[The comeback you don't expect........]
Mod3m and Darkage are back in business

Life is good when you have a nickname with a number in it.

Mod3m of Darkage nickname's was originally "Modem", but at some point he changed it and surrendered to the dark side of eliteness. Some days ago I noticed a production from Darkage at Revision 2023. Yes, Mod3m and Darkage were making a comeback after more than 20 years.

So, I quickly wrote to Paolo (Mod3m) and asked him a bunch of questions.

A phong-shaded Mod3m with a rotozooming background

First of all, cheers for seeing you back at Revision 2023; more or less, about 20 years have passed from the last demo by Darkage. What sparked your reunion and the will to release something at a party?

Mod3m: there must be something in the air that made coming back in business a lot of Amiga sceners from the nineties. I'm talking about Melon, Lemon., Andromeda, Haujobb, Ephidrena, just to cite a bunch. It has been, for me, about one year since I felt the desire to return back to the scene and make a new Amiga demo, and slowly, I started to remove the dust from AsmOne and write some new routines. I have to admit I didn't remember anything, in the beginning! Luckyly, the memories started to come to surface, and now I feel fresh as in the nineties :) Seems that the scene can live without Mod3m, but Mod3m can't live without the demoscene. It's a small part of my life that gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction.

Where does the name "Neocolora" come from? Is it linked to Darkage's old demos (neo, neo 2, etc.)?

Partly, yes. One of the reasons that pushed me back to programming on the Amiga was completing "neo 3", that I started coding back in 2001, but that I didn't finish. Actually, only two effects where ready, effects that I kept in Neocolora, but the rest was produced between 2022 and 2023. When I proposed the name "Neo 3", Virgill (one of the authors of the soundtrack) shared some alternative names, and everyone liked "Neocolora".

But... what did you really do in those 20 years? (easy question ๐Ÿ˜)

When my "career" on Amiga finished, both as a scener and as a commercial programmer, I switched to music. In 20 years, I published a lot of Cds and played in more than 1200 concerts around the world. If you are curious about what I did, you can visit the website www.pabloraster.com, where you can find a lot of info. I also wrote two biographies, one related to the Amiga period ("Darkage Software, la storia") and one that tells about the 20 years I spent making music ("Pablo Raster, 20 anni in Dub") (editor's note: the books are in Italian, but this is a good opportunity to learn it).

Which platform do you use to write code? Do you use an emulator or an original Amiga?

Mod3m: I still have my A1200 Tower with a 68060 CPU, PPC and Bvision, but for practical reasons I mainly use WinUAE. A friend (and Amiga scener) dumped my Amiga hard disk, so when I use the emulator I have exactly the software and configurations that I used in the nineties. Also, I configured WinUAE to show the typical scanlines of CRT monitors, and I use a Waffle drive for the floppy disks, so the "sensation" is similar to the one a real Amiga gives.

Did you ever thought of producing something on PC?

Oh, in real life I program on PC (I stopped playing music in 2020 and I switched jobs), but I'm not attracted from the idea of doing a PC demo.

The "bounce" effect in Neocolora

How is the screen "bounce" effect, from many Darkage demos, and even in Neocolora, done? Any trick in particular?

Amiga equals multitasking, and that bounce effect is executed in an interrupt regardless of how much the CPU is loaded; so, if I'm for example drawing a texture mapped object that takes several frames to be drawn, I can always bounce the screen at 50fps independently. Moreover, I can also fade the screen, move sprites, and do many other things.

Is there any PC production that impressed you in those years (or to the Amiga people is still forbidden to watch PC productions ๐Ÿ˜)?

Mod3m: ahaha, no, from 2017, even we Amigahns can use the PC :-D There are some recent PC demos that I liked in particular: Ziphead and Number One by CNCD and Fairlight (Finland a go-go, incredible design), Return by Rebels& Calodox (especially for the soundtrack by Alkama) and, from the latest Revision, Mechasm by Fairlight; however, I consider the latter a "half demo", because the excessive weight (1GB!) makes it more suitable as a wild demo.

What do you think of the shortage of 64k intros on the PC platform? Seems that Amiga hasn't the same problem; for example at Revision there were 10 64k Amiga intros...

Mod3m: I'm a bit sorry for this situation, because I think that the 40k and 64k formats are ideal and very well calibrated. Anyway, I've seen some 4k intros on PC (like the one by LJ and Virgill) that make your jaw drop!

Is there a coder or a group (even not well known) that inspires you in the Amiga or PC scene, even from the past, and why? And in the (quite dead) Italian demoscene?

Ram Jam were always an inspiration, for me, particularly Randy/RJ. I owe a lot to him; I would haven't been able to write 680x0 asm code without him.

When is the next issue of Showtime coming out?

Mod3m: tomorrow morning! Eheh, I'm joking. I would really like to set up an editorial staff and release new issues (I also picked up the source code and compiled it; everything works), but considering the short time I have, I don't think it will be possible. However, in the paper magazine Passione Amiga I am curating a large section dedicated to the Amiga demoscene.

Yes, we've found the secret part in Neocolora

You hinted at a new comeback, with a new production. What can you tell us about that?

Mod3m: Yes, there is the desire and the commitment to make a new demo this year, and thanks to the collaboration with Dip (who is much, much better than me at writing code) I think we will be able to complete it. I'm looking at Xenium 2023 in Poland as a possible release party, but we'll see. Also, I've started writing a musicdisk engine that I hope to finish this spring; the goal is to release the musicdisk (which is still unnamed) at regular intervals, perhaps every 3-4 months.

Do you think that AI image generators (Midjourney, etc.) and pre-baked 3D engines (see the Unreal engine) will bring value to the scene or definitely corrupt it?

Mod3m: As I said before, I prefer the demoscene to remain on well-defined platforms, where all coders have the same features available; if it has been decided that on PC it is fine to integrate ready-made AI and 3D engines, I think that it would be necessary to regulate common specifications, beyond which we no longer speak of demos but of wild demos.

Thanks to Mod3m for his time. I think that the Amiga scene won't stop surprising us in the future.

posted by friol at 4/23/2023 05:43:00 PM - under: - comments? here (0)

the Tunnel - demoscene blog(c) friol 2o18