viznut / demos

I started to participate in demoparty-based competitions in the beginning of 1996. I had already been writing silly games for MS-DOS under the joke group label "PWP", so it felt quite natural to extend the PWP mindset to the demo world.

The PWP games had already developed a set of reoccurring characters, the most notable of whom was Pelulamu, a propeller-headed kid who loves computer games. This character started to appear in demos as well, and the demos eventually became stories about the adventures of Pelulamu and his friends.

The demoscene of the mid-1990's was still mostly an arena of technical competition, often leaving artistic creativity, design and narrative in the background. Many groups just wanted to obtain personal recognition by showing that they can make the same effects everyone else can. I didn't want to choose this path because I thought there was something horribly wrong with it, so I decided to produce something original and controversial instead.

Since the very beginning, PWP productions had been using the standard text mode (80x25 cells, later also optional 80x50) found in nearly every conceivable IBM PC variant. All the graphics were colored "ANSI" pictures, similar to those common in the BBS'es at the time. In addition to static pictures, PWP demos also included typical pixel-based demo effects rendered in character blocks rather than actual pixels.

The music of the first PWP demos were made by various people, but I soon started to compose the soundtracks on my own. All of the classic PWP songs by me were simple 2- or 3-channel chiptunes played thru either the FM chip of the Adlib/SB or the ill-famous PC speaker. The chirp-and-beep sounds seemed to fit in quite well with the character-block graphics. In around 1996-1998 I also released several tracker-based chiptunes independently of demos.

The system requirements of PWP productions were pretty low, and it can be said that the PWP demos work on "every IBM PC compatible" that runs a DOS variant, all the way down to the original 4.77-MHz machines. Also, all the classic PWP productions are well under 64 kilobytes in file size. All this can be seen as a conscious protest against the stupid trend that was also visible in the PC demoscene: the desire to have more and more colors, bytes and processing power.

The last demo of the "classic" PWP series was Final Isi, the winner of the 64K intro competition at the Abduction 1998 party. In a couple of years, I had found a way to please the audience, which wasn't perhaps very fair for those who saw their own serious productions being surpassed by "lame jokedemos".

In 2000, I wrote a couple of "PWP-style" demos for UNIX variants. These productions used a "graphics" library called PWPlib, which was designed to turn any terminal into a low-resolution pixel framebuffer. I also wrote some semi-serious graphical stuff for UNIX but it eventually became clear that operating systems simply sucked for the stuff I wanted to do at the time. Vintage homecomputers, however, appealed to me much more, so I decided to move my focus completely into VIC-20 demos.