ONLINE > RECOLLECTION issue 2 > Survey

In each edition we host a small survey, that will try capture some pivotal moments in the earlier days of the C64. We want to capture people's experiences and there is no right or wrong!

Which C64 demo routine (gfx, msx or code) do you think most influenced the scene and for what reasons? Any example demos that pioneered or improved it?

Hein Design:
"Personal favourite (allthough many come to mind): FLI. Allthough basically not invented by ASP/Blackmail, he does seem to be the first who has created a new graphics format with it. First time I checked So-phisticated III, I didn't believe it was special, but examining it more closer I figured it couldn't be Koala format. FLI gave a freedom, which I liked and still like. Though it is not the best invention technically, FLI is the best invention practically. (But I still think some old koala pictures beat any decadent SUXFLI picture.)"

"Clearly, FLD which became popular through the "Think Twice" series by The Judges. After that, $d011 based effects took off. In one way or the other, many other tricks (like FPP or FLI) are similar, and "we" are still using them today in pretty much everything that is produced."

Wile Coyote:
"As far as C64 scene demo coding advances i always see it heading in two positive directions: 1.Breaking C64 records and 2.Great design, part build up effects and memory management.

Moving back to your original question, i think routines that open up the C64's borders are the most influential. I think that counts as an anwser :)"

"Fairly easy question i reckon, because i'd have to say the most influential was Flexible Line Distance; after it's initial uses it's just got so much flexibility; early sideborder, D.Y.S.P. and sprite stretch routines mostly use F.L.D. to sort out the timing issues that leaving the screen on would cause and other routines like F.P.D., V.S.P. and the F.L.I. variants at least owe some debt to F.L.D. for how they work.

The pioneering demo *has* to be The Judges' "Think Twice" simply because it was the most memorable for the intro and then the classy upscroller in the second part. There's far too many demos that improved upon the original idea, but the Babylon series did some amazing stuff at the time and F.L.D. was used long after it stopped being "the in thing" as a filler routine, something to use a few spare rasterlines to get an effect when most of the rest of the CPU time was in use."

"DYSP I say. K12 and The Leader."

Olav Mørkrid:
"It's not the effect itself but what you use it for."

Reyn Ouwehand:
"Music wise it must have been soundtracker and future composer and I think TurboAssembler in general. And maybe also Koala Paint and the FLI editor from Blackmail for the graphics."

"I think the improved 4x4-timing that was evolved by Graham, first being invented by Wrath Designs, is perhaps the most trend setting routine in the c64 scene history. Why? People wanted to do 3d-vector stuff with gouraud shading etc on their computers at this time, and the c64 badly lacked a suiting gfx-mode for this. The 4x4-mode was almost perfect for it.

But that was probably not the only reason. The c64 scene changed a lot during this time, and if you ask me i think that 80-90% of the c64 groups died during 1994. But the scene somehow resurrected. Groups from eastern Europe started to pop up, PC- and Amiga sceners started to use the c64, and i think this was very much thanx to the 4x4-timing. If only people could get their hands on a 4x4-timing, they could easily make demos almost like on the Amiga and PC. Many demos from this time and a few years on didn't use any other routine than the 4x4-timing, combined with typical effects.

The demos that paved the way are Coma Light 12/Oxyron and World of Code 3/Byterapers. Wrath Designs claim that they were first though, but i don't know if they ever made a demo of it before the others."

"Think Twice I - FLD and ESCOS! Think Twice V - Picture and sprites in the border at the same time. Fucking awesome! Also The demo from MDT called Bonanza (or something similar) - the guys that then joined Horizon. Full screen scrolling of bitmap. The first time someone controlled $D011 scrolling. Also, the much simpler routine - stretching sprites using $d017 and adding a sinus, which I think was done in a Super Swap Sweden or Horizon demo (Same guys - before or after changing names). Finally one firly anonymous demopart by Panoramic Design where they actually have 9 sprites in the border but one of the "i"s is an opening of the background using $d016 - purple text in the lower border. SO kewl! The massive colours of Origo in the Vårby party winner Eldorado was also worth remembering... The demo was introducing some sort of colour-technique (don't know it it was FLI in some sort of off mode) which gave them flickering on the screens but on the projector of the competition it looked brilliant.

Code: Matchams first sequence cruncher, Galleons CruelCrunch taking it to the next level and then Antitrack taking it to the REU with speed."

"I guess the effects that have been really influential are the ones that are easy to rip or re-implement, ie. the ones that you can see in thousands of demos: scroller, multiplexer, rasterbars, DYCP, FLI, FLD, plasma etc. Anyone with half a brain can throw together that kind of code, and everyone has, with the result that most demo parts are sort of boring. Of course, each release is much more interesting if you were involved in some way, so I'm not saying that all these releases are pointless, it's just that they're not all that interesting to outsiders.

The stuff that has been original has never really caught on in the same way, possibly because it'd be too obvious if you copied something like that. Unfortunately there's no way to make a photocopy of creative thinking."

"For me that would be the demo ThinkTwice 1. Because that was the first demo that showed me a door to the magical world of VIC manipulation. The release was back in 1987!!! And it opened up the lower/upper-border and the side-border. The scroll over (mostly) the whole screen looks crappy now, but it proved that the hardware limits were there to be broken! Also the FLD with upscroll in the last part of that demo was amazing and very well coded. This proved that demos from then on would never be the same! The struggle for better and more amazing demos and routines had begun!"

"Sideborder, FLI, samples with sid sound. Those were milestones in the C64 history in my eyes. Escos demo by 1001 Crew, The Judges sideborder stuff, Origo fli... Contex for samples, not sure who was best at mixing samples with sid sound, Maniacs of Noise come to mind..."

"There are countless routines which had a big impact on the C64 demo scene, but I think the earliest invention had the most impact: Open upper/lower border invented in the middle of 1985 by Flash/FCG. This routine opened the mind of C64 coders and let them think into different directions. Other early inventions were a direct result of it, which in turn rooted in a big tree of even more inventions.

Another big impact had the earliest version of FLD: Moving the entire screen down using the $D011 register of the VIC-II. I am not sure who invented this, but a direct result of it was the invention of FLD in 1987. But also other invention have their root here: VSP (hardware scrolling) was propably first invented when somebody messed up the timing when moving the screen down with that early FLD incarnation (I have seen a TCS intro doing that).

But there is a third effect having a huge impact where some coders might think it is a trivial effect: Rasterbars. In 1987 people started to use them to make their scrollers more colourful, but since they did not understand the VIC-II timing they looked too ugly to be used as real rasterbars. It forced the coders to learn about VIC-II timing to spawn the first real rasterbars, and this knowledge about timing lead to inventions in other fields as well. I doubt FLI ever would have been invented without the knowledge about the badlines which messed up the rasterbars."

"Being a so called 'math' coder I'll exclude VIC tricks from my answer, I have a good bet that others will mention them. Looking around at the 'newschool' routines there's no escape from drawing the objective conclusion that Graham is one of the best coders ever, and there is only Crossbow from saving him being not simply the best. We all know this but looking back its really shocking the sheer number of ammazing inventions he has made. Starting with the 4x4 mode in Coma Light 12, which lead to the boom of porting all the – at that time- modern effects. Then came his wobbly stretcher in Parts, the X-rotator in Dawnfall, a new fast way of doing high-res gouraud object, and an ammazing idea of really fast 3d rotation in One-Der., and finally a way to do full multicolor resolution almost fullscreen plasma at 50fps. If you look closely you will see that the coders considered being good are abusing effects invented by Graham.

At the end let me add that the vector routine from the Last Tractor is also something not to forget about, as since then there was not a faster general way of doing vectors invented."

Jeroen Tel:
"I would say "pulse-run" or .... in any way, the advance of the use of the pulse-width as a gradual flow......... the Eeeeewwww... factor :)

Cause that really makes and/or breaks a lot of tunes (the lack thereof). And I don't know who did it first, it might've been Galway or Hubbard ... but I'm not all too sure. I did it in BASIC (grin) in 1984 but it was too darn slow."

The Movers: (meeting 6)
At the last Meeting The Movers. It was number 6... We discussed about that and we all have the same point of view.

FLD is the All-Time-C64-routine... It was much more important than opening the borders and so on.

These guys discussed it:

Donald-Soft (Tristar)
General Zoff (The Movers)
Mad Butcher (TWG)
Shakin Chip
Skylab (The Movers)
Speedcracker (TWG)
Zaz (TWG)

The RECOLLECTION magazine!
Capturing the most important moments