This was my own attempt at a megademo, written in STOS and released in 1995. It's even worse than I remember, although there are very few funny bits in the scroll texts, such as "I suppose I'm getting short on processor time now. I don't know because I'm just writing this scrolltext to the moment and I haven't actually done anything apart from the scroll text", "As usual, this screen contains no advanced coding techniques" (intro screen for Megascroller 1) and "Do you like this effect? I don't." (part 2 of Megascroller 2). Requires a 1Mb ST, but runs better with more memory.
A very early version of the game which I was working on before my ST died. Basically, it's a Virtua Fighter style beat 'em up... Yes, that's right, on an ST. Written in BASIC. The frame rate is quite low, admittedly, but it's impressive nevertheless. This version is so early that there is pretty much no gameplay (you can kick, but it won't affect your opponent), but download it to marvel at the fact that the ST can actually do this kind of game... Read the text file on the disk image to find out what the controls are.
One of the best and smallest games ever made for the ST! The object is to climb three mountains. You get one Super Jump per game, so use it wisely. It is very hard to complete, but mind-numbingly addictive...
A disk image containing some of the best chip music made for the ST. Includes two versions of Billy Allan's excellent RazRez player. (Although it's more convenient to use ST SOUND on the PC these days)
Note - you can download the superb music from the Beat 'Dis screen of the Union demo by going to Leonard's Homepage. Don't forget to also get the latest version of ST-SOUND.
Little Green Desktop: The definitive ST site... Loads of nice stuff to be found here - and if you can't find what you want, you can always go through the great big collection of links.
Leonard's Homepage: Go here to download the brilliant 'ST-SOUND 95'. Do it now. Also includes Leonard's own "SainT" emulator. I haven't used it for a while but it has been updated recently (i.e. 2009) unlike Steem.
Dead Hackers Society: Take a look at their links page, it contains a FULL list of ALL the homepages of virtually EVERY ST demo crew ever...
The latest ST scene news...
Saturday 27th January 2001... A new emulator has recently been making a big impact on the ST emulation scene - Steem. Steem runs a far greater number of programs that never used to work with Pacifist and Winston - including lots of demos and also the uncracked version of Captain Blood (see the Captain Blood page for more info). Among the demos I can now run on my PC are M-DEMOs 3 and 4, two of my favourites. There are several more which I haven't tested yet.
There is one major bug in the current version of Steem (1.4) - the sound is muffled on many PC configurations. However, this is due to be fixed very soon.
Saturday 15th July 2000... Amazingly, a new version of the ST emulator WinSTon has been released. It has improved support for samples, and is more configurable. I can't really compare it properly to the previous version as I can't remember exactly how many things worked with it. This new version runs a fair few things, including The ARG Megademo and ARG-ST. It still doesn't run some of my favourite demos, such as M-Demo 4. The sample quality is sometimes excellent, and sometimes poor. WinSTon is still not quite as powerful as Pacifist yet, but it is a lot easier to use, and more reliable.
Friday 9th March 2000... So much for latest news, eh? Unfortunately, Pacifist hasn't been updated for nearly two years. Its creator seems to have vanished, and the future of ST emulation seems nonexistent. Which is a shame.
Sunday 16th August 1998... WinSTon 0.1 has been released, and for the first time, PaCifiST has real competition. Winston is able run many games, and it also managed some of the ARG Megademo. Unfortunately, it runs everything slowly, and the sound emulation is primitive at the moment. And it can't run Captain Blood.
Also, more than a month on from the beta version, there is no sign of PaCifiST 0.49 final...
Sunday 7th June 1998... Pacifist 0.49 beta and LGD III are here! The latter rules, the former is disappointing. It had problems running a whole ton of stuff which worked under 0.48. And it still can't run Captain Blood...
Friday 5th June 1998... Yawn. Not much is happening, is it? New LGD and Pacifist still not here after five days. I'm sure they'll be along soon. Then there'll definately be something to talk about.
Friday 1st May 1998... I am becoming slightly disillusioned with the ST scene. Now that the novelty of speaking with all the old ST legends has worn off, and almost all demos still don't work under Pacifist, there is not a lot here for me. Let's face it, the PC and Windows 95 have been criticised heavily by, well, everyone - but really, using a PC is a thousand times better. Sure, it was crap a few years ago, but the times have changed. The only things on the ST I am still interested in are all those demos that I can't run. Everything else the PC does better. Of course it does. It's literally thousands of times faster. And it's a total godsend for programmers.
A lot of my annoyance comes from something I tried to do about two hours ago.
I decided to write a NEW ST game. My first ST game for four years.
I ran Pacifist. I loaded STOS. I went to the sprite designer.
My game idea was 'Footix Massacre'. The idea of the game would be that 'Footix', the stupid World Cup 98 mascot, would move around on the screen, and the player would shoot him with the mouse pointer. Then it would say: 'You Won!!!'. (I didn't want to spend too much time on this game...)
I used my terrible artistic abilities to draw the Footix sprite. This took about half an hour. Then I exited the sprite designer using the QUIT AND GRAB option. This was supposed to grab the sprite into my program.
I then wrote the program. Quite difficult seeing how STOS is a terrible language which I haven't used in three years.
I ran the program. Nothing appeared on the screen. I tried to display the sprite manually. Nothing. I went to the sprite designer. The sprite was not there. I had forgotten that I had to put the sprite into the memory bank before I had quitted the sprite designer. My hard work was gone.
I knocked up another (inferior, if that's possible) sprite. I ran the game. It showed three sprites, moving around the screen very badly. The frame rate was about ten frames per second.
I wrote the collision detection. It didn't work. It should have worked, but it didn't. I wrote a thing on the start of the program, saying that the game didn't actually work...
I tried to compile it. I got a 'Disk Error'. I typed 'dir'. The disk had been wiped...
I re-imaged the disk and swore NEVER to use STOS again....
Saturday 18th April 1998... I come back online, and nothing seems to have happened on the ST scene at all. Not even a new version of Pacifist.
You might notice that this page, and indeed this whole site, has undergone a few improvements. There is now tons of stuff to download, including some of my old productions on the ST.
Friday 20th February 1998... I'm leaving you for a while now.
But being on-line has been a great thing for me, because it has allowed me to see again all those ST legends, who are still alive and well (and often still using their STs). The other day I e-mailed Nick of The Carebears. THE ACTUAL Nick of TCB! Yes! And Flix of Delta Force, who wrote the scrolltext which changed my life... And Jeff Minter, the most famous sheep-shagger in the world! Legends, all of them. One day, people will sit down and sing folk songs about how the valiant Sir Nick of TCB rode into the village and blew everyone's mind with the Grodan and Kvack Kvack demo.
I never achieved my dream of being a proper part of the ST scene, years ago. Being on-line has gone a long way to rectifying this. The A.R.G. Megademo was released in 1995, but never got anywhere. Now that it is here, thousands of people have access to it. Feedback, please...
Monday 9th February 1998... With the help of Brume, I have collected together most of the music from M-Demos 3 and 4. Talk about a blast from the past. The big problem is that AN-COOL, creator of these demos, always felt the need to make modules in TCB Tracker format. I mean, okay, so he was the person who actually wrote TCB Tracker, but it makes it incredibly difficult to convert the modules into standard MOD format.
The method of converting TCB mods is this: Load them into Protracker (found on Maggie 11), and then save them out. This deals with the file conversion.
Load the module into FastTracker 2. If the original TCB module was in 'Amiga mode', go to the Transpose menu, and click three times on the button which transposes all the instruments up for entire song.
Most of AN COOL's modules require use of the 'D' parameter. This parameter causes the player to immediately move forward to the next track. For example, on the music for the Change Disk screen, I had to insert this parameter at position 2A for most patterns.
Finally, you have to hope that there are no 'special effects' being used in the module, because these were all lost in the translation. Which is a bit annoying, because some of the modules (such as the Pong music) DEPEND on these special effect parameters... Damn.
Of course, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for running the demos themselves on a real ST. But I haven't been able to do this for three years - it is so long since I saw them, I have almost forgotten...
Tuesday 6th January 1998... I have just tried out the beta version of PaCifiST 0.48. Hardly any demos work with it. What more is there to be said? Also, the improvement in 0.47 which allowed music to play properly during loading is not present in this version.
Friday 28th November 1997... I downloaded the Big Demo and the Cuddly Demos about an hour ago. Although I am reasonably knowledgeable regarding the ST demo scene (for someone who wasn't actually a part of it), I never actually got to see either of these two classics. The Big Demo made PaCifiST crash. The Cuddly Demos barely worked, as most of the screens seemed to be fullscreens or using sync-scrolling (including the main menu), so PaCifiST couldn't display them properly. I spent a while flying around on the main menu (I can now see what the menu of the Pandemonium Demo was based on), but after a while I felt ill...
Monday 10th November 1997... I downloaded PacifiST 0.46 and 0.47, and completely reinstalled both of them. The result? 0.46 works fine, but 0.47 still crashes in exactly the same way. This doesn't make sense - it used to work fine until two weeks ago, and I haven't done anything which should affect it.
I started the thing about ST demos today - take a look at the link at the top of this page.
Friday 7th November 1997... PacifiST still does not work - maybe there is a problem with PATCH.H68. I also tried STONX for the first time - it doesn't even slightly work.
I've added the first download to this page - The Commons.
Sunday 2nd November 1997... AAAaaarrrgghhh! PacifiST seems to have suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason! Even a blank disk image crashes the ST!
Sunday 12th October 1997... I just got PacifiST 0.47 (final). A few things run much better, a few things don't run at all any more... Of particular excellence in this release is the fact that loading graphics/music in demos is no longer destroyed while the disk is being accessed. There's still a bit of distortion, but it's not as bad as before.
Most teenagers, when they are twelve or thirteen, start listening to music all the time and idolising the people who made the music. This didn't happen with me.
One day, in the Earth Year 1992, I ordered some PD software. One of the disks I ordered was this thing called a 'demo'. I had never seen a proper demo before but they sounded interesting. So I put the first disk of the demo - 'Punish Your Machine' - into the drive, switched it on....
I sat for half an hour watching the intro in amazement. Amazing effects and shapes whizzed in front of my eyes. Excellent music flowed through my head. Eventually I decided to move on - I pressed SPACE.
Within a few seconds, there was in front of my eyes the most incredible bit of artwork I had ever seen on an ST. It was a sort of plasma thing which looked like ice. Meanwhile, the demo was loading the main menu off the disk, and some text was appearing on the screen saying who had written it. When it had loaded, the picture in the background suddenly changed. The palette faded from one set of colours to another, so that instead of looking like ice, it now looked like incredible streaks of fire.
At this point I got a bit confused. At the top of the screen, it said 'The Main Menu'. Further down it said that I should use the cursor keys to select a screen, or that I should press HELP for the quick menu. I tried both of these, and nothing happened. Of course, this was because I was still on the loader screen. After a long time I pressed SPACE and the menu started for real. I was confronted by yet more swirling colours and cool music.
The first screen I selected was the one which had been mentioned in ST Format's review of Punish Your Machine - the Magic Rasters screen. And verily, it was excellent. I then went through all the screens in order, and they were all totally stunning to me.
There was one more stage to this new discovery: I ran the screen called 'The Best Part of the Creation', by Flix. This screen starts off with just a Delta Force logo and a text scrolling along the bottom of the screen. The text says a few things, then some cool music starts up. The text goes on for an hour, talking about many things - such as how great life is. This text totally blew my mind - it spoke of things which I, a sad, lonely thirteen year old, had never dreamed of... It completely changed my life - from that night on, I have tried to follow the path of the demo coder, and the path of the scrolltext writer... and only now, five years later, am I getting close.
Glossary of demo terms:
(I'm not the world's leading authority on demos - if anyone thinks I've got this seriously wrong, don't be afraid to say!)
Colour cycling: This is such an obvious and easy effect that it shouldn't really be here. Even a baby could program colour cycling effects. Colour cycling gives nice effects when used with swirling patterns, giving the impression of movement.
Scrolltext: Piece of text which scrolls along the screen. The most basic form of scrolltext will scroll horizontally, from right to left, but for really good coders, the sky's the limit... For example, 3D texts made of dots which swirl out from the centre of the screen (this is in the Lightning Demo by the Pendragons). The 'TCB 3' screen in the Union demo is also excellent, although it doesn't seem to work properly with PacifiST. Some scrolltexts are impressive in that they are huge and fill the screen, others might do amazing special effects such as using cool distortion patterns (see the Omega screen in the Sowatt demo).
Dister: Something which distorts in a cool way. For example, a bitmap which is made to wave like a flag.
Rasters: Nice coloured lines across the screen. These are known as 'Copper bars' or 'Rainbows' on the Amiga. Rasters are useful in that they don't take much processor time to display. When running demos with PacifiST, make sure you are in 'LINE' mode, as rasters are not displayed in 'SCREEN' mode. Also note that PacifiST is not yet 100% reliable in displaying rasters and is liable to get the colours wrong in many cases.
Borders: The black space around the edge of the display area. Amazingly, although the ST has no hardware capability to draw in the borders, some people in the demo scene worked out how to do it anyway. It is acheived by switching the screen frequency between 50 and 60 Hertz at specific points. The easiest border to remove is the lower border, followed by the upper border, the right border and the left border. As of version 0.47, PacifiST allows demos to 'open' the lower border (although you'll have to change screen mode to 360x240).
Fullscreen: This is a demo screen where ALL the borders have been 'opened', allowing full use of the screen area. The first fullscreen was done by Level 16, in the Union Demo. At the moment, PacifiST really hates fullscreens - the display is just total garbage. This makes the Sowatt Demo menu quite hard to use...
Plasma: Weird translucent warping coloured bars which curve around the screen and pass through each other. (There are some screens which claim to be plasma, but are in fact just using something similar to Keftales).
Keftales: Cool hybrids of 'moire effects' and plasma, often accompanied by zooming and colour cycling. See the Dreams Dentro (by Animal Mine).
Dentro: A cross between a megademo and an intro - although there are many screens, there is no menu - each screen is shown in sequence, with no input from the user necessary. Most Amiga demos were done in this way.
Main menu: A demo screen which allows you to select any of the other screens in the megademo. Menus take many forms - some present you with a standard list of screens; some give you a complete mini-game, where you must control a character and move him to a certain place on the map to access a certain screen. The most impressive menu of all time was in Ooh Crickey Wot A Scorcher, which features a flight over a realtime 3D fractal landscape...
Hidden screen: A whole demo screen which cannot be accessed in the normal way - you may have to press a special key to view it, or go to a certain location (for map-based menus). Incidentally, there is a hidden screen on ARGnet. See if you can find it...
Reset-Demo: A demo screen which is accessed by pressing the Reset button at the back of the ST! (Or Control-Break on PaCifiST).
Starfield: Like the 'Flying Through Space' screensaver, except good.
3D dots: Using a technique similar to 3D starfields, it was possible to make entire landscapes out of dots. Using this technique was useful as dots take very little time to draw - so the frame rate can be very high.
3D sprites: Like 3D dots, except instead of a dot, you have a scalable sprite, such as a ball. This is very dull...
3D polygons: 'Proper' 3D, like in Quake. Except without the texture mapping. And with only a few polygons on screen at once. Most 3D demos seemed to be almost identical, which was very annoying. There were two which were totally stunning, however - Ziggy Stardust's screen in the European Demos, and the Legacy screen in the Froggies Over the Fence demo.
Glenz vectors: Transparent 3D objects. Not as interesting as it sounds.
Texture mapping: Very few things on the ST ever used texture mapping, because it was incredibly slow.
Infinite sprites: This is a really simple trick which gives the impression that the processor is drawing thousands of sprites onto the screen at once, when in fact it is only drawing one.
Lamer test: A lamer is a person who thinks they're good at computing and/or demo coding, but is in fact a total loser who has no idea what he is talking about. The best Lamer Test is the one in the Syntax Terror demo. There is one other lamer test that I know of, which is in the Phaelon Gigademo, but this is very dull.
Sync-Scrolling: One of the many things the ST was really bad at was scrolling. While the Amiga was sitting there shifting the screen around as if it was a feather, the ST would be sitting there making the screen jerk a lot. Sync-Scrolling was a technique discovered by Nick of The Carebears, which could be used to achieve smooth and fast scrolling. (I can't tell you any more about it, as I don't really know anything about sync-scrolling.)
There's still a lot more which I haven't mentioned - e-mail me if there's something you think I've left out...
What are the best demos out there?
There are hundreds of demos on the ST, and a lot of them are good. Below is a list containing some of the most important ones. Note that not all of these work with PaCifiST. Some of them only work with patches (check out Leonard's homepage if you want to find out more about these).
If you think I've got any of the stuff below wrong, mail me and I'll sort it out. I'm also going to try and find out which years these demos were released in.
The BIG Demo by The Exceptions (TEX): This was the first ever megademo on the ST. Unfortunately, I can't tell you any more than that because I've never seen it!
The Union Demo: The Union was a large body consisting of many different groups - most notably, The Carebears (TCB), Delta Force and The Exceptions. The Union demo was their first (and unfortunately only) proper collective effort. All the TCB screens were a league ahead of the others, especially the stunning 'Beat Dis' screen, which contains some of the best sampled sound ever heard on an ST. In fact it is so good that it even sounds impressive running under PaCifiST!
The Sowatt Demo by TCB: This was the second demo that I saw. It was created by a whole load of Swedish groups (and two French ones). Once again, the TCB screens were lightyears ahead of the competition (although the Omega screen was quite good).
The Cuddly Demos by TCB: One of the all-time classics. Or so I'm told - it doesn't work properly with PaCifiST, and I never managed to get hold of it during the ST days...
Syntax Terror by Delta Force: A very good demo with some great screens (particularly the two games, and especially the brilliant Lamer Test).
The Mindbomb Demo by The Lost Boys (TLB): The first megademo by this English group (following two previous, smaller demos), this was apparently a brilliant acheivement at the time. By today's standards, though, it is pretty dull.
The European Demos by The Overlanders: France stuck itself firmly in the centre of the demo map thanks to the efforts of the huge group 'The Overlanders'. And guess what - all the Overlanders screens were the best. The screen with the huge scrolltext and the bouncing Wizball (I can't remember what the screen is called) is arguably the most impressive piece of graphical wizardry ever seen on the ST. And as for Ziggy Stardust's 3D demo - I showed it to some hardcore Amiga owners, and they thought it was great.
The Decade Demo by Inner Circle: Created by a very large Union-style conglomerate of obscure British groups, this didn't contain a lot of impressive stuff, but was still quite fun. The best screens in this demo were created by two groups called Electronic Images and The Resistance. Incidentally, there were accusations from The Lost Boys that some of their code from the Mindbomb Demo had been ripped for use in the Decade Demo...
The Phaelon Gigademo by NeXT: This claimed its place in the history books by being the biggest demo ever made - four disks, four menu systems, one extra menu to select your preferred menu system... Anyone who was anyone (and a lot of people who were no-one) was in this demo. And the loading screen was just superb - the best loader ever made.
Punish Your Machine by Delta Force: This was the first demo I ever saw, and as such has a special place in my heart. But even if it didn't have any nostalgic significance to me, I would still rate it as one of the best demos ever made.
Ooh Crikey Wot A Scorcher by TLB: The swansong of the now mighty Lost Boys. And what a way to go. A totally mindblowing main menu with high-speed, high-detail 3D graphics, one of the best rave screens of all time, the cool 'Your mind is my ashtray' screen, the Carebears Chainsaw Massacre, and loads of atmosphere... How could anyone beat this?
Things Not To Do by Electronic Images: Two members of The Resistance had joined EI, making it a force to be reckoned with. And what did they do? They only went and made one of the funniest demos ever. Things Not To Do consisted of a series of humourous animations, using the characters from the games International Karate and IK+. If you haven't seen it, you haven't lived.
The Snork Demo by Future Minds: This obscure French group, who had previously done nothing special, suddenly created a masterpiece of atmosphere, comedy and cool effects. Most of the screens on this demo are actually very dull (apart from the RAVE FM screen and Othello), but that was not important. The intro was the best ever seen, and included a mini-history of ST demos. Then there were four hidden screens, which contained some of the best comedy ever seen, anywhere, ever (like the 16 million colour picture - it must have been 16 million colours because it was flashing. And the bit where the scrolltext says 'I told myself to draw very long hairs, I still wonder why'). And then there was the excellent reset-screen.
M-Demo 3 and 4 by AN COOL of TCB: The best music demos ever made. I live for the day when they will work with PaCifiST. (Note - The names imply that there are M-Demos 1 and 2 as well - but I have never seen these.)
Froggies Over The Fence by The Overlanders, ST-Connexion and Legacy: 'The Last of the Great Demos'. It was 1993, and the situation was looking bleak for the ST. The game developers were abandoning it in their millions, claiming that it wasn't capable of running the latest games. How appropriate, then, that these three French groups chose this time to release this incredible piece of software. Totally stunning from start to finish (although some bits were less stunning than others), this demo included the one of the best versions of Tetris ever made, and a brilliant 'movie' which used Another World style polygon animation. The reset demo contained 'The Last of the Great Scrolltexts' by Richard Karsmakers. This was a huge (but entertaining) piece of text which talked about many things, from the ST demo scene to life. So, all in all, Froggies Over the Fence was a work of pure genius. But we will never again see anything like this...
The as-yet-unnamed demo by Leonard of Oxygene: The author of ST-Sound has a dream. A dream that one day, all the greats of the ST demo world will come together and contribute to his NEW demo (started in 1997). A demo that keeps on expanding, and is never finished. (Maybe it should be called 'The Infinite Demo'). Go to his homepage for the latest news.
Update: The demo has now been released, and was named "The Nostalgic Demo". I haven't been able to see most of the screens due to most of them not working under emulation, but the intro is very impressive.
The ARG Megademo 2 (provisional title): Meanwhile, I have my own dream. A dream that one day, I will create a demo on the PC - except that it will be in the style of an ST demo. Pretty neat idea, neumm? (The original A.R.G. Megademo was released in 1995, and was crap. You can download it from this page.)
If anyone wants to contribute any screens to my PC demo, e-mail me.
Update (2009): I have better things to do these days, plus having RSI doesn't help.
Some tips on using IMGBUILD to read copy-protected disks
Okay dudes, here are some nice tips for you.
IMGBUILD is often able to read copy-protected disks. Sometimes you have to mess around with the settings, as some games have erroneous information in the bootsector.
Running it from a DOS box in Windows 95 seems to make it go twice as fast for some reason. It's also more reliable when run in this way.
The best way to convert disks is as follows:
Run IMGBUILD in the normal way. If it reads the disk perfectly (i.e. no read errors, and seems to have read all of the disk), it'll probably work. If there are read errors, use the /slow parameter.
If the information in the bootsector is incorrect (i.e. 0 sectors, 0 tracks), get rid of the /auto parameter, and set the track and sector numbers manually. Start off with 82 tracks and 10 sectors; if it has problems reading every 10th sector then change it to 9 sectors. If it has problems reading the last few tracks, reduce the number of tracks.
If the bootsector cannot be read at all, give up - the disk cannot be converted. If there are a few other sectors that cannot be read, this doesn't mean it is not working - it's probably just the copy protection.
I was able to convert about half of my games. Hope these tips help someone. See 'ya later.