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© Echelon

EPILOGUE - FINISHING THIS ISSUE OF "ST NEWS"

Richard's bit

I have surely never ever in my life worked so hard in such a
short time. During the three weeks that have passed since I came
back from England up to the day upon which this issue of ST NEWS
was finished, I have effectively worked about 10 days (the others
mysteriously vanished into the art of doing nothing due to
reasons that will be elaborately explained in the hidden article,
and that have to do with a female) in which I typed well over
half a megabyte of articles (that's somewhere beyond 200 DIN A4
pages). About 171 Kb were done in the first week, a mere 73 Kb
were done in the second week and the third week (last week)
revealed more than an additional 210 Kb of document files on my
harddisk - apart from 20 feature articles, I did another 9 or so.
So you can imagine that I am now quite tired. And my neck aches,
whereas my fingers feel numb, sore and worn to the bone.
But I am feeling extremely satisfied. For I knew all the time
that this would be the last bit of something truly unique - and
even the most vital bit, since the whole quest depended on these
days of word processing with regard to shaping a proper picture
with text of all that had happened.
I now sit back in my chair and think of what has been achieved.
Together with Stefan's bit (the programming) I think that this
issue will be quite astounding.
I just hope you will agree with me. Just drop us a supporting
note (with donation?) at the correspondence address. OK?

Stefan's bit

A serene feeling of happyness is now relaxing my brain coils as
I sit here and type away a little. After many nights of intensive
programming, it has been finished.
Well, almost finished.

But before I continue, let me tell you a bit about the programs
that can be run from this ST NEWS. On our LateST NEWS tour
through England, we picked up some nice programs by John Philips
and we got a demo earlier by In Flagranti. Ok, I will run them by
you one by one. (They can be found in the 'Options' menu).

Digital Insanity Demo:

The first demo to be found is my own one. When I found out how
to synchronise rasters, I thought it would be nice to do a stable
raster forming the letters 'ST NEWS'. After some meticulous
coding, I had it working, and after even more meticulous coding,
it even scrolled. This involves the scrolling of instructions
through memory, so basically you can say that the computer is
reprogramming itself about 50 times per second!
Then I experimented with the waving of large sprites and added
the DIGITAL INSANITY sprites to the demo. To enhance the single-
plane sprites, I added a lot of rasters to bring some color to
them.
Later on, I found out that I still had enough time to do three
scrollines and I included quite some scroll-effects.
When ES from TEX send me his ST NEWS logo, and I finished
gasping, I built it into the demo and when I found out that I
still had some time left, I built in my latest trick, fully
flexible sprites. This is the 'rubber' '4.4' sprite.
Well, all in all it took me about 20 nights of intensive
programming to do it all, that makes about 75 hours!!

In Flagranti

This rather unknown coder from Germany who has contacts with TEX
has created quite a remarkable demo exclusively for ST NEWS. It
features no-border, some nice scrolling, sprites and a lot of
color animation. Nice demo Fabian! Thank you!
The only thing is that it eats so much memory that the ST has
to be rebooted.

Enigma demo

When we visited Hewson Consultants and met John Philips, he
showed us some of his demos. The one that stunned us most was the
Enigma demo. John was thinking of a sequel to 'Nebulus', and it
had to include the great rotating as to be seen in that game. But
this time he did it horizontally.
John is currently working on 'Scavenger' (read more about it in
the Hewson article) but who knows, the world might see 'Enigma'
as a full game some day!
Since John creates THE most absurd code, I have not been able to
find his exit routine, so the demo cannot be exited. You will
have to reboot the ST. Too bad.

DigiSynth

Another thing John gave us was a demo of his digital
synthesiser. Now this is not a normal sampler but one that
creates it's own digital waveforms. It is four-channel, but there
will be an EIGHT(!) channel version of it in the game
'Scavenger'. This is quite revolutionary I daresay!
Press escape to return to ST NEWS after it has run.

The picture

When we visited Pete Lyon, we were quite amazed by his artwork
and he gave us a picture from the movie 'Fright Night'. It is
quite awesome, so I suggest you turn down the light, eat some
garlic and behold it....

The music

Four tunes in this issue, 'Knucklebuster', 'Hülsbeck mix',
'Galway mix' and 'Panther'.

Knucklebuster is an original composition by Rob Hubbard. It is
said to be one of the best pieces of computermusic ever made. (A
certain correspondend tends to say this). Anyway, it was also
said that it was impossible to convert it to the ST. Well, Mad
Max has done it!

The Hülsbeck mix is a mix of Chris Hülsbeck tunes from the
Amiga (GLUG!). Also programmed by Mad Max.

The Galway mix is a medley of tunes composed by Martin Galway,
the great music programmer from the CBM 64. Again, our friend Mad
Max has done it...

Panther is a composition by David Whittaker and was especially
converted to the ST by David for ST NEWS. Thanks!

The making....

So there they were.
The files containig the musix, the picture, the demos, the
machine code.
I had the enormous task heaped upon my shoulders to cram them
all into ST NEWS and make sure the whole damn thing worked.

I started out with the music. Soon I found out that the
Knucklebuster music used Timer C and did not return to the
original timer C, so mouse movement was seriously influenced. So
I could do nothing else than hack Jochen's code and find out the
init and play routines. Also, the file was 11K and I only
accounted for 8K music in ST NEWS. This meaned that I had to redo
the memory map for ST NEWS completely.
The other two Mad Max musix were a bit more friendly, so they
were easily built in and David's stuff gave me no trouble or
whatsoever.
At that point the total size of everything started to worry me.
Never ever would it all fit so I had to start compressing
everything. Lucky me, the Lost Boys (would be lost without them)
gave me a nice and very efficient packer. After some figuring
out, I built it into ST NEWS and it worked perfectly well. As a
nice side effect, the packed code it totally scrambled so it
makes life a bit harder for the hackers out there. (Torbjørn!
Zealot!)
Then I wrote a nice select routine so you can pick your music.
After finding out that the Knucklebuster music played way too
fast in monochrome, I had to slow it down a little, according to
screen frequency.
The next thing were the demos. The digisynth demo was easy, it
was small enough to be run with an exec() call. It was a friendly
program, because ST NEWS was not affected by it. Fine.
Then the Enigma demo. A bit too large to exec(). So I had to
load it over my code, unpack it, relocate it and run it. Too bad
about the Gemdos(0) call to exit it; it was nowhere to be found.
This means it cannot be properly exited. Too bad.
Of course, my own demo should not have given me any trouble.
Wrong guess. After two hours of struggling, it ran without
crashing. Good.
Since I sort of turn off timer C, the Galway and Hülsbeck
routines stop playing during the demo. This means I have to hack
them too and find out the play routines and call those in my
demo. Still have to do that.
Also, it turned out to take up so much processor time that
playing the music causes the third scrolline to jump a bit. Darn.
Have some optimizing to do....
After beholding 'Ballistix' for the first time, I sat down and
wrote a similar picture routine. After locating it and patching
it up a little, it built it into ST NEWS. Load the picture,
unpack it, convert it to monochrome if nessecary and 'roll' it
onto the screen. Took me a whole night it did!
It looked horrible in monochrome of course, so I dug up the 4.3
routine and put it back.
Luckily, the In Flagranti demo worked the first time I tested
it.
So how about the monochrome demo?
Still have to write it. Have some ideas about some creative
scrolling, but it is hard to do nice things in 70Hz and with only
one plane....

People with a single sided disk drive might want to enjoy this
ST NEWS. This means I have to make it easy to put ST NEWS on two
single-sided floppies. This means disk-swapping, checking etc..

Then there is still the old ST NEWS code, the pageviewer, the
1ST Word saver, the document unpacker and the disk formatter. All
these and of course GEM and GFA Basic have to run without
hassling each other too much.

And people still complain that ST NEWS has bugs in it.....

Update:

After two nights (about 5 hours) of coding, the monochrome
scroller is here. It is pretty good as it contains some VERY
creative scrolling. At a certain point, it will be twisting,
sinussing, rotating, wobbling and bouncing at the same time.
This results in a very weird scroller, but it is a great one.
It takes up about 80% of processor time, so I have greatly
improved my last monochrome scroller who couldn't do any byte-
sized offsets without using all processor time. This one also
clears the whole area covered by the sinus wave so it is
megamightily (hmm...wonder who you spell that) fast.
It has something to do with a different scroll buffer format,
but I'll spare you the details.
So now I have to hack the two musix and find out the play
routines and built them into my demo.

Saturday, Mr. Karsmakers will come over with his ginormous
amount of articles. My text packer will be put to the ultimate
test and we have to write some scroll texts. One for my color
demo, one for my monochrome demo, one for the In Flagranti demo
and maybe one for the bootsector scroller. I also have to do the
disk swapping stuff and complete the source a bit more.

I got a nice card from Ronny who was at the CareBears party so
I'll write him a nice letter now.

Disclaimer
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.