The Atari Demoscene Guide.

 A Chapter by chapter outline guide (v.0.1)

This project is intended as an e-book to cover the history of the Atari demo scene.  It will mostly run in a chronological fashion, on a chapter by chapter basis, apart from some special chapters where individual topics are examined more closely.

The intention is to firstly get comments and suggestions on this initial version of the outline chapter guide, then amend it to the final 'democratically approved' version. As for writing the thing, ideally there should be a coalition of interested authors who might want to be responsible for an individual chapter that they feel they are best qualified to cover. If you want to take part in this, then lob an email in my general direction!

For example, covering the diskmag scene is a natural speciality of mine, but someone else could better cover the cracking scene, or have extra insights to offer on the ancient ST/Amiga rivalry.

There would need to be a fair bit of research done to confirm the facts as they happened, and it would be a good idea to get some interview and anecdotal material from primary witnesses and instigators of events as well.

The presentation will be a .HTML or .PDF format, like a book, and with illustrations and screengrabs where appropriate. Unless some kindly millionaire with cash to burn wants to put up the cost of making a real book from it!

We still need to decide on a decent title for it, this is another area where the potential reader's voice can be heard. Any good suggestions for one? 'Atari Demoscene Guide' is a bit lame really.

Any feedback on places like the DHS BBS is cool, but if you want to make detailed comments and suggestions, then email me in the usual place at cih -<at>-

Chapter 1 - Origins - What was the first ST demo and when (Level 16?) State of the cracking/piracy scene at the time? And what links to, and inspiration from the C64/Amiga scene?

Chapter 2 - Exceptions Rising - The early years, TEX, small intros and B.I.G demo. First conscious manifestation of Atari demo scene, and TEX as the dominant player. Other early demos described here as well. (1987-88)

Chapter 3 - We're in the Union now! - Union demo is another big step forward, the famous multipart megademo showcasing lots of previously unseen groups, incl Delta Force, TCB, (others here). Also at the time, first attempt to move part of demo scene away from cracking scene, with Thalion software being set up. (1988-89)

Chapter 4 - Having a warm and Cuddly feeling - Next leap with Carebears (TCB) Cuddly demo, with new techniques like Synch scrolling, most Amiga-like demo yet, and new limits broken. General increase in demo scene, and rise of Swedish groups in particular. Start of megademo (with menu) era, many of these at the time. (1989)

Chapter 5 - Us, and them... - Special chapter on ST/Amiga rivalry, right through from early days to latterly mutual understanding and co-operation on '060 based hardware.

Chapter 6 - London calling - Appearance and rise of the UK scene, Lost Boys, from early sound sample demos, through Definitive demo, and culminating in Mindbomb/Maggie in 1990. Also point out international connectedness of Atari scene in general, early trans-national coding parties, role of parties like STNICCC in cementing the 'old scene' together as a recognisable entity. All of this predated communication by internet! (1990)

Chapter 7 - Going underground - Detailed history of the cracking and menu scene. Needs to be outsourced to someone who knows this better than me.

Chapter 8 - The golden autumn - Later golden age, including bowing out of TEX/TCB, also final demo of Lost Boys (Ooh Crikey!) At the same time, rise of OVR and French scene. Useful to mention smaller scenes like the Dutch one. (1991)

Chapter 9 - Friendly fire - Some famous feuds! Another special chapter, who hated whom, group rivalry from Next/OVR onwards, TLB/Inner Circle, maybe even taking in the UCM vs Maggie spat?!

Chapter 10 - Decline and fall - The end of the oldschool, last spasm of brilliance from likes of Aggression on the STe, but most old groups folded. Arrival of new hardware, the Falcon which was not taken up by them. This effectively had to start with a new scene. ('92-'93)

Chapter 11 - Diskmags digest - History of diskmags and their effect on the demoscene from ST-News to the present.

Chapter 12 - The reset button is pressed - The Atari scene is reborn, new groups and people rush in to fill the gap left by the disappearance of the old scene. Lazer/Independent, various others. What seemed to be the 'final' ST demo in '93, Froggies over the fence. (1993)

Chapter 13 - The Falcon flies! - The Falcon scene as it evolved in 93-95. From 'Warum' to Fried Bits 3.

Chapter 14 - The Falcon falters - The decline of the first wave of the Falcon scene in 1996, but straws in the wind for new and interesting people. Possible reason for this, people hitting perceived upper limits, and seduced by dominant PeeCee hardware. (1996)

Chapter 15 -  Slow recovery - Falcon scene to 1999, will take in Siliconvention and Tat's DSP busting feats, also DHS later exploration of FPU, fashions for 4ktro's and limited size productions in general, faketro invasion etc. Seemed to be a lot of exploring unusual formats and severe size-limiting, reprising common effects in less and less code, as if avoiding the question of where the next 'big' step was coming from.

Chapter 16 - A Polski invasion! - The rise of the Polish scene, 1998 to 2000.

Chapter 17 - An ST spring surprise! - The revival of the "humble" ST, Dresden '99, other productions, also height of 128 byte-tro madness! (1999)

Chapter 18 - Fifteen years young - 2000, a time for reflection, STNICCC 10th anniversary, where old and newschool touched each other, end of Maggie etc. (2000)

Chapter 19 - Atari online - Special chapter, Atariscene and the internet, IRC, early websites. Lazer's one from 1996 is still there!) and evolution ( to the present. Also the wider effect of universal demoscene sites, (Pouet!) in the present day on the development of the Atari scene and how it is seen by others.

Chapter 20 - Dresden dreams - Falcon pushed to new heights in 2001, also first signs of coding for accelerators (CT2) (2001)

Chapter 21 - Mekka Madness - 2002, a big let-down in lots of ways...

Chapter 22 - UNDECIDED - 2003, back at Dresden, lots of presents for everyone.

Chapter 23 - Stretching beyond the limits - Special chapter, debate on hardware acceleration versus 'pure' coding. Mainly a Falcon thing, culminating in rise of the CT60 scene.

Chapter 24 - An Atari in wolves clothing - Special chapter, debate on emulation, and its usefulness to the Atariscene. Also using PeeCee and Aranym development tools to make Atari demos.

Chapter 25 - Look to the future - Recent developments and future prospects. This would include later DSP busters from Damo and Mikro/Mystic Bytes, and also the slow rise of the CT60 concept. (2004 to now)

Chapter 26 - STOP! - Closing chapter with final words kind of thing.

References, names of people interviewed, also third party information sources credited here as well.

Appendix 1 - A full list of all demo's made, in chronological order? (Depends if it gets too big or not?)

An index, Yeehaw! Let's make it like a proper academic book.

Additional chapters?

1. Development of music/sound techniques, from modfile replay to YM-RockerZ
2. Atari 8-bit scene, esp in Eastern Europe.

I've not decided if these should go in yet. The development of music techniques is more than likely to make it, as it is a continuing story right up to the present day, an important part of how the whole Atari scene developed, and going beyond the ST/Amiga rivalry origins.

Atari 8-bit is more difficult, as rounding it up in a chapter might well lead to the same accusations of undervaluing that the 'Freakz' project ran into with the 16/32 bit Atari scene? It would need an author intimately acquainted with that part of the scene in any case.

The next release of this text will include a fully updated outline guide. It will also include what a sample chapter might look like, written by myself, on a topic of my choice! ;-)

 CiH/August '06.