Memory Full

Voxfreax (Benediction)

Written by Hicks in January 2011

Initially published on Push'n'Pop.

Hicks - Hi Voxfreax! You have been involved in the CPC scene for a short time, so can you introduce yourself to the community? When did you get you first CPC and what is your story with this computer?

Voxfreax - Hey Hicks! Of course I can; I guess this is the meaning of an interview after all :) Actually, I am not as quite a newbie as most of you think...

I bought my first CPC on 1991 from a cousin of mine, who preferred to sell this great machine in order to buy an Amiga 500. Luckily for me! At that time, I was only 8 years old and I was spending most of my free time playing games :)

However, a non-active-in-our-days-scener (Camel) was living next to my place at that time and he was always showing me new productions like The Demo by Logon, S&KOH by Overflow and Ultimate MD by Face Hugger. Classic stuff :)

After 2 or 3 years, I got the opportunity to meet some other Greek sceners as well, like Catloc (my first contact actually), JFMC, Rex and Antitec. You see, I was always the youngest user of the Greek CPC scene and everyone was trying to help me. Actually, it was pretty great at that time... Everybody was so motivated to release something on CPC! Some meetings were followed and everything seemed to be great... At the same time, I contacted Nicky One, who was maybe the most active French coder at that period with his DBT team, and Doc Bartoc from Bollaware trying to force myself in the European scene. I remember that I was so impatient to receive their letters as they were always accompanied with discs including new scene-stuff :)

However, after some disagreements with some other Greek sceners and due to my university-studies in Athens, I got “lost” and de-motivated for CPC! Sad, but true... Nevertheless, I was always trying to keep in touch with Antitec and Rex, while I met Optimus somewhere around 2003.

As far as my comeback is concerned, it was in 2006, while bored at work, I was searching the Internet for Amstrad CPC and related stuff. I was really amazed to see that there was a scene site (CPCscene) online with the famous one-liner (at that time, the whole project was ran by Grim)! So, this is how I got into interaction with the scene again in short.

Hicks - At the moment, you are a graphist and as a first contribution you worked for the visuals of Plasmorphy by Eliot and a Color Lines skin (the latest game released by Tom&Jerry). Can you tell us when you started graphics? On which projects are you working now?

Voxfreax - As I stated in my previous answer, I started to interact again with the scene in 2006. As far as I can recall, Snake was requesting for a designer for a demo that he was planning. Until that time, I didn’t know him but I felt the need to start doing something again for CPC! So, I replied to him, saying that I am willing to contribute to what he was planning to do. I remember he was so hesitant regarding my proposal, which actually was pretty much OK since he had never seen any of my work! So, I sent him some previews of my work and I got the job :) However, the demo was never released.

After some weeks, Snake proposed me again to work on another demo called “Space split”. The whole demo was based on a split-raster technique and the aim of it was to display the alien invaders characters with big (actually huge) square split rasters :) The whole concept was actually promising, while most of graphics were under process. However the project was cancelled again for some personal reasons! At that time, I got a bit angry with Snake but soon I understood that sometimes life decides regarding someone’s priorities... Actually, Snake in his way contributed to contact Eliot in order to interact with other sceners as well and of course publish something! Now, Eliot is my guru more or less, while of course I maintain a good relationship with Snake :)

Regarding my “shown” graphics, I would like to say that I am so proud for both of my contributions :)

I have completed some other graphic-screens/logos/fonts that none has ever seen! However, my first contribution was made for Color Lines as you correctly mentioned above! I was so anxious for the quality of my work! Really, the CPC scene might not have a high level of design but for sure has great “pixelmen” who can create simply fantastic static pictures! However, things are getting to change now with some recent productions!

Plasmorphy was a project started with Eliot in order to contribute to the AE2010 demo competition. I remember endless night-chats with Eliot in order to optimize our work. Unfortunately, the demo has not been completed until now, but we all (Eliot, Factor6 & me) hope that motivation for this project will return one day in order to complete it, since there are a lot of other stuff and effects that have not been included in the released “beta” version. Let’s see :)

Concerning the other projects I currently working on, I do not like to say big-fat words before their actual release! However, I can provide a short summary of them... There is a new demo being prepared by Eliot (yes, again :) and myself. Another project is “A step above the step beyond”. I think its title describe precisely what we (Rex, Optimus, Antitec and myself) aim to do! I also hope to complete a screen for the Forever graphix compo and to a top-secret project that will kick Vanity’s ass! :) Sorry for not revealing a lot of information but I consider it as a “motivation-killer”!

Hicks - What inspires you to make graphics? Are you using OCP, Eliot's custom tools or PC tools?

Voxfreax - Of course women! But I also have to admit that pure inspiration derives from beer, booze and everything that contains alcohol in general! :)

Seriously speaking, my inspiration depends on my mood... Sometimes I try to create a funny picture while sometimes I try to paint in a more serious manner. Most important, I try to maintain a comic-style in my graphics by any means.

Besides the above, I spend a lot of time watching demos and graphics from other scenes (mostly c64). There are lot of cases where these c64 guys bring pure innovation as far as the design of a demo is concerned. Nevertheless, I try to keep myself informed regarding the ZX and Amiga scenes as well.

When I start to work in a new production, I try to build a concept in my mind and then have an honest, (and in some cases a demanding) conversation with the coder! This step is critical since I do not believe that a coder has nothing to do with the overall design of a demo! In my opinion, coders have to play their own part and of course contribute in their way to the overall presentation of an effect! After all, they are the ones that code all the stuff! Of course, designers provide them with ideas and they improve the whole thing by providing coherence to the final presentation of the demo, but coders have to participate as well! Same goes for musicians.

As far as the design applications being used by me are concerned, I have to admit that I mainly use OCP. I am more accustomed using OCP and, yes, I consider it as the best pixel-art application in the CPC era! The latest version of Claudia (the CPC-booster edition) has great features as well, but I am not yet an expert using it! I am improving though! :) In any case, Claudia provides a very fast (maybe the fastest) editing feature for a picture, which is very helpful for the designers. Regarding the cross-painting tool, I mainly use Photoshop. Grafx2 is also nice, but I am still not that familiar with it! However, I must admit that Pulko has made a terrific job until now! Hope he will continue!

Hicks - You were at Amstrad Expo 2010, it seems that it was a great experience for you! What is your general opinion about the welcoming of the newcomers on the CPC scene? And as a newcomer, have you some suggestions in order to improve their integration? (to my mind, interviewing them is a good solution!)

Voxfreax - Amstrad Expo was a dream that became true! Really, I was so happy when I booked my tickets and confirmed to Eliot that I was able to travel to Coutances. I admit that I had a real great time there and I acknowledge that every participant contributed in his/her (since Eliot’s, CeD’s and Iron’s girlfriends were there for some time :) way to make me feel like home! All guys there helped me integrate better and thus I feel obligated to all of them since there were not all the time speaking in French! :) I hope that I will be able to provide them with the same quality of assistance as they did when they will come to a Greek meeting (if ever organized) as well! I do not regret even one second of the whole meeting, even if I had to sleep all three days on the floor! At least, I got to interact with great people, while the floor helped me to straighten my back :)

Regarding the interviews, I could not agree more with your suggestion. Interviewing a newcomer is a very nice idea. What I would suggest in addition to the above, is to perform a not that strict criticism. That goes not only for the newcomers but also to the “older” users. I do not mean to stop criticism at all! No way! Something like this will destroy our evolution as a scene in turn! Criticism is beneficial when it is made in order to point out someone’s imperfections in order to improve him abilities and skills. Hope I made myself clear!

Another suggestion would be invitations to newcomers for a forthcoming production. For instance, Tom&Jerry gave the opportunity not only to me, but also to other newcomers, to show their potential skills and demonstrate what they can actually do! This way, “older” users can have a small sample of someone’s capabilities and of what actually someone is able to design! And of course, this way helps the newcomers get known to the whole scene...

Hicks - What is your opinion about the Greek CPC scene and prods (past and present)? Why do you think that there is this amount of people still interested in CPC in this country? It would be nice to have a strong Greek group as Dirty Minds tried to be in the past! Possible?

Voxfreax - I do not think that there is an actual CPC scene in Greece nowadays. Sad but true! Apart from Optimus, Rex and myself, I do not know if any other guy is actually interested in coding/ designing/ composing something new for CPC!

Some years ago, there were a lot of people involved in our scene... I can recall Greek meetings with 18 participants from every part of Greece! However, things are totally different in nowadays. Antitec, Catloc and FG Brain are not active any more, each one for his own reasons. Most of you know that Catloc is dead since some years. FG does not want to participate in any project despite some tries made in order to persuade him to install his CPC and start coding again some time ago. Antitec has no motivation for the moment I guess... But he promised to work on ASB2 with the rest of us (Rex, Optimus and me). Let’s see if he will keep his promise :)

Actually, there is an augmentation of CPC users in Greece during the past five years! Some retro-related websites is perhaps the most reliable evidence of my above statement... I believe that the evolution of Internet helped somehow, since everyone is allowed to get in contact easier with everyone else.

As far as I know, there are some guys who are mainly users, mostly interested in watching a new demo production, playing games and repairing existing hardware! I do not know if there are other users apart from Rex, Optimus and myself working on a real CPC project (i.e. for the real machine; I do not mean CPC-related project in the Internet!). I really hope that there will be some more Greek “new blood”! :)

As for the prods, my favorite Greek demo is A Step Beyond by Dirty Minds team! X-Kore has potential and demonstrates high coding abilities but lacks design! Chaos’ demos were all pretty much the same, but Catloc’s Premiere MD was somehow better than Chaos’ prior releases. In my opinion, “SEX” and “Ovation” are ones of the best CPC discmags not only for the Greek scene but also internationally... “Focus” was also great, but too serious for my taste.

As far as Dirty Minds is concerned, I truly hope that Antitec will find his motivation again soon and will start coding again. Optimus is always there and has great coding abilities and ideas! But he needs more help since sometimes he is getting “bombed” from Rex and myself regarding new demo ideas and potential effects for various projects! I guess he can live with it though :)

Hicks - On CPC, what are your favorite demos and games? And in your opinion, what is the most important in doing a demo and a game? Do you have any “graphist dream”, just waiting for a coder's help?

Voxfreax - Hmmm... Tough one! Although I spend a lot of time watching various CPC demos, my favorite demos are:

Sappy/ Semilanceata;
From Scratch/ Vanity;
Midline Process/ Arkos;
DTC/ Arkos, Overlanders;
A step beyond/ Dirty minds.

As far as games are concerned, I consider myself a huge fan of Orion Prime, which is the best ever game developed until now for CPC! However, I am not really a big gamer! I do not know; I guess I am not that addicted to games anymore.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that I enjoyed games such as Chase HQ, Gryzor and Prehistorik during my teen years, while I spent millions of hours competing with my brother on “ATV simulator”! Really addictive when it comes to a two-player game! :)

My dream is to release what I am working on! I have already a lot of projects and the best way to complete them is to really focus on them... Some years ago, I was thinking of creating a slideshow, but I am not that motivated in something like this anymore. I am getting more and more interested in demo-effects and how they can be demonstrated better mixed with graphics. But for this, you will have to wait in order to see if there will be any strange “invasion” in your CPC :)

Perhaps, in the future, I might try to design a game in CPC, but I know that such a project is very time-consuming and, in most of cases, the project is getting delayed and more delayed and even more delayed...

Hicks - Do you plan to go to the incoming parties, e.g. Forever, Revision, Amstrad Expo? Generally, are you interested in other demoscenes? Be sure that you will have more success with your Push’n’Pop T-shirt! :)

Voxfreax - Depends on where I will be this year! The last two years, I was living in the Netherlands where I was doing my master course, but I had to move back again to Greece at the end of 2010. I do not know for how long I will stay here, since I am planning to moving back to the UK or the Netherlands. I am still waiting for some things to be “tidied-up” in order to get a final decision.

However, I can assure you that I will try my best in order to attend another meeting even if starting from Greece this time will cost me a small fortune! :) You will all be informed through this website! Hopefully, I will be able to demonstrate the great Push’n’Pop t-shirt to the other sceners before getting destroyed from all-time wearing! :)

Hicks - The last words are for you...

Voxfreax - First of all, I would like to thank Push’n’Pop for providing me the opportunity to express my ideas and share my opinions. It’s been a great feeling, even though I was a bit afraid in the beginning, since I cannot be compared to other designer “gurus” of our scene!

Second, I would like to suggest to more “advanced” users to consider inviting guys from other scenes in their forthcoming productions! For instance, while working on Plasmorphy with Eliot, we were searching for a musician in order to compose a tune for it. After some serious thinking, we both came up with the fact that we desperately need some “new blood” in our scene. With this thought in mind, we contacted Factor6 in order to let him know of what we were working on and, of course, to ask him if he was interested in composing a tune for a CPC production! Not only he accepted immediately, but he was always speaking with so much enthusiasm regarding his new CPC-music-career :) His comments on Pouet can verify this! Same thing happened with Sice, who was invited by Optimus! So why not to bring some “new blood”? :)

Finally, I would like to say something important for everyone here. We are such a small scene to keep the fighting going on among us! I do not want to speak particularly for things and stuff that happened here or elsewhere during the prior weeks or months, but I get the feeling that we are not that united and that a lot of intrigues occurring as a result of unknown-to-the-majority past actions! I believe that’s a pity! I do not refer to competition neither to criticism! I refer to pure intrigues! Competition, as well as criticism bring improvement of existing stuff and, in turn, evolution!

Thank you all for reading and hope to see your comments/ opinions!
Have a great 2011 and all the best to all of you!