Algo Dreams: An Interview with Algorithm

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Naveed ‘Algorithm’ Khugiani, about his history in the c64 scene, and to get behind-the-scenes info on his latest demo, Algo Dreams. Read the full interview below.

When did you first use a c64? What is your first memory?

I first used a c64 in 1990 and it was my first computer that could connect to a screen.  My memories of the c64 at that time was gaming for quite a few years using the dreaded tape deck, although i did purchase an action replay cartridge later.  First gaming memories were loading the games platoon and rambo (which came with the c64 – hollywood pack) and I remember the nostalgic feeling of listening to the loader tunes and looking forward to the games being finally loaded.

So what demos inspired you to get into design and development?

I first heard of the demo scene in around 1993 or so and it inspired me quite a lot in particular the idea of pushing the computer further to its limits with graphics and music.  The adverts on the demo’s and scene were in UK computer magazines at the time (Think it was commodore format). I found out that there was this guy who would save demos to tape and sell them (Kenz from Binary zone pd) hence I purchased a few of these and was awestruck.

One of the first demo’s i saw was wonderland 6 and some parts of dutch breeze.   Later on when i purchased an action replay cartridge, I would freeze the demo and look into the code to see how it would work.  At the time I had no access to a disk drive or any documentation, hence I figured out how things roughly worked by looking at the code.

Which coders inspired you to become a coder?

It was Bob mainly. I liked his style and censor designs style of demos with digitized audio and nice atmosphere.

What was your first piece of code?

 

My first piece of code was in machine code on a DIY computer kit that consisted of a Hexadecimal display and 9 led lights.   Had limited 128 byte ram iirc.

On the c64, my first piece of finished code was a two screen interlaced bitmap with a scroller at the bottom.  This was one of the parts in my “fantastic” megademo which was released in 1994. I came across machine language by typing in many pages of data statements in basic which would result in a machine code monitor where I would be able to code the part.  The two interlaced images were created blindly and then mixed together.

Have you ever done a crack?

Never on c64, although on amiga I did extract some games from trackloaders and repacked them for my own use.

Your latest demo, Algo Dreams, was released recently and scored 9/10 on CSDB, were you happy with the reception this release received?

I would not care a single bit personally on what people think of the demo, even if it was 10/10 or 1/10.  I know there are many sensitive fucked up individuals who do not like the type of material i place in a demo.   I only code for my own benefit and practice, and a c64 production that is produced is not only c64 code, but results in me producing and sharpening my skills on the pc side where I develop tools and converters/compressors for the c64 parts.

Algo Dreams is technically brilliant, but also shows strong design skills. What has influenced your style, and do you do any design IRL?

I personally think of Algo Dreams being very non-coherent without any flow (even though parts are linked together with some transitioning)
I would like to think of algo-dreams (as well as my other demos) more as tech demo’s which demonstrate new gfx modes, new methods of audio/video decompression etc and not aimed at pleasing people (aka-crowdpleasers).  Some influences probably may come from a few crest demos demonstrating gfx modes with introduction and then baam, image is displayed etc.

The note on the disk says the demo only took you two weeks to code, can this possibly be true?

Ahhh. Yes indeed in total the demo took two weeks to code.. but that was spread across several months as mentioned in the note.

Each part would take on average an evening or two evenings to finalise.  There was also the coding of the pc converters.

There are so many technical achievements in Algo Dreams, it’s hard to focus on just one. What were your highlights from producing the demo?

Several Highlights as below:
15khz packed sample loop playback with ssdpcm (my own audio/compression method) depacking in realtime while playing back.

Improved and new gfx modes such as the unrestricted 15 color mode (DLSBCI) and the SprMask hires mode + ghostbyte sprite hires.
Stakker Humanoid Part.  If you watch the original video on youtube, you will indeed find that the sequences were taken from there (video).  It utilises disk streaming with realtime 4:1 audio depacking at 10khz along with video decompression at any frame rate from 240 bytes to full screen.

End part.  Many people did not like this demo, but its not common to see realtime ssdpcm1 digitized audio playback of a full song streaming from disk together with packed full screen animation at full frame rate.

You’ve created a number of new gfx modes in Algo Dreams, are you planning on releasing converters and source codes for these gfx modes?

I still have to finalise and place gui’s in my previous gfx modes in past demo’s as well   I won’t release any source code.  Not sure about converters. I don’t like the idea of people who criticise but then they still end up using some of my stuff.  (This has been done before via several people which I won’t name, but some converters have data embedded somewhere which indicates their origin) etc.

Have you ever considered developing games for the C64?

I am considering developing a game (would be my first ever game) idea is for some type of space-harrier shootemup (with some nice tunnels and afterburner type tilting).

screenshot added by algorithm on 2015-01-09 01:05:33What are your plans for the future?

I am also an Amiga coder having created a few demos last year (amigaluscious, 28kbs, impassioned, ssdpcm-mp) all for A500. So may perhaps do some amiga stuff again too.

For the PC I am in the verge of developing a very low bitrate codec which is based on frodigi7 technology (c64 demo to come up at some stage).   This is able to pack a second of audio into 100-200 bytes via packed offsets and amplitude values into sines which are mixed to recreate the audio.   This was demonstrated in a simpler form in my Frodigi6 – c64 demo, that had the whole audio of george michaels faith track in a single file (including all singing, instruments etc).

Ok, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, and we look forward to your future releases!

No problem at all

 

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