My few last days in Europe were spent attending a demoparty in Maaseik, Belgium. I always wanted to be in a demoparty and this was my first opportunity to do so. I didn't want to simply attend it. I wanted to actually release a demo! My choice of development platform was the Phillips Videopac G7000 (european name), also known as Magnavox Odyssey² (in USA). In Brazil it was released as "Odyssey" since the original one has never been released here, so the number 2 in the name would not make much sense in the brazilian market.
I've had one of these in Brazil since my childhood, but I did not bring it with me to my Europe trip (as I didn't want to risk loosing it or damaging it for whatever reason). Because of that I tried to buy a Videopac on eBay and have it delivered to Brussels, where my brazillian friend Leandro Lameiro lives nowadays, so that we could develop and showcase the demo in a real machine during Rewired 2010. But then, unfortunately, the french guy who sold me a Phillips c52 didn't send the item at all. Also, I have contacted Sören Gust, trying to buy a development cartridge from him, but he didn't have a spare one to sell. I though about building one myself in some european hackerspace (I have visited many of them during june), but then the fact that the real console was not delivered made me give up and simply focus on emulator-based development.
I knew that it would potentially not be the same as developing in the real machine, but I needed to release something at the demoparty and I wanted to do something wild instead of simply making a PC demo. I have never coded demos before, so I was not expecting to do something awesome. So, my strategy was to do something interesting based on the novelty of it instead of technical sophistication. Indeed, this was (as far as I can tell) the first demo ever for the Videopac/Odyssey² !
I was happy when the emulator properly rendered the results that I intended to see when I implemented the Video Display Controller (VDC) trick to change charactere configuration in the middle of the screen in order to overcome the hardware restriction of only being able to use only 12 characteres oncreen at a given time. Initially I expected that the emulator would simply not emulate the trick at all. When it showed up, I though it was nice and I supposed that it was the correct emulation. My friend Leandro Lameiro have commented about the issue of overlapping characteres (that he had read about in some videopac forum) but we had no way to test it on a real machine to be sure.
I was also interested in releasing the demo as free software, because I am not happy with the overall secrecy aspect of the demoscene. I would like to encourage more people to learn how do code demos and then I think it is essential that we release our source codes and let people learn! So, now that Mark Guttenbrunner (a.k.a. "manopac") has contacted me by email pointing out this discussion on the Netherlands Videopac Forum, it makes me really proud to know that the source code was actually checked out by at least one person who found it useful.
I'd like to give a brief explanation of the name of our demoscene group. When we were planning our participation in this demoparty we have submited an entry in their website informing our name & country so that the organizers and other people in the scene could have a general idea of who would attend. This form obligated us to provide a group name. But I had no group! I noticed that other people (probably in the same context) had simply provided "-" as the group name (a dash charactere). So I just followed the pattern. Then, in the party I have met Niels van Dijkhuizen (NebulaH) who joined me and my brazilian friend Leandro Lameiro and we decided to release the demo under the group name "DashCrew" :-)
There were 7 demos competing at Rewired and our demo ranked 3rd :-D !!!