25 Jun - 27 Jun 2010
BDC-Iron, Beb, Candy, CeD, Cloudstrife, Eliot, Garett, Genesis8, Hicks, Kawickboy, Kris, Optimus, Papy-CPC, Plissken, Pulkomandy, Rouquemoute, Shap, Targhan, Tom et Jerry, Voxfreax
2. Plasmorphy (Benediction+Hooy Program)
1. Floral (CeD)
Written by Hicks for Push'n'Pop
The last meeting I attended in Coutances was the Improvized, in 2004: at this time I was writing Another World, Targhan released Midline Process, and OVL was still active. Six years after, participating to the same meeting at the same place was the occasion to notice some changes. First, if we take a look at the Impovized participants list, we can see that less than a half are always here, since the other half stopped their activities. Second, meetings became mainly a newcomer question, think to Pulkomandy, Cloudstrife, Papy CPC, Voxfreax, or Rouquemoute, as old invested guys seem to get tired of these events. Third, CPC users from south of France are probably still afraid of the north climate since noone of them was present.
What's new this year?
Despite all these sociological changes, the kernel was the same: 3 days in the FJT, in the heart of the hottest quarter of Coutances, talking about CPC, doing CPC, eating CPC, and sleeping CPC. As usual, some rooms were at the participants disposal, but with a little drawback in comparison to the other years: only one bed by room! With 4 rooms it means that comfort wasn't for everybody each night. But it's the oldschool meeting spirit: sleeping some hours on the floor, drinking coffee, and go to code!
A nice technical innovation this year was the presence of a wide screen, to project some demos on the wall. In fact the main problem was to find some demos supported by the material, I mean, running at 50hz! A lot of them failed (to the first who speak about From Scratch's wobbler part, I answer "gna!"), but we finally found some nice things to show and it added a nice mood to the meeting.
It could seem to be a detail but in more than 10 years of meetings I went to, it was the first time that the weather was great! Discussions outdoor were more pleasant but, luckily, Iron didn't turn topless. Ze Meeting must stay Ze Meeting! As usual, Targhan from Cargo$oft was here, bringing Pulkomandy to the meeting with his new Porsche (strangely bought during the second released of Orion Prime). The nice surprise was to see Voxfreax and Optimus, two greek sceners (even if noone of them lives in Greece). If we remember that Antitec and another greek guy already came to Ze Meeting some years ago, one question stays: what are our german friends waiting for to join us?!
I planned to work at this meeting on the structure of the real numbers used by the firmware (which allows you to use trigonometric functions and arithmetic operators in assembly without writing anything). After some empirical tests, since I didn't find any documentation of that, I understood this strange format and was able to use them. In front of me there were Targhan and Rouquemoute, together working on the CRTC things (for totally different projects) Yes, it's not a bug! TARGHAN WORKING ON THE CRTC! What a great surprise... Rouquemoute was trying to do his first vertical scrolling in order to implement something else. He's coming from the PC world, working in the FRequency demoteam (famous for their 1k and 4k intros), and went to the CPC with original ideas. Shap was coming with the idea to work on some drivers for a Ram7's interface, but as Ram7 finally didn't come, he decided to work on FDC routines.
Maybe to be at the image of the CPC scene, people sleep a lot in meeting now. Then, they eat at classical hours, so as I decided to sleep from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., I missed some meals. It was a little bit sad to see all these CPC abandoned from 2 a.m.! Maybe they took the unknown guy of the FJT at his own words: "Mais vous êtes ouf' de faire de l'ordi à l'heure là !".
It's always surprising to see how the game development is still active on CPC, even in 2010. Another proof of that is the released of Color Lines during the meeting, a Jurassic project from Tom&Jerry (you can find the review of a first version in Another World 18, July 2000!). So, after Binary Science and Cargo$oft, Futility is born! It's strange, it remembers me a famous Finland cracking team... Releasing this game during a meeting was a nice idea because some of us started a little challenge together, trying to reach the first place of the hi-scores. I tried it with Targhan, and after a long, I was very happy to reach 328 points in a normal game. Then Tom&Jerry took the keyboard and easily reached the score of... 600! His strategy was opposite to mine: taking few risks, doing only lines of 5 pawns to clear the board a max, when I was trying to do a lot of "big lines" and "multi lines" to earn bonus points. Old age is the path of wisdom.
Games were very present in this meeting, since the classical console corner was here, provided by Genesis8 and Tom&Jerry. Everybody could relax by playing Master System, Megadrive or Gamecube between two CPC sessions. Once again I tried a muscled collaboration with my new friend (Targhan) in Street of Rage II. We didn't reach the last stage, but we were obviously better than Genesis8 and his acolyte. Besides, I have to mention that with all the money he earned with the 18 pieces of Color Lines he sold during the meeting, Tom&Jerry bought the croissants on Sunday morning! What a great reward after a whole night of hot discussion with Targhan and Beb.
Final exams results
Amstrad Expo without contest wouldn't be really an Amstrad Expo. This year, the amount of participations was exceptional: 6 in the demo category, 9 in the graphical one, and (only) 1 in the musical one. Finally Optimus won the demo competition with Chunky Chan, a fast made demo full of software effects, and a very innovative concept: before this demo, everybody knew the graphic equalizers, which were following the music, but with Optimus, the music rhythm follows the size of the effects! Arg! Use interrupts! We spoke about that with Targhan and Eliot: the incompatibility between the simultaneous use of stack and interrupt is a myth, there is a lot of tricks to assure the compatibility used since more than 10 years! But it's only a party version so I suppose that it's due to the lack of time. Keep the spirit guy, you're on the right way! (Chunky Chan is now released, and there is still music problem especially during the transitions) Eliot and Voxfreax collaboration was very interesting too, an original plasma mixing hardware and software technics. One more time, it was a party version, so we have to wait to see it on our CPC. I also have to mention that Rex introduced some nice ideas too, it's a real revival of the Greek scene!
As he promised it, Eliot showed us the last day a demonstration of his new hardware. The first extension was the "sDisk Emulator", who seems to work fine, reading the DSK format, but is unable to write it. Other guys (Beb and Candy) were equipped with the other disk emulator, "SDCard HxC Floppy Emulator", and this time it's possible to save data on a virtual disc, but this format outpass the DSK possibilities, so I don't know if it's possible to convert it into DSK on PC. The second extension was the Symbiface 2, showed with SymbOS. We can argue that a graphic based OS is not the most adapted for development on CPC, but we must admit that SymbOS is as impressive as a demo in the OS category! Multitasking works, then you can hear a song, watch a video with Danish topless young farmer (Eliot taste!), change your ROM configuration, and load something at the same time, but it works slowly of course. Ok, there is a lot of useless functions made just for the challenge, but other can be useful (a graphical whole view of the stored ROMs is a good thing). But SymbOS is just a way to exploit your Symbiface: the great advantage of this extension is to allow you to store 32 ROMs (the equivalent of 4 Ramcards!) and provide 512k of extra memory (it doesn't save the data if you turn off your CPC, so it's not really the equivalent of the Memcard), and we can link it to an SD card or a Hard Drive. Anyway, it could be nice to sum up all these extension possibilities, with price and address to order them in a future article on CPCscene...
Eliot also officially launched his CPC parts project by solding some rubber belts and connectors.
And then, after these three days of CPC, the meeting was already over. With only one meeting per year, time goes fast. The interest of these events is exactly the opposite to a party: few people, little room, speaking with 10 years well known freax, and so. A way to close my cycle by saying one more time what I wrote in the report of Breakpoint 2010: small CPC meetings and big demoparties are totally complementary, noone had to be preferred on the other!