[Screenshot: Haluzkynation]

This demo won the ZX Spectrum demo competition at Forever 2006. It did this not by being an amazing piece of coding, but by playing on six years’ worth of in-jokes built in previous Forever parties.

I did mean to do a proper demo, honest – I spent three days working on one of the cleverest effects I’ve ever done. But then I realised that it was only two more days to the party, and a single half-finished effect wouldn’t make a demo, so I rushed ahead with some silly ideas instead.

The source code is here for the taking, but the only remotely novel piece of code is the scrolling landscape, which stores the bitmap in vertical chunks rather than the usual horizontal ones – so I’ll skip the commentary here, and explain the jokes instead.

The title is a bit of wordplay on “haluzky”, the national dish of Slovakia, where the Forever party takes place. Haluzky is (are?) potato dumplings, rather like gnocchi but with a texture closer to lumpy porridge, topped with sheep’s cheese and a sprinkling of crispy bacon. It’s an acquired taste.

The first part as a whole is a parody of Second Reality by Future Crew, possibly the most famous demo of all. The original demo pans across an alien landscape, then pauses as a fleet of spaceships fly past; here the landscape turns out to be the city of Trenčin, home of the Forever party. (“Vitajte v Trenčine” is Slovak for “Welcome to Trenčin”.) The graphics here were originally drawn for an unfinished realtime compo entry at last year’s party; that year there was very heavy snowfall, hence the giant snowman. For the joke to work this time round, I was banking on it snowing again – and indeed it did, slightly, prompting EvilPaul to call me the Michael Fish of the demoscene.

I’m sure the music played by the spaceship doesn’t need any introduction. The tune played by the building in reply (Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, if you must know) comes from the Atari 8-bit’s on-board diagnostics routines. At the first Forever, during a sound check before the Atari compos, the corresponding screen flashed up and caused the Atari fans in the audience to commence a spontaneous chorus of “doo doo doo do do doo”; and ever since then, it’s been the unofficial theme music of the Forever party.

The second and final part is a tribute to Beruska, a charming animation made by Marek FiÅ¡er of Kingfisher Movie Studio and familiar to all Spectrum demo fans. The idea of having Beruska speak the greetings probably came from LCD, who (on the way back from a previous party) showed me a bizarre anime clip with a singing cat and accompanying subtitles. The graphics were all ripped from the original animation, but the sound samples were newly recorded – I chose a quiet point in the evening to sneak out into the lobby, away from the background noise of beeping computers, and squeak into my iBook’s built-in microphone. I surprised myself at how accurate the results were.

10 Responses to “Haluzkynation”

  1. mike says:

    Nice article, but it’s a bit wrong. Traditional slovak food is “haluÅ¡ky” [halooshky]. “Haluzky” mean little (tree) twig or in theese days much more used slang meaning – strange thing. Just look at (probably cult ;-) 512 bytes realtime intro from Huge/3sc from first Forever named Haluzky and you’ll know what’s that about.
    But demo is really great fun and big Haluzka ;-)


  2. matt says:

    Aha, that explains a lot… I remember Huge’s intro, and wondered why during the announcement of the results, the C64 screen operator translated the name as “Hallucination” – that’s where I got the idea for the name, in fact. Good to know that the title still manages to be unintentionally meaningful, even with the spelling mistake!

  3. mike says:

    Don’t worry, Wotnau introduce this demo as HaluÅ¡kynation and you have still this name free for next years.
    Btw, did Evilpaul try Halušky? ;-)

  4. icabod says:

    Evilpaul didn’t try it, but Gasman and I tucked into some – I even have a photo… it looks more appetising without the flash on the camera, I think.
    Evilpaul instead had to watch us all eating while he waited for someone to go outside and catch his meal.

  5. Guti says:

    Good job!
    Love people still coding for the Speccy!

  6. [...] For the last demo party of the season, the UK’s very own Sundown, it was back to the Spectrum and another collaboration – with Equinox coming up with the goods on the graphical side. In the end only about half of our ideas actually came to fruition, but I’m pleased to report that the successful ones included the raster scene that I previously billed as “one of the cleverest effects I’ve ever done” but wound up abandoning to write Haluzkynation instead. The final cut received first place in the Oldskool Demo competition. [...]

  7. Marek says:

    hi, where can i view, waht you did with _my_ beruska?

  8. matt says:

    Hi Marek,
    It’s great to hear from you! Beruska is a real classic among Spectrum demo fans. Did you ever make any more releases on the Spectrum?

    You can run the .tap file of the demo in a Spectrum emulator such as SPIN – if you haven’t used Spectrum emulators before, this is a really good introduction.

    If that’s too much effort, not to worry – I’ll try to make a video of it tonight and post it on YouTube.

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