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 PC Demoscene FAQ,

 plain text version (v0.83c),

 last update: 2004-06-16 (most recent review: 2012-06-26)

 written by Thomas "tomaes" Gruetzmacher
 
_______________________________________________________________________________



Contents:

 1. Meta Section

   1.1.  What is an FAQ anyway?
   1.2.  What's the purpose of this FAQ?
   1.3.  Who's the author of this FAQ?
   1.4.  Where can I contact the author in order to correct a mistake,
         ask a new questions, add an important detail?
   1.5.  Where can I get the latest version of this FAQ?
   1.6.  What's the version history and status of this FAQ?


 2. General Introduction

   2.1.  What is a demo?
   2.2.  What is the demoscene?
   2.3.  Where does the demoscene come from?
   2.4.  What is the difference between a demo and an intro?
   2.5.  What is a dentro?
   2.6.  On what other hardware/software platforms does a demoscene exist?
   2.7.  Are demos a form of art? 
   2.8.  For what or why do people spend their time/money in the scene?
   2.9.  What exactly is the advantage of making demos run in realtime?
   2.10. Where can I download (the latest) scene demos?
   2.11. Where can I download scene demos in divx/avi format?
   2.12. Where can I find demo xyz?
   2.13. Any suggestions what demoscene productions are worth downloading?
   2.14. Where can I get the music from intro/demo xyz?
   2.15. Are there scene demos which I can view online?
   2.16. Where can I find demos that bring my latest hardware to full effect?
   2.17. What's the difference between hardware accelerated and software rendering
         demos?
   2.18. Are there commercial demos?  
   2.19. What is the legal status of demoscene productions?
   2.20. What free tools for demo-making are available?


 3. Troubleshooting

   3.1. Demo xyz won't run, what can I do?
   3.2. How can I get old ms-dos demos to run?
   3.3. Some old ms-dos demos refuse to run, I only get an "run time error 200".
        What's that?


 4. Events

   4.1.  What are demoscene parties?
   4.2.  What are compos?
   4.3.  What are the most important demoscene parties?
   4.4.  Where and when is the next demoscene party?
   4.5.  Why is it, that compo results tend to get screwed up?

   
 5. Terms 

   5.1.  What is a wild demo?
   5.2.  What are trackers?
   5.3.  What are diskmags?
   5.4.  What is a music disk?
   5.5.  What are chip tunes?
   5.6.  What do all those abbreviations (gfx...) mean?
   5.7.  What is ascii/ansi art?
   5.8.  What is a cracktro?
   5.9.  What is a slideshow?
   5.10. What is a inv(i)tro?
   5.11. What is a fast-intro?
   5.12. What is a textmode demo?


 6. Do it yourself

   6.1.  Can I make a demo/intro myself? What is required?
   6.2.  Can I make a demo in Flash/Shockwave etc.?
   6.3.  Can I make a demo without any programming skills?
   6.4.  How do I get started? What do I need to know in order to bring my own
         demo to life?
   6.5.  What is the difference between Open GL and DirectX?      
   6.6.  Any tutorials to help Open GL/DirectX beginners?
   6.7.  What programming languages do demo coders use?
   6.8.  How can I make a 4k intro?
   6.9.  How can I make a 64kb intro?
   6.10. How is it possible to stuff a lot of content
         (textures, hi-quality sound etc.) into a 64kb intro?
   6.11. Where can I get source codes of demos or single effects?
   6.12. How can I get music in my intro/demo?


 7. Resources and Communication

   7.1.  What other demoscene introductions/articles do exist?
   7.2.  What scene CD-ROMs/DVDs do exist?
   7.3.  Any books about the demoscene?
   7.4.  Any newsletters I can subscribe to?
   7.5.  What IRC channels exist?
   7.6.  What pc demoscene discussion boards and newsgroups are there?
   7.7.  What are the most important pc demoscene websites/portals?


 8. Misc

   8.1.  How many sceners are there?
   8.2.  Where do most sceners come from?
   8.3.  What's the average age of a scener?
   8.4.  What is this 'scene is dead' thing all about?
   8.5.  What is 'scene poetry'?
   8.6.  What's the 'dutch colour scheme' and what are 'coder colours'?
   8.7.  How can I find hidden parts in scene productions?
   8.8.  On demoparties I heard people yelling 'foliba' or 'ficken', what does
         that mean?
   8.9.  What was elitegroup all about?
   8.10. Farbrausch related questions
   8.11. What is 'windows 100%'?


_______________________________________________________________________________




_______________________________________________________________________________

1. Meta Section
_______________________________________________________________________________

1.1.  What is a FAQ anyway?

A structured list of (F)requently (A)sked (Q)uestions and their respective
answers. They're comprehensive "everything you'd need to know about..." texts.
_______________________________________________________________________________

1.2.  What's the purpose of this FAQ?

I started writing this FAQ because it appeared to me, that a lot of newbies ask
the same questions over and over again and that there is no place on the web
one can point them to, in order to get started. All existing scene FAQs were
either obsolete or of very little content. So, I thought, it can't be a bad
idea to write an all new FAQ, a more comprehensive and current one.
A FAQ that is a knowledge base and starting point for newbies and fun to read
for veterans. 
_______________________________________________________________________________

1.3.  Who's the author of this FAQ?

Me, Tomaes. However, I'd also like to thank the following sceners for
additional ideas and new questions:

Mados/TAP^PAiN (who also maintains the php script for the online version),
T$, The update/copro^smash designs, MadMan/TAP, Zone/Marshals, Krash/ACME/tMA,
Adok/Hugi.
_______________________________________________________________________________

1.4.  Where can I contact the author in order to correct a mistake, ask a
      new question, add an important detail?

Feel free to send your mail to tomaes at 32x dot de.
_______________________________________________________________________________

1.5.  Where can I get the latest version of this FAQ?

Take a look in the article section of my website: http://tomaes.32x.de.
There's an online and a plain text version available.
_______________________________________________________________________________

1.6.  What's the version history and status of this FAQ?

 - 2012-06-26 - 0.83c Hey. Some more clean-up work done. Tons of outdated and
   dead URLs. :(

 - 2012-06-18 - 0.83b After years of stagnation, I fixed some typos, deleted
   404'ed URLs and changed/added some minimal things here and there to make
   this FAQ look less neglected. I edited out some of the more blatantly out-
   dated information, but this is not the big - probably much needed - overhaul
   just yet. 

 - 2004-06-16 - 0.83
   Reacting on several important news (werkkzeug release, book projects...),
   I've updated the respective FAQ parts (and some others too...). 

 - 2004-06-01 - 0.82
   Added [8.11.], several links added, some other additions too.

 - 2004-03-30 - 0.81
   Long time no updates. Farbrausch related questions block ([8.10.]) added,
   plus other minor changes not worth mentioning. :) 

 - 2004-01-14 - 0.80
   [8.9.], [3.3.] and [5.12.] added. A lot of fixes, additions and minor
   changes. Also, I started to include some screenshots and pictures (online
   version only, of course). More/better pics to come.

 - 2003-11-17 - 0.75
   several additions, including new questions [8.3.] and [2.20.].

 - 2003-08-03 - 0.74a: [2.19.], [2.18.] & [5.11.] added,
   merged [8.5.] with the content of 8.6., fixes and minor additions,
   new logo by Krash/ACME/tMA.

 - 2003-07-13 - 0.7a
   several fixes, added [5.8.], [5.9.], [2.17.], [8.7.].  

 - 2003-07-09 - 0.06a
   (first public release. hooray for releasing alpha/beta versions. :))

 - 2003-06-25 - 0.01a
   (aka "let's just start typing and see how it turns out")
_______________________________________________________________________________





_______________________________________________________________________________

2. General Introduction
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.1.  What is a demo?

Ultimately, a demo(nstration) in a demoscene sense, is a piece of free software
that shows realtime rendered graphics, while playing music. Often, the music is
tightly connected/synced to the visuals. Modern pc demos run linear from start
to finish and are non-interactive. There is no whatsoever rule what a
demo must/can or should show. The creator is free to decide whether he wants to
show stylish and/or impressive effects, an epic story, funny/bizarre/satirical
audiovisual artwork or a distorted mindfuck. 
   
A scene demo is not a try-out version of a commercial application or game. 


Example screenshots of a few demos (ripped from ths (see [7.7.]))
(from top/left to bottom/right: fr-025, a deepness in the sky, halla, variform):
http://tomaes.32x.de/text/dsfaq_democollage.jpg
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.2.  What is the demoscene?

Short answer: A subculture in the computer underground culture universe,
dealing with the creative and constructive side of technology, proving that a
computer can be used for much more than writing a letter in MS-Word and hence
emphasize on computer technology as just another medium that can transport
ideas and styles, show off skills and express opinions etc.  

Another theory says, that it's just a bunch of boozing computer nerds,
programming weird, useless multimedia stuff. Errm. ;)
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.3.  Where does the demoscene come from?

Short answer: It basically started with cracking games on home computers in the
early 1980s (at least this is widely regarded to be the main root of the scene
as we know it today). Crackers started to remove the copy protection of games
for fun and competition with other crackers. Instead of just spreading the
cracked games, they soon thought about 'labeling' their releases. Modified
versions of title screens (saying "cracked by xyz") were soon followed by a
more advanced version of showing the cracking/programming skill of a cracker:
The crack-intro. Visual effects, music and long text scrollers filled with
greetings and scene babbling. Later, cheat modes ("trainers") followed. Of
course those kind of activities were (and still are) barely legal, so the
crackers used pseudonyms instead of their real names. In case you have
no idea how crack-intros looked like, visit http://www.flashtro.com for
some accurate flash remakes of older Amiga cracktros.

In the late 1980s the legal part of the cracking and warez scene slowly
drifted away from the illegal part. Intros became more advanced, (mega-)demos
(several advanced intros linked together) appeared. The demoscene was born...
sort of. A few individuals are still active in both, demoscene and
warez/cracking scene.


Long answer: See [7.3.].
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.4.  What is the difference between a demo and an intro?

Today, an intro is usually limited to one executable 64kb (65536 bytes) file,
while there is no such restriction for demos. Of course demoparty organisers DO
set a filesize limit for them as well, currently between 10 and 20mb. Final
versions or windows ports of older ms-dos intros might be bigger than 64kb.

The term 'intro' is historically determined by the early crack-intro(duction)s
(see [2.3.] for a bit more about them...) and does not imply a _specific_
filesize limit. Other common intro categories are 4kb (4096 bytes) and
256byte. 
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.5.  What is a dentro?

A dentro is a mixture of the size characteristics of a '(DE)mo' and an 'i(NTRO)'.
In other words, a big intro, often 256kb big. Just like intros, usually
everything is packed in one executable file. Dentros are not very common these
days anymore. Also, in the past, dentros were often previews of upcoming demo.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.6.  On what other hardware/software platforms does a demoscene exist?

Demosceners have programmed demos and intros on a large variety of hardware
platforms and operating systems ranging from 8 bit machinery like c64, to game
consoles like gameboy and dreamcast, to the latest and greatest available 
pc hardware.
Platforms with demoscene activities are/were:

 - Arcon Archimedes
 - Amiga (various, incl. OCS, ECS, AGA, PPC...)
 - Amstrad CPC
 - Atari (various incl. XL/XE, ST, Falcon, lynx...)
 - c64 and other commodore machines (VC20, C128, C16, Plus 4...)
 - Dreamcast
 - Gameboy (various, incl. Game Boy Color and Gameboy Advance)
 - GP32
 - PC (MS-DOS/Windows/Linux/Beos...)
 - Playstation (1 and 2)
 - Macintosh
 - Mega Drive (aka Genesis)
 - NES, SNES (aka Famicon / Super Famicon)
 - zx spectrum (various...)
 - Xbox
 - all kinds of mobile devices (phones, PDAs, ...)

...and a lot more incl. calculators (Texas Instruments models...) and all sorts
of portable systems. Not to mention arcane things like typewriters and
self-build systems.

The activity levels on all those platforms vary a lot. In most cases, the
activity is pretty much proportional to the actual spread of the respective
hardware. The time and area of the original release and the access to
development software is another important factor. So you can imagine that there
is not quite as much demoscene activity on Msx than on the C64.

There are plenty of emulators for most technically obsolete and/or
not-so-common systems available. Of course watching demos on the original
hardware should be prefered. 
   
However, most demoscene related releases are PC/Windows ones, these days.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.7.  Are demos a form of art?

That's one of the most controversial questions in the scene these days. :)
To put it bluntly: It's just like with books and films. Some are art,
most are not.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.8.  What is the point of demos and the motivation for being active in 
      the demoscene?

Normal people have normal hobbies, strange people have strange hobbies. ;)
While some people enjoy to climb up to the top of the highest mountains, others
may enjoy collecting stamps. And some find it interesting to live out their
creative potential: Painting, making music, writing etc. Demosceners blend
those activities with their interest for and usage of computer technology. 

Secondly, people always like to communicate with like-minded people, who
share their interests. Competition is fun and motivating, just like working
together on a project.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.9.  What exactly is the advantage of making demos run in realtime?

Challenge, competition, learning.
   
In addition, those demos and intros are usually LOT smaller than a video
recording of the content would be. How about a 64kb intro like fr-08 that runs
for about 10 minutes? A divx snapshot that could cope with the realtime original
quality wise would waste more than 100 times the space on your harddisk. Also,
you can include hidden parts, provide additional options or randomize certain
aspects of the demo, which is not possible with a cast-in-stone video.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.10.  Where can I download (the latest) scene demos?

Follow the news on http://www.scene.org and http://www.pouet.net.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.11. Where can I download scene demos in divx/avi format?

There are scene sites that host video recordings of demos, f.e.:
- http://wurstcaptures.untergrund.net (download only) 
- http://capped.tv (streaming and download)
- http://demoscene.tv (streaming only)

Also: Youtube, Vimeo are popular with demosceners too. :)

Another opportunity is to purchase the mindcany DVDs (see [7.2.])

_______________________________________________________________________________

2.12. Where can I find demo xyz?

In order to find a specific demo, you can try:

 - http://www.scene.org/search.php

 - http://www.pouet.net/prodlist.php (or use the search box on the front page)

If you cannot remember the name of demo or the name of the group who has made
it, you can try asking sceners on the web or usenet (see [7.6.]) for help.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.13. Any suggestions what demoscene productions are worth downloading?

You might...


 - follow the steady stream of information on http://www.pouet.net
   (or just click on "random" until you've found something interesting)

 - take a look at pouet.net's top-ten lists: http://www.pouet.net/top10.php

 - visit http://www.scene.org/tips.php

_______________________________________________________________________________

2.14. Where can I get the music from intro/demo xyz?

If you're lucky, you'll find it in the root or one of the sub directories
("/data" etc.) of the demo exe. In most cases, it's either an mp3/ogg file,
or a module in xm/it format (see [5.2.]). If you cannot find it, you can:

 - go to http://demodulate.scene.org, a collection of demo soundtracks,
   probably you'll find it there.
 
 - try the archive of nectarine demoscene radio: http://www.scenemusic.net 

 - ask the author of the tune (look into the readme file for mail addresses)

 - use a file ripper to try to find and extract the sound file  

 - sneak into every file with a hex editor and look out for suspicious
   headers. Once you've found a file that, according to the hex data and the
   file size could be a mp3/ogg/xm/it file, just rename it and try playing it.

 - record the audio stream while the demo's running

 - in case you want to grab the music of the farbrausch intros,
   go and get their music collection "brullwurfel", it features several
   intro tracks including a oportunity to render them to wav files.
   Also, take a look at ftp://ftp.scene.org/pub/music/groups/farb-rausch.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.15. Are there scene demos which I can view online?

You might try some Alambik, Shockwave or Java demos. Some examples:
 
 - http://medcg.free.fr/woodsenders (Alambik)
 
 - http://www.i-arts.com/darkzone/dz_awakv1.htm (Shockwave)
 
 - http://www.komplex.org/java.html (Java)

More recently, Javascript and WebGL are becoming more and more popular. 

 - http://pouet.net/top10.php?type=prods&platform=JavaScript&x=17&y=5
 
As for hardware dependent demos, don't forget the video streaming services,
such as http://demoscene.tv or http://capped.tv (and Youtube, Vimeo etc.)
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.16. Where can I find demos that bring my latest hardware to full effect?

In order to really get some eye-candy from your brand-new graphics card, you
may look at some 'tech demos'. Usually, the graphics chip developers have
some nice new-feature-show-off demos on their websites.

However, to test your cpu power, you can download some raytracing demos
like the Federation against Nature ones: http://www.realstorm.de/Download.html.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.17. What's the difference between hardware accelerated and software rendering
      demos?

Demos that only rely on software rendering do not make any use of special
capabilities of the installed graphics card. Everything shown is computed
by the CPU in contrast to 3d accelerated demos, where most of the actual
graphics related computations are done by the graphics card's GPU.
That's why it (almost) doesn't matter what kind of graphics card is
installed when you run software rendered demos: It won't run faster after
you've installed a newer graphics card. As a side effect, the compatibility
and driver issues are negligible. 

To compensate for the high CPU load, software rendering demos usually run in a
lower resolution and/or color depth than their 3d graphics hardware
accelerated counterparts. Note that most demos released before the year 2000
are software rendering ones.

_______________________________________________________________________________

2.18. Are there commercial demos?

Yes, although this really doesn't happen very often, from time to time, sceners
make money off their hobby. Known 'incidents' are the Future Crew demo for
Creative Labs (and further works for SSI and The Waite Group Press) and the
Afri Cola Demo by members of Farbrausch.
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.19. What is the legal status of demoscene productions?

Generally spoken, demoscene productions are freeware. You can copy and
distribute them, as long as it's free of charge.

On the other hand, demoscene productions often contain copyrighted material
in one way or the other. Most notably, it's the (rather rare) case of ripped
soundtracks and (more often) graphics. Several classic demos could not be
presented on the Mindcandy DVD (see [7.2.]) or needed to be edited for this
very reason. 
_______________________________________________________________________________

2.20. What free tools for demo-making are available?

Please note, that most groups/individuals have their own tools, exclusively
developed for "in-house" use. Only a small portion of the tools out there are
actually publicly available. Some demo assembling tools are:

- Werkkzeug1 by farb-rausch
  (http://www.theprodukkt.com)

- Demopaja by Moppi Productions
  (http://moppi.inside.org/demopaja)

- Smode by Virtual Emotion
  (http://smode.smousse.net)

..or just have a look at:
http://www.scene.org/dir.php?dir=%2Fresources%2Fdemomaker/
_______________________________________________________________________________





_______________________________________________________________________________

3. Troubleshooting
_______________________________________________________________________________

3.1. Demo xyz won't run, what can I do?

 - Have a look at the readme/info files(s) that come along with the demo.

 - Does your hard- and software meet the requirements?

 - Party versions are usually buggy, see if a fixed/final version has
   been released already

 - Look out for (graphics card) driver issues. Rolling back or forth
   to a different version might help.
_______________________________________________________________________________

3.2. How can I get old MS-DOS demos to run?

Crest wrote an informative article about this issue:

- http://crest.untergrund.net/config.html.

In case you have a powerful CPU, you can try a MS-DOS Emulator, such as
dosbox:

- http://dosbox.sourceforge.net 

A dosbox demo compatibility list can be found here:

- http://pain.scene.org/service_dosbox.php

_______________________________________________________________________________

3.3. Some old MS-DOS demos refuse to run, I only get an "run time error 200".
     What's that?

It's a crt unit init error, likely to happen with demos coded using old borland
(turbo) pascal versions. There are several ways to fix it. Here are a few of
the many web pages that explain the issue and offer help:

 - http://www.brain.uni-freiburg.de/~klaus/pascal/runerr200/
 - http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/pas-r200.htm
_______________________________________________________________________________




_______________________________________________________________________________

4. Events
_______________________________________________________________________________

4.1.  What are demoscene parties?

In short: Demoscene meetings/festivals, where sceners meet. Usually, there is a
a big screen, competitions ("compos") you can participate in and lots of weird
people from all over the world you can meet and talk to, exchange ideas
and booze with. ;) Oh, and there's a network too (but not for gameing).

This pic (which is a section of a panorama picture, taken by chandra/orange
juice) shows one half of the Mekka & Symposium 2002 party hall:
http://tomaes.32x.de/text/dsfaq_partypic.jpg
_______________________________________________________________________________

4.2.  What are 'compos'?

Competitions at demoparties. The most common competitions, that take place on
almost any demoscene party are:

 - demo
 - 64kb intro (see [2.4.])
 - 4kb intro
 - wild demo (see [5.1.])
 - graphics (at least seperated compos for rendered and pixeled ones)
 - music (often seperated compos for 'tracked' and mp3/ogg music)
 - all kinds of fast/surprise compos
_______________________________________________________________________________

4.3.  What are the most important demoscene parties?

Currently, some of the big ones are:

 - Revision, Germany (100% scene, http://www.revision-party.net)

 - Assembly, Finland (gamers and sceners, http://assembly.org)
_______________________________________________________________________________

4.4.  Where and when is the next demoscene party?

The following site provides all needed info:

 - http://www.demoparty.net
_______________________________________________________________________________

4.5.  Why is it, that compo results tend to get screwed up?

Often, you might wonder why a certain compo result seems to be messed up. 
Bad stuff ranked high, while a much better production is nowhere near the
place it deserved. This might be due to the following:

 - People might not have been sober during voting

 - People often DO have a strange taste

 - Some stuff looks much better/worse on the big screen/compo machine
   than on your home machinery (different colour/gamma intensity/more powerful
   hardware in the compo machine etc.).

 - People tend to vote for their own productions or for the 
   production of their group or their friends. (aka self-voting, group-voting,
   buddy-voting). You can imagine that a group with 20 members can 'distort'
   the results of a 200 people party quite a bit.

 - People cheat (exploiting voting systems, almost never happens though)

 - Never underestimate the fun-factor of a party. Technically and artistically
   bad productions might get a lot of votes if they're funny or go well with a
   live audience for one reason or another.

 - The demo crashed the compo machine and most of the good stuff was
   yet about to follow. Does not happen very often though.
_______________________________________________________________________________





_______________________________________________________________________________

5. Terms
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.1.  What is a 'wild' demo?

A wild demo can be pretty much everything. Some possibilities:

 - It's any kind of film, usually available as divx/avi file
   (music videos, shorts, comedies, trash, prerendered animations...)

 - It's a demo that requires very rare/strange hardware to run
   (c64 with SCPUs, for example)

 - It's a demo that simply does not fit in any other competition (and the
   applying rules) of a given demoparty.

 - Sometimes, live performances count as 'wild' demos too. ;)

However, in most cases, it IS a short movie (clip), either tradionally filmed
or CG/animated. 
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.2.  What are trackers?

Either people who use tracking software, or the software itself. Simply put, a
tracker is a music composing software that combines sequencing and sampling.
Patterns are used to arrange notes and effects, while the sources of the actual
sounds/instruments are stored in samples. The so-called modules, files with
extensions like it/xm/mod/s3m, which contain the notes, effects, patterns and
also (unlike midi files) the sample data/instrument definitions can be used as
soundtrack for demos, games, diskmags or 64kb intros (if they're small enough).
   
The main advantages of modules are hardware independency, small filesize (you
can stuff 10 minutes of music in a 50kb file, if you're using sin-waves and
other simple samples as your instrument sources) and their natural open
source-ness (you can open a file with one of the many mod editors, press play
and see how it's all arranged).

To play these modules, you can use
- xmplay (http://www.un4seen.com/xmplay.html)
- modplug player (http://www.modplug.com)

   
Much more about them here: http://www.modplug.com/mods/handbook/handbook.htm
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.3.  What are diskmags?

Diskmags could be described as electronic magazines or fanzines, made by
sceners for sceners. They usually contain tutorials, interviews, news and
party reports. Unlike newsletters, or articles on the web, the content
is integrated in a unique interface with (hopefully pleasing) graphics and
background music. Diskmags are a solid platform for scene related
communication and information. 

While diskmags have lost quite a bit of their importance on pc
(information and communication is web-based nowadays), they are still a 
rather vital part of the c64/amiga/atari scenes. 

_______________________________________________________________________________

5.4.  What is a 'music disk'?

It's a collection of songs (ep, album or compilation) that comes with a unique
interface/player. So called 'chip disks' contain chip tunes (see [5.5.]) only.
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.5.  What are 'chip tunes'?

Tunes of the pre-sample era of electronic music, whose sounds are
generated by computers, respectively their sound chips, or songs that imitate
or resemble that characteristic sound.

Some chiptune resources are:
 - http://www.chiptune.de
 - http://www.chiptune.com
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.6.  What do all those abbreviations (gfx...) mean? 

Ok, here's a short list of abbreviations that you might run across:

 - gfx (graphics...)

 - msx (music... unless it's really a reference to the MSX hardware)

 - zik (muzik.. er, music or musician)

 - asm (Assembly... either the demoscene party in finland, or 
        the hardware-bound programming languages)

 - xm/mod/s3m/it (common trackers and/or their file formats... see [5.2.])

 - compo (Competition... see [4.2.])

 - csipd (Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.ibm.pc.demos)

 - GUS (Gravis Ultrasound, most sceners favourite sound card in the ms-dos era,
        can be emulated via gusemu: http://listen.to/gusemu)
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.7.  What is ASCII/ANSI art? 

ASCII art is text art, graphics that consist exclusively of ASCII characters.
Most require a non-proportional font (f.e. "fixedsys") for correct viewing.
The logo in front of this FAQ is supposed to be ascii art too. :)

ANSI includes additional formating/displaying information, the most obvious
difference is that ansi supports colors and the possibility to create
animations.

In the days of bulletin board systems (read: pre-internet era), when bandwidth
and processing power was limited, ASCII/ANSI art was an efficient and easy way
to display graphical content. In the late 1990s, ASCII art made a comeback as
email signature and SMS message gimmick.

ASCII art is often used to enrich info/readme files that come along with
demoscene productions.

_______________________________________________________________________________

5.8.  What is a cracktro? 

See [2.3.].
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.9.  What is a slideshow? 

A slideshow is a graphics collection/presentation with a unique interface,
often with background music. It's the graphical counterpart of a music disk
(see [5.4.]).
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.10.  What is an inv(i)tro? 

Invtro (or invitro) is the abbreviation of 'ivitation intro'. The main purpose
is to inform sceners about an upcoming demoscene event, when and where it will
take place, what compos can be expected, entrance fees etc. Unlike normal
intros (see [2.4.]), an invitation intro is usually not limited to a certain
filesize.
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.11.  What is a fast-intro? 

On demoparties, one of funniest competitions are "fast" ones. In case of
fast-intro competitions, the goal is to make a demo (see [2.1.]) within a given
time limit. To increase the level of difficulty, the content has to meet a
given theme or needs to have certain elements in it that are often related to
events (or incidents ;)) on the party.

Just like invtros (see [5.10.]), fast-intros are rarely limited to a certain
file size, "fast-demo" would be probably a more appropriate term. :)
_______________________________________________________________________________

5.12. What is a textmode demo?

It's a demo that makes use of the classic MS-DOS command line mode for
displaying its content. So, instead of pixels, you see ASCII characters
on a 80x25 or 80x50 screen. There's a online competition exclusively dedicated
to this kind of demos: http://tmdc.scene.org 
_______________________________________________________________________________





_______________________________________________________________________________

6. Do it yourself(tm)
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.1.  Can I make a demo/intro myself? What is required?

You'll need at least some solid knowledge of one programming language and a
compiler/IDE (see [6.7.]). Plus, a lot of motivation. Imagination will help
too. Note that In most cases, there are several people working on a demo: At
least one coder (programmer), taking care of the technical aspects, a graphics
artist or designer and a musician composing the soundtrack. So, you might need
someone to help you with one part or another.
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.2.  Can I make a demo in Flash/Shockwave etc.?

Yes and no. A lot of people in the scene have the opinion that such efforts
are no 'real' demos at all, even if you make use of the scripting capabilities,
while others think it's 'ok'. The main problem with flash is, that pixel-based
manipulation is simply ultra-slow due to it's web/vector focus, making it
hardly possible to create something that could catch up with an average java
demo.
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.3.  Can I make a demo without any programming skills?

Depends. You can try joining a group that has already a bunch of coders and
demo-tools but lack designers/musicians or you can try some web/video/animation
authoring/free demo development tools (demopaja, werkzeug1...) software.
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.4.  How do I get started? What do I need to know in order to bring my own
      demo to life?

Ok, let's see:

 - learn to code(tm)
   No matter what language(s), just pick up the main principles for a start.
   In other words: Plain and sucky theory ahead. Buy a book, since online
   tutorials really can't cope with a good book. Write your first code, get
   angry, because the crap doesn't work as expected, try harder etc. :)

 - learn to code(tm) realtime graphics 
   Get to know 2D graphics programming first (yes, really). Write a plasma
   effect, and jump for joy if it finally works.
   Get to know Direct3D, get to know Open GL. Chose your religion.
   Buy a book again. Get angry again, because the crap does not work. That
   sounds familiar? ;)
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.5.  What is the difference between Open GL and DirectX?

The main differences in brief:

 - DirectX 
   - An api package, that also includes sound, input etc, not just 3d graphics
   - Windows only (XBox too)
   
 - Open GL 
   - Cross platform
   - Most say it's a tad easier to learn
   - Only for 3d accelerated graphics

A lot boils down to "taste and preferences", so it might be a good idea to
test both of them anyway.

In detail:
 - http://www.gamedev.net/reference/articles/article1775.asp
 - http://www.xmission.com/~legalize/d3d-vs-opengl.html
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.6.  Any tutorials to help Open GL/DirectX beginners?

Often, people like to point demo beginners to:

  - http://nehe.gamedev.net (Open GL tutorial)
  - http://msdn.microsoft.com (DirectX documentation)
  
Furthermore, diskmags (see [5.3.]) often feature coding related articles.
In the hugi issues 16, 17 and 19 you can find many tutorials for beginners,
get them here: http://www.hugi.scene.org 
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.7.  What programming languages do demo coders use? 

Usually it's C or C++, a few use Pascal or Delphi (aka OOP-Pascal), very
few use Java or C#. ASM when it's needed too (f.e., for low filesize or speed
optimisations). 
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.8.  How can I make a 4k intro?

You should stick to C/C++ and/or assembly language. In order to get more
content in your 4k, you should consider coding everything in assembly language.
All the things said about 64kb intros (see [6.9.]) apply for 4ks as well.
Minus, that it is no crime anymore to use the General midi software wavetable
via DirectX. ;)

A helpful tutorial, that also talks about 4k specific exe header compression:
 - http://www.ukscene.org/modules.php?name=Sections&op=viewarticle&artid=8

Useful tools for filesize compression:
 - http://apack.cjb.net
 - http://20to4.net (not yet...)
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.9.  How can I make a 64kb intro?

For a start: Choose C/C++/Asm as your programming language(s). Although I have
seen 64kb intros that are not written in those languages, you'll have a much
easier and more confident way of writing compact code this way. Secondly,
you'll need something for sound. You can use minifmod or mxmplay to play
(and sync) modules in mod/xm format.
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.10.  How is it possible to stuff a lot of content (textures, hi-quality
       sound etc.) into a 64kb intro?

The main trick is to avoid static data. No bmp/gif/png texture bitmaps, no
mp3/ogg/wav streams. Instead, only 'meta-data' is saved in the final file,
while the content will be created realtime or in a 'loading' sequence before
the intro actually starts.

Instead of saving the actual pixel data of a texture, you just save 'the
contruction plan', the actions you've done in your texture generator in order
to make the texture look like it does. The same principle applies for sound.
Save just the note and other key data and reproduce the actual audio in
realtime. Of course this requires you to write your own texture generator
(or maybe not, there are quite some generators out there) and your own realtime
software synthesizer. This way you'll save a LOT of data.  
   
To save even more, you can:

 - Config your compiler properly in order to avoid any ballast in your exe
 - Use an executable packer like UPX
 - Throw out compatibility code (erm...)

Related links:
 - http://www.hailstorm.net/papers/smallwin32.htm
_______________________________________________________________________________

6.11. Where can I get source codes of demos or single effects?

Full demo source codes are rare items and often they're either obsolete,
just consist of very few interesting things, are a pain to read, undocumented,
won't compile etc. In other words, don't expect too much. :)

However, some examples for intro and demo sources are:

 - http://www.farb-rausch.de/fr010src.zip
   (intro 'art' by farbrausch and scoopex)

 - http://popsyteam.planet-d.net/u2/Vip2.htm
   (vip2 by popsy team, linux port: http://www.sesse.net/vip2-linux)

 - http://fs.20to4.net/releases/freestyle_stoerfall_ost-src.zip
   (stoerfall ost, 4k intro by freestyle)

 ...or just try the scene.org source repository:
 - http://www.scene.org/dir.php?dir=%2Fresources/
______________________________________________________________________________

6.12. How can I get music in my intro/demo?

Most people use either bass (http://www.un4seen.com)
or fmod (http://www.fmod.org), both provide a rich set of features, including
playback of mp3/ogg vorbis files and various tracker (see [5.2.]) formats.

For intros you can either code a realtime software synthesizer or take the
easy way out and use mini-fmod (http://www.fmod.org/fmoddownload.html#secc).
Midi is not recommended due to its hardware dependency. On Windows, you can
make use of the DirectX software wavetable synth. 
______________________________________________________________________________




_______________________________________________________________________________

7. Resources
_______________________________________________________________________________
 
7.1. What other demoscene introductions/articles do exist?

You might take a look at these...

 - http://www.hugi.scene.org/main.php?page=intro
 
 - http://www.oldskool.org/demos/explained
   and http://www.oldskool.org/demos/pc/pcdemos.faq.shtml (last update: 1998!)
  
_______________________________________________________________________________

7.2.  What scene CD-ROMs/DVDs/Blue-Rays do exist?

Check this site: http://www.fusecon.com/products/scenecds. Concerning new DVDs
and Blue-Rays check out the mind candy series: http://www.mindcandydvd.com.
_______________________________________________________________________________

7.3. Any books about the demoscene?

Yes, indeed, there are a few books. For example:

- "Demoscene: the art of real-time"
- "Freax"

(Both available on Amazon)

A decent overview of related academic papers:

- http://www.kameli.net/demoresearch2/?page_id=4

_______________________________________________________________________________

7.4. Any newsletters I can subscribe to?

As of 2012, they're all gone as far as I can tell.
_______________________________________________________________________________

7.5.  What IRC channels do exist?

Some public channels are (IRCnet):

 - #pouet.net
 - #demoscene
 - #thescene
 - #coders (coding related)
 - #pixel (graphics related)
 - #trax (music related)
_______________________________________________________________________________

7.6.  What pc demoscene discussion boards and newsgroups are there?

Here we go...

Web: 

 - http://www.pouet.net/bbs.php
   (most active public forum. sometimes not very scene related at all :))

 - http://www.scene.org/forums

 - http://www.bitfellas.org

Usenet newsgroup: 

 - comp.sys.ibm.pc.demos
   (not much activity anymore)

_______________________________________________________________________________

7.7.  What are the most important pc demoscene websites/portals?

Here's a short list of the more important international PC related ones:

 - http://www.pouet.net
   (demoscene productions database and flam..erm, discussions :))

 - http://www.scene.org
   (News, files, polls, discussion boards...)

 - http://www.scenemusic.net
   (demoscene radio...)
   
 - http://scenesat.com
   (demoscene music radio, live broadcasts from scene events)  

 - http://www.demoscene.tv
   (demo videos streamed)

 - http://capped.tv
   (demo videos streamed)

 - http://www.bitfellas.org
   (news, podcast, forums) 

...of course there's a LOT more. National scene portals, music sites dedicated
to mods etc, etc. Just google it. :)
_______________________________________________________________________________




_______________________________________________________________________________

8. Misc
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.1.  How many sceners are there?

It depends on what you count as 'demoscener'. Everybody who has watched at
least one demo? Everbody who has been on a demoparty? Everybody who's
participated in a demo production?

Pouet.net holds no less than ~20'000 accounts (we can savely assume that at least
~1/5 of them are fake/one-post-only/forgot-my-password-dammit ones). The old
orange juice scener database used to have more than 10'000 accounts. Most sceners
are active on pc, followed by C64 and Amiga Computers. Most sceners are NOT coders,
but hobby music producers and designers or graphic artists.
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.2.  Where do most sceners come from?

The majority of demosceners comes from europe.  There is only little (North
America, Israel, Japan, Australia...) or no (known) activity in other parts
of the world. 
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.3.  What's the average age of a scener?

The majority of sceners is 20 or older.

A related, several years old poll can be found here:
http://www.scene.org/discusspoll.php?item=53

Note that a lot of scene.org visitors are not sceners, but 'just' downloaders.
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.4.  What is the 'scene is dead' thing all about?

Although, this 'opinion' is nothing new (documented by tons of 'scene is dead'
articles in diskmags see [5.3.]), recently, it became a running gag on
the orange juice oneliner. Reasons to type these magical words might be:

 - "I'm an old fart, I was active and mega-1337 2 decades ago. All you kids
    suck, your scene is not what I used to know as scene. Plus, I'm an old
    fart."
 - "Hehe, look, just 3 words and they're all going mad!"
 - "Hey, it's fun, isn't it?! ;)"
 - "3D accelerators killed it. YOU HEAR ME??!!11"
 - "[insert your favourite oldschool hardware] forever! Everything else sucks"
 - "Future Crew is dead? Really? Oh, that sucks" 

More seriously, many 'oldschoolers' might be concerned about...

 - things getting just too easy with webtools, opengl/directx, it's not a
   hardcore-geek-only thing anymore
 - the scene is not THAT underground anymore (due to public websites,
   increasing media coverage... and FAQs)
 - many old scene parties turned into commercial lan-parties
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.5.  What is 'scene poetry'?

There are different ways to design a demo or an intro. One of the (by now
cliche) ways is to include wise/personal/political/whatever words on top of the
scenes and effects. While some of them succeded in transporting an emotion or a
certain thought this way, many failed. That's why many demosceners have mixed
feelings about them, to say the least. ;) Hence, it is not surprising that
the 'Scene poetry' concept has been skitted several times. Some examples of
'scene poetry' can be seen in:

 - almost any replay intro
 - heaven 7 / exceed (can be disabled in the final version)
 - backslide 7 / hellcore and omnicolor 
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.6.  What's the 'dutch colour scheme' and what are 'coder colours'?

The excessive use of orange/yellow/red in a demo or intro is called 'dutch
colour scheme'. The phrase was used by Macaw on the usenet newsgroup
comp.sys.ibm.pc.demos to make fun of dutch coders and their colour
preferences. Since then, more people started using that phrase and it slowly
but surely became a common scene term. ;)

And whenever a certain colour scheme is inconsistent, looks random or plain
ugly, it was the coders' fault... probably. Next time he should consult a
graphic artist or designer. ;)
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.7. How can I find hidden parts in scene productions?

A list of hidden parts in diskmags was published in hugi #24:
http://www.hugi.scene.org/main.php?page=hugi24

The "Quasi-Official List of Demo Hidden Parts, Keys, and Tricks" can be found
here: http://www.inf.bme.hu/~mandula/hidden.shtml. Updates can be found in
newer issues of the diskmag (see [5.3.]) PAiN.
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.8. On demoparties I heard people yelling 'foliba' or 'ficken', what does that
     mean?

Firstly, foliba is an abbreviation of (F)ake-(O)ber(li)ppen(ba)rt, which is
German and means "fake-moustache". Visit http://www.foliba.org to see what it's
all about. Oh, and as for "ficken": Go to an online dictionary, that translates
German into English and educate yourself. ;)  

Btw, there is a whole pouet.net forum thread dedicated to this topic:
http://www.pouet.net/topic.php?which=918
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.9. What was elitegroup all about?

Recently, it appeared to me, that many people either forgot or never really
knew what the actual point of elitegroup was.

So, to break it down in a very simplified form:
At the end of the 1990s, a bunch of german sceners thought that the scene is
dominated by mediocrity and suffers from a general lack of innovation, will
for improvement and 'state of the art'. It was time for a wake-up call. A new
(fake-)group was founded to kick the slumbering scene in the nuts. To achive
this, they reintroduced the concept of an arrogant badass super 1337 group
and applyed a touch of wild sarcasm to it: Elitegroup. 

They started using hilariously arrogant handles ('herr weltherrschaft' =
mr. world domination, 'gott' = god etc) and slogans ('we are very good') and
tried to piss people of as good as possible. Soon, they announced their
plan to gain 'world domination' at the end of 1999: To win the pc demo
and playstation demo competitions at 'the party' in Aars/Denmark, next
to Assembly and Mekka&Symposium the biggest demoscene event back then.
On their road to 'world domination' they released an array of teaser demos,
known as the R-Series. Although their pc demo 'kasparov' indeed won the
competition (while generating heated discussions for years to come), their
effort to win the playstation compo failed. The experiment 'elitegroup' ended
in early 2000. The R-Series as well as 'Kasparov' inspired a lot of parodies.

Several former members, including kb/smash designs and chaos/sanity are now
active in farbrausch, probably the most successful demoscene group today.
_______________________________________________________________________________

8.10. Farbrausch related questions

According to my log file, a lot of people look for info about farbrausch, the
most popular demoscene group at the moment. Because I don't want to bloat this
general pc demoscene faq with fr related question, I decided to throw the most
common farbrausch questions and answers in one block. :)

Q: FR-07?
A: It's farbrausch member rp's (aka Ronny Pries) son. Don't bother looking
for download links. ;) 

Q: FR-02, 03, 04?
A: Basically different working steps of the same demo. 02 'won' the ambience
2000 demo compo (by cheating). A working version is inoffically available,
look in the corresponding pouet.net thread. 03 was not meant to be seen
by a wider public audience either, but leaked by accident.

Q: What is it with the numbers of the demos and intros?
A: Projects get their number when they're started, not when they're finished.
For example, fr-029 was released before the long-term project fr-025, which
was started earlier.

Q: What are 'minus' releases?
A: Farbrausch 'minus' productions are their unserious releases. Just-for-fun
productions, holdovers, demoparty hacks etc.  

Q: farbrausch or farb-rausch?
A: Originally, farbrausch. When they noticed that the domain farbrausch.de
was not available anymore, registering farb-rausch.de seemed to be the next
best choice. 

Q: What does farbrausch mean anyway?
A: The first part, 'farb' comes from 'farbe', the german word for colour.
The word 'rausch' can be translated in various ways: Intoxication, flush,
inebriation. Chaos/farbrausch writes on his web site (www.xyzw.de):

'[...] combining the two words inside farbrausch: farb and rausch. But that
rausch is misinterpreted. Farbrausch has the meaning colorful trip, with
rausch having the meaning of something that happens to you when abusing
drugs and alcohol.'

Q: Are those the same guys that did kkrieger, the 96k first person shooter?
A: Yes.

Q: Where can I get some info about the various fr tools (werk(k)zeug etc.)?
A: Get your hands on chaos' assembly 2003 speech. You can download the video
from scene.org ('a history of farbrausch tools') or buy the Assembly 2003 dvd.
Also, you can visit www.theproduct.de for some additional information. 

2004-06-16, update: Actually, they just released werkkzeug1 to the public,
including the fr-025 data file: http://www.theprodukkt.com/

2012-06-26, update: Many tools are now public and released as open source:
https://github.com/farbrausch/fr_public/

______________________________________________________________________________

8.11. What is 'windows 100%'?

Windows 100% is a japanese print magazine (imagine a wild mix of 'wired' and
'playboy' ;)) that started to feature scene demos many years ago. If your
demo is featured in windows 100%, they'll send you the respective issue for
free.

(As of 2012, I'm not sure that they still do that.)
_______________________________________________________________________________


pc_demoscene_faq.txt · Last modified: 2013/08/24 09:10 by spiro