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Up Close & Personal: HCL/Booze Design
by Magic/Nah-Kolor

HCL in person

Magic: Welcome HCL... Thank you very much for being a part of this interview. According to you CSDb profile your last interview was in 1999. Is this correct? Or are we missing something here? :)

HCL: No, that may be correct. I made some interviews back then after the release of my comeback demo "Soul" in 1998. I remember I felt like the new kid in town back then, some dark times had just passed the C64 scene with very few surviving groups from the 80s and early 90s. "Soul" was very warmly welcomed and I got my 5 minutes of fame. I surely said one or two things that I regret in those interviews and I guess my stupidness shined through enough to be let alone for a while... Until today it seems. :)

Magic: What does HCL stand for and how did you pick this nickname?

HCL: It was stolen from an Asterix album, the cartoon... There was a guy called HCL in one of the stories, I think he was a spy... I think it refers to the acid, but I didn't know by then. :)

Magic: You are living in Sweden. How is Swedish life? Could you describe what a normal day in the life of HCL looks like?

HCL: Haha... Swedish life is very special. I wake up with my wife on my right side, and the mistress on my left... Then to the special part. :) No, honestly... My life is not very glamorous. I'm diggin' in my dirt every day to get some 5 minutes in front of the C64 emulator in the evening. I have 3 kids between 3 and 6 years old, so there's a lot of focus on them of course. In Sweden, a real man does at least 50% of the child care and house keeping, so that plus working some 7 hours a day you're pretty much done at 8-ish when the kids finally go to sleep. :) But we're privileged of course, it's just a wonderful life compared to everything you see on TV today, depending on what channel you choose of course. I guess it's your own choice if you want to feel lucky or miserable by using the zapper. :) At my current occupation it is not possible to do any C64-ing during working time, which is bad. I think that opportunity would be good for both me and the company... I keep myself inspired filling up 5 minute gaps here and there, which makes it easier to take on the less inspiring working tasks... Because most of us do not have inspiring jobs, at least not if you compare to how inspiring C64 coding can be. Even if you develop an interesting product or an application, there's always a lot of useless stuff going on at work. Developing 10 lines of code may take days because you have to document it, test it, update the scrum-board, etc. Stuff that is truly boring!

Magic: What is your current occupation which denies C64-ing during work hours (how rude! :))?

HCL: I'm working as a contractor in a vehicle business... Software development.

Magic: It's more than a year ago since last X (at the time I am asking you this question). How do you look back at X 2014 and would you consider visiting pre-X in Amsterdam to some day?

HCL: Not likely. I am a father of 3, and I am happy if I can spend Friday + weekend to visit a party. Being away for a whole week on data-purpose would be hard to motivate and would require an equal payback to my wife as well. :P X 2014 however was the best party experience in a long time. I took Friday off and arrived late Thursday in Amsterdam, meeting up with the other Booze Designers. We went out in town and met Fairlight and Censor guys, Norwegians and a bunch of hangarounds. The scene spirit was on top and I believe it was as good as a pre-party ever gets. On Friday we had the whole day to finish most of the demo while finding the way to the party place by train. The party itself was truly great, and this time I had quite alot of time to spend with all the party people, joining the Polish national table and visiting the different acts in the basement. Everything about the party went on smooth, even the compos were on schedule for the first time in history. :) In the end I think having enough time for the traveling is one of the keys to having a great party experience.

At the next page you see a photo of HCL and Dane. Thanks to HCL for giving a photo for this interview.

HCL - demos, Booze Design, coding, and what keeps him going

Magic: Let's have a look at the best demos of 2015. Could these be Fantasmolytic, Rocketry and Goatlight? What do you think of these productions? Any demo missing in this list according to you?

HCL: Rocketry is my favourite from 2015, no doubt. I am a true fan of Clarence's demos, and this was one of the biggest wow-moments in a long time. Chorus is also a small team of a handful of great artists, just like I want Booze Design to be. It takes some guts to release a demo with only +/- 5 parts today, but if you have the quality that Chorus has, it's just no problem! Otherwise I think Qi by Hoaxers is a very nice demo from 2015. Perhaps I'm a bit biased because we in Booze Design did our first REU-demo this fall. In Qi the REU-effects are intentionally used to give the demo a unique look, though of course you don't need a REU to make your demo look unique... Joe's graphics also help to make the demo feel like one piece. Aerial Core by Extend was also very fresh! PETSCII and random bugs, but it all fits very well together. Perhaps not so many mind-blowing effects but they managed to create a great atmosphere, which is very hard to put a finger on... If I knew how to do it, I would have it in all my demos. :)

Magic: In the course of this interview Booze Design released Treu Love. A one file demo for the REU expansion. What can you tell our readers about the developement of this demo and the stir on CSDb about some bugs? Also will you try to buy a real REU now? :)

HCL: I don't buy stuff for the C64 anymore, it just comes to me. ;) The stir on CSDb was just me trying to hype the demo as much as I could. If you don't have the right effects, or lack graphics or skillz, instead you can just make a lot of noise about it and eventually people will get interested anyway. I learned that from the big guys, you know. :) The development of Treu Love was not very different from a normal demo, except that I had to learn how the REU works this time. We came up with a few ideas of how to use it and then tried to design a few effects around that. The downside with more memory is that it takes time to fill it. :) The REU is not very flexible, so generally what you do is generate various kinds of graphics and then display it with as much variation as you can. After a while I recognized that I had a few parts that would work well as generating parts, effects that could be small in size and let most of the raster time be used for generating gfx for the following part. So in that way, almost every second part is a generating part. I feel it was harder to keep the pace in this REU-demo than it usually is when loading from disk.

Magic: What challenges, code-wise, are there left on the C64? What can we expect in the coming years regarding breaking new boundries? Any effects you always wanted to make on the C64 but still didn't get around to do it?

HCL: Oh, if I knew that, I would most likely have done them already! It's not like there is a whole bunch of research been made, and we're just working our asses off to catch up... You have to be very creative to find out new effects, or even variations of effects that are worth coding. I think my strength is that I know a little of everything, which makes me able to combine for example screen timing with calculations and achieve something that wasn't possible with just one of them. Luckily a demo is more than just code. I am doing my best to do interesting effects for our demos, but the visual and audial parts are just as important.

Most ideas that I have had, I have already tried in one or another way, but not all of them have ended up in a demo. There are a few effects that are waiting for the right technique to be possible. Maybe one day you will see them, or they will stay impossible. :) But you want a teaser, right? One effect that I'm hoping to do is a paralax-scroller, and in due time I think I will find a way do to it the way I want.

Magic: What can we expect from Jailbird, Valsary and Mirage in future Booze Design releases? Especially Jailbird has been absent in Booze Design productions in the last years. Any reason for this? And what about Mirage? He is the most recent member in Booze Design (2014) but considered one of the best graphicians on the C64 scene.

HCL: Oh, if I knew. :) I am perhaps liberal to these questions, but I think life happens to us all the time. We can not be 100% dedicated to this hobby year by year, we need breaks, sometimes more, sometimes less, and it is very individual. I hope that members of Booze Design are in here because we want it. This is not a factory, even if we do have to deliver on deadlines now and then. I hope our members find it inspiring to do demos together and feel free to realize their own ideas and get support to do that. That is how I feel it. Who is doing most of the graphics for our next demo, I don't know.

Magic: Could you tell us your most special scene moments which spring to mind? What is it that keeps you going?

HCL: Most special moments... Oh, there are so many great moments I have experienced in the scene... So many great people out there, and that is to all of you reading: It's you that keep me going! So, how can I pick one special moment?! TCC 1993 was of course a very special party where I was in the demo compo for the first time. LCP 2011 was a very nice party where we celebrated 20 years... The X 2008 demo compo was surely one of the greatest moments for me and the group. There was a build-up of expectations before the compo, and as usual Oxyron sent their drunkest guy to me when I was at the bar, telling me a lot of crap like Axis is only releasing an Arsenic demo this year and blah blah... while trying to lure out information from me about the Booze demo... :) When the compo finally started there were at least 3-4 demos very capable of winning just any compo. The feeling of winning there was probably once in a lifetime.

What keeps me going... Well, it is probably a combination of many things. There are so many areas to explore, when I'm tired of doing VIC tricks I move on to develop ByteBoozer... And when I'm done with that I do some 3D, or disk loader... Not to mention all different kinds of demo effects you can do, and the C64 provides that platform with preset limits that makes it worth it. But like I already mentioned, all the great people in the scene, plus the ability to work together with great guys in totally self-driven projects... that is probably what makes me coming back to the C64 time after time.

Looking back at Comaland

Magic: How do you look back on the demo Comaland? Group cooperation demo's spoiling it for the rest of the scene? Setting barriers to high with so many people involved?

HCL: I'm trying to avoid the swamp of demo reviews in this interview, especially since this demo had some negative impact on my scene life. :) If I felt it necessary I may already have posted a comment about Comaland on CSDb, or perhaps I have avoided that as well. You suggest that the barrier is set higher with so many people involved, I'm not sure. If anything, you reduce the competition by merging three demos into one. That's at least two demos less to compete against. Then the final product becomes sort of overwhelming because it is so big, and while quality is hard to compare, size is easier.

Well, I feel like I have already said too much. Anything I say about Comaland will be judged from the winner/looser perspective. I can only say it has nice colors, and I like the flowers, etc. As soon as I come with the slightest critisism I just hear sounds of bitterness in my ears. I focus on demos and other things in life that give me positive energy, no matter the reasons behind it, but Comaland is not one of those things.

Magic: What negative impact had Comaland on your scene life?

HCL: Loosing is often negative.

Magic: Of course loosing can be negative, but how did it influence your scene life? Are you working very hard to win X 2016 (and have your revenge) or did it result in having a break of it all?

HCL: Well, "impact" was maybe a strong word... I'm just missing that C64-embedded glass-sculpture so damn much, it hurts me every day. ;) We'll see about X 2016. ;)


Magic: Thanks again HCL for this interview! We wish you and Booze Design all the best with your X 2016 demo. Please give some nice last words for this interview. Also... Can you promise our readers one thing? Do the best, you guys can, to win the X demo compo again?

HCL: Thank you, it has been an interesting journey for me as well... :) Once you start to read through what you have written, sometimes you wonder what kind of asshole wrote it. :) I try to uncensor myself and write from the heart, but when I'm too ugly inside I just have to correct it a little... It probably shines through anyway.

As for X 2016, we rarely have a dedicated compo for our demo projects. Sometimes it happens, sometimes the timing is just right, well... Mostly the demos end up in some compo anyway, but I try to avoid that way of working. But OK, I can promise you and everyone that we will do our best to win the X demo compo again... One day. :)


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