Interview with Nick-S


Session Start: Tue Nov 17 20:50:41 1998
<Nick-S> Heya!
<Adok> Hi Nick-S!
<Nick-S> Yeah!
<Adok> Do you really want to be interviewed for Hugi #13? :)
<Nick-S> Hello. How bad is it going to be? From levels between 1 and 10...
<Adok> The interview or Hugi? :)
<Nick-S> Hugi. ;)
<Adok> Hugi? Well, rate it yourself after it's released... :)
<Nick-S> OK.
<Adok> But I will try to make the best of it. :)
<Nick-S> Go on, yes, do that.
<Adok> Okay!

<Adok> Then let's start with the question that starts every interview: Who are you? Introduce yourself to the readers!
<Nick-S> I'm Nick-S (Nick Stealer)... 17 years old... I live in Jerusalem/Israel and I am leftwing (I don't want to die).

<Adok> Well, you said a lot in very short words. :)
<Nick-S> Yes. I have... I usually do that.

<Adok> Just a question: Are you a Jew or a Muslim?
<Nick-S> I'm an atheist. But i'm also a Jew since I was born... which is not really my choice...
<Adok> But it's no disadvantage for you, either.
<Nick-S> Not really.

<Adok> What do you understand by 'leftwing'?
<Nick-S> Well. I want the peace process to actually take place. And the situation in the Middle East to calm down.
<Adok> Well, but that actually has nothing to do with leftwing.
<Nick-S> It doesn't? OK. ;) Sorry then. :)
<Adok> Well, no problem. :) We in Europe understand a different thing by leftwing.
<Nick-S> That's a possibility...

<Adok> OK, let's really start with the interview!
<Nick-S> ;) Yes...

<Adok> So what are you doing here in the scene?
<Nick-S> I'm taking care of it. I never contributed anything to the scene. Although I had thousands of intentions to do so it never actually worked out... Usually the blame was on the modellers/pixelers. But I'm also helping new sceners from Israel and from here at #coders. I have made many demo engines after all.

<Adok> What does the scene in Israel look like? Can you describe it to us?
<Nick-S> The scene in Israel is not so large. But thanks to Civax, it is well organized. Civax brought the scene to Israel. He made the first demo party in Israel (Movement '95)... Besides... there are many good coders in Israel (Kombat, Adept, Borzom) and many gifted art people. It's a shame some of them are fading away to the army and other places.

<Adok> Yes, civax is very committed. I'm also in contact with him. How did the people get into contact with computers? Is it common that the teenagers get computers at a young age?
<Nick-S> Yes. Many have computers at young age. Let's remember that the scene existed when the Internet was not so popular, and BBSes was the more popular way in order to get in contact with other people... and pass away demos... I first saw Second Reality maybe 6 years ago. I downloaded it from Civax's BBS. Then I was really hooked.

<Adok> Wow! That was just after its release!
<Nick-S> Yes. Civax had his ways of getting things.

<Adok> As I see, Civax is really an important person in the .il scene.
<Nick-S> Yes... Civax is the one. - After I had seen the city scene in Second Reality, I said: "I want to do that too". Only 2 years ago I actually made my own engine. Of course like everyone I had my own object-rotator-with-flat-shading but that was in Pascal. After I had learnt C inside out... i started making a real keyframing engine. And when I discovered C++ and Bjarne Stroustrup... That's when I understood that C++ is the ultimate language for programming realtime applications. I also have a very nice keyframing engine that uses the .lwo/.lws format, fully C++ object oriented etc...

<Adok> How did you actually get to programming? Where did you learn it? Did Civax do tutorials? Or did everyone help eachother on learning?
<Nick-S> Learning to program and learning to program graphics are 2 different things. I first started programming when I was 6. That's when I got my first computer... It was XT or something... I had GWBASIC on it and I had some local book that explained the basics of programming (loops, ifs...). I stayed with GWBASIC for quite a while. But a few years later I received the Pascal compiler. It was TP6 I believe... Moving to a modular language like that was not so easy... But i liked it very much. I used Pascal for a lot of time. When I was about 12... That's when I started programming real stuff.

<Adok> How did you get to C?
<Nick-S> I got to C only lately... in the last 2 years. When I was at Movement '96 I saw Borzom and Adept doing really nice stuff on their computers using C and I understood that if I wanna keep up with their pace I have to learn C.

<Adok> Let's stay with Pascal... Can you remember any programs which you made then?
<Nick-S> Oh... At first I made some utilities... editors... picture editors, but no real graphics. Then I started making some effects like fire... smooth.. the ususal (discovering the wonders of playing with the frame buffer). But at the same time I also got my Internet account. When I was 13.5 I think is when I first came to #coders.

<Adok> Probably all dudes programmed in Pascal then.
<Nick-S> I knew only one guy around here who was programming. It was really hard for me to learn the stuff without having friends who program... Anyways I started going around Civax' BBS and the Internet... And I got all the mythological tutorials about 3d rotations, so I started writing rasterizers... And after some time I had my object-rotator-with-flat-shading and at about the same time the first Israeli demo-party took place (Movement '95). That's where I met all the other people. We teached each other stuff. It was really wonderful... Of course after the party we stayed in contact. Then at Movement '96 I saw Adept's pray...

<Adok> Can you remember details what it was like then? The development, the scene...
<Nick-S> Ah well. Generally, nowadays the scene in general is going down. And we all have to admit that.
<Adok> The people love reading details.
<Nick-S> Details about Movement?
<Adok> Yes, for example! That's an opportunity to write more about the history of the .il scene.
<Nick-S> Movement '95 introduced us Israelis the concept of a demo-party. And most people saw what a nice thing it is. And you can tell that by seeing how the number of attenders multiplied itself at Movement '96. There is one Israeli group for example called YOE that is really well organized. It really puts a hold of the scene in Israel. People told their friends about the scene... and showed each other demos... and people started working on their own trax/pixelled/raytraced art/demos. We still lack good coders around here though. People got in friends with each other... and some groups were formed. So generally people talked with each other on the phone... And the other communication went through Civax' BBS. Coders F/X is the name. Everybody knew that his BBS is the place to go. It had lists of programmers/artists. But let's get back to how I learnt stuff.

<Adok> Okay! That is important.
<Nick-S> After I had seen Adept's pray... I understood that my object-rotator-with-flat-shading is not sufficient to become good. At movement '96... after I had seen most people use it for their really kewl demos. It was just after the party when everybody went back home. I came up to adept and asked him "How the hell did you do that?" (I was referring to pray) and he said something like "It's really easy. But I don't have time," and disappeared. I think I fell asleep before he had finished saying that... We didn't get much sleep at that party (or any other party). We were really busy throwing food out of the windows on people. Anyways... After that... I started coming to #coders a lot and asked people, and people explained me many things. The one who helped me most was Kalms - who is the master. ;) Also many webpages helped me and tutorials like Zed3D and a lot of ideas came alone. But the real breakthrough was when i bought "Computer Graphics: Principle and Practice" - which is the bible. People from around here told me about keyframing... camera transformations, shading, interpolations, and all that nice stuff. So after a while I started porting things to C. And then when I was comfortable enough with it, I started working on an engine last year. I had to give school a computer graphics project and I programmed it using C++ (I bought Bjarne Stroustrup's book) and used the CGPnP as my guide.

<Adok> Do you have computer science class at school?
<Nick-S> Yes, sure we do. We have many computer subjects. None of them is advanced... Eventually we get: Pascal, Assembler (only mov, dec, add, lea, int), COBOL (don't ask), and computer graphics. I never really went into any computer graphics lesson.

<Adok> That's a lot anyway!
<Nick-S> The Computer Graphics in our school is nice in my opinion... but the teachers don't know much. Well.. there was one teacher who was really good. He was young too (20)... He learned a lot from me. I learned a lot from him. But none of the teachers really knew computer graphics at a high level. I got 100 for my project. For no doubt.

<Adok> So you helped each other? At our school the teachers don't know much either.
<Nick-S> He helped me with C++. I helped him with Computer graphics issues like OpenGL... and questions like "what's clipping" and stuff like that... He also helped me to struggle my way thorogh the knowledge needed of linear algebra when it comes to computer graphics.

<Adok> In what direction do you think the scene will develop?
<Nick-S> Ah. You touched the point. ;) Most of the time (not always) the scene was about making things fast. Agreed?
<Adok> Yes, groups that made many releases got famous.
<Nick-S> Hmm, so anyways... In the past year the THING was the 3D accelerators which provided game programming with drawing primitives really fast. That's when the scene stops. And now... Putting 40,000 polygons in a scene with z-buffering and texture, gouraud is no longer a problem. <Adok> I get your point: you meant the speed of the demos with 'fast'. <Nick-S> Yeah, and there are 3d-accelerated compos too. So when we've got speed at our reach... the real stuff is now done by the artists... and we talk music AND modelling here. Maybe the scene doesn't have much more to offer. <Adok> Well, now that one does not have to care that much about optimizing, one could, on the contrary, put more effects and new ones in demos. <Nick-S> Well, yes, but people almost tried everyhting. <Adok> There might come one group one day that revolutionizes the whole thing again. I think it is more developing into the direction of art now... <Nick-S> Another Future Crew? Yes... maybe. Demos started being a more artistic thing lately. And I don't take 'Fulcrum' as an example. I take 'Tribes', which is really well designed. Fulcrum is the example of purity, and a very very good engine. They explicitly did it to show off their engine.

<Adok> What are your future plans?
<Nick-S> My future plans... Hmm, well... I'm currently working on a game. It will use everything I know, but I'm not working on it alone (at least that's what I think). Sqrt(-1) (lameass) is with me. Although he hasn't written a single line until now... he is supposed to. And together we will do something really good I hope. Also I have plans of getting a car... ;) But that's a much different story.

<Adok> You will certainly get a good job with your knowledge.
<Nick-S> Well. I can agree and disagree. C/C++ programmers are not really requested. They want you to know MFC good or something... and besides when you are 17... they don't take you that fast. I had jobs where I actually coded pure C... Did you mean i can get a job concerning computer graphics?
<Adok> Yes, for example.
<Nick-S> Ah... I wish. ;) A dream.
<Adok> But there are also good graphic coders that were searched for on the Internet. Sometimes companies post job offers on comp.graphic.algorithms. Well, if I can advertise for you in Hugi, just let me know. :)
Session Close: Tue Nov 17 22:01:06 1998

- adok^hugi