Interview with Bob/Censor Design
Published in Vandalism News #60 - Diamond Edition
Performed by Jazzcat
Daaaaaah, ahhhhh yessss.... It is time to introduce you to the wonder coder of scene land, Bob of Censor. Needing little introduction, he is the founder of Censor Design and architect behind the famous Wonderland series amongst other demo greats from the Censor stable.
Whilst he has been interviewed previously, the resurgence of his crew in 2012 just beckons further questions that only the likes of Vandalism News can pose.
Here we go, please welcome Bob of Censor Design...
V) Hello Bob! Please tell us a little about yourself, both your private life and your scene career.
B) Private life, line of work:
Stockholm Sweden is a telecom and IT Hotspot of Northern Europe ;), so there is plenty of work ;) I run my company, consulting agency within the field of Test & Development (R&D), I hire out sub-contractors basically.
I am still doing some contracting roles myself if the assignment is of interest.
I have a little Bob Jnr. (Noel) he is 2,5 years old and a step daughter that has flown out +20 yrz ish... + several cool cars. (Or used to have) whaat? They are family members too... why??
Anecdote: my wife's Mother aka Granny, took a ride to us with a friend of hers from the southern parts of Sweden (up to Stockholm) in order to visit us. During this drive of -5 hours or so, she talked to her friend about this and that.
You know Robert has a lot to handle... I mean he has 5 girls nowadays..... Quiet... after an hour or so the driver was thinking furiously and couldn't hold his mind together and said..... What does his wife think about him having so many girls?? Is she accepting that?
Ahh you mean the 5 girls... yes she has no choice :)
The driver goes cold and even with agreater question mark than before...
w. wh.. whaa. whaat do you mean?
Wifey 2. Daughter 3. Betty 4. Brittney 5. Roedluvan (Red Riding Hood)
Red Riding Hood are you kidding me???
- ohh those are his cars... (She replies)
They were laughing the rest of the trip up :)
This was like 10 years ago, I can still hear this from the friend of Granny how's all your girls doing 8)=)
You mean the road to the top? That is a loooooong story which includes 18 years of absence or should I say absinth?
I think we had so much fun back in the days, Censor was or still is for that matter a super tight team, and when we work together where fire sparks comes out of it... and things do burn down :) but we will always prevail :)
In short, a very creative team 8)=)
V) So with those amount of cars, I expect you know a little bit about mechanics or do you pay someone else for maintenance?
B) Nah go to the right people to fix them if there is anything to fix ;). Only mechanics I know about is race mechanics how to take the corners ish ;)
V) How did it all start? (The history of BOB!)
B) Let's see what a previous interview says ;) hehehe can't really remember
Probably with a C64 :)
3 letter high scores... Robert = Bob
Console gaming like Intelevision and ColecoVision era.
C64 revolutionised the world...
So did we ;)
My neighbours were Contring, Swallow and Euzkera.
V) How do you feel about the current scene in comparison to what you were used to?
B) Very hot, well we are older so it feels nice... C64 feeling :)
V) How does it feel to code now compared to before?
B) More knowledge more experience more motivation... :) The ideas have never gone away ;)
V) How did you find your way back to the C64, what happened?
B) Ekoli back in the days when working together he showed me a you tube stream with Edge of Disgrace (EOD), FTW ...
Ekoli was back then a PC demo coder following the scene in general and basically provided info what was going on in the scene more or less...
HCL also kept the mail contact even though there was an email or phone call once every 2 years ;) but never the less he made my curiosity kill the cat so to speak, Morpheus and Slaygon doing slayradio and different stream/live events like Back In Time Live etc.. Where the old sceners meet and headbang together ;)...
Ekoli, CRT, EOD, FLT, Offence. Resource demos. etc... The top 10 demos on CSDb :) or should I say top 100? Let's put it this way, I watched a lot of demos on the YouTube since May 2012 ;) at the end of May/June I started with Vice C64 for the first time ;) Some awesome productions that has been made during our absence which woke the living dead in us ;) what if and why nots!! Mainly what the FUCK!! :) The glory the AWE became too great to hold back ;)
In IRL we could do pretty much anything but the constant question we were battling wITH WAS WHAT SHOULD WE DO? And the discussions usually ended there sadly.
Games? Nah been there done that etc... Not worth it!
Consultancy? Currently on going and doing quite well... but done it for more than a decade would be nice to do something different for a change... other product! Too risky and takes several years, not worthwhile.
Demos?? Hmm interesting. Getting back the old team etc. appealing!!
CRT and I used to work together on some contracting roles out in the telecom industry and we some time get to work together even :) and we were constantly discussing what we should do like the good old days.
And CRT got a bit bored one day and started to look at the current C64 demos and was amazed of what have been done, and I guess from there the wheel started to turn, and he later on asked if we shouldn't kickstart Censor again, how cool wouldn't that be with us doing a comeback. CRT was on fire and basically the engine where CRT and Sensei & NiM created a site www.censordesign.com this was in May 2012.
I was in half-heartedly in the beginning, seemed to be an endless start-up because the tools for the C64 was scattered around and based upon JAVA and crap languages or other shit languages that me and CRT absolutely hate! 1. They are always buggy, 2. Slow, 3. Compatibility issues updates etc... Forever hassle... no, we have been troubleshooting these kind of problems for ages and in the end we have come to the conclusion.... "Ohh noo its Java" "ooohh nooooooooooooooooo its .Net" and even started to turn down assignments due to this... no meaning of building castle on shit! ..
So CRT thought of the only right thing to do! .... If you want to do something properly do it yourself... (This does apply even of today) there for the main reason was to create a cross asm based on C, platform independent and shell based, .bat .sh ..whatever to kickstart cmd line. And hence doesn't require any installation that clogs things up. (KISS = Keep it simple stupid) :) I went on holiday for 2 month and didn't return until August 2012, and that was my real restart of the C64 comeback, in the meantime CRT and NiM was working on a website demo that got released in the beginning of August. And created some smaller examples for the new-asm to kick start the work with... what ended up 3 months later at X2012... 8)=) Wonderland XI!
I could write a book about that... but the road to X2012 was bumpy ;)
V) You mention that the road to the X2012 demo was bumpy... how did you feel with Wonderland XI and do you think it stood up well to the other entries at the compo?
B) From our point of view it was a kick ass demo and yes it stood out as a different demo and people seem to like it because it is still quite high in the demo ranking with an average of 9.1 in grade so I would say that the demo was really good, we are satisfied with what we achieved within 3 months. I don't think it could have been done any better, we pushed the limits of ourselves in order to make it. The bumpy ride was when we started to do the demo it was basically only me and CRT and Lavazza who was quite new to the C64, started in May. 3 coders and NiM as gfx creating the demo and NiM as the artist, we didn't even have Magnar yet and most of the Censor members were still hibernating :) and we really didn't get anything out from there. So we had to rely on demo parts that were mathematically created. We kept on going to these C64 pub events and said one day that we are back and started to recruit people in the midst of the beer drinking session, I don't even think that they took us seriously... the first guy to recruit was trying to bribe Pantaloon to Censor with a couple of beers ;) just a few ish .. I think we are up to like 40-50 beers by now ;) I never finished the recruiting process, at some point I even tried to recruit Panda Design, but to no avail hehehe... and now we are in September 2012 and we have only demo parts but no graphics and no music, we went on our knees to talk to Sensei to get something from him ;) he was in the midst of his moving project from an apartment and bought a house and bla bla bla.. No Sensei and still no Sensei :(
I found Panta quite a fun guy to go to the pub with occasionally and so we continued and actually it was Pantaloon who introduced me to Magnar... and he joked about Magnar is not being in any group, for some reason I thought Magnar was a member of FLT, due to all credits found in FLT demos where Magnar has been involved in, naturally I asked if Magnar wanted to join us as we are in the middle of doing a hefty demo for X2012 and we don't even have an active musician. After all Danko left us for FLT so we considered this as a trade ;) hehehe it proved to be an excellent one :)
Magnar started to produce music from day one... One of our major problem solved! ... And he also does gfx and code, pretty impressive achievement I would say. Thanks to Magnar we got in contact with Prowler and as a guest artist he did the breakdance girl and the Cyborg picture. And during this time Swallow started to wake up and got curious around the modern samplings that SoundDemoN had discovered on the C64. All in all the pieces of the puzzle fell into the place piece by piece and we were impressed that we could do all this. Not to mention all the tools that needed to be created, ASM, new Definer system (colour cycling), picture/font convertors OMG... a lot more... at the end somehow we pulled it through.
V) Mirage re-joined? And some new members too. The team is about right now? Is there other old members that you cannot locate and would like to re-activate?
B) Yes Mirage ;) I did send a mail to him in May/June 2012 asking if he would be interested to return to Censor, because we have kickstarted the team again. Never got any reply so for me when no answer = no... :) Anyways I wouldn't give up there, FLT told me that Sander wanted to join them, but they was thinking about it for like 2 months ;) well if they couldn't decide I might as well contact him hehe. But he politely declined our offer which we respect. So I also sent a msg to greet Mirage from me and we want our old team member back ;) at the same time CRT released the NTSC/PAL Demo Censor-Legacy, and then all of a sudden mail from LARS with the words... what would you say if I would return to Censor..... My answer was a joyful and as simple it gets ... FUCK YES! .. Now with Mirage on the graphical forefront we became a proper team again. Now I didn't know that Mirage was a coder of highest calibre it came as a surprise for me to see when he started to upload "Old Crap" as he likes to call his half-finished demo parts... well let me put it this way.... THAT WAS NOT CRAP!... :) jaw dropping code and gfx wise... right after that Mirage returned home... I get an interesting letter from Yazoo and Axis... they have obviously been drinking a lot.... I thought they were joking about wanting to join Censor.... after that they knocked out the scene with the Comalight 13... And now Censor is rock solid with a great variety of developers, graphics artists, and music - all 3 corner stone's properly settled.
V) You are known for the great demos from Censor back in the day. Your views on what you did well and what you could have done better in hindsight?
B) Invention of d017 stretch, definer stuff
Being simply innovative.
What could have been done better?
Nothing really ;) what we did back then was perfect hehe
V) Did you drink copious amounts of beer back then?
B) Yes! And I was proud of it ;) now not that much... ish... sort of... naah daddy man, you know.
V) Now that you are back, will Censor ever release any more SNES demos? :D
B) I was a part of the Sega Megadrive side of Censor which was our ticket in to the game development. Meanwhile Alfatech and Geggin did the SNES side of Censor, you have to ask Geggin and Alfatech I guess ;) Censor Design will most likely to go other platforms as well. But in our heart the C64 will be our home base!
V) What is your personal favourite demo you have been involved in and why?
B) Well I like all the demos I am involved in. but my favourite would still be Wonderland XI.
Our comeback I am really proud over that demo, in multiple sense, the hustle to get it done recruiting new blood during development and finishing it as well as creating new FX etc... the intensity of that era, all fun around it, getting up the team spirit start to rework with old friends that we basically haven't heard from for several years like Swallow or even NiM even though we had our burger crash lunches ;) it was really nice to notice that if time stood still the same mentality like nothing has changed.... amazing... and the demo became really good. Fantastic teamwork everything just clicked in the end.
Now this question has returned after BFP and thus needed an upgrade :) I kept the old answer in order to give you an inside depth. But after the BFP victory Wonderland XII is my favourite demo. Because of its tech superiority ;)
But the teamwork has become even tighter. Good oldies returning such as Mirage & Creeper.
New additions Yazoo & Axis amazing contributions to the demo. Old gems dug up from the archive, where Sailor/Triad took care of my disk archives for +10 years, finding unused graphics from Dragon that was 20 years old. This graphics became the Raytracer part in WL 12 on side 1. And of course a fantastic team effort I mean 10 people were involved actively, hard work. Worked as a slimmed team, I just love that... everybody out did themselves, many jaws where dropped internally ;) and CRT as the linking master holding up the entire demo and paving the way for all of us to do the final touches until the very last minute. Summarising this as a well-oiled up formula one engine, why stop now when we are already revved up ;)
V) What are the burger crash lunches?
B) Some times when we are on different assignments we do cross each other's roads and then we decide to take a healthy meal with fellow members now and then, the healthier the better ;)
V) So, the battle at BFP... how did all of this come about and describe your feelings towards Fairlight + Offence...
B) Well easy, Offence is the only team to beat Censor twice... it is payback time ;) Great combo Pantaloon + Offence I meant FLT+Offence ;) true fighters that managed to do "Too old to ror and rol" within 3 months after X,... it is better to announce the fights before ;) in this way we can raise the expectations of the outcome. Censor challenged Offence... and Offence named the event "Thrilla in Helsingborg" ;) and there we stand. May the best demo win... ]8)=)
V) Will you be a football team and kick more goals than Fairlight+Offence/Prosonix?
B) Haha that would be a sight for sore eyes ;)
V) Censor won the battle. Your view on the competition (SceneWars)? After watching their demo, did you think you had won or lost?
B) We had 15 parts of hard core code pr0n, nothing should beat that...
And guess what!
Offence had the red thread throughout the demo, with fantastic design and theme, we have seen demos like that before taking top places at demo compos. But with the Offence demo you also have amazing new ideas and code pr0n, obviously people have soft spot for well-designed demos .. Yes we were fucking worried!!
We knew we had something amazing, where every single part holds something mind blowing, whether there it is a new idea, code record, graphics etc something special, we had it all was our feeling... not to mention the sample ;) that was the main purpose of this demo, to blow your mind!
Finally we got the recognition by winning the BFP, and now afterward we can see how the audience liked it... but it was a close call... Scrollwars is an amazing demo. And create such a masterpiece in such a short notice + 2 month shows how tough the team offence/Flt/Prosonix is to beat... hence the "Thrilla".
And at the end it is up to you to decide, the audience of the demo compo. I bet this wasn't the last time such a challenge has been witnessed, the scene has never been more exciting :) time for more show downs! The time for empty discussions has come to an end ;)
Demo or die!
V) The next battle, the rumble in the jungle, X-2014... seems like there is plenty of time now and the job should not be rushed, I know there is Datastorm in-between, will you be careful on selecting parts for DS demo and what should go into the X one?
B) Good question ;) If I find the answer you'll get one.
V) The power of the scroll text, what is it? Forgotten in today's scene?
B) Nope luckily Daah, Those Acid Pills proves the opposite 8)=) but trackmos is a problem with scroll texts, we will have a nice solution for this in the near future.
V) I wanna test your memory a bit. Early 1990, a war between Censor and Fairlight. Releasing bugged games using Fairlight's intro editor, Aaron stealing unfinished demo files (from the Testure BBS) and releasing them at the Horizon Easter Party, Censor Invasers+2 and then you guys found peace again with the cooperation demo Eye Damage. The war seemed hilarious with releases like "Censor Logo Destruct Editor" (aka Die Hard Censor, of which 3 of them were released), "The Cool Dentist", "H.T.M.A.A.S.W.H.H.D.A.T" (How To Make an Aaron Suffocate with His Head Down a Toilet) and "Eardick Aaron". Do you remember all this stuff???
B) HAHAHAHAHA those where funny times hehehe... CRT and Psycho did most of those productions I was involved in EyeDamage... and perhaps something more... but you seem to know or remember more than me... from you question so to speak. 18 years of the memory has faded away... poor Aaron he got himself into trouble when playing with fire ;)
V) Some Censor T-shirts were mailed out to the new/old members? How many were made?
B) We made around 20 pcs in total, but we still have some T-shirts left ;) T-Shirts are in first priority for those who attend or represent us at any formal occasion where sceners are present, this could mean a demo Party, local events and/or even at work ;) (Most likely a game dev place) hehe and of course to our active members.
V) Tell us about Bouncy Balls. How it was born, what happened on the journey to the project's completion.
B) This is a long story old interviews have perfect cover over this matter. But in short, the idea came from a friend of mine. Started in 1991 and finished in 1995 ;) well it wasn't a full time project.
Involved in the project:
Bob (main code)
Creeper (main gfx)
Swallow (sample + music)
NiM (in game gfx+anim)
Zyron (music + code)
Quite a team in the end production of this game :) It is a 3 player game - 2 players on joystick and 3rd on the keyboard. It got top marks for game endings ;) At least something hehe...
Creeper and I used to have crunch time weekends at my place and work basically day and night on the game. We were greatly motivated to finish the game... Quite a lot of work was put into this. A lot of great ideas were added and created during the development, and we are quite proud of it even today.
V) Have you been involved in other games? (E.g. Codename Eagle)
Codename Eagle (PC)
Legacy of Rosemondhill (PC)
Battlefield 1942 (PC)
Rallie sport Challange (Xbox)
Chemistry game (school educational game) PC
And some minor consultancy assisting on some projects.
V) Some guys say demo sceners cannot make games, which it requires a different skill set to demos. Your views on that?
B) They don't know shit ;)
Matter of fact is that the old sceners are the most desirable in game devs, contracting history, tells me that! I have no problems to hire out demo coders to game dev companies ;) when it comes to crunch time no one beats a scener ;) heh skills well of course a game dev skills are a bit different, because it involves more logic and different style of programming, but that is not difficult for a skilled scener to adapt, a scener can code on any platform! Regardless if it is for phone or unlimited HW based system... I simply don't agree with that argument. How come the top coders at Dice are all sceners?? ;) Or at many other places for that matter? There is a reason!! ;)
V) You are not part of DICE and working "together" with Pantaloon and others?
B) No, not at the moment. Who knows I have people there in and out as sub-contractors.
V) Does Censor have any internal meetings, where you get drunk and watch old demos? Do some of your local membership in Sweden meet up with wives and kids?
B) In Stockholm we meet up occasionally for a beer or so but mostly we get together during the beer events with the local sceners ;) FLT, Panda Design, Censor of coz, and more... those are like once every month, otherwise we have our burger crunch :)
Also when Magnar is in Stockholm for work we used to meet up for a dinner and some beers and of coz discuss our current running projects, like a project meeting.
V) What drives did you make on the C64 - is something missing that needs to be fixed?
B) Our comeback was in 2012 ;)
2013 is to regain our position in the scene ;) Censor was missing out from the top hehe...
V) Looking back at the Randers party held by Upfront and Dominators in 1989, attending that party, how would you compare it to attending parties these days? Are we all just a bunch of old drunken farts?
And more skilled more entertained and just as drunk ;)
Nah I must say that the parties we have attended are really ass kicking and I am surprised how well organised they are. Maybe because they are older, more skilled ;)
V) Edge of Disgrace... I noticed in your comments of that demo you jokingly asked all except JackAsser to join Censor. Why not JackAsser?
B) Tug of war over Mirage ;) Mirage expressed some admiration over the EOD and JackAsser said to leave Censor and join Booze... comments like that will not go unnoticed ;)
V) One of the key elements in the Wonderland series is the colourful bitmap patterns, which builds up over time into a complex visual play. Could you tell us how it was developed?
B) Well common consensus seem to be its only colour cycle ;) well please do one and you will soon understand the difficulties behind them, there is a release package called Censor Secret Tools, with that you can do all that we do ;) it even has a doc for tutorials :) just a hint, it will need a very technical graphics artist and a good coder, one can't do without the other. It will require blood sweat & tears, a lot of patient, creative ability doesn't hurt ;)
V) Apart from beautiful graphics, there is always sampled music in your demos, trying to break different records or show off new resolutions, how did that start?
B) Swallow don't like to be second ;)
I mean Swallow was always into sampling and music from the very beginning, he is very competitive ;) and likes to do things in his own way, and he is pretty damn good at what he is doing ;) did you know that Swallow and HCL are colleagues ;)
V) Tell us about BFP... heard you shared an apartment with PAL and Pantaloon?
B) They were snoring a lot ;)
Nah we are good friends, great fun but both of us needed to work with the demo so we let them to do so... Great fun. We were mostly amused by the odd hotel that proved to be a top floor at someone's private home hahaha... in the "bad areas" of Helsingborg and there were mattresses all over the floor... but in the end it was great... we slept well even with disturbing noises from each other hehehe.. Snore fest!!!
We shared a room earlier with FLT at X-2012 and also some of us at Datastorm.
V) I would like to see Dragon come back, will this happen?
B) I hope so, but he is a slow starter ;) I have given him a working PC so he is online once every second month :(
I did get one 5"25 c64 disk on snail mail with some gfx and music ;) Unfortunately at that time I didn't have a working HW to convert it :( but I will probably do that now ;)
V) Will we ever see the scene end?
B) No, as long there is a will, there is a way ;) (To beat others)
V) There are a lot of readers - so, take a deep breath and say some words to those you know and those you do not know!....
B) It's time to join the global demo challenge... start to do something small, get inspired, and create an intro or a single part demo.
Once you R in the loop, YOU R A PART OF THE SCENE!!!
And come to the parties, there is nothing better to view your stuff on the big screen and hearing hundreds of people cheering ;)
YOU R WRITING HISTORY!
Then it becomes a habit ;)
Now... what happens after your masterpiece is out?? Start doing the next one ;) many people ends up in a vacuum and gets depressed... best medication is to do a new part ... don't break the habits ;) But on the other hand a nice holiday does work well if you are busy with other stuff :) (I am doing that while writing this interview)
You R Cured and here to stay ;)
The C64 Scene will live for ever
Thanks because of YOU!
Thanx to Frantic & Jucke for make BFP happen, Offence, Arsenic, Triad, Hack & Trade for contributing excellent prods to BFP. Amazing compo at BFP. People travelled far to witness this event. And they got value for their money ;)
V) Thanks for your time. Unlimited Bobs... Any final words for our audience?
B) Just did ;)