgotten is Seenpoint, nowadays put to the third place and arch-enemy of "Generation" while we still collaborate against "R.O.M.". The latest hope in "Insomnia" which just celebrated its second issue.

What does the situation in the Amiga diskmagscene look like nowadays? How many diskmags are active? How many well-known mags exist? What are the most popular mags?

Like in many other categories as well, we have a lot of living deads in our charts, so you still can see R.A.W. on the lower places. Active by now I would say are: Generation, Seenpoint, Retro, Insomnia, Trashcan, Showtime, Eurocharts and Excees (polish only). Semi-active is Jurassic Pack, Oepir Risti and Rage! with irregular releases every now and then. Died away lately seems to be R.O.M.

The most popular are R.O.M. (falling), Generation, Seenpoint, Showtime and Insomnia.

What role do diskmags have in the Amiga scene? How are they accepted by the sceners?

Although it might sound strange: Mags are a major concern in the Amiga-Scene. There are many people who almost exclusively work for ScenZines (like we call them today) and it's true: Generation even has an entire section only for editors. We expected the IRC to cut down the need for magazines, but actually rather the opposite happened as rumours spread on IRC and email are mostly opposing so that mags are needed for clarification. Moreover infotainment is not an empty wordshell in our Scene. How's that on PC?

Generation features a diskmag corner including an "Editorial for Editors only". What does the communication between the diskmag editors look like in general? Is there a lot of competition?

There is a strong competition with the top five mags battleing, but it's a friendly one, which also means that we ask eachothers for help or for commentary and opinions. Still, sometimes these challenge also goes out of hand, but usually we find back to ourselves again after a short time. I still wonder that people have the power to continue after seeing that the first two place a pretty stale for two years now.

Tell about the history of your magazine, Generation. How did it all start? What problems did the staff have at the beginning? How has the mag changed with the time?

First of all, Generation is quite old. By now we have passed six years of existance, although I must admit that I joined only in 1995. Damion formed a message-, advert- and newsbox in 1992. Until my joining it just staid that way although Damion integrated a charts section after some time. In its best times it had more than thousand messages in one issue. Then I joined in and added a magpart which soon became the major part for the production. After some time we dropped the messagesection, integrated the newssection into the magpart and exchanged the adverts by a "phonebook". Before 1995, Generation was a known and accepted release, but never hitted any rank higher than 14th. After the first release with the magpart, we already climbed to sixth and with a major redesign and new writingforces, Generation reached the second rank after a - to me - spectacularly short time. This could sound quite arrogant here, but isn't meant that way. Factually as it was released under the Artwork label, a group which also had an extreme highfly in 1996, we took advance of the group's popularity. Moreover, we had the extreme luck to find one of the best writers in the scene as third maineditor in 1997 - The Ripper.

Is it easy to get people write articles for your mag?

Actually it is. After a certain point, people start to identify with a publication and they tend to try to be part of the process. That is why quite some people send articles without being asked. Still, Ripper and I fill around 70% of one issue.

What is your opinion about... whether diskmags should be released on a regular basis? If yes, which basis would be best?

Ideally monthly, but that's fictous. Bimonthly could also only be possible with a huge scene and many supporters, but not on Amiga anymore. Today I'd say 3-4 months make a good basis.

For what kind of readers should diskmags be created? Should only scene articles be published?

No, that's not my style. But the weight must lay on Scene. Generation has regular sections for Amiga-related articles and something that I call the oddities - strange writings of no nearer definition. Could be shortstories, poems or simply nonsense articles.

Still, when it comes to non-scene related articles one should keep in the eye that one does withstand the temptation of using them as fillers. It is especially for those articles essential that people take them serious and might find such a section enjoyable - CD reviews or shorttalks for school are not such a good choice. The absolutely must-not is to mix up Scene-related and nonscene-related articles in one section.

What is your opinion about online magazines?

100% online magazines are not my style, at least not in this stage of technical possibilites. They might take over the affair, when in Europe more than 2MB lines are standard. As long as I can't find that, I stick to the oldfashioned media. Yet I find it strange that only few Diskmags have their latest issues on WWW completely.

What is your opinion about other media like irc, web-forums or newsgroups?

The IRC is essential nowadays for gaining information and for spreading, but Web-forums and newsgroups can only have an entertaining factor as consumer, you can't find valid information there in my opinion, as the non-momentous writings which are held highly emotional hardly ever come to a real point. They rather possess a carthasist task. Usually I try to find inspiration on IRC and then switch over to email to fixiate the facts by the once involved.