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Spacesynth Sampler Platter

Several more hours of spacesynth...

Spacesynth and Italo Disco are closely related--Spacesynth is instrumental Italo Disco with a bit more emphasis on science fiction and fantasy themes--hence the "Italo Disco" in the two album titles. Both genres feature wall-to-wall synthesizers and drum machines but Italo Disco uses normal singing while Spacesynth process what few vocals there are through a vocoder.

Spacesynth and Friends

It's been a while...

Earlier this week, a member of the Battlezone community posted a video of a project they were working on and I liked the music they had going in the background. I asked what it was and they sent me a YouTube link:

Apparently, this is a new(ish) album from a famous Dutch Spacesynth duo named Rygar whose members originally went by the name Laserdance. I ended up going on a YouTube and Wikipedia binge, listening to a bunch of Spacesynth and Italo Disco stuff on YouTube and found some neat things along the way. I would have been super into it in the late 1980s and early 1990s had I known about it.

One song that caught my attention particularly strongly was "Trip to Wonderland" by Electron, a Finnish Spacesynth duo. Between the very-familiar synth pads, arpeggiation, and a synth lead I know for certain I've heard before, it couldn't sound more like Amiga demo music if it tried:

A lot of their other songs are catchy too, though some feature grammatically-correct but English-is-clearly-not-their-native-language fantasy-themed narration.

The speech-synthesized narration in "Symphony of the Fairies" gives it a weirdly humorous touch. ("Once upon a time there were little fairies who lived deep in the woods. At sunrise they gathered at a special magical place (special magical place)"):

If you can get past the first 30 seconds and its overblown and cringe-inducing narration ("Three Wolf Riders in the night, feared by every creature, hunting in the deep dark woods, nothing can outrun"), "Wolf Riders" is super catchy:

Occasional cheese aside, I ended up downloading all the songs that Electron made available on their website.

The 50-video playlist attached to "Trip to Wonderland" kept me going most of the week and I'm still not completely done with it. A fair bit of it could be mistaken for Amiga music (though a few were actually Amiga music). Spacesynth generally sounds a lot like Amiga demo music, but given its history, it's probably more accurate to say that Amiga demo music sounds like Spacesynth.

One of my more amusing finds along the way was Laserdance's "Dead Star" (from 1992), which I posted at work and described it as the theme song for Dead Star if Dead Star were a European Amiga game from the mid to late 1990s (complete with low-fi "DEAD STAR!" voice sample). I can almost see the tracker patterns rolling past as I listen...

Now I want to make an Amiga-style "demake" of Dead Star...

Dead Star codes

I'm not sure if anyone still reads this, but here goes...

Armature is playtesting an alpha build of Dead Star and I still have some download codes left. If you have a Playstation 4 with PSN Plus and can play on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 8:30 Central, I can send a code your way.


Vectrex Lives!

I finally got around cleaning the contacts on my Vectrex game system and cartridges, which had gotten glitchy due to 30+ years of oxidation. I wet some paper towel with rubbing alcohol, wrapped it around a thin piece of cardboard from the back of a notepad, and pushed it between the contacts inside cartridge slot. The cartridges themselves were much easier; I just used rubbing alcohol on cotton swabs for that.

I tested the first cartridge I cleaned (Bedlam) and it worked perfectly; previously I had to prop it up with a stack of magazines to make good contact. Success!

I also found the Minestorm screen overlay, which I thought I had lost. It was hiding in the bag with all the game boxes.

Vectrex and Game Boxes

The Vectrex wasn't all that common; its life got cut short by the video game crash in late 1983. I didn't know about that at the time. It was just a cool thing I got on clearance from Lionel PlayWorld in 1984, when I was nearly 11. I got a few other games for it from various places trying to get rid of them and regretted turning down a couple opportunities to get more.


Kirby In Color

Behold The Psychedeleic Glory Of Jack Kirby's Argo Art, In Color At Last

The story behind the artwork itself is pretty wild too.

The colors are definitely a lot brighter than one typically sees Kirby's work:

(via io9)

Weird Images from Google Research

Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks, figuring out how artificial neural networks for image classification work by essentially "running them backwards" to generate images. The resulting images are almost without exception very strange.

Executable versus Script

I recently found that the compiled C++ version of my Snake game is significantly smaller than the Lua script version that runs in ConsoleLua. The executable is around 5KB while the script is around 8KB, and ConsoleLua is over 100KB (80% of which is Lua itself). That's... somewhat disheartening.

To add insult to injury, the Snake executable is statically linked to a compact version of the C runtime (called wcrt) so it doesn't even need the Visual C++ 2013 redistributable package.

Console Lua

I made a thing.

ConsoleLua is a simple game engine for making character-mode games reminiscent of the kinds of things one would write in QBasic on a DOS-based PC in the early 1980s.

Snakes In a Game

The sad part is that it took me almost as long to write the documentation as it did to write the program itself.

("It's like, how much more pointless could this be? And the answer is none. None more pointless.")

In hindsight, I should have made the Windows Console API bindings a Lua library and compiled it into a DLL so any Lua project could use it. I could still do that and then base the ConsoleLua application on it.