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Interview With Raven
by Cactus/Oxyron/Padua

"There's no C64 scene in Israel since The Force stopped all activities back in 1992, there are only 2 active C64 guys left, including him." Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce Raven/64ever to you in his first ever interview. This coder became quite popular after releasing his "Insomnia" demo. Reading this interview you have a chance to know him better...

CACTUS/OXYRON/PADUA: Hello Yariv! How are you?

RAVEN/64EVER: Hi Cactus! I'm fine, thank you, feeling great doing my first ever interview. :)

C: In the beginning could you please tell our readers something about yourself?

R: My name is Yariv Gilgun, I'm 30 years old and currently live in Israel. I work as a PC (bleh) programmer for a living, although I never enjoyed it much... Besides my (obvious) C64 addiction I'm a big movie buff and a sucker for everything 80's, especially the music. :)

C: As you live in Israel, would you please say a little bit about the C64 scene in your country?

R: Well, there's no C64 scene here since The Force stopped all activities back in 1992. As far as I know, there are only 2 active C64 guys left, including me. :) We never had a demo scene here. All groups concentrated on cracking and importing. The only group that formed a demo section was The Force, in late 1988. Those demos were mainly spread overseas and it was not easy getting them here. Most of the C64 users here were gamers. The life of a demo-freak wasn't easy. :)

C: Who is that second active scener in Isreal?

R: Reaper, who is Lax's brother. He's not very active but helps out whenever he has time.

C: How many people do you think were active on the Israeli C64 scene in its whole history? And who became famous outside the country?

R: In its peak, the Israeli scene had something like 3 "big" groups, which had overseas contacts and lots of smaller ones which mainly put their intros on imports done by the bigger groups. I can't really give you a number of overall sceners, but I estimate something around 200 group members overall. Good coders were rare though... I can count them on one hand. :) Gamers is a totally different thing. The C64 ruled here during the 80's.

The only group that became known outside Israel was "The Force". The only single person I know of who really became famous is ofcourse the composer, Guy Shavit of SidChip-Scratchers.

C: Yes, Guy Shavitt was really great composer. I suppose you don't know what's up with him today?

R: It was a long time since we last talked but as far as I know he's married and working for a software company. Unfortunately he has no interest in composing for the C64 again...

C: When actually did you enter the C64 scene?

R: I got my first Commodore, a 128D in 1986. A few months later I started learning assembly and then formed my first group together with a graphician friend. Shortly after "The Force" formed their demo section I decided to join them in order to learn and develope my coding skills. It was a great time but unfortunately it all ended before I was good enough to actually do something useful...

C: So how did you learn coding in assembly on a satisfactory level?

R: Back in 1986 I started with books. I remember some Hebrew 6502 ml book I had and the "Anatomy of the C64". After that I used to take apart every single intro and demo I got my hands on. Demos were very hard to get. The groups which traded overseas mainly wanted new games but from time to time some demos made their way through.

Only years later, after I was discharged from the army (1995) I found, to my big surprise, that the C64 is alive and kicking in Europe. I remember watching the demos from ASM94 and TP4... I was blown away! Don't forget, I was out of it for almost 4 years. Haven't seen anything new during that entire time.

At that point I decided to get back in shape, improve my skills and start doing something. I had Internet at work so I visited #c-64 almost daily, until WOW recruited me.

C: What do you think about today's #c-64 channel? Some people say it's killing the scene. In an interview Dane/Crest told me: "People waste their time away chatting about sweet little nothings instead of activating themselves."

R: Chatting on IRC never demotivated me, quite the opposite. It's a very good thing there's a place where C64 people can meet and chat on a regular basis. The channel is also a great fountain of knowledge, depends who you talk to. :) Whenever I needed help solving a problem during the making of a demo, #c-64 was always the first place I went to. So in my opinion, IRC can be a great thing. I guess it all depends on how you balance it with real life.

C: Talking about WOW... Did joining a scene group help you in developing your coding skills?

R: In this case I was already working on some stuff when I joined, so it mainly motivated me to keep going. What's good about a group is the support system it provides. But it still depends on the individual members and their level of motivation I guess.

C: Do you know any brilliant ideas how to motivate people to working on the C64?

R: The ultimate motivator for me is to watch demos, doesn't matter on which platform. Naturally, good C64 demos always motivate me more. :) Besides that, I think creativity and activity are motivating as well. When I get a new tune or gfx from Vip, I usually get motivated to code for it. But everyone can get motivated by different stuff... It's very individual. No magic potions to do the trick I'm afraid. :)

C: Do you find an inspiration for your effects when watching demos or maybe you have also some other ways of obtaining new ideas?

R: It can really be anything... Can be something I see in the street or on TV. But mainly, it's watching demos that gets me in the right state of mind.

C: What is your opinion about coding the C64 releases using emulator? As the only one coder from Israel, when coding you use an emulator or an original C64?

R: I never use an emulator. Everything I code is created on the C64 using "TurboAsm". Coding C64 stuff using another platform should be avoided in my opinion, unless there's absolutly no choice. I mean, what's the point? When using an emu the entire feeling of working on a C64 is lost, at least to me. And besides, no emu can emulate the C64 good enough yet and I doubt they ever will. When I see some game or demo running on an emu, it doesn't look, sound or feel like C64 to me.

C: "Insomnia" is one of the top C64 demos. Combination of the concept and effects is simply brilliant. What was the idea behind creating it?

R: The main objective for me was creating a demo that I will enjoy, combining all the things I love about demos. I'm very picky about demos I like, very hard to please. :) Although I like the old-school style a lot (I grew up on it) the demo which is as close to perfection as can be for me is "Second Reality" from Future Crew. That demo gave me the final push to get into demo-making myself. With "Insomnia" I tried to combine all those elements: a neat concept (a nice excuse to design a bombastic intro), fast trackmo style, good design, music sync and some old-school elements. Naturally, when Vip joined me in creating the demo, he brought his gfx, music and design influences so its actually a mix of what we both like in demos.

It's still far from my idea of a "perfect" demo but I think I'm in the right direction, at least where my taste is concerned...

C: If that means it wasn't your last demo released on the C64, when can we expect another cool release from 64ever? :)

R: That's a good question... Wish I had an answer for you. :) Let's just say we recently started working out a concept and a nice list of effect ideas has been made...

C: That's great news. Will only you and Vip be involved into this project or maybe also someone else?

R: As things look right now, exactly the same team. Although, I'd appreciate any help I can get, especially coding-wise. I can't begin to tell you how hard and time consuming it was coding "Insomnia" almost by myself... I want the next demo to be finished before my hair turns grey. ;)

C: What can I say is to wish you luck with this project. Anyway... Do you think that you'll loose your interest in the C64 when you're old?

R: Hmm, I think I'm already old! ;) Seriously though, I still feel about the C64 exactly as I did 15 years ago. The only problem is I have much less time to do something about it. :) I guess as long as the scene exists and there are people who enjoy my work I'll keep on doing it.

C: So this is important question... How long do you think the C64 scene will exist?

R: As long as there are people creating stuff and people to appreciate it.

C: Yeah, that's obvious. :) But how long yet?

R: You want numbers? :) I hope forever, but I'm dreaming here.

C: Yep, what a great dream it would be... :) Okay, do you have some interesting effects in your mind prepared for the next 64ever's demo?

R: There are only ideas, nothing concrete yet. It will take some time for those ideas to take shape. You'll just have to wait and see! :)

C: How have you contacted Vip and got him interested in developing demos together?

R: Vip saw the demo "HalfBaked" which I did while in WOW and got interested in working with me. When I started working on the "Insomnia" concept I contacted him with my list of ideas and some code previews. He was busy with real life stuff back then so it took some months before we actually started working together.

C: You have been quite a long on the C64, made some nice demos, but never been that famous. And suddenly you have released "Insomnia", became the top coder, entered the charts... How can you explain that?

R: I still can't explain it... "Insomnia" is placed in some charts higher than demos I personally worship... It's a great honor for me. I always wanted to contribute to the C64 demo scene which gave me so many great stuff to watch over so many years, but I never imagined that kind of response. The amount of feedback I got after releasing "Insomnia" was overwhelming for me and Vip. It looks like many people share our taste in demos. :)

It might sound strange to some people, but I consider my visit to X'2001 (my first C64 party ever, there was no such thing in Israel) a highlight. Watching people's reactions when "Insomnia" was shown on the big screen (before it crashed that is...) was worth the trip by itself.

As for being a "top" coder, I think I have a long way to go before I can consider myself that. I still have much to learn and a lot to offer!

C: How much, you think, do you need to learn yet? :)

R: All the math-based effects are giving me a headache... That's my weak spot. I'd like to get better at it.

C: Wouldn't your education help you with this?

R: Well, after my army duty I immediately started working. Only after about 3 years I decided to get into programming for a living but I didn't want to "waste" 4 years and lots of money on uni, so I took some evening classes (while working) so I'd have some certificate in my hand. :) I doubt I'll go to uni but I might start learning by myself some stuff that interests me, we'll see.

C: Can you please say something more about the 64ever? What kind of group is it?

R: "64ever" isn't exactly a group, not in the classic sense. If you look at scene groups these days you'll notice most of them are single-coder groups. Sometime the coder IS the group and he works with graphicians and musicians from other groups. A lot of them are members of several groups. I want to be able to work with anyone who wants to work with me. That's why I won't define "64ever" as a "group" with "members" and I won't join any other group. The group of people working under the "64ever" name can change for each production, there are no "members".

C: I see. But why don't you want to join some other group?

R: What for? There is no real reason for it. If I want to work with someone from some other group, I simply ask. :) That might change in the future, but I'm happy with the way things are right now.

C: When actually 64ever was born and what exactly was the idea behind creating such "group"?

R: 64ever was born in 1997. Lax and I thought it's a cool (and true!) name and we wanted it on productions we were involved in. After WOW and I parted ways, I considered joining another group for some time but then decided to stay with the "64ever" label and just try to work with people without having to join a group.

C: You have been to X'2001, I suppose it was a long way for you to get there? How much time did your trip take? And do you plan to visit some other European demo party in the future?

R: Yeah, it was quite a long trip. A 5-hour flight to Amsterdam, about an hour by train and the rest by Bud/WOW's car. I really wanted to visit another X party or MS but now they're both gone for good it seems. I'll just wait and see... It depends on my free time, money and of course the right party. :)

C: What do you think about the Forever party in Trencin, Slovakia? It's pure 8-bit computer party and quite a lot of sceners from all around the Europe are present there every year.

R: Yeah, I know about Forever. When I have time and money for a trip, I'll definitely look into it.

C: It would be really great. Maybe you could think about releasing your upcoming demo there? :)

R: I wish I knew when it's gonna be ready, but until I actually start coding I won't have a clue... Let's hope it's gonna be faster than "Insomnia"...

C: Now I'd like to ask you something about your real life. Is it risky to live in Israel? Aren't you afraid of Palestinian terrorism?

R: The picture you get from your news media only shows you the bad things, when they happen. Actually, you have more chance to get hit by a car than to be blown up by a terrorist... It's as safe as almost any other place these days. I have friends living in other countries where it's not even safe to walk alone in the streets at night... You don't have that problem here.

C: In which part of Israel do you actually live?

R: I live in a city called Ramat-Gan, which is near Tel-Aviv. That's considered as the center of the country.

C: Are Israelites disposed ill towards Palestinians? Or maybe it's another tale served by our media?

R: It depends who you ask. :) I guess it's the same for both "sides"... There are those who just want to live their lives quietly in peace (the majority) and extremists who want to make things worse for everyone. Unfortunately, those extremists get the most publicity.

C: What do you think about their struggle for independence?

R: I believe they should have their own country, but I don't agree with the way they're trying to achieve it. As it has been proven time and time again, they won't get anywhere with violence. I'm not very optimistic about this conflict resolving any time soon. Maybe even not with my generation. I do very much hope I'm wrong though.

C: How do you spend your spare time unless you're working with the C64?

R: Listen to music, watch movies, hang out with friends, the usual stuff.

C: Now could you please tell us your C64 scene favourites and shortly explain why you have chosen them?

R: Demo group - Crest, Horizon, Xakk, Flash, Censor, Judges, Msi, Panoramic, Rawhead, Upfront... What can I say, I'm a sucker for hardcore oldschool. :) Newer groups I like are Reflex, Oxyron, Taboo, Booze and Plush.

Cracking group - no favourites really, I just liked to watch the intros.

Coder - I'm a Crossbow fanboy. :) The only coder who surprises me with every new demo. Where's "Meet Crest"? Can't wait...

Cracker - I was never too involved with the cracking scene, so no favourite here.

Graphician - Deekay, Jailbird, Vip, Deev, and everyone else who does great-looking atmospheric gfx.

Musician - too many to list really... The tunes I mostly still listen to often are oldies from Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway, but I love almost all composers from the "oldschool" era.

Mailtrader - hmm, no idea.

Cover designer - also no idea.

Disk magazine - I only started to read diskmags in the "Internet era" but I have no real favourite, I try to read them all.

Demonstration - Too many... Partial list only:

Oldschool:
"Almost Anything" from Crest
"No Sleep" series from Xakk
"Think Twice" series from The Judges
"Dutch Breeze" from Blackmail
"Double Density" from Mr.Cursor
"Pimple Squeezer" series from Shadows/Rawhead
"Wonderland" series from Censor
"One Year" from The Voice
"Vector Victory" and "Bigger Than Life" from The Force

And lots of stuff from groups I mentioned above.

Recent:
"Krestology" from Crest
"Royal Arte" from Booze
"Mathematica" from Reflex (the only low-res oriented demo I enjoy watching)
"Altered States" from Taboo
"Dawnfall" and "Oneder" from Oxyron
"Sonic" from Triumwyrat
"Arcanum" from Xenon
"+H2K" from Plush

C: At the end of this interview, would you like to share some extra thoughts with "Attitude" readers? Maybe to greet some scene friends as well?

R: Hello Dear Reader! Thanks for using your C64 to read this and not an emu! (*cough*) Really, everyone still using this great machine gets my respect. :) I'd like to see more new blood come into the scene, although for someone who didn't grow-up on the C64 there's not much appeal. I'd also like the quality of demos to rise. It seems to get lower each year besides a few exceptions. Oh and by the way, if someone up there is listening, I need more hours in the day, if possible! ;)

Greets to any C64'er I ever knew or worked with!

C: Thank you very much for your patience. It was a pleasure to interview you...

R: It was my pleasure. Brought back lots of great memories! Thanx. :)

Interview was made in September 2003 by...

CACTUS/OXYRON/PADUA

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