The Dark Court

Reviews of new c64 demos.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

"Living" by Glance

score: 4/10

I have a confession to make: if it wasn't for my friend and fellow Focus member Ben specifically asking me to do so, I would never have reviewed this demo, as it's rather hard to write about something that leaves you cold. Still, I made a promise, so here goes nothing ..

Glance is a relatively new demogroup from Turkey, founded in May 2004 but just now making itself known to the world. The only real active Turkish scener in the last few years, Nightlord, is part of the team, just like a bunch of ex-Bronx members. Too bad that here their combined experience results in a rather lacklustre product, with only a few moments of mild inspiration before once again falling back to many-times-done-before effects. Graphically it's not very good either, with the much discussed 'frog and the city' picture even succeeding in making my eyes hurt. Not a demo I really want to see again, that much is sure.


At 17:31, Anonymous Ben/Focus said...

I was curious where you'd stand in the rather fierce discussion on CSDB. Without delving into the technicalities of the effects the demo features but rather considering the look&feel and overall design of the demo, you dare to be bold and say this demo is incoherent crap.
This is where you differ from most CSDB visitors; they generally praise the producers so as not to hurt any feelings (in itself nothing wrong with that, obviously).

However, the system prone to up- and downvoting and the extensive use of superlatives have seriously devaluated CSDB rankings and reviews, causing them to become uninteresting at all..

This obviously is Oswald's criticism (I am not sure what his motives are, though). I kind of agree with him here, although I usually do not agree with the (frustrated) way he conveys his criticism.

Anyway, I am glad that at least some of the CSDB visitors are not hypocrite. Perhaps the CSDB public should start to inspect releases more thoroughly and take the time to translate disapproval into suggestion for well-thought out improvements. This would surely be in benefit of the whole scene, would it not? (Do I sound like an old treehugger, or what?)

I am happy, though, that most prominent sceners finally agree that a demo must be more than a mere compilation of graphics, tunes and code. Even die-hard coders nowadays believe that some synergy needs to be achieved!

Well, thanks for your interesting reviews, although I think they are on the short side nowadays.

At 18:50, Anonymous nightlord said...

I sincerely would like to thank both of you tdj and ben for giving well thought reactions to this demo. I am kind of sorry that your reviews focus a bit more on the discussion on csdb than the demo itself. Nevertheless it always gives me pleasure to read several paragraphs of ideas. especially when they are ignited by my productions.

We have learned a lot of lessons from the way people reacted to this demo. First and foremost we will need to be several times more careful about the perfectization of the components. even less than single pixel inaccuracy problems (on average) can get attacked when your part beats the number of dots in the last world record.

secondly this demo never assumed being much coherant. It is a rather old school trackmo.

That does not make it "incoherent crap" in my eyes, though. :) The amount of "art" or "coherency" one should aim in a demo has been a very contraversial subject for me for some time now. We chose to fight the technical challenge of some of the effects in this production. We favored this technical focus against the search for coherency and wholeness this time. That does not mean we will always do so. But that certainly means we do not want the very ingredient of "technical competition" in the scene to die.

once again thanks for your feedback. and rest assured that we "are" listening...

At 18:55, Blogger The Dark Judge said...

@Ben, suffice it to say that I completely agree with you. Bypassing the whole tired 'art vs coding' discussion, I feel that every demo profits from at least some kind of coherency. Personally I always 'dig' it when I notice a recurring theme in any kind of production (so not just c64 stuff, but music, comics, movies, whatever), it just makes the end result seem so much more polished. The tetris-shapes in your very own Dialogue are a perfect example of that.

As for the length of my reviews: if you don't mind I'll stick to it, as it takes me quite some time to write them. I don't just 'blurt' out the words, I carefully chose them in order to convey my true feelings. I think I owe that much to the people actually producing demos, instead of just talking about them like I do ;)

At 19:05, Blogger The Dark Judge said...

@Nightlord: great to see you're such a good sport about this, too often people have taken my words personally (my fave c64 coder being one of them, unfortunately).

But that certainly means we do not want the very ingredient of "technical competition" in the scene to die.

Why should it? Like I said above, even a technical demo can profit a great deal from just a bit more attention to the details, without the quality of the code diminishing.

At 03:11, Anonymous Skate said...

@tdj: First of all, thanks for reviewing our demo.

Glance has a good potential and I think we'll make much better demos than our first demo "Living" in near future. But I'll always love and stand behind "Living" which was a memorable team work for me.

I sometimes think "was it that bad?" when I read some negative reactions on the demo. But it pushes me to make a better one, so thanks for writing your comments clearly. I hope you review our second demo as well (without someone forcing you hehe).

At 18:08, Anonymous Ben/Focus said...

Nightlord & Skate:
Let me first of all express my sincere appreciation for your contribution to our beloved scene, especially from a country like Turkey. I hope the scene will continue to enjoy your products!

I clearly recognize the efforts you went through, especially on the side of the code of the Wolfenstein effect and the plot-torus. As a coder myself I can assure you that I would have serious difficulties even reproducing these effects! The red-square thingy and the chessboard (with the lovely detail of the match being played) are nice too.
Now that I have that off my chest, I can only talk about what the demo did to me, is it not? Well, as you'd appreciate a somewhat more literal review of the demo, let me pay some attention to that..

As far as the audial part goes: the main tune is OK, really, not particularly exciting, but it fits the trackmo and some of the timing (especially after the introduction) is good. Although I am kind of a layman, I believe that the sounds need some (onset) polishing, but -heck- you'd better talk to e.g. Jeff for that..

As far as the overall design goes: I think your demo would greatly benefit from a (uniform) colorscheme. The yellow/brown scheme used in the intro is not continued.. and after that the style becomes a mishmash..
As for the graphics, the Glance and Living logo's in the intro are OK, but after that -sorry- the graphics start to look like last minute work. The glance logo in the chess-part and the upscroll font look totally uninspired. I am not sure what to think of the lion and frog pictures in the demo. I just interpret this as a graphical intermezzo. I am not sure whether they fit in at all, design-wise, though.
Perhaps one of the designers in the crew should safeguard the demo housestyle and the crew as a whole should communicate through a storyboard..

Now that I sit back and think about the release I cannot think of a thread, a common theme in the pictures or effects being shown. The screens are incoherent, the graphics a mishmash. And I am not convinced you really intended to make a genuine oldskool trackmo: this sounds a bit like an excuse.
No, this demo is certainly not bad, in my opinion, but apart from my sympathy for you efforts and -sure- cool coding, this demo is not 'top-10 good' either. Coderpron is necessary for a top demo, but it is not sufficient.

That said, I push the disclaimer that I am not particularly active and I am no ace-coder, so please interpret my remarks as someone ordinary taking time to analyze your demo from his subjective point-of-view on aesthetics.

Let me wrap up by saying once again: I certainly hope to see more where this is coming from!


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