That’s not Possible on this Platform!

8088MPH-Meteorik

The past year-and-a-half have been quite interesting. First there was the plan to form a team and build a demo for the original IBM PC with CGA. We weren’t quite sure where it would lead at first, but as the project progressed, it matured into something we considered worthy of competing. But we had no idea how the Revision 2015-crowd would respond to it. Much to my surprise, they totally loved it. It seems a lot of sceners had an XT clone back in the day, and could appreciate what we were doing.

So, after a very exciting vote, where the first 4 entries were nearly tied, we were declared the winners of the Revision 2015 oldskool compo. Mission accomplished! But as it turned out, this wasn’t the end of 8088 MPH, it was only the start.

The demo quickly crossed the boundaries of the demoscene and got picked up by other interested people across the web, such as gamers/game developers, embedded system developers and whatnot, on twitter, various blogs, forums and such. There was even some moderate ‘mainstream’ media coverage in the form of newspaper websites and tech-oriented websites.

While we were working on the project, I had made a reference to Batman Forever, by Batman Group, a few times.

This demo completely redefined the Amstrad CPC platform, using the hardware in new and innovative ways, and pushing the limits way further than any Amstrad CPC demo before it. This is what we also hoped to achieve with 8088 MPH. After all, before we started development on 8088 MPH, the best demo on a stock IBM 5150/5160 with CGA and PC speaker was probably the CGADEMO by Codeblasters.

Granted, shortly before 8088 MPH was released, there was Genesis Project, with GP-01.

This was an interesting release, as it showed some ‘new’ and ‘modern’ effects on the PC/XT with CGA and PC speaker platform. However, it wasn’t quite of the level of magnitude that we had planned. Aside from that, it didn’t actually run on real hardware, which was a shame.

8088 MPH was the opposite of this: it ran fine on real hardware, but not on any emulators. We were hoping that emulator developers would get inspired by the demo, and pick up the challenge to make an emulator that is accurate enough to run the demo. Initially there did not seem to be too much interest there, but over time (and after reenigne himself built in proper NTSC decoding into DOSBox, for the support of the new high-colour modes), a few developers started to get serious about it.

It seems that 8088 MPH has become ‘notorious’ as a compatibility benchmark, and it has been used to demonstrate an 8088/8086-compatible soft-core by MicroLabs.

And although it took a long time, someone has finally added a reference to 8088 MPH to the CGA-article on Wikipedia:

Later demonstrations by enthusiasts have increased the maximum number of colors the CGA is known to produce in a single image to approximately a thousand. Aside of artifacting, this technique involves the text mode tweak which quadruples its rows, thus offering the benefit of 16 foreground and 16 background colors. Certain ASCII characters such as U and ‼ are then used to produce the necessary patterns, which result in non-dithered images with an effective resolution of 80×100 on a composite monitor.[23]

Granted, it is not a very accurate description, and for some reason, the actual demo title or groups are not mentioned, nor did they show any screenshots of the demo to illustrate the new modes. But at least there is a mention there, which is a nice start.

And lastly, there was Revision 2016. We were nominated for two Meteoriks, “Best low-end demo” and “That’s not possible on this platform!”. We ended up winning the latter category.

We feel it is a great honour that people chose this demo as the most ‘impossible’ demo of 2015. I have always been an ‘oldskool’ scener, and to me, making demos is all about doing ‘impossible’ things on your machine. Pushing the machine to its limits, and beyond. So to me this category embodies the oldskool demoscene, and it is great to be the winner of this particular category. While we would also have liked to have won in other categories, we realize that our demo may not have been the slickest production around. Partly because of the limitations of our platform, but also partly because making demos of this scale on this platform is completely new, and as we said in the end-scroller, this is only the beginning. Techniques have to evolve and mature, to get closer to the sophistication of demos on other platforms. We couldn’t completely bridge the gap in just a single demo. But we hope that people build on our work, and take it further.

I really like what Urs says about our demo when announcing us as the winner. That the category was originally meant for just a single effect that was ‘impossible for the platform’, but how our demo stood apart in not having just a single effect like that, but basically all effects in the entire demo were like that, which is quite unique. And that this demo inspires others to do new ‘impossible’ things as well.

I also really liked that he said that he hopes for us to make more demos like this. It seems we have really succeeded in putting the IBM PC 5150/5155/5160 on the map as a valid demo platform.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the huge cheering from the crowd during the showing of the nominees. It seems they cheered loudest at 8088 MPH. It was very cool to have our demo in the spotlight a second time, a year after we originally made it.

Lastly, we had another nice surprise in the oldskool demo compo.

The C64 demo of Fairlight/Offence/Noice parodied the 8088 MPH intro screen. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I think it is a sign that they loved our demo last year (or at least our ‘respect’ to the C64 platform, which we feared to be our biggest competitor in the competition), even though we beat them last year. Perhaps it actually means that this time they were afraid that another PC demo would be their biggest competitor? Well, sadly we did not have the time to make a demo this year, or even attend Revision.

At any rate, 8088 MPH has become everything we hoped it would be, and so much more than that, beyond our wildest dreams. We would like to thank everyone who has voted for our demo, commented on it, spread the word about it, or whatever else they may have done to make 8088 MPH as popular and well-known as it is today, and for all the recognition we received for our work.

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