Interview with Digisnap/Matrix
Can you tell us about you and your group?
I'm 22 years old and study computer science (what else? :) in Berlin. I started coding assembler on PC in April '94. I wrote three bbs adverts for the mysterious worlds, then I coded some utils for it. The group I was in was named Fatal!. It was the join of Taboo and Tuc. The people from Tuc disjoined later and founded Yakuza. The "demo section" of Fatal! was renamed to Plexus, the bbs utils still were released under Fatal!. Then a new group, Funk! was founded. It was the join of some people of Plexus and The Cross.
In September'95 I decided to stop the bbs tool coding and started to code a XM player. At The Party 5 the 64k intro Reality TV was released and came 17th :). At this time Funk! consisted of Desert, Illfish, Darkknight, Eunice, Sinus, Raytraza, Makk, Mefis, and me. When the player worked more or less buggy I started coding the engine for Essence, a 64k intro for the Mekka'96. It even came first. On the Summer Encounter we released White Essence and came third.
At this time Mefis wanted to leave the scene and Raytraza left and founded Kolor. At Assembly'96 I met Sharon and Nero and hoped that I could start a project with them, without leaving Funk! at first. Nearly a year later I had developed the engine for the Spotlight intro. Mefis and Desert made sound and graphics, but then there was no more activity in Funk!. Shortly after the Mekka/Symposium'97 Nero, Sharon and Skyphos left Artwork. We re-founded Matrix also with aurelius (Matrix was an Amiga group where Skyphos and Sharon were in) and started planning The Fulcrum. At first we wanted to release it at Wired'97, then at The Party 7, but finally we released at Mekka/Symposium'98.
You mentioned the name Spotlight. It was a real nice intro, could you tell us a bit about the making of that intro?
For some time I had had the idea how to make realtime spotlights. At Asm96 and The Party 6 I hoped that nobody else released something with this effect. Actally Hellfire had the same idea. You just have to render the scene onto a shadow map from the light's viewpoint and project it into the scene. I also used an ID buffer to find out if a face is covered by something when lighting it. The ID should be unique for each face drawn, but with only one byte for the ID buffer you have to use the ID's more than once. The animations were made with 3ds 4.0 and the dungeon with a self-made editor. This editor was used again for The Fulcrum, but there the animations were made with 3ds Max and Character Studio.
Now let's talk about something recent, "The Fulcrum". As you know "Fulcrum" made you and Matrix one of the most famous coders and groups in the scene. What do you have to say about that?
Well, it was 1994 when I first wanted to go to Assembly. Two years later I made it there. Now my dream of having contributed to a cool demo is fulfilled. It's the best time to leave the scene. This is hard to me and perhaps to someone expecting another production from Matrix. But perhaps there will be another release without character animations and 3D features.
How much work is behind a winning demo like "The Fulcrum"?
Well, it's nothing you can do in some days or weeks. The teamwork also must be good that you can bear to work together for a long time.
Can you tell us who the producers of The Fulcrum are?
Aurelius, nero, sharon, skyphos and me. Made/Bomb made the picture with the eagle as main-theme. You also can find this at http://mtx.home.ml.org.
What do you think made Fulcrum a winning demo?
Not only some new features like shadows on complex objects, filtering and multicolor-shading with animated lightsources, but also morphed characters and the fact that every texture was hand-drawn especially for the modelled objects. The sound in the intro/extro was also a try to give it a new aspect.
I know you are the coder, which part did you find harder to code/finish in the demo?
Do you mean if coding is harder than for example modelling? I think all parts had their special pitfalls.
What do you think about the progress nowadays in the demoscene?
It's getting more and more difficult for newcomers to catch up with the actual standard. Due to this, the proceeding becomes slower and slower, and the people older and older. But I hope that this will not kill the scene. The scene must be clever enough to find new things to do.
Do you think 3D is making a better scene or boring one?
Since I'm a 3D coder i really love 3D demos. But only 3D with no design makes a boring scene. If we look at the good old Second Reality, then Stars, Contrast and so on, all contained 3D. But people should avoid making demos with only a texture mapping engine and nothing more.
What do you think about the 'design in demos' debate?
We don't need to debate about this. If a demo has design it's cool, if it has no design we just can enjoy the code (and the sound).
What do you think about making demos under windows?
I think direct X is now better supported than VESA 2.0. Writing a bug-free VESA support is also not easy because of the realmode interrupt calls. If you want that many people to watch your demo it is a good idea to support Windows. But since the scene never is "mainstream" you should consider releasing it for Linux too.
What platform do you think supports the demoscene better? Do you think DOS will survive?
DOS will not survive. It only has disadvantages: 16 bit, single user, single tasking, no graphical user interface, a bad command line user interface and hardware dependent. I do not miss it since I know Linux. Technically Windows supports the demoscene best. But how does the C64 support it? So I hope that the demoscene chooses the platform made by another scene: Linux.
What you think about hardware "support" on demos?
For the next few years there should be compos where neither 3D accelerator cards nor 3D graphics libraries are allowed, but also extra compos for this. The scene will decide it finally with the releases.
Which is/was your favourite party?
The Mekka'96 was the first full sized party I attended. I still think it was the best one.
What is your favourite demo?
My entry to the scene was Second Reality. It was my favourite demo for a long time. Then it was Caero and Inside. In the End of 1996 there were many cool demos that I don't have only one favourite since then.
What are the plans for Matrix?
There is nothing really clear.
You say that your contribution to the demoscene has ended? Are you leaving the scene for good? Entering the games world now?
No, at first I want to enter the Linux world. I would miss too much if I wouldn't. :)
Why the Linux world?
Linux is as cool as the demo scene. It's you who makes things work, not a company which wants to make money. Making money is the only thing a company is there :), but if it becomes your disadvantage it's uncool.
You say you would be missing alot if you didn't. What would you miss?
I also don't have to wait for the next Windows releases. Since some years I have known people who are always waiting for what never comes. The Star Division coders say: "Those who don't understand Unix are doomed to reinvent it poorly". But I know from university that a Unix can be worse implemented than Linux. :)
What do you think about diskmags?
Diskmags have always been cool. But in the Internet era they have problems to spread I think. Going online could help the diskmag culture. It has the advantage that I can read them on a Sun Solaris at university. :)
Are diskmags still necessary?
Yes, but perhaps in another form.
What do you think about other media like irc, newsgroups, online-mags?
At the moment I only use the Hornet Archive. But all these media give the scene what it needs: comunication between the scene people.
What groups do you consider "well-known" and in some way contributed to the scene?
Acme, Amable, CNCD, Cubic Team & Seen, Deathstar, Doomsday, Dubius, Future Crew, Haujobb, Jamm, Nooon, Orange, Oxygene, Plant & EMF, Psychic Link, Pulse, Sanction, TBL and many others. Don't be discouraged if I forgot your group. :)
What do you like to do outside beside demo- or any other type of coding?
Coding and studying take the most time, and the other time I do different things, nothing regular.
One last question, what are your favourite music bands? ;)
None. I just hear what comes to my ears and some bands appear and disappear too fast for me. :)
Do you wanna say anything to the scene or hello to anyone?
Of course: to cynic, hellfire and all others of haujobb, to sanction (a shame that pinker and cohen didn't come to m/s'98), crossbone, ghandy, big rat, magic max, mri, skal, AD, all ex funk! members, admiral, pirx, all Linux & KDE users, and all I know. :)
Where can we reach you?