Anders Tornblad, web developer

I'm all about the web

Phenomenal & Enigmatic, part 1

Twenty-two years ago, the Amiga demo scene was extremely active. The boundaries of the little 16-bit miracle machine were stretched a little bit more for each new release, and a special breed of programmers was created. We loved efficient algorithms, we enjoyed squeezing out as much as possible from every CPU clock cycle, and we really liked showing off to each other.

Back then, I was a decent 68000 assembler programmer, but nowhere near being among the greatest. I knew my way around the Copper and the Blitter, I knew how trigonometry and vector mathematics worked for creating 3D worlds, and I understood that the "shadebobs" effect on the Amiga was nothing more than repeated half-adders with carry, using the "Fat Agnus" chip's dedicated memory block manipulation instruction set.

My favorite demo from 1991 was Enigma by Phenomena, programmed by Olof "Azatoth" Lindroth, with music by the amazing Jimmy "Firefox" Fredriksson and Robert "Tip" Österbergh. The combination of music and direction with some really good programming set a new standard for demos on the Amiga.

First attempt

About four years ago, I started replicating the Enigma demo in C# and Silverlight 2, just as a side-project. I got as far as the opening scene and the "TV Cube" effect, which I must say I really nailed! But then I grew tired of the effort, and put the whole project aside. It just wasn't rewarding enough, but I did re-awaken some of my old "hacking the bare metal" programming skills.

Come 2013

For the last couple of weeks, I've been working from scratch, exploring what is possible using just a HTML5 AUDIO element, a CANVAS element, and a truck-load of JavaScript. Instead of trying to recreate the exact Enigma experience, I "borrowed" the amazing music, and did something of my own, inspired by Enigma.

I'll write a bit about each scene in the following weeks, but for now you're welcome to check out the fruit of my effort at demo.atornblad.se/enigmatic

Links

Phenomenal & Enigmatic, part 1 (this part)
Phenomenal & Enigmatic, part 2
Phenomenal & Enigmatic, part 3
Phenomenal & Enigmatic, part 4

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