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Disk Magazine Reviews
by Cactus/Oxyron

Hello and welcome to the new chapter in "Attitude". There were almost none scene reviews in the past editions of our disk magazine, this will have to change! In this article you can find some opinions about other magazines which are competing with us for the title of the best C-64 disk magazine.

My reviews contain criticism of such elements of each disk magazine like new conceptions, controlling, graphic, music and of course its content. If there's anything more that is worth to be mentioned, it will be done for sure! :)

CACTUS/OXYRON

* "PUBLICATION #48"/CIVITAS *

Zeitgeist/Civitas brought us the new issue of his multi-lingual disk magazine on his 28th birthday (on July 16th). The first impression is the very average logo in the upper part of the screen (it seems that we are doomed to watch this logo all the time). Unfortunately, I couldn't find who was a painter of this masterpiece (as well as I couldn't find who was the main coder of the outfit).

After choosing the English language from two available languages, I went to the "Prologue" chapter (did hope to find some credits for this issue). Well, the magazine crashed. "It sometimes happens", I thought. I tried the second time, without success again. Later on I have it from Zeitgeist that there was no any "Prologue" chapter in this issue of his magazine. Why including the link in the main menu then?

When talking about links... I have to praise Zeitgeist for the great idea of way of moving through the chapters. All those highlighted links give us nice feeling that we're browsing the web with our commie. A big disadvantage, in my opinion, is that the magazine is controlable by a keyboard only. I like to read the magazine by handling a joystick. Well, small recompense is that we're able to jump to different parts of the chapter by pressing appropriate keys, for example we can jump to the end of text by pressing " " double. Another disadvantage of the main menu is slow movement of cursor. We're entering the chapter by pressing "RETURN", but we can't leave it by pressing "RETURN" again, what is very unusual. We can do it by pressing "RUN/STOP" key, but here is waiting an annoying surprise for us. When we leave the chapter the cursor is not at the place where we entered it, but again at the top of the main menu. I hope that this bug will be fixed in further issues of "PBC".

I did not check out the whole source code through, but I suppose that there could be some better ways of coding a nice outfit based on HTML language, never tried to do it myself though. There is a small non-cycled rasterbar below the "Publication" logo, I hope it will be fixed in the next issue, too. There are some extras on the side B of magazine's disk, including some files connected with different chapters inside. There are also some source codes, what is a very good idea (I think that also we'll steal this conception sooner or later), because newbies on the scene can learn coding from the basis and with ready examples. More files are two programs: "E-Z Linker v1.0" by Richard and converter between Koala and Amica formats by Chico.

Now let's skip to the main point of this review: the text contents of "Publication". The only one a bit aggravating thing is slow loading (I don't believe that some short texts need to load in such a long time!). Again we don't know whose irq loader was used because there were no credits in the magazine... :( Overall content of the mag seems to be well-chosen. Every topic is less or more C-64 related what is a very good point. In the main menu all chapters are sorted in related categorries: NEWS, RELEASES, TUTORIALS...

The first available (!) text, ADDRESSES, is standard chapter of each disk magazine. The sad thing is that there are many people listed, who are not active on the C-64 scene anymore (and I suppose that sending them a disk would mean its loose). NEWS chapter is another type of article that can be found in every disk magazine. All the news are sorted by the date of occurrence. There are only 7 (!) news in this chapter (which covers "all" the news from April to June 2002!). Are you people sure that so few things happened to the C-64 scene during those 3 months? RELEASELIST is not a classic list of releases, but full list of all scene wares released during three mentioned months. That's clear this chapter cannot cover each one small release, but there's still quite a big number of new wares (some of them were really new to me!). Like in the previous chapter also wares are all sorted by the date of release. PARTIES is about recent and upcoming copy parties. The chapter named WEB contains news from the net (of course each information needs to be related with the C-64).

In the RELEASES category we can find some magazine reviews ("Rock'n Role #24", "Scene World #3") done by Delta/Cross and some party wares reviews ("Mailmadness Party 3", "Mainframe Party '02", "Symphony Party '02") edited by Calamity Jane and Puterman. Both editors haven't had much work to do as there were not many wares released at those parties. There is also a party report from "Mainframe Party '02", but the author of this text is not mentioned.

The best part of the magazine is made by TUTORIALS. In COMPOSING USING DMC Richard teaches how to create our own instruments in this editor (this is the first part of longer text). Plus for idea! The text must be really well-edited because even I did understand what Richard wants to tell his readers. :) Everything is explained very well, I only missed some description of all those numbers, which don't tell me much what are they for. I hope that the author will be successively adding some more descriptions and explanations about it, because pure examples is not enough for newcomers, who want to try to compose the music on their own. CONVERTING KOALA & AMICA FORMAT is written by Chico and contains the short description of his tool called "Pic-Changer v1.0". There are also differences between KOALA and AMICA formats explained. BASIC AND MACHINE LANGUAGE is a very interesting comparison of (dis)advantages of both languages. The more interesting text about combining them is available only in the German part of the magazine, what a shame! There are some more articles in German language, for example "Der Eigene Upscroller" is about coding the upscroller. Also this text wasn't translated to English language, so only German speaking people can read it. That's all about articles. I have to notice that the English and the German parts have not many differences, only that German part is a bit more extended.

There's possibility of including hires pictures inside articles, that's too bad it is not used in 100%. The last thing to talk about is music. From the main menu we can choose between three tunes composed by Richard, all of them are nice and well-chosen. There is no fading off of music when another tune is being loaded.

All in all: nice work was done by guys in CIVITAS!

Rating: 4/10.

* "SCENE WORLD #4"/PEOPLE OF LIBERTY+PSW *

This PAL/NTSC disk magazine is released in coop between PEOPLE OF LIBERTY (German based group) and PSW (from USA). It works on both PAL and NTSC machines and the idea for creating such a magazine was to bring both scenes closer together.

There's nice introduction in front of the magazine that informs us about Commodore 64's 20th birthday. Unfortunately, we can't leave the intro by pressing SPACE, what is a little bit annoying when we run the magazine another time. Then proportional scroller with some greetings follows...

"Scene World #4" was released on August 2002. The outfit was coded by Macbeth/PSW. Nice logo, which can be seen in the upper part of the screen, was painted by JSL/Samar. Below there's a window with all texts, at the bottom of the screen there are some useful icons.

We can control the arrow by keyboard as well as by joystick. Moving around is standard. Articles' texts are scrolled up and down, I would add here optional scrolling of one line, not the whole page. There are many extra options available by pressing appropriate keys. There's possibility of printing the text by choosing the printer icon at the bottom. No IRQ-loader was used, so chapters are loaded a bit long, and the music is off while loading. One bug I found is when we choose the current article from the menu, it's being loaded once again, even though it's actually in the memory. Excepting this little nonsense, outfit seems to be working fine. The idea of submenus is nothing new, but somehow forgotten in recent disk magazines.

The most important part of each disk magazine is its content. I must admit that "Scene World" offers many interesting chapters, mainly C-64 related, also English language is very good (it's nothing surprising as all texts are corrected by native English guys). We can choose one of four exclusive tunes to listen while reading (composed by Ganja, H.M.M., Floyd and Richard). There's no proportional text displayer, what seems to be a big disadvantage, especially if we want to read the text quick. Let's see what are the chapters about. In EDITORIAL submenu we can find four texts. INTRODUCTION is very originally designed, as there are five different editorials written by five different editors (first one is edited by Nafcom, next ones by Truss, The Overkiller, Merman and Variat). We do feel the optimism of all editors, seems they know what they do! REACTIONS contains... reactions (ed. surprised?), but edited in a very interesting way: in form of small conversation between a critic and an editor. Authors are trying to find out all the reasons of sceners' opinions about their magazine. MORE REACTIONS is article by Nafcom, Merman and Optimus. It is a discussion about the topic "Girls & Computer". In SWO INFORMATION we're informed about many useful things: where we can get the mag (snailmail and net addresses), there are credits, keyboard shortcuts, editors' list and some requests, how we could support "Scene World".

The NEWS section contains five chapters. GENERAL NEWS is standard chapter, their news are taken from many sources, including www.c64.sk (well known C-64 news portal). News are mainly sorted by groups or more important topics (different information from sceners or Internet). Inside PARTY NEWS we can find short info about copy parties and scene meetings that have been held recently, also announcements of upcoming performances. PROTOVISION is article about famous game group, actual prices, its productions (both software and hardware), memberstatus and some more info about PTV can be also found there. Similar chapter is METAL WARRIOR 4 - announcement by Lasse Orni. THE MARKET is one more advertisement by Stefan Schauf and his offer, which contains data CD's, cables and power supplies.

Another submenu is called 20 YEARS, some nice stories can be found there. SHAPE OF C64 is written by Merman. It is short description of some more or less known C64 types that have been being produced during recent 20 years. ACTION REPLAY is cartridge's review by Nafcom. In BBS HISTORY Board Rider tells about old C64 BBS days. Very interesting article, we can find the list of most popular BBS's there. PAL HISTORY is short story about C64 PAL scene and its characteristic features. CRACKING is kind of discuss did cracking cause loss of sales of commercial software. The author (Richard) says it is untrue and also he has nothing against cracking.

PAL SCENE contains two texts. We can read that "Attitude" is one of the favourite C-64 diskmags of The Overkiller (so he stated in the interview with him). There's also report from BACK IN TIME 3, edited by Merman. Inside NTSC SCENE we can find INTERVIEW WITH LINDA TOMNER (who is the new president of a club called "Commodore MaiLink"), reliable demo reviews by Merman, and ALWYZSTND, where the same named guy is writing about his life and discuss some of the basics on copy disk protection.

In PC SCENE there's a chapter called SID TUNES ON PC, written by Truss (it's about playing SID tunes). Another one is MORE EMULATORS (about MS Dos and GW Basic emulators).

Submenu CHARTS contains two texts: VOTING (list of spreaders, fillers, some rules, counting points system...) and THE CHARTS themselves. To be on the list each person needed to receive at least 6 points. ADDRESSES is standard text containing snail-mail, e-mail addies and some webpage url's. ACTIVE LIST is quite an interesting proposal, edited by The Overkiller, there's a list of people, who declare themselves as active ones on the C-64 scene.

All in all: very nice magazine, a lot of nice articles.

Rating: 6/10.

* "PUBLICATION #49"/CIVITAS *

Civitas released another edition of their diskmag very quickly, namely on the 5th day of September 2002. Having a quick look at the outfit overall and we know that nothing was changed. I was also a little bit afraid if any of those bugs, which have been described previously in this article, was fixed. I was right, because still we have the same problems so that I won't repeat them here. If you want to read more about technical side of this issue, you can just come back to the second page of this chapter.

No intro in front of the magazine, again. Of course that's not a problem at all. I just want to state the fact. :) The new "Civitas" logo can be seen in the upper part of the screen (I doubt is it better than the logo from issue #48). The bigger problems of this edition are musics. Let me say it is my private and personal opinion, but I suppose that many of you will agree. The musics are awful, not talking about their quality (because I'd be very content to hear one of those tunes in a demo or something...), but it's complete misunderstanding to include such musics into a disk magazine, where music should rather give a charm to reading than irritate reader.

The next edition that will be their jubilee one is announced to be released in the late Augst 2002. There will be a completely new outfit coded by Black Jack and many interesting articles. Let's hope that one day we'll get also a #100 issue of this magazine. Let's have a look at the contents. Not many texts were provided with this edition. The first article is ADDRESSES, and it still contains a lot of addies of inactive people, even those one who are not on the C-64 scene for years. I doubt if they ever will be removed from this chapter. The next article is NET/IRC ACRONYMS and it is the best chapter in this magazine. Congrats to Zeitgeist for great idea! I was searching for such text long time ago, but never
found it. And now "Publication" gave me a chance to understand the meaning of all those words. OLDSKOOL DEMOS is another interesting article written by Zeitgeist and it is a specific short demo reviews of 5 forgotten one-filed demos released in the 80s.

Then a news-section follows... GENERAL NEWS contains a very few information (was it 7? or 8?). Seems that there's no any good news-supporter in Civitas group. RELEASES is the recent wares list sorted by date of release, no direct Internet links this time. PARTIES is informing about recent and upcoming demo parties and contains such important info like date, place, wares list and results. Different chapters are dedicated to RESULTS of LCP, ROLE and ASSEMBLY arties. INTERNET coverages all the latest happenings in the web (of course only C-64 related net-pages).

Then we have some articles about copy parties that have been held lately. We can read a nice report from ROLE PARTY, written by JSL and Exile. JSL is also the author of VISION party report, while LCP report was done by Puterman. Puterman is the main person doing some party stuff reviews, so we can read reviews of the wares released at ROLE, LCP and ASSEMBLY parties.

DMC TUTORIAL: MORE SOUNDS is the second part of composing course by Richard. This time we can learn how to create drums (some nice examples are also provided) and how to edit tracks/sectors. German part contains one more article, it is "Der Eigene Masken-Editor" by Chico.

And that's all, what I could say about the latest edition of "Publication" magazine.

Rating: 4/10.

CACTUS/OXYRON

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